Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Mule review

It's sad to say this but the reality of life is that those that we admire age and will face the end of their lives. Legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood is eighty eight. And to be honest, it is the twilight of his career. But like the late director Akira Kurasawa, he's not going out gentle into that good night. In The Mule, Eastwood stars and directs a story based on a real life a man in his eighties named Leo Sharp who ran drugs for a Mexican drug cartel.

This story does take some fictional turns but the gist is the same. Illinois resident Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is an old man in his nineties who was a Korean War veteran and expert horticulturist. It's the early two thousands and he sells his flowers from his farm but does not see the advent of the internet. Stone is involved in his prize winning lilies that he neglects his daughter Iris played down to earth by Eastwood's daughter, Alison Eastwood. This also aggravates Iris' mother and his ex-wife Mary. (Dianne Wiest) His closest familial relationship is his granddaughter, Ginny. (Taissa Farmiga)

A decade or so later, the internet with its ability to sell flowers online kills his business. And while visiting Ginny and seeking help, a Mexican friend of hers offers Earl a chance to drive his truck for some buddies who turn out to be drug dealers. Earl agrees and after a couple of "errands" he becomes an extremely capable drug runner or mule. He's so successful that he is earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, DEA agents Bates (Bradley Cooper) and Trevino (Michael Pena) are tracking Stone's connections looking to bust the operation.

As usual, Eastwood attracts a very talented cast. His daughter, Allison is good as he neglected daughter. Taissa Farmiga is quite real as a working class granddaughter. Ignacio Serricchio plays Julio, a cold cartel handler and he's excellent in depicting the humanity in guy who's bad but has some goodness somewhere in him. Eastwood is good but it's tough for him to play a guy who's probably a little goofy and should be afraid of who he's dealing with. I mean when was the last time, you've seen Eastwood play as a character who was in fear. That doesn't hurt this film but one problem is that Eastwood and Nick Schenk's screenplay gives too much time to everyone, including Eastwood himself. From Wiest's scenes to Eastwood's party celebrating the restoration of a VFW, it's an excess that the film needed to be cut so it would be tighter.

One should applaud Eastwood and Schenk for not making Stone a perfect hero. He's not. He's a guy who at times is generous but the film always reminds you that he's a drug mule working for some really bad "hombres." Eastwood's direction is clean without interfering with his actors and the story. His shots are clean and clear. He's able to convey the tension of the story of an elderly guy who trying to stay ahead of the law and not anger the dangerous cartel.

Eastwood still has it as a director. And more importantly, he knows a good story. The grade for The Mule is B Plus.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

First Man review

Are new cinematic takes on particular subjects already covered advisable? Or should it be that a different look at a subject or genre will work? Because that's what director Damen Chazelle's First Man is. It's a different, unusual  take on America's space program, this time it's the story of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstorng.

Based on the biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James Hansen, the film starts out with test pilot Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) struggling to fly and land the NASA test spacecraft X-15. It's harrowing and one of the constant reminders that astronauts would face death at every turn. The movie then shows Armstrong's other struggle. His child daughter Karen is suffering from cancer. She succumbs to it and her memory haunts Armstrong for the rest of his life. At the same time, his wife Janet (Claire Foy) cares for Armstrong's two sons. After the X-15 test flights, Armstrong applies for astronaut and makes the cut. He is befriended by astronaut Ed White. (Jason Clarke) The rest of the film is the story of Armstrong's participation in NASA's Gemini and Apollo space programs. The last which leads to Apollo 11 and the moon landing.

Armstrong was quiet.  He was an enigma.  Gosling plays a man who maintains an even strain while suppressing his emotions.  He's even more Spock than Spock.  Janet (Claire Foy) struggles with raising a family and dealing with the idea that her husband may not come back from work.

Director Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer have decided to make this movie an indie like take on an legendary  story.  Whereas, the  predictable way of doing this movie would be similar to another film on the space program, The Right Stuff. (1983)  That movie had an epic feel.  Chazelle's approach is a swing and miss.  First Man feels small compared to the titanic   subject matter.

This small approach to an epic leads to a dull film.  First, Chazelle keeps the lighting dim, diffuse and strained.  The Armstrong home looks like a set in an indie movie..  Second, many times he films the astronauts from a first person view or from within the spaceship.  Yeah, it gives the movie a claustrophobic vibe but the audience doesn't get what is happening because you don't see the ships from the outside.  For example, during a Gemini mission, Armstrong's ship starts to spin out of control.  But because the focus is on Armstrong, we don't really have a good feel of what is happening with the ship. That's drama draining.

Then there is the music score.  Composer Justin Hurwitz's melodic talents which were vividly demonstrated in La La Land (2016) are set aside.  This movie demands the fanfare of The Right Stuff's Bill Conti. Hurtwitz decides to go Philip Glass.  Any emotional boost is non-existent.  His score is musical wallpaper.

The saving grace of this movie is that it is competently made.  I can admire the craft but not it's emotional impact  If you're looking for a dramatic telling of the Apollo project, you should try to find the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.  (1998) First Man can be as barren as the moon.  The grade is C Plus.

 .  . .   

Monday, November 5, 2018

Conservative Republicans have become racists

Conservative President Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party. He and his conservative Republican allies have been making racists statements over the last month to motivate bigots in the party. And I have not seen any push back from other conservatives. They have embraced racism. Don't believe me? Let's go over some of them.

In the Florida Governor's race, Conservative Republican Ron DeSantis has described his African American opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum with this phrase. Don't "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. (The Hill) I've never heard the phrase "monkey" something up. I have heard racists compare blacks to monkeys and apes.

Trump then called Gillum a "thief" (Trump tweet below.) There is not one shred of evidence that Gillum is a thief. (CNN) And too often, it is what racist whites use to describe African Americans.

Then, conservative Republican Sonny Purdue who's also the Agriculture Secretary said that the Florida gubernatorial race was too "cotton pickin'" important to be messed up. (Vox) "Cotton pickin'" is a phrase used to associate with Afircan American slaves who were forced to pick cotton.

And since there is another African American running for governor in the United States, Trump felt the need as head of the Republican Party to again drop another racist charge. In Georgia, African American woman and Democrat, Stacey Abrams is running for governor. Trump on Sunday called her "unqualified." Now, this is an old insult against African Americans by racists who question their intelligence. Ms. Abrams is a Yale Law School graduate and was minority house leader in the Georgia House of Representatives. (CNN Report)

If you wish to reject this bigotry, stop voting conservative Republican. Vote Democratic.

Friday, October 26, 2018

In midst of bomb attempts, Trump must act like a President

It's been disappointing to see President Trump tweeting that some of the blame for the atmosphere that has led someone to send bombs to Trump's critics belongs to the media. Now's the time for Trump to do his job as President. He is not just President of the Republican Party, he's also President of all the American people and that includes Democrats, independents and others. It's in times like these that the President must comfort the people, condemn the violent acts even if they come from a supporter because we are a nation of laws.

So, this is to President Trump. Go before the nation. And from the Oval Office, give a speech on what I have just said. Here, I've written a couple of sentences for you.

"My fellow Americans. Do not let one deranged individual to terrorize you from living your lives, exercising your fundamental rights such as the right to speak and to vote. I am confident that our law enforcement will find this person or persons. To the individual or people behind these bombing attempts. You do not represent my campaign. I repudiate and reject your acts of terror. Stop these criminal actions."

See, President Trump. It's not so hard. I note that you have asked the "caravan" to turn back. You can do the same with this terrorist to stop these violent actions. He does follow you. He is attacking your critics. Please be the President of all the people.

Trump has indirectly encouraged the attempted bombing of his critics

Over the last few days, pipe bombs were sent to critics of President Donald Trump. One was sent to CNN, perhaps Trump's favorite news organization he hates. They all share one two things in common. One, they have spoken or published negative things about Trump. And this is most important. Trump has personally attacked them. Sometimes, he went after them in rallies. The targets make up an enemies list. See Huffington Post article.

Now the President can be critical of people. I don't have a problem with that. However, his words matter especially since he is the President of the United States. People may follow what he says as  a kind of a command an authority or think they are doing their patriotic duty by taking his hatred to criminal levels. So, when he says the "the press is the enemy of the people", somebody might act out violently thinking that this is somehow right.

Trump's dangerous attacks are numerous. But here are a couple. As i said, he says the news media is the "enemy of the people." Just this month, he praised the attack on a reporter. Axios video below. Trump is giddy that last year Cong. Gianforte (R-Mt) body slammed a journalist. Watch the video below. At the twenty second mark, Trump literally applauds the act. At the thirty second mark, Trump says "But I had heard he body slammed a reporter" and he points to the press in the back as to signal them out. His crowd goes wild. Later, he says, "I know Montana pretty well.  I think it (the assault) might help him. (Gianforte) And it did." (Parentheticals added. Fifty second mark.) By the way, Gianforte was charged with assault and pled guilty to it.

At an October 2, 2018 rally in Mississippi, Trump said this about Democrats, "These are really evil people." AP News.

I could go on about the attacks on the the bombers targets. But Trump has gone after all of them. Hillary Clinton. Former President Barack Obama. George Soros. Cong. Maxine Waters. Even the great actor Robert De Niro has been attacked by Trump. So what does this all mean? They form Trump's Enemies List. It's a roll call to some right wing conservative who listens to Trump, and is now trying to kill Trump's enemies and intimidate his critics with terror. Time to call this what it is. Anybody hurt on the Trump's Enemies List lies at the feet of this President.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Predator review

Here's the thing about director-writer Shane Black. He likes to deconstruct genres with a subversive glee. Take a look at his films Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and The Nice Guys. These two movies were part comic takes on the private detective- film noir genre. It worked well for those two films because he respected the genre and the it could withstand the comedy without the films becoming camp. In 2013, Black co-wrote and directed the blasphemous Iron Man 3 and by blasphemous, I mean that Black took a serious comic book villain, The Mandarin, and turned him into a clown. He also showed no respect for the concept of a man donning the Iron Man suit and becoming a hero. The result of that movie was regrettable for the fans of Iron Man. Now, Black takes on the fourth movie in the Predator series, if you exclude the Alien vs Predator series, in The Predator. Quick trivia, Black acted in the first Predator (1987) film. The question is will Black's rebellious style work here?

The Predator opens up like the first one with an alien ship containing a Predator approaching earth. This time the ship crashes. It just happens to crash nearby a hostage rescue. On this mission, Army Ranger Quinn Mckenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his soldiers stumble on the ship. Quinn takes some of the armor off the alien. After fighting with the Predator, he wanders the countryside. Quinn later mails the armor to his young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) who I think is about ten. Quinn gets captured by government agents led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and is transported to a secret base where a captured Predator is being studied. Also arriving is Dr. Casey Bracket. (Olivia Munn) You can guess what happens. Said Predator escapes.

I can't complain about the cast. They're solid. A quick nod to Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown who's known for his sensitive Randall Pearson in the TV series This is Us. Here he's ruthless, ends justify the means government official. And before I forget, Quinn recruits a squad of misfits led by Trevante Rhodes, and Obama's Anger Translator, Keegan- Michael Peele. Okay, Peele is doesn't play Obama's Anger Translator but he teams up with an unrecognizable Thomas Jane or was that Aaron Eckhart? Sorry it's Jane, confused by male white actors with long faces and strong chins. Anyway, the misfits are the comic relief.

The Predator has many problems, the least of which is Black's subversive take on the franchise. First, is the screenplay by Fred Dekker and Black. I'll praise it for some good ideas as far as why the Predators are coming to earth. But it has logical flaws. I mean why would Quinn send Predator armor to his kid? I guess it's a contrivance to set up other plot threads. Then, there are way too many jokes for this type of thriller and too often they don't work.

Second, Black substitutes making a taut action movie with night scenes which are too dark, and fast cutting. The result? Confusion. And his subversive tone drowns out any drama. Is he making a sarcastic action comedy or a tale of life and death struggle?

The Predator is a mess of a movie. It can't decide whether it wants to be a thoughtful science fiction action picture or a sarcastic comedy on the genre. It fails both. The grade is C Plus.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9 review

About fifteen minutes into director and writer Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, he makes a fascinating point. America is actually a liberal nation. As evidence, he cites polls which show majority support for unions, a women's right to choose and other progressive causes. He even cites the recent Reuters poll which shows that a whopping seventy percent of Americans want medicare for all. So he raises the question of how did we as a nation elect a far right-wing conservative in Donald Trump as President? It's one of the themes in this film.

The film starts out with the political Titanic campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton. We again are reminded of how the Democrats and she were so confident of winning that she skipped campaigning in Democratic states such Wisconsin. It would be these states primarily in the rust belt of the Midwest and Pennsylvania that doomed her. Yet she won the popular vote. So, how did she lose?

Moore goes back and examines the system and politics that lade to Trump's victory. No doubt, he raises the Electoral College system. But Moore goes in a direction that most people would not expect. He blames Democrats. Don't get me wrong, conservative Republicans don't look good in this movie either. However, it's Democrats who "compromise" their liberal beliefs that fails working people. He makes this point by looking at the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Moore uses Michigan as a microcosm of how Trump was able to win. Michigan's governor is Rick Snyder who like Trump was a super rich businessman. Promising to use his business expertise to run the state even though he had no experience running a government. To seize power from some of the cities, Snyder ordered Emergency Managers to run them and suspend democratic rule. Yes. this is true. In Flint, to save money, the manager decided to take water from a polluted river that would corrode lead pipes. As a result people were poisoned with lead.

Now in Moore's film,  conservative Republicans take some of  the blame. However, Moore is objective. He highlights a visit by then President Obama, who comes gives a great speech, and pulls a stunt by drinking a glass of Flint's water. But he does nothing to help them. Later the city is used for war games. Abandoned, you can guess that people are not going to vote Democratic. It's this abandonment of liberal ideas by Democrats that suppressed the votes of their own. Why would working people vote Democrat when it's all lip service. Hence, the rise of Trump just like Snyder. And Trump also wants power, to the point of looking like a fascist.

It's not all a horror show. Moore shows emerging democratic progressive movements. West Virginia teachers striking for better pay. Parkland, Florida high school students who survived a mass shooting, taking on conservatives and the NRA. More women candidates running in the #metoo movement. And the rise of Democratic Socialist candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who won her New York Democratic primary against heavy odds.

The problem with reviewing a documentary is what happens when the critic agrees with the political views of the filmmaker. It becomes more difficult to be objective. So, I watched Moore's film trying to be more critical of his more leftist opinions. What I looked for were moments of truth that could not be denied. Immigrant children in detention camps crying for their parents. The children of Flint poisoned by lead. Moments like these were emotional and powerful. It made me question what our democracy has become. One small gripe, the focus on Flint does take away from Moore doing a more thorough analysis of Trump's con job.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is both horrifying and hopeful. At times sad and funny. It's also a powerful call for liberals to fight back. The grade is A.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians review

As a Chinese American, I'm glad that Crazy Rich Asians has the "rich" as part of its title. Because the lifestyles of these Asians is nothing like your average, normal Chinese American. it's like a fairy tale for Asians who yearn to be really rich. And by rich, I mean rich as in royalty rich.

Based on Kevin Kwan's novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians, is about the romance of Nick Young (Harry Golding) who's the heir of a Singapore real estate dynasty and "commoner" Rachel Chu (Constance Wu). She's an economics professor at New York University. Nick invites her to attend a friends wedding in Singapore and meet the family, including the head of the Young family, Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) a kick ass secret agent for China... oops, that's the excellent James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies. (1997) Her name in this movie is Eleanor. She's not too thrilled about her son romancing an American commoner. If you look at the conflict that I just described, you can guess where this film is going. No, I'm not talking about the James Bond movie of a narcissistic villain wanting to dominate the world.    Hold on.  Isn't that is what is happening in America now?  Okay, back to this film, I'm talking about the coming clash of classes between the wealthy Young family and Rachel's "working" woman.  Hold on.  She''s a college professor not a constuction worker.   Oy.  I forget, this is how the Chinese want to see themselves in a movie.  . 

When Rachel arrives in Singapore, she looks up a college buddy, Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) which sounds like in the movie "Piglet." Thank God for the internet because I would have called her Piglet. Yeah, major ABC moment. (American Born Chinese) Anyway, Peik Lin lives with her crazy rich family led by Wye Mun Goh played by Ken Jeong who thankfully doesn't do a full frontal nude scene like he did in The Hangover. (2009) That being said the Goh family steals the movie. They're wacky and fun. And Peik Lin might be super rich but she's every man or should I say every woman. The common person could relate to her wit, middle class sensibility even if she is super wealthy.  She's got a  hilarious demeanor. Peik Lin is Rachel's guide to the "royal" Young family because everybody in Asia has heard of the Young family except Rachel and us the audience.

It's a fact that there are very limited acting roles and stories for Asian actors in Hollywood films. It doesn't help when they whitewashes Asian stories. I'm looking at you 21 (2008) and Ghost in the Shell (2017) So, it is good to see another world, one that is based on Asian society. This film gets it right when they describe the color red as symbolizing good fortune to the Chinese or  the love of  eating especially dumplings. But what this film misses is that it's not a normal look at Chinese Americans or Chinese. Virtually all Chinese in China or America do not live the obscenely wealthy lifestyle of the Youngs. That economic royalty is a fantasy for Chinese. Hence, if you're not part of the world, you don't get what the real world feels like for Asians.
The screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim has some very funny moments but swings uncomfortably between comedy and drama.  This occurs when the film focuses on Nick's sister, Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her personal problems.  Perhaps this novel might have been better presented as a mini-series.  As for the directing,   Jon Chu certainly has an eye for film as his visuals are lovingly created to show the beauty of Singapore.  I'm sure this film will do well  in China as it generally has a positive view of Asians.

There is nothing new  in Crazy Rich Asians. The only thing new is this is a movie about obscenely rich Chinese who are basically economic royalty.  It's the Chinese fantasy.  Think of it this way.  It's Chinese Cinderella.  The grade is B.

Friday, August 31, 2018

An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert

I say farewell to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin,  who passed away on August 16.  We love  you Aretha.  Here's the Basement Blog tribute concert with some of her videos and hits.

"I Say a Little Prayer for You."  


"Think" From The Blues Brothers.  (1980)

"(You Make Me Feel Like)  A Natural Women."  From 2015 Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Carole King. Yeah, check Ms. King.  She loses it because Aretha is awesome.  We all lose it. Right, President Obama?

"Until You Come Back to Me."  This is my favorite Aretha song which was written by Stevie Wonder.

And we end with...

"Freeway of Love." 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Happytime Murders review

Down these mean streets, this blogger and amateur movie critic must go who is neither mean but is a glutton for punishment. Because he believes that his handful of readers deserve to hear his film criticism. Yesterday, I had a few bucks in my pocket and I wandered  into my local cineplex. I had seen the preview to The Happytime Murders, a few months back. It featured Melissa McCarthy playing another slob and puppets. Yeah, you heard that right. Puppets. The concept of puppets in a R rated comedy piqued my interest the way a Playboy model and a cheeseburger makes Trump horny. You see I like originality even if it gets me into trouble. And trouble is my middle name. Okay, that's not my middle name. And I apologize to Raymond Chandler for this paragraph.

The Happytime Murders takes place in an alternative universe where puppets and humans co-exist. Puppets generally are discriminated against. Phil Phillips (Bill Barettta) is a puppet and a private eye. Before that he was a cop. Thrown off the force because he wouldn't shoot another puppet. He gets a client, Sandra White (Dorien Davies).   She was  a curvy red head puppet whose fuzzy curves would make your eyes go cross-eyed. Her ping pong ball eyes would signal to you  that a night with her would be memorable but you would pay for it the next morning.  Yeah, I would take her case for free if she let me... um, sorry about that. More apologies to Raymond Chandler. 

Back to the review. Anyway, she's being blackmailed. While investigating a lead, a cast member of a puppet-human sitcom called The Happytime Gang is killed. Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is assigned to the case. She's the former partner of Phillips. He's added to case as a consultant.

Three great female comedians are in the cast. Melissa McCarthy. Maya Rudolph as Phillips secretary, Bubbles. And the lovely Elizabeth Banks as Jenny the human cast member of The Happytime Gang. And yeah this movie would qualify for passing the Bechdel Test of Radical Feminism which requires two women talking to each other and not about a man. Because we're dealing with ahem, puppets. I'm guessing none of these women are going to put The Happytime Murders on their resume. That's because this movie is terrible.

One crazy thing about this film is that Brian Henson of yes, The Henson Company is behind it. You know the guys behind Sesame Street and The Muppets. I'm guessing that one day, the guys at the company got stoned and wondered what it would be like if they filmed Kermit the Frog really having sex with Miss Piggy. Frankly, that does sound funny. Maybe Big Bird can do an X- rated scene with the Cookie Monster? Yeah, I'm sure Disney and PBS might have a thing to say about that. However, somebody thought that puppet sex, puppet porn and puppet "drug" abuse was funny.

That's the problem with this movie. The premise of real characters from the Muppets having explicit sex is subversive and funny because it's relatable. There are very few jokes about what's happening in society now, and nothing that a human can relate to. A generic puppet having an orgasm is not funny because people can't relate to it. A generic puppet having his head blown off in an explosion of feathers doesn't make one laugh. If I was drunk, I might have laughed.   And one shouldn't get drunk to see a comedy so the jokes work better. There are reasons in comedy screenplays you may want to have more than one writer. Because jokes are a subjective and writers can bounce things off each other to see what jokes work. This screenplay had one writer who I won't name because I'm guessing he's going to deny he had to do with this. The Happytime Murders relates to nothing but a nod to private detective movies and even that genre was parodied better in Deadmen Don't Wear Plaid (1982). This movie might have done better if it really went all NC-17 but alas it chickens out by avoiding some easy laughs with explicit adult puppet material.  It's  left with puppets dropping the F- bomb.

Speaking of puppets dropping the F-bomb. That maybe the only redeeming quality of this movie. You see The Happtime Murders was partly financed by the H Brothers, a Chinese company. Hey the Chinese may censor images of Winnie the Pooh for President Jinping but puppets dropping the F-bomb and having sex is okay. Freedom, baby. God bless America.

The Happytime Murders trashes one of my favorite movie genres, the private detective story. It's unfunny. And only recommended if you have a thing for puppet sex. The grade is D.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Christopher Robin review

I'm wondering if any Disney executives saw the movie Hook. (1991) That was one of director Stephen Spielberg's misfires. It was about a middle aged Peter Pan who's absorbed in his work in the real world and not in caring about the lives of his children. Pan does eventually return to his childhood fantasy world but it's over the top. Hook was a bomb with the critics. The new live action film of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh , Christopher Robin, follows a similar plot. So, one wonders why this would be a good idea with the beloved children's story.

Christopher Robin starts out with the young Robin saying goodbye to his beloved toy animal friends because he is about to go to boarding school. And you know his buddies. There's the bouncy Tigger (Jim Cummings) , everybody's favorite depressed donkey Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi) and of course, the lovable stuffed bear, Winnie the Pooh. (Jim Cummings) Yeah, there are more but frankly I forgot about the rest.

We flash forward where Robin (Ewan McGregor) becomes an adult. Meets the lovely Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) who later works for S.H.E.I.L. D. She exposes the Robin to gamma rays where he becomes a big blue furry superhero known is Furman... Um, the stuff about Furman doesn't happen. But Atwell was Agent Carter in Captain American and the short lived TV show about Carter. Okay back to the plot. Anyway, Evelyn becomes pregnant while Christopher goes off to fight World War II. He comes back to meet his daughter who is a young child, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) and goes to work for Winslow Luggage Company. And yeah like Hook, Robin is too busy with his work to pay much attention to his daughter. Robin's company has now asked him to make drastic cuts that he's supposed to do over a weekend. Evelyn and Madeline go off to the Robin's old home in Sussex where Robin as a boy would access The Hundred Acre Wood where the animals exist. Pooh finds his friends missing and decides to reach Robin by going through the magic tree that was a link between the real world and the Hundred Acre Wood. However, Pooh somehow ends up in London where Robin is at. Hold on. Shouldn't the magic tree lead to the one in Sussex? Oh, bother. Anyway, Robin decides to return Pooh back to his home which is in Sussex or you know where the magic tree is.

Pooh being an English story and with a cast of British actors, there's plenty of maintaining an even strain. The cast is subdued and going over the top doesn't happen even when getting exposed to living stuffed animals. Now this creates gentle performances. McGregor is very likable as the adult Robin who's weighed down by responsibility. Hayley Atwell's Evelyn is a loving mother who wants to see more joy from her child. The voice actors of the stuffed animals are all good too. But we needed more Tigger who was always wonderful at just being happy.

The problem with this film is the story and the style. Unlike the aforementioned Hook, the screenplay goes out of the way of not emphasizing the fantasy. The real world of London and fantasy world of The Hundred Are Wood are very much separated. And when the animals go to the real world, their reactions are subdued by the real world. Director Marc Forster keeps everything a shade of mild. I mean the colors of the film are drab. And yeah I get it. Post war London is not a very colorful place. But even the living stuffed animals are drained of color. Red and blue hues are given short shrift.  The movie lacks magic.    Hello?   Living stuffed animals with personalities.  Oh,  bother.  Thankfully, creator A.A. Milne's stuffed animals are not denied the center stage when they delightfully wreck havoc on the humans.

There are better family movies than Christopher Robin that came out this summer. Ant-Man and the Wasp is one of them. Christopher Robin is a warm albeit colorless film. The grade is B.

Trump's desire to pardon Manafort won't work

It looks like Paul Manafort's gamble to not cooperate with Bob Mueller for a pardon will pay off but will this save him or Trump? After he was convicted for not reporting income and other charges, conservative Republican President Donald Trump hinted today he will pardon him. The rationale would be to reward Manafort for his silence regarding the president. Trump tweeted that he felt very badly for him. He wrote that the Justice Department put "tremendous pressure" on him and unlike Micheal Cohen, "he refused to break." Meaning Manafort did not flip on Trump. Trump then said, "Such respect for a brave man!"

A few things here for our fascist President. One using the pardon power to stop a criminal investigation and obstruct justice is illegal. It would be like ordering the Air Force to bomb the Democratic National Headquarters. Two, a person pardoned loses his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent. Yeah, Manafort could remain silent on Russia-collusion questions but if Trump pardons for these then the answer is no. Three, state charges cannot be pardoned by the President. Much of Manafort's illegal behavior occurred in New York and there are related charges that could be involved. (New York Times article) Today on MSNBC's Morning Joe, New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout indicated that she won't let a pardon deter her from seeking justice for state law crimes (MSNBC video below) And finally, it's political suicide, let alone a disaster for every Republican in America. Everybody will know he's doing it to save his own skin. Remember what happened to Ford in 1976?  Plus check out this report from CNN. His voters indicate that this would be a red line.

As I have said before. Justice could come from New York. It's up to you New York. Sing it Frank.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Blackkklansman review

It's been a  week after the United the Right 2 rally which is a march of white racists in Washington, D.C. It's the second iteration of this protest after last year's riots in Charlottesville, Virginia where American Nazis, and racists marched. One woman who opposed the racists was killed by one of them. She was white and her name was Heather Heyer. Conservative Republican President Trump said of the riots between racists and antt-racists that there were "very fine people on both sides." (USA Today) In making Blackkklansman, director and writer Spike Lee knows the current events surrounding his film about a black police officer infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan in the seventies. To him, the racism that existed back then is still with us. It's enabled by Trump. Lee makes this message subtly and sometimes as loud as jazz sermon by Gil Scott- Heron.

It's the seventies, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first African American police officer on the Colorado Springs police force. Washington is excellent here as a black man who wants to protect the public as a cop. And in case you ddidn't know it, he's the son of Denzel Washington and was a former professional football player. I'm glad for the art of acting that he hung up his cleats as there is a bright future for him as a thespian.

Stallworth's first job is to infiltrate the local college's black student union when they bring in Kwame Ture. (Core Hawkins) The police fear that the African Americans may turn violent. Of course, through history we know that was not the case. They were about black empowerment. He meets Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) and starts a personal relationship with her. She's black, beautiful and smart.

At the station, Stallworth notices a want ad for recruits to the Klu Klux Klan. He calls it, pretending to be a black and Jew hating white man. He convinces his bosses that with the help of Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a Jewish officer, they can infiltrate the local Klan and investigate if they are planning any illegal activities. Driver is quite good as the unsure partner wondering if they can pull it off.

Along the way, Stallworth actually gets to make contact with the national head of the Klan, David Duke. (Topher Grace) Grace is ions away from his starring role on the sitcom That 70's Show. Grace's Duke is spot on. He's like the real Duke. Charming and corporate. Still full of malice and hatred. Zimmerman meets other Klansmen, all full of hatred for blacks and Jews. One in particular, Felix played by Finnish actor Jasper Paakkonen, displays a frightening menace. It's a remarkable performance because you would have never guessed that he was Finnish by listening to his American accent.

Lee and writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, say many things about racism in their screenplay. If you compare the African American students' activism with the Klan,, the differences are stark. Whereas the students yearn for freedom and black empowerment, they are not violent. Whereas the Klan's hatred for blacks grows into violence. Of course the Klan has always had a history of violence. And as I have pointed out, the writers are making the point that racism is alive and well. It's enabled by Trump. That's because this movie features David Duke and includes a clip of him at the Charlottesville rally. Trump's comments are also in the movie. And let's face it folks. There are literally GOP candidates who are racists. (Vox article) And you will get a chills down your spine when you hear the Klansmen chant, "America First." That was one of the mottos of the Trump campaign. It's hard to stomach as the racists root on the violence against blacks depicted in "The Birth of a Nation." (1915) They treat it like a sporting event. What's even more curious is that the Klan has a discriminatory attitude towards the women. In the movie, women are treated as second class citizens.

The film does take some time with humor  to depict the idiocy of racism. It's often depicted as Stallworth over the phone in a "white" accent starts to utter the hatred that Klansmen feel towards African Americans, gays and Jews. It's a nice break from the intense drama. Along with the depiction of odious racism, the movie works as a thriller. You see Zimmerman is often in danger of being discovered and likely to be killed. Also in danger are the black students.

Spike Lee is a painter as a director. Thankfully, he does not use camera gymnastics to maintain interest. His shots are well thought out. During a rally with Ture, Lee focuses on the African American faces. We hear the words as to why black is beautiful. It is indeed, beautiful to see. This is one of the many gorgeous shots that Lee frames. He doesn't get in the way of the story but lets it speak. Lee also puts in some fantastic soul music from the seventies to give the movie a feel for the time and place. One might fault this movie as being a little over the top but given the nature of the subject matter, it's a criticism that is subjective.

Blackkklansman is a powerful political film. It depicts racism as an evil that is ongoing. It is a racism that in the seventies wanted to be considered mainstream as we see Duke in a suit rather than a hood. It is a racism that continues in this day as the racists no longer disguise themselves in hoods but under the cover of "Make America Great Again." The America that Trump wants is one of the fifties where African Americans were second class citizens. Lee's masterpiece is a must see for this year and any other year if one is serious about thinking about racism in America. The grade is A.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Conservative Republican Nunes shows he puts Trump ahead of America

Conservative Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) at a private fundraiser declared that a Republican congress is the "only one" to clear President Trump. (1:20 at the MSNBC video, below.) The problem with this statement is that Nunes is not following the evidence but is putting the President ahead of the country. It's clear that Republicans in the House were interested in protecting Trump rather than doing a thorough investigation. As Trump nears to admitting that his campaign colluded with Russians, the Republicans did not care about America but more for the President when they cleared him and his campaign of not colluding with the Russians. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Mission: Impossible- Fallout review

About half way through the movie Mission: Impossible- Fallout, you will discover one of its big mysteries. But the great thing about it is that you'll doubt if you have the complete answer to the plot. This being a film written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie who wrote The Usual Suspects (1995), one can expect a twist or two. But M:I-Fallout is much more than a spy movie with red herrings. It's a great action movie.

Mission: Impossible- Fallout takes place after the events in Mission:Impossible-Rogue Nation (2015) so it's a sequel. The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) comprised of Ethan Hunt (Tom Crusie), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) is in Belfast to recover plutonium cores. The Apostles aka The Syndicate are also there to purchase them for a client. The mission goes awry and Ethan sacrifices the recovery to save his team. The CIA led by Sloane (Angela Bassett) tasks the IMF team to recover the cores in Paris. However, she demands that Superman... um, Walker (Henry Cavill) accompany them. They must find out who the buyer of the cores is, a guy by the name of Keyser Soze. Er.. that's The Usual Suspects. Sorry. They must find out who the buyer is and get the cores back. They fail and the world gets incinerated leading to a planet of apes. Okay, the last sentence doesn't happen.

Rebecca Ferguson returns from Rogue Nation as former MI6 spy Ilsa Faust. She's adept at martial arts, high speed motorcycle chases and really good with a gun. She's also sophisticated, sexy and beautiful. She's got a great English accent and lovely voice which I could listen to all day. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination. Oh, and Tom Cruise is in the movie too. Okay, I have to discuss Tom Cruise. In reality, Cruise is 55! And he's ageless. His stunt work is remarkable and considering he hurt his leg during the filming of a foot chase scene, one should never doubt his dedication. That scene is in the movie as Ethan limps away. With this movie and last year's American Made, it's quite a roll for him. We'll just forget about The Mummy. Anyway, Rebecca Ferguson is going to appear along with Captain Picard.. I mean Patrick Stewart in The Kid Who Would Be King. in 2019. Dear Academy, for your consideration, nominate Ms. Ferguson. Just saying. Okay, back to the review.

M:i-Fallout is why you go to the theater to watch movies. Director McQuarrie shoots everything big. I mean virtually all of his shots are epic. This is one big world. And the beauty of his direction is that most of it is well lit. He avoids shooting most of the action scenes in the dark. The audience sees all the action. Fight scenes are well planned. The editing makes sense. There's no confusion in action set pieces. And they are epic. The special effects mesh with the live action. The effect of all this is that it looks real and exciting. I mean, did Tom Cruise make a HALO parachute jump? Probably not but it looks like he did. Just like it looks like he's driving a motorcycle in a high speed chase through Paris traffic. Of course, you got your running Cruise scene and he's probably lost a step but that jump where he hurt himself is death defying. There's also a helicopter chase scene which had me sitting straight up. Seriously, this film makes every James Bond movie look tame.

All kidding aside. While it's great to see Rebecca Ferguson in the movie, there's not much stuff for the women to do here. Michelle Monaghan returns as Ethan's wife, Julia from M:I III (200^) and M:I-Ghost Protocol (2011). I don't want to give it away but her scenes seem forced and perhaps here to set up some changes for the next film. Let me put it this way. The IMF needs women.

Mission: Impossible- Fallout is perhaps best of the series. It's only rivaled by the first Mission Impossible's spy games. The film is one remarkable action movie. Thrilling. It's so good that you will not forget the excitement. It's a must see at a theater. The grade is A.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Colbert hilariously nails Giuliani's argument that collusion is not a crime

Last night, Stephen Colbert on The Late Show went after his boss CBS CEO Les Moonves, and conservative President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani's new defense. "Well if we colluded with Russians, it's not a crime." Yes my fellow Americans we've reached that point. There's evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians. And I'm not just talking about the Trump Tower meeting. Great stuff. Enjoy.

New strategy for Trump Team: Our Collusion is not a crime

After, watching conservative President Trump's legal team on  news programs over the last two days,  a new strategy against the Trump-Russia investigation has arisen. It seems that they are conceding the campaign worked with Russians to win the election. Yesterday, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani went all  over cable news to say that collusion is not a crime. Check out Giuliani's unhinged interview on CNN below. Sunday night on Kasie Hunt's MSNBC show, Trump defender Alan Dershowitz  is now arguing that even if the Trump campaign got the hacked Democratic party emails that they were protected by the First Amendment.  (The Hill with embedded video.)

So, now we are seeing a change of stories from the Trump team. Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, had his offices raided where millions of files  were seized. It's my opinion that Trump now knows the "bodies" will be discovered. On Thursday, there was a story that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. Now with the no collusion defense, we're seeing the narrative come out that "If Trump accepted help from the Russians with hacked emails then this collusion was not against the law." Law professor Mimi Rocah on Hunt's show says this also. (Embedded video with The Hill  at 16:30)

One big problem with Team Trump's new defense.  Yes, collusion is not a crime.  But conspiracy, aiding and abetting is.  Soliciting opposition research from a foreign source is illegal.  See 11 CFR 110.20.  So if the campaign colluded  or conspired with the Russians to use hacked emails, it's a crime.  As more bad facts are  found out, it's likely Team Trump will look to find a way to spin the idea that a political campaign can get help from a foreign government to win an election.  Of course, if there's some quid pro quo such as lifting of sanctions we've got other charges such as bribery.

 America, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live. 

By the way, Giuliani admits to a  meeting of campaign officials  before the Trump Tower meeting! At the 5:30 mark, Giuliani talks about an alleged  one on one meeting between Trump and Trump Jr.  Then two  days before,  there's supposed to be a meeting of five people.  (Trump Jr. , Kushner, Gates, Manafort, and another)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Why Trump team leaked story that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting

Yesterday, a bombshell story broke which stated that conservative President Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians and approved it. It was alleged congsigliore Michael Cohen was shopping it to the Bob Mueller. According to Lanny Davis, Cohen's lawyer, the leak for the story did not come from team Cohen. (MSNBC story.)

"I cannot comment. And I have to wonder why the Trump people would put that out. It was not from us."

Trump said he did not know about the meeting.  So who is telling the truth?  Yes, I know you're saying why am I asking since Trump is a pathological liar.  Side with Cohen.  It makes no sense for Cohen to leak it since that would possibly effect the testimony at trial.  If Cohen wants to work with Mueller, he's not going to anger the Feds.  And by the way, Maddows's  theory that leaks are designed to sap Cohen's value, i.e. "take a card out of his deck" is not accurate.    Cohen would still be needed to testify and clarify any evidence.

But the answer may have come from Trump's crazy lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.  He just happened to be available to CNN.  In the interview below, he says there would have to be two to three people to corroborate Cohen's story.  (2:00 minute mark.)  This seems that Giuliani might know that there were other people who may have been present when Trump was informed that the Russians had dirt on Clinton.  Giuliani then says he talked to the corroborating witnesses.  (12:00 minute mark) "I know what they say."   Giuliani then says, "Gosh, almighty.  Why didn't he tape it?   He taped everything else.  He's got a hundred tapes. Why didn't he tape that?  Maybe he did.  Maybe he's got a tape that he  erased." (12:30 minute mark)  Giuliani then goes into the other tape which covered the payoff to silence an affair. 

If Trump knew and approved the meeting with Russians then he's as guilty as his son who set the meeting up.  And it is illegal to receive campaign contributions or attempt to solicit them from foreign sources.

So why did Team Trump leak this story?   It's what we lawyers call a preemptive strike.  There were about million documents and tapes seized from Cohen. Trump is worried.  And if Cohen knows where the bodies are buried and shows the government, Trump is in trouble.  Not just Trump-Russia.  Covering up affairs to influence the election and not reporting  them  is  illegal.  Here's why  I think they leaked.  They want to discredit Cohen by getting ahead of the story and spinning a narrative about his credibility.  They also want to influence the testimony of any corroborating witness.  Now, is any of this good trial strategy or even good politics?  Hell, no.  None of this makes any sense.  Unless Trump can guarantee other witnesses will lie for him, it's a risk.  If there's a tape corroborating Cohen, Giuliani and team Trump look stupid.  And putting out bad information about you is ridiculous.  You can't guarantee that people's negative perceptions will be changed by spin.     

(Giuliani's defense that paying with a check rather cash to silence an affair is idiocy.  The check does not affect a criminal action.  It's still illegal. For example, Jerry Springer paid a prostitute with a check. )

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

White House may have broken law by altering Trump-Putin news conference tape

Last night, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC reported that the White House tape of the Trump-Putin Helsinki news conference was altered. And it's important. We all know that our intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and that it was done to help conservative President Trump. So, any evidence of Russian President Putin favoring Trump is relevant. In Maddow's video below, at the 2:00 minute mark, Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asks, "President Putin did you want President Trump to win the election? ..." Putin responds, "Yes I did."

In the White House version of the tape, it's been altered so that Mason's question was deleted. That includes the transcript. Deleting the question changes the record of the news conference. The White House is required to keep records. Deleting the question intentionally is tampering with evidence and against the law. See 18 U.S.C. Section 1519.

We need truth. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live. Keep in check conservative President Trump. Then impeach him.

Watch this important Maddow piece.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trump betrays America for the Russians

I didn't think the Putin-Trump lovefest er... meeting was going to end well. But I never would have thought that Trump would publicly take Russia's side against the government of the United States. At a shocking news conference, conservative President Trump disrespected American intelligence, law enforcement and literally blamed America. Let's go over some of Trump's treason.

On the issue of the current bad relations between the United States and Russia, Trump said this, "“I think we’ve all been foolish. I think we’re all to blame" Huffington Post. Really? Putin has blood on his hands. Annexed Crimea. Involved in a civil war in Ukraine. Shot down a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine. That killed an American. Wikipedia. Use of chemical weapons to in an attempt to assassinate British civilians. One woman has died. And of course, Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump's either nuts when he bends like a pretzel here or he's been compromised.

We had indictments on Friday against Russians who hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Trump chose to believe Putin over the United States Justice Department. Folks, I can't make that up. Trump stated that Putin was "very powerful in his denial of it." CNN video below. Trump then added, "I don't see any reason why it would have been Russia." Instead, he attacked Americans who happened to be Democrats. Demanding that they surrender their server. This is a crazy false flag conspiracy claiming that the Democrats hacked their own servers. Then Trump demanded Clinton's emails. Shocking. But it got worse.

Russian president Putin was asked if he favored Trump over Hillary Clinton. He said yes. Julia Ioffe tweet. Trump ended the news conference with one more oldie but goodie. He called the Mueller investigation a "witch hunt." Oh, I forgot. Putin was asked that if the Russians had any compromising material on Trump, he dodged the question. But he did not deny it.

My fellow Americans, we're on the verge of becoming slaves to Russia. This November, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live. Flip the House and Senate. Then impeach.

CNN's Anderson Cooper called the President's news conference "disgraceful.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Colbert's hilarious takes on Strzok hearing

Yesterday's hearing by the House Judiciary Committee was a spectacle. You see it was all about the conservative Republicans trying to present a defense for President Trump. It all centered around FBI agent Peter Strzok who texted some negative things about Trump in 2016 to his lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page. The worst being that they would stop Trump once he got the Republican nomination. So that you know, there was no evidence of Strzok along with a "deep state" to try to scuttle Trump. In fact, the FBI diligently kept the Russia investigation secret so it would not affect the election. But the Republicans wanted to show that the current Mueller probe is tainted as Strzok worked on it.

Well, the conservative Republicans went crazy. And I kid not. One Republican congressman who's a dentist bragged about who he knew body language. We need America's best satirist to comment on it. Here's Stephen Colbert's riotous piece.

Conservative Republican Trump again shows he is a racist

Republican President Trump in an interview with The Sun demonstrates that he's a racist. On the issue of immigration to Great Britain and European countries by refugees, Trump bemoaned that it has "changed the fabric of Europe." He further said this, " “And I don’t mean that in a positive way. I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you’re losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago.” Huffington Post. MSNBC video below at the 5:00 minute mark.

Look, we get it. What the conservative Trump means is that influx of non-white people is bad. That's racist. The laws in England regarding demorcracy don't change. Like America, immigrants assimilate. I personally am an example. Being born racially Chinese in America, I love American democracy. I know Chinese who immigrated here that adapted and love American democracy. The people of the world must reject this racism. While I agree that there are limits on immigration because of resources, arguing that the culture will be lost is racist. That's because he's talking about white European culture.

And my fellow Americans, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trump does Putin's bidding to destroy NATO

Conservative President Trump embarrassed Americans at today's NATO breakfast. I caught it live on MSNBC and tweeted about it. (below) First, NATO's Secretary General Stoltenberg kissed Trump's ass about increased defense spending by NATO's members and attributing it to him. Then at the breakfast, Trump went wild.

Trump whined about the lack of contributions to NATO by members. He whined about a gas and oil deal that Germany had with Russia. He complained about how much money that Russia was making off it. Then he pointed out that it was ironic that NATO is defending against Russia yet Germany was paying for all that gas. Yeah, the theme is one that Trump likes to bring up constantly. NATO is obsolete. Now, let's us think about this. President Putin of Russia wants to break apart NATO. Trump by arguing that it is obsolete is doing Putin's bidding.

NATO has been a check on Russian aggression for decades. When the United States was attacked on 9/11, it was NATO that assembled and stood by the United States with troops and support as we went into Afghanistan. To this day, NATO is still with us in Afghanistan. This is no way to treat allies and friends.

During the breakfast, American ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison looked like she's living in a surreal world. There's a slight smile on her face as Trump runs around like a bull in a china shop. Other times, she looks like she is in shock. Chief of staff, John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis look nauseous. Secretary of State Pompeo looked stunned then seemed to be amused at the spectacle.

My fellow Americans, we are in trouble. Trump is a puppet for Putin. We must vote his support out. Vote because your lives depend on it. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

MSNBC Joe Scarborough lays into Trump for his desire to break apart NATO.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp review

This is the first time in film history that a mid-credits scene has ruined a movie. I'm talking about the mid-credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The question is whether the scene fatally kills the film.

Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place after the events of the first movie, Ant-Man (2015) and Avengers: The Age of Ultron (2015) or was that Captain America: Civil War (2016)?.In the first, Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) has disappeared into the quantum realm, which is what happens when you go subatomic in one of Pym's shrinkage suits. Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Pym find a way to rescue her. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was placed on house arrest for the events in those two movies that are not Ant-Man. His involvement in Civil Wars, has led to an estrangement between Scott and Hope who had a budding romance. So, he spends his days playing with his delightful daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).

Okay, still with me? The Pyms have perfected their technology to shrink and enlarge objects at will. So, their lab which is an office building can be shrink to the size of a hat box. Well, inside the lab is the machine that can send a rescue mission. Since Scott has a psychic or quantum connection to Janet because he went into the quantum realm, the Pyms "recruit" him again for help. However, it's the lab which is the MacGuffin in this plot. Two other people want it. The greedy Burch (Walter Goggins). Goggins better watch his career or else hes going to be playing bad guys for the rest of his life. The other is the mysterious Ghost. (Hannah John-Kamen)

The cast does excellent work sincerely spitting out the technobabble along with very funny lines. It's not all comedy. Douglas, Lilly and Ruddd sell the emotions of loss so well that it's hard to keep a dry eye. I like the chemistry of Rudd-Lilly. Rudd is perfectly cast as the everyman Scott. Michael Pena as Scott's ex-con buddy Luis returns and  nearly steals the show with his clumsy charm.

The first Ant-Man had great writing. And this film also has great writing even though it was written by an army of writers. Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari produce a hilarious and heartfelt script. The first movie made Luis irrelevant story telling a funny gag. The writers bring that bit back in an inventive way. I laughed hard as Michael Pena delivers the gag. Not all is laughter and tears. While I wish the writers could explain all the quantum entanglement stuff, it is interesting if not accurate. Plus, the resolution of the plot thread regarding one character was lazy. Still, the screenplay had a cool mix of the comic book Ant-Man and the movie, The Incredible Shrinking Man. (1957)

Peyton Reed who directed the first Ant-Man returns and  again  delivers  a virtuoso performance. He uses his chops directing comedies such as Down With Love (2003) to stage the jokes and timing. He also has an outstanding ability to stage gigantic action set pieces. His shots all make sense, letting visuals tell the story and relay the excitement rather than using camera and editing gymnastics. Kudos to the special effects for making Hot Wheels turn into hot cars. Seeing a a Pez Dispenser turn huge  was cool.

When I saw this film, there were children in the audience. We all laughed and were loving the movie. A bunch of them left as soon as the movie ended with the beginning of the end credits. If you are a Marvel movie fan, you know many ties there are mid-credit and end credit scenes. This one had two. Don't worry. I won't give it away with any details. But the mid-credits scene killed the joy out of those who stayed. First, you would have to seen this year's Avengers; Infinity War to understand it. Second, it turned a joyful, complete film into a teaser  for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, Part Two. I feel like wringing the neck of Mickey Mouse. Disney, Marvel, your greed is not good. Apologies to  Michael Douglas.

I loved Ant-Man and The Wasp.  .  It was hilarious , exciting and emotional.  It is also a family movie.  The mid-credits scene was a big mistake  but does not take away from fun you will have seeing this film.  Just leave as soon as the credits roll.   The grade is A Minus.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Bringing back democracy from Trump, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July! Last year, I posted this guide for liberal Democrats to return to power. Here's the guide. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live. Haow about a song? Here's "The Egg" from the musical 1776. (1972)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How a Playboy model could save Roe v. Wade

Conservative Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy has stopped making payments to former Playboy model Shera Bechard for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to hush up an affair and abortion. Now, you're wondering how does this affect conservative President Trump's plan to pack the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade? Well, if Ms. Bechard can now talk, maybe she can tell us that Broidy was not the one she had the affair with but it was with Trump. That would cause a firestorm since Trump's mistress could have an abortion and now he's trying to deny that right to the women of America. Just another Trumpian hypocrisy.

But hold on you say. There's no evidence that Trump is really the one who had the affair with Ms. Bechard. Well, in this excellent piece from New York Magazine by Paul Campos he deduces with very good logic that it was Trump not Broidy. In the piece, he notes that the NDA for Trump's Stormy Daniels affair and Bechard's uese the same pseudonyms for the male, David Dennison and the woman, Peggy Peterson. Ah, the love of alliteration. The same lawyers for parties were involved. Michael Cohen for Trump and Broidy. Keith Davidson for Stormy Daniels and Shera Bechard. The same shell LLC, Eseential Consultants was used to launder er... make the payments to the women. One difference. Daniels got $130, 000 dollars whereas Bechard received a lot more. She got 1.6 million dollars. Of course, she had an abortion. Plus think of the explosive story if it was disclosed before the 2016 presidential election that Trump impregnated a woman and she got an abortion. His evangelical Christian base would evaporate.

If Paul Campos is right, Ms. Bechard could help the women of America. If she tells her story, she could expose Trump for his hypocrisy. More women would rise up. If Ms. Bechard can get an abortion why can't the women of America? The political pressure would greatly increase for Trump to pick a more moderate and neutral pick for the current vacancy in the Supreme Court. Maybe a Playboy model can save Roe v. Wade.

Chris Hayes of MSNBC covers Elliot Broidy in this May piece.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom reivew

Maybe I should work in Hollywood. I suggested in my review of Jurassic World (2015) that the Jurassic Park franchise should explore the militarization of the genetic dinosaurs which was the motivation of the villain in that movie. And in the sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, they do.  And did I get any royalties?
  Sadly, no. 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after the disaster at Jurassic World. The park is on an island with an active volcano that  is about to erupt. Hold on. Somebody had an idea to put an amusement park on an island with an active volcano?.  Yeah, it sounds as smart as having a zoo with gigantic man eating predators. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) a former executive with InGen is running a group that is trying to save the dinosaurs. She is contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who works for InGen's former founder's partner, Sir Benjamin Lockwood. (James Cromwell) She visits Lockwood at his mansion and also meets his granddaughter Maisie. (Isabella Sermon) They propose to Claire a way to save the dinosaurs by moving them to another island. She agrees and convinces Owen (Chris Pine, ... Chris Evans er I mean Chris Pratt) to join her. You see in the first movie they were love interests, now they are estranged. Oh and throw in Jeff Goldblum in a glorified cameo and fan service as Dr. ian Malcom. Anyway, the recovery team gets to the island and of course, all hell breaks loose. There are also some very interesting surprises.

Look, I can't say much about the ensemble's acting. It's not bad. It's actually good. But most of it is running in terror from dinosaurs or some actors becoming snacks for dinosaurs. Speaking of running, they got rid of Claire's high heels in the first movie. No sprinting from T-Rex in heels here. It's a running joke as there are scenes where the camera focuses on her shoes.

The screenplay by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly is the thing that keeps this film from being just another Jurassic Park movie where stupid people go to the park and get eaten by dinosaurs. It starts out banal but after the first surprise plot point, it gets interesting. You see author Michael Crichton's themes about man's arrogance in developing technology without limits is brought back in this film. The issues of greed, militarization of the dinosaurs and the ethics of cloning are raised. And hopefully, I'm not giving anything away here but I would have liked to spend more time with Sir Benjamin and Maisie. They should have cut the contrived scenes of Claire and Owen getting back together after being estranged.

The time not spent with Sir Benjamin and Maisie is a problem in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The subplot regarding them is fascinating. Unfortunately, it's reduced due to the need to have CGI dinosaurs rampaging around the screen. Director J.A. Bayona or the screenplay makes some mistakes here. First, he films many of the action scenes in the dark. Can't really see the dinosaurs. Second, some of the important action set pieces are indoors. They are not in big rooms. Nope. You got big ass velociraptors chasing people through tight hall ways. It's all about getting good look at the dinosaurs. Still, Bayona's need to flex his directing chops don't kill the movie.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is one fascinating movie. Interesting themes on the ethics of cloning are raised. And I love the direction of the franchise because it's getting away from the amusement park. The grade is B Plus.

This official trailer might have too much information. Go see the movie first.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Conservative Trump's family separation plan was meant to be a deterrence

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lately been saying that conservative President Trump's no tolerance illegal immigration plan was not designed to be a family separation plan. (MSNBC Morning Joe video below)   Liar. As the video shows, the Trump administration through Sessions told the public that children would be removed from parents since children would not be allowed to stay with their parents when they were arrested. Under former President Obama, parents were cited back to court in what conservatives call "catch and release."

What's apparent is from the actual words of Trump administration officials is that the zero tolerance policy was designed to be a deterrence to Latin American immigrants. (The Hill, June 19, 2018)

"We expect the new policy will result in a deterrence effect," said Steven Wagner. Assistant Secretary for HHS. Id.   Chief of Staff John Kelly in 2017 as Director of Homeland Security said this in a NPR interview,   "A big name of the game is is deterrence.   He acknowledged that separating families could be a "tough deterrent-would be a tough deterrent. ( NPR transcript. )

My fellow Americans, the Trump administration  wanted to rip children away from their parents as a deterrent.  Conservative Trump is cruel and inhumane. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Colbert destroys Trump's immigrant family separation policy

After saying he couldn't stop his own monstrous plan to separate immigrant children from their parents, conservative President Trump signed an executive order which attempts to stop it. Wow. Trump caused the problem and is now trying to take credit for stopping it. We need America's satirist Stephen Colbert, to help us deal with this. Here's his hilarious monologue from The Late Show. Enjoy.

Conservative Trump is a racist in keeping Latin American migrants out of the country

I've often said this about conservative Republican obsession over Latin American immigrants. If we were talking about Swedish people who are mostly white, conservatives like Trump wouldn't be raising such a ruckus. In Trump's case, he's separating Latin American children from their parents. This monstrous action is to deter Hispanics from coming to America.

As a reminder, Trump in January said he wanted more people from Norway which is white, than African nations. (Vox) Yes, conservative Trump preferred white over black. And now white over brown. So, if Norwegians were trying to immigrate to America, would Trump be upset? Considering that he wants Norwegians here, the answer is no.

My fellow Americans. You can save your country. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Conservative Trump's brazen lie over his immigrant family separation

Prior to his disastrous immigration policy to rip children away from migrant parents, conservative President Trump said that it was the Democrats fault for his inhumane actions. He said Congress and Democrats could change the law and his monstrous actions could not be stopped by executive action. (MSNBC Deadline at 2:50 below) By the way, at this time Democrats do not control the House or the Senate.

Well, after horrific pictures and audio leaked out, Trump signed an executive order trying to end family separation. Trump lied again. It proves he didn't have to use a zero tolerance policy that would separate children from parents. And by the way, there is nothing in the order about the over two thousand children separated. Sadly, there is no real plan to reunite the children with the parents. Yep, conservative Trump may have created orphans.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump talks like a Sith Lord

Conservative President Trump views immigration in black and white. In a meeting with congressional leaders, he said if you're weak then the country will be overrun with immigrants. Interpret that to mean brown people to Trump. He then said he wanted to be "strong." Interpretation. Trump wants to separate children from their parents and use them as a bargaining chips to get his bloody wall built. (CNN video at the 7:45 minute mark.)

Trump looks at the world in absolutes. He believes he is America. As Obi Wan Kenobi said, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." (Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith. (2005) video below) Conservative Republican Donald Trump is a Sith Lord.

Thank you Stephen Colbert for comedy during the dark days of Trump

Stephen Colbert is America's greatest satirist. Today, we have a government led by conservative President Trump that rips immigrant children away from their parents. Colbert does a funny monologue that helps America get through this.

Mika Brzezinski, "None of this is normal"

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski powerfully called out conservative President Trump's policy to remove immigrant children from their parents and placing them in internment camps. She said, "None of this is normal." At 7:33 minute mark in the video below.

Conservative Trump has no plan to reunite children with their arrested parents

The New Yorker is reporting that there are no plans to reunite children who have been separated from their parents due to conservative President Trump's no tolerance border policy. (The New Yorker) Innocent children are being harmed. It's a humanitarian disaster.

This fall, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A cinematic reply to DHS Secretary Nielsen's defense of separating children from parents

Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted out a whopper of a lie. She said that "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period." Congressman Ted Lieu pointed out that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller "gleefully" announced it and there's the fact that more than two thousand children have been separated from their parents at the border. (Huffington Post.)

Then yesterday, she addressed the White House press corp. Nielsen told more lies. For example, she states that separating children from their mothers is to stop the gang MS-13. Now, what two year old is a member of MS-13? She told more lies like blaming Congress for conservative President Trump's policy. In the below video, MSNBC's Mika Brzenzsinki destroys Nielsen's lies.

She's told lies for Trump before. Remember when Trump called African countries "shi#hole" nations? A term which was not immediately denied by Trump. And that Trump wanted more people to immigrate from Norway. At a Senate hearing, Nielsen protected Trump rather than America. She stated that she did not recall the term though people were using tough language. (Politico) Sen. Leahy (D-Vt) asked if she knew that Norway was predominately populated by white people, Nielsen replied, “I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case." Really? Ms. Nielsen, your name is Danish, which is a Nordic country and Norway is also a Nordic country. Either you are a badly educated idiot or lying for Trump.

DHS Secretary Nielsen, you are defending an inhumane policy that is causing children to suffer. We need a child to reply to your defense of this administration's cruel actions. Here's a line from a little girl in the movie Demolition Man. (1993) "Fu.k you lady."
(Video below)

Monday, June 18, 2018

De Niro was right as Trump separates children from parents, "F..k Trump."

First, let's get this straight. The government's action to forcibly remove immigrant children from their parents is a Trump policy. It is not a Democrat law. Blaming the Democrats is a lie. Vanity Fair. It's a plan to deter immigrants who are seeking asylum from coming to America and to force the Democrats to cave on funding for Trump's wall. So, President Trump is using children as hostages.

This policy to remove children from their parents is vile and deceitful. Former Republican First Lady Laura Bush called Trump's policy "cruel" and "immoral." (CNN) My response to Trump's cruelty comes from actor Robert De Niro who at this year's Tony Awards said this. "F..k Trump."  (Video below.)  Amen. Oh, by the way Trump cusses and publicly  used the "F" word so, we can use it too. (Time Magazine) And remember my fellow Americans. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New York brings justice to Trump

CNN is reporting that the state of New York is suing conservative Republican President Trump and his charitable Trump Foundation for violations of law that includes self-dealing. That means the Foundation used money not for charitable purposes but to benefit Trump.

We know that the Trump Foundation bought personal stuff for Trump in the past. There was the six foot painting of Trump. (The Hill.) The foundation also bought a Tim Tebow football helmet. (Chicago Tribune) The hypocrisy is that Trump often complained about the Clinton Foundation which is a legitimate charity while the most corrupt President in history has been self-dealing.

I've said this before. Trump will try to pardon his way out of his collusion with Russia. But the states can fight back. He cannot pardon his way out of state law violations. They can bring Trump to justice for the multiple violations of law he has done. Since some of the crimes occurred in New York, the location of Trump Tower, it's up to New York. In the words of Frank Sinatra, "It's up to you New York." (Video below.)

This fall, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Conan O' Brien brilliantly parodies Trump fake movie trailer

At the summit between conservative President Trump and dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, Trump showed him a fake movie trailer that depicts the questions of what direction Kim Jong Un would take regarding his nuclear weapons program. (Business Insider) It was cheesy to say the least. Yesterday, Conan O' Brien on TBS produced a parody version of that video. Only this version is if Kim Jong Un produced one for Trump.
Hilarious. Check it out below.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kim Jong Un beats Trump

Call the historic meeting between North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un and conservative President Trump, "The Art of the Con." This being Trump, the meeting and its buildup was all about him. He clearly wants the Nobel Peace Prize. Vox It was all a dog and pony show for Trump. Kim Jong Un knew how to play Trump's ego and he got what he wanted.

So, with the world watching, what did the Great Dealmaker get for America? The answer is virtually nothing. It was just a signed letter with platitudes about peace and a "commitment" by North Korea that it would work towards denuclearization. (Huffington Post) There was no timeline for North Korea to even begin the process. Yes, there was no date say for North Korea to disclose its nuclear weapons test sites, or an accounting for nuclear materials or weapons. North Korea has played this game for years. Promise not to have nuclear weapons while developing them. And there is nothing about agreeing to independent verification.

What did North Korea get? Kim Jong Un got what his father, and grandfather never got. He got a meeting with the most powerful man in the world and leader of the free world, the President of the United States. This instantly gave him credibility and respect. (See former Ambassador Wendy Sherman's comments below at the seven minute mark.) And it gets worse for America, Japan and South Korea. Trump is cancelling future joint military exercises with South Korea. Folks, these are designed to prevent accidents between forces in event of war. The United States, South Korea and Japan got nothing for that cancellation.

My fellow Americans, conservative Republican President Trump only cares about himself and the optics of his image. His actions endanger not just Americans but now the lives of South Koreans and the Japanese. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Robert De Niro drops "F' bomb on Trump

I was going to warn the audience of bad language in this post because there's going to be a video of actor Robert De Niro dropping the "F" bomb. But since conservative Republican President Trump has done it in public (Huffington Post), I say there's no problem. Sauce for the goose.

Well, yesterday Trump embarrassed America at the G7 by insulting our friends like Canada. (Reuters) So thank God for one of America's greatest actors, Robert De Niro. At last night's Tony Awards, De Niro wonderfully said what many decent Americans have been thinking. "F...k Trump." Amen. Call evil for what it is.

And my fellow Americans. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Stephen Colbert on Trump's claim that he can pardon himself

Conservative Republicans President Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have made some fascist claims. Giuliani indicated that Trump could shoot former FBI director and witness James Comey without legal repercussions. (Huffington Post) And Trump on Monday said he could pardon himself.

Un-American and frightening stuff. We need the country's satirist to comment on this. Here's Stephen Colbert from The Late Show. And remember, my fellow Americans. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.