I was fortunate enough to get to preview this film with two of the most important women in my life, my mother and my daughter. Thanks to the Arkansas Cinema Society for the opportunity!
I always knew that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer, but seeing the story of her early career on screen... put it all in perspective. Thanks to her and women (and men) like her, my daughter has more choices than I had just 23 short years ago. I will say there was one historical inaccuracy. Back in the '70s... firefighters were firemen because women were the auxiliary and didn't go into burning buildings. (At least where I lived and that is another story about how I became a firefighter.) Once you get to that part, you'll know. If you want to know the whole history of women in the fire service you can, just click here. Or women in combat, which thanks to the laws being changed, we can now do. But women have served honorably in combat for a long time. Don't believe me? Here's a document that gives a timeline of women in combat.
If you have the chance to go see this film, wherever you are... do it. Take the women in your lives to see just how the battle for equality for all started. It started with a tax law assuming that women would be solely in the caregiver role. Interesting. It is in limited release now and everywhere 11 January.
Felicity Jones (Rogue One) did a fantastic job as Justice Ginsburg. I don't think there could have been another better.
Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as Martin Ginsburg... he redeemed himself with this role from the terror that was unleashed with The Lone Ranger and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Same Waterston and Kathy Bates have supporting roles and are fantastic as always.
Mimi Leder directs the cast and turns the script by Daniel Stiepleman into a moving work of art. Easily one of the best films I've seen.
So, if you're a Nic Cage fan you've probably already heard about SpectreVision's movie "Mandy." Did you also know that it's out in theatres and video-on-demand? One of the first movies to take a shot at this type of marketing and it seems to be working. On the iTunes chart it's 11th over all as of Friday. 7th in Action Adventure, 3rd in Independent, 2nd in Horror, & 4th in Thrillers. The soundtrack is 8th overall and was featured on the iTunes homepage.
I did get to see this movie on the 13th of September. As an investor in Legion M, we had access to a special viewing before the official release date. I'll say that "Mandy" earned it's R rating!
Red Miller and his girl, Mandy, lead a quiet life until Jeremiah Sands, leader of the Children of the New Dawn, sees her and has to have her. Jeremiah plots to have her, but she rejects him and he kills her in front of Red. (Well, duh, of course that's going to make anyone want to seek revenge!) It's all downhill from there.
Panos Casmatos had a vision and brought it to life. It was a great homage to the early 80s, "Heavy Metal," and the horror/revenge genre. It was a trippy adventure full of blood and rage. Oh, and #NicCage gave a a great performance. I will advise, there is some full-frontal nudity of the male variety. (Thanks for that Panos!)
I will caution you, this is a "midnight" movie. You may not be into it and that's okay. I recommend checking out the trailer first.
If "Mandy" isn't screening in a theatre near you, here's a few ways you can get your hands on it to complete your Nic Cage collection:
So, I took my daughter to see the first part of the epic wrap up to a story that started ten years ago with Iron Man. For us, this was a tradition... I took her out of school early but let me back up just a little bit here.
I was in the Army for those of you that didn't know (or read that over in the short bio over on the sidebar). Back in 2008, I knew I was going to be deployed but we weren't sure if it was to Iraq or Afghanistan. We had a pretty good idea but with the military, nothing is ever certain. So, I made the conscious decision to do something fun and memorable with my daughter before I spent weeks away preparing for deployment. I figured I like comic books and Iron Man was about the best you can get (at the time) for comic book movies (Sorry Stan, I can't put comic and book together... maybe when spell check catches up). It was a great adventure and Iron Man, in my opinion for effects, got better with each appearance in a movie. I did a repeat with every Marvel movie that came out while she was in elementary and middle school. I think we only missed Thor 2 & 3, GotG 1 & 2, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man. My kid and I have a history with the franchise. So, why wouldn't we go see the newest installment? Next year... well that will be different. Next year will be our last MCU film together before she goes off to college. (I'm not crying, you're crying. Stupid ninja cutting onions behind me...)
I'll tell you right now... if you're a casual MCU watcher... catch up, fast. I hadn't finished GotG 2 or Thor 3 and there were major spoilers.
Some fan theories were busted but one big one was confirmed! Red Skull is not Thanos but he does play a part and that is all I will say about that.
It was a great theatrical presentation. Very vivid color. You cheer, you laugh, you gasp, and yes, you may shed a tear (and that was in the first 10 minutes) as you watch the story unfold on the screen. So much thought went into each section of the script to keep it all flowing... I'm impressed. As a writer myself, I know how hard it is to keep the continuity for a few characters let alone twenty-nine! Mind you, that is not counting the rest of the minor characters. IMDB states there were ninety-eight souls listed in the cast list.
If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend that you go. However, if you have a younger child that doesn't grasp the concept of "movie death" leave them home. (We had a child in the theatre, about 5 or so that cried, loudly, when his favorite character "died" on screen. I will tell you, it disrupted the moment.) If you're a Game of Thrones fan ... Peter Dinklage plays a larger-than-life role.
To keep this truly spoiler free ... Avengers: Infinity War definitely earned its $630 million. What do they have in store for fans May 2019?
Wow. Just...wow. I will try not to spoil this for anyone. If you're thinking that this will be another "Empire" you are sadly mistaken. If you're looking for the answer to "Is Jedi plural?" yeah, I'm not gonna answer that for you...
I'd like to point out that I counted 5, possibly 6 but that would be a SPOILER, hero's journeys.
Here's a quick run down:
1. Rey - she has been a reluctant hero since the beginning of TFA, but with TLJ she owns the journey.
2. Finn - is he a coward or is he just concerned for his friend? He is the epitome (IMHO) of a reluctant hero, yet he turns out to be pretty badass.
3. Luke - I know, how is he a part of this? Watch the movie and you'll see. He, too, is a reluctant hero, yet he finally owns the destiny he was meant for. And if you've watched @hamillhimself on Instagram, you already know he says Luke is more of a mentor. FYI, he's still pretty good with a lightsaber.
4. Poe - he's a hero and he knows it. He strives to be as heroic as people think he is because he feels he has to live up to the legend that is Poe Dameron, Ace Resistance Pilot.
5. Rose - a new character to the story but a wonderful addition! You don't realize she's on her own journey until later in the movie and that moment is amazing. It would be a shame if J.J. Abrams didn't use that for IX.
I have a complaint... they took a cheap shot at Rey's linage. It had been teased for months that we'd finally learn who Rey's parents were. Now, we all "saw" in TFA that Rey's parents left her. Or did we? No one really knows and Rey can't really be reliable to answer that. So, that still leaves the burning question... who are Rey's parents? There are other things in the film that point toward her parents being members of the Resistance and you know which ones I'm talking about.
Porgs... you've seen them, unless you've been under a rock, then here's a quick explanation. They're birds from Luke's island. And they're adorable. They are not Ewoks and they are not the next Jar Jar Binks. However, they are cute little scene stealers!
To sum up the movie without spoilers... Yay for the good guys... Oh $#!t for the bad guys. Oh, *SOB* for the good guys.
If you haven't booked your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now you will.
Come back in a week or so for a spoiler filled review.
I was one of a fair amount of folks sitting in a dark theatre at my local cineplex waiting on the new Wonder Woman movie last night. As has become Hollywood tradition, theatres pre-release new releases the day before their actual release date. It's seems a bit... counterproductive in terms of opening weekend numbers. But with this movie, I feel these "preview" showings were important since Warner Bros. didn't invest as much in the way of marketing as they did Suicide Squad. Were they worried they'd have another Catwoman on their hands? Well, they shouldn't have fretted about that.
The story line is great, however a bit problematic with setting it in WWI. A friend of mine pointed that out. If Diana was still in London for WWII would she really have let Hitler happen? I'm thinking that's a big fat no. Over look that for a moment. The pacing was great. (There wasn't a really good time to exit the theatre for more snacks or other business.) The costuming was outstanding (my daughter wants her own set of Wonder Woman armor to cosplay). The effects, locations and overall quality of the film were much better than anyone could have asked for.
Gal Gadot is a badass. Not just because she plays my childhood hero and owned the role in ways that Hollywood never thought Lynda Carter could back in the day. (Lynda Carter was a badass too, don't get me wrong.) She served two years, as required, in the Israel Defense Force with a role as combat trainer. She taught gymnastics and calisthenics. Add that to the self defense that the military is taught and we have a badass.
The themes are obvious: Good vs. Evil, Ancient God vs. Humanity, Love vs. Hate, and the loss of innocence. The film really was about Diana's coming of age if you will. We're introduced to the adult version and a memory from the past whisks us back to her childhood. We learn how Diana was raised, how much she doesn't know about the world outside Themyscira and that the Queen is over protective by not allowing Diana to train with the other Amazons. When Steve Trevor crashes his way to the island everything Diana knows is challenged but she still believes in good people and bad people. So she leaves to go fight the war with her wayward pilot.
There's love, explosions, gunfire and lots of girl power. I won't give away any other details of the film but I will tell you... go see it! You won't be sorry! (Wonder Woman will be the DC movie-verse's saving grace!)
So, this thing happened this past weekend called “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” No, I’ll try not to spoil it for you but I will tell you there has been an uproar over the publication of the SCRIPT. Yes, read that. I said script not book. Folks pre-ordered the book and thought they were getting an actual book. Yikes. No. That’s not what happened at all. It was clearly stated that the release would be a script. I can’t understand how people don’t know the difference.
Here’s my two cents on actually reading the item in question, but I will tell you up front, I have a theatre background and reading plays is not out of the ordinary for me. Now, moving on…
The book/script has about 301 pages, that’s including the “act breaks” and excluding the beginning “intro” pages as well as the ending cast list and acknowledgements. So if you take out the extra blank pages, it’s shorter than a HP novel. If you can, like I did, picture Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Bonnie Wright in their roles, but older then you’ll do just fine reading this addition to the collection. But if you’re the kind of person that needs all the description and action filled in for you then… don’t bother. If you want to know more, read on.
The play begins nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts and we find ourselves seeing Albus off to Hogwarts for the first time and meeting Scorpius Malfoy. (Let me point out now that J.K. Rowling did not write the whole story but she did contribute. Jack Thorne wrote the play.) Then, we skip to years 2, 3, (with brief pauses in each) and land on 4 where the play takes place, all in the span of a few pages. It’s enough to give any stage manager, even a rock star, a headache, but we make it. Albus doesn’t like school, being Harry Potter’s son will do that, apparently. This story does not focus on Harry Potter. It focuses on Albus. It focuses on the dynamic between father and son, both Harry’s relationship with Albus and Draco’s relationship with Scorpius.
Albus feels the need to prove himself worthy of being the great Harry Potter’s son and gets into trouble doing it. He usually has Scorpius in tow, who also feels enormous pressure being Draco Malfoy’s son. More due to the rumors that Scorpius is not Draco’s but Voldemort’s. (That would be impossible without the help of a time-turner and we all know those were destroyed in the Battle of the Ministry in book 5!)
I won’t tell you anymore. You’ll have to read it for yourself. In my opinion, it’s a quick read and a good addition to the world, however I think it would have been fuller and richer had it been a novel. I was not disappointed. After all, I did spend my time in line to get it.
Okay, you'll be warned now. This will have a few spoilers. But really? It's been a month and a half, almost two months. If you're here you should have seen it, or you want to know a little a bout it before you take your family to see it. Well, this post isn't so much a review as a rebuttal to all the haters that think J.J. Abrams copied bits from A New Hope for The Force Awakens.
Why am I point out the hero's journey? Because every story has it. If you pick up a copy of Myth and Movies by Stuart Voytilla he takes a look at fifty classic films and points out the hero's journey in each. Every writer knows, whether they realize it or not, that the story must have this journey. So, here's a comparison of ANH and TFA featuring Luke Skywalker and Rey (Solo, I doubt she's a Skywalker but that's for another post).
To first disprove that the movie was "ripped off" from the original, it didn't start the same. One started in space with Leia trying to avoid capture with the stolen plans to the Death Star (which if you want to read the Empire's version of events, Tarkin by James Lucerno is a pretty good read). The other started with someone offering the Resistance the last piece to a map to find Luke that the New Order didn't have. And they were on a planet. (All though I'm thinking Max Von Sydow's character was really one of the Jedi historians that knew much more than he let on.)
We already know our reluctant heroes, Luke and Rey. How are they reluctant? Let's examine where we first meet them.
Luke we meet on Tatooine, a desert world in the Outer Rim. He's in the care of his aunt and uncle who are moisture farmers, left there by Obi-wan as an infant after the death of Padme. (Okay, if you didn't know that please review Episode III.) His uncle acquires two droids from the Jawas and it's Luke's responsibility to ensure they are ready to begin work the next day. (Got that? If you're here you should already know that!) R2-D2 runs away beginning the chain of events that takes Luke on his adventure.
Rey is a scavenger on Jakku, a desert world we can assume is in the Outer Rim. (I don't recall it being mentioned but I'll have to read the novelization to see!) She's on her own and has been since she was a child and dropped on the planet. She has little memory of her family but she firmly believes that they will come back for her. She rescues BB-8 from another scavenger and he follows her knowing that she is a good person and will be able to help him complete his mission. This doesn't start her journey but it's a good indicator that something is going to happen. She meets Finn and this begins her journey.
Some of the things happen out of order from the traditional hero's journey, so here's what's what. Usually during what's called "The Separation" there's the call, the refusal, and meeting the mentor. In the case of Star Wars, it doesn't work that way.
Luke meets Obi-wan/Ben first, then gets the call from Ben.
The refusal of the call...
Luke refuses, at first, to go with Ben on some damn fool adventure. Ben chides him saying that was his uncle talking and indeed Uncle Owen didn't want Luke to leave.
Rey, on the other hand, doesn't meet her mentor in the Force, unless you count General Leia and Han Solo, then you could say she meets her mentors after then call but as she's so strong in the Force... I have trouble seeing that. She gets the call to adventure from Finn, then Han and then Leia. (Wait, Leia? You've seen the movie? Yeah... think about it.)
Rey's refusal is repeated over and over as she says she has to get back to Jakku to wait for her family through most of the first third of the movie.
Crossing the threshold...
Luke crosses the threshold when they discover the Jawas that sold the droids to his uncle have been slaughtered and he returns home to find both his aunt and uncle had been murdered. Here, he now realizes that he has nothing left on Tatooine and leaving is now the only option. He accepts his call to adventure.
Rey's repetitive "I have to get back to Jakku" tells us that she doesn't fully accept her call. She runs from her future when it's laid out before her in the treasure room at Maz's and she's captured by Kylo Ren. This, I believe, is where she crosses her threshold since it's not as clearly defined as Luke's threshold.
Tests, Allies, and Enemies...
Luke's enemies are pretty clear cut as are Rey's. The Empire and the New Order, respectively, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. But, as Luke and Vader, there seems to be more of a connection to Rey and Kylo. (If Abrams is as much of a fanboy as he claims he is he will have undoubtedly read the EU that has been lovingly crafted over the years and Rey will be Kylo's twin sister, which makes sense right? She's a strong light side to his dark side Jania and Jacen Solo in the EU. But that's my opinion.)
The Inner Most Cave & The Ordeal
This is where I rely on Stuart Voytilla's book for ANH because at this point in viewing the film I become so engrossed I lose all track of what I'm supposed to be doing!
Voytilla says that this is where Obi-wan separates himself from the group. I don't necessarily agree but this is where the group moves into the Death Star to rescue Leia and escape to get her and R2 back to the Rebellion. They do get them back, Han leaves with his reward but not before Luke has his say. The Rebellion goes on to attack the Death Star.
For TFA this is also a bit ... different. There isn't a clearly defined moment. You could argue that it begins with the battle at Maz's and continues with the rescue of Rey (insert a sad moment that in Ep VIII may not be all that sad) and the destruction of the planet killer. The battle here between Finn and Kylo is so extraordinary. (When Kylo felt an awakening in the Force I don't think he necessarily meant Rey. I think he meant Finn. I think that's why Finn's "programming" didn't hold when he saw what was happening at the village in the beginning.) According to EU, not many can wield a lightsaber with such efficiency.
Kylo unknowingly taught Rey her own strength in the Force while holding her prisoner. She already knew of the Jedi lore and accepted it after Han told her that everything about the Jedi she'd heard was true.
For Luke it's an obvious moment, he and Han are awarded medals by Princess Leia.
For Rey, it's taking the Falcon out, which she and Chewie now pilot together, to find Luke. Here is where she finds her mentor.
After examining the journeys of our heroes... how can anyone say that TFA ripped off ANH? Some elements were mere homages to the original but nothing like it at all. I loved Episode VII and I can't wait for Episode VIII. I just hope we don't do away with the EU all together! I want to see Mara Jade Skywalker the former Emperor's Hand turned Jedi Master.
This post was also a product of my daughter studying the Hero's Journey in her Pre-AP English class in school. Thank you to her teacher for allowing her to use Star Wars: A New Hope.
So, I was all over this when Sony said they weren't going to release it in the theatre. I said I would pay money to see it just on principle. However, I am now glad I didn't waste the cash! I caught this awful monstrosity on Netflix.
The premise I can live with because it's a good one. Poison strip on the hand was just a bit too easy so lets toss in some "honeypotting" or well, "honeyd'ing", which I don't know if it's really called that but hey whatever. James Franco's character Dave Skylark is an idiot where Seth Rogen's character, Aaron Rapaport, is not. He's, in fact, quite the opposite. He's the intelligent guy who did a friend a favor and is now stuck with Dave.
There are gratuitous drug and drinking binges that make you question what the movie is really about. All though it does set up several scenes later in the movie. There was some unnecessary carnage and subtle gay jokes. Okay, so they weren't so subtle especially in the Eminem interview. The whole movie screams one big gay joke, right down to Margaritas and Katy Perry being a sign of "gayness."
In the party scene near the beginning of the film, there was plenty of drug references as well as flashes of boobs. Wow. I thought I was watching Porky's for a few seconds. There was a juvenile quality in what could have been a great movie.
I can say I was disappointed in the humor that Rogen brought to the film and some of the lines weren't that great, cringe worthy at best. Maybe I'm still a little miffed that Rogen didn't think his comment about American Sniper would be misinterpreted. No, it's not that. I was looking forward to this film and it was lacking. So what does that say a bout Rogen as he had a hand in the story line and the directing? I know a lot of people didn't like Green Hornet but I did.
Before you waste your time ... if you are easily grossed out by blood or bodily functions, skip this flick.
There wasn't much chatter coming out of the theatre all though I was a bit incensed by one quiet conversation as we all filed out. There was someone that didn't know the ending of the film. What?!? I wanted to turn around and ask if she paid attention to the news. The story of Chris Kyle was splashed everywhere upon his death. But, no offense to anyone, what should I have expected from a civilian?
Having read the book in which the movies is based on, I will offer a comparison and opinion of both.
The movie starts off brilliantly, in the middle of the first tour and just as he pulls the trigger for his first kill in country, bam! We cut to the Chris that would become "The Legend" and his first deer. Sheer genius on the part of the director and the editors. It introduces us to the innocence and shows us how he was brought up. His father so obviously influences his choices and his attitudes that he expressed in his adult years. He stands up for his brother and this is where we learn why Chris did what he did. As another American hero, albeit fictional, says (or to some effect) "I don't tolerate bullies." That's pretty much what this man was about.
Now, this is where it gets Hollywood. The movie tracks the missions and the storyline is spotted with his life at home. Which is perfectly acceptable as this was about his time as a sniper with his SEAL team. But part of the driving force behind his motivation is the need to protect his family and his family included his brothers in uniform.
I heard the comment going into the movie that an older gentleman had read the book and thought it was garbage. Well, I have news for that guy, both of them were fantastic. It took me two days to finish the book and the movie, well it's one I will own and it will probably make me cry every time.
The book - I really enjoyed the inserts by Taya Kyle. They pulled in the reality of a military family.
"... He's definitely not the person he was before the war, but there are a lot of the same qualities. His sense of humor, his kindness, his warmth, his courage, and a sense of responsibility. His quiet confidence inspires me..." - Taya Kyle
The first line is the key. Those that leave for war are forever changed.
Bradley Cooper does a fantastic job of portraying that change. It's hard to come home and listen to ordinary sounds like the lawnmower or traffic. Not because they're strange but because they sound like other things. It's a great scene when Cooper, as Kyle, is sitting at home and gets that far away look on his face as we hear a lawnmower in the background. You know that he's gone somewhere else, to another time and another situation. It's so hard to write about what you have experiences you've had and I think that Kyle did a stand up job conveying all that in the book. Jason Hall did a great job turning that book into a screenplay.
I apologize that this doesn't give a more detailed vision of either but you need to read the book and watch the movie.
The film has been nominated for several Oscars and in the following categories:
One scene that moved me was a scene where Kyle was having tires put on his truck, during some time home after his his daughter was born. Another veteran overheard the conversation and approached him. This vet gets down to the level of Kyle's son and tells him that his dad is a hero because he saved a lot of troops over in Iraq.
Yes, I have no doubt that this happened and was not a "Hollywood" moment.
Just go see the movie and read the book! You'll not be sorry. You will be sad that this SEAL lost his life way to soon.
This movie... where have I been that I have never seen this movie? It is outstanding! Hilarious from the moment Nicholas Angel is hauled into the office to receive transfer orders to small town Sandford to the very end!
I think Simon Pegg is awesome but this just shoved him higher on the awesome list.
I suppose that I am the last person to watch this movie but my favorite scenes are the various shoot out locations! It was great to see Olivia Colman in something other than Doctor Who and Broadchurch. We can't forget Timothy Dalton (James Bond), Bill Nighy (Harry Potter 7, Total Recall (2012)), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock), Jim Broadbent (Horace Slughorn Harry Potter 6, 7, 8) , and David Bradley (Argus Filch Harry Potter series)!
The premise is entertaining, the dialogue believable and the comedy is well, okay it is Simon Pegg, brilliantly funny.
And if that isn't enough, the twist at the very end is just that, a twist. I should have guessed that the underwater mine would play a greater role later. I mean honestly, if you have a gun on a gun rack in scene 5 you better use it later! Great use!
If you haven't seen Hot Fuzz yet ... find it and watch! This movie is now on my need to own it list!
College graduate, Army vet, single mom, Husky mom, Movie lover, writer