13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi *****

movie 13 hours the secret soldiers of benghazi.jpg

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the story about the attack on Americans in Libya and the ex-military force that was involved on the ground. This true story tells about the secret diplomatic outpost and the covert CIA stronghold that existed in Benghazi after the fall of Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The outpost gets attacked for unknown reasons and the mercenaries decide to do something, with or without approval. A very real depiction of war and the confusion during an unprovoked attack in a dangerous part of the world. A very scary situation where everybody has a weapon and the good guys look just like the bad guys. Assistance through military action is confounded by logistics and pragmatism.

The movie is nearly 2 1/2 hours long and flies by. It earns its R rating with a fair amount of profanity and gruesome combat scenes. There are a lot of important characters that had enough back story to make them human. The acting was good and portrayed the characters as real civilians, diplomats, operatives, and soldiers. I liked the story and loved the movie. 5 out of 5 stars.

Published in: on January 25, 2016 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Movie Review: Joy ***

movie joy

Joy is a biographic movie about a young woman in a dysfunctional family who invents a revolutionary home device that tanks because a professional botches the sales pitch. She demands to sell her own item, successfully, then runs into financial and legal trouble.

Joy lives in a house with her children, step-sister, grandmother, divorced parents, and ex-husband. Love keeps weird people together for most the movie. The movie begins slow and tries to be funny, but fails in its true, but ridiculous, background. Then it gets interesting. A drama ensues when the woman invents a product and eventually gets it to market on QVC–a TV home shopping channel. The first part of the movie was not funny–to the point of being horrible. The second part of the movie was very interesting, entertaining, and very good. Jennifer Lawrence gets an Academy Award nomination–I didn’t think this performance was worthy of the nomination. I wanted to like this movie, but the best I can do is 3 out of 5 stars.

Published in: on January 25, 2016 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road ***

movie mad max fury road

Mad Max: Fury Road is an action movie set in post-apocalypse Australia. The known world is filled with renegades who seek or protect gasoline along with limited supplies of food and water. Wild drivers and weaponized passengers ride a wide variety of very cool home-made or modified vehicles through the desert looking for a fight. A female rogue transport driver escapes the stronghold of the Warlord. She has conspired with his Breeders and is taking them to the Green Place where she lived as a child. Her plan is discovered and the chase begins.

Most of the movie was filmed in, on, and around moving vehicles of various shapes, sizes, and conglomerations. Most of the movie is a non-stop action scene with bloody violence, acrobatics, a lot of fire, and incredible explosions. The characters are eclectic, memorable, and scary. The scenery is spectacular. The action scenes are extremely entertaining. The story is believable. The movie earned its R rating for violent action. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture. They should get a bunch of awards for design and editing, but the movie itself is just alright. I liked it, didn’t love it. 3 out 5 stars.

Published in: on January 24, 2016 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Movie Review: Hateful Eight ***

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An all-star cast leads The Hateful Eight: a cowboy movie in the post Civil War wild west. Several seemingly random people are heading to the same small town in Wyoming when they all get stuck at an inn during a blizzard. Two people appear to be who they claim to be, while the others do not. The plot turns into a murder mystery when people start to die while the motive and the killer is not evident.

This is a Quentin Tarantino movie that has received several Academy Award nominations. Expect deep, unexpected, and seemingly unrelated dialogue, along with sequences of brief and sustained brutal violence. The story is good and easy to follow. The acting is good and accurately depicts outlaws, villains, and travelers of the era. There is some well-placed humor to soften the drama. I was engaged for the entire 2:45–this is a long movie, played out in chapters, with a couple of flashbacks. A lot of the movie is about the differences between civil justice and frontier justice. It also touches on pragmatism, honor, and vengeance. This movie is not for everybody and earns its R rating. Lots of cussing, bleeding, and cold-heartedness. I liked it, but can only rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Short *****

 

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The Big Short is the true story of the housing market crash and the big bank bailout from just a few years ago. One guy sees the financial collapse coming and bets short on it. Slowly, others follow his lead. When it happens, one guy realized it was a very profitable bet against America that they, and others, made huge profits on while the economy failed.

In a complicated mess filled with arcane words and sordid people, it was an entertaining depiction of the mystery and debauchery of Wall Street investing. I learned a lot about the stock market, investments, and banking along with mortgage rates, AAA ratings, and selling mortgages plus the willful masquerade of impending defaults by Wall Street, banks, and the Federal Reserve. Intricate and complicated concepts were skillfully explained by cameos from the likes of Anthony Bourdain making fish soup, and Selena Gomez playing blackjack. The all-star cast played their roles masterfully–all are worthy of Academy Award nominations. The soundtrack was exceptional with cuts from the likes of Ludacris, Metallica, and Gnarls Barkley. I loved this movie. It is sad to realize it was all true. 5 out of 5 stars. 

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Revenant **

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The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio. It is a wilderness story about a guide for fur trappers who gets caught up in a Pawnee Indian raid by a chief looking for his kidnapped daughter. The guide escapes with others, but gets hurt, and is eventually left to die. He doesn’t, and seeks vengeance on those who left him behind while struggling against nature.

The movie is very slow. There is very little dialogue. There is a lot of closed captioning. DiCaprio spends most of the movie crawling, being dragged, or trudging along in harsh winter weather. Most of his dialogue is in the Pawnee Indian language–hence the subtitles. Gruesome, but realistic, bear attack scene is worth the price of admission. There is a scene with a floating Indian maiden that was just plain weird. Violent action scenes. Lots of cussing, brutality, and gore. Hated the ending. One theater goer in our sold out venue clapped, while most of the rest just looked at each other with their palms facing up. If you liked No Country for Old Men, you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t, you won’t. I didn’t like it, but it will probably become Academy Award material for DiCaprio and the film. 2 out of 5 stars.

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens *****

movie star wars the force awakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens is the latest edition of the series of George Lucas films. This one is produced by Disney–and it shows. The evil space people are trying to dominate the Galaxy. The good space people are trying to stop them. Familiar characters join new characters to fight for survival.

I am not a Star Wars fan, but this looked like a blockbuster, so I went. I am familiar with the characters from the original movie, so I have some back story about Han Solo and the Force. This is a fantasy movie, not science fiction. Storm troopers wear armored uniforms that do not protect them from anything. Han Solo and friends run around in regular clothes and seem invincible. New characters are introduced to continue the series for future episodes, as the original cast is getting older. I missed all the movies since the original and was able to follow the plot just fine. Every familiar character was awesome–the new characters were, too. I went opening weekend to a sold out show and enjoyed it from start to finish. Fun film for the whole family. Excellent entertainment. Nominated for several technical Academy Awards. 5 out of 5 stars.

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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