Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story review

You know your franchise sequel has real problems when you put in a homage to the worst film of the series. Yet, Solo: A Star Wars Story must have had a good feeling about it. It has a shocking plot twist that gives a nod to the silly Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. (1999) Thankfully, this twist is not Jar Jar Binks.

Solo: A Star Wars Story begins on the planet Corellia. Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) are street hustlers and also lovers. Qi'ra is also the mother of dragons and has the ability to summon them to wreck havoc on.... um, sorry that's Clarke's Daenerys in The Game of Thrones.  Anyway,   Qi'ra gets captured while Han is able to escape. He decides to join the Empire Navy as a means to get back to her. Which doesn't make a lot of sense. I know he's being pressured to escape but couldn't he hop on a ship and have the freedom to later come back to save her? This is one of those contrivances in the movie that just makes you want to run your hand over your head like Yoda  and Kimbei Shimada in Seven Samurai. (1954)

Well, anyway Han finds himself fighting in the infantry trying to subdue a planet. He deserts.   There he runs into a gang of smugglers led by Tobias who's played by Woody Harrleson, a naive bartender from Indiana. Oops, that's Cheers. Also in the gang is the magnetic Thandie Newton (Westworld, Mission Imposible 2) who plays Val. Solo tries to blackmail the gang into letting him join them. They refuse and instead turn him over to Imperial troops. Solo escapes and Tobias orders their ship to pick him and his jail buddy, Chewbacca. (Joonas Suatamo) Why? I have no idea but it's just another contrivance. This time the plot thread is to get them together. Along the way, Solo will meat Kim Kardashian, I mean Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his ship The Millennium Falcon.

Alden Ehrenreich's casting is not as bad as Jake Lloyd or Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker but he's not right  for the role. Instead of lovable rogue, he's Christian Slater from Heathers. I will say his acting is a little better than Lloyd or Christensen. That's not saying much. Whereas, Donald Glover as Lando is marvelous. Glover has actor Billy Dee Williams's mannerisms who originally played Lando down pat. If there is a sequel, we need to see a bigger adventure with Han, Lando and Chewbacca.

Lawrence and Joanthan's Kasdan's script has too many contrivances. I  had to swallow the idea that Tobias would rescue a guy that just tried to blackmail before I could go along with the rest of the movie. Then there are the many fanboy references. Nothing new here.  There's a chase of the Falcon by Tie fighters ala Star Wars with the same music cues from that movie and The Empire Strikes Back, the Kessel run, a gigantic living creature in the vacuum of space ala Empire and of course that reference to Phantom Menace. The original thing in this film is the idea of droid and human sex. Yep, I'm talking about droid L-3 (Phoebe Walter Bridge) and Lando's relationship. Well, if we're going to have fishman and human sex in The Shape of Water, I guess somebody thought it might be funny if Luke Skywalker got it on with R2-D2. And by the way, she's not an attractive character in the movie. By that, I don't mean looks. L-3 does very little that endears you to her.

Ron Howard's direction is terrible. First, Howard is a wonderful film director. His movie A Brilliant Mind (2001) is a classic. But in this movie, the action set pieces are edited badly and not logical. There are way too many fast cuts. There's not enough tracking shots. The result is confusion. But the worse part of Howard's direction is the lighting of this film. Many scenes are shot in darkness. To make matters worse, Howard backlights many scenes. For example, on the big screen, you don't get a good look at crime boss Vos (Paul Bettany) I get the point that we're dealing with the criminal underground. Hence, all the shadow. But that's no excuse not adequately light the action or the actors. And so you know, I saw this movie at two different theaters. One with what looked like the theater left in the 3D filter and the second time at Regal Cinemas. At Regal Cinemas, the picture was the way Howard wanted you to see the movie. Kudos to Regal Cinemas. Anyway, Howard's outside scenes on a planet's beach were bright and well lit. But everything else was just a dark, confusing mess.

There are some redeemable things in Solo. One, this is a great idea for a Star Wars spinoff. The production values are fine. The money spent on the sets particularly The Millennium Falcon is on the screen. John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon) with the themes of John Williams has composed a lively and heroic score.

Great ideas, production values and soundtracks do not make great movies. They need a great script, direction and acting. Solo: A Star Wars Story is missing these. The grade is C Plus.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Deadpool 2 review

So it's Saturday and I turn to watch some impeachment news on MSNBC and what do I get? The Royal Wedding. Okay, the choice is watch a real life fairy tale romance about a prince and the beautiful bride or go see a comedy that makes jokes about mutilation. I chose to see cinematic body parts thrown at me. I went to see Deadpool 2.

Deadpool 2 begins with a series of mercenary assassinations by Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and his failure to complete one job leads to tragic consequences. A depressed Deadpool kills himself by bombing himself. Probably the funniest scene of a guy having his head and hand blown up from his body in cinematic history. You did know that Deadpool can heal himself? Well, if you didn't this movie would be over in the first ten minutes. And no, I'm not going to explain Marvel's X-Men and their mutant powers. Go download the first movie. Legally, of course.

Anyway, Colossus (Stefan Kopicic) picks up the pieces, i.e. Deadpool's body parts and takes him back to the X-Men academy. Yeah, this time Fox gave enough money to build the set for the school. Hey, as the joke goes, the first R rated Deadpool made more money than Jesus, the R rated The Passion of Christ. So, Fox better shell out the dough. After putting him back together, Colossus convinces Deadpool to become an X-Man.

Of course, you can see, making Deadpool an X-Man, is going to be a disaster. Deadpool is anything but a traditional superhero. Think the reverse of Captain America. This idea is like having a reality show, con-man, narcissist, and serial liar become President. How's that working, America? His first mission is to subdue a young mutant Firefist (Julian Dennison) Deadpool ends up killing an innocent man while convinced that Firefist has been abused. Both are sent to a mutant jail. Meanwhile, Cable (Josh Brolin) from the future has come back in time to kill Firefist. Deadpool forms a superhero team to protect Firefist.

The cast is excellent. The main characters are given their time in the spotlight. They have funny things to say and engage in some cool action scenes. Female characters are underused but this is a movie about Deadpool and the introduction of Cable. Get over it pc police. Ryan Reynolds who helped write the script is the perfect Deadpool with the ability to deftly deliver jokes as the loopy main character. Josh Brolin's Cable also turns in a fine performance. as the terminator from the future with plenty of motivation to fulfill his mission.

I do have one problem with the casting that goes all out political correct. I'm talking about having Afircan American actress Zazie Beetz as Domino. Let's be clear. In the comics she is white. And I mean really white. I'm saying chalk white with a black patch of skin over her eye. ( video on the history of Domino below.)

And it's not that Beetz had the greatest audition in the history of acting. The producers of Deadpool 2 were looking for a black or latin women to play Domino who is white. Hollywood Reporter. Now, think about the outrage if a fictional black character where cast with a white person. Say cast Star Wars' Lando Calrissian with a white man. People would be screaming. And it's not like Domino comes from an era where racism was the norm. She made her debut in 1992 not in the fifties. The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

And you conservative trolls don't say I'm coming to your position on race. I'm still a politically incorrect liberal. Diversity in cinema should be handled this way. If the part does not call for a white actor, then consider casting someone of color. Regardless, how is Beetz as Domino? Let's check her out in this trailer with colorful language that Trump uses.

She's sleek, sexy and I can't take my eyes off of her. Never mind about the casting of Zazie Beetz. Must see what movies Elizabeth Debicki is doing. (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2)

Back to the review. Writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and star Ryan Reynolds do something really interesting with this film There's a point where Deadpool says to the audience that the movie is a family flick. And he's right. Amazingly, Deadpool 2 is a family movie and a romance. The difference is that it's a family movie with chopped off limbs and R rated jokes. Some of those jokes are the usual Deadpool way of breaking the fourth wall. And there are references to cinema from Yentl to Robocop. Most of the time the jokes are hits. Having Reynolds work on the script worried me though after seeing him in R.I.P.D. (2013) Thankfully, the writers stick to the movie being a comedy.

I like Director David Leitch's (Atomic Blond) work. He has a refreshing take on action scenes by showing full bodies in motion rather than let the editor chop up the film with fast cutting. That being said, there's a little too much fast cutting here. I'm guessing that it would be too sickening to focus on limbs flying off and people getting their bones broke in compound fractures. Still Letich stages the jokes as well as he does an action scene. They work.

A quick thing about the songs in the movie. They also are eclectic. They run the gamut from Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 to Yentl's Papa Can You Hear Me? ! And the use of a-ha's ballad version of their Take on Me had me crying. It was so romantic. I'm serious. So Deadpool 2 is a chick flick? Nah, action junkies. This is a movie with cyborgs, explosions and big guns. One more thing about Take on Me. The up temp eighties technopop version is the definitive one. (Classic music video below.) And you drunk white guys in the bar. Quit trying to sing the high notes.

Deadpool 2 is one funny superhero movie. I want to see it again to catch all the jokes. Of course, stay for the credits. I laughed the hardest during the mid-credits scene. And Ryan Reynolds. I really want to see Green Lantern rebooted. The grade is A.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stephen Colbert: Trump explicitly sells out America to the Chinese

Conservative President Trump's corruption is so brazen that it is frightening. He's currently trying to help a Chinese telecommunications company called ZTE to recover from current American sanctions. And there could be multiple reasons for doing so. Get China's help with North Korea so Trump will look good. Nobel Peace Prize for the blonde fascist. Or its payback for China bankrolling an Indonesian theme park that has given Trump licensing fees. (My blog post.) We need America's satirist, Stephen Colbert to make us laugh. Check out his video from The Late Show.

Conservative Trump sells out America to China

On Sunday, Republican President Trump tweeted that he was working with China's president to find a way for the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE to "get back into business, fast." He bemoaned that "Too many jobs in China lost." The conservative Trump then ordered the Commerce Department "to get it done." Now if you didn't know, ZTE has been sanctioned for doing business with Iran and North Korea. Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio also noted that there are also concerns that ZTE made devices could be used to spy on Americans. Business Insider.

But why is Trump trying to make China great again? If you've watched his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump attacked China by stating that they had been economically raping America. Well, here it is. Only seventy hours before Trump's Tweet, China loaned MNC Lido City a whooping 500 million dollars to build a theme park in Indonesia. Here's the quid pro quo. The Trump Organization, controlled by Trump, has licensing fees for the park to use its name. That alone will earn 3.7 million dollars. Then Trump could earn more in management fees. Vanity Fair article. Bush Ethics Counsel Richard Painter also notes that Trump is in violation of The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which prohibits foreign payments to the President of the United States. Id.

My fellow Americans, it gets worse. This week China is making trade demands on the United States. The Washington Post notes some of them are outrageous. (See CNN video below.) Will conservative Republican Trump cave and sell out America for his personal interest? If you're concerned, remember this. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Don't believe Trump when he says he didn't profit from Cohen's schemes

Conservative President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen received millions of dollars of payment for his proximity to Trump. (Huffington Post. ) It is obvious that these companies believed that Cohen could lobby Trump. One of the companies was AT&T which is trying to buy Time Warner. That bid must be approved by Trump's Justice Department. And it was not. There's currently litigation to stop the acquisition.

Okay, so Trump tweets that he and the Justice Department is trying to stop the merger. (Tweet below.) He wants you to think that he's not in cahoots with Cohen because if he were, there would be evidence that AT&T would get more favorable treatment. By the way, Trump's handling of China's ZTE demonstrates Trump's corruption but I digress.

Don't believe Trump's alibi here. First, remember that Trump is a serial liar. (Washington Post; Trump has made 3001 false statements since being President.) Second, Trump has conned people in the past and this could be just another con. Remember, Trump University? Or how about the time he claimed to "screw" Libya's late and former leader Gaddafi? Trump claims he leased Gaddafi land for much more than what its worth and then didn't allow him to use it. (Huffington Post with Trump video. ) This could be more of a Trump con. Get money from AT&T then "screw" them by not giving them what they want. And Trump hates CNN. AT&T's purchase of Time Warner would include CNN since Time Warner is its parent company.

I'm not the only one that is suspicious of Trump. On the May 11, 2018, Morning Joe shoe, Joe Scarborough speculates that the conservative Trump might have gotten a piece of the action. (Morning Joe video below.) Check out the video at the 14 minute mark where Scarborough opines that Trump was likely to "wet his beak."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Trump's arrogance has killed people

You knew this would happen. There's a reason why past Republican and Democratic presidential administrations refrained from moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a provocative move would inflame Muslims who have a holy site in the city. It would lead to protest and likely deaths from those protests. At this moment because of conservative President Trump's thoughtless and rash action to move the embassy, there have been 43 deaths, coming from the Gaza Strip. CNN. I say to those who thought this would not happen, you have now been proven wrong. Additionally, neither conservative President Trump or Vice President Pence had the courage to attend the opening ceremonies.

And to my Jewish friends who think Trump is your friend. He's doing this to please his fundamentalist Christian supporters. You see they believe this will lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The conversion of Jews to Christianity. Wars in which people many of them Jewish will die. This group of conservative Republicans are not your friends. (Diana Butler Bass for CNN.) And to make matters worse, Trump got fundamentalist Christian preacher Robert Jeffress to deliver the prayer opening the embassy. According to conservative Republican Mitt Romney, Jeffress believes that Jews can't be saved and Mormons and Muslims are a heresy from the pit of hell.

Trump's arrogance and ignorance are a threat to people of America and the world. It reminds me of that line from The Hunt for Red October. (1990) In the movie, a junior Russian officer berates his captain for a rash decision that leads to negative consequences. "You arrogant ass. You've killed us." Warning. the clip from the film below contains spoilers.

Friday, May 11, 2018

More Trump-Russia collusion evidence

In light of recent events, it's now clear that unless House Republicans reopen the Russian investigation then they will betray America for allegiance to conservative President Donald Trump. In new documents released by Stormy Daniels' attorney, Micheal Avenatti, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received five hundred thousand dollars from Columbus Nova, a company that is an affiliate of the Renova Group. Renova Group is controlled by Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova is run by Vekselberg's cousin, Andrew Intrater. (Mother Jones) Additionally, Cohen received millions of dollars from other corporations in the span of a approximately one year and a half right after the 2016 election. (Slate)

Below is an excellent video piece from Hardball with Chris Matthews, It goes over the Russian links and there's an interview with Michael Avenatti. This fall, vote liberal Democratic if you want to live.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trump legal team admits it makes up facts

So I'm watching clips of conservative President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani interview on ABC's This Week. And he's asked about when Trump knew about the payment of $130,000.00 to adult film star Stormy Daniels and the differing stories when Trump knew. "Those are the facts that we're still working on." (Late Night, video below at the 8:00 minute mark.) What the ... ? They're working on the facts? The facts are the facts. They are not alternative and you don't make them up to fit a narrative because that's called a lie. Oy.

We need Seth Myers of Late Night to help us laugh at the lying Trump team. Check out his funny video below.

Guilty Pleasures: Battle: Los Angeles

The late, great film critic Roger Ebert bashed people who liked Battle: Los Angeles (2011) as idiots. And I usually complain about fast cutting and hand-held camera shots. But the point of the usage here is to show the fog of war. It gave the film a documentary feel as if you are there with a camera crew.

The fast cutting made the audience feel the confusion as our squad of soldiers take fire from everywhere. And there's a couple scenes of sacrifice that I challenge you to keep a dry eye. To the great Roger Ebert, I say maybe you fell asleep during the movie. Regardless, Roger I still admire your film criticism. Battle: Los Angeles is another of my guilty pleasures.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A new classic. SNL's Open on the Trump-Cohen-Daniels scandal

Too easy. Conservative President Trump has the nuttiest legal team and administration in history. Saturday Night Live has just produced one of its best skits. They cover the story that Trump attorney Michael Cohen may have had his phones tapped and his phone calls to wackiest presidential administration ever. Great guest stars from Alec Baldwin to Ben Stiller to Scalett Johansson to Martn Short to Jimmy Fallon to the historic Stormy Daniels. Hilarious and must see TV. The skit is below. As Trump would say, "Enjoy.'

Predicting Trump's next Tweet: He will attack former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Here's the difference between liberals and conservatives over scandals. Liberals believe that no one is above the law. Sexual harassment against women by Al Franken. Liberals force him to resign. Now allegations of sexual assault against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He just resigned the day the news broke. CNN. Yet, child molester Roy Moore refused to resign as Republican senatorial candidate. And of course, conservative President Donald Trump refused to resign over his sexual assault admission and allegations. And speaking of the fascist, I bet Trump will tweet about this tomorrow. He'll probably attack Schneiderman since New York is the hope that they will bring justice to Trump if he pardons his way out of Trump-Russia. You see Trump cannot pardon state crimes.  Update:  My prediction was wrong.

Here's my plea to New York. Next man or woman attorney general in. Save America from Trump. When Special Counsel Mueller announces upcoming indictments please be ready to announce your own indictments. The people are depending on you.

Stephen Colbert tells you how to make an easy one hundred thirty thousand dollars

So conservative President Trump has been denying that he had a sexual affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. So he paid her one hundred thirty thousand dollars to keep quiet a lie. What?!!! Of course, the next thing is for everybody in America to get an easy one hundred thirty thousand dollars. You got it. Stephen Colbert demonstrates this in the hilarious video below. Lie about an affair with Trump and ask his personal attorney Michael Cohen for the money. Check out the riotous video below. Colbert also covers Trump's new lawyer Rudy Giuliaai's disastrous week where he brings more legal scrutiny on Trump.

The Daily Show: Rudy Giuliani commits legal malpractice

Last week, President Trump's new lawyer Rudy Giuliani really messed up. First he demonstrated that Trump lied to America about knowing about the Stormy Daniels payment. Then the nest day on May 3, Giuliani told Fox News that the payment was made to keep the scandal from the electorate which if not reported is a campaign finance law violation. Here's Trevor Noah of the The Daily Show having a lot of fun with it. Great stuff.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stephen Colbert takes on White House Correspondents Association for their cowardice

The White House Correspondents Association is apologizing for comedian Michelle Wolf's comic monologue Saturday night. Really? A dinner that's supposed to celebrate the First Amendment and the WHCA is embarrassed for speech. We need Stephen Colbert to explain free speech to them. And by the way, I agree with Colbert. Hey WHCA, you had to know that Michelle Wolf is a political, vulgar and of course very funny comedian. Then why did you ask her to speak? Anyway check out Colbert below. Funny stuff.