Tag: True Story

Joe Bell

Movies that are just the name of someone need to carry some sort of weight. Are they someone famous, like the movie Gandhi? Are they interesting sounding names, like Erin Brockovich? Or are they basic as fuck, like Joe Bell?

Joe Bell, as a film name, holds absolutely no weight. If it is a real person, you likely don’t know his name enough to remember him. If it is a made up person, then why does his name warrant the title of the film and not something more creative?

Well, it turns out the movie has this terrible title because Joe Bell is a real dude. He was a dad who decided he would walk across America, ending at NYC, to speak up and out against bullying. Because his own son committed suicide in high school due to bullying and other factors.

The other factors being things like Joe Goddamn Randy Macho Man Savage Bell.

Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is a bearded man who likes the sports and the ladies and working hard. He is married (Connie Britton) and has two kids (Reid Miller, Maxwell Jenkins) so he is doing alright. But then his oldest, Jadin, had to come out as gay. Joe said he accepted him and loved him, but you can tell he was still probably annoyed by this news.

After all, they are in a small town, people have their thoughts and opinions, and now Joe Bell might be judged on his own masculinity due to his son. His son being a cheerleader? Oh heck naww.

So Joe ain’t the best, but he is doing that walk thing yeah? Yeah, I guess. But he isn’t the best, and it doesn’t start out too great. He really has to fucking grow up if he is going to make this thing worth his time. Can’t just walk off your guilts.

Also starring Gary Sinise and Morgan Lily.

You can’t walk off past due speeding tickets either.

I will be honest here, I may have spoiled part of the story. The way it is described to me when I heard about this movie, is that it is that guy who walked across the US due to his son’s suicide. But films need things like that to be a secret I guess. It takes a whole third of the way through the film before they let out the knowledge that his son wasn’t alive anymore, to get a timed and prepared emotional reaction because it was haven’t trouble getting them at other points in the movie.

I am starting off really harsh there, but things like this bug me. The story is due to his son’s suicide, not just because of bullying. And as the movie let’s us know, his home life wasn’t necessarily great at all, and the movie about Joe Bell goes to great lengths to show that Joe Bell the person kind of really sucked.

It turns out there are more secrets and surprises to this story too. I wasn’t prepared for the ending, and it made me tear up as well. The film itself is broken down into flashbacks of home life, including the eventual suicide of the son. I did find the parts about the walk a bit more interesting, as it was dealing with grief, and Joe Bell was so bad at doing these talks and still figuring out how to do the right thing.

Wahlberg’s acting was fine. Britton was once reduced to a role of “wife of main character” and didn’t have a lot to work with there. Miller, as the boy in question was okay, but he was also limited on his screen time.

Honestly, this is one of those situations where you have to wonder where the priorities are at. They want to tell Joe Bell’s story, the dad’s? Not the son’s story? I mean, it gets told here as well, by telling the dad’s, but it still is just another example of making things through a straight white male hetero lens that is pretty damn frustrating for people who want more for their stories.

Joe Bell will leave you sad, aggravated, and not really loving the person Joe Bell.

2 out of 4.


Some single word titled films have become iconic. You know, like Jaws. Jaws is so famous world wide, you would never expect to see a newer filmed called Jaws about a completely different topic.

But here we have Christine. Christine, about a real person named Christine. Not about a Satan controlled Car. Just a name here.

Seems like a bold choice. They will now forever be compared to a Stephen King movie, regardless of content. They have made googling harder. All over a name, which there is no law that says a movie has to be the main characters first name. But hey, I don’t make the big PR money.

I make the sitting alone at a table writing money.

Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) (They should have named this film Chubbuck) is a woman in her late 20’s working for a news station in Sarasota, Florida. It is also set in the mid-1970’s. Christine has a segment about the community, problems they face, or good things that happen. People seem to enjoy it. But nice stuff doesn’t bring in the ratings.

So station manager (Tracy Letts) continues to encourage the team to get the more gritty stuff. After all, if it bleeds, it leads. Christine has a crush on George (Michael C. Hall), their lead anchor. And Christine is terrible at relationships. She lives alone, never has a long term love interest, and hangs out with her mom (J. Smith-Cameron) a lot of the time. And the other amounts of time, she hangs out by herself. She has one decent friend, Jean (Maria Dizzia), a camera woman, but that is it.

And then, the owner of the news show finds himself in town. Apparently he is scouting local talent. Apparently he is going to get a news station in Baltimore, a much bigger market, and he is looking for people to take. This puts Christine on her edge, trying to make her segments better, including succumbing to listening all night to police radio feeds.

Eventually? All of the pressures, stress, and unfair practices end up just getting to be too much. Based on a true story. And also starring Kim Shaw as a sports anchor.

Clearly the biggest issue is that no realizes that sex sells more than violence.

Honestly, most of Christine is forgettable. It is really just about one woman, going through hard times in her life, socially and at the work place, and trying to cope with it all. Alone mostly. Through depression, without medical help. Oh, and she does have a medical issue to, that limits her potential for children in the future. That news didn’t help either.

For those that don’t know how this story ends, ignore this paragraph. But this is a true story because it is about the real Christine, who in the 1970’s, attempted to end her life on live television. And so it should be obvious where the conclusion leads up to. This isn’t really a spoiler, because it is only about her for that one famous reason. And because of that knowledge, most of the film I just found myself waiting for the conclusion that we were all expecting.

Rebecca Hall gives a great performance. It isn’t over the top, but it is passionate. Everyone else doesn’t matter in this flick, so none of them really stand out at all.

This is not a film for an amazing story. It is just a character study, and it shines with a single performance, but the rest feels rather drab.

2 out of 4.

Queen of Katwe

Honestly, Queen of Katwe came out kind of a surprise to me, which is mostly surprising as it is a Disney movie.

I mean, shit, the bombed film The Finest Hours which Disney barely cared to promote I was still able to see advertisements for. But queen of Katwe? I just assumed it was some random actual Queen of an African nation. I mean, I recognized actors on the poster and it seemed like it could be about royalty.

But no, this is one of those Disney true inspirational stories. And I completely missed the fact that the poster had a ton of chess pieces on it as silhouettes, just assuming it was a fence. Fuck. A Disney movie about Chess and Africa? What a brilliant idea to really bring two things not really thought about together to make a unique film.

Well, unique if it wasn’t a true story. Now I am babbling. Yay chess?

Yeah, there is some chess right there!

In Uganda, a large portion of the population does not play chess. In Katwe specifically, it is a mostly village town with a lot of people living in the slums, struggling to survive. Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) is a young girl living in these slums! She doesn’t go to school as they cannot afford it. Instead she helps sell corn all day to people in cars so they can afford rent. She lives with her mother (Lupita Nyong’o), older sister Night (Taryn Kyaze), younger brother (Martin Kabanza), and a baby brother too. No dad anymore, he died a few years ago, thus the struggle to survive.

But there is some hope. There is a church group nearby that is helping keep the kids in good health and spirits, teaching them soccer mostly. But one man, a very smart man, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) wants them to learn chess. A game that he learned as a kid to beat those “city folk” and really stick it to them. Phiona follows her brother to a meeting spot for this, instantly falls in love with the game and begins to play as well.

And she is super interested in chess. She makes a makeshift chess board out of bottle caps with her brother so they can play at home. And soon, SOON, she is the best player in Katwe of the kids who can’t afford school.

But that isn’t her end goal. No, she needs to go to bigger tournaments. In Uganda, in Africa, hell, in other continents around the world. Her drive and desire is pushing her forward and it might what can really save her family from poverty in their small village.

Also featuring Ronald Ssemaganda and Esther Tebandeke.

You might have your mothers features but you lack her sense of style.

For a movie that lacked a lot of advertisement, it sure does tell a good story.

This isn’t the greatest film by any means. It is average on the acting front, pretty normal camera work and scenes to keep you entertained. It won’t win any awards. But when it comes to telling an interesting and inspirational tale, it does a wonderful job.

Our big three leads do a good job of carrying the emotional/spiritual side of the story, Nyong’o, Oyelowo, and Nalwanga. You will like all the characters, through their faults and triumphs. We even get to see cute baby scenes, yay cute baby scenes! (And one scary one that almost freaked me the fuck out).

For her first ever film (and she had only seen one movie before in her life while filming this one, Jurassic World) Nalwanga plays her part with ease. Despite the bigger names, it is very clearly her film and a story about this chess prodigy and not the coach who found the diamond in the rough or anything like that.

And on that note, there aren’t a lot of movies really about chess. Sure we had Pawn Sacrifice a year or two ago, but that was about the most famous chess player of all time and nothing to special. Maybe it appealed to me more given that I am becoming a chess club coach in a week and excited at the timing of this film. It is a nice film about picking hard to reach goals and doing whatever it takes to achieve them.

3 out of 4.

Free State of Jones

I love period piece films as long as that period isn’t Victorian-era England. Those ones aren’t necessary bad, they just feel overdone to me and now I have developed a slight bias against them. Sorry, not sorry.

Civil War era films usually get me all excited though. Or just pre-Civil War slavery films. I don’t even need them to be based on real events, which is the recent trend. Just give me a movie with brothers killing brothers and morals on the line. I wanna tear up at the hardships of war and get mad at something that happened 150+ years ago.

So the Free State of Jones is based on real events? Cool, whatever. I accidentally saw a trailer a few months ago before another screening and it looked pretty interesting. I know it was originally supposed to come out in March but got pushed back to Summer for reasons. Doesn’t matter, still excited to watch it.

“Oh, sup prof. Just chillin'”

In October, 1862, Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), up for the sweetest name award, was also serving in the Confederate Army. For whatever reason he was given nurse duty, so he used that status to save his friends from the battlefield and getting them to doctors quickly. Then his son, Daniel (Jacob Lofland) appears, saying that their farm animals were taken and crops to feed the army. Newt agrees to escape with his son and take him home, but tragedy occurs and Newt is forced to just bring home a body.

Newton came from a small farm in Jones Count, Mississippi. He has been poor and kind of pissed off at the rich. Pissed that their sons don’t have to fight in the war, when he feels the entire war is them fighting for slaves that only the rich have. So he decides to stay home with his wife (Keri Russell) and young boy. He becomes a protector of all the homes in the area from Confederate troops looking to take more than the 10% allowed.

They quickly turn on him and he has to go into hiding in the swamp. There he joins a camp with Moses (Mahershala Ali) and four other runaway slaves. They hide together, work together, and eventually get guns to protect themselves. Overtime, more and more Confederate deserters are on the run and end up at this camp until they have over 100 members. Newt has developed a relation with a House slave Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who has been secretly helping their group.

Anyways, short story long, they eventually set out to take their land back from the Confederate soldiers that are trying to take their crops and resources. They get three counties to their name before resistance starts and decide to start their own Nation, a Free State of Jones, to like, grow their own crops and have equality and all. Fun times.

Donald Watkins and Troy Hogan play two other slaves, Bill Tangradi and Thomas Francis Murphy play our confederate leaders trying to stop this group, and a whole lot of other white people, played by Sean Bridgers, Joe Chrest, Brian Lee Franklin, Kerry Cahill, and Christopher Berry.

The way to prevent your stuff from getting stolen is to burn it all down.

Never before in a movie have I seen a drop in quality so much as Free State of Jones. At the beginning we are dropped right in the middle of a random Civil War fight. It showed that the Civil War was brutal, people died and marched on and died some more. Newt escapes, quite easily apparently and continues to be mad at the rich for not fighting their own fights and his friends losing their livliehoods over it. Sure, makes sense. Newt doesn’t care about Slave rights or anything, he has none. It isn’t until a Slave helps save his sick son.

But even then, it is extremely awkward in this movie, even when he is living with just runaways. They never get close. When it is a giant army of Confederates and the few slaves, people are still dicks to slaves. It isn’t until one of the more cringey movie moments that I have ever seen that things start to change. When Newt’s character gives a speech about how basically everyone there is someone’s slave, no matter the color and they shouldn’t be jerks. He used a bit more “colorful” language, but that speech helped change everyone’s mind, albeit temporarily, to work together towards a goal.

In terms of modern comparisons, it reminded me of the All Lives Matter backlash to Black Lives Matter. This movie argues that the poor southern farmers were treated just as bad as slaves, but then goes on to show that technically the slaves still have it worse. I don’t know if the Moses character is real at all, but they put all of the slavery baggage on him, as the other members of the camp apparently don’t have lines and I barely heard two of their names mentioned. It was such a shit way of trying to get us emotionally invested in the slavery story, when they only put personality in him and Rachel. We also find out he has a wife and kid somewhere in “Texas” (again, we are in Mississippi), yet they are able to reconnect extremely easy post war with zero explanation as to how.

This kid is killed off in the first 10 minutes and gets more promo pictures than other people in teh film.

There are more problems with this movie outside of making it super white focused. I can’t remember when, but early on in the movie, we get a title card that says 85 YEARS LATER… and we are shown a court room setting where the whiteness of a person is being put on trial, because his great grandmother might have been Rachel, making him part black, and thus his marriage illegal. This was a real trial and actually true, but HOLY CRAP, this has no reason to be in this movie at all.

The “future” scenes do nothing for the rest of the film and they keep coming back, breaking up the plot and slowing it even more down. Whoever decided to add this constantly interrupting subplot/finale to the film should be fired from whatever future film jobs they have, because it was such a poor choice.

The Confederate “bad guys” and post War bad dude are basically cartoon villains, just missing some finger twirling of their mustaches. The film is especially insulting over the “peanut scenes” in the last twenty minutes.

Oh, and guess what. The film doesn’t end with the end of their rebellion or the end of the civil war. It goes over another year or so after the fact, during early KKK period and reconstruction. Why? Because they feel like it. Because the ending drags on and on, for over thirty minutes. The filmmakers had no idea how to end this film and practically none of it matter for the overall story they were trying to tell.

Fuck, Free State of Jones. I can’t believe it ended up being so blah. There were good moments in there and with 45 or so less minutes, plus more character development for some other characters, and this would have been fantastic. This film makes me less excited for The Birth of a Nation, which is stupid, I know.

I’m not angry at your Free State of Jones. I’m just really disappointed.

1 out of 4.


Oh sorry, here is an extra picture. It is really hard to find any of Moses or Rachel, let alone any of the other black characters in the film. This is basically the best I can do (without huge watermarks), even by googling the movie title with actor names. Shit, if you google the movie and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the main love interest, you will find barely anything from the actual film and some pictures of her from Belle.

The director was Gary Ross, an old white guy who has only directed a handful of films. His first one was Pleasantville, which I love and adore, but I guess it makes sense. In that movie, he told the problem of Racism in America using only white people. In Free State of Jones, he basically just does that again, but in a more insulting way.

The Lady In The Van

Now, I am not trying to be sexist here. But let’s think about The Lady In The Van. Is it creepy? Maybe a bit. I imagine a cat lady, even though if you live in a van, you probably don’t want cats in there as well. That’d be poopy.

But if this was titled The Man In The Van, most likely it would be some sort of scary horror film. Lady is intriguing. What is she doing in the van? Man is sketchy. What is he doing in the van? He should stop it immediately regardless!

I guess I should be thankful this is about a lady. Early year horror films are janky, but dramas early in the year might not be.

Overall, this babble is brought to you by: Genders. Men are scary, yo.

How British in this movie you may be asking? Well…

Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith) is just a really old lady, and she needs help. Sure, she lives in a van, but she is self employed selling pencils and notes on the street. Not a beggar, no sir. People wouldn’t take too kindly to that. This is 1970’s England, and it is perfect! She parks her van in a nice suburb area. Where the people are relatively well off and in that range where they will help her out and let her use the water closet, to make themselves feel like they are doing good in the world. And Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) just moved in.

Alan is a writer of plays and, of course, mildly successful. He has finally moved away from his Mam (Gwen Taylor), who might need to be put in a home herself soon. He is our narrator as well, and he describes that he has two halves. The one who writes, and the one who lives. Sure enough, he befriends this lady in the van, who has lived an apparently long and complicated life. He already writes a lot about old ladies, thanks to inspiration from his Mam, and he has to figure out if he wants to write about Miss Shepherd as well, or just experience her like a normal person would.

Miss Shepherd is also very secretive about parts of her life. She hates it when anyone plays music and will rant wildly if it occurs. She is being blackmailed by a cop (Jim Broadbent) for maybe killing a person. Yeah, that is important.

Guess how long this old lady stays on the street/ in his driveway? Guess! Over a decade, that is the only hint I will give.

We have a lot of neighbors who are in the story, played by Frances de la Tour, Roger Allam, and Deborah Findlay. There were also quite a bit of cameos. People who I thought were way too famous to be in this movie for one line or one small scene and never seen again. They include Dominic Cooper, Sam Spruell, James Corden, and Russell Tovey.

And this is the lady sneaking out from behind her van.

It turns out all the people who had small cameos in this movie were there for a reason. And no, it wasn’t because James Corden is a douchebag who only gets 1 line in British films and doesn’t deserve a Late Night talk show program. The director, Nicholas Hytner, also directed The History Boys about 9 years ago. It was his last film and all of these random famous people cameos came from that film. The more you know!

Also, this movie is technically a 2015 film, despite getting released in America so late. So it was up for all the fancy awards and it was nominated for…one golden globe! It was also nominated for some British awards, as expected, given it has Maggie Smith in it, who is basically the British Meryl Streep. They love nominating these ladies.

Speaking of Smith, she was fantastic in this role. I have never seen her so old or decrepit. I was getting worried about Smith herself, given how pale and old she looked. Thankfully I remembered that make up departments in a movie were a thing and she doesn’t actually look like she is one step away from death. But damn do they pull it off in this movie. She is funny and naggy and cantankerous. Everything you’d hope for in a movie old lady, but not in someone you actually know.

The rest of the movie leaves something to be desired. Jennings plays an incredibly closeted British man well, but as a narrator and co-lead he is never really exciting enough. He is basically playing the audience half the time, just watching things happen around him, due to his timidness (or Britishness, really). The split personality thing was confusing for the most part, never really enjoyed how they had that play out. It was made weirder at the ending when they tried to explain it a bit more in the conclusion, too. The many other characters give an occasional smile, but don’t do a lot outside of show up once in awhile to be nosy.

Overall, you can probably watch this for Smith as she gives a wonderful eccentric performance. But this is not something you would want to watch ever again.

2 out of 4.

The Finest Hours

I am pining (Pine-ing, if you will) for a conspiracy here, so hold on to your butts, let’s see what I can do.

Chris Pine is a weird guy. He does a lot of weird movies. Did you see Stretch? You should go see Stretch. At the same time he is a bit of a Hollywood pretty boy, so Disney wanted to get him in some of his movies.

They got him a small role as a Prince to make him feel important in Into The Woods, offering him the lead roles in future movies. Which brings us to The Finest Hours. I guess I am teasing a bit, because, I won’t get to the point of this intro until after the second picture.

Pine Face
Chris Pine-spiracy.

This is one of those Disney true story period dramas that they do quite often, and half the time in Sports. So they picked a 1950’s Ship Disaster, where two large Oil Tankers near Massachustes were ripped in half during the same storm. And during this same storm, the local Coast Guards had to attempt to save the lives of as many people as possible.

Our hero is 23 or 24 year old Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), a guy who grew up in a small town near Cape Cod and who has been sailing most of his life. So he joined the Coast Guard to save lives. There was a big storm the year prior where he was unable to do that and it has haunted him. So it comes to no surprise that he is willing to risk his life to go out into a bigger storm to do it again. His commanding officer (Eric Bana) isn’t from the area and is inept, meaning that he shouldn’t have sent out anyone due to the waves and the shifting bar. But then we wouldn’t have a movie.

Webber and his crew (Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro) take a small 32 foot boat to find the half of an oil tanker that is apparently a few miles off the shore. They don’t have an exact location, it is night time, and of course en route they also lose radio communication and their compass.

Meanwhile, on the ship itself, it is a giant vessel, in half, floating throughout the big waves. The crew consists entirely of workers, with the captain and “real leaders” being on the other half and totally dead. The de facto leader goes to Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) a quiet type who runs the bottom of the boat. I am sure there is a real name there. He has to stop the crew from trying to mutiny and turn on each other, while also have them attempt the possible: to steer half of the ship to a shoal or a beach somewhere so they can maybe get rescued. They do this with the constant flooding and fear their engine/power will go out, which means no lights on their boat and no whistle to call for help.

The crew is made up of over 30 men, including Graham McTavish, Michael Raymond-James, Abraham Benrubi, Josh Stewart, John Ortiz and Keiynan Lonsdale.

Also featuring Holliday Grainger as Webber’s new fiance to give us that love interest and pseudo Interstellar moment, and Matthew Maher, aka the Holy Bartender from Dogma, with a sizable role as angry tow truck driver.

And dozens of extras who only grunt and scream and work. Dozens!

Back to the beginning. Disney wanted to woo Chris Pine because they wanted him to be a superhero in the Marvel movies. It makes sense. He is a big actor, in Star Trek and all. So they offered him a gritty-ish historical film to woo him hardcore and play to his interests. But Pine was sleeping around. Pine is now signed on to play a role in the Wonder Woman! Sure actors have played both sides of the field, but not since it has gotten to its current big status. So, thinking that Pine has made his decision, they decided to make The Finest Hours not as great as it should have been. They don’t care about a flop. They have Star Wars money.

For a film with a lot of issues, I feel I need to mention to best parts first. Casey Affleck was wonderful in this movie. His character was unique and had a consistent personality and was a great watch. Well done Affleck! McTavish also did a good job of grizzled pseudo-assistant.

The rest of the film? Well, first of all, it probably should have had permanent subtitles throughout. We have accents all over the place, so many characters require a bit of a stretch to figure out their words. Add on a loud angry storm, with people trying to yell things, and shit. Half the movie feels almost inaudible.

The next sense that is betrayed have to be your eyes. The entire film is mostly ugly on the color scale. It is grey, dark grey, and occasionally white, but usually grey white also. An already dark movie is made worse with 3D, adding to the overall darkness. And yes, as you might have fussed, the 3D adds absolutely nothing to the film, making it an unnecessary hindrance. Every single wave looks fake, so it is hard to really get drawn into any of the tension. I spent good chunks figuring out where the green screens were and how much of the water was actually real.

I don’t think anyone is real in this picture.

As for the actual plot itself, the romance, despite real, feels incredibly shoe horned. They realized they made a very man focused film, so only one woman, a fiance, has any real screen time and has to do everything as a result. We have to see her be strong and do things that were unheard of at the time for women. Showing great women is movies is a good trend, but not if it is badly done and at the detriment of the film. Not every film has to have it.

These scenes just made the rescue more drawn out every time they cut away from the two groups. And the intro of the movie is entirely about their romance, which also feels overly long, while also not allowing the audience to feel emotionally connected to either of them.

As a final moment of disappointment, a big advertising/selling point of this film is that there were 32 survivors on the boat and the rescue boat was small with only room for 12. They made it seem like there would be a nice moral/ethical dilemma once the boat was found. In reality, it was entirely ignored and the issue was solved by just fitting everyone on the boat quite easily. More great potential suspense floundered.

The true story of The Finest Hours is great. It could have been a very inspirational tale. But it was filled with cheese and shoddily made, giving what feels like a half-assed feel good film.

1 out of 4.


Head injuries are serious things. Because your brain is your most important organ. You can’t survive without your brain, so things that hurt your brain are literally the worse. And vague things like concussions become scary nightmares.

These may sound like facts, but that is because your brain is telling you they are. If you asked any organ what was the most important organ in a body, they would name themselves. What games are you playing, Brain? Making us do shit to appease you? I’m on to you.

So, Concussion. A film about head trauma and the NFL. The NFL supposedly didn’t like this movie to protect their players from hearing about the probably brain problems they may have in life. Yay controversy. It definitely sells tickets.

Science used to sell tickets on its own merit.

Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a smart man, and you should most definitely listen to him. He has like, seven degrees, both PhD and masters levels. He is smarty smarty smart. And he is generally a coroner, finding out big mysteries as to why people die.

Omalu ends up getting quite a strange case in his current city of Pittsburgh. Mike Webster (David Morse) is a famous ex-center for the Steelers, loved by everyone in the city, and now he is dead. He was having some issues near the end, going a bit crazy, alienating his friends and family.

Needless to say, Omalu spends a lot of time figuring things out. His brain had deteriorated and no one could explain it. Eventually, science happens everywhere, and he determines it must be due to the thousands of small (And large) blows to his head. Blows accumulated through youth play, high school, college, over a decade in the NFL, and of course practices for all these things. He had tiny concussions and they lead to problems most people just described as early Alzheimer’s.

This is bad news for the NFL, so they ignore the crap out of his results, make him seem like a liar, and bury him in the media. Yay PR machines.

Also featuring Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Eddie Marsan, Mike O’Malley, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Luke Wilson.

He is making that face because Luke Wilson is playing Roger Goodell.

Speaking of selling tickets, to promote this movie, Columbia promised free tickets to any NFL players who wanted to see it in theaters. After all, they have a lot of twitter and instagram followers, so that is free press. I have two problems with that. One, NFL players make shit tons of money, even the bench riders. They can afford a movie ticket. And two, they should have offered it to High School or College players, people who make no money from the sport and are young enough to get out of it if they are truly worried about saving lives with this film. Columbia went for the cheap and shit route.

Now, the good news about this movie is that Will Smith actually acts. He isn’t just playing a cool version of himself or an action version of himself. He is playing a foreign (African) doctor, who doesn’t care about football or American things, just science. It was great to watch him actually try after seeing Focus and v.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to live up to its subject matter or potential. According to news reports, the NFL was involved heavily in the editing of this film. The filmmakers didn’t have rights to NFL press reports or team names/logos, or any of that. In order to make it seem more realistic, they wanted all this in the film. So they had to offer concessions and leave parts out in order to get the logos. So the NFL helped make this film and now they don’t get attacked as hard.

Do they still look bad? Sure, but they come across as unrealistic cartoon villains, not actual bad real live people. The film doesn’t go strong on the science, strong on the PR campaign, strong on anything but Smith’s accent. And now we are left with a mostly boring and pointless film that won’t change anyone’s minds when they are facing potential millions.

1 out of 4.

The 33

The 2010 Chilean mining accident is a wonderful topic for a movie. I am surprised it took them five years in fact.

It was a national event, it lasted months, it involved dozens of people (33 to be exact), and it had a happy ending.

Imagine if they opened the hole and it was a few guys surrounded by corpses. That’d be terrifying. That would be a different sort of movie, not at all uplifting.

So I am going into The 33 with optimism. I hope they get buried within like, the first 10 minutes too. Let them build up that scare factor just a bit.

Besides, the last movie I saw set in Chile that involved a huge disaster and trying to survive was Aftershock. That wasn’t uplifting, well, besides the tectonic plates.

Seeing all those sweaty food deprived bodies could also be considered uplifting.

12,000 miners die every year. That is a big number. But, at least 9 million kids under 5 die every year, and that is only one portion of minors. So it is much more dangerous to be a minor than a miner. I assume.

Well, in this case, the miners were going down on a normal day, just to get the copper and gold. They use relatively small crews, I guess to not upset the mountain too much with the drills and other equipment. This particular mountain has been mined heavily and they are very deep into it. Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) needs some extra money, so he is working too, despite not originally on the schedule. And guess what? Not long after they are down there and working, the mountain begins to move. Now, a super rock is blocking their only exit and they are trapped in a relatively small area. They have a hall way or two, and thankfully they are in The Refuge, a room with some food and supplies. But still, it is quite dangerous and scary down there.

The food supplies are not plentiful. The company lied about a few safety measures as well, making escape impossible. And the company isn’t even going to do anything about it! They are a private company, so they are doing the bare minimum, but they aren’t even letting the friends and family members enter the area, as they are blocked off by gates and people with guns.

Thankfully, María Segovia (Juliette Binoche) is not having any of their shit. She is the sister of one of the miners and she basically helps frenzy them into a riot, creating pressure on the government and company to attempt the rescue mission. This brings the Minister of Mining, Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro) down to the scene. He is moved by everyone’s committment and he promises to do everything he can to rescue the miners, no matter the cost.

Sure they only have 3 days of food for 3 people and it would take at least a week to get a small hole somewhere into their area. And they also have no idea how to get to the right spot, due to the density of the stone being unknown and their drills will curve. But damn it, they gotta try, right?

Obviously with so many minors, we have a huge cast. But most of the minors have no talking roles. But the people they do showcase have families worried about them or other unusual characteristics. And a lot of people helping, including Bob Gunton playing President Piñera. These people are played by Mario Casas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nuñez, Tenoch Huerta, Marco Treviño, Jacob Vargas, Lou Diamond Phillips, James Brolin, Adriana Barraza, Kate del Castillo, Elizabeth De Razzo, Cote de Pablo, and Gabriel Byrne.

Count them. They don’t even try to make the number of characters accurate.

Did I cry? Of course I cried. They had beautiful tense moments of rescue. They had people who hadn’t seen each other for 69 days, who had assumed their loved ones died, reconnecting. Someone had a baby girl, and you know how they affect me. But just because I cried doesn’t mean it is an excellent film.

First of all, when your title is The 33 and it is a well known fact that there are 33 people, you should probably have all the many extras around who don’t talk when the whole group is together. That dinner scene is unacceptable. Didn’t even have people standing to the side having their own conversation.

Second of all, there is geology in this movie. Not a lot, technically. But there was the big “eureka” moment with how they would get the drill to the correct area. And it was terrible. I cannot believe that is how it really happened, because it would mean all of the drilling crews were inept.

But there were some nice moments of course. Banderas gives an excellent speech or two that really get me going. The scene where they imagined food was super weird. And they really felt like coworkers and a family by the end.

Slightly inspirational without shoving it in your face, and a nice tail. Just those inaccuracies.

2 out of 4.

True Story

True Story is a True Story! And given the cast, it is going to be a hilarious romp about a real life situation that is probably grossly exaggerated!

Or or or or! No, maybe this is a pseudo-sequel to This Is The End? Our main characters playing themselves, maybe pre-Apocalypse!

Wait. What? This is a Drama/Thriller? But but…the cast. This doesn’t make sense.

I think I need a moment before I write this review. Please close the page and come back in ten minutes to finish it to let it all sink in.

We can wait all day.

Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is a reporter for the New York Times and Christian Longo (James Franco) is a prisoner who maybe murdered his wife and three kids!

Basically twins. Finkel only learns about Longo after he was found in Mexico, using Finkel’s name as an alias. Finkel had his own problems, like maybe fabricating details of a story about African refugees to make it sound worse for one guy. But at least his problems don’t involve murdering his family.

So Finkel heads over to Longo in prison to figure out his story. Figure out why he was using his name. Figure out what lead him to his current situation. You know, the mind of a killer. Or the mind of someone in a terrible situation. Hey, that’d be a good book probably. Finkel should write it. Yeah.

And Felicity Jones is in this movie! The main 3 all Academy Award nominated people! She is Finkel’s wife. And Ethan Suplee is in this movie! Not nominated though. And not a wife.

If prison movies have taught me anything, men can be wives as well.

This movie is directed by Rupert Goold. Haven’t heard of him? Well, this is his first movie, his only other directing coming from two TV shows of British TV. I think for a first time movie, he did a good job.

Now, the first third to maybe even half felt incredibly slow to me. And a drab boring. It was reducing me to close my eyes quite frequently. Despite that, throughout the film the shots were normally set up beautifully. Good framing and a lot of longer shots allowing the actors to act.

At times, it did feel like too much though. Too much time of characters just staring off into distance, feeling angsty, with dark brooding music. Too much of the film trying to turn it into a bigger mystery than it really ended up being. It doesn’t help that Franco’s character has the slowest talking voice ever.

It was an okay movie, and again, some of the acting was top notch at some point. Felicity Jones felt mostly wasted outside of one pretty intense scene. Some very good visuals. But really a movie I probably wont want to see again for a long time.

Shit. Do any pictures of this movie exist that aren’t just of these guys talking at a prison? Looking accross the internet that is basically it, minus a courtroom picture or two of Franco, but they look the same as well given the outfits.

Oh here’s another.

2 out of 4.


I don’t often use the democratic process when working on my website, but I like to keep things interesting. Because I only go to 1 pre-screening a week now, I have to sometimes make difficult decisions on what I want to watch now and watch later. I had FOUR choices this weeks of screenings, and since none of them were Foxcatcher, I took to Facebook and Twitter to let the people decide.

And overwhelmingly, the people decided on Rosewater.

Like most people, the only thing I knew about Rosewater is that it was directed by Jon Stewart. And that is it. Current events be damned, sometimes I don’t keep up with all of the happenings all around the world.

Don’t look too shocked, I am just super America-centric.

Rosewater is the true story of journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal), a guy who worked for Newsweek in London. Mazier was born in Tehran, Iran, but he left it to go to Canada to get the college education and has mostly stayed away since then. Now, in London, he has a pregnant wife (Claire Foy) and things are looking good. They are sending him to Iran to cover a new election. It is a big one, because a dude who has been there forever and very religious might actually lose the election. The people are clamoring and demanding change, so they are going to maybe elect a professor who wants to help his country grow.

Very exciting times.

But while there, he ends up hanging out with some activists who are really anti the current Iranian government. Thanks to them, he can see Iran as it really is, with the protests and the underground movements. And when the conservative guy wins again? Iran blows up. Figuratively. Protests, anger, rah rah rah. Now Maziar is there a lot longer than he expected. Oh well. As long as he doesn’t do anything illegal, he should be good.

Well, he gets locked up anyways. Just for filming and showing it on the news. And he gets called a spy. And he has to stay in solitary confinement, with blindfolds, for almost 120 days, while they mentally torture him believing him to be an American spy. Weeee~

Also featuring Kim Bodnia, Dimitri Leonidas, Haluk Bilginer, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Golshifteh Farahani.

He probably got a lot of sleep with that thing too.

In case you didn’t know, the reason why Jon Stewart felt compelled to tell this story in movie form is because The Daily Show had ties to Maziar. Maziar was interviewed by The Daily Show when he was in Iran for this election in which he was jokingly called a spy along with other terrorist jokes. The Iranian government used that interview as part of their proof that he was in fact a spy, despite the nature of the show. Yeah, Jon probably felt pretty bad. But they go over that in the movie.

In case you didn’t know where the title came from, Rosewater is a scent and the main interrogator for Maziar had that type of cologne or whatever smell on him. However, awkwardly enough, the movie didn’t really explain or say that, from what I can tell. Just a small snippet about it at the beginning and then never really brought it up again. Seems to be an important point.

Rosewater really is just an average movie. I liked the cinematography, but the aspects of it as a complete film are probably Jon Stewart’s faults. It felt like a movie 10 years ago showing the few “social activism” scenes, like trending hashtags and news reports about his situation. They stood out way too much and seemed like a way to escape the film and the horrible conditions Maziar was in. Because of the frequent interruptions and weird way to present his imprisonment, I rarely could connect with him. It just didn’t feel serious enough.

I also couldn’t really figure out the purpose of this is, outside of maybe letting more people know that Iran government is kind of corrupt. It was a shitty situation, but one that also kind of got resolved pretty easily and the whole thing just felt…weird. I heard there was a documentary on the same subject, it is probably a better source of information and maybe even more entertaining.

2 out of 4.