Tag: Biography

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Sometimes the name of a movie is the name of a book as well, especially if it is based on it. That makes sense.

Sometimes the name of the movie is the name of another movie as well, especially if it is a remake. It makes sense. (Or it could just be a popular /generic phrase that has multiple very different movies).

But what if your name is the same as a documentary, about the same subject? That might be notable if it is again, a very specific name, like of a person, or a group. But for The Eyes of Tammy Faye? It was a documentary that came out in 2000 about Tammy Faye Bakker, about her life and what she is up to then dealing with scandals. This movie, of the same name, is just about her and her husbands life. So they are both about Tammy Faye, but it is so weird to specifically name this film the exact same name as the documentary, when the phrase, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, isn’t inherently a specific phrase or meaning.

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Oh heck oh golly oh don’t cha know.  

Growing up, Tammy Faye sought religion in her life, because her family went to church and she was banned because her mom (Cherry Jones) was divorced! Oh no. But she was a theatrical little kid, and she went full in, talking in tongues, so she was welcomed as a child of God and given meaning in her little life.

Later on, Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) was going to a bible college in Minnesota where she met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). They had so much passion for Jesus, and wanted everyone to praise him so much, that they found each other, got hitched, and then got kicked out of college. That is okay. They are going to take their show on the road, touring the country, praising the Lord, using puppets, whatever. They had big dreams though, dreams of being on television one day, with their own proper Christian talk show, for adults, shows for kids, and more.

Hell. Maybe their own Christian network and satellite. That will show those non-believers!

They want to be rich and famous for Jesus. But where does the money come from? And where is it going? That is the realest question. Oh shit, is that the law coming? Shenanigans!

Also starring a lot of people in various levels of famous roles. People like Fredric Lehne, Gabriel Olds, Louis Cancelmi, Mark Wystrach, Randy Havens, Sam Jaeger, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

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We almost never get a transformation like this for actresses. 

Let’s talk Chastain. I think most people would put her into the great actress category. She has been nominated twice for Academy awards (although one of them is from a very ehhh movie), and generally if she stars in flops, it isn’t her fault. But like my joke above says, Chastain has never had to transform her body or looks into a role. Most actresses don’t have to do it. Arguably, neither should actors, but they do happen to do that a lot of the time. Lose or gain weight. Bulk up, whatever.

But Chastain looks nothing like Chastain for 80% of this movie. Her gradual transformation, with more and more makeup and change in hair style just feel so natural and yet so sudden. Outside of the college scene and right at the start of their marriage, this was clearly just a different person. It is a phenomenal change and acting on her part, it is clear she will end up being nominated for this role as well. I can’t say it will be a win, so early still in the year, but the change felt like the level of commitment that Gary Oldman did for Darkest Hour.

In terms of the rest of the movie, it is fine. Garfield plays a second charismatic person in front of camera for the second time this year (and maybe will a third time?). D’Onofrio played Jerry Falwell Sr. very strongly, and felt like a bad guy in a movie where most people are bad guys. Wystrach was only in a couple of scenes, but it felt good seeing him play a country Keanu Reeves.

I really enjoyed the focus on how manipulated Tammy Faye was through big sections of her life. Manipulated by people manipulating religion, or just outright gaslighting, and it was tough to watch and experience. It was interesting to see this point of view of one of the biggest scandals of the 1980’s. You can tell it definitely is one sided on most parts, and there is likely other pieces of the story missing.

This movie is entertaining and well acted, but I did find myself wanting more. It didn’t give me enough. I went out of my way to watch the original documentary on the same day, just to see what else it could have been or focused on. I wonder if the real Tammy Faye is actually a huge part of this scandal and we will never know. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

See this movie for the acting and the interesting story. Even if some details are muddy and rushed.

3 out of 4.

The Courier (2021)

The Courier came out right after a different film named The Courier came out. Well, this one was supposed to come out in 2020, and the other came out in 2019. But now that this one comes out in 2021, is that okay? Is that awesome?

I didn’t even know about the 2019 The Courier until I was on IMDB looking for this link. I didn’t review the 2019 film, as I didn’t know about it, and now that I see it I am glad I didn’t watch it. It is sometimes okay to judge a film by its IMDB page cover, by the way.

Like, when I judge the 2021 The Courier’s page, I get excited because I see a famous name who I like in movies. And it has a poster/cover that makes me think about to spy action movies from the early 2000s. Okay, that is less exciting.

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But the ‘stashe game always brings me back into it.

Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is just your regular, everyday, British businessman. He technically did electrical engineering, and this just brought him to travel all over Europe, including the very frightening Eastern Europe. Because this is during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, when we had that Cold War thing going on between the US and USSR. And I guess Great Britain was on the American side, they usually are.

Because he was a legit businessman who traveled a lot between the halves, MI6 recruited him to pass on messages to and from both sides. Mainly, he would go into business with Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), a Russian who was high up in their level of government or whatever. Apparently he wanted out. He wanted to give up USSR secrets. So he just needed someone to get the message and bring it back.

Sure, Greville is not a spy with any spy training and that is what they want. They want a regular person so it passes any level of scrutiny. And it will just be temporary. Probably. Greville doesn’t know that the assignments might grow and grow, and eventually might help put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Also starring Jessie Buckley, Rachel Brosnahan, and Angus Wright.

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They are going to hide the secrets in his ‘stashe in case you were curious.

Surprise! The Courier is a real movie about a real guy who helped do some spy things despite not being a spy.

Surprise! Another cold war film that I watch that I can say has okay amounts of acting, and an okay story, leading to a very okay film. I will be honest, this movie is pretty forgettable for me. I am having to write about it weeks before I can publish it (they let us see it really early) because I know there is no way I will be able to remember most of this film a week later.

Is that a problem? Yeah probably. But the 2 out of 4 rating also is an umbrella of average films that aren’t necessarily bad, but also don’t have any reason of standing out in the future.

The Courier will be forgotten, it won’t win anything, but it is not technically a bad film by any of those measures. If you like Cold War stories, you might get more enjoyment out of this true story. If you don’t like Cold War stories, then uhhh, you probably should definitely avoid it.

2 out of 4.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Lee Daniels has never been known to be shy about the types of movies he wants to do. He did Precious, which was groundbreaking in lead and topic (which is unfortunate, because it should not have been ground breaking) and The Butler, which was like the Forrest Gump of Butlers.

And now, he wants to tackle on a bio film about Billie Holiday, famous American singer from the 30’s to the 50’s. A film about music with music but not a musical. Apparently he was reluctant to cast Andra Day in the titular role, because she is a singer not an actress, but was blown away by a quick acting real she put together. And I am so glad she did.

I hate it when bios cast purely actors who cannot sing in films as singers. You can tell the difference and it really bugs me. And yes that is still one of my issues with Bohemian Rhapsody, a film that had a lot of issues. Let singers play singers. Don’t give me recordings of the original artist someone pretending. I want someone who can sing like them too.

Now who was he going to cast as America in The United States vs. Billie Holiday?

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Sing like, look like, all of the above. We need perfect castings!

At this point in the movie, Billie Holiday (Andra Day) was already pretty famous. Why? Well, she was a good singer sure, but her soulful an sorrowful song Strange Fruit really got to people. It was a song about the southern states doing lynching and hangings of free black citizens, and Holiday obviously had a problem with it.

However, the people in charge, the government, the FBI, her show promoters and venue owners had a problem with the song, not with what the song was about. Weirdly mixed priorities. They wanted to put a stop to her song in whatever way they could. They couldn’t arrest her for singing or ban a song, But they could arrest her for other things.

And then began the long campaign to try and ruin Billie Holiday’s life, because they didn’t want her to sing a song or cause a revolution. So they put some moles in her close circle. They got her arrested on drug charges mostly and some conduct things. They really had it out for her and kept being pretty big jerks about it. Fucking FBI.

Also starring Tyler James Williams, Garrett Hedlund, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Rob Morgan, Leslie Jordan, Natasha Lyonne, and Trevante Rhodes.

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That is the tears of white upper class people feeling oppressed by a song. 

The story of Billie Holiday is not unique and unfortunately familiar, despite being a unique and fantastic individual herself.

In fact, thanks to recent films, I am learning the the US FBI was kind of huge dicks in the early and mid 1900’s. Probably after that too. Are they dicks now? I have no idea, but they were definitely more aggressive dicks then. (Although if they are being aggressive dicks now, we will have to wait until files become publicized and we might have to deal with this for decades).

Anyways, they are huge dicks confirmed. It is confirmed here. It is confirmed in Judas and the Black Messiah. It is confirmed in MLK/FBI, all movies released within a month or so of each other. Very interesting this very apparent and strong theme. Who else did they screw over? How have they negatively impacted the growth of American and our history?

Back to the movie. Day absolutely destroys it as Billie Holiday, and that is the main aspect to talk about. The voice, the singing, the swagger, she was great. She really puts it all out there for this performance, you can tell it is personal.

It is long movie, but one that will likely lose luster over time, especially due to its similar (unfortunate) themes to other recent films. I learned a lot about a musical artist who I can say I definitely didn’t know much about before. And at least we have that going for us.

3 out of 4.

Judas and the Black Messiah

With this review, I think I am mostly set for the Oscars. Those nominations don’t get even announced until mid March this year, with a ceremony in April. But because of their dumb rules we got the confusion of what is 2020 and what is 2021 in movies. I know there are still things that I haven’t seen that will probably get nominations, but, Judas and the Black Messiah is the last one I was looking forward to for the last couple of months.

Known star talent, plus, a real story, and a fantastic name for a film, means a lot of hype for me.

So although this might get nominations for Oscars, and I ended up loving it, so you might not hear me talk about it again until the next best of the year list. Or hell, forgotten about and never heard from again by the end of the year. Who knows!

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I will remember this one all year for its acting, and its hats.
Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) is the charismatic leader of the Illinois Black Panther party in the 1960’s. Charismatic, because he is damn good at speaking, in a decade with quite a few good black activist speakers. But he was in Chicago, a large city, and focused on his community, and uplifting the community. And people had problems with that.

Quite famously, the FBI had a problem with him. Just like they had a problem with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. They needed eyes and ears on these activists, worried about uprising, or worse, a demand for equal rights and treatment. The horror.

So they did what any manipulative and sneaky government group would do. They put a mole on the inside. Enter Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), who is not some trained FBI agent. He was caught doing crime! He isn’t tainted by the FBI cops. And that means if they blackmail him, he can go into the Black Panther group and let them know what is going on. Yeah!

Good job FBI. Going to war with Americans, one group at a time. Anyways, Fred Hampton was a pretty righteous dude. And the FBI wronged him, and this is his story and the aftermath of it.

Also starring Jesse Plemons, Dominque Fishback, Algee Smith, Ashton Sanders, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Lil Rel Howery, and Martin Sheen.

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Although cropped out, you can probably imagine what is happening with his hand. 
Alright! Kaluuya! Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Damn man. I have never seen him go this much into a role before, with obviously a limited pool for me to pick from so far. I just found out as I wrote this that he is going for a supporting actor role and not lead, and, uh, okay, fine. Although him and Stanfield are basically equally present in this film, fine. I hope Kaluuya wins that.

(Technically, if that happens, and Chadwick Boseman wins for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, then that would be the first time that both male acting categories went to black men and that has a good chance of happening this year. If not Kaluuya, then probably Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami).

The story is told in an easy to follow and strong way. A lot of the side actors give their moments to shine, it is not juts the Kaluuya/Stanfield show. The FBI is not seen as a misunderstood entity that was doing its best, they are shown to be the bad guys in this situation which better reflects reality. The FBI always knows exactly what they are doing.

Judas and the Black Messiah is one of those very important films that tell an important part of American history that is pretty fucked up. And it sucks, that it is fucked up. But we have to know about the fucked up things America did if we hope to ever embrace it. This movie gives us the details of the events that were talked about midway through The Trial of the Chicago 7, which was happening at the same time. It is a good companion piece to this movie.

4 out of 4.

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo

Who is Danny Trejo? Okay, well, for this one, you might not know his name, but you have likely seen him in a movie. As of this moment he has 383 acting credits to his name, from TV shows, to movies, to things still in production.

The title, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, comes from the fact that many of his early roles in films since the 1980’s did not have a real name for the character. He was known as Boxer, Inmate, Prisoner, Tattoo Artist, Chink’s Gang, Costello’s Bodyguard, and even once apparently “Mean” was his character, which I assume was not a name either.

So how did this man, this tough burly Mexican, get into acting at the age of 40, and how did he get over 300 roles in less than 40 years?

Well, the main and obvious part of this documentary is that he didn’t start as an actor, but as a regular kid who was involved with crime. He was in a gang, his family members were in a gang, and he did a LOT of bad stuff. Robberies mostly, but having weapons and threatening his community, he was in and out of juvenile detention. And once he got to being an adult, he did more that got him put away for a long time. And when he was in prison for real, that is when his life really began to change.

danny trejo
Let’s assume that backdrop was a green screen. Would be fucked up to do an interview in what looks like an actual prison or…abandoned school or whatever this is. 

So how can someone go from being a life long criminal, with lots of trauma in his life, to being an actor that no one seems to have any problems with, and is known for his huge amounts of work ethic? Well if I tell you all of that, why would you watch the documentary?

But needless to say, things happened in there that changed him. His life took on new meaning, and once he got out of prison he had a focus to make not just his own life better, but the lives of his friends, family, and the community he had wronged. He has spent the second half of his life writing those wrongs, and what came as part of that? Well, a vibrant movie career.

And he was able to take that and evolve from scary background Hispanic man, to friendly scientist in Spy Kids and eventual leading man of his own over the top franchise, Machete. He was SIXTY-SIX YEARS OLD when Machete came out, which is probably the oldest aged person to lead a new franchise (who also had never been the lead man before). Hell, Liam Neeson was in his 50’s when Taken came out (but again, he was already known as a leading man).

The reason I liked this documentary is it presented Danny Trejo as a real person. His flaws, and his successes. He has a message of hope coming from someone who was a pretty bad dude into someone who wasn’t. He has grown from his mistakes and in order to do that, you have to admit you have them. Pretty easy to admit mistakes when they are on public record of course, but still, admitting them is important.

Thank you Danny Trejo for bettering your life and showing people there can be a way out if you can get help from your community.

Also featuring some of his friends and famous people telling stories (along with his former crime buddies and family). You will see Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez, and Robert Rodriguez in here, amongst others.

3 out of 4.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

Who is Walter Mercado? No really, who is Walter Mercado? I don’t think I have heard of his name before watching this movie and review.

Now, I saw reviews of this, brief reports, and that it was now out on Netflix. And looking at the pictures, I just assumed he was an eccentric weather man on Hispanic based television. Boy was I wrong. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado isn’t about weather at all.

For those of you who do not know, Walter Mercado was a famous (and likely, the most famous), Astrologist in the world. Astrologist? Yes, Astrologist. You know, zodiac signs and horoscopes.

Mercado grew up different than his friends, and was always seen as a spiritual person. Apparently in his community he was slightly worshiped as a kid because a neighbor saw him “heal” a bird back to life and fly away. So people wanted to come by and touch him. It’d be hard to grow up thinking you were a mini-god at that point I imagine.

After being an actor for awhile, with lots of substance, Walter was put on the air once to do an interview for an upcoming show. The interviewer didn’t want to talk about the show, wanted to talk about horoscopes, because Walter talked about it a lot to the staff before the show. Because the show got so many calls during that segment, they asked him to come the next day and do it again with new readings. And the rest was history.

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History is fabulous!

So what happened after that? He eventually got his own Astrology show, which had lots of ratings. That show led to another show. It led to him being on the news, and to traveling across the world to various shows and getting his readings out there. Basically, if you grew up in a Spanish home in the 80’s or 90’s (or 70’s?) you likely knew about this mysterious man.

And then he went away at some point, and no one seems to know why, which is what this documentary wants to explain.

You see, it is all about law suits. He trusted a manager to be a good person, and this led to him signing a bad contract letting them do whatever they wanted with him. Once the money stopped flowing, Mercado wanted answers and out, but this led to big legal battle that lasted years. Overall, Mercado got to keep his name, but the company got to keep his likeness and old material and shows for profit. At that point, Mercado had tried a few comebacks but failed, and the rest, again, is history.

Now my biggest issue with this documentary is two fold.

First of all, astrology itself is all just made up, and that should not be a controversial statement to make. Vague statements that can be applied to most people, and if it doesn’t, well, you usually remember the ones that are spot on. There is lots of information out there on this and similar topics. So Mercado got big and famous over lying to lots of people. Okay, whatever.

The second thing is that this documentary is 100% a puff piece documentary, not going to much nit or grit of his life. The entire last third of the documentary is preparing for and being excited about a museum show honoring his life in Miami in 2019 and just drags. But Mercado was involved with some shady shit. He had a psychic hot line and also was involved with selling “magic” jewelry (which the documentary left out) and the documentary swept it under the rug. They blamed his manager, said Mercado wasn’t out to hurt people at all and then moved the hell on.

Come on, this is a documentary, lets be truthful. It is okay if you did bad shit. Talk about it, admit to it, and lets move on. Instead they focus on this person only being an angel and worshiped, but ignoring the bad stuff and that it is all based on a lie anyways. It just rubs me completely the wrong way.

This documentary will definitely inform you as to who he is and why he became popular, but I find myself skeptical at other parts of it due to the glaring obvious parts that are ignored.

And hey, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez are in here, and they are famous. The former also opens the documentary and has an extended part at the end. I also did like to hear about his long time best friend and assistant Willy Acosta, and I wonder what he is up to now with his life in his own hands.

1 out of 4.

Hamilton

I am not throwing away this review, but I am going to keep it short and sweet.

Bless Lin-Manuel Miranda, who decided in 2016 they needed to shoot their musical with the original cast. They could have held on to this for over a decade and waited and waited. They said it would come out October, 2021! And then? Then pandemic.

And now it is out much, much, much earlier. On Disney+ so most people don’t have to pay much at all to see it, versus the theaters (Which it should still go to when it is safe, I would buy that ticket).

Thank you for spending three days getting this filmed, including the off-Broadway day for all of the cast and crew, putting in extra shows to make this thing out there.


It’s Alexander Hamilton, singing on the screen for you.

Wait for it! The entire original cast and crew is in this picture!

Anthony Ramos, Chris Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Jonathan Groff, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Sydney James Harcourt.

And its the Hamilton musical, damn it! This is my plot outline. It is about Alexander Hamilton and some more people. There.


The room where this whole thing happened was actually in a theater in Broadway!
A phenomenon greater than most other phenomenon, I can die happy now that this is available. I never could see it on stage, and I likely wouldn’t now anytime remotely soon thanks to pandemics. This is a blessing and we should cherish it.

This counts as a movie for the year? I’ll take it. Now I have given two 4 out of 4s so far this year.

What are you waiting for, what do you stall for? It’s available now, go see it.

One last time, this musical is love.


My wife said I needed some more review aspects to this, fine. I cried five times despite hearing this musical so many times, some of my cries were new, some where at the same time I cried during just the music.

A few songs were enhanced thanks to the visuals. Like Satisfied, and seeing King George in more scenes. The use of moving stage was used wonderfully. The ending is so much better (of an already awesome song) with the dancers and background.

I will note that Odom Jr.’s Burr uses a much more lispy voice in this recording versus the original cast recording. I assume that was done in the main show way before it, maybe it is easier to sing with that voice in the long term, maybe it is to make him seem a bit more sneaky, but it is noticeable and completely acceptable.

4 out of 4.

Dolemite Is My Name

Where you been, Eddie Murphy? What you doing, pseudo-retiring on me like that?

Sure your last two real films, Mr. Church (2016) and A Thousand Words (2013) were bad, but that is probably…uhh, your fault. Trying to do some spiritual family stuff instead of letting your real humor out.

Surely, giving yourself a role where you get to talk and swear and joke is just the role for you.

Telling a true story of a different stand up comic that influenced his whole career seems like a good tribute to that actor/comedian, while also getting Murphy back on his feet again. Dolemite is my Name? Well, make me laugh and I’ll call you anything.

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No, I won’t call you daddy though, even with that suit.
Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is the baddest motherfucker around. Or at least he is in his own eyes.

He wants to be famous, he knows he can do it, and he has tried it all. He has released songs, has done stand up, and he is now middle aged and still nowhere. He can’t get a damn thing going.

But while MCing at a local club, he decides to try a little bit of material he has taken from older homeless people in his neck of the woods. He asked them their stories, and listened to their jokes. They spoke rhythmically and told ridiculous stories, and he thinks that audiences might really enjoy it with the right delivery.

And this content takes off. He builds the character Dolemite, and people love his swears and graphic humor. He is able to sell records of his material, mostly on his own, and get popular in the hoods all over the world. And after all of that, he still wants more. He wants to make a movie. Who cares if he has never made a movie before.

Also featuring Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Snoop Dogg, T.I., Ron Cephas Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chris Rock, and Wesley Snipes.

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Fact: Snipes and Murphy have never been in a movie before together.

Dolemite is my Name is one of those films that comes along that you didn’t know you needed until you had to see it. I never knew anything about Rudy Ray Moore. I knew about the blaxploitation films of the 70’s and 80’s, only a tiny amount, enough to enjoy Black Dynamite. But I didn’t know who the real precursor to all of that was.

And sure, as research, I watched Dolemite just to really get the whole picture, which is not necessary for those who don’t want to have to go searching for it.

I haven’t seen Murphy this on fire in quite a lot of time. Over a decade probably. This is a great return to form and it is like he was never gone in the first place. Snipes was also on point in the film, and similarly, haven’t seen him like this in a good while, but part of this is thanks to prison I guess.

A large cast of characters bring their own quirks and fun moments, but this is the Murphy show and they are all just a part of it. A funny comedy and a good story overall.

3 out of 4.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Did you see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It was a documentary about Mr. Rogers, came out last year, it is amazing and the best documentary of 2018. It wasn’t nominated for an Oscar though, because everything is stupid and life is meaningless.

Wait wait wait wait. I shouldn’t say that. Mr. Rogers would certainly disagree with that statement.

And in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood we have to look at Fred Rogers and get judged all the while, because it is hard to live up to perfection.

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How can he interact with kids all day, and keep his house clean at the same time?
It’s a beautiful day in the late 90’s, and Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a journalist. He writes for Esquire, and has a history of really going hard after people. He is an investigative reporter, he brings up dirt, he exposes people, and a lot of people don’t want to work with him now. He also recently had a baby with his wife (Susan Kelechi Watson), who has stopped work to stay with their baby boy.

And sure, things are tough. He actually recently got in a fist fight at his sister’s third wedding, dealing with his estranged father (Chris Cooper) who wanted to recently reconnect after a really rough childhood.

And now? And now Lloyd has to go to Pittsburgh to interview Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) for a fluff piece for his magazine. They are going to do a story on heroes. He only needs 400 words, barely anything. And well, Lloyd things that he can crack him. That there is someone different underneath the Mr. Rogers facade.

But while trying to get to the real Fred Rogers, it turns out that Lloyd is being cracked open as well.

Also starring Maryann Plunkett, Wendy Makkena, Enrico Colantoni, and Christine Lahti.

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How dare a journalist learn something about themselves in an interview. How shocking!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is going to suffer due to poor advertising on the reality of the film.

First of all, a movie about a journalist interviewing a celebrity and it changing their lives is not a new subject. Just recently we had The End of the Tour and My Dinner with Henre, it is certainly turning into some sort of trope. And with advertising it is not really super clear that this is the case for this film, unlike the previous two mentioned.

No, this looks like a movie about Mr. Rogers! Doing Mr. Rogers stuff! Being humble and awesome! And sure, that happens in this movie, but so, so, so much of the focus is on the journalist dealing with his issues, and Mr. Rogers being the magical other person fixing his life with positivity.

But the issue is, and no offense to the real journalist, no one cares about him. Those parts drag down the film. I went in wanting Rogers, and sure, he was in it. His style his way of talking, his voice, his show. They were all featured and a major aspect. And yet, who cares, no big deal, I wan’t more.

Watch the documentary if you want a better Rogers experience. And yes, Hanks does good at the acting.

2 out of 4.

The Current War Director’s Cut

Here it is, boys. The time has truly come. A film has decided to come out and also be the “Director’s Cut” of that same movie.

Technically that isn’t all too rare. A lot of movies that come out are Director’s Cuts, they just don’t always advertise it. Usually if there is a DC available, it is home release, and it implies the studio or a producer had a final cut that was different from the director’s vision.

So what is going on with The Current War Director’s Cut? Well, Harvey Weinstein happened.

One of the main things Weinstein was known for, besides the sexual assaults and rape, was getting final edit on many movies. He wanted movies to go a certain way, and advertise a certain way, and go for awards with his permissions. He could be great at it, but it also bugged a lot of director’s at the time.

This movie was planning on coming out around 2017, hitting the festivals, and getting lukewarm reaction. Then the scandal. Then the selling off of properties. And our director got his movie back, edited his movie his way, and got to release it wide for the first time!

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It’s basically the American dream, with a lot more sexual assault in the way.

Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch). An American celebrity if there ever was one in the late 1800’s. He was an inventor, an improver of older inventions, and someone who was business savvy. People loved him and he wanted to be loved. But when it came to the battle over how America would be hooked up to the grid for electricity, he was also quite dirty.

George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), known for being rich and helping develop breaks for trains for safety and efficiency, wanted to work with Edison, but he was shunned by the busy man. So he figured he could get into the game, help develop a new technology, and then Edison would want to merge ideas. Edison is not a merger, he is a take over kind of guy, a guy who doesn’t admit if he is wrong.

This began a big battle over the American landscape, accepting bids for their various forms of technology, with the goal to be providing power for the Chicago World’s Fair, and putting their product out there for millions. And of course we have a wildcard in Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), a foreigner, a genius, a man who saw the future, but couldn’t always get the funding or time to put all of his ideas to the paper.

Three men of influence, one goal, and a whole lot of shoddy tactics.

Also starring Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Holland, and Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan.

looks
You know that look in your eye when you see an electric candle for the first time last a few hours? That’s the look I want to give to my dinner every night.

I honestly went into this movie thinking the worst. The trailer was okay, the cast I enjoy, but the director’s cut notion prepared me for the worst. That’s weird. The buzz was not good.

But after watching it? I feel frickan’ amped. Westinghouse is so cool, and he is only a name I have seen mentioned and had no idea he was in this race. I figured this was a Tesla/Edison movie thanks to memes, but Tesla is way less important overall to this plot. Shannon does a good job of playing this quiet and seemingly noble entrepreneur.

After the film I was electrified to look up more information on these big three, to go beyond the quick facts I see on the internet. The movie felt accurate. It moved at a very quick pace, telling a historical pr battle with enough excitement to keep me on the edge of my seat. It flowed so well from scene to scene.

I have a love of historical films, especially ones that have good acting. Historical films that don’t get bogged down in being super serious, but still can tell not only a good story, but a story worth being told. A story with wattage. Alright, that’s a stretch.

Anyways, congratulations to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for getting the movie he wanted to make. Oh, and by the way, he directed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which made my top of the year list when it came out.

3 out of 4.