Jun 022017
 

Hidden Figures Movie PosterAs the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers”, we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Director: Theodore Melfi
Writers: Allison Schroeder (screenplay), Theodore Melfi (screenplay)
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe,  Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge     Aldis Hodge

Rating: PG; Run Time: 127min; Genre:  Biography, Drama, History; Release Date: 23 December 2016 (USA)

We watched on a weekend evening a while, and both of us loved it. I hope it is something younger people see, so as to get just a taste of the discrimination and racism that existed, even a place of highly educated people, bent on keeping up a polite façade.  And besides the lessons/reminders about our past, it was just a great movie. Continue reading »

Straight Outta Compton – A Movie Review

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May 232017
 

Straight Outta Compton Movie PosterIn 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, put their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. Taking us back to where it all began, Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how these cultural rebels-armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent-stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.

Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff
Stars: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr., R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, Paul Giamatti

Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Music; MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use; Release Date: 14 August 2015; Run time: 2 hrs 27 min Continue reading »

Moonlight-A Movie Review

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May 192017
 

Moonlight Movie PosterThree time periods – young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult – in the life of black-American Chiron is presented. When a child, Chiron lives with his single, crack addict mother Paula in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than taking care of him. Because of these issues, Chiron is bullied, the slurs hurled at him which he doesn’t understand beyond knowing that they are meant to be hurtful. Besides his same aged Cuban-American friend Kevin, Chiron is given what little guidance he has in life from a neighborhood drug dealer named Juan, who can see that he is neglected, and Juan’s caring girlfriend Teresa, whose home acts as a sanctuary away from the bullies and away from Paula’s abuse. With this childhood as a foundation, Chiron may have a predetermined path in life, one that will only be magnified in terms of its problems when he reaches his difficult teen years when peer pressure affects what he and many of his peers do, unless he follows Juan’s advice of truly making his own decisions for himself.

Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), Tarell Alvin McCraney (story by)
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert
Runtime: 111 min; Rated: R; Genre: Drama; Released: 18 Nov 2016

We enjoyed this movie, but it was somewhat formulaic. There were some surprises, and a great deal of tension throughout. It was a compelling story. It was nearly a month ago when we watched this at home. Continue reading »

War Dogs – A Movie Review

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May 172017
 

War Dogs Movie PosterTwo friends in their early 20s (Hill and Teller) living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military – a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government. Based on true events.

Director: Todd Phillips
Writer: Stephen Chin (screenplay), Todd Phillips (screenplay), Jason Smilovic (screenplay), Guy Lawson (Rolling Stone article “Arms and the Dudes”)
Stars: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Steve Lantz, Gregg Weiner, David Packouz, Bradley Cooper
Runtime: 114 min; Rated: R; Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama; Released: 19 Aug 2016

Man, am I way behind on getting movie reviews published. Sorry about that…it’s just been a general lack of enthusiasm for writing. I’m going to try to get caught up, and do better. Continue reading »

Arrival — A Movie Review

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Dec 072016
 

arrivalmovieposterWhen mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team – led by expert linguist Louise Banks – is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Ted Chiang (based on the short story “Story of Your Life” written by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker

Runtime: 116 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi; Released: 11 Nov 2016

Veteran’s Day was a holiday for me, but not Lay, so I went to watch this movie. It was well worth the ticket price. Continue reading »

Oct 182016
 

Tuskegee Airmen Movie PosterDuring the Second World War, a special project is begun by the US Army Air Corps to integrate African-American pilots into the Fighter Pilot Program. Known as the “Tuskegee Airman” for the name of the airbase at which they were trained, these men were forced to constantly endure harassment, prejudice, and much behind the scenes politics until at last they were able to prove themselves in combat.

Director: Robert Markowitz
Writer: Paris Qualles (teleplay), Trey Ellis (teleplay), Ron Hutchinson (teleplay), Robert Williams (story), T.S. Cook (story)
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney B. Vance
Runtime: 106 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, War; Released: 26 Aug 1995

We watched this movie Sunday night. I know it’s been out forever, and we’d intended to watch it back when released, but just never did. It was on Amazon Prime, so I pulled it up. Continue reading »

Bridge of Spies – A Movie Review

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Oct 172016
 

Bridge of Spies Movie PosterDuring the cold war, a lawyer, James B. Donovan is recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers. The pilot was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission and stays in the company of a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alan Alda, Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Victor Verhaeghe, Mark Fichera
Runtime: 142 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, Thriller; Released: 16 Oct 2015

Lay wasn’t feeling great, so after going out to grab a bite, we came home and watched this from Amazon, and we both enjoyed the movie a great deal. Continue reading »

Star Wars: The Force Awakens–A Movie Review

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Jun 042016
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie PosterA scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca to transport a droid carrying information regarding the whereabouts of long-lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to General Leia Organa of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren and the First Order.

Director: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt

Cast: Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley

Lay was working today, Saturday, so I finally watched this on Amazon. Continue reading »

The Martian – A Movie Review

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Feb 292016
 

The_Martian_PosterDuring a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crew-mates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Vincent Kapoor, Benedict Wong
Runtime: 144 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi; Released: 02 Oct 2015

We watched this Saturday evening. I’d been wanting to see it for a while. Overall impressions, it was OK at best, but not nearly as good as I expected. Lay didn’t like it at all, but he’s never very keen on sci-fi. Continue reading »

Lady in The Van – A Movie Review

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Feb 202016
 

The Lady In The Van Movie PosterAn eccentric (and decidedly grubby) aged lady parks her decrepit old van (which appears to contain her entire world goods) outside writer Alan Bennett’s house in Camden. When the Council threatens to have it towed away, Bennett’s diffidence leads to it being parked in his drive, to the consternation of his neighbors, where it – and she – stay for 15 years. As time passes, an odd relationship develops between them, and he begins to discover elements of her past.

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Stars: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Clare Hammond, George Fenton
Runtime: 104 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama; Released: 15 Jan 2016

Based on a 1970s biographical drama of the same name by noted British playwright Alan Bennett, The Lady in the Van is a “mostly true story” as mentioned at the beginning of the film. That’s because Bennett had to put up with an old homeless woman for 15 years by allowing her to live in her van in his driveway. Then in 1999, Bennett cast Maggie Smith as the titular hobo in his own play. Ironically, Smith plays the same character on screen little over 15 years later. Continue reading »

Beasts of No Nation-A Movie Review

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Dec 152015
 

BeastsofnonationFollows the journey of a young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of soldiers in an unnamed West African country. While Agu fears his commander and many of the men around him, his fledgling childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country, and he is at first torn between conflicting revulsion and fascination Depicts the mechanics of war and does not shy away from explicit, visceral detail, and paints a complex, difficult picture of Agu as a child soldier.

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga (screenplay), Uzodinma Iweala (based on the novel by)
Stars: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Ricky Adelayitor, Andrew Adote

Runtime: 137 min; Rated: NOT RATED; Genre: Drama, War; Released: 16 Oct 2015

We heard about this movie being on Netflix after hearing an interview with Cary Fukunaga on NPR’s Fresh Air. We started a little late last evening, and I didn’t expect to finish watching it before going to bed, but I couldn’t stop watching. While based on a novel, it was, from all I’ve read, a realistic portrayal of the life of child soldiers, and it is a sad life. Continue reading »