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Posts Tagged ‘Oscars’

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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I like rom-coms and I like fantasy movies.  Today’s reviews are for two movies which combine the rom-com and the guardian angel (fantasy) genres:  “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait“.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1941 and (as far as I know) was one of the first movies where the idea of an angel or guardian angel featured as a prominent plot point in the film.  The movie stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a boxer and the “hero”), Rita Johnson as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), John Emery as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), James Gleason as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer / manager), Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 (the angel in training) and Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).
The premise is a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a boxer dies before his championship fight because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (becoming champ).  The problem is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his title and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a black-and-white film which is overacted and simple to follow, but also genuinely funny and enduring.  I am quite certain I’d seen this movie in my youth, but I have no idea when it would have been.  I watched this with my wife, (who likes old movies but doesn’t normally like comedies,) and she both enjoyed it and actually laughed a couple of times.  You could knock me over with a feather…  Her reaction:  “This is the kind of movie I would have watched with my nana when I was young.”  Final recommendation: strong.  While not intended to be a “period piece”, this certainly is one – and it’s a pretty good one on that alone.  Throw in the rom-com and you’ve got a movie worth watching with your family.
Heaven Can Wait  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1978 and is a pretty straight forward remake of the original with minor character changes.  The movie stars Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a American football quarterback and the “hero”), Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), Charles Grodin as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), Jack Warden as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer), Julie Christie as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Buck Henry as “the Escort” (instead of “Messenger 7013” – the angel in training) and James Mason as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).  I have no idea why two Brits were chosen to play the main angels in both films.  I think it was for the accent – to make them sound more heavenly.  (LOL)
The premise(s) remain a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a quarterback dies before his championship game (the Super Bowl) because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (winning the Super Bowl).  The problem (again) is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his Super Bowl and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a color film which is somewhat overacted (particularly by Cannon and Grodin – for laughs) and not as funny as the original (Warden isn’t as funny as Gleason), but it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Actor and Best Picture) and won one (not one of the main Oscars).  I saw this movie in my youth during its original release.  I did not watch this version with my wife who felt she didn’t want to “spoil” the memory of the original by watching the updated version.  Final recommendation: strong.  While not quite up to the original, it’s a pretty good remake.  And, again, a family film.
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On This Day In:
2017 All Greek To Me
2016 Judgment
2015 I Love Bacon, Too
2014 The Wee Bit
2013 Reading Rules
2012 Cadet Prayer
2011 Easy To Tell
2010 A NEW Lion In The Senate (Channeling Mr. Smith)
Inception Redux
A Quick Hit Of Stats

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)  —  movie review
WAAAYYY back in August 2016, I wrote a post about a documentary, a movie preview (“trailer”), and a few comments on something I’d discovered on YouTube which I then called “trailer reviews”.  Here is a link to that post for anyone who would like to read my earlier post:  https://kmabarrett.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/conscientious-courage/
At any rate, the movie came out and, for whatever reason, I never have reviewed it.  This post corrects that mistake.  (My earlier post was about the documentary / subject of the movie and not on the actual movie.)
The film is a typically formatted two-part military tale focusing on the World War II training (pre-military life / boot camp), and then, (actual) combat experiences of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who was a pacifist / Seventh-day Adventist Christian, who refused to touch, carry or use a firearm or weapon of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The medal was for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa (April to June 1945).  It should be mentioned, the movie implies the battle shown was a few days / nights long.  In fact, it (the battle shown) lasted a couple of weeks and the battle for the island several months.  Also, Doss received medals for two acts of courage in combat (on two other islands) which preceded this battle on Okinawa, so his courage was already known by his fellow soldiers before the events depicted in this movie.
Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, and Hugo Weaving (Mr. Smith from the Matrix movies) as his father, with Sam Worthington (the blue guy in “Avatar”) as Doss’ company commander and Vince Vaughn as his drill instructor and platoon sergeant.  The film received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Sound Editing, and winning the awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
First we are introduced to Doss as a child and learn about his desire to be a doctor.  We also meet his girlfriend and future wife.  (Normally, I would describe all of this as “Blah, blah, blah…”, but in this movie, the background really is important to the story – imagine that!)  Doss joins the Army and is placed under the training of Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn, who is surprisingly good in this wise-cracking, but non-comedic role).  Despite being skinny, Doss excels physically but is cast as a coward to his platoon for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays.  Howell and Captain Glover (Worthington, who looks surprisingly old in this role) attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons but are overruled, as Doss’ religious beliefs do not qualify as a mental illness.  So, instead, they try to make life hard on Doss.  One night, Doss is beaten by some of the members of his own platoon, but Doss refuses to identify his attackers and completes his training.
Doss intends to marry Dorothy (his girlfriend played by Teresa Palmer), but his refusal to carry a firearm leads to an arrest for failing to follow a direct order by a commanding officer.  At his trial, Doss pleads not guilty, but before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal with a letter from a former commanding officer (of the father) stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by an Act of Congress.  The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.
Doss’ unit is deployed to the Pacific theater, and during the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’ unit is told that they have to climb and secure the Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”).  In the initial fight, Doss saves several wounded soldiers.  The platoon camps for the night, which Doss spends in a foxhole with Smitty (played by Luke Bracey), who was the first squad-mate to call Doss a coward back in his training platoon days.  Doss tells Smitty his refusal to carry a rifle comes from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a pistol.  Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage and the two reconcile.  This last is definitely meant to create a “heart-felt” moment and my immediate reaction was: this guy is either going to be a friend for life or he’s going to be a “redshirt” (LOL – StarTrek TOS reference for you nerds out there).
The next day, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment.  Smitty is killed (ha! a redshirt), while Howell and several of Doss’ squad mates are left injured on the battlefield.  Doss hears the cries of the wounded and dying soldiers and goes back to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff’s edge and belaying them each down the cliff face by rope, each time praying to save just one more.  The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below.  When day breaks, Doss rescues Sergeant Howell and the two escape over the cliff while under enemy fire. Just a historical note on the escarpment / cliff face.  The escarpment is actually about a 300-400 foot “overall” rise which is topped by the last 30 to 40 feet of sheer cliff.  This last bit – the cliff face – is given a bit of dramatic enhancement by the film’s director (Mel Gibson) who makes the last bit seem like the whole thing.
Captain Glover tells Doss that the men have been inspired by his courage and faith, and that they will not launch the next attack without him.  With new reinforcements, they win the battle.  When some Japanese soldiers fake surrender, Doss saves Captain Glover and others by slapping and then kicking (nice Spidey move) enemy grenades.  Doss is wounded in the leg by the kicked grenades blast, and Doss descends the cliff, holding the Bible his wife gave him.
The film switches to archival photos and footage from the documentary to show Doss receiving his Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for rescuing the 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge.  The notes state Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991, and, that he died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, his fellow soldiers reported Doss saved over 100 men.  Doss estimated he “helped” 50.  His CMoH split the difference an said “75”!!!
So, what did I think? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I loved the documentary; I cried during the preview (okay, maybe I just welled up a bit); and, I loved the movie (and, yes, I did cry)!!  This is not a movie about war – which is what I originally thought it was going to be about.  This is a movie about the human spirit, faith and courage.  Needless to say – final recommendation: very highly recommended.  One note of caution: like several of Gibson’s movies, this one is graphic in the display of violence and in the horrors of war.  As such, it is not appropriate for the very young or the squeamish.
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On This Day In:
2017 Talent Hates To Move
2016 Looking To November
2015 It Isn’t The End
Prospero’s Precepts
2014 Friends
2013 Learning Bitter
2012 Remembrance, Minstrels & Going Off To War
May I Have More Happiness, Please?
2011 There Is No God, But God
2010 Another Running Book…

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