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Flash Movie Review: LBJ

THE TWO COUSINS WERE spending the afternoon together. The basement of the house was their domain. Medium dark, wood paneled walls with thick industrial carpeting on the floor would hopefully contain the noise the two boys would make; at least that is what the other relatives were hoping. One cousin turned on his music player while the other one was looking over the stack of games that had been shoved into a bookcase. Agreeing on one board game, they spread the game pieces onto the floor. After fighting over the same game piece to represent each one’s team and getting the rest of the pieces in place on the game board, the visiting cousin asked if there was anything to eat. They walked upstairs into the kitchen; one boy went to the refrigerator, the other to the pantry. Out of all the different foods in the pantry the young boy chose a loaf of white bread.     THROUGHOUT THE GAME WHILE one boy had long finished his food, the other cousin continued to work on the loaf of bread. He would take a slice of bread, fold it in half and eat only the inside white bread part first; this way, he would just have the square outline left made entirely of crust to savor last. As the game continued the loaf of bread kept decreasing in length. Slice after slice would eventually disappear into his mouth with him giving little thought to it, except for the comfort he felt while eating it. By the end of the game the entire loaf was gone. The other cousin laughed when he saw the empty bread bag. He kept saying, “An entire loaf of bread, you ate an entire loaf of bread.” The other boy sheepishly asked his cousin not to tell his mother about it. The boy agreed and told his cousin they would have to hide the bag. Back into the kitchen they went to look for something to hide the bread packaging. Inside the garbage can was a greasy paper bag from a fast food restaurant; it was the perfect place to shove the bag in. Ever since that day the one cousin would always bring up that loaf of bread when the two got together; as the two aged it seemed that was going to be the only thing the other cousin would remember about him. The same could easily be said for the president and his war in this biographical drama.     WITH THE NATION IN shock from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, played by Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Burn Notice-TV); Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, played by Woody Harrelson (Lost in London, War for the Planet of the Apes), found himself thrown into a divided White House. With Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, The Moment), as Lady Bird Johnson, and Michael Stahl-David (In Your Eyes, Cloverfield) as Robert F. Kennedy; this film starts with the time period just prior to the Kennedy election. Woody did his best as Lyndon to the point he overshadowed everyone else. Granted Lyndon was a colorful character but what I found missing in this story was the nitty gritty parts; everything seemed even keeled. I felt there could have been more intensity and tension because pretty much throughout the picture I was not totally convinced with the action in the scenes. The historical aspect was what attracted me and I am sure, like many other people, I only knew Lyndon as the war president. He actually did much more to be remembered by.

 

2 stars

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Fair Game

I do not know what you would call it exactly, but there is a certain freedom in being able to say anything I want when reviewing a movie. All I am doing is expressing my opinions and feelings, the same as any other reviewer. No matter what I write, I know there will be no retaliation from the movie studio. It would never occur to me that someone associated with a movie that I rated would go after me or a member of my family. I am fortunate to live in a country that gives its people the right to speak their mind. I have to tell you though, after seeing this film I am not that sure anymore. It was one thing to be familiar with the story when it actually was in the news; but it was another to watch the story unfold on film. In the capable hands of director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), this political thriller was frightening to me. Using each of their books as a basis; Doug created a taut suspenseful film about CIA operative Valerie Plame, played by Naomi Watts (The Impossible, J. Edgar) and her American diplomat husband Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn (Gangster Squad, Milk). After Joe wrote a disparaging article, critical of the current political administration, government officials decided to expose Valerie’s cover. Naomi and Sean were so good in their roles and in their relationship to each other; I felt they were channeling the real individuals. By showing the couple’s home life with their children, it only added more intensity to the horror of their situation. After watching this movie I was left thinking about what life would be like if no one was allowed to speak their mind. We would be left with what George Orwell told us about, a world ruled by Big Brother.

 

3 1/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: No

The amount of money spent on marketing political candidates these days is obscene to me. There are countries that do not come close to having such amounts in their treasury. It seems to me that the only people who can run for office are wealthy individuals. This concerns me because in my experience some wealthy people have a hard time relating to the average person. For example, the man who bought Princess Diana’s dress that she wore when she was dancing at the White House with John Travolta. At a winning bid of $360,000.00, a gentleman bought it to surprise and cheer up his wife. How many of us can do such a thing? Where I find this excessive, I have the same feeling about the money needed to fund a campaign. It seems the issues are not enough to determine whether a person will vote for a candidate; it also depends on who does a better job of marketing the politician. One of the reasons I grew to enjoy this historical drama was seeing what a grassroots advertising campaign can accomplish. Nominated for best foreign language film with the Academy Awards, this film took place in Chile, 1988. Military dictator Augusta Pinochet had been in power for fifteen years and needed to show the world that his government was legitimate. A referendum was scheduled, but would anybody opposing Pinochet survive the election? Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education, Y Tu Mama Tamben) played young advertising executive Rene Saavedra, who had the task of creating a campaign that would not get censored. He created the “No” campaign. Starring Alfredo Castro (It was the Son, Tony Manero) as Lucho Guzman and Antonia Zegers (Post Mortem, The Life of Fish) as Veronica Carvajal; the story used humor, actual footage and a faux 1980’s style of filming to draw the viewer into a fascinating time in Chile’s history. I had a hard time getting into the story at first; it felt slow to me. Once the campaign started to come together I was enthralled with the genius of it. With excellent acting, the movie became inspirational for me. The question was could creativity, strong beliefs and dedication triumph over money. Spanish with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Dictator

Here was a movie that did not let anyone or anything get by unscathed. American culture, ethnic and religious groups were among a plethora of other groups that got skewered in this latest creation of Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Hugo). Playing dictator Haffaz Aladeen of the oil rich African country Wadiya, his character was infused with stereotypical traits that have been portrayed in the news and other films. This comedy was stocked with politically incorrect, crude and offensive jokes. I felt guilty when I would laugh at some of them, though not all funny bits worked well. The thin plot had Aladeen coming to New York to speak before the United Nations. My guess on why the story was choppy would be the rewrites needed to stay relevant with actual world events. Parts of the story felt odd to me; for example, the relationship that took place between Sacha’s character and Anna Faris’ (Lost in Translation, The House Bunny) character Zoey. Realistically, the main purpose of the movie was to make the viewer laugh, which it was certainly doing with the audience around me. Just know going in that you will be bombarded nonstop with any and everything imaginable to try and make the scenes funny.

 

2 stars

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