WHEN I CHOSE THE MOVIE I AM reviewing today, I did not realize a connection could be formed between the events surrounding today’s date and the film’s story. I honestly did not plan it that way; however, since I am writing about the movie on this day, there is no way I cannot point out they compliment each other. Now before I go into review mode, I want to stress a point; just like my fitness and yoga classes, I do not discuss politics or religion on this site. The reason is simple; every religion is valid to those who identify with that religion and politics, in recent times, is something where everyone has their own opinions and beliefs. I make it a point not to discuss either topic with a room full of people. I remember one cycle class I was teaching, where a participant made a snarky comment about a political figure. Before anyone could shout out a rebuttal, I looked at the member and told them I do not allow any political comments; they can be said outside of the classroom, because in class we all want to get a break from the real world and simply have some fun while exercising. That was the last time that member said anything political in my class. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I AM going to share my observations and feelings about what I saw today, one year ago. I saw a level of anger that reminded me of my encounter with protesters years ago when I participated in a peaceful march. I saw government property being destroyed. I felt I might be witnessing a revolution. As I sat in disbelief in front of the television, I wondered what was going to be the end game for the people attacking the capital. How would the world change if a politician was captured or even worse, murdered? From that day, listening and watching all the speeches and condemnations, I will tell you what I find appalling; people who denounced the actions of the protesters a year ago, now saying something completely opposite. To say a year later that the protesters were peaceful, or part of a far-left group planted at the capital, is something I find sad and dishonest. This is my opinion and I again stress, what would have happened if the vice president was captured? Or the speaker of the house? I heard as clear as day protesters calling out their names as they were looking for the politicians inside the capital building. To disbelieve what took place a year ago, is the horrible alternate reality that has risen in prominence the past few years. This movie satire turns a spotlight onto this alternate reality that is around us. SPOTTING THEN CALCULATING A DISTANT METEOR’S trajectory was on a direct collision course with Earth, was not the hardest part for two scientists. It was trying to convince an uninterested public. With Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood) as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence (Red Sparrow, American Hustle) as Kate Dibiasky, Meryl Streep (Little Women, The Post) as President Orlean, Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley, Thor: Ragnarok) as Brie Evantee and Rob Morgan (Mudbound, Stranger Things-TV) as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe; this comedic drama had a stellar cast. The standouts for me were Cate and Jennifer. The script was sharp and biting (at least to me) but there was too much stuffed into it. There was one story line that was not believable to me; others were done in such a heavy-handed way that the scenes fell flat for me. The level of satire was outrageous. While watching this film, I did wonder if those who prefer living in an alternative reality would enjoy this film and to tell you the truth, I am not sure. Basing this strictly on entertainment value, I enjoyed watching it but was also a bit scared by some of the similarities to present life. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
2 ½ stars
THE NARRATOR WAS STATING IT IN such a matter of fact way, yet I was highly amused. I was watching a TV special about the royals and would you believe the hard-boiled egg for a royal’s breakfast comes with its shell cracked and opened. I know, such an innocuous function that the royal cannot do themselves. There were other functions shown during the special that surprised me, but this one was the silliest in my opinion. I am all for the pomp and circumstance that comes with royalty, no matter what royal ruler. Seeing the different customs and procedures have always been something that I have been curious about, which explains why I like to read about history. Not to be too graphic here, but there was a time when a person on the royal staff had the job to clean the bottom of the royal after they had defecated. Honestly, I don’t think there could be enough money for me to take such a position. Some positions make better sense to me, like a food taster or the transporter of the royal jewels. I understand how a royal or a country’s leader gets treated with reverence; however, I cannot fathom how the general population finds amazement with their leaders’ or royals’ everyday ordinary functions. It is as if once they achieve a high position their country people turn them into a deity. HERE IN MY OWN COUNTRY, I am constantly amazed when people focus on the president’s activities. Some time ago I remember when the news stations reported on the president stopping at a fast food restaurant to eat a burger, making sure to tell us that the president paid for it himself. Ok, so can someone tell me why this is so newsworthy? Throughout the different administrations we have elected, we have seen our leaders playing golf, fishing, playing basketball and even bowling; there were none of them that I would classify as a gifted athlete. And that is okay, whether they excel in sports or not doesn’t take away from their ability to govern; at least I hope so. Personally, I want the best person for the job. I do not care what they do in their downtime as long as it doesn’t become too much of a distraction for the job at hand. Seeing a world leader breaking down in tears tells me they are still human. If they choose to break out in song, I assume they enjoy music. As far as I am concerned every world leader has the same type of internal organs and bodily functions as every other person on the planet. Because of my feelings, I became totally enchanted with this comedic romantic drama. ANDREW SHEPHERD, PLAYED BY MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Ant-Man franchise, Traffic), was a widower who was raising his young daughter. He also was the President of the United States. Being seen alone with a woman would immediately have people talking about and possibly using it for their own personal advantage. With Annette Bening (The Kids are all Right, American Beauty) as Sydney Ellen Wade, Martin Sheen (The Departed, The Way) as A.J. MacInerney, Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future franchise, The Frighteners) as Lewis Rothschild and Anna Deavere Smith (The Kingdom, Rachel Getting Married) as Robin McCall; this Academy Award nominee and film festival winner was charming and fun, in an old-school way. I thought the cast was excellent and loved the play between Michael and Annette, with the aid of the smart script. The other thing I liked about this movie was the political undertone. Considering when this film was made, it felt like a prelude for the things that we are experiencing now. The writers and director pulled this off in a wonderful way that was both entertaining and enjoyable. I wonder, with the recent political climate we have gone thru, how this story would have played in real time.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY SOME people are so hellbent on proving someone wrong. They seem as if they get immense pleasure out of them being right and you being wrong. I will never forget this one individual who was such a stickler on details, that he would interrupt a person from talking just to correct them. The conversation was about a new restaurant and the individual was telling us the place was in the middle of the block. This person who likes being right had to interject himself into the conversation to let the teller know the restaurant was three doors down from the end of the block. Can you believe it? I think anyone who planned on going to try the restaurant would be able to find it from “being in the middle of the block.” But this individual needed, for some reason, to show everyone they were right. I am sure others in the group were thinking the same thing that I was: What is up with this person? There are several reasons I could come up with to explain this person’s behavior, from lack of confidence to possibly OCD tendencies; but to delve into it, would take up the space for today’s movie review. BESIDES HAVING EXPERIENCED SITUATIONS LIKE THE one I mentioned above, I have been the one who believed was right about an issue. I was listening to my friend talk about a friend of hers who needed help in cleaning up a room in her house. There were heavy pieces of furniture and a lot of clutter that prevented her from moving through the room in her condition. My friend agreed and set a date to come over to the house. When she got there, she discovered there was more to the story. To get to the room, she would need to clean the hallway of its stuff consisting of boxes and piles of papers. I told my friend she better be careful because this friend of hers was going to dump more work onto her. My reasoning was based on her not mentioning the hallway; as if the furniture in the room could levitate over all the stuff strewn down the hallway. We discussed this at some length; she was way more forgiving then me. I told her because her friend did not mention the extent of the work involved, her friend would not stop asking for more and more help. And sure enough, a couple of weeks later the friend asked for help in cleaning the closets; the excuse being, once the closets were cleared up then there would be room for my friend to move stuff from the floor into the closet. I warned her, but she did not listen. It was frustrating to convince my friend of the truth; just as it was for the main character in this action movie. HAVING SAVED THE PRESIDENT FROM AN assassination attempt; secret service agent Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, Machine Gun Preacher), had to find a way to convince everyone he was not part of the plot, despite what the evidence showed. With Danny Huston (Wonder Woman, The Professor) as Wade Jennings, Morgan Freeman (Going in Style, Last Knights) as President Trumbull, Frederick Schmidt (Brimstone, Patient Zero) as Travis Cole and Piper Perabo (The Prestige, Imagine Me & You) as Leah Banning; this 3rdin the film franchise was unimaginative with its script. The story was basic, and I was able to quickly figure out the bad guys. The main driver to this picture was the action. It was good but not exceptionally good. Being a basic good guys/bad guys battle, the scenes were mostly filled with explosions and fights; nothing new or real exciting here. Not that I have to be the right one, but you don’t need to rush to see this picture. And certainly not for a full priced admission.
EACH person experiences grief in their own way. There are some who put no filters on it, letting their emotions flood out in a public way. Other individuals believe they need to maintain a “stiff upper lip” so they keep their emotions in check, only allowing them out in private. During my years of teaching I have experienced several major losses that affected me deeply. None of my classes knew at the time because I chose not to express my grief. It was hard at times especially when I was teaching a class where the members were looking to me to be upbeat and motivating, but inside I was a blubbering mess. A couple of times I nearly broke down when a song came on that triggered a memory of the person that was no longer in my life. THEY say there is comfort in numbers which can be seen when friends and family come together to share in their grief. Sitting at a stoplight while a funeral procession drives by, I used to look at the passengers in each passing car. It was curious to see the different ways people were handling their journey. Some would be silently sitting, not interacting with each other; while others appeared almost jovial. I know in some cultures death is looked upon as a gain, not a loss. The deceased individual is headed to a better place. One thing I have found interesting is the older a person becomes the more receptive they are to the idea of being reincarnated; I guess it brings comfort to them, knowing they will get to come back. The one thing I think everyone agrees on is when someone young has their life finished early. ACROSS the land citizens were all sharing in their grief from losing their young president to an assassin. At a time when privacy would be expected the president’s widow had to compartmentalize her priorities to satisfy her children, the nation and the world. This dramatic biographical movie was led by the outstanding performance from Natalie Portman (Jane Got a Gun, Your Highness) as Jackie Kennedy. Whether she had the speech and mannerisms down accurately, it did not matter to me because the character on screen as far as I was concerned was Jackie. I never once thought I was watching Natalie. The other actors such as Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, Orphan) as Bobby Kennedy, Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha, Mistress America) as Nancy Tuckerman and Billy Crudup (Spotlight, Watchmen) as the journalist were all quite good and I felt all of them were authentic in their roles. The script moved back and forth in time in an easy way for the viewer to follow. I found myself reacting with sadness to several of the scenes; the way they were reenacted and played out came across in a real way for me. If the script had told this story in chronological order I do not think it would have been as powerful as the way it was done in this film. I felt I was given an inside look behind all the actions that were on display for the public. This was an eye opening experience for me and left me with a few tears of sadness.
3 ½ stars
As I made my way up the seldom used staircase to the attic I could hear the wood groaning under my feet. I rarely need to be up there where essentially it has turned into one large storage room. As I lifted the door open at the top of the stairs I began to take in air that had not moved in years. Walking through the clothes bins, one of them attracted my eye. Through its semiopaque lid I saw the outline of some animal. I opened the bin and lying on top was a sweater I used to wear years ago. It was purchased during a period of time where Nordic themed fashion was the rage. This copper colored sweater with the image of a large antlered stag across the front was something I thought was the coolest thing back then. Everyone back then was wearing sweaters with various images of animals in winter scenes splayed across their chest. If the sleeves had multicolored yarns woven partially up the sides, the sweater was extra cool. I started to remember those times where all of us appeared to have had more fun, less responsibilities and less news that horrified us like it does these days. As the sunlight falling in from the one small window at the front of the attic began to dim; I put back the sweater, found the item I was originally looking for and came downstairs. That was the last time I reveled in those type of memories of an easier carefree past until I saw this fun retro action film. AFTER surviving the crash of Air Force One in a remote area of Finland President William Alan Moore, played Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers franchise, Reasonable Doubt), had to depend on 13 year old Oskari, played by Omni Tommila (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Last Cowboy Standing), who was in the middle of a village ritual to being considered a man. Time would not be an abundant commodity for either of them. This adventure film was a hoot to watch with its throwback style and story. I enjoyed seeing Samuel toning it down to play a more submissive type of character than he normally portrays. The cast which included Ray Stevens (The Book of Eli, Divergent franchise) as Morris and Felicity Huffman (Transamerica, Desperate Housewives-TV) as the CIA director all looked like they enjoyed playing their characters. The story was somewhat predictable and cheesy; but I think that was what the writers were trying to do to create this picture that reminded me of those action movies from the 1980s and 90s. This was a fun no-frills film that favored a class of movies from a distant past. Several scenes had spoken Finnish with English subtitles.
2 1/2 stars
If you really want to learn something about the area you are in then talk to a local person. I discovered many hidden treasures this way when I traveled to new places. This is one of the reasons why I use public transportation when visiting a new city. With advice from local residents, I was able to experience the best pecan pie in Charleston, South Carolina and a wonderful BBQ meal in Dallas, Texas. In case you were wondering if I am only concerned about food when I travel, I do ask local residents about places that a guide book may not cover. One of my best trips took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota simply because of a woman who was standing next to me at a bus stop. She gave me some wonderful tidbits about local spots. When a story is being told by the person who lived through it, it allows us to relate to it on a personal level. This was a wonderful device that was used impressively in this dramatic film, inspired by a true story. Forest Whitaker (Phone Booth, Repo Men) played Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served through eight different presidents’ terms of office. The viewer was a witness to numerous historical events, told through Cecil’s eyes. Aware the script took creative license with facts; this review is based on the movie’s entertainment value. Forest was outstanding as the stoic, quiet butler who took to heart the advice given to him on his first day of employment: The White House was not a place for politics. Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, Beloved) as Cecil’s wife Gloria, showed us she can be known as an actress who has a talk show. I was impressed with David Oyelowo (The King of Scotland, Lincoln) as Cecil’s increasingly militant son, Louis. The actors used to play the various presidents came across more like a stunt to me; the only convincing one was John Cusack (Martian Child, High Fidelity) as Richard Nixon. For their brief scenes I felt Vanessa Redgrave (Howard’s End, Blow-Up) as Annabeth Westfall and Jane Fonda (Nine to Five, Coming Home) as Nancy Reagan were the only ones who stood out. I thought the story’s flow was well done, despite several scenes being too syrupy for me. Strictly speaking on the entertainment factor, this movie provided a glimpse into historical events, using both drama and humor to tell the story. And what a story it told; my interest never waned. There were a couple of scenes where blood was shown.
3 1/4 stars