Category Archives: Movie Review

Three Identical Strangers Movie Review

The question of nurture or nature has haunted humanity since the begging of our species. Are we simply the product of our environment or do our genes control our actions and our choices?

The new documentary, Three Identical Strangers, starts in 1980. Robert Shafran is starting his freshman year of college. As he is moving into the dorms, he is greeted classmates who are referring to him as Eddy. Robert knows that he was adopted, but he knew nothing else of his birth family.  This strange encounter leads to a twin brother, Eddy Galland. Neither Robert or Eddy knew that each other existed. The press gets a hold of this story and a third brother comes forward, David Kellman.

While the brothers are bonding and becoming media sensations, there are unanswered questions about the past.  Why were they separated? Why were the adopted parents not told about the other two boys? Who is behind the separation and could they have had less than honorable reasons for hiding the truth?

As documentaries go, this is top ten, if not one of the top five documentaries of the year. It’s the type of story that is almost too good to be true.  What makes this documentary compelling, at least from my perspective, is the unseen dark forces that shaped the lives of these men well before they knew that they had the ability to make choices.

I absolutely recommend it.

Three Identical Strangers is currently in theaters. 

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Throwback Thursday: Airplane! (1980)

Disaster movies are sometimes taken a little seriously.

That is why movies like Airplane! (1980) exist.

Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) broke up a long time ago. But that doesn’t mean that Ted has moved on from his ex.  In a last-ditch effort to rebuild his relationship with Elaine, Ted is conveniently flying on a specific flight where Elaine is working as a flight attendant. Somewhere on route, everyone gets food poisoning. That is with the exception of Ted, Elaine and Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen).  Can Ted fly the plane and land it safely at its final destination or is the flight (and her passengers by extension) doomed?

This one of the funniest movies of all time for a reason. Not only is the screenplay is quotable, but the filmmakers took every narrative they could satire and still were able to create an entertaining story.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Incredibles 2 Movie Review

It has been said that good things come to those who wait.

Incredibles 2 is a perfect example of this concept.

The movie starts just after it’s predecessor, Incredibles ended. They have saved the world, but the fact that is superheroes are still illegal. The Parr family nearly resigns themselves into a normal life, but then the brother sister duo of Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk & Catherine Keener) come calling. The wealthy siblings are more than eager to rehabilitate the reputation of superheroes. They plan to use Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) as an icon to change the status of superheros, both legally and culturally. This means that Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is home with the kids all day.

While Elastigirl is doing her superhero thing,  a new villain emerges. Their name is Screenslaver. Will the Parr family ever be allowed to be their superhero selves and more importantly, can they find out who this Screenslaver is and defeat them?

The last fourteen years were worth the wait. This movie, for lack of a better word, is incredible. It has a nice balance of action and emotional moments, especially when it comes to Mr. Incredible realizing that parenting is not as easy as he presumed it to be. The kids in the audience will appreciate the humor. The adults in the audience will appreciate the relationship between the family and more specifically, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Early Throwback Thursday-Elektra (2005)

One of the hallmarks of the hard-fought for gender parity, especially in Hollywood, is that the idea of a female superhero headlining a film is no longer an anomaly. But, then like any superhero film, the question of quality, especially when compared to the source material, has to be asked.

In the 2005 film, Elektra (based upon the comic book character of the same name), the titular heroine, played by Jennifer Garner survives a near death experience. Breaking with the rest of the world, Elektra’s sole focus is her job as an assassin. Her latest assignment is protected a single father and his young daughter from a group of supernatural assassins. Can she protect her charges and perhaps regain her humanity in the process? Or will she forever run from the world?

At the time, I knew nothing about the MCU or the characters that inhabited that world. I suppose the film is ok, but when it is compared to other films within the MCU, it doesn’t quite hold up.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Movie Review

Generations of American children were raised on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this writer included. Fred Rogers, the unlikely titular star of the show, taught his young audience not just their ABC’s. They also learned self-esteem, how to react when dealing with extreme emotions and how to deal with the crap that life can throw at you.

The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, follows not only the life and career of Fred Rogers, but also tells the story of his television show was the basis of the emotional and academic education for millions of American children. He proved that children’s television, then and now, does not need to bop its audience over the head or use a cartoon to sell toys and other merchandise. It can speak to its audience on a personal level and teaches them without the child being aware that they are learning.

 

If there was ever a reason to go to the movie theater, this movie is it. When we grow up, many of us can become cynical, angry or just go about our day-to-day life without feeling anything. Mister Rogers allowed his young audience to feel, to ask questions and to understand that sometimes life is hard. I think when we grow up, we forget that. Seeing this movie reminded me that it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to understand life can be difficult.

I absolutely recommend it.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is presently in theaters. 

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Flashback Friday-Evan Almighty (2007)

Many go into politics for altruistic reasons. Whether or not their reasons change over time is to be seen.

In the 2007 film Evan Almighty (a sequel to the 2003 film Bruce Almighty), Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) has changed careers. After spending years reporting the news, he becomes the news when he is elected to Congress. Sensing that Evan is a virgin politician, Congressman Long (John Goodman) is trying to pressure Evan to co-sponsor a bill that will allow developers to re-create the National Parks in their own image. Then G-d (Morgan Freeman, reprising his role from Bruce Almighty) tells Evan to build an ark. Evan is not exactly a believer in the instructions he has received. Torn between co-sponsoring the bill and the more than obvious signs from G-d, Evan has to make a decision. Should he save the world or co-sponsor the bill?

As sequels go, the film is not that bad. I also certainly appreciate the message about taking care of the environment. This film is the type of film that you might see in theaters or find it while flipping through the channels on a rainy weekend afternoon. But it is the best sequel ever? Not really.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Ocean’s 8 Movie Review

Heist films are nearly as old as Hollywood itself. The question, is, does the film standout within the genre or is it just too unbelievable?

Ocean’s 8 is the next chapter in the Ocean’s movie series.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the protagonist of the previous Ocean’s films. When she gets out of jail, she gathers a crew together to steal a necklace worth millions of dollars at the Met Gala.

The crew includes Lou (Cate Blanchett), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Constance (Awkwafina), Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter). The necklace is to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Ball in New York City.

I loved this film. While it helps that the main cast is made up of a group of diverse female performers, it is the narrative that makes the film enjoyable. It is funny, well written, thrilling and worth a trip to the movie theater.

I recommend it.

Ocean’s 8 is presently in theaters. 

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On Chesil Beach Movie Review

Young love, as stories and songs have told us, is grand and wonderful.  But even young love can have it’s problems.

In the new film On Chesil Beach (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan), Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are newlyweds in England in the early 1960’s. Married just hours before, they have arrived at the Bed and Breakfast where they will be honeymooning. The film flips between the present at the hotel and the relationship that led to Florence and Edward’s vows.  Both will quickly discover that the idealism of their pre-marriage relationship dissolves into an uncomfortable and life changing wedding night.

This movie is excellent. While some scenes could have been cut down for time, I very much appreciated the dichotomy between the main character’s pre-married life and post-married life. I also appreciated that this film showed the reality of romantic relationships, especially marriage. It takes work to maintain both and sometimes, it’s obvious that two people are not meant to be together, no matter how hard they try to make it work.

I recommend it.

On Chesil Beach is presently in theaters. 

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RBG Movie Review

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is without a doubt an icon. Without her intelligence, veracity and legal acumen, American women would still be stuck in the same place that their mother and grandmothers were in.

The new documentary, RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, tells the story about the life and career of Justice Ginsburg. Born in Brooklyn in 1933 to immigrant Jewish parents, she came of age in an era when women were merely expected to marry and raise a family. Instead, she went to Law school. In the 1970’s, she started to gain fame when she represented parties who were discriminated against because of their gender.  Those cases would eventually lead to her joining the Supreme Court in 1993, where she has been ever since.

I really enjoyed the documentary. Though Justice Ginsburg is at an age when many have long since retired, she has the physical and emotional energy of a woman half her age. The fact that she still regularly works out is a testament to the fact that age is merely a number. I enjoyed the documentary because it is not only Justice Ginsburg’s story, but it is the story of America over the past 60-ish years and how she has helped America to reach the ideals laid out by our Founding Fathers.

I recommend it.

RBG is presently in theaters.  

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Flashback Friday-Fargo (1996)

The game of cat and mouse between the police and those committing a crime has been a standard narrative for years. The question is, how can a writer or writers make their narrative unique and different?

In the 1996 movie, Fargo,  Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) has got himself into a financial pickle. He has embezzled money through his father-in-law’s car dealership. About to be caught by his father-in-law, Jerry cooks up a scheme to have  his wife kidnapped so her father will pay the ransom. The kidnapping does not go as planned. This catches the eye of Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a pregnant sheriff who is determined to figure out who is responsible for the three murders in her jurisdiction.

What I like about this movie is that there is an almost sick sense of humor. Unlike other cops and criminals stories which are often just a little serious, this film has an undercurrent of humor that makes it stand out within the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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