MANCHESTER BY THE SEA~BEST PICTURE NOMINEE (*May Contain Spoilers*)

I will start by telling you THIS ISN’T A LOVE STORY! If one more person asks that question I will really start to wonder about the people who actually watch previews. I honestly think people are judging movies by the posters now.

This movie stayed with me for the longest time. The subject matter is heavy stuff. Dealing with guilt, isolation, forgiveness, moving on, and so many other emotional subjects. I’m not sure if you can grasp it all in one viewing.

We start out watching handyman Lee (Casey Affleck) carry out his mundane duties day to day. He isn’t sociable, is sometimes rude, and you get the feeling that there’s a reason he lives in a basement that resembles a cell.

He receives a phone call one day telling him that his brother has passed away and he needs to go back to his hometown. It’s here we start to see flashbacks of the man Lee used to be. When he laughed openly with his brother and nephew and their fishing boat.

Guardianship of his nephew, who is now a teenager, is left to Lee. For some reason Lee’s reaction isn’t what you would expect and when you hear the lawyer say “I know it’s tough given what you’ve been through but you’re the one he wanted”, a light goes on. There is more to Lee’s story.

We see more flashbacks of Lee with a wife and three children. He’s a guy’s guy. He isn’t perfect but they love each other and he loves his family. An “accident” happens one night that changes Lee’s entire world.

What struck me the most was the look on his face when the police said they weren’t going to charge him with anything. It was a look of disbelief and anger. It’s then that his basement apartment makes sense. The self imposed isolation. He felt responsible and if the law wasn’t going to punish him than he was going to punish himself.

This movie is heartbreaking and deals with so much but there is real life in here and it shows all throughout the movie mostly by Casey Affleck.

MOONLIGHT~BEST PICTURE NOMINEE (*May Contain Spoilers*)

MOONLIGHT~ Mahershala Ali (Juan), Alex Hibbert (Little), Ashton Sanders (Chiron), Trevante Rhodes (Black), Andre Holland (Kevin)

Moonlight blows you away in it’s simple but exquisite storytelling. It follows the three pivotal points in one boy’s life.

This film isn’t only about drug abuse, sexual orientation, confusion, neglect, poverty or bullying. The story is so much more than that. Mahershala Ali plays Juan, the neighborhood’s top drug dealer. You realize from the beginning he’s different by the way he treats the people around him, including those that work for him.

He notices a small boy who always seems to be alone or running from his everyday tormentors. When Juan finds him in an abandoned crack house hiding, he tries to get him to open up. He takes him to his house where he lives with his girlfriend for dinner. From here they develop a relationship that will forever influence the boy as he grows into a man.

There are many topics covered in this film but I think everyone will walk away with something different.

For me it was about deciding who you are, the people in your life that are there when you need them, forgiveness, and how life sometimes leads you to a place you think you are supposed to be.

The reality is you can choose your own path regardless of how you started. If you fail at least you’ll know that you tried. moonlight_movie_review-1600x1600

HELL OR HIGH WATER~BEST PICTURE NOMINEE

Hell or High Water stars Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. The plot is fairly simple. Two brothers, one recently released from prison, decide to rob a branch of banks to pay off the reverse mortgage on their mother’s ranch.

Ben Foster is Tanner, an ex con, who’s impulsiveness always causes chaos. When it comes to his brother he’s devoted. Chris Pine is Toby, a divorced dad trying to do the right thing for his ex wife and child but never seeming to get ahead. Jeff Bridges is Marcus Hamilton the curmudgeonly Texas Marshall getting ready for retirement but obsessed with his one last case.

For me the movie is familiar. The banks taking advantage of people who feel they have no other choice. The struggle of farmers and ranchers everywhere. The relationship between siblings. I didn’t feel like there was anything new or memorable. I watched it and forgot about it the next day. Jeff Bridges was playing a character he’s played before. Chris Pine was actually a surprise and did well. As far as a Best Picture nomination I don’t think it was better than some of the other films I’ve seen.

As I’ve said before, if a movie doesn’t make me think or feel, or if I’m not still thinking about it the next day, then to me it isn’t a Best Picture. It can still be entertaining but not necessarily award winning.tughocv3

 

HACKSAW RIDGE

Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn. It’s directed by Mel Gibson. This is Mel Gibson’s first directing project in 10 years. He won Best Director for Braveheart in 1996. Hacksaw Ridge is up for Best Picture and Best Director this year at The Academy Awards.

I would like to see Mel Gibson win for Best Director, he deserves it. Unfortunately, it’s Hollywood and they can hold a grudge. After winning Best Director in 1996 it wasn’t long before things started to go downhill for Mr. Gibson. He was arrested for a DUI where he made some irrational statements to the arresting officer. This severely hurt his career. He was also accused of domestic violence by an ex-girlfriend.

*This is a side note/opinion. While reading the autobiography of a famous hard rock band the lead singer told a story where Mel Gibson showed up at his house late at night. He was already drunk and they continued drinking. Eventually the singer had to kick him out. This musician is a known alcoholic and to be kicked out of his house really says something to me. When you add in the irrational behavior and choices I can’t help but think there is something more going on. But I have a habit of seeing illness in a lot of people.*

Mr. Gibson has talked about his past problems and has said that he has done a great deal of work on himself over the years and has apologized many times. But is Hollywood willing to overlook his past?

If they don’t it would be an injustice not only to Mr. Gibson but to everyone who has struggled to keep going even though they battle the same issues he does. His work is his work. Hacksaw Ridge is as close to perfect as you can get for a film of this genre. Watching it you feel like time has flown bye.

Another aspect of the film I loved was that nothing was shoved down your throat. A true story was told. I thought the insight (shown in flashbacks) into why Doss refuses to kill or carry a gun was poignant and crucial to the film. Showing interview clips from the real people portrayed in the film at the end was emotional and really brought it all together.doss_hacksaw_ridge_movie_screen_shot

I’m not sure if it’s the Best Picture but I’m definitely sure it should win Best Director.

 

FAVORITE HORROR FILMS (NOT YOUR AVERAGE MOVIES)

I love Horror movies. The problem is I’m picky about them. I dislike Torture/Porn, Horror/Comedy, Horror that has been watered down to get a PG-13 rating and remakes. Horror movies should only be rated R! I’m also not interested in ghosts or aliens that much. If I don’t believe it could be real it doesn’t hold my attention as much. There have been exceptions to the rule. I never say never. Here we go. If you are offended don’t blame me I just watched.

  • Feed- 2005 I’ll warn you now. This movie isn’t for the squeamish. It was so bizarre, disgusting, and disturbing, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. From the music to the twisted ending. First you have an extremely hot man force feeding morbidly obese women while broadcasting it online. People place bets at what weight the women will die. But that isn’t really the focus of the movie. The man “feeds” these women as if he is in love with them or has other buried issues. It makes it uncomfortable to say the least. There’s a scene where he’s singing that is particularly unusual. The film is original, the twist at the end was brilliant and when you find out what he’s been “feeding” these women it’s a game changer.
  • The Cell- 2000 Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio- When I first saw Jennifer Lopez was in this movie I wasn’t going to watch it. The reason I did is I’m such a D’Onofrio fan I had to give it a chance. The reason I am probably one of the few people to find this film impressive is due to the fact it is one of the few that shows the viewer how and why. D’Onofrio’s character is complex and we first get a childish rendition of his psyche. Psychotherapist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) has a front row seat inside his comatose mind. She can also interact with him. We see the evolution of a serial killer. The very definition of Nature VS. Nurture. The Cinematography and Visual Effects are also stunning.
  • Hellraiser/Nightbreed- 1987/1990 I’m a huge Clive Barker fan. I’ve read all of his books and often wondered what kind of mind comes up with this stuff. Hellraiser is brilliant in it’s sadomasochistic satire. There is a price for everything. I love Pinhead and always will. The very idea of this “other realm” before/between Hell is so original because of the characters written by Clive Barker. Nightbreed is different. There is more humanity to it if that’s possible. The characters were beautiful in their monstrosity. Outcasts forced underground into a world only Barker could imagine.
  • Creepshow 2- 1987 I just have this to sum up Creepshow 2 “Thanks for the ride lady”.
  • The Descent- 2005 This film came out at a time where there had been a slump in this genre. There were remakes of older horror films and remakes of Japanese horror films so this was at least seemed original to me. I also have a hard time watching anything underwater or in underground caves. It’s a breathing thing. I can’t count how times I jumped or realized I was holding my breath. I watched it in the theater alone the first time. For fun I talked my mom and Aunt into going with me again. I had more fun watching their reactions than anything. They could have some potty mouths on them when provoked. Then at one point I thought I would I would have to call 911 but they also had a flair for the dramatic. It’s why I miss/love my mom and love my Aunt.

The rest I’m going to list in kind of a favorites order but I’m not going to go into detail or we’ll be here forever.

  • You’re Next- 2014
  • Freaks- 1932
  • Near Dark- 1986
  • Frailty- 2001
  • High Tension- 2003
  • The Devil’s Backbone- 2001
  • The Dead Zone- 1983
  • Wolf Creek- 2005
  • The Serpent and The Rainbow- 1988
  • The Mist- 2007 Thomas Jane
  • Brotherhood of The Wolf- 2001
  • Pet Sematary- 1989 The Ramones!
  • House of 1,000 Corpses- 2003
  • The Cabin in The Woods- 2012
  • Altered States- 1980
  • The Strangers- 2008 Because it happens.
  • The Thing- 1982
  • Seven- 1995
  • Phantasm- 1979

I’ve specifically left some off my list. The reason why is because they are on EVERY LIST. I’ve seen hundreds of good and bad horror films and I wanted to offer a few that some may have skipped over because they’re old or have not heard of. Also the films that received bad reviews from critics that only give a good review to a mainstream movie.

Ricky and The Flash

I just watched this movie on Amazon and though it won’t win any awards found it enjoyable for a few reasons.

The chemistry between Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield is undeniable. They work incredibly well together. I would like to see them collaborate on something else. I didn’t realize Rick Springfield was so good. His life story is an interesting one also.

Mr. Springfield has had to deal with depression and other issues in his life that I’m sure most of the public is not aware of. It is these struggles that make his work so genius in a subtle way.

Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep. There isn’t much you can say about her that is negative. She’s naturally talented. Born with a gift to make you laugh or cry.

The script could have used some tweaking. It was lacking some depth and felt a little rushed. They could’ve done more with it. It was still entertaining just not the caliber of work I’m used to with Ms. Streep.

The music is enjoyable and it’s fun to watch the both of them on stage. I forget how much I love Rick Springfield and now want to listen to “Jessie’s Girl” 20 times in a row. All in all I’d give it a 3 ***.