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Posts Tagged ‘Highly Recommended Movie’

Matilda”  (1996)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for a children’s fantasy movie about a young girl growing up in a dysfunctional family, attending a dysfunctional school.  Ah, but the young girl is a self-taught math wiz with telekinesis power.  Basically, she is a genius and can move things with her mind.
The movies stars Mara Wilson as Matilda Wormwood, Danny DeVito plays her father (a crooked used-car salesman), Rhea Perlman plays Matilda’s mother (who spends all day off gambling), Embeth Davidtz plays Miss Jennifer Honey (the only decent grown-up), and Pam Ferris plays the wicked school headmaster / principal.
The movie traces Matilda’s life from birth through (ultimately) getting adopted by Miss Honey and them both living happily ever after.
As a kid’s movie, is it any good?  Does it work as a fantasy?  Is it funny?  Yes; definitely; and, mostly, but not ha-ha funny (for me).  This is not a “Disney” live-action movie, but it feels like one.  There are lots (and I mean LOTS) of amusing lines for adults and enough sight-gags to keep the kiddies engaged.
Final recommendation: highly recommended!  I have seen “Matilda” numerous times over the last 20+ years and it remains an amusing little gem of a film.  A couple of the scenes with the horrible principal may be too intense for children under six years old, but I think any kids, nieces and nephews older than that will enjoy the movie.  Teens may find it a bit too childish, until they are old enough to know how to listen to dialogue.
Two shout-outs: Danny DeVito is excellent in this role (even if a “little” type-cast) — pun intended; and, the movie has a great song in it: “Send Me On My Way” performed by Rusted Root.
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On This Day In:
2018 Nice To Meet You
2017 All Nations & Religions
2016 Given The Choice
Why Is He Wearing Red?
2015 Within The System
2014 None But…
2013 Obviously Longer
2012 A Childhood Poem
Who Are You Callin’ Leather-Faced?
2011 In No Particular Order
The Need For Proof
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What Dreams May Come” (1998)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1998 movie starring Robin Williams.  If you haven’t watched this movie and intend to AND want to avoid spoilers, stop reading now and come back after you’ve seen the film.
Okay, Robin Williams stars as Dr. Christopher James “Chris” Nielsen, Annabella Sciorra plays his wife: Annie Collins-Nielsen, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Albert Lewis / Ian Nielsen (Chris’ son in disguise), Josh Paddock plays Ian Nielsen (Chris’ son), Rosalind Chao plays Leona / Marie Nielsen (Chris’ daughter in disguise), Jessica Brooks Grant plays Marie Nielsen (Chris’ daughter), and, Max von Sydow plays The Tracker / Albert Lewis (Chris’ mentor when he was a young doctor).  I’ve now given away most of the movie…  You were warned!
Chris is a pediatrician.  Annie is a artist / painter and art restorer.  They meet in idyllic circumstance and fall immediately in love.  They have a wonderful life, but trouble is on the horizon.  Suddenly their two children die in a car accident.  Life is turned upside down and there are hints of other “issues”.  On one of their anniversaries, Chris is also involved in and dies during a car accident and Annie is left alone.
Through a series of flashbacks we discover the “issues”: Chris was unable to deal with the death of the children and throws himself into his work to avoid the pain.  Annie had a nervous breakdown.  In the end, they comeback from the brink of divorce and are restarting their lives when Chris dies.  Chris is not ready for death and seeks out Annie as a “ghost / spirit”.  Annie is not ready for the loss of her love, has another breakdown and commits suicide.  There follows a lengthy, colorful and brilliantly imagined (sometimes disturbingly illustrated) imagery of heaven, hell, life, death, self-sacrifice, the meaning of love and, finally, reincarnation.
The film won two Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction and it was almost certainly deserving as some of the imagery is at times beautiful and horrifying.  This is an adult drama and although rated “PG-13” is really not appropriate for children.  Some teens could deal with the imagery, but I am not sure they will get a lot of the philosophy.  Heck, I’m not sure most adults will, either.
Anyway, is this movie any good?  Did I enjoy watching it?  Did I find all of the philosophy reasonable and / or explained well?  Yes!  So-so.  And, mostly yes.  To start off, I purchased this movie as a one-off on discount with Vudu.  They had a sale of 5 films for $20 and I figured, what the heck, I usually enjoy most of Robin Williams’ work, so I’ll take a chance.  Just after that, one of my followers (and a blogger I follow) said in a comment that this movie was one of her favorite movies.  (If anyone is interested, she goes by “Cubby” and her site is: https://reowr.com/)  …So, I bumped this up my list of films to view sooner rather than later.
Good decision…   As mentioned, the visual effects are imaginative and stunning.  Imagine heaven as your own personal painting and you get to wake up in it and move around in it.  At first, it is blurry and “van Gogh”-ian (if that is even a phrase).  After about three minutes, it is almost funny because it makes “perfect” sense.  Well, it did / does to me anyway.
So, it is a great “viewing” experience…  But, did I enjoy watching it?  No.  And, yes.  Mostly, yes!  This mixed answer is because there are multiple levels of “enjoyment”.  The sound was variable and dipped to barely audible at points.  Because this is a “deep” movie, I had to replay some of the scenes to catch the dialogue.  This breaks the “fourth-wall” between the film and the viewer, but I recognized almost immediately that I would miss too much of the film if I couldn’t hear or didn’t understand all that was being said.  There are two other things which made the movie “uncomfortable” for me.  The imagery (some intense – as mentioned above) and the plot revolving around losing one’s family through chance accident.  The latter has always terrified me personally.  It’s never happened to me (thankfully), but it is a common plot device in movies and music and I never like it.
Anyway, this is a movie which you come to for the entertainment and stay for the philosophy – or at least I did.  Everything, and I MEAN everything in the movie is meant to make you think.  If you like that in a movie (I do), then you will enjoy / love this movie.  Does it explain “philosophy” well.  No.  It’s a movie!  It’s trying to get you to think about life and love while still entertaining you.  I think it does that.
Final recommendation: highly recommended movie.  Again, this is a sit, listen, watch and think about movie.  It may make you cry (I did).  It may leave you cold – it is not very “Christian” in it’s overall philosophy.  If you can’t get past that part of the film, you will almost certainly NOT like this movie.  If you have ever felt like you found the love of your life, not “just” a lover or a spouse, this movie will probably touch you.  It did me.
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On This Day In:
2018 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2018!!
2017 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2017!!
2016 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2016!!
2015 To My Special Lady
2014 Awakening
2013 Drowsy In Comfort
2012 Happy Valentine’s Day
2011 Own Your Bible

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The Court-Martial Of Billy Mitchell” (1955)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for an oldie but a goodie.  It’s a fictionalized version of mostly real events surrounding the court-martial of an Army officer who would later be considered a prophet and the “founder” of the Air Force: William (“Billy”) Lendrum Mitchell.   The movie stars Gary Cooper in the title role.  This is one of my two favorite war genre movies starring Cooper.  The other is another semi-biography: “Sergeant York“.  In this movie Mitchell is an Army General who gets busted in rank for disobeying orders by destroying a battleship to prove it can be done by aircraft with bombs.  (In real life, Mitchell did sink the battleship, but he didn’t disobey orders.  Also, he didn’t lose rank for that act.  He lost rank as a result of a general reduction in forces after the end of WWI.)  After the death of a naval aviator friend and a squadron of his former pilots, Mitchell makes public statements to the press bring disrepute to the armed services (Army and Navy).  For this, he is brought up on charges to be court-martialed.
I saw this movie a couple of times in my youth and remembered it generally as a courtroom / trial movie.  Because of the age of the movie and when I first saw it, I assumed it would be in black and white.  I can only guess that was because it (a black and white TV) was all we had when I was a child.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie is actually a “color” movie.
Besides Cooper, the movie stars Ralph Bellamy as Congressman Frank R. Reid (attorney for the defense) and Rod Steiger as Maj. Allan Guillion (the prosecutor) and multiple future 60’s / 70’s TV stars: Jack Lord as Lt. Cmdr. Zachary ‘Zack’ Lansdowne (the Navy officer / friend who dies), Elizabeth Montgomery as Margaret Lansdowne (Zack’s wife) and Peter Graves and Darren McGavin as a couple of Mitchell’s pilots.
The movie is interesting because it shows (accurately) that as early as the 1920’s that it was predictable the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor using aircraft.  What it failed to predict (in the movie and in real life) was the use of carriers to deliver those aircraft.  Mitchell believed the aircraft would come from “nearby” islands.  In real life, Mitchell died before the attack on Peal Harbor, so he never saw his predictions come true.  He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for service to his country.  The award was a bit unusual because it was awarded for his effort to promote aviation and not for any specific act of valor in the act of combat as is usually the requirement.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended movie.  Aside from the historical “prediction”, I found the movie to be very entertaining as a courtroom drama and as a view into the institution of the military and the integrity of the officers represented in the movie – both Mitchell and the court-martial board.  General MacArthur comes across particularly well in the behind the scenes “Board” arguments.   This surprised me as I am not a big MacArthur fan.  Finally, I want to give a shout out to Rod Steiger as one of the prosecuting officers.  This is one of my favorite of his roles, too.  I watched this movie on YouTube.  It is also available on DVD / disc and periodically on TV.
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On This Day In:
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — movie review
Today’s review is for the Marvel Studio comic book adaptation of the Thor character story: Ragnarok.  The movie came out last year, but because I rarely go to the theater any more and because I’m too cheap to pay full price for a movie, this review is from my first viewing of the movie which is now on Netflix.  For those not familiar with Norse mythology, “Ragnarok” is supposed to be the end of the universe and the death of the Norse gods.
Thor’s (Thor, the god of thunder, is played by Chris Hemsworth) father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) dies and his death frees Thor’s older sister Hela, the goddess of death (played by Cate Blanchett) who seeks to claim the throne of Asgard (the place where the Norse gods live).  Thor and his adopted brother Loki, the god of mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) are defeated in initial combat with Hela, but manage to escape with their lives.
Thor is captured on a foreign planet by a former Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) and meets and fights the Hulk / Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Meanwhile, Hela goes to Asgard seeking the throne and her revenge.  Blah, blah, blah.  Most everyone dies fighting the goddess of death (makes sense), but a few escape, led by Heimdall (played by Idris Elba).
Blah, blah, blah.  Thor convinces Hulk and the Valkyrie to join him in fighting Hela.  They escape from where they are imprisoned and go back to Asgard to defeat Hela.  And then we all live happily ever after (kinda / sorta).
In my review of the first Thor movie, (this is the third in the series), I said it was a bit schizophrenic and needed to decide if they were going to have the movie in Asgard or on Earth.  This one is almost exclusively off-Earth – and it is much better for it.
This movie is fun AND funny.  It has the requisite fights and special effects.  The movie runs about two hours, but felt shorter to me.  That’s a good sign.  The movie seems to be an almost immediate lead in to the Avengers: Infinity War movie, and that’s okay.  It’s okay, because (like in Infinity War) almost everyone in Asgard dies and so, whatever happens to bring back everyone in Infinity War II, probably also brings back Asgard and all of the folks who get killed in this one.  I guess we’ll have to see, next year.
The movie tries to inject a bit of philosophy by repeatedly stating it is the people who make the place and not the place which makes the people.  It kind of works, but not really because the vast majority of the Asgardians are slain by Hela and the rest appear to face capture / doom at the closing credits.  Like I said, we’ll see…
Anyway, final recommendation: highly recommended!!  As stated earlier, this movie is both fun and funny, with action, lots of humor and great fights / battles / special effects.  I would say this ranks right up with Iron Man and the Black Panther as among the very best of the Marvel Studio’s comic book / movie adaptations.  It is rated PG-13, so it might be a little too intense for very young (pre-7 years) children.  As for 7 – 13, it’s probably not too intense, but it may get them too excited and have them running around acting crazy trying to imitate the movie.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Logan (2017)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the “R” rated live action adaptation of the comic book “hero / anti-hero” Wolverine, aka Logan.  The main actors / characters are: Hugh Jackman, (Logan / X-24), Patrick Stewart, (Charles Xavier / Professor X), Dafne Keen, (Laura / Wolverine’s daughter), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce – the “physical” bad-guy), and Richard E. Grant (Dr. Rice – the “brains” bad-guy).
Basically, Logan is getting old and dying from “something” related to the Adamantium he has infused in his bone structure.  Professor X is dying from old age.  Logan is protecting him until he dies.  Opens with fight scene.  Blah, blah, blah…  Logan meets Laura and has to escort her to “Eden” so she’ll be safe.  Blah, blah, blah…  Multiple fights.  Blah, blah, blah.  Logan figures out Laura is his daughter – sort of.  (I did NOT see that coming.  Just kidding…)  Anyway, more fights and more blah, blah, blah.  Logan meets a young Logan (his “son” – again, sort of).  More fights.  Blah, blah.  Big fight at end.  Laura and friends get away to start a new series of X-men movies with younger actors.
One note: this is “supposed” to be Jackman’s last appearance in the Wolverine role.  I never thought Jackman fit the role as he is tall (over 6ft) and Wolverine is supposed to be about 5ft 6in and broad, but I have to admit, like Robert Downing, Jr. and Ironman, Jackman made this role his own to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine who Hollywood will find for the eventual character reboot.  I hope they can give it at least five years…
Is this a good movie?  If not, does it work as a “comic-book” movie?  If you can get past the graphic violence (“R” for a reason), then yes, this is a very good movie.  Even beyond being a “comic-book” movie, it is a good adult movie.  The main issues are aging, friendship, loyalty, family and parenting.  All are dealt with in an adult / contextual way.  I admit to being very pleasantly surprised…  Even accepting that, the violence is such that I never would have thought this version of Wolverine would ever make it a screen – big screen or cable.  This is the Wolverine I could imagine from reading the comics way back when, but never fitting into a “PG” release to get the most money from a typical comic-book demographic.
Final recommendation: highly recommended!  This is the way I imagined Wolverine.  The movie, however, is not appropriate for young children – excessive / graphic violence and very little humor.  But, and it’s a BIG “but”, if you can see past it, the violence is what makes the movie dark (for Wolverine and the mutant children) and what ultimately gives the resolution emergent hope.
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On This Day In:
2017 Decisions
2016 Along The Path
2015 Make Mine Rare, Please
2014 Passion Flooding
2013 On Purpose
2012 Sans Gall Bladder, Day 4
How Did You Spend Your Day?
2011 It’s Hammerin’ Time!!
Convenient Auxiliaries

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It is clear that we are just an advanced breed of primates on a minor planet orbiting around a very average star, in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.  BUT, ever since the dawn of civilization people have craved for an understanding of the underlying order of the world.  There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe.  And what can be more special than that there is no boundary?  And there should be no boundary to human endeavor.  We are all different.  However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at.  While there is life, there is hope.
  —  Stephen Hawking
The Theory Of Everything (2014) — movie review
Today’s review is of the romantic drama / biography – story of the college and adult life of Stephen Hawking (played by Eddie Redmayne) and his first (and longest) wife: Jane Hawking (played by Felicity Jones).  Both Redmayne and Jones received Best Actor / Actress Oscar nominations for their respective roles with Redmayne actually winning the Oscar.  The movie received three other nominations, too, including Best Picture.
The movie roughly covers the time between 1960 and 2010, with some after-notes about the subjects lives.  Basically, Hawking is a brilliant student, who falls in love, finds out he has a deadly disease and then goes on to outlive the medical prognosis and become a world-famous celebrity physicist.  His “popular” fame arises from both his brilliance and his overcoming his illness (motor neurone disease, aka ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The movie makes a passing attempt to explain the general concepts of a black hole, a singularity, time, and the creation of the universe.  It also spends a fair amount of time establishing the belief disagreements between the two leads.  Steven is an atheist and Jane is CoE (Church of England / Protestant).
Hawking achieved general fame by authoring a book (“A Brief History of Time“) in which he tried to explain his work / theories in terms the “common man” would grasp.  I remember reading the book a few years after it was published and by then it had firmly established its reputation as the most widely un-read coffee table book of the 20th century.  Just as a side note: I asked the few friends who did display the book on their coffee tables (or book shelves) if they’d actually read the book.  The response was 0.  Only 1 admitted to having even started reading it.  Granted it was a limited sample size, but it made me feel a bit sad – mostly because it meant I had no one to discuss it with.  The sad life of an unrepentant nerd…
Anyway, this is a very good movie which is instructive about human character (Jane’s and Stephen’s) and ends with the message that what is achieved through love is often the greatest accomplishment of any life.  Final recommendation: Highly recommended.
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On This Day In:
2017 Don’t Sink Now
2016 A Burning Passion To Teach Freedom
2015 Before Debit (And Credit) Cards
2014 Herding Cats
2013 Ooops!
2012 Understand A Great Truth
2011 Start Here…
2010 Random Acts of Vandalism On Easter Weekend…

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Notting Hill (1999) — movie review
Today’s review is for the “fantasy” / romantic comedy: “Notting Hill” starring Hugh Grant (as small time travel books – book store owner, William Thacker) and Julia Roberts (as world famous Hollywood actress, Anna Scott).  The basic premise is the question of whether a beautiful, wealthy and famous female can fall in love with a good looking, charming and witty bookstore owner who is just a “normal” person.  Given that the bookstore owner looks like Hugh Grant, the answer is (wait for it) yes.
The movie is entirely predictable in it’s happy ending, but the roller coaster of how they get there is what makes this movie a little gem.
I must admit, I have seen this movie once before, only a couple of years ago, but I just never got around to reviewing it for this blog.  This corrects the oversight.
This is a terrific rom/com!  I admit to being a fan of both leads – but pretty much, who isn’t?  There is a great chemistry between the two leads and as unrealistic as the premise and the winding plot may be, it works.
The movie works as a comedy.  I laughed.  It works as a romantic movie.  I teared up.  It has a great song in it (“When You Say Nothing At All“) and it has multiple great “movie” scenes: the end of dinner “huzzah”, the climbing the garden fence scene, the walking the street / seasons change scene and the stopped car in the “race” scene, with the memorable quote: “James Bond didn’t have to deal with this sorta shit.”  And because this is a “British” movie, there are at least a dozen more “little” jokes and scenes which could be included in the above list.
The movie is rated PG-13 due to implied sex and brief coarse language, but, all in all, this is a very watchable (re-watchable) movie.  Final recommendation: Very highly recommended.
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On This Day In:
2017 I Think They Are Starting To…
2016 Living There
2015 Bookin’ West
Beyond My Reach
You Never Call Anymore…
2014 Winning?
2013 Still Inventing
2012 Motivated
2011 Waiting In Line At Starbuck’s

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