Get Out | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I did not think that I would like this movie because it was labelled a horror flick. I think the tag was wrong - it is more like something that you would have seen on the Twilight Zone. Ordinary story turned really weird. Normal people become really creepy.

I thought that the acting was pretty good but the acting did not make this one good - the plot is everything. The setup has a 'guess who's coming to dinner' vibe. You get the impression that it is all about racism. And it is. Only not what you think.

I enjoyed the twists and the turns. I could not figure this one out. It kept me engaged all the way through. The editing seemed to be spot on and the casting was good.

I really liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Fall Flicks

Here are a few one liners about the flicks I have (re)watched this Fall but have not reviewed.
  • Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Not a great Superman or Batman movie. Wonder Woman showed up though.
  • Florence Foster Jenkins ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Meryl Streep acting like she cannot sing.
  • Going in Style ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    Fun movie about three old-timers who are cheated out of their pensions and rob a bank.
  • The Great Wall ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Matt Damon fighting reptilian monsters to protect the world says it all.
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably enjoy this one too.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably not enjoy this one.
  • Keeping Up With the Joneses ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Fun movie about when spies move into the neighborhood.
  • La La Land ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    A movie that was simply too full of itself. Major disappointment.
  • Logan ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    A swearing, bloody and disappointing end to the X-Men Origins and Wolverine series
  • Miss Sloane ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Jessica Chastain excels in this flick about the dark side of lobbying in DC.
  • A Monster Calls ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A beautiful story about a young boy coping with his single mother's terminal illness.
  • Moonlight ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A great flick about growing up gay in an African American community.
  • Sister Act ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    I love watching this old movie about how God works in and through a nightclub singer.
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Tin Fey plays a journalist recounting her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.
  • Why Him? ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Story about how your daughter's boyfriend might be better than you think. A bit racy.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    How Professor Xavier went bald and other insignificant X-Men triva.
Have you seen many of these? Let me know what you thought about them.

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a simple challenge for 2018

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his
individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them. -Washington Irving

Rise above principle and do what's right. -Joseph Heller

You learn to rise above a lot of bad things that happen in your life. And you have to keep going. -Lauren Bacall

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself,
in acts of bravery and heroism. -Alexander Hamilton

Merry Christmas

She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger---there was no room for them to stay in the inn. There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them,
"Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Savior was born---Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!"
When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.

All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.

mixed messages

I think that your entire life is a process of sorting out some of those early messages that you got. -Bruce Springsteen

Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won't make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa - and it's about getting a balance. -Richard Branson

I want girls to feel the confidence you get from being smart. They get so many messages that tell them the most important thing is to be beautiful. -Danica McKellar

Each of you is a unique child of God. God knows you individually. He sends messages of encouragement, correction, and direction fitted to you and to your needs. -Henry B. Eyring

The longing we have to communicate cleanly and directly with people is always obstructed by qualifications and often with concern about how our messages will be received. -John le Carre

Gone with the Wind | ★★★★★★★★★★

Ann and I watched this epic film last night. A few thoughts:

    •   Directing of the burning of Atlanta was spectacular;
    •   Unbelievable cinematography for a movie made in 1939;
    •   Clark Gable should have got the Oscar for his brilliant performance;
    •   Vivien Leigh made Scarlett come off the pages of the book;
    •   Great onscreen chemistry between Gable and Leigh;
    •   The backdrop of the South in the Civil War was heartbreaking;
    •   Hattie McDaniel was simply wonderful as Mammy;
    •   I loved the contrast in character between Melanie and Scarlett;
    •   The movie showed the different sides of what it means to be honorable;
    •   I think it is one of the best movies of all time.

I love this movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Unbroken | ★★★★★★★★★☆

This was a great movie to watch so close to Veteran's Day. It reminded me of people, like my son, who voluntarily risked so much to serve our country.

Unbroken is a real epic one about Louis Zamperini. Olympic runner. World War II Army Air Corps’ bombardier. Survivor of a plane crash that left him, and two comrades, stranded on a raft in open sea for 47 days. Brutally mistreated prisoner of war - for over two years, he suffered from disease, exposure, starvation, and near-daily beatings from guards. Louie is the definition of what it means to be unbroken.

The movie will make you cry if you let it. I loved watching Louie grow up. With the help of his older brother, he went from juvenile delinquent to a runner that was destined to break the 4 minute mile years before Roger Bannister. In pursuit of Olympic records, this amazing man heard the call to military service.

I loved the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★☆.

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Reflections from Private Bob

Here I am a few weeks after I entered the US Army in October 1968. That day in October, when I raised my hand and became a soldier, seems so long ago. Yet it seems like yesterday. I can feel the fear of entering military service knowing that my friends John and Joey had recently died in Vietnam. I remember being drafted and knowing that I did not want to fight in Vietnam. That trip to the recruiter was deeply driven by a desire to find a path that did not include the War in Vietnam. I signed up for an extra year to serve in the US Army Air Command working on missiles with nuclear capability.

I served stateside for three years at a missile firing range in New Mexico. During my military service I grew up a lot. I learned valuable life skills - LOL, like doing my own laundry. I developed technical and interpersonal skills that would last me a lifetime. I met my first wife Ellen. I got outside of my comfort level in a major way as I learned to live away from home and my family. In the end, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been drafted.

... reposted from November, 2014

Jackie | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I am not sure what I expected to learn when my wife Ann and I watched this movie a few nights ago. I thought that it would be somewhat of a bio-pic detailing the former First Lady's life before and after the White House. I was wrong about that.

The movie focuses on the aftermath of her husband's assassination. It was a moving depiction of the trauma of that event and how she navigated feelings of shock, rage and anger. It gave me a new appreciation for Jackie. Images of the president dying in her lap helped me understand how impossible the situation was for her.

I thought that Natalie portman did a good job in the title role. Yet the story itself overshadowed her acting. Watching this movie brought me back to that awful day in a high school in Brooklyn when I learned that President Kennedy was murdered.

I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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the 007 meme

I have loved these stories since I consumed all of the Ian Fleming spy novels in high school. So I thought it appropriate to do a meme based on the movies that I (mostly) love so much. Answering with my favorite Bond:

car: BMW 750iL (with remote control drive) in Tomorrow Never Dies

gadget: Oddjob's bowler hat was great. 007 watches always had cool stuff.

location: Hard to beat Jamaica in Dr No and Golden Eye.

song: All Time High from Octopussy. Runner-up is Live and Let Die.

singer: Shirley Bassey for Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever.

villain: Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger. Runner-up is Charles Gray as Blofeld.

henchman: Harold Sakata as Oddjob. Runner-up is Richard Kiel as Jaws.

movie: Goldfinger. Tomorrow Never Dies is a close second.

actor: Sean Connery. Pierce Brosnan is runner-up.

actress: Jill St John as Tiffany Case. Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin is runner-up.

quote: Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!

What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Blade Runner 2049 | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

If you loved the original Blade Runner flick. If you are a part of the Blade Runner cult. You might like this movie. If not, I suggest that you wait for it on video.

The movie is almost three hours long. I think that it could have been a pretty good two hour movie. It is filled with long stares accompanied by strange and loud sounds. It goes about two hours before Deckard (the iconic original Blade Runner played by Harrison Ford) appears in an almost cliché fashion.

The movie deserved it's R rating, yet I think that some of the imagery was borderline gratuitous in nature. Ryan Gosling was pretty good in the lead role. The storyline was pretty good with a twist towards the end. It was just too long.

I liked the original Blade Runner but thought this movie was too long, over-hyped and overrated. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.

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Hidden Figures | ★★★★★★★★★★

I am sure many of you have already seen this fantastic movie. Ann and I watched it last night on HBO. Oh my. I knew a lot about this story but had no clue how it would affect me. The heartbreaking images of racism, discrimination and bigotry in the 1960s were so troubling. Watching the impacts of the racist "separate but equal" ideology on beautiful Americans of color greatly moved me.

The movie is about three amazing African American women. It covers their groundbreaking work in the early days of NASA. The story is about faith, persistence, courage and character in the face of adversity and struggle.

Here are a few themes I loved about the movie:
  • Faith: I love the beautiful impact that faith had on these hidden figures;
  • Discrimination: these scenes were heartbreaking and deeply moving;
  • Patriotism: great images of African Americans cheering for the astronauts.
The story was not really about NASA but I really enjoyed reliving images from my youth when Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn risked their lives in space. I loved watching how the whole country came together.

The acting was superb. Taraji P Henson, in the lead role of Katherine Johnson, was superb in presenting a great image of beautiful genius. All three of the 'hidden figures' presented us with powerful images of grace.

Lastly, I hope that the story stays with me. I pray that it will continue to change me. That it will cause me to be thankful for the beautiful ways that people of color have overcome and become living testaments to Dr King's dream.

I greatly loved this movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Happy Labor Day

A beautiful ode to the joy of labor by Walt Whitman.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat,
The deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench,
The hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.