Category Archives: Movies

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.


undefined on Disney Video

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.


undefined on Disney Video

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.

Creed with Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson

It was raining all day long and Heather went to spend the afternoon with the ladies and Logan wanted to see a movie so we went to see Creed, an offshoot of the Rocky movies.

Poor Logan had never even heard of Rocky and it has been at least 47 years, plus or minus, since I saw it so neither one of us knew what to expect.  I at least was very surprised. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings but I thought the original Rocky was kind of cheesy and I don’t think I saw any of the sequels. This movie is actually good, or maybe my tastes have lowered. You know we all kind of compromise on certain things as we get older. Or maybe I should say I compromise a lot more than I used to rather than toss everybody else under the bus. Yeah, well I get distracted a lot more easily also.

Anyways what we have is Michael B. Jordan playing Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of the great Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa‘s nemesis from way back when. Anyways, Creed dies before young Adonis is born and he grows up in the streets and various juvenile centers until Apollo’s wife finds him and brings him home to live with her. He gets educated and ends up with a great job but loves to box in makeshift rings in Mexican bars. He finally quits his job and heads across country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and seeks out Rocky Balboa to ask him to train.

After playing hard to get Rocky agrees and starts young Adonis on a program. Along the way Adonis finds a very sweet girlfriend, Bianca who is a singer. Rocky gathers a bunch of old veterans to train Adonis to be a professional boxer. I’ll spare you the rest except to say this is a great movie. Anthony plays Adonis with a lot of depth. He is a hard worker while training, a fierce fighter in the ring, and very tender with his girlfriend. Sylvester Stallone plays the crusty vet helping the youngin’ to perfection, teaching him not only how to fight but how to be a man. Tessa Thompson plays the quiet understated girlfriend. She expects respect and gets it and never raises her voice The fighting scenes are intense and fierce. The camera is right in there with the guys and the power and speed of the punches is dazzling. This movie will get your adrenaline going.

I don’t remember much about the original Rocky movie and I think I like this installment much better. Again, I’m not going to give anything away except that a sequel is set up by the finale of this movie. And just for full disclosure young Logan says the movie was okay but he couldn’t get out of the theater fast enough.

Check out the IMDB site for a bunch of information about the film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens with Daisy Ridley

Could be Spoilers!!

The family bundled up and headed to the local movie house (as we used to say a long time ago) to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Logan was super excited about it. Heather got our reservations last week and we had all been looking forward to it. I hadn’t been reading about it or anything. I loved the original Star Wars movie and the subsequent two were good but not great and the movies in the series since then were very forgettable.

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I liked this one!! It is set years after the original movie the the worlds are littered with the detritus of the “old days” of the series now being scavenged for parts. I always loved how the space ships in Star Wars were high performance but battered and heavily modified. So in this movie the Millennium Falcon is found and pressed back into service despite a continuing series of malfunctions and bypasses. It kind of reminds me of our dishwasher back home that I’m kind of babying along.

They also bring out some old characters that are also kept going using baling wire and duct tape. When Harrison Ford appears people clap; the old dude still has that magic. The sad story is Carrie Fisher,her spark is gone and her performance weighs heavy on the movie. Whatever happened to Princess Leia? From what I understand she has had a hard life and it shows. Now Chewbacca is just as full of vim and vigor as he ever was.

The Storm Troopers are given life in this movie. They have feelings and emotions and are more than just drones to be mowed down by the heroes. I loved it and that is all I’m going to say on that topic.

Daisy Ridley steals the movie away from everybody else. She plays a scavenger, Rey, picking apart crashed space ships for parts in order to get her “daily portion” before she is thrust into a bigger role because of her sense of right and wrong. She plays a very strong woman who doesn’t back down from anybody including Hans Solo. She, along with everybody else, manages to keep her clothes on during the movie.

This movie was very satisfying. The forces of light are fighting the forces of darkness. There is some epic fighting. They are also set up for some great video games in the future and are set up for a continued sequels with younger characters. This movie brings back much of the magic of the original three movies. I saw the first movie back in the late 1970’s at the Galleria in Houston, Texas. I think I stood in line through one showing just to see the following showing and I was glad to do so. I might have been willing to do it again for this movie but thankfully we don’t have to do that any longer.

I strongly recommend seeing this movie. I hope that I haven’t spoiled it for you too much.

If you saw it, what did you think?

Mashable’s scene by scene recap. Huge spoilers