Category Archives: Movies

Wonder Woman – Rise of the Warrior, with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine

Sunday night the family’s last official act of vacation was going to the movies to see the latest Wonder Woman flick.  And it is fabulous. Gal Gadot has the title role and she is perfect. Sweet when she has to be, glamorous during a gala, and and fierce when fighting the bad guys or sticking up for the little people. Chris Pine plays British spy, Steve Trevor.

What is the story you ask? Diana is cavorting about with the other Amazons on their own island when somehow Trevor’s plane that he stole from the Germans (World War I) comes crashing into the sea followed by a German ship and boatloads of troops. The Amazons fight off the Germans and find out about World War I for the first time. Diana takes off, against orders, with Trevor to go back to London to report to the authorities, except she doesn’t really want to follow procedure, she wants to go to the front and fight bad guys.

So a battle ensures between the forces of good and evil and you will just have to go see for yourself which side won. This was a very satisfying movie to watch and as a rule I’m not a big fan of super hero movies. They spend a good amount of time developing character and the back story and the chemistry between Pine and Gadot is great.  I highly recommend the film. Also, everybody keeps their clothes on,  and the fighting scenes are not gory.

Check out the movie web site, games, more trailers, and lots of other good stuff.

Hidden Figures – The Story of the Black Women Mathematicians at NASA

Hidden figures movie poster

The whole family went to see Hidden Figures today. The story of the black women mathematicians who helped American win the Space Race back in the 60’s. It follows the lives of three black women “computers.” Back before digital computers were used, humans who were held the jobs named “computers” did the calculations for lots of scientific endeavors.

The movie is set in Langley, Virginia, part of the South, and the computers were divided into white and “colored” groups. The movie follows three of the women. One who was the the supervisor of the colored group but did not receive the title nor the pay of a supervisor, another who had a crucial role in calculating the trajectory of John Glenn’s trajectory out of orbit back to earth, and another women who although had advanced engineering degrees, was seeking to become the first women with the title “Engineer” hired at NASA.

The movie follows these women as they deal with and overcome the petty and smothering stupidity of segregation and discrimination against black people and women. It reminds me of how far we have come and it also reminds me how far we have left to go.
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The movie is set in 1961 and what strikes me is that I entered engineering school in 1973 a mere 12 years later. By then we had we had big mainframe IBM computers and we had learned the Fortran programming language in high school. In 1973 all the engineering students still used slide rules and much of the classes were about how to use them in engineering calculations. A few of the “rich kids” had calculators. By the end of my Sophomore year, nobody used slide rules and everybody used scientific calculators.

Fast forward to the mid 1980’s and I was building pipelines in Mississippi and Louisiana. I dealt with lots of local people while buying right of way from landowners and arranging for contractors to build the line and dealing with various state and county officials in getting necessary permits. By that time black people had the right to vote and the “colored” and “white” restrooms and water fountains were a thing of the past but race seemed uppermost on man people’s minds. I’d get leading questions from people on first meeting them where they were trying to determine what my attitudes were towards the subject and I’d get baited on various subjects. I heard some outrageous things I’ll tell you.

And we have come a long ways and we have a long ways left to go. I get on facebook and there is still a lot of racisim out there in my opinion.  Most of is coded and obtuse and a lot of it is denial that there is still a problem but it is there.  Sometimes I think we are in danger of sliding backwards to the bad old days. We are also in danger of thinking that we have the race issue solved. We don’t, we have come a long ways and we have a ways to go.

I used to think that there was some sort of relationship between technology and social justice. In other words as we progressed technologically then all these smart people would all insist on doing the right thing. I’ve lost faith in that as we see countries like China and Russia progress technologically and expand their middle class but they remain repressive in a different manner. They don’t threaten people with torture any longer, they threaten them with losing their jobs.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox and say that this is a great movie. It is based on a book that I have ordered from the library.

 

La La Land with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

The whole family went out to see La La Land Friday night. Talk about a great movie! It is like an old fashioned musical with a bittersweet note. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do really well together in this movie. She is a struggling actress working as barista in a movie lot coffee store and Ryan plays a jazz pianist trying to make a living while staying true to his craft. They meet, they are a little bristly with each other and then they fall in love and they struggle to stay there as they through life together. Like I said it is bittersweet and in the meantime there is lots of singing and dancing. The costuming is beautiful and the dialog is sharp.

This is a feelgood movie deluxe and one of the best ones I have seen in a long time. I give it five stars out of five, or four out of four or just whatever scale you want to use this comes out at the top.

Office Christmas Party with Jennifer Aniston

Friday I had my every other Fridacation and Heather didn’t do her Friday morning Zumba gig so we could go have breakfast together and go do some Christmas shopping.  So most of the plan worked. We had breakfast at Full Moon on Peoria, one of our favorite spots and then we checked out Lululemon right next door but they didn’t have much of any sales going on but they did have their music crancked up considerably, I mean the music was not being able to think loud.

So we went up to Athletica at Utica Square. They are just as cool as Lululemon but the music, although not quite as cool, was a lot lower in volume. Also they had a little bit of a sale going on. Turns out that they offer exercise instructors a 30% discount. So we shopped a little bit and Heather is going to get her certification in hand and we’ll go back and do some serious shopping. I guess cuz we are cheap. So then, heck with it, lets go to a movie. We were wanting something fun so we went to see Office Christmas Party.

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The movie is entertaining. There is a story line but the story line is not important, the party is important. The company’s Chicago branch is about to be closed and so they decide to throw a party to end all parties so open bar, lots of decorations, a DJ, and things rapidly get out of control, clothes end up on the floor, Bad decisions are made, office relationships are deepened, and in the end it all works out. You have the all the office types there, the burned out old guys, the striving young guys and gals, the enthusiastic interns, the overzealous HR goons, spoiled out of touch executives. They all play a part.

So everybody makes a lot of bad decisions but it all is well in the end. The evil management sees the light and the branch is saved! Yeah!!

Keep the kids home on this one. Rated R and deserves it and lots and lots of bad language. Also, you have seen before in movies where people sit naked on the copy machine, well in this movie, they make use of 3D printers. I’m not going to spell out what they were copying with the the 3D printer for you. Isn’t technology great!!

I’ve never been to a wild office Christmas party but I have been to parties where people have drank too much and made bad decisions. I’ve been to a lot of nice Christmas parties. One year, a former employer flew Heather and down to Houston for a company party at the the Hyatt Regency downtown, that was nice, very nice. And everything in between. Usually it was a nice sit down dinner and a cocktail or two. Nowdays its a luncheon at the office. I’ll take it.

How about you? Does your employer have a Christmas or “Holiday” party?

Oh, yes, the movie. I loved it, Heather didn’t. So you are on your own!

Almost Christmas with Danny Glover

We went to see the Almost Christmas on Sunday afternoon. We loved it. It is a dysfunctional family type Christmas story. The Fandango synopsis of the movie is:

“An African-American widower (Danny Glover) asks his family — which includes his sassy sister-in-law (Mo’Nique) and four adult children (Kimberly Elise, Romany Malco, Gabrielle Union, and Jessie Usher), as well as the latter’s spouses and kids — to join him for their first Christmas since his wife passed away. However, having all of them under one roof leads to a number of personal confrontations as secrets are revealed and marriages are tested.”

The movie is fun and good hearted and a great Christmas time movie. Everybody in the movie (except the kids who are of course extremely cute and precocious) has issues and they have problems with each other and they pull some bone headed stunts but somehow it all works. It is along the lines of a Hallmark Christmas movie but with some soul and bite.

Everybody keeps their clothes on but there are some suggestive scenes.

I loved this movie.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Saturday night the family went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them a new movie related to the the Harry Potter series of books and movies. It is set in 1920’s New York City and is both a prequel and a spinoff of the Harry Potter series of movies. JK Rowling wrote the screenplay.

The movie opens with Newt Scamander, a student of magical beasts, getting off a ship in New York on his way to Arizona. He has a mysterious leather suitcase that contains a variety of magical creatures from tiny little twigs that can pick locks to huge critters bigger than an elephant. Poor Scamander stumbles into an precarious time for wizards as tensions are high between the magical world and the muggles (except in America muggles are called nomags).

And there are plots twists and budding romances and really bad guys and politicians and it is all really engrossing and very well done.

There is a huge amount of stuff out on Al Gore’s world wide interwebs about the relationship between this movie and the Harry Potter series and all the cross references and such. I am not going to get into it. I’m here to tell you that this is a good movie and you don’t really have to have any knowledge about the Harry Potter movies to see it.

Check out the movie web site. Lots of good stuff there including an opportunity to make cool animated wanted posters.

Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society” with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively

Last week Heather and I went to see Cafe Society, Woody Allen’s new kind of sad romantic comedy set in the 1930’s and we loved it. You can read the story line on the movie web site or IMDB and it is a story about how dreams, love, innocence encounter real life. The cinematography is gorgeous, the conversation sparkles and the acting superb. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart especially do a great job progressing from sweet and innocent to still sweet and not so innocent but a whole lot wiser toward the end. I loved this film.

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Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jesse Pinkman

Sunday afternoon the whole family went to see Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Talk about a fun movie. Lots of bad language in it but it was so funny. and well done. The movie is kind of a high school reunion movie twenty years after graduation. You know when the most likely to succeed hasn’t done much of anything and the guy most bullied  and humiliated turns out to have done quite well and is a CIA agent on a mission to save the world. We have all known people like that, right?

All that is good and fine, but Aaron Paul is in the movie playing a bad guy. Aaron Paul plays Jesse Pinkman in the AMC Series, Breaking Bad.  Breaking Bad is the best television series ever on television. Now you can write and tell me I am wrong but I am not wrong. Just like I think that Chinatown is the best movie ever. Anyways, Aaron Paul plays his character in Central Intelligence like he played Jesse Pinkman’s character in Breaking Bad and I loved it. For those of you who are not too tender below is a summary of Jesse Pinkmans “Bitch” lines on Breaking Bad.  I am surprised that there are so few.

Oh and hey check out the Central Intelligence web site. Lots of good stuff there. You can get your own CIA badge.

 

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You do want a CIA badge right?

The Jungle Book with the Voices of Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, and Ben Kingsley

Jungle Book Poster

On a cool, halfway rainy Memorial Day afternoon we went to a local to see “The Jungle Book” featuring live action and voices by Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johanssen, and Ben Kingsley, and a great performance by a young Neel Sethli playing Mowgli. The basic story is that Mowgli is a human boy (“man cub”) raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle after his father dies in an encounter with a Tiger named Shere Khan who was burned and scarred in the fight with Mowgli’s father. By the Law of the Jungle Mowgli is protected until he comes of age. That happens and then his wolf pack sends him to live with humans to protect him from Shere Khan.


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So Mowgli heads off to the man village with the aid of a black panther, Baghera, and Balou the bear. They have a lot of adventures with with monkeys, a snake, elephants and my favorite character, a big ape named Louie.


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There is a couple of great musical scenes with Balou and Louie. I found the movie totally absorbing. Just don’t ask too many questions such as how come the wolves, tigers, panthers, and bears can talk but monkeys and elephants can’t. Just go with it is what Heather says.

So the movie is a lot of fun. Check out its web site. Lots of good info and videos there. Take the kids, buy some popcorn and relax.

The Big Short

Heather and I went to see “The Big Short” based on a book of the same name. The book is about the financial crisis of the last decade and the overheated real estate and mortgage backed bonds. The book was fascinating as it described the efforts by a few bigger than life and a few unknowns who found out about the fraud committed by banks in marketing their securities and how they created a way to basically bet against the American economy and then found out that they were right.

Great for a book but I thought what a snoozer of a movie but then I heard that the movie was good, and that it was funny, and entertaining. And what? So we went to see it and guess what this movie is for real. The strong characters carry the movie dramatically but when arcane concepts need explained, we suddenly switch a blonde in a bathtub, or Anthony Bourdain, or Selena Gomez who teach us about these concepts.

I found the movie brilliant, very entertaining, and very informative. I strongly urge you to see this movie.