Elvis – The Movie

I can’t believe someone hasn’t done an Elvis Presley movie before this one. ‘Elvis’ is an in depth look into his life, starting with how he was drawn to music as a child, and later being ‘discovered’ by Colonel Tom Parker. I found it interesting that the rock legend’s story was actually told by the Colonel, a man who defrauded Elvis of much of his fortune.

Why is it that so many great and talented people fall for or trust the wrong person and get taken to the cleaners? Are they too focused on their career’s and assume life the finance will take care of itself. It doesn’t make sense to me, but then I’m no rock and roll star.

The movie seems to have the jitters at first, while it finds it’s footing, but you’ll be tapping your foot or singing along to the awesome music in no time. The flick is almost two and a half hours long but it moved along well. I’d never heard of Austin Butler but I’m sure plenty of folks will now. To me, his awesome performance was only overshadowed by Tom Hanks, who portrayed Elvis’ promoter, the Colonel Tom Parker.

No matter how much you think you know about Elvis Presley’s life and his music, I’m sure you’ll come away with at least a few new facts after seeing this movie. Cathryn and I did. I even learned of other black musicians where the King got some of his inspiration. And I didn’t know that he wrote some of his own songs or that he died at such a young age. Sad.

Cathryn and I saw the movie with her mother and a friend, who spent much of the film singing along with the music. The movie was good and we recommend seeing it. We both give it an 8 out of 10, not worthy of a perfect score from me only because of it was the Colonel’s perspective of the King’s life.

Jurassic World – Dominion

I lost track of how many sequels of Jurassic Park there have been but we’ve managed to see them all and have to admit they are fun to watch. We decided to see this latest instalment in Imax format for extra-sized fun. Add that to the bigger and badder dinosaurs that roamed the earth along with mankind, and this movie was a CGI extravaganza.

Dominion brings back the original cast – some almost dinosaurs themselves, and (spoiler alert) chooses not to have any of them eaten alive during the movie. But don’t fret, plenty of others are snatched up and become dino-food. It is quite amazing how they can blend real people and a gigantic computer-generated animal into the same scene.

And as with other Jurassic movies, there are bad guys and good guys – not the creatures themselves, but people who want to exploit the dinosaurs and our heroes who want to save them. Add in a greedy bio-engineering company and Dominion has all the makings of a scary but lovable family movie.

With nothing else on the big screen these days but superhero movies, Cathryn and I enjoyed the movie. She rated it a 9 out of 10, mostly because nobody really dies. I give it a 6.

No Time to Die

After over a year of pandemic-related delays, the latest installment in the James Bond 007series has finally hit the big screens. This movie is Daniel Craig’s last fling as the British Agent who’s licensed to kill. The movie starts with Bond living out his retirement in Jamaica, but he’s soon drawn back into service by his old friend Felix Leiter, of the CIA.

The explosive action starts within the first ten minutes, with Bond almost blown up, and then getting into the type of wild and crazy chase scene that 007 fans have come to love. And the action never really stops after that, with lots of fights, more chase scenes and explosions, and a new villain.

James has grown older and a bit tired of saving the world, but as usual he stops at nothing to complete his mission. He only beds one woman in this story, the same one he tried to settle down with, but left behind after he felt betrayed by her. She shows up later in the story with a little surprise.

Ernst Blofeld and Spectre are still a formidable force for evil, but Rami Malek’s Lyutsifer Safin has his own plans for taking over the world. The movie runs 2hours and 43 minutes and may have you fidgeting in your seat, but there’s no time to fall asleep.

The cinematography, film locations, and action scenes were second to none, as per usual in a 007 movie. Although I guessed what was coming at the end, the music and actors played heavy on my emotions. All I can say is that the conclusion was a surprise, and a shock to some viewers around us.

Cathryn hated the ending and refused to rate the movie, but I know she enjoyed the majority of it. I thought it was excellent, and a must-see to any James Bond fan. 10 out of 10 from me. Having said that, I can’t say I agree with those who want the next 007 to be a female.

RESPECT – The Aretha Franklin Story

Find out what RESPECT really means to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The movie tells her life story from the time she was a little girl singing in her father’s church, until she becomes an international star. If you’re a music lover or a fan of Aretha you won’t want to miss this movie. My first surprise in the flick was learning the extent of talent in her family, from her mother to her sisters.

Her over-bearing father, a Baptist Minister, plays a huge role in Aretha’s life, and is socially connected to important people like Doctor Martin Luther King. Franklin comes of age in an era when blacks have taken to the streets in a quest for equality. Many of Aretha’s singing engagements were in church or to raise money for the movement.

As with many other celebrities, Miss Franklin is haunted by demons from her childhood and continual conflict with her father. Her choice in men only exacerbates her problems, to the point where it all becomes too much and she breaks down. The church and gospel music re-inspire her and she becomes the music icon we all know.

Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha in the movie and delivers one of the best performances of her career. Respect is not a movie you really need to see on the big screen, but the soundtrack is awesome and will surely have you tapping your foot. Cathryn even got up and danced in the isle to one song. We were the only ones in the theater.

We both enjoyed the movie. I gave it a 9 and she a 10 out of 10.

Stillwater

Wow, two trips to the movie theater in less than a week – I almost feel normal again. My wakeup to the new normal was at the candy counter where I paid $9 for a small bag of popcorn. It seems recovering from the pandemic means adding dollars to the cost of everything except the movie.

Stillwater is the name of an American town where an out of work Roughneck turned construction worker (Matt Damon) lives. It’s also the pendant on a necklace that he gives his daughter before she goes off to university in Marseilles, France, where she is convicted of murder and sent to prison for the death of her girlfriend.

The story drags like a tractor pull, led by a baseball-capped redneck version of Jason Bourne in slow motion. Damon visits his daughter in prison but their communication skills are about as far apart as France and the U.S. on a world map. Cultural differences are brought to light in this flick, pointing out the bullying image of Americans and how France has nearly lost their identity to the mass influx of immigrants.

With the exception of a few scenery shots along the rocky shore of the Mediterranean Sea, this is not a movie you need to rush out and see on the big screen. If fact, it’s our opinion you don’t need to rush out and see this flick for any reason. Cathryn and I both give it a 6 out of 10.

News of the World – the Movie

For movie buffs like Cathryn and I, the year 2020 was painful. And because of of the worldwide pandemic with Covid 19, 2021 isn’t shaping up to be much better. Old movies in our DVD collection and streaming companies like Netflix and Crave have been our only saving grace. Even the producers of television shows had to take a hiatus in the name of safety.

After exhausting the list of decent movies to stream, and for a change from binge-watching our favorite TV shows, we’ve taken to searching for decent movies that have to be rented. Major motion picture studios seem to have caught on to our dilemma, and since they can’t release their new movies in theaters, they are making them available to rent.

Last night we rented the latest movie by Tom Hanks, News of the World. We were shocked that we had to pay $25 to watch the new release, but took into consideration that it would have cost us more to see it in a theater. And since we’re not allowed out of our house, what choice did we have. We were able to rent and download the movie through Apple TV.

News of the World is a western with a completely different story line that’s never been done before. It takes place after the American Civil war, when the country is trying to heal, and the south has suffered the most. Tom Hanks’ character travels from town to town, reading from the latest newspaper articles, apprising folk of what’s happening in their part of the world.

I found the movie a bit slow at times, typical of some westerns, but there was enough action and a great story line that kept me interested. We both loved the movie, with Cathryn giving it a big 10. I can’t say there was anything wrong with the flick but I’m giving it a conservative 8, just because I can.

Totally Under Control

Totally Under Control is a new documentary and not fake news that follows the Trump administration’s response to the Covid – 19 pandemic in the United States. I don’t usually get too involved in politics, especially those south of the Canadian border, but in considering current world events I’m posting my review of this film.

Having recently finished the book, ‘The Fifth Risk“, about the undoing of democracy in the U.S., I wasn’t too surprised by the Trump administration’s political mishandling of a pandemic, that had they had been warned about and planned for in advance.

We are all aware of Trump’s bold-faced lies and how he bullies his way through every conversation, on or off-camera. Like the book (written separately from the documentary and by a different author), Totally Under Control points out Trump’s basic flaw – that he doesn’t believe in science.

Case in point is global warming, but I won’t go there. When he took over for the Obama administration, he pretended he was back on his television show, and fired all kinds of scientists and experts who were in charge unimportant things like their nuclear arsenal and disease control. Then, for reasons only known to him, he replaced them with family members and rich buddies.

This documentary was secretly made while the pandemic was spreading around the world, and it includes interviews with disease experts and even some of Trump’s own staff. I think it was very well presented, and probably strategically released just before the election. Judge it for yourself.

I watched it on Prime and there are clips on YouTube.

Honest Thief

Do you remember the days, long ago, when you could go to a special place to see movies on a big screen? I’m not talking about your living room to watch Netflix on your sixty inch TV. I mean a real movie theatre with a screen as wide as your house, sound that vibrates your love handles, and freshly buttered popcorn that costs as much as your monthly cable bill.

Well, guess what? If you look up your local theatre you might just find they’ve dusted off their projectors and are actually playing some newly released films. Cathryn and I went to Lakeshore Cinemas last night to see Honest Thief, with Liam Neeson.

The movie is about what the title suggests…a bank robber who’s never hurt anyone, and decides to go straight when he meets a woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. It’s an action movie but not like many of Neeson’s other flicks where the body count is higher than Covid.

Turning himself into the FBI doesn’t go exactly as planned and the retired bank robber has to fall back on his military skills to keep a couple of bad agents from cashing in on his windfall. It’s a thriller kind of love story that both Cathryn and I enjoyed. We both rate it 10 out of 10.

Our only complaint was with Lakeshore Cinemas who obviously didn’t clean or sanitize our seats before the show, popcorn and refuse left behind were big clues. Cathryn also complained the back of her recliner smelled of dirty hair. She complained to one of only two staff working, who did nothing. We will say more later in a written complaint to the company.

Rants, Raves, and Reviews – Ford v Ferrari

ford-v-ferrari-onesheet-1-1559568904First off, let me make it clear that I’m not a motorhead or even a car buff. I rarely watch car racing events on television. Having said that I have to admit I’ve enjoyed some movies that have covered the sport in the past. Leery of the mixed reviews for the Mr. Rogers movie, Cathryn and I took a chance on Ford v Ferrari. I say that because the trailers made the movie look goofy.

They say not to judge a book by it’s cover and the same holds true for movie titles. “They” were definitely right in this case. The story was easy to fall into with catchy tunes and upbeat music that brought more to life than roaring engines and squealing tires. The characters did seem a bit odd, but they were real people that had a profound impact on the production and racing of automobiles.

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Rants, Raves & Reviews – The Irishman

imagesAt three and a half hours, I”m glad we watched this movie on Netflix at home and not at the movie theatre – I would have needed at least two bathroom breaks. Honestly, there’s no reason to see this flick on the big screen. There’s no special cinematography to gawk at, but if you’re into seeing blood spatter left by the guy who paints houses, then go for it.

Being a fan of gangster films, and hearing of the star-studded cast and special aging effects, I was a bit hyped and looked forward to seeing this movie. For me, it was a let-down. Granted, the cast and acting was top-notch but the plot steered us toward certain events in history and then left us hanging. Millennials and those unaware of politics and history will be totally lost.

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