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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew McConaughey’

Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
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On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

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Book Review:
Last Thursday, I accompanied my wife downtown.  She likes to go to the Farmer’s Market and I like to go to the used bookstore.  While there, I picked up a copy of the book: “Inherit The Wind”  (1955©), written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, which I found on the $1 shelf.
The book is essentially the script of the play by the same name.  The story is a dramatization (fictionalized) of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.  Although the book / play is arguably about the conflict between the theory of evolution and the creation of the universe as stated in the Book of Genesis, the authors claimed the play was actually about the conflict between freedom of speech / thought and “McCarthyism” in the United States in the 1950’s.  (McCarthyism is here defined as the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.  It also means “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.”  In this case, a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution without accounting for the substantial scientific evidence supporting evolution and an absolute dearth of evidence supporting Creationism / Genesis.)
The book is barely 100 pages and is a VERY fast read. It effectively points out the difficulties of trying to use a book of faith as a wall against scientific progress.  Essentially, you end up with a ridiculous speed bump instead of a barrier.  Although I found the book less powerful than the movie, it is still very engaging.  Final recommendation: highly recommended.
Movie Review:
Having read the book, I felt compelled to re-watch the movie: “Inherit The Wind” (1960).  The movie stars Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (Clarence Darrow) the defense attorney, Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan) the prosecutor and Gene Kelly as E. K. Hornbeck (H. L. Mencken) the out-of-town-journalist.
This is a “classic” black and white movie and one of my favorite works starring Tracy.  I have watched this movie well over a dozen times in my life and continue to watch it through to the end whenever I stumble on it playing on the TV.  Two other points bear mentioning…  This is my defining memory of March as an actor, which is both good and bad. Good because he is fantastic in the role.  Bad because he is SO good it has biased me against him in the few other roles I’ve seen him in.  March is so good, you almost think he is playing himself – much like John Wayne in “True Grit“.  It is only in seeing him in other roles that you realize it was all an act.  This is, I believe, the classic definition of a great actor.  As much as I love Tracy in this film, I am almost magnetically drawn to viewing and listening to (studying) March when I watch this film.  My second point is for those of you who think of Gene Kelly as purely a gifted “hoofer” (i.e. “Singing In The Rain” and many others), watch this film.  Kelly can act!  His face speaks a million lines and his sarcastic / comedic / cynical timing is impeccable.
Needless to say, the play the movie is based on is a fictionalized version of a real trial and the movie is a dramatized version of the play.  I first saw this movie as a youngster (probably pre-teens) and it had a profound impact on my life as I wanted to become a scientist and discover “Natural” law.  I wanted to be a “free” thinker.  Raised a Roman Catholic, this movie made me question at an early age – not my faith – but the Church and those who proposed an absolute belief in the Church (any church) and the Bible (any “holy” book).  It is only now, years later, that I realize the conflict between faith and science was not the basis for the movie.  As mentioned above, placing the film in historical context, it is actually about the fight against bullying and ostracism of those who are able to (and choose to) think for themselves and who wish to discuss their thoughts openly without fear of harassment (prison).
This is a powerful movie and is well worth watching and discussing with family and friends – at multiple levels.  This is particularly true in an age where there is a new law (wall) being discussed to protect us (America) from the threat of terrorists (“illegals” taking our jobs for lower wages).  As fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim or any other faith) cannot halt the progress of science, American reactionaries cannot halt the progress of macroeconomics.  Left to its own devices, corporate socialism / monopolistic capitalism will drive down the cost of labor just as water seeks its own level unless we, as a people decide as a matter of public policy that enough is enough.
Okay, climbing down from my high-horse, final recommendation: this is a very highly recommended movie.  An excellent story, told with great actors.
Movie Review:
My second movie review today is for: “Reign Of Fire” (2002).  This is a dragons destroy humanity movie starring: Christian Bale as Quinn Abercromby, Matthew McConaughey as Denton Van Zan, Izabella Scorupco as Alex Jensen and Gerard Butler as Creedy (Bale’s character’s best friend).  As a lad, Bale discovers a dragon buried under London.  Somehow, the single dragon begets a million other dragons and they, more or less, destroy human civilization.  There are a few pockets of survival and Bale and Butler are the bosses of one.  Along comes McConaughey, who proposes to destroy the dragons, not merely out-last them by hiding.  And, so, off we go to London to slay the dragon…
This is not a movie which bears much thinking about.  You either watch it and enjoy it, or you think about it and don’t.  I have chosen (frequently) to watch and enjoy.  It is what it is and it’s pretty good at being just that.  As an aside, the most interesting thing from my latest viewing is the way this movie presages “Batman Begins” with the fluttering birds and dragons in Reign being reminiscent of the fluttering bats in Batman and then the dark tunnel / the Bat Cave.  On the other hand, it could just be my recent marathon session of the “Dark Knight Trilogy” has me seeing things which really aren’t there.
Anyway, while it doesn’t stand much thought, it’s a surprisingly viewable movie.  Final recommendation: Strong.
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On This Day In:
2015 Natural Shapes
2014 Seeing The Light
2013 Requirements
2012 Tricked Again
2011 Liberty And Justice For Earth
2010 Home Again, Home Again, Jig-A-De, Jig…

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I had a few days off last week, so I relaxed by watching a few films: Cash McCall, StarTrek Into Darkness, Fist of Legend, Interstellar, Annapolis and Atlas Shrugged 1, 2 and 3.  Because there are so many, I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this posting.  I hope some of you make it all the way through, though…
Cash McCall (1960)
Wealthy “youngish” industrialist Cash McCall (starring James Garner) makes his money by purchasing unsuccessful businesses, whipping them into shape and then selling them for a profit.  (Shades of Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman“.)  When Cash comes across a small corporation which manufactures plastics, he realizes it might be a gamble to buy the company, but the company’s owner, Grant Austin (played by Dean Jagger – better known as the General in the holiday favorite “White Christmas”), is the father of an old love interest, Lory Austin (played by a young Natalie Wood), he buys the business just to get a second chance at romance.
Well, that’s pretty much the “love story” aspects of the film.  Very predictable and, to be honest, not as funny / humorous as I thought it might be.  Be that as it may, there are a few interesting things about this movie.  First, Woods is absolutely gorgeous in this film.  She plays a “wealthy” daughter and nails the “acts very entitled” role.  The camera loves her.   Strangely, although Garner is only 10yrs older than Woods in this film – in real life that is – he “looks” much older.  Granted he’s still a sexy Hollywood male lead, but to me, the couple didn’t really gel because he “felt” so much older than her.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in the movie actually has very little to do with romantic comedy and everything to do with predicting economic reality.  Bear with me on this…  At the end of his second term as President of the U.S. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military / industrial complex.  There is a scene where Cash is explaining his view for the companies he’s consolidating (in the movie) – a plastics and an electronics firm.  The one he already owns is a financial conglomerate – which by the way owns a private security / detective agency and a credit / business checking business.  Anytime someone investigates him, Cash gets a report from both companies.  The second company is interesting because it’s a plastic firm.  If anyone knows anything about films from the mid to late 60’s, you almost certainly know the famous line “One word, son: Plastics”, from “The Graduate“.   Well, in this film, the star is saying (six years before “The Graduate”) you have patents on manufacturing plastics and the patents are worth more than your company because plastics are the future of manufacturing.  He then goes on to say, but that is only a bridge because the long term future is selling electronics (mounted on plastic) to the military and he doesn’t want the electronics company as much as he wants the retired general who is running the company, because he (Cash) wants an inside track with the officers in the Pentagon the retired general can provide access to (because he knows them all personally).  Who knew Hollywood could be so prescient about the future of industry in the U.S. (and the world).
Bottom line: a fairly typical rom-com with a very attractive couple.  If that’s all you’re looking for, this will be okay.  If you make the effort to look at the movie more deeply, there is a whole lot more going on…  Highly recommended!!  (By the way, I am a Jim Garner fan from his “Maverick” TV series days and I make no bones about my lack of objectivity.)
StarTrek Into Darkness (2013)
This is the sequel to the hit reboot of the movie franchise from 2009.  As with the second movie in the original StarTrek movies, this is about one of the series most popular villains: “Khan!!!” – or more accurately: Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan is a product of biological enhancement, essentially a superior man – physically stronger and a genius mentally.  The problem (well, one of them) is that Khan has little to no regard for “normal” humans.  Blah, blah, blah…  Long story, lots of special effects and a very good addition to the StarTrek legend.  This is a second review and you can read my original (and more detailed review) here.   This movie has “legs” and can definitely be re-watched again and again.  (Still) Highly recommended.
Fist of Legend (1994)
This movie is kind of a “classic” in the martial arts genre.  A Chinese martial arts student Chen Zhen (Jet Li) returns home to China to investigate the death of his Sifu.  Chen discovers his master was poisoned and goes about seeking revenge.  If you’ve spent any time watching movie fights on YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one of the five (yes, count them 5!!) set piece fight scenes in this movie.  Hence my opinion that the film is a classic.  To be honest, although the movie is 20+ years old – and I’d never seen it before (!!!) – I felt as if I’d already seen the entire movie just based on the fights – which I have seen multiple times.  I would rate this movie right up with any of the early Bruce Lee movies (“The Big Boss”, “The Chinese Connection” or “Fist of Fury”) and definitely with any of the more recent Ip Man series.  Jet Li may not have the cinematic charisma of Bruce Lee, but he (Jet Li) certainly plays the part of acrobatic martial artist just as well.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!!  Come for the fights, stay for the interesting social commentary about national bigotry (from both the Chinese and the Japanese).
Interstellar (2014)
Now I never saw this movie at the theater, which is probably my loss, but I did not find the cinematic effects in this movie as awesome as everyone else seems to have found them.  Having said this, I feel the movie was a “real” attempt to bring some of modern science to the big screen.  So, kudos for that effort.
In Earth’s not to distant future, a global, unexplained, biological agent produces a crop blight and second Dust Bowl which together are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable – nitrogen is being released and oxygen is not.  A brilliant NASA physicist – Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. First, Brand must send former NASA pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers (one of which is his daughter Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway) through a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.  One of the movie’s tag-lines is: “Humanity was born on Earth.  It was never meant to die here.”
Of course there is a “conspiracy” and bad guys.  Hey this is Science Fiction, you know…  No, actually this is less a science fiction movie than it is a cinematic battle of ethics and morality.  In the end, time is malleable and family is everything, so the hero saves the day…  The movie works in a lot of different ways: as science, science fiction, special effects, acting.  The movie was nominated for multiple Oscars and deservedly so.  Final recommendation: highly recommended, but see it on as big a screen as you can find.
Annapolis (2006)
A cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “Rocky“, this movie is about a fish out of water who goes to the U.S. Naval Military Academy at Annapolis.  (And, yes, that’s a bad pun.) The three main characters are:  Jake Huard (the “fish” – I mean star –  played well by James Franco),  Ali (the love interest played well by Jordana Brewster) and Cole (the antagonist played well by Tyrese Gibson).  Basically, Jake is only marginally qualified to be at the Academy and Cole is trying to force him to leave by quitting.  Ali agrees to help coach Jake in boxing for the brigade tournament and life ends happily ever after.
Just a few comments: I am not a big James Franco fan.  I thought he almost personally ruined a couple of the Spiderman movies.  Well, close anyway.  I have never heard of Jordana Brewster, but the camera loved her in this movie.  I had to check the Wiki-background on this actress because I could hardly believe she has done nothing I’ve seen in the eleven years since this movie came out.  She reminds me of a (Latin and younger) Jennifer Connelly.  Anyway, Brewster has worked, but I’ve just not seen any of it (TV or movies).  Finally, I like Tyrese Gibson!  I liked him in the Transformers movie series and I liked him in this role.  He and Brewster have both been in the Fast And Furious movie series, but I haven’t seen any of them so I can’t really comment on them in those roles.  Tyrese is multi-talented, but I wish he was able to focus more on acting.  I think he could be another Denzel Washington – and that’s saying quite a bit.
Final recommendation: better than most movies in this genre – moderate to strong recommendation.
Atlas Shrugged (1, 2 and 3) – (2011, 2012, 2013)
Back in 2012 I reviewed the first movie in this trilogy (see review here).  If anything, each movie in the series got worse.  I picked up I and II on sale for $5 each.  #1 was probably worth it.  #2 was not.  I saw #3 on YouTube.  The quality of the film was not high, but it was still better than anything else about the movie.   Terrible acting, terrible actors, terrible writing and absolutely no explanation of the reasons behind Ayn Rand’s popularity (objectivism or libertarianism).  Use the six hours of your life to do something productive and don’t watch these films.
Final recommendation:  not recommended movie(s).  You’ll get more from reading the book, than you’ll EVER get from watching these three movies.
Again, apologies for the length of this post but that’s four highly recommended, one moderate to strong recommendation and three not recommended.
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On This Day In:
2014 Get Wisdom
2013 Enjoying The View?
2012 Adam’s Rib
2011 I’m Sure I Remember That…
Memorial Day, 2011

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Back at work now for a week after my thirty days off for vacation.  Hil, Sarah and I flew to Liverpool, U.K. to visit her family for three weeks (Sarah has stayed an extra two weeks and will be back soon).  We flew out of Oakland, to Portland, on to Amsterdam, and then into John Lennon / Liverpool International Airport (aka Speke Airport).  The return trip was via Seattle instead of Portland.  All the flights were surprising comfortable and there were no problems at all.  The most interesting thing was we took a turboprop on the initial leg of the trip (from Oakland to Portland).  This was only the third time I’ve ever flown in a propeller aircraft and it was the first time it was quiet.  I would say it was quieter than a jet – particularly on the takeoff and landing.  I was expecting to have to shout to Hil, but we could speak at normal volumes.
We had a wonderful time visiting with family and old friends and I felt particularly relaxed by the whole experience.  We stayed close to Liverpool and just enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the jewel at the mouth of the Mersey.  The weather was surprising agreeable – in fact, I would say the first four days we were there it was “hot” (in the low 80s).  Very pleasant for us coming from Concord, CA (in the 90s).  I was hoping for more rain.  We did get some, but it was mostly intermittent and not a bother at all.  “Just enough to keep the dust down,” is how it’s described in Scouser.
Books
I took a number of books along with me, hoping to be motivated enough to get through them.  I wasn’t.  I made the “mistake” of purchasing a Sudoku book at the airport and ended up wasting many hours in simple entertainment.  I find the pattern matching in Sudoku to be extremely relaxing even though it seems to also involve a great deal of mental concentration.  Anyway, the three books I did complete were: The Art Of Pitching, written by Tom Seaver (1984©) with Lee Lowenfish, “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons“, written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., (1976©), and “A Christian’s Pocket Guide To Islam“, written by Patrick Sookhdeo (2001©).
If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you probably are aware of my re-kindled interest in baseball (in general) and the San Francisco Giants (in particular).  Hil and I have watch most of the games this season and I would estimate we’d seen some of all but three games – up until we left for our vacation.  Anticipating I was going to be suffering from baseball withdrawal, I took along Tom Seaver’s book to ease my suffering.  The book is an excellent guide to learning about the mechanics of pitching and I would highly recommend it for a junior level baseball coach or 10 to 12 year old who dreams of becoming a high school, college, or Big League pitcher.  For me, there were many insights into the mechanics, but not a lot on the strategy of pitching to a specific hitter or work a game.  Seaver does spend the last chapter going pitch by pitch through a game (he wins it), but it was somehow lacking in what I was hoping for.  I’m not sure what I was looking for, but this didn’t quite “get it” for me.  Anyway, it did help me get through the three weeks without watching a game and I do highly recommend this short volume to anyone interested in the mechanical side of pitching and picture preparation.
Many years ago, I read a few of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.  The one which struck me the most was “Slaughter House Five“, but I enjoyed the couple I read and I bought several more intending to complete more of his works.  Well, life got in the way and I’ve never gotten around to them.  I found a few of his quotes on another blog I subscribe to (and copied them to my own), but they tickled my fancy about getting back to the ones I’ve not read.  “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons” is one of those unread works.  This is actually a terrific little book about science fiction, life, war, peace and honesty.   I highly recommend it!!  One story on Biafra was particularly touching; another (a SciFi story) on prolonged life was particularly frightening.  As I said – highly recommended.  And now I really do want to read several of his other works which have been sitting on my shelf for thirty odd years…
The third book I completed, “Pocket Guide To Islam“, was a very thin book I found at Hil’s mum’s place.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect reading it.  It seems to be written by a Christian minister who has spent some time studying Islam.  I would say the book captures the basic story, philosophy, historical facts of the religion, but I don’t feel the book conveys the depth of feeling or nuanced interpretation of a Muslim.  Of course, not being Muslim myself, I may be completely incorrect, but my direct experience with Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Arabic Muslims is not in complete agreement with some of the minor facts in the book and therefore I find it difficult to accept the whole of the work.  Still, I do feel the author seems to be coming from a willingness to accept conversion to Christianity by Muslims.  I’m just not sure the author says anything which would help a Christian convert a Muslim, even if the Muslim were personally willing to listen to an attempt at conversion.
Movies
Including one movie I saw after I got home from Liverpool, I’ve seen fourteen new movies during my thirty days off.  They include: The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle, The Green Hornet, A Law Abiding Citizen, Grand Torino, Transformers 3, Defiance, Invictus, True Grit (the new version), Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2, Battle: Los Angeles, The Lincoln Lawyer, Country Strong, and Captain America (in 3D and normal the following day).  Wow!!  (That’s some sittin’ around on your duff – even for me!)
The Adjustment Bureau: another good, solid performance by Matt Damon.  Is life pre-ordained or is there free will?  See the movie and then you decide…  Highly recommended as an adult, thinking movie.
The Eagle: a surprising entertaining movie about Romans in England (Scotland, actually, but why nit-pick).  Reminiscent of the first battle scene in Gladiator (which I also enjoyed), but this is the longer, drawn out version.  Not great, but a solid “man’s” movie.
The Green Hornet: mostly a dud.  Very disappointing.  I’ve never seen Seth Rogen in anything before and this movie will go a long way in making sure I make NO effort to see him again soon.  Reminiscent of the Adam West Batman TV series, but I don’t think they were going for the high camp that made the TV series tolerable (sometimes very funny).  Save two hours of your life and do something else besides watching this.  You’ve been warned…
A Law Abiding Citizen: if you liked The Usual Suspects, you’ll probably like this movie.  I enjoyed them both for what they are – good, solid, adult, storytelling.  Perhaps too much implied violence for the young or squeamish, but otherwise, solid entertainment!
Grand Torino: Wow!!  I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching a serious movie.  Clint Eastwood at his best!!  Shades of Archie Bunker from “All In The Family“.  A serious movie about racism, hope, coming of age – AND it is laugh out loud funny because it’s so well written and acted.
Transformers 3:  Not as good as T1 or T2, but still pretty good summer entertainment.  If you want to see robots kicking each other around, this is it!  The down side is you have to sit through about 45 minutes of blah, blah, blah about the hero (Shia Labeouf) and why Megan Fox isn’t in the movie.  Next time, just say, “the part of Megan Fox will be played by…” and get on with the robots fighting.  Another thing: you don’t HAVE to include every character from every earlier movie.  Still, I’ll pick it up when it comes out in DVD for X-mas (cause I’m that kind of guy).  I saw this opening weekend, in 3D.  I’m not sure it added much to the movie.  Again, I’m left unimpressed with 3D technology…
Defiance:  an interesting movie about some Russian Jews who resisted the Nazis during WWII.  Based on a true story, it’s not a documentary and it’s not “entertaining”.  Worth seeing and interesting.  Stars Daniel Craig of James Bond fame.  Okay acting – moderate recommendation.
Invictus:  I was expecting a rugby version of Rocky, but instead this was a major bio of support for Nelson Mandela with Rocky thrown in for good measure.  If you like leadership movies and or sports movies about underdogs who win, this is for you.  I highly recommend it (on both counts)!!  Oh, yeah, Matt Damon stars (again).  He is rapidly compiling a significant body of work.
True Grit (the new version) – pretty much follows the original John Wayne classic and then disappoints (me) at the end.  It’s a more realistic ending, but who cares – it’s not a four-poster.  I’d watch them both if I were you and then let me know which you think is better.  This version has Jeff Bridges playing John Wayne (I mean Rooster Cogburn) and it’s a good solid performance.  Oh, yeah, there’s Matt Damon again…  Recommended, but definitely see the first version too.
Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2: a good, solid movie and ending to the series.  I am not a devotee to the books, but I felt it was fairly close.  Interestingly, they did not make the same mistake as Transformers 3, they assume you saw the other movies or read the books, cover the transition into the part two movie in about ten minutes tops and get on with the rest of the story.  I saw this on opening day with Sarah, in Liverpool, in 3D.  For some reason, the things not immediately focused on were blurry.  I’m not sure if this was meant to increase the feel of the 3D or not, but I did not find 3D added much to the movie.  I will definitely pick this up on DVD (in 2D).  Highly recommended if you’ve seen any of the other earlier movies…
Battle: Los Angeles: this was probably the surprise movie of the bunch for me.  I did NOT expect anything from the movie except the pleasure of (once again) seeing Los Angeles get destroyed.  Unfortunately, LA gets saved, but at least it gets thoroughly trashed before it gets saved and the movie is a good action movie.  It’s gung-ho, Marines, oo-rah, but who cares…  It stars Aaron Eckhart (who I first noticed and loved in The Core) and he makes a surprisingly good Marine sergeant.  It’s definitely over the top for the military and the Marines and I loved it.  Great summer entertainment.  Highly recommended.  Oo-rah!!
The Lincoln Lawyer:  a smart law / lawyer movie.  Who would have thunk it?  Stars Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer who does much of his work from a mini-office in a classic Lincoln towncar (oh, I get the title now).  Of course, he’s also out to do the right thing and help the down-trodden – just like ol’ Honest Abe (oh, I get the title now).  Not as interesting as A Law Abiding Citizen (above), but another entertaining adult movie.  Recommended, but not quite highly recommended.
Country Strong: first let’s get the facts out of the way – 1) I listen to country music (a lot), and 2) I think Gwyneth Paltrow is a beautiful and talented actress.  Still, the movie didn’t reach me.  The songs were not that good and the performances (of the songs) were not that good either.  I just didn’t believe Paltrow was a star or the up and coming male singer was up and coming.  I also just didn’t buy into the story of the producer / husband, either.  I know there’s a lot of that in all forms of the music industry – I just didn’t buy it.  This movie came highly recommended by my daughter (Rebecca), but I think she misjudged me on it.  It was okay, but I would not really recommend it and I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it (it was on the flight home).
Captain America:  This was a first for me…  I saw the movie twice – on consecutive days – first in 3D and then in normal 2D.  I was supposed to see it with my son, James, over the weekend, but I went up to visit my brother, Sean, and he wanted to go see it with his son.  So the three of us went to his local movie house.  I really enjoyed the movie!  Of course, it’s VERY over the top on patriotism and rah-rah America, but it’s about World War II and Captain America.  If you can’t get past that, why did you plan to go see the movie?  Chris Evans is much more believable in this role than he was as the Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies.  I think it’s because Evans really does play the role seriously (completely unlike Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet).  I also feel Hugo Weaving made a great Red Skull (the bad guy).  I noticed the same blurring of out of primary focus characters in the 3D version (the same effect I saw in HP-Hallows Part 2).  I did not notice the blurring in the 2D version, so again, I’m thinking it’s something the director is trying to do to add depth to the movie or it’s the result of something funky in 3D movie technique.  It doesn’t work for me.
While I’ve stated several times I am not a big 3D fan, I must admit when I watched both versions in close proximity, I missed the 3D effect.  Somehow, my mind remembered and I was expecting it, and I noticed not getting it in the 2D version.  I doubt this will ever happen again, because I doubt I’ll pay to see two version so close together – but it was an interesting sensory experience.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!  You get a No-prize and a promise I’ll try not to do another marathon blog like this for a while.
I’ve got more to say about our trip to Liverpool and photos – but that’s for another day/blog.
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