LBJ

How many times do I have to watch JFK get shot? I mean, I am a young guy, so not as many times as some people who were alive back in the early ’60’s. But just last year we had Jackie, Parkland was about his death, and he probably died in The Butler.

And now we have a film about a president, who has been in other films recently, like Selma, All The Way, and uhhh, The Butler, again. But usually he is a smaller part. This movie, LBJ, is about LBJ and only LBJ.

Just kidding, a lot of it is about JFK getting shot, because it is super important to him getting presidency. Sucks to not be the 100% star of your own film. But LBJ would look at this and probably say something like “Doesn’t matter, Had Presidency.”

Sworn In
Blood still on the coat.

In Dallas, JFK (Jeffrey Donovan, Mr. Burn Notice himself), is shot and soon dead in a hospital. His wife (Kim Allen) is in shock, his brother Bobby (Michael Stahl-David) has become withdrawn, and a nation is on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next.

And in walks Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson), vice president, Texan, to swear himself in during a tumultuous time. And not just because of an assassination. Civil Rights riots are at an all time high, and the Southern Democrats are not willing to let the equal rights act go through. But it was one of JFK’s visions, and the best way to honor him would be to get his vision into reality.

But Johnson isn’t just some goddamn JFK puppet. He is a doer, not a talker. He ran the Senate well and made sure things happened. So even though he was never voted the president, he is going to rock that White House, pass some bills, and try and make America better.

Also starring Bill Pullman, Brian Stepanek, C. Thomas Howell, Michael Mosley, Rich Sommer, Wallace Langham, Richard Jenkins, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Ladybird.

JFK
“You know presidents, bunch of bitchy little girls” – Bruce Campbell, probably.

LBJ is not a linear film nor does it actually begin with his death. We get to see parts of Johnson’s life before he decided to run for president as Senate majority leader, losing to Kennedy in the primaries, agreeing to accept the VP position, attempting to bring about the Civil Rights Bill as VP, then the president dying, taking over his duties, and trying to be president. Technically, just a few years of his life, and a lot of it is focused on his relationship with the Kennedy brothers.

And again, that is all out of order, telling the story of the last president to voluntarily not run for a second term.

In terms of acting, Harrelson knocked it out of the park. He still had a bit of his woody crude streak going on, but for all I know, maybe LBJ was just like that. The make up work done to him was incredible and he really transformed into this president, I quickly forgot it was actually Harrelson. A very well done performance. Jenkins and Stahl-David also do relatively good performances, and I am still on the fence as Donovan as JFK. It is one that is just very hard to see.

The story is the weaker aspect of the film. It is a very standard feeling biography. It is only on the most important years of his life, it hits upon a very big current issue, and it puts a weird spin on it with him just wanting to be loved. Apparently. I don’t know how much of it is true, but it comes across as false. Thankfully the film is only a little bit more than 90 minutes, which almost seems strange to have it so short despite being a presidential bio film.

For LBJ, stay for the acting, but maybe read up on a history lesson to get a more complete view of the man that isn’t bogged down on specific themes.

3 out of 4.

Sicario

I am happy to say that I was able to go into Sicario with a blind eye. I knew nothing about the plot and I was happy about that fact. Hell, when I first saw the cover and name, I just assumed it was some random horror film.

But what I was unable to avoid was the hype train. The hype train drove through my city like a…well, train. Praise from all sides about the acting, directing, cinemetography, plot, you name it, people loved it.

That sucks. Now I went into the film expecting greatness. The important note here is that I did, in fact, go into the film. I was supposed to see 99 Films this night. I convinced myself otherwise, to avoid the free pre-screening, and pay my hard cash money to see the movie so I can review it and compare it to its hype. I might have had to wait until a DVD release if it wasn’t super hyped, and who the hell knows when that would be. I can’t miss out on potential Oscar greatness for Andrew MotherFucking Garfield!?!

Immigrants
Some say Garfield is living his post-Spider-Man life as an immigrant on the run from the law.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent living in Arizona and she is pretty dang good at her job. She is currently working on a string of kidnappings in the area by a Mexican Cartel lord. The guy pretends to be a legitimate business man, but they all know he is running the gangs secretly and taking orders from Mexico. Kate and her partner, Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), also find out that parts of the house were rigged to explode. Well fuck. These assholes are going to start booby trapping their hideouts to smuggle people places. This means every future job just got that much more dangerous and things really really suck.

But have no fear, every day American citizens. The government is on the case!

Kate is hand picked to join a larger, inter-department task force, lead by the CIA. She doesn’t know a lot about the mission. Just that it is lead by an asshole, Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who only slightly works or the CIA, and his mysterious friend, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), someone who isn’t even American, nor is he CIA. He is a “consultant.”

Next thing Kate knows, she is whisked away to El Paso. She was told the overall mission of the task force was to bring own the kidnappings and drugs in that area. To actually hurt the cartel from the top and not through their lackies.

What she didn’t know is how many laws would be broken in the process. Not including murder, crossing borders, torture and kidnapping. Lovely. What’s a moral girl gonna do in a situation like that?

Also with Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Maximillia Hernandez, and the best Miami Spy, Jeffrey Donovan.

Jef
You can’t fool me with your hipster glasses and fake mustache. I know it is you, Michael Weston.

Sicario was one of those perfect movie experiences. Outside of the two dudes who literally had phone calls during the showing. This is what I get for going to a non-screener, non-drafthouse like setting.

Why was it perfect? Sicario was like a slow burning wine. It was dark, realistic, slow, beautifully well shot, great characters, tense moments, and with a bit of moral ambiguity. Not a lot, but a bit. Someone should let me know if what I said about wine makes any sense, because I don’t know anything about wine, but the saying seemed natural enough.

Acting on all fronts were great. We got Brolin being a dick, pretty standard. But the obvious and clear stand outs come from Blunt and Del Toro. Blunt has been having a heck of a career with her last few movies. She seems to always give it her all and seems to be getting even more dramatic roles in the future thanks to it. Blunt gets to play our law abiding character who doesn’t know what really goes on, the one the audience gets to relate to.

Del Toro isn’t introduced until later in the film, but by the end he definitely becomes a true co star and almost another main protagonist. I once had a friend who said he would watch anything with Del Toro in it. But that was in 2010 and he was trying to justify being interested in The Wolfman. I knew he was in a lot of good movies, but I wasn’t a megafan. But hell, this is the type of performance that could make someone a megafan. His character is very rich and the movie does a nice job of slowly unraveling his mystique. He is one of the most BAMF characters in film this year, while at the same time you never really know if you are supposed to be cheering for or against him.

I wouldn’t be a good reviewer if I didn’t further talk about the cinematography. Denis Villeneuve likes pretty movies and he wants your eyes to be ecstatic. You’d know that if you saw his recent movies, Enemy and Prisoners. That is why with this film and Prisoners he used the legendary Roger Deakins to set up his shots. So much attention to detail was put into every frame, the only thing that could ruin it would be mutilated bodies and dead nudity.

Oh.

Yeah. Some of that is in here too I guess.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Changeling

Can’t say I knew much about Changeling, heck I didn’t even really hear about it, despite award nominations, and being another Clint Eastwood directed movie.

Heck, even the cover is pretty vague.

trials
But someone is probably going to jail for it.

Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) is a single mom and a working mom. It is the late 1920s and she basically runs an operator center. Heck, might even has a promotion to Beverly Hills coming soon.

But one day, after work, going to pick up her kid and she cant find him. He is missing. He has wandered off or someone has taken him. Uber freak out, but gotta wait 24 hours first, then file the police report. Either way, super upset.

Well the good news is months later, her kid is reportedly found. Even Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) of the police force is on deck for the reunion. The LAPD hasn’t had many successes over the years. And when the kid arrives, it is totally not her son. They say that in the few months of grief he has changed, but that is TOTALLY him and take him home, it will sink in.

Nope. Nope nope nope. So not him. He is shorter! Son says he is definitely the son though. They even sent a specialist to “examine him thoroughly”, and or just confirm the police findings. But she says nope, she wants it to be known it is not her son so they can actually continue to look for her damn son!

So with the help of a local reverend (John Malkovich) trying to show how corrupt the LAPD is, and testimonies from the teachers, and dentist (different mouth structure shit), she goes to the press to get her story out with proof that the LAPD refuses to accept that the son is not her own.

Or she is crazy. Which is what the LAPD is willing to believe, throwing her in the Asylum. Huh. Well maybe she is.

And maybe the Canadian child who was apprehended from Gordon Northcott’s (Jason Butler Harner) farm by Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) has some secrets he needs to get off his chest.

Notdamomma
No I will not make another call me maybe reference here….
Even though they just found him, and she might be crazy, but Mr. Cop Man, that ain’t her baby.

Boo, why did Jeffrey Donovan have to be such a bad guy? I like Burn Notice, damn it.

Angelina Jolie knocked her role out of the park. I was attempting to multi task a bit during this movie, packing up some stuff, but I can tell you very little packing ended up getting done. I was wondering where the story would go, and afraid of most of the outcomes. This is based off of real events in the end of the 1920s, so the LAPD really has always been a piece of shit police organization. Shows about corrupt cops, they actually are probably accurate. Damn.

I can’t tell if I like it more because its a good movie, or because Angelina Jolie has now done multiple movies where I have thought she has been excellent in. Hmm. Hopefully this isn’t a shocked rating. But hey, this movie has it all, corrupt cops, women’s rights, and murderers. Very exciting.

3 out of 4.

J. Edgar

Hoover. Sorry, had to rush that one out of there. The title of this movie teases you. You want it to be called J. Edgar Hoover, because that is how he was known. It is hard to stop the name at just J. Edgar, just like it is hard to stop a stream mid-piss.

J. Edgar Speech
“I assure you gentlemen, I can stop mid piss.” – J. Edg

As you know, the movie J. Edgar is a biographical movie about the life of J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio, because that guy loves period pieces), directed by Clint Eastwood.

Plotwise well, it is about J. Edgar, the starting of the FBI, how he got his start, important points in his career, his budding relationships, and his death.

Uhh yeah. Sorry. Spoils if you didn’t know he dies at the end.

You sure do learn a lot about him though, assuming you had no real detailed knowledge about his life. Did you know he helped revolutionize the crime scene? Had people stop just messing shit up, start to wear gloves, and invented the idea of having fingerprints on file. He also tried to keep up to date on all the new sciences in order to stay ahead of crime (but that goes with the territory of finger printing). He also may have been gay?

He also apparently was bad with the ladies. He tried to marry Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) who instead became his personal secretary for life (And is probably responsible for destroying all of his secret documents post death). But after that he hired Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), someone very unqualified for whatever Lawyer job, and he eventually became Hoover’s number two man of the FBI. They ate together, vacationed together, and did everything together. It was more than implied in the movie that they might have had something going on.

But that is about it. There was the main story in his dealing with the Charles Lindbergh case, his dealings with many presidents (including almost president Robert Kennedy, played by Jeffrey Donovan) and Martin Luther King Jr.

Tolson and Hoover old
Here is Tolson and Hoover, both old, both played by the same actors above with make up, and both clearly hot for each other.

Now I could sit here and talk all day about what I learned about Hoover and tell you all about it but that ruins the movie. I also lied, no way I could talk all day. All I know about him is a 130 minute movie. Hell, this could have all been lies and I wouldn’t know. There is surely enough obvious “guesses” in the movie for you to realize that yourself.

But damn it, the acting is good. And the stories are interesting! The stuff is told out of order, flowing between different points in history. Thankfully it isn’t that hard to follow, like other movies. Just have to figure out how old DiCaprio (and Hammer) looks and go from there.

Hoover is one of the more awesome characters in American history and of the 1900s, and he wasn’t a president. Its hard to make the history books like that.

3 out of 4.