Saturday, February 18, 2017

Manchester by the Sea

I realize that Manchester by the Sea has been out for awhile, but we just got around to it. The movie has not had a wide release in our area. At the theater we usually go to, it was only showing once on Friday at 4:40 and once on Sunday. For those of you who are impatient and want my opinion, I liked it.

The film is a character driven story. No car chases, little violence and no nudity. It is about a very damaged man, Lee, dealing with his past and the death of his brother. That now dead brother has designated Lee as guardian of his teenage son and executor of his estate. 

As expected, it is not a smooth transition. There is also the side story about Lee's family's horrific tragedy and contact with his former wife. It is well into the movie before we are let into the tragedy via flashbacks. His nephew's relationship with his estranged mother also comes into play. 

This is a very serious and often dark film. There is little comic or light relief. Nobody seems happy with their life, they just go through the motions. On the bright side, the performances are outstanding and some of the scenery is gorgeous. For those of us not from the northeast, the Massachusetts accents can be amusing. 

Casey Affleck is tremendous as the tormented and flawed Lee Chandler. Lucas Hedges is terrific as the 16 year old nephew who just lost his father. The relationship between them is the main driver of the film. Michelle Williams plays Randi, Lee's ex-wife. All the players do a good job.

The story takes an up and down winding road path to what some may see as a less than satisfactory and abrupt ending. I won't give anything away, but it does not appear that everyone lives happily ever after. Maybe not a completely happy ending, but pretty pragmatic and realistic. 

Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams and the film are nominated for a total of six Oscars including best picture. Casey and Lucas are very deserving and could win. Michelle is OK, but I don't see an Oscar for her this time. The other categories, best picture, direction, and writing are all deserving of the nominations.

I give this movie a solid A rating and recommend it. Not for everyone, but a well written, well acted, well executed film. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bridge of Spies

Finally got around to watching Bridge of Spies. I enjoyed it. The movie takes place in the late 1950's and early 1960's and revolves around the true events of the capture and spy exchange of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and Soviet spy Rudolph Abel

Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, the lawyer who defended Abel and negotiated the exchange. If you want to know all the details, watch the movie. It received six Academy Award nominations and Mark Rylance (Rudolph Abel) won the Oscar for best supporting actor. Steven Spielberg produced and directed the movie.

The movie is very well acted and well done. It captures the look and feel of the 50's both here in the United States and in what was then still Soviet East Germany. 

The movie shows us how paranoia can take hold and effect an entire nation. We were so scared of the USSR during this period of the Cold War that we were willing to compromise our laws and ideals. Our government knew best. Anything was fair game if it was against Russia and made us feel a little safer. The judge, lawyers, FBI, CIA and the public were all willing to ignore our Constitution and laws to convict Abel of spying. It is worth noting how easily we are willing to surrender our rights for even a false sense of security. It seems an appropriate lesson for these times. Give it a watch for a little history refresher and some entertainment. 

The movie is a little long at almost 2½ hours. It is playing this month on Showtime and available at Redbox so there should be plenty of opportunities to catch this movie if you missed it in the theaters or just want to see it again. 

The movie is a little long at almost 2½ hours. It is well worth the time though and gets a solid A from me. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - January 2017

  • Don't forget, the new year is MMXVII. It will also be the Chinese year of the Fire Rooster. 
  • OK, we all know now from those Facebook quizzes that you are cute, honest, sincere, loyal, a descendant of Cleopatra, most like Beyonce. We know your heart or soul or spleen is blue or red or purple or green. 
  • Confusing geography. North Carolina is in the South and South Dakota is in the North? West Virginia is in the East.
  • No matter what job or profession a person has, they think it is really hard work. 
  • When did bamboo become a miracle product? We have miracle bamboo pillows, sheets, seat cushions...
  • We now have to investigate the investigations and the investigators.
  • You know you're old when the "Oldies" radio station no longer plays your music because it's just too damn old. I need an "Older" or "Oldest" radio station.
  • Remember when you used to answer the phone without knowing who was calling.
  • Same thought, you would identify yourself when someone answered the phone.
  • I can not honestly remember how I found my way around before GPS. I rarely had a map in the car nor did I usually ask for or write down directions. 
  • How did we watch TV before there was a pause feature? Was everybody's bladder in sync with the commercials schedule? 
  • I see a lot of Facebook posts complaining about what other people post, especially about politics. Get over it. Either ignore the posts, delete it, block the person or engage in the dialogue. Did it ever occur to you that what you post is of no interest to others too? BTW, I find cat videos very annoying. 
  • Semantics, you can't really disagree with facts. You can disagree that something is a fact or not and you can disagree with the conclusion(s) drawn from the fact(s). There is no such thing as an alternative fact despite what the current administration says.
  • If a performer uses so much technology that the instruments and human voices are unrecognizable, is it still singing and music? Is it artistic or technical talent?