Friday, November 16, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

In response to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNph0g1o5hs I wrote:

I feel that the extreme backlash over The Last Jedi is an emotional overreaction to certain elements in the story that went against people's expectations. If the movie were taken out of the Star Wars context, then as a standalone film it is actually pretty good. It has a few minor problems that I attribute to poor direction, but I just watched it for the 4th time and I still really enjoy it. 

The reason that I enjoy The Last Jedi as a Star Wars film is that I am willing to let the story take me where it wanted to go as opposed to expecting it to go where I wanted.

Best wishes, 

John Coffey  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Check this out

I hope this link works.  This is hotel in Tunisia is where they filmed Star Wars for Lars homestead.   Click on the picture on the left to get more pictures.


I don't know if it was a hotel before Star Wars, or if somebody just thought that this would be a great place to put a hotel.  It appears to me as if these underground structures may have already existed before the movie.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matmata,_Tunisia


I've seen deserts in Nevada that looked more hospitable.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Snowpiercer a sequel to Willy Wonka???

I found the first 3.5 minutes of this video pretty interesting.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shrek II (In response to youtube video.)


1.  Aliens is definitely better than Alien, although both are great.  Toy Story 2 is the same way.

2.  Blade Runner 2049 is a nihilistic borefest that I only barely count as a movie that I enjoyed because there is just barely enough interesting stuff in the movie to make me think that it was almost worth a price of a ticket.  However, I wish that I had waited to rent it.  I never want to see it again, which makes it extremely weak compared to the great original which I try to see at least once every decade.

3.  As much as I wanted to enjoy Shrek II, I was pretty bored.  So was everyone I know.  All the pop culture songs come off as stupid.

I would be willing to watch it a second time.  It has been 14 years, so maybe I should see it again.   However, I definitely didn't like it the first time around.  I don't care what positive message you think that the movie has, there is too much in the film that I consider cringeworthy.  And the positive messages are kind of juvenile.

4.  One of my favorite Dreamworks films, and there aren't that many, is "Home".  It never comes off as cringeworthy, except for the mercifully short musical number at the end.  It is not a terribly deep film, but it does have some layers to it, and the characters are likable.  It isn't hilariously funny, but I find myself smiling at the jokes and caring about the plight of the characters.  And unlike Shrek II and Blade Runner 2049, I have seen it four times.   Loved that movie.   Home is vastly underrated.   I feel almost as positive about "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Monday, September 10, 2018

Compelling Hero or Mundane Mary Sue? How do women really feel about Rey?

In response to ...



I wrote:


Speaking as someone who likes The Last Jedi because I think that the good scenes outweigh the bad by a comfortable margin, I still think that there are a number of problems with the movie. I don't see Rey as a Mary Sue, but as an unexplained mystery, where the fact that they haven't explained anything about her is frustratingly annoying. Because of this, it feels like there are giant holes in these two movies. The optimist in me keeps hoping that the third film will fill in the gaps in such a way that it will all make sense. In fact, I think that this is what will happen, or needs to happen for the franchise to save itself. There have been all sorts of hints that Rey may be more than she appears. Maz asks Han, "Who's the girl?", as if this is the pivotal question of the entire trilogy, and I think that it really is the pivotal question that needs to be answered. Adam Driver in an interview said, "You have, also, the hidden identity of this princess who's hiding who she really is so she can survive." What would satisfy me is to find out that Rey is Luke's daughter, who he thought was killed in Kylo's uprising, hence his strong emotional reaction at the devastation. He couldn't sense that she was alive because he had cut himself off from the force. Just like The Empire Strikes Back, I think that they went to Mark Hamill and said, "Only two people know this, and now we are going to tell you, so if it leaks we will know it was you." And what secret would they tell him? Something about who Luke is related to.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Netflix Streaming

I found this interesting website that gives recommendations on what to watch on Netflix streaming, including ratings on some shows.


I like the penultimate section that recommends some shows that will soon disappear from Netflix, called "Last Chance to Stream."


Friday, August 31, 2018

BlacKkKlansman


Racism is an ugly topic, so it should not surprise me that BlacKkKlansman is in some ways a movie about ugly people.  Based upon the advance publicity, I expected it to be a little more whimsical, similar to the wonderful Logan Lucky, but instead the film's tone is somewhere between American Made and Edge of Darkness, but with less humor.  Although the movie is described as a "comedy drama", I fail to see how it is in any way funny.  Perhaps the film is being misrepresented to promote ticket sales.

The movie is based upon the true story about how black police officer Ron Stallworth 40 years ago pretended to be a white racist on the phone while talking to KKK members so as to gain information about their activities.  When he was required to make a personal appearance at KKK meetings, he sent a white undercover narcotics officer to represent him.  

In the real story no arrests were made and the investigation was shut down after nine months.  The movie adds a bunch of fictional elements to make it more interesting, including a love interest, a terrorist bombing plot, and the notion that the white undercover officer was Jewish.

Although all the actors are good, I especially like Topher Grace as David Duke.  He has come a long way from That 70's Show.

As a fictionalized version of real events, the movie is plenty entertaining.  However, it gets into murky territory when it implies that Donald Trump is the equivalent of  David Duke, and the ending uses the protests and riots at Charlottesville to attack Trump and imply that racism is alive and well.  At one point Klansman are shouting "America First", adding another connection with Trump.  To those who are the anti-Trump faithful this may seem all well and good, but it disrupts the narrative of the movie to make a blatantly obvious political statement, and one that at least some of us disagree with.

In fact, the movie tries to draw parallels wherever it can to the events of 40 or 50 years ago and the present day.  It frequently talks about police officers shooting and abusing black men.  However, racism is not near as extensive as it was 40 to 50 years ago.  The membership of white supremacist groups is down to a few thousand.  The actual facts about modern police shootings do not show a pattern of racial discrimination.  We live in one of the most racially harmonious periods of our history, where we elected a black president, but the movie feels like it wants to agitate people about racial politics.

Regardless, the film tells a good, although mostly fictional story, and is thought provoking.

Rating:  B+.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a busy movie, so much so that I didn't feel like I could absorb it all on the first viewing.  I was unhappy with the ending, which is confusing, has too many twists, and ties up everything a little too neatly.  This detracted from what was an otherwise a fun movie.  I needed to see Solo a second time so that I could better understand the film.  In fact, I caught the last showing before it disappeared from my local theaters. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story starts out fun as we learn that gangsters on Corellia force kids into a life of crime. Solo looks like he is barely an adult as he schemes with his girlfriend, Kira, to escape from under the thumb of a gangster.  Parts of this story aren't as logical as they could be, but we get a thrilling chase scene as Solo and Kira try to flee.  Kira doesn't escape, and Solo's only way out is to join the military of the Empire.

Jump to three years later and Solo tries to desert from the Empire, meets Chewbacca, barely escapes death, and joins a gang of thieves lead by Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson.  They hope to make a big score that will allow them all to retire from a life of crime, but things don't go well, which leads to a confrontation with a gangster, Dryden Voss, played by Paul Bettany who we know from the Avengers movies.  They try to make a second score, which leads to further complications, including joining up with Lando Calrissian and making the famous Kessel Run.

All this is fun until the ending.  On the second viewing the movie made complete sense to me, unlike the first time, and I was better able to appreciate the film and ending.  I understand what they were trying to do, but the ending is still a bit too convoluted, forced, and not particularly logical given what we know about the Han Solo character and the universe he lives in.

Does Alden Ehrenreich make a good young Han Solo?  I like this actor, but initially he seems unconvincing.   On the second viewing it was easier for me to accept him in this role because I understood better how this character is young, naive and too optimistic.  However, we have no reason to think that he would be this way given that he grew up under the worst possible conditions.  He is very green, but this is not how we imagine Han Solo would be compared to the older cynical version we saw in the original Star Wars movie.  I expect him to be cynical from the start.

Other than Solo and Beckett, this movie lacks interesting characters.  Voss is somewhat intriguing, but his screen time is short and he seems like a stereotypical gangster.  Kira is a generic girlfriend character until a plot twist at the end.

Much has been written about Donald Glover's portrayal of Lando Calrissian.  He does a good job, but the character isn't particularly likeable, and it is hard to see why Solo develops a friendship with him.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is often exciting, starts out fun, but doesn't really finish that way.  This is a decent movie that could and should have been better given the $260 million dollars they spent on it.  There were production problems, the original two directors were fired, and most of the movie had to be reshot.  The movie doesn't always seem logical, nor is it always consistent with the Star Wars universe that we already know. One scene bothered me when Solo walks up to a bar and orders a "brandy."  It blows my mind that an earthly drink would exist a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I am changing my rating from from three stars to three and a quarter stars.  Instead of giving it a "B-" I am giving it a "B+."  Solo could have been better, but it is okay.