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Star Trek: Discovery, created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman, 2017

So I have been a Trekkie (never liked the term Trekker) since I was a little kid. Been to a bunch of conventions when I was younger. I just love Star Trek. Always have and always will.

Still I don’t love everything Trek. Star Trek Voyager was just mediocre to me. And Enterprise while I watched it just wasn’t very good. It was a mistake to do a prequel instead of moving forward where with the story where you could not worry about stepping on canon. And the new JJ Abrams Star Trek films were just not my cup of tea. Sure the first one was interesting, and well cast, but it did not feel like Star Trek. Too advanced technology, and just about action without the thought behind it. And Into The Darkness was just a tragedy of awfulness.

And the lead up to Discovery did not fill me with hope. As I have said I do not want a prequel. I want something new in the future of Trek where we can keep our old canon, but build something new. And this was not that.

CBS Claims that it is the Prime Universe and yet it takes place about 5 years after the Cage the original series first pilot and 10 years before the 2nd pilot, and yet it literally looks nothing like it. It is not only way more advanced, but nothing looks like what we know. There aren’t even hints of trying to make it fit into the timeline. The uniforms are awful, completely different and use the ranking system of the Next Generation, and totally get rid of the colors we know to specify department. And they seem to have instantaneous holographic communications, so far beyond anything we have seen in Star Trek, that why send a crew when you could have an admiral command the ship from Earth. And they say they respect Canon but they use the Star Trek Delta which did not become the Starfleet symbol till much later in honor of the Enterprise’s completion of it’s 5 year mission.

And to see the rest of the show in the US you have to subscript to CBS All Access, for $5.99 a month with commercials or $10.99 a month without. And it isn’t like the whole show comes out at once, it is weekly and is taking a big break half way through and the second half will come out next year so that you can pay CBS more money for time when you aren’t watching anything on their service!

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The Defenders, created by Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez, 2017

Netflix’s Marvel shows mostly get back on track with the Defenders, after the abject failure that was Iron Fist.

And the main problem here is too much Iron Fist especially at the beginning. And it isn’t all just Finn Jones’s fault, Iron Fist is so badly written, and his character does nothing but make stupid mistakes, and that lowers the quality of the show, but the return of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Mike Colter’s Luke Cage makes this show a worthy sequel to their shows. And Sigourney Weaver was a great villain, and seemingly better at martial arts than Finn Jones!

The 8 episode series really cruises along, especially once the 4 defenders get together in Episode 3. Honestly the 8 episode format seems better than the normal 13 episode which caused some drag in the middle of the other series.

And this was shot before all the bad press for Iron Fist came out, so they were already planning on having Iron Fist be his annoying and incompetent. I just don’t get it.

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Atomic Blonde by David Leitch, 2017

When I heard that the uncredited co-director of the amazing John Wick was doing a female driven action movie with Charlize Theron I was all in. And I am so glad I went to see this amazing action film. Not only is it a great film with a stellar cast and great music, but the action is top notch. In fact the middle fight scene, shot to look as if it is all done in one take, should be taught in film school because it is so amazing! For any action movie lover this is an absolute must see! THIS FILM IS GREAT!

In East Germany on 1989 before the Collapse of the Berlin Wall an MI6 agent James Gascoigne (Sam Hargrace) is killed by a KGB agent named Yuri Bakhtin (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) along with a watch that has a list of every secret agent working in the area including a Soviet Spy who has been betraying the allies named Satchel. An M16 agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is brought in to get the list back, and we begin inter cutting with her interrogation by MI6 agent Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmet Kurzfeld (John Goodman).

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Iron Fist by Scott Buck, 2017

Wow, what the hell happened here. I mean I have been pretty impressed by what Marvel and Netflix have been doing with their Marvel series. With great writing and characters, even if they tended to get bogged down in their 13 episode runs, but this is something else entirely. And that something else is just not good at all.

And of course the character had something to do with it, a white martial artist character created in the 70’s during the black exploitation was always going to be a little controversial, but casting an Asian character who was good would have lifted this to a different level and solved so many of the shows problems. How could they think that casting a white actor with obviously no martial arts experience would be any better? It is really bad Daniel Woo has Into the Badlands because he would have been awesome here where Finn Jones just ins’t. He is awful throughout. Not only can he not fight, but he can’t act, and the character is written as a winy bitch and complete moron which makes it even worse. And what is up with his glowy hand power that never seems to work when he needs it? Did they ever read the comic? Yes he plunged his fist into the molten heart of a dragon and got the power of iron fist, but it is not just a a glowy fist, but the power to concentrate his chi  to resist pain and injury.

And sure Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is a highlight of the show, but her characters arc is stupid and insulting throughout, which also brings the story down. And just to have a martial artist with her own dojo taking martial arts advice from Danny Rand (the Iron Fist played by Finn Jones) is so incredibly insulting.

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Mr. Right by Paco Cabezas, 2015

By no means is this a perfect film, but actually it is really fun and enjoyable. Certainly in the vein of Gross Point Blank. And once Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell get together the film really takes off, though Kendrick’s opening scenes don’t work quite as well (has she ever actually been drunk?). Still can’t believe this bombed cause it is a lot of fun, with some great action, and the scene with the knives is worth seeing the whole film.

Martha (Anna Kendrick) is waiting at home for her boyfriend, taking sexy pictures when he shows up with another girl, and then tries to get her into a 3 way. She is distraught and her girlfriend’s take her out partying, but she is a mess. Meanwhile a hit man (Sam Rockwell) shows up at a hotel room where a women has hired him to kill her husband, so he puts on his red clown and kills her. A hit squad is sent after him, though Hopper (Tim Roth) sees they are idiots so stays behind, and listens in as the hit man quickly takes out the whole team.

 

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Fences by Denzel Washington, 2016

A film adaption of August Wilson’s play bringing Denzel Washington and Viola Davis back to roles they playes in 2010 Broadway Revival. The story of a very angry man and his effect on his family. And though Denzel does manage to bring it out from the backyard where most of the story takes place, it does still feel like a play on film. Still it lets Viola Davis shine. And Denzel is good too, though I feel like he could have dialed it back a bit more for the screen vs the stage. And while interesting I disliked Denzel’s Troy so much that it is a hard watch at times. It is good, though not great, though Viola Davis deserves best actress.

 

Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is an angry, angry man living in 1950’s Pittsburg. He is a former Negro Baseball league player, barely getting by as a trash man. He has put in a conplaint with the union as all the white guys are drivers and the black guys hall trash. He works with best friend Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson who is awesome here) who he brings hone to hang in the backyard, where he is supposed to be building a fence for his wife Rose (Viola Davis). Troys son from a previous relationship Lyons (Russell Hornsby) comes over to borrow money, which pisses him off because he is not taking responsibility. And Troy won’t go see at a clun playing music. Meanwhile Troy and Roses son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is to be scouted for college football, but Troy refuses because of his experience in sports.

 

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The Eagle Huntress by Otto Bell (2016)

I can’t even believe that this documentary is not up for best picture at the oscars! This is such an amazing film. A great story, amazing vistas, such great characters! It is feel agood, and life affirming. And it is shot so well! This is an absolute must see! I loved it!

 

This is the story of Aishlopan a 13 year old Kazakh girl from Mongolia. Her father Nurgaiv is an Eagle Hunter. A position passed down only from father to son in the area for as far back as people can remember. Asholpan is brave and fearless, and her father decides to train her to be an Eagle Huntress. Other Eagle hunters disgree, but Nurgaiv’s father agrees!

 

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Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols (2016)

How is this film not the lead contender for best picture?  Not only is it a true story, but it is such an important story in the history of civil rights in this country. And it is so well done, with such good acting. Not the best film I have ever seen, but certainly one of, if not the, best film of the year. I loved this film, and it is an absolute must see. Great from start to finish. It is unbelievable that this did not get nominated for best picture from though at least Ruth Negga got a nomination.

 

In Caroline County, Virginia in 1958, Interacial Marriage is illegal under anti-miscegenation laws. Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) is a white brick layer who is love with the black woman Mildred Jetter (Ruth Negga).  Richard buys an acre a mile from Mildred’s families house and asks her to marry him. They go with her father to Washington D.C. and get married. They return to Virginia and hang their marriage certificate over their bed. Later when Mildred is pregnant someone tips off the police, and Sheriff Brooks (Martin Csokas) breaks into her parents house and arrests them. Richard is released in bail, but they refuse to let him bail out Mildred. They get a lawyer, and he has them plead guilty, amd they are given suspended prison sentances, on condition that they not return to Virginia together for 25 years.

 

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Silence by Martin Scorsese (2016)

The film that Scorsese has been trying to make for 25 years. It is a gorgeous film, and makes me want to watch some great Samurai films. Unfortunately for me the religious nature of the story left me dry. And it is brutally sadistic and gory. And the moment at the end seems fully false and guesswork. I guess this is all about faith for Scorsese, but to me it is the opposite. I just don’t believe the conjecture, and I honestly didn’t like the film.

 

Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) in Japan watches as the Japanese torture his fellow priests as they have made Catholicism illegal in Japan. In Macau two Jesuit priests Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), who were proteges of Ferreira learn that he has become an Apostate and has renounced his faith and has even taken a Japanese wife. Neither believes it, and resolve to go to Japan to find him and prove his fairh and bring him home. They enlist a drunken Japanese fisherman Kichijiro (Yōsuke Kubozuka) as their guide, and thry head to Japan and small fishing village.

 

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The Finest Hours by Craig Gillespie (2016)

I had wanted to see this film when it came out, but had decided to wait till Netflix DVD, especially since it got only a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now having seen it, I wish I had seen it in the theater, so that I could have seen it in 3D, since it is a Disney film, and they didn’t release a 3D version on DVD. I actually really enjoyed this true story. In fact I liked it much better than almost all of the Oscar contenders that I have seen. It is a great story, has some interesting characters, great effects, plus it is a Cape Cod story which makes it even bettter for me! I highly recommend this film.

 

In 1952 in Chatham on Cape Cod, Coast Guardsman Bernard “Bernie” Webber (Chris Pine) meets the girl he has been corresponding with through letters. This is Miriam Pentinen (Holliday Grainger) and the two start seeing each other, and she asks him to marry her, at first he refuses, but then he agrees, but has to get permission from his commanding officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) before they can Mary. Bernie doesn’t want to get married, because of the big storms likely coming, and knowing that men die. On the day Bernie has promissed to ask Cliff a big storm arrives, and 2 tankers manage to get torn in half off of Cape Cod, though only one had gotten a message out. The SS Fort Mercer has ripped in half, losing it’s Captain and 7 crew members, and it’s radio was knocked out. The ship has a 17 foot crack in the engineering section, so it though the bulkheads are holding, it is sinking. The unliked Chief Engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) takes command, and tries to ground the ship on sholes, by manually stearing it, while the crew mans the pumps.

 

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Hell or High Water by David Mackenzie (2016)

Honestly this year has made me so dissapointed by not the oscar hopefuls films of the year but critics and film ratings. In fact I can no longer believe Rotten Tomatoes at all. Especially with this film getting a 98%. I mean, seriously are you kidding me? This film is not a great film, nor even a good or compelling film. In fact it is borring film that amounts to 3 conversations, one between 2 brothers, one between 2 cops, then on between on brother and one cop. And it isn’t like the dialogue is so amazing. And being a racist cop does not automatically make a character compelling! And I am not a fan of Ben Foster, and he didn’t change my mind here. I was not at all impressed by this film. Sure one scene with an ornary waitress was enjoyable. And the ending is OK, but really does not make up for the rest! I can’t believe this film has gotten so much positive press! Of course I can’t believe most of the Awards hopefuls are getting the reviews they are!

Two brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) are robbing banks. All the banks are from Texas Midlands Bank, which has non-working security cameras. They take the stolen cars they use and bury them after each robbery.

Two texas Rangers are on their trail. The close to retirement and racist Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his half Native American half Mexican partner Albero Parker (Gil Birmingham). They get their first lead when Tanner robs a different bank with cameras across the street from a Diner.

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Arrival by Denis Villeneuve (2016)

Though I love sci-fi films, I had stayed away from this film because of my dislike of Amy Adams. And I wish I hadn’t stayed away, because I loved the film (though I do think another actress could have been better). While watching the film I did have some issues with film, but honestly the film answered those issues and by the end I understood why the choices had been made. And the film is obviously an homage to 2001 a Space Odyssey as the films of Terrance Malek (mostly in the photography of the flashbacks), and since I love those films it works for me. The science fiction story of this film just blew me away, and nakes this film a must watch.

 

The film begins with linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) dealing with her daughter slowly dieing from an incurable cancer over a period of years. Her husband has left her and she deals with alone, being with her on her deathbed in a hospital. Now Louise heads to her lecture on linguistics at university, not paying attention to all the students gathered around TV’s. And there are only 4 students in her class, and her lecture is quickly disrupted by phone calls and texts. 12 Alien Spacecraft have appeared around the planet at random places, large monolith like ships hovering over the Earth. When she returns home, US Army Colonel GT weber (Forest Whitaker) waiting in her house for her. They recruit her to act as a linguist in talking to the Aliens that have landed over Montana.

 

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The Girl on the Train by Tate Taylor (2016)

I was warry of this adaption of the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, mainly because the trailers reminded me too much of Gone Girl which I hated. Fortunately I was wrong. And after starting the film not liking the drunken and unreliable narrator played by Emily Blunt, i really got sucked in and felt sorry for her. This is a really great story and a good film, one of the best of the year in fact (though this year has certainly has not had the best filns).

 

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is a mess and an alcoholic, riding the train every day. She is obsessed with a couple she watches from the train, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (luke Evans). The couple lives 2 doors from her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and new Wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson)  amd their baby. Rachel is still onsessed with Tom, having ruined their marriage with drinking after they could not get pregnant. One night while on the train Rachel sees Anna cheating on her husband with another man, Kamal (Édgar Ramirez) and gets off the train to confront her, but is so drunk. She wakes up, covered in blood with almost no memory of the night, and Anna is missing.

 

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Finding Dory written and directed by Andrew Stanton (2016)

Pixar has done it again, matching the magic of Finding Nemo, by focusing it’s sequel on Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) Nemo’s funniest character the short term memory defficient clown fish. This film is funny and enjoyable with a bunch of lovable new characters. Well worth seeing and easily on of the best animated films of the year.

 

Dory lost her parents as a child due to her short term memory issues, and ended up with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). She starts to remember her family and recruits Marlin and Nemo, but Marlin is mean to her and she runs off on her own. Dory is picked up by humans at an aquarium and rescue center, and put in quarantine, but with a tag to be sent to Cleveland Aquarium. A seven legged octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neil) wants the tag as he doesn’t want to go back to the ocean, and agrees to help her find her parents.

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Lion by Garth Davis (2016)

This true story is well done with some powerful performances, though it does drag at times. A good film, but not great. Or at least one I don’t care to watch again.

This is the true story of Saroo Brierley (as a child by Sunny Pawar) a child goes with his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) to do manual labor, but ends up wandering onto a train and falling asleep. He wakes up locked in the car as it travels all the way across India to Calcutta. He gets off, and is alone, not speaking the language Hindi, with no idea even where his home is.

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Moonlight written and directed by Barry Jenkins (2016)

Another of the Oscar contenders this year. It is an interesting slice of life, with some issues for me. First off I hated the 3 color corrects, and was distracted by them. Then the shaky cinematography was awful, and distracting. Life is not that shaky, so cinematography like that just seems lazy to me. And third and foremost, the casting of Chiron as 3 actors who don’t look alike, and the conscious decision to not even let the 3 actors meet so their performances are each their own, does not help the film either. An interesting story, but the experimental methods pulled me out of the film instead of drawing me in.

Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a shy African American child who is taken under the wing of drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe). Chiron’s mom Paula (Naomie Harris) is a real piece of work, abusive and a drug addict who buys crack from Juan. Chiron has one friend Kevin (Jaden Piner), and spends much time with Juan until he gets him to admit he sells crack to his mom.

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Passengers by Morten Tyldum (2016)

An enjoyable science fiction romance with sone issues, but that is lifted by the chemistry of the leads. And mostly my issues are script level, where things just don’t make sense, or are only that way to move the script along. It is nowhere near as bad as the reviews are saying though. It is below 40% on rottentomatoes, and that is ridiculous, it is much better than that. It is really worth seeing as a popcorn film with some interesting moral questions, and great visual effects.

The colony ship Avalon is taking a 120 year journey to the planet Homestead 2 with the crew in hybernation, set to awaken 4 months before arrival, and spend 4 months in cruise ship luxury (all further putting the passengers in debt to the conpany) while being teainee for their new life of corporate indentitude. The ship is hit by a large space rock that penetrate it’s defences and begin to overwhelm it’s self repair systems. Low level passenger and Mechanical Engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has his pod damaged and is awoken 90 years early! He is alone, with no way to go back into suspended animation, with awful cheap food (he is not a high class passenger) and only the robot bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen) for conpanionship. He breaks into better quarters, and figures out how to dine out, but after a year alone is ready for suicide. Just then he runs into the pod of Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer and journalist. Jim becomes obsessed with her, reading all her writing and ready to awaken her, though he tries not to, but he can’t help himself.

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Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (2016)

This is the movie that everyone is freaking out about? Really? What the f***? You have to be kidding me. I really can’t believe this film is getting so much great buzz!

 

And I was excited to see this since I was born in Massachussets (Marthas Vineyard actually) and my dad lived in Machester by the Sea for about 10 years.

 

The thing is, this film is nothing but actor bait. No great story. Nothing to show the flashbacks are flashbacks (even though they look to be maybe 10 years apart). And even worse is the music, which is nothing but distracting and inapropriate for the scenes it is in. It is so bad, it kept throwing ne out of the scenes, and making me not care what was going on.

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La La Land written and directed by Damien Chazelle (2016)

Really? Really? This is the film with all the Oscar Buzz, and that people are saying single handedly will save the musical? You have to be kidding me. It isn’t even a very good musical. I can’t remember a single song. And neither Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone are very good singers nor dancers. Nor is it the love song to Los Angeles everyone thinks it is. It is a conpletely fictitious LA, where the geography is wrong and they have the same street lights literally everywhere. Nor is it a great love story, since other than songs you never see what the two leads see in each other! At best it is a fairly mediocre musical. Not to say I am a huge fan of musicals, but I do love old Busby Berkeley musicals, the Hong Kong shaw brothers musicals of Umetsugu Inoue, Hairspray and especially The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and this can’t touch any of those! This is a total let down! How can this have tied the Oscars for most nominations?

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Jackie by Pablo Larraín (2016)

Even having grown up on Marthas Vineyard where Jackie O lived, I never cared that much. And while this film does show the poise with which she handled her husbands death, it didn’t draw me in, and in fact bored me at times. I didn’t feel like it was filmed at the white house either, and the attempt to make the film look period through low quality film pulled me away instead of drawing me into the film. And the gratuitous recreation of the horrific assassination of President Kennedy, is too much and too disgusting. Honestly this film feels like the Oscar bate that it is. An attempt to get Natalie Portman a best actress nomination. It wasn’t bad, but not very good, and really not worth seeing.

Kubo and the Two Strings by Travis Knight

Laika has done it again. Another amazing stop motion animated film. This one with it’s Japanese Samurai Fantasy film could very well have been an anime, and might lose some audience because of it, but I loved it.

Honestly the worst part is the voice cast. I just don’t think big actors do as well as voice actors. Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey’s voices are really distracting, though Ralp Fiennes was fine. I just think big actors are a distraction instead of serving the story.

i really want to see the behind the scenes on this! They do have one amazing shot of them shooting a scene mid credits that is a must see.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Gareth Edwards (2016)

I am a huge Star Wars fan, I grew up with it, and got into film because of it. That is how much I love the original trilogy. Then came the awful prequel trilogy that is basically unwatchable. Still I continued to read basically the entire expanded universe, which had some great stories, though is unfortunately no longer canon. And then came the Force Awakens, somewhat better than the prequels, but still really bad. And my hopes for more Star Wars to love were pretty much dashed. And then came Rogue One. It is in no way a perfect film, but it is the Star Wars film I have always wanted, even with it’s faults. This is a must see, and so much better than the Force Awakens that I was blown away.

 

It looks and feels like the original trilogy, and leads right into a new hope. And the effects and the 3D are awesome! Sure the film is mostly fan service, but oh what fan service! This is a must see film! Not only filling you with nostalgia, but a really enjoyable film.

 

Just saw it a second time at a true IMAX in 70 millimeter! Wow, looked pretty amazing! Been so long since I have seen a film on film.

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Café Society by Woody Allen (2016)

Woody Allen’s yearly film is out and it is good, though not great. I love the period, and the acting is top notch. It is basically a love story for people that should have been together, but aren’t by their own choices. A film for fans of Woody Allen films.

 

In 1930’s Los Angeles Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg doing a spot on Woody Allen) has just moved here from New York. He keeps calling his agent uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell again proving he isn’t just a comedian). Eventually Phil takes his nephew on as a gopher and has his secretary Veronica “Vonnie” Sybill (Kristen Stewart in one of her good roles) show him around LA. Bobby quickly falls for Vonnie, but she has a boyfriend, who is in fact the married Phil.

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Miss Sloane by John Madden (2016)

Hmm, for a film that had a lot of talk about being an Oscar contender I have to admit that I got bored in this film and have been trying to wrack my brain and figure out what the point of this film was, and especially the character motivations in the film. Sure the twist at the end was unexpected, but it did nothing to explain the character motivations, and in some ways even made them harder to understand. And while it was overall about the gun lobby and lobbying in general, it didn’t really make a huge political statement either way, other than to say lobbying system is about as corrupt as it can be on basically all sides of every issue. So I really can’t get the point of this film.

Of course I am also not a big Jessica Chastain fan. I was really not impressed by her in Zero Dark Thirty, and I didn’t like A Most Violent Year at all. And she didn’t impress me much in the Martian. To me she shows very little emotion and kind of has dead eyes, so having her as the lead does not help me like a film at all.

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Hacksaw Ridge by Mel Gibson 2016

I have to admit that I had been a fan of Gibson. I grew up on the Road Warrior and think he is a talented director, though never have seen The Passion of the Christ. So I was looking forward to Hacksaw Ridge, and it was alright, though it really did not blow me away. Honestly, it was bit too straight forward overall, making his early life fairly boring, then the Hacksaw Ridge being a bit overly violent (Gibson’s ridiculous statements on the violence in Marvel films is laughable after seeing this gore) and ridiculous, with Vince Vaughn Grease gun seeming to have endless ammo. And the fact that everyone is acting like Andrew Garfield is so small and thin, but Garfield is 5′ 10″ and not that small! And I was a bit thrown in the battle sequences because of the blood. Something about the blood looks off, like either some was digitally added, or it had some weird color correct to make it stand out, but it made it look fake to me, and that pulled me out a bit. And that the aforementioned Vince Vaugn seems miscast, basing his performance on a cursory look at R. Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket. Really it is a pretty amazing story, but overall one that really didn’t pull me as much as the true story actually should. It is not a bad film, but not great.

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