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Friday, February 22, 2019 2:21:11 PM
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I am still way behind. A few weeks ago we went to the local budget cinema and caught a double feature, starting with....


First man is a Biopic about Neil Armstrong.
I would add that it's about America's early explorations into space, but it's really not. It's really just about Armstrong.

This movie begins with Armstrong's daughter dying of some disease I can't remember very early in the movie. This has a justifiably negative effect on the man and an unjustifiable effect on the movie.

While First Man has some gripping moments it is essentially a joyless, soulless death march of a movie.

I guess I can sum it up with this scene....So, Armstrong, as we all know, hopefully, becomes the first human to walk on the moon. It is one of the most triumphant moments in the history of humanity, right? It's at least in the conversation.
In this movie, as he is walking down the steps of the lunar lander the screen gets slightly darker, moody music comes up (sad moody) and he flashes back to images of his daughter. It's freaking depressing.


There really are some gripping scenes in the movie. pretty much anytime Armstrong is taking flight for any reason the audience is taken along for a thrill ride...and it's grounded too. The technology is real looking.
For instance, when they are first going into space the shuttle is straining and groaning and wobbling and shaking.
When Armstrong has to link the pod up with an orbital rocket it was just....I don't think I breathed.

Like most obviously well researched biopics, I actually learned stuff I didn't know. That's a plus for me.

The story was told well. there were no plot holes or nonsensical transitions. The filmmakers were on point.


Ryan Gosling sucks. He just does. He is today's Kevin Costner. He is a piece of wood who looks pretty. I will never understand why people decided he was a great actor. He brings absolutely nothing to this role.

Like I said, it's a joyless movie. Even when there should be happiness (Armstrong gets chosen for missions. He walks on the moon etc. etc. etc.) we just see Gosling's stone face and get sad music.

The lighting is muted. It's hard to explain. I will admit there are scenes where this works (it gives the technology a very real look). usually though it just saps the light and joy from the movie.

There is a weird animosity it seems that exists between most of the characters. It doesn't track really. It seems like Gosling just has a general enmity towards every body, including his family. It just is awful and I know it wasn't planned.


I know I complained a lot but this isn't a BAD movie. It is a decently well told story shot in a solid way. It just is joyless. If you care to learn more about Armstrong or the space program, by all means, see it; If you're expecting the enthusiasm of a movie like The Right Stuff, don't. If you want to be happy. Don't.

Monday, February 25, 2019 11:03:49 AM
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The second movie of our budget cinema double feature that day was.


We see a lot of movies. Generally, we love and hate all different kinds but celebrate them all.
We do, though, really look for uniqueness...something new. This movie was that. Marwen was not a sequel, or a prequel, or a remake, or a cinematic universe movie or anything like that.
It felt totally different. Unfortunately, like Anna and the Apocalypse (another unique movie that we have seen this year), it sucked. I mean, this movie was aggressively bad.

Welcome to Marwen is the story of a man who has been beaten up and is now retreating into a fantasy world to deal with his pain. It also deals with his coming out of that fantasy world. sort of. I don't really know about that last part.

Anyways, Steve Carrell is an actor I really root for since I was a fan of his way back to his Daily Show days. I love how successful he has become. I am kind of on board with watching anything he is in. He was terrible in this movie. Just terrible. It was like he knew how ludicrous his role was and couldn't really figure out how to play it,

Ok, so, here is a weird thing that really kind of continually takes me out of this movie.
Steve Carrell's character gets beaten up because he likes wearing womens' shoes.
Yep. That's a central theme of the movie. Carrell likes women's shoes. Is he gay? No. Is he a cross dresser? no. He just likes women's shoes. I mean, I know this is based on a true story but it's just such a weirdly specific thing that every time it comes up it just takes me out of the movie...and it comes up a lot.

So, Carrell has built a doll sized town in his back yard where doll versions of all the women in his life live. He also lives there as a hero of course.He keeps playing out fantasy scenes with these dolls fighting nazis and stuff. It's all so freaking weird, especially when you see that the women themselves in real life don't really see anything wrong with it. Even when one of them finds out Carrell keeps making her dolls' clothes fall off. She just makes an offhand comment and moves on.

There is also a weird non love interest that moves in next door. Carell ends up proposing to her awkwardly and gets turned down, but she really doesn't see anything wrong with it and continues a relation ship with him even though everything he does is weird and borderline stalker behavior. She has an ex boyfriend who seems like he is going to cause some kind of trouble, but he doesn't. It's even strange how he comes in and out of the movie menacingly to no real effect.

There is also a doll that is some kind of evil witch doll that has some control over him. yeah.

So, Carell has to testify against the guys who beat him. He is super scared of everything and won't do it, until he isn't scared of anything and does testify. there really isn't a story arc here . It just kind of happens.

From the inital scene, where the Carell doll finds and puts on doll sized high heels you just know you're in trouble with this one.


It's a unique movie. The filmmakers and studio took a real chance with this one.

It's slickly filmed. The doll scenes look cool


The whole shoe fetish thing is TOO weird. I mean, I am a flaming liberal, but it's too weird a thing for this film.

there really isn't much that isn't bad.
The acting is wooden.
The character roles are wasted or ill defined or don't make sense.
The climax is not only painfully predictable but it lands like a thud. By the time he testifies and goes back to his fantasy world (That's right. At the end he goes back to the fantasy world) it just doesn't matter.
Even the music doesn't really fit the rhythm of the movie.

It's really a shame. My girlfriend and I want more unique movies (even though we love the sequels too). ANyway, the unique ones we have seen this year aggressively suck. We want these movies to be rewarded so Hollywood makes more of them.
Monday, February 25, 2019 1:08:32 PM
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We went to another movie the very next day, making this a four movie long weekend. This one was back in a more normal, first run movie theater.....


This movie was getting Oscar Buzz even way back when we actually saw it (I am still about a month behind on this thread) and, obviously has won some.

We liked it. a lot. It wasn't as good as The Green Book, which is on another level but it's as good as the other top movies this year.

The story is a timeless one. Man on the way down meets woman on the way up. Romance and tragedy ensue.
Just because the story is an old one doesn't mean it doesn't still resonate because it sure does.


First off, the obvious. the performances really are as good, if not better, than the buzz. Bradley Cooper just gives as good a performance as you can give. If he wasn't a full on leading man before, he is now. He isn't alone thought. Lady Gaga and sam Elliott and, really, everyone else in this movie is excellent. It's a wonderfully cast and written movie.

The concert scenes are just next level. I never wanted those scenes to end. Every time Gaga or Cooper (or both) took the stage I was totally on board. They could have just filmed a two hour Gaga and Cooper concert and I would have watched it.

The story arcs made sense. there weren't any missing scenes. Cooper, in particular, was an obvious alcoholic and addict. The descent from addict to rehab and relapse and, finally depression and suicide, made sense. It wasn't rushed. We saw his arc unfold in a way that fit and was true.

The suicide scene: I don't want to belabor this. It was very painful to watch unfold. It is supposed to be.

I mean, I have no idea what it's like to be in the movie business, but I have to imagine that the way that Gaga's character went from singing in a drag bar to winning an Emmy and headlining things like Saturday Night Live is the way it happens in real life.

So, Coopers mega star musician invites Gag to one of his shows and lets her be on the side stage. In the middle of the show he walks over and invites her over to perform a song they wrote together in a parking lot. The few seconds where she decides whether she is going to actually walk out on stage and sing with him was just...a tour de force. I was absolutely with her in that moment.

I loved the slow rollout of the character's back stories. We learned a lot about all the main characters. It really helped make them real and made the audience care about them.


There are a few scenes that are uncomfortable. Cooper pees himself on stage at the Emmys. The suicide. Gaga performing a brainless pop song. They were supposed to be uncomfortable...but it was still hard to watch them.

There were, maybe, too many characters. Some of them got kind of lost in the shuffle a little bit.


This was a really good movie with really amazing musical performances. It handled difficult subject matter in a realistic way. The musical performances were superior. It deserves Oscar love.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 1:33:10 PM
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Ok, I am starting to catch up. A few days after A Star is Born we went back to the same theater and watched...


I am, at this point, beginning to really worry about 2019, the Year of Seeing Movies Part Deux. Most of the movies we have seen this year are holdovers from 2018 so far. I guess I don't generally keep track of this but it seems like we should have some more new 2019 releases worth seeing by now.

Seems like we have seen most of the Oscar movies without even really trying in a very short period of time.

Anyways, Favourite got a split vote. I liked it. My Sweety didn't.

I won't get into the historical perspective because, right now, I can't even remember the name of the queen the movie was about. That doesn't really matter anyways. Whether you know the actual history or not doesn't affect tour enjoyment or lack thereof of this film.

The story is really a love triangle with the queen of England at the fulcrum.

One of the lovers is played by Rachel Weisz, who, for my money, is one of the sexiest women in Hollywood. I admit that the rampant heterosexual male in me responds with adrenaline every time she is on screen. She is an old hand at court and is the queen's most trusted advisor. Her husband is a lord and she is royalty.
The other lover is played by Emma Stone. She is a long lost cousin who has come to court out of necessity and takes up residence with the cooks and maids.
The intrigue as the two jostle for favor with the queen is fascinating, funny and engaging.

Gosh. I waited too long to write this review...... Having a hard time remembering it super well.

Ok....The queen was obviously not very smart. She also had real paranoia issues and real health issues. The fact that she was forceably isolated and used didn't help. The movie did a great job of illustrating this stuff and using it for both comedic and tragic effect.
When she asks a servant to look at her then screams at him for, indeed , looking at her was hilarious.
When she reveals her tormented legs it was tragic.

Rachel Weisz was brilliant as the scheming woman of court. She used her position of favor with the queen mercilessly. When it is revealed they are having a lesbian relationship it was not surprising. Weisz conveys power and duplicity equally well. In a scene where she is scheming to continue a war and draw up more taxes (really more than one scene) she is great.

Emma Stone is wickedly funny. At one point she is absentmindedly masturbating a lord she has married for power purposes while openly scheming to get Weisz. It's an effective scene that sums up her character.

Really no one else in this movie matters too greatly. It's the three of them


I did not see the ending coming. Weisz character is essentially excommunicated and Stone's character is left to be an almost sexual slave of the queen who, it seems, isn't as buffoonish as we were led to believe. She wields her power when she needs to.

The performances of the three leading ladies are all strong.

There are some scenes of court intrigue that are haunting and really good. There is a scene at a party where there is dancing that I couldn't get out of my head for days after.

There was a thing with the queen replacing her dead children with rabbits. Weird for sure but effective. When you only have two hours to tell this dense story you have to use some extravagant devise to get your point across sometimes.

the sex. The descriptions of the sex acts and depictions of them were never loving and intimate. They were always transactional an lurid, which suited the film perfectly.


It was a little circuitous. The story really takes a weird and winding path that was sometimes difficult to follow....needlessly difficult.

I didn't like the period costumes. I don't know how right on they were. I suspect not very. I found a lot of it off putting.

It's not a terribly exciting movie. There were times that I drifted off a little.


This was a good movie and it felt different. I wish my memory was better or I had written this review quicker. I'm not really doing this movie justice.
Thursday, February 28, 2019 1:38:19 PM
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I am beginning to catch up here a little.
The next movie we have seen this year was....


I was pretty excited about this movie. It was billed as anew way to view historical footage of World War One. It was even put together and produced by Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson.
I was really expecting something special. And, again, this is different than most everything else that enters theaters.

Good lord, was it boring. I mean, just soul crushingly boring. Nicole described it as "like a scene playing in a museum on a display."
That pretty much sums up the movie.

Peter Jackson comes on screen before the movie starts and makes grandiose promises. It hyped me up even more, which only served to disappoint me all the more.

I am on record as saying a good documentary can really suck the audience in and deliver great stuff. (A recent one I have seen that does this is an older movie...Supersize Me)
This one doesn't do that.

FIRST...the footage itself. They colorize it. That's what they do that's supposed to be special. ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz....
Also, I mean, it's World War One. There just isn't a lot of super exciting footage that exists. Although Jackson promises some new stuff, I guess it might be new, but it just feels like the same old stuff I have seen in history books mostly.
It gets so bad about halfway through the movie when you realize they are even reusing some of the same footage multiple times.
there are a few dramatic images of soldiers dead and rotting on the battlefield. But, however, dramatic, it wasn't pleasant and wasn't anything I hadn't seen before as an amateur historian (VERY amateur).

SECOND..the voice overs. There are letters and remembrances of veterans that are read over the scenery. Again, I guess, historically speaking, it was good stuff---first person accounts of event. But, good lord, it just was boring mostly.


There were some little tidbitty facts I was able to talk about with my girlfriend that either she didn't or I didn't know.

Some of the images were educational.

Some of the voice overs added fresh perspective.

The music kind of stuck in my head for a week or two in a good way.


It was horrendously boring.

Like I said, I don't know what Jackson was talking about. There was NOTHING revolutionary about their footage.

I don't have a lot to say about this movie because there isn't much to this movie.
Peter Jackson let us know there was a behind the scenes featurette after the movie. Needless to say we did not stay.
This was an awful movie.

Sunday, March 03, 2019 1:13:30 PM
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I was lucky enough to get passes three weeks before wide release for...


I really enjoy these movies. They really rise above the normal family fare. Yes, there is juvenile humor and pretty colors and lots of cliches...but there is REAL heart and well plotted stories as well. Also, fully formed characters. Some of the secondary characters are just archetypes, but the man characters are real.

The basic plot is......vikings hate dragons. Viking boy doesn't want to be like viking king dad. Meets friendly dragon...their world changes.

In this installment, the king is long dead. The vikings are exploring farther and farther out and there is a new danger to the dragons. And, that is my key complaint with this movie.....the driver of the movie is a near repeat of the second installment of this series. The teenage vikings are training dragons and exploring. There is an evil person who wants to capture and rule all dragons. Good guys win. The End!
It leads to a little boredom.

The ending, though, is amazing. Might be one of my favorite endings in a movie all year.


The animation is on point! It isn't super realistic, but it's not supposed to be. It also isn't so stylized that it's off-putting.

The villain is really bad. it was a joy to watch him get defeated. he was also very smart and capable. It was a true challenge for the heroes to win.

The villain has these pet scorpion dragons that are pretty awesome....in a creepy bad way.

The relationship arcs with the different characters are a nice evolution. The hero and his now dead father...The hero and his love interest...even some of the side characters relationship arcs grew appropriately in this movie (something that doesn't always happen in family films.

The action scenes were gripping. The battles were really good.

The scenery was breathtaking at certain points...especially when they were flying their dragons over the oceans.

The scenes where Toothless, the heroes dragon, tried to attract a female dragon of his species were laugh out loud funny!


There were portions of this movie that were just boring repeats of previous How to Train your Dragon movies. Being bored at any point during a movie is not good.

I don't like a lot of the voice talent...particularly the hero and that's not good because he has a lot of lines. I think the casting is probably the largest negative for this movie. (the one notable exception is Gerard Butler. Love that guy and he is great as the dead father in flashbacks.)

Some of the injuries...Look...this happens way too frequently in movies nowadays...Characters sustain an injury that should debilitate them or kill them, but they pop up as if nothing has happened at all. That happens a lot in this movie. It bothers me.

You absolutely have to have seen the other two movies to really fully enjoy this one That's not a positive for me


So, this one was meant to totally wrap up the How to Train Your Dragon films in a neat trilogy. It does that elegantly. So, the vikings are forced to let their dragons go to the hidden world near the end of the movie so they can be safe forever from evil people. So.....it's all over and kinda sad
Then there is a last scene where the hero and his wife are years later on a boat with their children (it's way in the future). Anyway, they sail to the hidden world, where Toothless and his mate appear with their children. there is a brief moment of uncertainty before a joyous reunion....fade to black. Brilliant, touching, elegant.


This was the least of the three "Dragon" movies. However, it was still a pretty good flick and had an AMAZING ending.
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