Magnificent 7

They come few and far between, but westerns are still a thing and this new remake of the Magnificent 7 (which is an adaptation of the Seven Samurai) is a definite good time to be had. I never saw the original Magnificent 7, but as I understand it is highly regarded. The story is as simple as ABC, but therein lies the complexity. A young widow seeks justice after her husband is brutally murdered in front of her and the entire town by a evil land baron seeking to take the town from them. She seeks out someone who can help her save her town from this monster and get some revenge in the bargain. Denzel Washington is Sam Chisolm, a certified bad ass of the west, and after he takes out another wanted criminal, she seeks out  his help. He agrees and slowly assembles a team of scoundrels, criminals and cast offs to band together to fight the good fight.

I’m not super into westerns, and I guess this one is more on the side of action than true western, but in any case, I liked it. The action was well paced and choreographed and the moments between gun fights were equally engaging as we learned more about these men and what motivates them. Balanced with humor, drama and a good dose of action this is a perfect example of a summer blockbuster, which I count it as even though it’s no longer summer, but I figure it’s close enough.

Audience: Here we go. It was a packed theater and there were issues. First, the couple next to me drove me to madness. She had a smart watch that kept lighting  up all through the movie and her husband, the parrot, kept repeating every line he thought was so funny or special. Then there were the two idiots behind me who were chittering all through the movie. I honestly have no idea what anyone could have to say when there’s a movie going on right in front of them. Is the thing you paid to come and see less interesting than whatever nonsense you have rattling around in that head of yours? For the last time. In the movie theater, SHUT UP!! Just SHUT UP! Don’t talk! How hard is it to NOT talk? SHUT UP!!

Storks

Where do babies come from? You and I know the REAL answer, but the mythology of the stork delivery theory is the basis of this new animated feature from Warner Animation Group (WAG). It takes a very thin concept and really runs with it. There is an inherent joy in the structure of the Storks’ delivery business.

In the movie, it is common knowledge that storks once delivered babies but currently they have abandoned delivering children and instead bring packages for a big online company. Andy Samberg provides the voice of Junior, a hotshot delivery stork who is on the fast track to being Boss. His first act is to fire Orphan Tulip. Tulip is the last baby that was supposed to be delivered, but the stork who was going to take her went nuts, wanted her for his own and was banished. Tulip lost her chance to be with her real family so the storks kept her and it seems in her eighteen years there, never really fit in. When Tulip screws up again, she inadvertently creates the first baby from the ‘baby machine’ in years. Junior and Tulip must deliver the new baby before anyone finds out, but as can be expected, their quest is thwarted at every turn due in part to Tulip’s clumsiness and the conspiracy of the current Boss stork, Hunter to keep the storks out of the baby game forever.

This is a high energy, squash and stretch style animated tale that blends slapstick humor with some median level wit. It carefully dances around a lot of sensitive issues due to the fact that they’re dealing with the subject of babies and where they come from. It feels like they deftly compact the full backstory in the first act and it gets off and running from the start. Even as it cuts from Junior and Tulip to a young boy who was responsible for the problematic request for a sibling and his career focused parents (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burell) it doesn’t lose its energy or pace. Not all the gags register, but on the whole it’s a fun ride with a real heart at its core.

Audience: It was a good audience. There really were no troublemaker this time around. A refreshing change, I must say.

H 4 P

So the first Presidential debate is about to begin and tempers are flaring all around. There are just two points I’d like to look at before this happens.

First, I keep hearing people complain about how both candidates are terrible and they aren’t even going to vote because of that. Well, I got news for you. That’s how you end up with two candidates you don’t like. It’s because you didn’t vote this has happened. I don’t understand how two people that are lightning rods for such hate could have managed to lock in the nomination. So few people have anything positive to say about either candidate, for one reason or another, so I wonder in a system where we vote for our candidates, how did they wind up on top? Someone voted for them. A lot of someones. The time for bitching about it is over. You don’t like who  is offered up for president? Next time get off your ass and vote.

Next, why wouldn’t Hillary make a great president? I hear so many people automatically say she wouldn’t right after saying Trump wouldn’t either. I wonder to myself how they make this assertion. What evidence do they have to prove Hillary is not fit for the job? She has legal experience, foreign policy experience, diplomatic experience. She’s an intelligent, hard working legal professional who has built a career of helping people and reaching out to the less advantaged. The Clinton Foundation helps people all around the world. I have read articles, seen testaments and have just researched the Hell  out of Hillary and while I agree she has no specific presidential experience, she has logged plenty of miles in that arena over the years. She has as much as experience as any other presidential candidate ever has before her. There’s no evidence to suggest she couldn’t be a great  president. Do you have any? Or have you based  your opinion of her only on some of the many rumors and lies that have been spread about the Clintons  since Bill left the White House? The honest to God truth is if there had been any illegal activity and any evidence to prove it, Bill and Hillary would be in jail; or at least paying out huge fines but the reality is they broke no laws and that’s that. What’s that? You say they just bought their way out of the trouble? Oh, okay. You can prove this? You have evidence of them paying people off? You don’t. Oh, I see. Well, how can you prove this accusation? You can’t? Oh. Okay. You just know because they have money and that’s how all people with money get out of trouble. You heard someone say they were guilty? Okay. And this informant is trustworthy? They haven’t been paid off by someone else with an agenda? For every powerful person out there, there’s an army of opportunists who are willing to lie their asses off for a decent paycheck. The point is we don’t know who is going to be a good president or who’s going to be a bad one, but to proclaim someone with Hillary’s credentials as a bad president off the bat is ignorant. People thought Obama was going to be bad(some still do) but he, factually, proved everyone wrong. He rebounded the economy, steered us out of the recession Bush got us into. He’s made huge strides in the civil rights arena now that we have legal same sex marriage. In my book that’s good. I want higher taxes for the rich. I want stricter gun laws. I want this country to pull its head out of the muck and accept the fact that God is not in charge of everything. A lot of people are making hay about Clinton’s 64% estate tax, but what many fail to add is that it’s for larger estates. Not everyone is going to be affected by it and those who are are rich enough to afford it. I know no one likes taxes, but the fact is government isn’t a magical beast that just makes money. You want that overblown military? You’re going to have to pay for it.

The final point is that no matter how bad a president you think Hillary will be, she WILL be better than Trump and that’s the important thing with this election. You don’t like Hillary, fine, but tearing her down doesn’t make Trump better. Not voting for Hillary is voting for Trump. It’s one of those difficult moments when you have to swallow that bitter pill, that is if it’s bitter for you. If you’re a reasonable person you will see this simply as voting for the more qualified candidate. Don’t worry, Hillary haters, you can vote her out in 2020 and hopefully by then the Republicans will have found a not-terrible person to run. Good luck with that.

Bridget Jones’ Baby

The third in the Bridget Jones series. This film finds Bridget entering her 43rd year still single and still struggling in life. She has a good job at least, but other than that, it’s a disaster. Mark, her ex, has moved on and a unexpected tragedy brings a terrible loss. Chin up though, all is not lost. Bridget embraces this new phase of her life, accepting her fate and deciding to roll with it. She leaves on a trip with her friend to a music festival and it’s there that she meets the handsome Jack, played by McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey. They hit it off in a big way and Bridget returns to life. Not too long after that, she runs into Mark at the christening of one of her friend’s children and that is where Mark confesses that he and his wife are divorcing and this news leads to more relations for Bridget. It seems this new lust for life is working for her, until Bridget realizes she’s been gaining weight and after a little test, she finds she is with child, but who is the father? Pregnant Bridget embarks on a life transforming journey of discovery and growth while juggling her demanding job, nutty mother and two would be fathers vying for her affections.

I have not seen the previous Bridget Jones films, but this one caught my eye and I thought I might as well try. While I had my reservations about Rene Zellweger using a British accent, I found that this film was not a disappointment at all. In fact, I thought it was going to be funny but it proved to exceed my expectations. It never gets silly or farcical. In fact, when cornered by Jack, Bridget does something that I rarely see in movies like these. She tells him the truth, thereby sidestepping the pointless dance of maintaining the lie and instead moving forward with the film. Emma Thompson brings a stand out performance as Bridget’s doctor. She only has a few scenes, but she brings so much to them they are pure gold. Albeit, the story is fairly predictable and you’ll probably figure out how it ends before the end of the first act, but you will have a Hell of a ride getting there.

Audience: WORST AUDIENCE EVER! Lucky the movie was good. The place was full of menopausal women who were apparently in a hormonal state, because they would not shut up! Even after the theater warning not to talk during the film, they kept talking. Mention of Shame goes to the guy in the back row who was explaining the whole movie to his wife as it was happening. Apparently she couldn’t follow. I also give a big thumbs down to the insufferable bitches next to me. They brought wine. Wine! They actually brought wine to the theater. They had one box of the stuff and a thermos on top of that. Hey, ladies! Maybe the fact that you bring wine to the theater is part of the reason you’re at the theater watching a Bridget Jones film with your best gal pal. As the film went on, their behavior became worse. They sang and danced to all the music in the movie. They laughed obnoxiously loud and couldn’t stop chattering to each other for most of the movie. I know I’ve made this plea and complaint numerous times, but seriously, what is wrong with people today? Why do they think it’s acceptable to come into a theater and pretend it’s their own living room? They put their feet up on the seats, they talk through the movie and lounge out across multiple seats when the mood strikes. It may be dark, but you are still out in public. Act like it. Your parents (hopefully) taught you better than this.

Blair Witch

Halloween has officially begun so let the horror flicks flow forth. This year has led me to believe the crop of horror films this year would be a cut above the rest. With stand outs like Lights Out and The Conjuring 2. One would think a new Blair Witch would be a no brainer, right? Wrong.

To preface this, I have to say that I have never seen the first movie. In fact, I kind of curse the day it was released as it basically gave birth to the Found Footage genre, which is basically such a lazy way to make a movie, they have run out of ways to make it fresh without making it look too polished, which takes all the fear out of it. The basic plot of this one is the same as the first. A group of young people go camping where they shouldn’t and we see them run around, screaming at ever shadow. This time around, James, the brother of Heather from the first film apparently, is going to the Black Hills Forest because he received a video that leads him to believe his sister is alive.Over ten years after her disappearance. Uh,yeah, right, but we need something to get these idiots on the road.

James and company travel to Burkittsville, the sight of the proposed Blair Witch incident. They talk to a couple locals and soon they join the group in their camping trip. We get a lot of pointless banter between the friends as they delve deeper into the woods. The ominous feeling that you know something is going to happen is the only thing that fuels this part of the story. When things finally do begin to happen, it’s impossible to care because you can’t tell what’s going on due to the jerky cameras. You just hear screaming, a crash and the screen flutters around until finally it holds, supposedly revealing something that should make us scream, but never does.

This is basically the first movie done over with a bigger budget. I don’t want to say much due to the fact that there are some moments that do work. I didn’t hate the movie. It was actually entertaining, but I was just very disappointed because I was expecting something really special. One critic proclaimed it ‘the scariest movie of the year’. Not even close. There were a few shocks, small shocks, but for the most part it only worked on the level of voyeurism. The concept that you’re watching this footage which spares you having to live through this experience yourself. What also deflated the experience was it wasn’t treated as most found footage films are. Usually there’s no studio credits. It  usually just starts with the warning that what we are about to see  is found footage by the police and it starts. It makes us really believe it’s real. The studio logo really kills the illusion. The film just seemed like another lazy attempt by Hollywood to cash in on something that’s already been made for some easy money. I think, in general, Hollywood would be better off investing in fresh, original stories instead of this endless regurgitation of past successes; hoping lightning will strike again. It rarely ever does.

Audience: I thought it was going to be a good crowd, but at the eleventh hour, just as the film was to begin, a bunch of loud, obnoxious punks came in, laughing and loud, acting like they were the only ones in the auditorium. Needless to say they never stopped talking for the whole movie. They were jumping around and giggling like they were in their own living room. I can see why they were out. Their parents were smart and probably locked  them out of their houses; although I think as the people responsible for not only their existence but also the low quality of their characters, I think the parents should be forced to confined quarters with their spawn. I mean, why should we be punished?

It’s Going To Be Alt-Right

It must be an election year because if feels like the entire country is self-destructing and it gets worse with every day. No matter what side of the fence you live on, the one thing we can all agree on is that after this year’s election, nothing will ever be the same.

Trump’s path to victory is narrow and it’s not likely he will win, but even if he doesn’t, he still will. While the office of president may elude him, his mission to divide and forever scar this country has been realized. Because of his inflammatory rhetoric, a rabid level of racism, xenophobia and flat out hatred is spreading across this country like a virus. The hate groups that have lurked in the shadows are coming out into the light with no apology and a new, disturbing, sense of purpose. They see this as their moment to ‘reclaim’ this country; although the only ones with any real claim are the Native Americans.

This has created  a nauseating level of irrational hatred, similar to what helped fuel the Nazi party in Germany. After Trump leaves the stage, this cloud of evil will remain and sadly will only grow stronger as those who supported him will be even more angry because their savior lost. Look forward to generations of more violence and hatred while high ranking Republicans will fight to defend their right to enact their vicious attacks, urging on the flames of hate because that’s where votes come from.

What I hate the most is the hypocrisy of these people. They say the ‘bleeding heart liberals’ are easily offended and call anything that pays respect to others ‘politically correct’, as if that’s an insult. While on the flip side of that coin, let’s look at all the right leaning organizations who lose their shit whenever a gay couple gets married, or a transgender dares use a public restroom. Also take a look at the case of a 65 year old woman being punched in the face at a Trump rally for a simple comment directed at a Trump supporter. She challenged him with an opposing viewpoint and his response was to cold cock her in the face, knocking her down, over her oxygen tank. Who’s sensitive? I think both sides have their share of crybabies, so let’s walk away from that attack because neither side has anything to be proud of there.

Just a couple months away and we can put all this ugliness behind us, in time to deal with all the ugliness that awaits us in 2017. Buckle up!

The Disappointments Room

I don’t think a film’s title has been as appropriate as this one. This horror film starts out quiet and subdued, cranks it up a bit and then fizzles in the last act. A thin and uneven story drag down what could have been a moody, claustrophobic thriller.

Kate Beckinsale breaks out of the ‘Underworld’ mold for a moment and plays the part of Dana, a clearly strong woman suffering from a terrible loss along with her husband. In order to move past and heal, they move to a old mansion in North Carolina with their son, Lucas. It’s a big, old house with history and we get the feeling that creepiness will come when Dana discovers Lucas talking to a new ‘friend’, who then turns out to be a cute fluffy cat who is adopted as the chief mouse catcher. Dana tries to adjust to live in this isolated place. She tries to throw herself into fixing the house up and in doing so, she discovers a room that is not on the blueprints. This raises questions for her, and us as well. She looks into it more and discovers about Disappointments Rooms, secret rooms well to do  families would imprison their deformed offspring.

As Dana delves deeper into the history of her new home, she begins to see things and it just gets worse when she goes off her meds. Ultimately we’re led to question what is real and what is not, but the movie can’t seem to figure out a way to do it effectively. Instead we get a meandering collection of scenes that seem to be creating something but during a lackluster final act, it just sputters off. The finale proved it could have been far more horrifying, if the film makers only had the guts to do it. Instead we get a flat, pointless and suspense free ending.

The only two bright spots in this film were Kate Beckinsale herself. She was able to show the pain of a mother dealing with something no mother should. She gave us a woman who was strong, but held together only barely and as the only thing holding her sanity together, she protects her son with everything she  has, and the cat. A cute little guy who steals the few scenes he can be seen in. Ultimately, while I am not a horror film fan, I can say that this movie failed in the worst way because it wasn’t even a little shocking or even creepy. It was just a mess.

Audience: The auditorium was empty save for a few people, and of course in the row in front of me were the most annoying people ever! Some pregnant woman who was blissing out over being out with her friends.  They talked and whispered throughout the whole movie. They need to find a way that you can hear the movie, but not hear the other people around you, or people are going to have to realize that when they say ‘don’t talk’, they are included in that warning.