Sunday, April 29, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War review

There are three questions you might be asking yourself about Avengers: Infinity War. One, should I have seen the prior fourteen or so movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Two, if I don't have to see all of those movies, which ones should I have see before going to watch Avengers: Infinity War at the theater. And should I see this film at the theater or wait for it to come out on cable or rent it.

Well, let me answer the first two questions right away. No, you don't have to see all the movies in Marvel Cinematic Universe. it's a lot but Infinity War does an okay job of exposition. That comes mostly from Gamora. (Zoe Saldana) Okay, which movies of the MCU should I see before Infinity War? Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). The Avengers (2012). Guardians of the Galaxy. (2014) And Thor: Ragnarok. (2017) Maybe this one will also answer the third question. You can take your time to watch the recommended list.

Avengers; Infinity War starts where Thor: Ragnarok left off. Thanos (Josh Brolin) has attacked Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) ship of Asgardian refugees. He's looking for an Infinity Stone. You see Infinity Stones are jewels of power. Each controls a physical attribute such as power or reality. There are six. The being who has all six can rule the Universe by obliterating beings at will. Thanos kills half of the Asgardians and takes the stone. But there are three left. Two of them are on earth where he sends his minions to retrieve them. Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who's in New York has the stone which controls time. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland)join Strange to stop them from getting it. Seeing that they need help, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) aka Hulk contacts Captain America. (Chris Evans) Okay, I'm going to stop here not because I'm afraid I might spoil the movie but for the fact that this movie has a lot of plot lines and superheroes. Let's just say the film centers around Thanos' desire to get all the stones.

Directors Joe Russo, Anthony Russo and writers Stephen MacFeely and Christopher Markus have created an epic film which mixes gigantic action set pieces, serious consequences, sacrifice and humor. For the most part, it all works. There are many memorable scenes. My favorite is Thor's landing on earth. That gives me goose bumps and is what I want to see in a superhero film. I found myself often rooting for the superheroes.

And let me say a quick thing about Thanos. I used to think that simple villains were not good drama. I mean villains are usually more complex than being just plain evil. Don't get me wrong, Thanos does have some depth but he's basically a power hungry bad guy. You see Thanos wants to restore order to the universe by destroying half of the life in it. Kind of his way to control the population. I used to think this kind of evil, power hungry bad guy was over the top because they didn't exist in America. Then came President Trump. He's a power hungry guy with a god complex like Thanos.

Avengers; Infinity War does have some big flaws. The Russo brothers have a love for hand held camera shots and fast cutting. I can't imagine seeing this movie in 3D because I got a small headache watching this movie in 2D. Fortunately, editors Jeffrey Ford, and Matthew Schmidt make some logical cuts. Because with all the plot threads and visual noise, this movie gets confusing. There's another problem with thie film. First let say here's a minor spoiler. Infinity War is like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One. (2010) There's going to be a sequel and this movie is not self contained. Unlike the Potter movie, Infinity War doesn't have in its title Part One. So you may not know there's going to be a part two. The film is more serial than episodic. At least with a movie like It (2017), you had a film that could stand on its own. Avengers: Infinity War does not. Finally, there's some questionable behavior from a couple of superheroes. I won't go into details but just ahem... say Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Dr. Strange have some explaining to do in the sequel.

So, it's time to answer the third question. Should you run out and see Avengers: Infinity War in the theater? Based on the fact that its part one of a series, the answer is no. Save you money and wait for this one to be broadcast on cable or rent it. The big action is too confusing to enjoy on the big screen. You're better off watching this movie on TV where you can see it multiple times to catch all the action. The grade is B.

Oops. I forgot. There is the usual Marvel end-credits scene. Stay for it as it will give you a hint about who's going to be the sequel. Plus it's kind of got a funny catch phrase.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Ready Player One review

If you've ever enjoyed playing a role playing video game (RPG),  then you probably know the feeling of getting lost in its virtual world.   Game like   Skyrim  and the online World of Warcraft create worlds that you want to live in. These virtual worlds feel better than the real one.  That's because the real world can suck.  The virtual world is one you can control and find happiness.  This theme of favoring a virtual world versus the real one has been covered in the documentary Life 2.0 (2010)  and now in the film directed by Stephen Spielberg called  Ready Player One.

It's 2045, and America is a overpopulated and dystopian mess.  People get away from their troubles by playing in a virtual reality world called The OASIS.   This internet network was created by James Halliday  (Mark Rylance) who's part Steve Jobs and a big lonely geek.  Rylance is simply extraordinary.  He transforms himself from characters in Dunkirk (2017) and  Bridge of Spies.  (2015) into the awkward,  and sad geek.

In this world is Wade Watts  (Tye Sheridan) , a young kid who escapes his existence of living in a slum of stacked trailer homes by playing in the OASIS.  Halliday had died years before but in his will he left a way for anyone to inherit the Oasis by planting an Easter Egg, which is a hidden message, or feature in a video game.    Halliday left clues which included some left in his love of late seventies and eighties pop culture.  Wade devotes his life to finding the Egg.  One of his competitors, is the sexy Art3mis  (Olivia Cooke) who Wade has a crush on.   Unfortunately, a corporation called Innovative  Online Industries  (IOI) which wants to take over  OASIS also wants to find it.

Based on the novel of the same name, writer Ernest Cline  along with Zak Penn stuff this film with a ton of eighties pop culture references.  Look  for Star Trek, Back to the Future   and Excalibur (1981) nods. This tale being about virtual worlds there are nods to video games and systems.  The eight bit console Atari 2600 is featured.  Alas, the infamous E.T. video game and classic movie E.T.  are not.   Spielberg decided not to feature any of his film woks  which differs from the book.

The screenplay and story resembles a cross between Life 2.0 and Willy Wonka and The Chocolate  Factory  (1971).  Cline who also writes screenplays decided to stick more to a cinematic telling of his story.   Sometimes it works and other times he doesn't do enough to explain what is going on.  I mean the characters are not only looking for the Easter Egg but three keys.  And how these keys work require a gamer's guide.  Still, the film works when real people are in the Oasis where they find adventure and romance. 

Spielberg constantly reinvents himself.  I could tell you what a Spielberg movie looked like in 1980.  Big close ups.   Over the top, dramatic shots.  And while Ready Player One does have some epic shots, there are other shots that are more intimate.  I also like the way the CGI is used to depict the virtual world.  It's more animation than realistic.  That'probably is to tell the audience the difference between the virtual one and the real world.   Yet, it's the film's virtual one that is the most interesting.  Like I said, it's an  opportunity for a person to forget his real troubles and find a better world.  And it's this virtual world where one finds friendship,  adventure and happiness.

When I watched Ready Player One . and how IOI wanted to take over  OASIS, it reminded me of the current situation where there is an end of net neutrality. Science fiction often mirrors the real world. Ready Player One is a rollicking and heartfelt adventure The grade is A.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stephen Colbert and Seth Myers take on Trump's insane ramblings on Fox and Friends

So yesterday, conservative Republican President Donald Trump threatened the Justice Department in a call in to Fox and Friends. As serious as this is, we need a laugh during these dark times. Here's Stephen Colbert's and Seth Myer's take on the crazy interview. And check out the looks on the faces of the hosts at Fox. It reminds me of the look of the officers after Commander Queeg testifies in the Caine Mutiny. (1954)

Stephen Colbert

Seth Myer's A Closer Look

Conservative President Trump threatens Justice Department

Yesterday, Republican President Trump was on Fox and Friends and he went crazy. Not only did he concede that Michael Cohen represented him on the payoff to adult star Stormy Daniels, but he threatened the Justice Department over the investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The fascist Trump said this or more accurately yelled this,

"You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it's a disgrace and our Justice Department which I try and stay away from but at some point I won't. "

MSNBC The 11th Hour at 3:00 minute mark.

Liberals, moderates and ethical conservatives, America is in trouble. This fall vote liberal Democrat if you want to live. Then demand impeachment.

Nancy Pelosi supports cowardice over the impeachment of fascist Trump

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is urging Democrats to drop the talk of impeaching Republican President Donald Trump who has sold out to the Russians.

“I don’t think we should be talking about impeachment. I’ve been very clear right from the start. On the political side I think it’s a gift to the Republicans.” The Hill.

Trump is the most corrupt President in our lifetime and perhaps of all time. There's evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian. See June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and the Trump campaign. With his attacks on the free press and the courts, Trump is doing major damage to American democracy.

Unless Pelosi changes to support liberals, it's time for progressives and the more conservative Democrats to join forces and keep her from being Speaker of the House if the Democrats retake the House. Remember, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stephen Colbert: Melania Trump's hat denies the fascist's kiss

Here's Stephen Colbert's hilarious commentary on Melania Trump's hat which got in the way of conservative President Trump's attempt to kiss her. She later denied the fascist in chief's attempt to hold her hand. You go girl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Trump Budget Director says give money to a congressman and gain better access to him

Conservative President Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp. He also said he wanted to bring in the best people. Well, yesterday former congressman and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney who's also heading the Consumer Protection Bureau told bankers if you want better access to a congressman, give him money. Drain the swamp is more like putting alligators into the swamp.

“If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” Huffington Post

And since Mulvaney can be bought what's this nonsense about Trump bringing in the best people? There's a long list of corrupt, incompetent people that are and were in the White House. Start with General Michael Flynn. Health and Human Services Tom Price. And now King Scott Pruitt er... EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. And I forgot. VA Director nominee Dr. Ron Jackson. He has no experience at administrating an large organization like the VA. To boot he's also coming under fire for creating bad work environments and over prescribing controlled substances.

Morning Joe discusses Mulvaney's preferences to paying lobbyists.

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions conservative Trump's claim to bring in the best people.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Trump walks into a legal trap

President Donald Trump can't keep his mouth shut. He tweeted that Stormy Daniels was lying about a man who threatened her. His tweet reads, "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!" Huffington Post. If I was Trump's lawyer I would tell him that he's got to stay out of litigation at this time because that leads to discovery and eventually to his deposition. You really don't want to be talking about having sex with an adult film actress. And you certainly don't want to be asked under oath why she was paid off since that can lead to a charge of campaign finance violations.

Of course, the conservative authoritarian can't help himself. So, now he's just tweeted his way into a defamation suit. Here comes the depositions. Trump is like Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons who keeps walking into rakes and hitting himself. (Video below.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sean Hannity used Fixer Michael Cohen

Now we know why Fox "News'" Sean Hannity was so vociferous in defending conservative President Donald Trump over the search of his lawyer Michael Cohen's residences. That's because Sean Hannity was also a client of Michael Cohen aka The Fixer aka Consigliere. Hey conservatives when you were watching Hannity, did you know your guy was not just defending Trump but his own interests? Maybe Hannity can do one of those charts linking all the crooks he sees with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to one of himself. He can link himself to Cohen to Trump. Here's Trevor Noah of The Daily Show having fun with it. And remember my friends, vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

SNL: De Niro and Stiller as Robert Muller and Michael Cohen

On the cold open of yesterday's Saturday Night Live, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller lampoon their movie Meet the Parents (2000) but as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. Hilarious stuff. Check out the video below.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Winds of Revolution

Conservative Republican President Trump has signaled to his crooked friends that he's ready to pardon them by pardoning Scooter Libby. He was convicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007 by a special counsel. The message is clear. If you're being prosecuted for any Trump corruption by special prosecutor Robert Mueller or the Justice Department, Trump has got your back. CNN. I predict that Trump will use the pardon to save his son Donald Jr. his son-in-law, Jared Kushner and probably his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. There's also a story that he's going to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who is overseeing Mueller.

The firing of Rosenstein which would clearly indicated that Trump is obstructing the investigation of the multiple scandals would be a triggering event for mass protests. Groups from the American Federation of Teachers to are gearing up for protests. Huffington Post. My fellow Americans, the time is soon upon us. The revolution is here and I'm talking about peaceful revolution. The goal for this year is to flip not just the House of Representatives but also the Senate. That will put checks on the fascist in the White House. The only game in town is to vote liberal Democrat. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

When Trump either fires Rosenstein, Mueller or pardons any of his cronies, here's what we must do.

1.) Contact your congressman and or Senator. And I mean the Republican one . Why? The Democrat will protect our country. But the conservative Republicans only care about power. However, they will respond to political pressure. if there are pardons, or if Rosenstein is fired, demand they pass laws to protect Mueller. Continue the investigation into Trump corruption. Impeach Trump.
2) Hit the streets, join the fight on the internet. There are groups listed in the Huffington Post article ready to fight.

And learn the song, "Do You Hear the People Sing?" I know the Trump campaign used this song two years ago. It's not their song. Trust me, it's about the Paris Uprising of 1832. It's the song of the people who yearn for justice, and freedom. It's the song of the poor and the working man. My fellow Americans, we will not be slaves to Russia.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Colbert on fire: Trump is unhinged again

Last night, Stephen Colbert on The Late Show delivered a riotous monologue on conservative President Trump's unhinged responses to his attorney's residences being searched and the Syrian gas attack. Enjoy the video below because these are dark days. We need a laugh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tomb Raider review

Yeah, you've heard this before, movies based on video games are usually bad. Will the new Tomb Raider loosely based on the 2013 action-adventure game of the same name fare any better? Well, I've played the 2013 game. So, I have a unique view of this movie.

Tomb Raider starts out by showing us that Lara Croft (Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander) is living the life of a pauper and shunning her earlier life of wealth as daughter of Richard Croft. (Dominic West) He's gone missing and the Croft business wants him declared dead so she can inherit the estate. When she eventually decides to agree to declare him dead, she discovers that he went missing searching for the mystery of Himiko, an ancient emperess of Japan. She finds out that he left Hong Kong for the island of Yamatai. Lara goes to Hong Kong and hires Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to take her to the island which is located in the south pacific in the Devil's Triangle.

This movie has a bunch of problems. The first is the script. There's no need for the story to waste time on the plot thread about Lara's life as a poor person. That takes about ten to fifteen minutes of them movie. It's a drag on the film from the beginning. Add to that the needless theft and chase scene in Hong Kong and the audience is going to struggle to stay with the movie when it gets better. That occurs when Lara finally gets to a tomb. And I don't appreciate the fact that she's uneducated. I would have preferred her as a young archaeologist. It would have made the movie more believable when she solves some of the tomb's puzzles. Then there are way too many dark scenes. Yeah, I get it. We're in a tomb but this is a movie. Light it better so the audience gets a better idea of what is going on.

I've stated above that I've played the 2013 game. The game is better. Why? Because playing Lara on the island of Yamatai allows you to explore. It's big, open and at times beautiful island filled with tombs, jungles, waterfalls, and mountains. I didn't get that from this movie which felt like a cheap action picture.

Tomb Raider follows the consistent trend that movies based on video games usually stink. It's not terrible but not good either. Wait for this movie to hit your cable service. No need to rent it. The grade is C Plus.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Conservative President Trump: I am America

Yesterday, Republican President Donald Trump ranted against the searches by the FBI of Michael Cohen. He's Trump's personal lawyer and aka as Trump's fixer. I would also note that Cohen is also Trump's consigliere or his Mafia adviser. In front of leaders of our military, Trump said such searches were "an attack against our country." New York Magazine. Since Cohen probably has the dirt on Trump, I surmise that Trump's worried. This comment seems that Trump is equating himself to America.

One thing I have to say to Trump. You are not America. This country is a nation of three hundred twenty million souls pursing happiness and living under the Constitution of the United States. Trump, you are the face of conservative Republicans. You are also a greedy, narcissistic, fascist.

Here's Rachel Maddow's piece on yesterday's searches. Note to you right-wing nuts. The searches were done by the New York section of the Justice Department. It was a referral from Special Counsel Mueller's office. He did not conduct it. And quick lesson in law here, my right-wing nut friends. Law enforcement may prosecute for illegal things they discover in the course of a lawful investigation. It's called the "plain view" doctrine. The video below details what the FBI did to get the warrant on a lawyer. It's extensive. And the attorney client privilege is not absolute. There's a crime-fraud exception.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The face of conservative Republican corruption: Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has wasted millions of tax dollars from staying at the wife of a lobbyist's condominium to spending for a 24 hour security detail to huge raises for his political staffers to staffer Samantha Dravis who did no work and got paid for three months to a government paid layover in Paris to lobbying Morocco to import liquid natural gas which has nothing to do with the Environmental Protection Agency. There's more but the sentence was getting ridiculously long. And yet, conservative President Trump supports him. ABC News. Yeah, you blond hair, orange skin fascist, that's drain the swamp.

Here's Rachel Maddow's great story detailing Pruitt's corruption. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.