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Great start, and then what??
I really enjoyed watching this but did not realize it was just about 30 minutes long. The story is engaging about a rural Kenyan farmer, desperate for money to get food and medicine for his family. He finds and steals a pickup truck load of ivory off a poaching gang and hides it on his farm only to be pursued by the gang. But it just ends with him showing the cache to a white female conservation worker who was also after him after suspecting he was a poacher but she ended up being his prisoner. I know this is a "short" but this could have really been developed into a good story. But it ends far too quickly. So, I only have it a half rating.

The Minimalists: Less Is Now

Really left me wanting more - no pun intended
I really enjoyed their first film and book - a great analysis of consumer culture, mindless spending and why less can be better. But this new film was not all that different from the first one which made it a bit of a disappointment. This new movie covered the back-stories of Josh and Ryan which was done in the first film, but now done again in a more updated manner. it also covers the reasons for minimalism again addressed in the first movie. If you saw the first movie, you already knew all of this.

What it adds is new testimony from several people who adopted this lifestyle. They range from 17 to 67. However, there was not enough there to really get into why these people did it, how they did it and the outcome. It was too brief. The movie is not even a hour long so more could have been added. I would have liked to have heard more from the 67 year old baby boomer since that demographic would seem far less likely to embrace this kind of lifestyle change. That could have been a really fascinating part of the movie that built on the first film where the message was preached on a long road trip across the USA. Also, how many people adopted this philosophy but gave up on it? Some people like their stuff and its not clogging up their lives. That would have been interesting to see. I would have also like to hear Josh and Ryan talk about their homes far more. You see Ryan's but not much is said about it. How about interviews with both of their wives? They are both shown but say nothing? Are they onboard with the lifestyle.

The movie also has commentary by "experts". There is the anti-capitalist woman from Greenpeace who blames consumerism on capitalism. Not exactly true. Capitalism has been in this nation since before its founding and this consumer consumption mania is a far more recent trend - maybe about the last two generations only. What is the cause of this trend that some in recent generations need to find fulfillment in stuff rather than faith, relationships, family, pursuit of knowledge, work, etc? That was not addressed very well. The WWII generation and the early baby boomers were far less consumer oriented due to what they experienced growing up. They were frugal. So what changed in the country? It cannot just be attributed to advertising and capitalism. Something else is at work here that is driving it. They also have Dave Ramsey in several short segments where he is more focused on avoiding debt rather than promoting minimalism. Dave Ramsey is anything but a minimalist. I watch his show. He is great on personal finance advice. He also claims he owns $300 million in paid-for real estate, has a very successful multi-million dollar business, a numerous cars and collections, and multiple homes. So why pick him to talk to? They also mention that people buy things mainly to impress others. That is a big overgeneralization. Not everyone does that. People buy things because they enjoy them and are not trying to show off at all.

I was really hoping for a lot more in this new movie. But if it is your first view of the Minimalists, then it is all new. Hope the guys do another that really builds on this. They are good presenters. Also, this film made by Matt D'Avella shows that independent film makers can do work that rivals the corporate media. Very nicely filmed.

The Midnight Sky

If 2020 wasn't depressing enough, this late Dec release is the final peanut on the turd.
An awfully dark depressing film. Like a modern take off of Neville Shute's "On the Beach" (this film has a scene in which one astronaut is watching that movie) with a bit of Bruce Dern's Silent Running from 1972 thrown in.

In a nutshell: Without giving away the plot and several clever surprises, this is set in 2049, the earth is dying (no reason given). Our blue planet is just a brown, sulfury, smoky mess, the air is unbreathable and the cities are dead. Picture Detroit. The people are evacuating to underground shelters where they will only survive for a while. The Clooney is a enigmatic and sickly loner scientist who stays alone at an evacuated frozen and snowy astronomical research station located somewhere (no location given) in the Arctic, Antarctica or someplace else really cold and barren. He abandoned his wife and daughter years ago to do his research. He manages to make contact with a massive space station staffed by a multicultural team of five astronauts that traveled to and found a habitable planet and is now returning to earth with no knowledge of what happened here. The new planet, named K43 or 49K or Special K or something like that, is described as "just like Colorado" (minus the pot shops, Mercedes G Wagons and ski resorts of course) and perfect for human life. When the astros find out about the state of earth, they have to decide on whether to keep going or book back to New Colorado. Big bearded George really says very little in this film. but he plays the role well. Most of the dialog is from the astronauts. It is a depressing film, though not quite as grim as On the Beach. There is only one really positive scene that has to do with a Neil Diamond song. I gave it a ten due to its uniqueness, good special effects and that I like George's films. But you gotta' shave George. That beard is not you.


John Wick's Sister with Tude?
In a nutshell: Violent and psychotic middle aged woman avenges the death of her husband and daughter by going on a massive killing spree.

An absurd film with Jennifer Garner playing the nice wife whose hubby and kiddo were just gunned down by a Mexican drug lord. After the murders, Garner goes off grid for five years and transforms herself into John Wick with a vagina. She becomes a skilled MMA fighter, carjacker, knife fighter, burglar, a master of small arms and an expert with explosives. She uses these skills to waste every single bandito plus one alcoholic cop that was involved in her family's deaths. Even when shot, stabbed multiple times and slashed, old Jenny keeps on killing the baddies and punching out guys twice her weight. That is believable. If you like pure violence you will like this film.


Trash film
Surprised this is not a NC 17 with full frontal nudity of Gere and the girl and graphic sex scene. Dismal storyline, awful acting and unlikeable characters.

The Queen's Gambit

I don't think so
In a nutshell: Personality-less, odd looking ginger girl drugs, drinks, hallucinates and humps her way to the top of the chess world.

The film is loaded with stereotypes that the producers obviously thought defined the mid 1960s - bad marriages, sexist guys, alcoholic middle class housewives, anal retentive government officials, mean store clerks, stiff as wood Russian chess champions, libertine bisexual French girls, mean caretakers at the orphanage, and a hip and radical, down for the struggle black girl who was her BFF in the orphanage. Kudos to the wardrobe consultant and set decorators though. They nailed it with the mid century modern clothes and furnishing.


Complete turd of a movie
Seemed to have potential in the beginning but developed into nothing. Story about an upper middle class couple in Northern Virginia who adopted a 10 year old from war torn Eritrea years ago and now he is a senior in high school. He is shown as very well liked by the teachers, coach and his friends, athletic, smart and handsome but also clever and manipulative. Plot begins when he writes a paper for a class where he is supposed to talk as if he is a major historical figure. He picked Franz Fanon, the African revolutionary. In his paper he calls for violence as Fanon did. You would think this is the plot now. Something like he was a former child soldier, or is about to torment his parents due to his PTSD, is about to embark on a crime spree or his birth parents show up to reclaim him. Something to make a good plot line from. But nothing of any consequence happens.

His passive aggressive civics teacher who both likes him and always suspects him of something flags him on the Fanon paper then on her own searches his locker only to find a small bag of so-called "illegal fireworks". So, when can teachers search lockers on their own? They cannot. But this does not matter in this movie. What does she do with the evidence? Rather than giving it to the principal or school security or the cops, she calls in his mother - Naomi, and gives it to her? Really? That is like the police giving the evidence from a crime to the suspect's mother. His mother hides it twice but old Luce finds it and it disappears. We are never told exactly what was written in his class paper.

Then there are these disconnected side stories. The teacher's mentally ill sister comes to stay with her and one night trashes her house. Then a few days later shows up at school, takes all her clothes off and runs around screaming in the lobby as the students live stream it. Why? Someone - we never know who exactly - spray paints racist graffiti on the teacher's home. Then there is a brief but disturbing noisy sex scene of the parents with the husband going at it so hard it seems like he will break his wife's pelvis. What is the point of that? The story continues to plod around the concern for the so-called dangerous bag of fireworks for a while longer. Then the mother for some reason meets up with a female Asian student only to find out that she might have been sexually assaulted by Luce and his friends and that she was Luce's former GF. Later on, the mother for some reason follows Luce to school only to find that instead he goes to a old shed in the woods near the school. She follows him there only to see him and the Asian girl having sex. Asian girl sees Mom peeping but says nothing to Luce about it. What was the purpose of that scene? Later on the civic's teacher's classroom on campus is set on fire by the fireworks. No one is shown doing it. Was it Luce or his friend? We never know. Then for some reason, Luce gives his mother a small paper bag just like the one the illegal fireworks were in but it contains a live fish in a plastic container instead. Why?

The movie ends abruptly with Luce making a speech before the students and faculty thanking his parents and talking about how happy he is to be an American and how great his parents are. That is it. Nothing resolved. This is not a subtle or nuanced film. It is a very poorly written movie with pointless subplots and no ending of any consequence.

Starting Out in the Evening

Dull and Depressing Movie
Very slow and uninteresting film with no compelling or really likable characters. It's a story about an aging, sickly and largely forgotten novelist struggling to finish his final book, approached by a young and pretty graduate student who is doing her thesis on his writing. She quickly intrudes on more of his life and takes a sexual interest in the old geezer. Really? A pretty 27 year old going for a fat, sickly, balding, grouchy 70 year old retired professor? Includes a weird scene where the girl smears honey on gramp's face. Is this some type of homage to Nine and a Half Weeks? Hope not. This progresses to the point where the two hit the sheets in his NYC apartment and things tend to go downhill from there. Gramps eventually thinks he has a chance with her but this is not to be. Near the end of the movie, gramps has a stroke and becomes even more home-bound and unlikely to write again. Surprised he did not have the stroke right after the sex with someone 50 years his junior. Film includes a nudity scene of gramps being helped out of bathtub. Way too much is shown. Sorry Frank Langela, but you are not that young and fit handsome guy anymore. Keep your clothes on.

Completely useless side story about his troubled and uninteresting middle aged single daughter with two boyfriends and a ticking biological clock. One she is trying to get pregnant by who she does not want to marry and the other she just likes to have sex with for a while but does not want to get pregnant by. She later dumps them both. But she does not want anything to do with either beyond a roll in the hay. What is point of that? Most of her role could have been written out top shorten the movie.

Like many modern films, this has no ending that resolves anything. Gramps is shown hunting an pecking away on his vintage typewriter trying to finish his novel that he was ready to trash five minutes earlier in the movie; his daughter is alone without a suitor; and nothing at all is said about the college girl and her paper. She was the main focus of the story and completely disappears from the film after returning his book and apartment keys with 15 minutes to go in the movie. Big waste of time watching a poorly written story, mediocre acting and no ending of consequence to wrap things up.

Brokedown Palace

If you liked the series Locked Up Abroad, you will like this
Very engaging film about two American girls set up by an Australian drug trafficker in Thailand to smuggle heroin to Hong Kong. The film shows the role of a local American attorney, the US DEA's interest or lack of interest in the case, the nature of a Thai women's prison, the Asian practice of face saving solutions, and corruption in the Thai justice system. Interesting and surprising ending. Not what one would think.

Southern Survival

Fun and entertaining.
Good show. Fun and entertaining especially for the summer.

Gran Torino

Eastwood's latest insult to the working class.
This is a junk and insulting movie. Eastwood used it as an opportunity to characterize the urban white working class as nothing more than ignorant bigots and racists. His Walt Kowalski character hates everyone who is not white and lets out a string of racial slurs at every opportunity until he is "educated" by the "sophisticated" Hmongs. Give me a break. Eastwood spent nearly his entire adult life among the Hollywood elites. He knows nothing about working class America. He does the same thing in many of his films. Letters from Iwo Jima portrayed the US Marines as thugs while the Japanese were cultured and educated warriors. All his cop movies showed the police as either violent psychopaths willing to break the law to get the baddy or bureaucratic fools. His Heartbreak Ridge showed the Marines again as frat boys while the officers and senior NCOs were useless fools. Bridges of Madison county was a huge rip on middle class values like the family, marriage and morality. Go away Clint. Go away.

The Last Man on Earth

Frighteningly Prophetic Movie
This is a cheesy movie, but due to current events, I give it a ten for that reason only. Vincent Price is Robert Morgan, a scientist studying the plague that wiped out the earth's population, or so it seems. Set in the USA, but filmed abroad - all buildings and foreign cars give it away. Price loses his beautiful wife and child to what he states is a virus (sound familiar?) that travels in the air (sound familiar?). He is the only healthy survivor living in his house loaded with provisions. Those who died and were not burned in pits to destroy their bodies came back as zombie vampires which includes his close friend. Robert goes out daily to finish them off with the approved method of a stake through the heart and locks himself in his home each night while the Zombies attack it trying to get him. He makes new batches of stakes daily in his house at his home lathe. Why not? Not much else to do. Robert traces his immunity to the fact that while working in Panama years earlier, he was bitten by a bat that carried the virus. Yes, a bat. Sound familiar? Not making this up. Way to accurate. Eventually he finds a a sexy young female survivor who is infected by manages to self medicate to stay normal. She states that she had been in hiding for years but still looking good in her skirt, make-up and heels. These plague survivor girls know how to look good in any situation. Turns out she is part of a tribe of similar survivors who are out to kill him cause he staked a few of their group by mistake. Wild chase and battle at the end of the movie with all the members dressed in black, driving jeeps, carrying spears and Russian sub-machine guns chasing him. This movie is the father of the Omega Man and the grandfather of I am Legend. Too spooky due to current events. Fact that it was made in Italy is even more chilling.

Blood Father

Fast moving and violent film about a father's efforts to save his daughter who willfully hooked up with a drug dealing boyfriend and is now in jeopardy for her life from a Mexican cartel. And wow, did Mel Gibson put on some serious muscle. That dude is buffed out. I think he can take Stallone.


Good sleep aid!
Well buffed out Pinkerton Detective/Cowboy - Mathias Beacher - who says little, wears all black and hunts down fugitive Confederate war criminals with his two Colt Peacemakers and Spencer carbine with the intent of hanging each one. His two bosses are both former slaves. First he offs fugitive rebel Trace Adkins and all his bros after a bizarre conversation in his barn. Then he tracks down one Confederate Capt Cooke on his ranch in the desert - played by an ancient looking Bruce Dern who is only shown in a white nightgown in every scene. Not a good look Bruce. Given that Bruce is already dying he spares him and at the same time falls for his sexy middle aged daughter - Mira Sorvino, looking pretty cute in her cow girl duds. She does not seem too bothered that Mathias came to kill her dad and falls for the guy. The bathtub scene is a bit much where Mira walks in on Mathias cleaning up his body builder body. But I guess she wanted to check out the merchandise before buying so to speak. Finally he tracks down a war criminal turned corrupt sheriff running the quaint little town of Knife Edge, a town filled with old geezer cowboys and surprisingly attractive prostitutes. The Sheriff even shoots one of the hookers over a $12 debt she owed him. What was that about? While Mathias manages to dispatch the sheriff and all his posse in a classic gun fight in the middle of the street, he ends up gut shot - basically a fatal wound. But that does not stop him from riding all the way back to Mira on her ranch. No real ending to the film to see what happened to the happy couple.

A good combination of a dumb story, bad acting, and unbelievable characters. And what is with Mathias's unusual affection for his horse. Not going there.

The Firm

First rate film
It is not all that often that one finds a very well crafted, well acted legal and crime drama like The Firm. First rate cast, well written and fast moving story and lots of twists and turns to keep the viewer interested. Certainly worth the time to watch this one.

3 Days to Kill

Really entertaining.
Fast moving action movie about an aging and sickly CIA operative on his final mission in Paris while retrying to rekindle his relationship with his estranged daughter and ex wife. His sexy CIA handler has the keys to his cure. Good story, lots of quirky humor and unique characters. Loads of very funny scenes to temper the violence. Worth the time. Costner riding a purple lady's bike no hands in downtown Paris is priceless!

American Buffalo

Of absolutely no redeeming value
Watching paint dry or grass grow is more interesting than this watching this film. Just plain dull. A waste of good talent too.

American Venus

Another cheap production with an absurd plot and missing an ending due to poor or lazy script writing. Even with Rebecca's well known ability to play a crazy, this film still falls flat. Save your time and avoid. Just plain dumb.

Up in the Air

Unique and well made film
This is a very engaging film with good, sharp dialogue by the three main characters and well placed humor. It is also a sad story too. Ryan is really a sad and isolated character. He has structured his life around flying over 300 days a year and living out of hotel rooms with his small carry-on bag seeking the mythical ten million air miles mark. He prides himself on all the earned travel perks he has acquired and his ability to travel with maximum efficiency. He has ignored his siblings and does not have a family of his own. His tiny studio apartment in Omaha where the corporate HQ is at is barren and sterile looking as a hospital room. His attractive neighbor in his apartment even turns him down for a date given how seldom he is at home, if you can call it home.

When he finally begins to come around to his situation, mainly as a result of his new female co-worker who does not buy into the isolated lifestyle he lives, his new love interest (Alex) and his sister's wedding, it comes crashing to a halt when Alex rejects the idea of a true relationship with him. Ryan thought it might be love but it is just a diversion for her as she is married with children. His new co-worker then quits the firm and moves and Ryan is alone again in the air alone again. Even his finally reaching the ten million air mile mark becomes a hollow accomplishment. Not a happy ending to this film. Clooney absolutely shines in this film.

The Irishman

Should be called "Goodfellas in Depends Diapers"
Very very very long film. Horribly depressing story of a labor racketeer/hitman for the mob with ties to Jimmy Hoffa, (if anyone actually remembers Hoffa) who is telling his story from present day in an assisted living facility where he is wheelchair bound. There are no likable main or even secondary characters in the entire film. All of the old mafia movie standard actors are recycled in this film hopefully for one last time - Pacino, DeNiro, Kietel, and many more and are far far too old to have been in this regardless of the makeup, girdles and hair color. Should have had much younger actors portray these geezers in the first part of the movie which is set in the 1950's and 1960's. Even in the beginning of the film where the DeNiro (noticeably overweight) character is supposed to be about 40, you can see that he has trouble walking normally since he is really in his 70's. The actresses playing their wives are far too young for these geriatric actors. Their daughters could easily be their grand daughters. It is a dull film that relies on the many of the techniques that were successful in Goodfellas and Casino but does not work well in this. Too many dumb scenes of Pacino (Hoffa) shoveling ice cream into his mouth and complaining about his cronies coming 15 minutes late to a meeting. Explains why it went to Netflix so fast.

Love Crimes

Probably went to video the day after its release in theatres
This is bad, really bad, really really bad. The perfect storm of bad acting, unbelievable characters, vulgarity, pointless raunchy nudity including full frontal (Sean Young needs to stay dressed), a topless middle aged woman running around her living room in riding pants pretending she is on a horse, weak ending, and stupid plot. Essentially, a guy (Patrick Bergin) who pretends to be a fashion photographer easily convinces 20+ women to take their pictures, mostly topless, then gets them to agree to a bedroom romp with him. Feeling humiliated, they go to the cops but it was all consenting adults so no sex crime. Tough as nails scrawny pistol packing Atlanta prosecutor (Sean Young) decides to get the guy and chases him around the state even though the only crime he committed was stealing the car of one of his unattractive victims. Why bother? She eventually goes to his house in some remote hillbilly slum in Georgia and ends up being his photo subject. of some fully nude pics He never attacks her or harms her yet she tries to kill him with a huge kitchen knife and her gun. Rattled by her persistence, he splits only to be caught. None of the characters are believable in their roles.

Earthquake Bird

Death follows Lucy everywhere
This is a dull, bland and very slow moving film about a sullen and blank expression expat Lucy living in Japan who hooks up with Japanese noodle chef and street photographer - Taiji - with dark past (never fully explained in the movie but a possible serial killer of women). Lily, a young and vibrant American girl enters to movie to become the apex of a love triangle with Lucy and new boyfriend, Taiji, eventually leading to her disappearance and supposed murder. As a murder mystery one would expect suspense and an edge of your seat drama. You get neither. Just a very slow and dull story, uninteresting characters, and no real answer to what happened to the missing girl. Far too many pointless scenes. Only interesting scene is the bizarre club dance scene between Lily and Taiji that looks like it belonged in Pulp Fiction. You can find 1970's vintage episodes of Columbo that are far more riveting than this dud.

An Affair to Die For

Cheap but passable as an "affair gone wrong film".
Sexy middle aged married college professor has affair with her married student and things go horribly wrong during their weekly hook up at a luxury Aspen hotel. Somewhat hard to follow story line, mumbled dialogue and poor acting. One rather raunchy sex scene and some violence. At best an okay film. Very small cast and only one filming location so this did not cost much to make. Once again like many cheap films, it ends without a real ending.

We Belong Together

Like Fatal Attraction minus the bunny.
Plot: Stylish, well groomed, heavily tattooed and recently divorced community college professor hooks up with sexy, shapely and psychotic new student for some extra curricular after-school bedroom activities. Must be how they do extra credit in college these days. Even though he is clean and sober in AA, he does not object too hard to having her pour booze straight from the bottle into his mouth as he is tied down in bed with her sitting on him. So much for AA and how did he not choke from that stunt? He eventually wants out but she thinks otherwise and decides to get some payback by going after his ex and his daughter.

The perfect mix of poor acting including the two most unconvincing police detectives you can find (one looks like a wannabe male model complete with spiked hair and tweezed eyebrows), predictable story line, undeveloped characters and dirt cheap production. By the way, how many community college profs in Los Angeles can afford to drive a Caddy Escalade, have a luxury apartment, pay alimony and child support and have their ex living in their former large and beautiful home complete with pool? They must pay really really well there.


Surprisingly good film
Thought this would be a dud but it was a very engaging film with several good plot twists. Moral, legal and ethical issues abound on both sides of the law in this one. Pretty well acted by a first rate cast, good plot and unusual ending. Worth the time.

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