Saturday, November 24, 2018

Robinhood

A classic telling of Robinhood... even though the opening voiceover says "this is not a classic telling of Robinhood". Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) gets sent on a crusade to Africa, does his duty until he snaps at the unnecessary violence, starts a revolt with the local Muslim horde, and gets sent home. Muslim warrior John (Jamie Foxx) stows away to follow the guy who he sees as imminently moral, and the two start up their own crusade to take down the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham and church Cardinal for stealing money from the commoners. Robin becomes a well trained "freedom fighter" and in the end, takes down the current Sheriff. Pretty good retelling, pretty good action, pretty good pacing. Enjoyed this.
3 stars (out of 5)

Fantastic beasts

False advertising. It was fantastic beast...singular. And while Grindelwald is the bad guy, we don't really get anything about his crimes. In fact, from what I can tell, he is bad because he plans to exercise his power over muggles ("those with the power should rule") and is recruiting other magicians to his cause. A key part of his plan is to get the kid Creedence on his side. Newt wants to stop that, protecting Creedence on behalf of Dumbledore, who can't play this time around. I felt throughout this film put me in a place of wondering what I missed and how I missed it (since I watched the whole film), and where was I supposed to get this seemingly missing information. I don't remember the actual plot/story from the first film 2 years ago, so if that was the source of my blank mind, I say poor film making. You can't depend on my memory to connect plot detail threads over years. Actually disappointed.
2 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Widows

I really had high hopes for this film: heist film, great previews and critic response, women taking care of business. The plot follows the wives of four men who were killed in a $2 million heist, all the money burning up in the process. Somehow the aggrieved party finds out who did the heist and comes to the wives to recoup their loss. So of course, the wives take up the family business to sort everything out. This is all good except in execution, the entire first half of the film is background and the relevant Chicago politics that are supposed to give depth to the characters motivation. For me it was just too slow, not getting into the fun aspects of heisting fast enough. Yes, you want motivation and character, but here it felt like we dipped unnecessarily into angst. This is the type of movie that I am supposed to like with its weighty characters and clever action... alas...
3 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

The biopic telling the story of Queen and Freddy Mercury. Immensely enjoyable. The characters, the personal struggles, the world stage, the internal strife. But best of all, the music. Every time in the studio, when a familiar riff is first discovered, Oh My... how fun. And the culmination with the Live Aid set is truly overwhelming as I fully bought in to how important this was to both the band, and to Mercury personally. A true rock opera film for a the original rock opera band.
5 stars (out of 5)

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Bridge Too Far

Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan... wow. A WWII historical fiction telling of Operation Market Garden, an allied offensive near the end of the war aimed at capturing several bridges and providing a ground path into the heart of Germany. Three different airborne divisions are dropped behind the lines and secure bridges while waiting for ground forces to catch up and reinforce. As the title suggests, that last bridge at Arnhem was just out of reach. It is a fascinating portrayal of the logistics of war, the ego and politics of war that affect decisions, and the sheer volume of life that is wasted. In this case, 35,000 men were dropped behind the lines and >10,000 lives are lost. A truly epic ensemble cast aptly demonstrating that there is no protagonist in war.

4 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Won't you be my Neighbor?

The massively well reviewed documentary about Fred Rogers and his Neighborhood TV show. This was masterfully done: factually informative, revealing of the person of Fred Rogers, and revealing of the culture he was living in and speaking to. He really was a revolutionary in many ways, and this is worth watching to see one man's idea about how culture can be changed.
5 stars (out of 5)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friends with Kids

A group of friends transitions from single to married to family. What is meant to be insight and commentary of the difficulty of raising kids and maintaining your sense of self amidst the real struggle of pouring your entire self into small humans comes across as trite. I tried to walk out on this a bunch of times, but it ended up playing in the background as I read a book. Maybe a bit of relational trainwreck voyeurism, with just enough comedy to make it to the credits?
2 stars (out of 5)