“The Post”

“The Post”

Dir; Steven Spielberg.  Starring; Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  116 min.

The Post Movie Poster

Society desires to learn from the mistakes of the past.  History continues to be cyclical.  “The Post” tells the story of a group of Washington Post reporters breaking the news that political corruption has spanned several Presidents, coming to a head during the Nixon administration.  A story of evil that should have ended almost 60 years ago.  The screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer is even more important today than it was when these journalists originally broke the story.

Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, a full-fledged Journalist.  He is seasoned and understands the politics of reporting at a newspaper in Washington.  Meryl Streep plays Kay Graham, the owner of the prestigious Washington Post.  Graham has become a rich debutante, and is concerned more with her papers numbers than actual reporting.  After a long series of events, Bradlee has his hands on the famous Pentagon Papers, and a story that could help take down even the President himself.  Kay Graham has a choice to make.  Does she pander to the elites or does she publish a story that is true and honest?

Before the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter era, newspapers had the power to hire and fire politicians in America.  That cyclical nature of history I mentioned is what “The Post” taps into so well.  It reminds you that before “Net Neutrality”, people had to fight against the “Vietnam War”.

“The Post” is made by true professionals.  The screenplay is fantastic.  What the film lacks is edge, and that is what keeps it from being great instead of just really good.  We have a legendary roster of actors and filmmakers.  Spielberg, Hanks, Streep, cinematographer Janusz Kamiski, composer John Williams.  This is a movie full of brilliant people doing their best job of doing everything by the numbers.  There is no passion here.  Spielberg must have his characters make their speeches about how important this subject is instead of just letting the human beings tell the story, because that is what he does.

“The Post” takes some time to catch its footing, but the ending will have you rooting in the theater.  I would ask TRUMP supporters to see this film, and I’m guessing that is what Spielberg is going for.  This is not a classic by any means.  It is full of flaws, but this film tells an important story.  If I am a history teacher at a High School, “The Post” is an excellent choice to show American history in the 1960’s.  A history that is unfortunately being repeated.  One 16-year-old standing up against corruption makes this film worth making.  I tip my hat to Spielberg for knowing that concept rings true here.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Darkest Hour” Film Review

Darkest Hour Gary Oldman

“Darkest Hour”

Dir; Joe Wright.  Starring; Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  125 min.

Darkest Hour Movie Poster

Before Japan and America got involved, Hitler was clearly in control during WWII.  Countries in Europe were dropping like flies, and it appeared that Britain would be the next to fall.  The higher ups of the British Parliament were insisting on entering negotiations of surrender to a madman.  Winston Churchill was the only one who said “to hell with this”, igniting his country to fight back and help defeat Hitler.  “Darkest Hour” is the portrait of a brilliant man, complete with all his flaws and weaknesses.

Director Joe Wright focuses squarely on the rooms where powerful men decided how to shape a war instead of the act of war itself.  We begin with the current British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) being forced to step down from his post during the current threat of invasion.  A furious debate ensues, and Winston Churchill is eventually elected.  Like all politics, many in Parliament strongly oppose Churchill’s election.  He is swimming with sharks, but Churchill is ultimately focused on protecting his country and defeating Hitler.  King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn, fantastic as always) is struggling to figure out how to lead his nation.  An intimidating figure like Churchill scares him.  However, the King is not an idiot, and knows full well that Churchill is the man best suited to guide the British Empire during the greatest fight they have ever seen.

“Darkest Hour” presents Winston Churchill as a human being.  He is an angry alcoholic who constantly needs a cigar in his mouth to keep his mind clear.  His wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) hates his antics, but after 20+ years she is invested in the brilliance of the man she loves.  His typist Elizabeth (a shyly confident Lily James) provides Churchill with insight in between his insults and glasses of whiskey.  Gary Oldman gives the best performance of the year as he does not just embody his character, he is Winston Churchill.

By no means is this a great film.  You will see a minimum of fifteen speeches about how important this war is to the point where the screenplay gets old, and that is just in the first hour.  And I thought Spielberg was obsessed with telling the audience what to believe!  The film pounds you in the head instead of simply telling its story.  The Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is also lacking.  There are some fantastic long takes, but in closed quarters like Parliament or Churchill’s house, Delbonnel insists on using forceful lighting to make the audience look at what he wants us to without being stylistic about it.  “Darkest Hour” insists on telling the audience how important it is instead of simply being important in its own right.

Fortunately for us, a fantastic cast has been put in place here, led by the magnificent Gary Oldman.  You will forget about this films missteps very quickly.  “Darkest Hour” is a thrilling look at a historic moment in history.  Winston Churchill is a legendary figure, and receives the legendary performance he deserves from Gary Oldman.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Die Hard” Classic Movie Review

Die Hard John McClane

“Die Hard”

Dir; John McTiernan.  Starring; Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia.  1988.  R.  Color.  132 min.

Die Hard Movie Poster

At the time of it’s release, “Die Hard” was expected to be a failure.  Bruce Willis was a running joke after the awful TV series “Moonlighting”.  Fox Studios owner Rupert Murdoch insisted on giving Willis a five million dollar contract, money that was almost unheard of for an actor at the time.  American audiences had no reason to take this movie seriously.  How could this man be the lead in an action movie?  America was so wrong.  Bruce Willis says to all of us “Yippie-Ki-Aye Mother Fucker”,  and the rest is history.  “Die Hard” is the greatest pure action movie ever made.

Like all action farce before or since, “Die Hard” is a chess match between the hero and villain.  Before this film, chess matches were between a slick hero ala James Bond and a stereotypical bad guy bent on world domination.  John McClane is a burnt out alcoholic husband trying to save his marriage.  Hans Gruber, while he appears to care about issues in Russia, is strictly after a quick money grab.  They are the ultimate anti-hero and anti-villain.  This changed action movies.

Before Alan Rickman became famous for playing Professor Snape in the “Harry Potter” series, he was Hans Gruber.  Director John McTiernan saw Rickman in a stage performance of “Dangerous Liaisons” and instantly knew that he had found his villain.  Hans Gruber goes beyond the simple “Bond” villain archetype.  He is menacing, smart, diabolical, yet never lacks a sense of humor.  His plan is perfect, he just could not account for John McClane showing up.

John McClane is a washed up cop from New York.  His wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) has moved across the country to Los Angeles for a better job with the hope that their two children will grow up in a healthier environment.  John is desperate to save his marriage, and flies out to L.A. for Christmas.  After a long flight, John takes a limo to surprise Holly at her work, only to find that she is enjoying the company Christmas party without her estranged husband.  A bitter fight ensues, typical of any married couple on the verge of divorce.  Just when things cannot get any worse, Hans Gruber and his team invade Nakatomi tower and hold everyone hostage.  Everyone except our washed up cop.

Initially, everything is going as scripted for Hans.  His crew is ready for the inevitable arrival of the police and F.B.I.  This elaborate takeover is all a set up to buy time so that his main hacker can crack the vault and extract millions of dollars worth of Nakatomi stocks and assets.  It will make national news of course.  Before the police even realize what just happened, the bad guys will be “Sitting on an island making 20 Percent”.  Too bad they messed with the wrong guy.

McClane instantly goes into action after the first gunshots are heard.  He is in desperation mode, hoping to protect his wife first and foremost.  As the plot thickens, John realizes he must stop these terrorists from blowing up a building and killing hundreds of people in the process.

John instinctually calls the police at his first opportunity.  It’s Christmas Eve, so his 9-1-1 call seems like a joke.  A chubby police sergeant named Powell (Reginald VelJohnson from “Family Matters” fame) is knee deep in doughnuts when he receives the order from dispatch to go investigate Nakatomi Plaza.  Sgt. Powell enters the building, but of course Gruber already has men stationed as fake security guards to make everything seem normal.  Powell decides the call is a hoax, shaking his head as he gets back into his patrol car.  McClane can’t believe it, and as Powell is pulling out of the parking lot, he tosses a dead body of one of the terrorists 20 stories down directly onto his police car.  “Welcome to the Party Pal!”

The police, F.B.I., and local media swarm the building within a matter of minutes.  This is not quite how Hans expected everything to go down.

At no point does this film seem far-fetched or ridiculous.  Obviously it is an action movie.  Bad guys have an endless supply of bullets and explosives.  Yet, In the context of this genre, you will never question what is happening in front of your eyes.  Typical music cues or slow motion “look-how-cool-this-guy-is” tropes do not exist here.  Believe it or not, this movie actually cares about the story it is telling instead of telling you how slick it is.

Established Hollywood archetypes state that ultimately every hero is smarter than the villain.  John McClane is not smarter, wiser, or better than his adversary.  He is, however, a driven human being.  For the first time, the audience was asked to root for a regular guy as their hero.  McClane embodies what everyone hopes they would do when placed in such a situation, and that is the brilliance of this film.

Numerous famous lines and scenes have come from “Die Hard”.  You could say “Now I have a machine gun Ho, Ho, Ho” or “SHOOT THE GLASS!” or “It looks like the police have an RV” or the famous “Yippie-Ki-Aye Mother Fucker“.  People will instantly know what film you are referring to.  Fox wanted to make a big budget action picture.  They had no idea they were creating an iconic masterpiece.  Most classics don’t know that going in.

Several action series have tried to mimic this formula since its release in 1988.  The “Fast & Furious”, “Mission: Impossible”, and “John Wick” franchises come to mind.  None of these come close.  “Die Hard” gave every guy who wanted to see a “guy movie” the argument to his girlfriend of how those types of films can actually be great if done well.  The next time you are having a bad day, just think of John McClane.   Picking glass out of his feet, off of a 12 hour flight, desperate for a cigarette, all the while being hunted by Hans Gruber.  That is the hero we need and deserve.

Suck Factor: 0 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Bright” Film Review

"Bright" Will Smith

“Bright”

Dir; David Ayer.  Starring; Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace.  2017.  TV-MA.  Color.  117 min.

"Bright" Movie Poster

“Bright” is the jaw-dropping new fantasy action film from director David Ayer.  Jaw-dropping in the sense that it is so awful you will be incapable of closing your mouth as you are constantly screaming at your television due to the stupidity of what is happening before your eyes.  Characters are one-dimensional, action sequences are loud and obnoxious, and the script is racism 101 as presented by the unintelligent.  The director of “Suicide Squad” has out done himself in presenting us with an exercise in non-sensical moviemaking.

In an alternate reality, Orcs, Elves, Fairies, and various other mystical creatures have existed alongside humans for thousands of years.  In the modern day, Elves have become the rich elite and Orcs are the impoverished working class/gang members (white people versus minorities, in case Ayer doesn’t make the metaphor blatantly obvious enough).  Will Smith plays officer Daryl Ward, a South Central L.A. cop hardened by years of policing one of the most dangerous cities in America.  His new partner is Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton, the only actor actually trying in this mess), the first Orc police officer in history.  Ward hates his new partner, as humans hate Orcs in general.  Jakoby has dreamed his whole life of being a cop and, despite the blatant racism throughout the precinct, he is proud to wear that shield.

During a routine neighborhood stop, the two men encounter Tikka (Lucy Fry), a young Elf frightened and afraid.  She has stolen a magic wand from her sinister boss Leilah (A forgettable Noomi Rapace), who must get it back to bring about the apocalypse, or something like that.  Magic Wands are the ultimate weapon, but only a Bright can yield such power.  Don’t ask me why or what makes one a Bright, just go with it.  Corrupt cops, dangerous Mexican gangsters, and evil Elf ninjas quickly learn that the trio have a wand, and all will stop at nothing to get this powerful weapon for themselves.  Thus ensues an overlong chase sequence of random explosions and night club shootouts as Ward and Jakoby fight for their lives to protect the world from ultimate destruction.

Almost nothing in this film makes sense.  Bad guys walk into rooms and just start aimlessly shooting machine guns at the camera.  Cars flip about on a whim, constantly defying gravity and logic.  My favorite example of how dumb this movie is comes with the head of the Mexican gang, who is in a wheelchair.  He wants the wand so he can walk again.  Our heroes and the gangsters get into a multi-block car chase, shoot at each other as they run through countless clubs and apartments, before the gangsters finally have them cornered.  Out of nowhere, the head honcho literally rolls in to make his menacing speech.  The guy is in a damn wheelchair, how the hell did he keep up with all this chaos?!  And on top of that, as soon as his speech is done, three Elf ninjas show up out of nowhere and take out a legion of gangsters just in the nick of time so that the heroes can escape and the action can continue.  Keep in mind, this is just ONE example of the idiocy that exists here.

“Bright” is on the intelligence level of Sunday morning cartoons, such as a “My Little Pony”.  If this were made for four-year-olds, I would have no issue.  Instead, Ayer tries to infuse this story with the same gritty realism that made him famous with his far superior “End of Watch”.  Needless to say, that was a bad idea.  Corrupt cops, violent street gangs, and strip clubs mixed with magic wands and Orc racism is utterly laughable.

Will Smith has made some horrible movies throughout his career, always banking on the audience to care because he has that “Fresh Prince” charisma.  In “Bright”, the only time Smith seems to be trying comes during slow motion shots of him shooting a shotgun while looking cool.  Fun drinking game, every time Smith yells “Oh Shit!” take a drink.  That way you won’t be sober by the end of this film, and hopefully the alcohol helps you forget what just happened over the last two hours.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” Film Review

Star Wars The Last Jedi Kylo Ren

“Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi”

Dir; Rian Johnson.  Starring; Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hammill.  2017.  PG-13.  Color.  152 min.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Movie Poster

The most powerful film franchise in history returns with “The Last Jedi”, the eighth installment in the galactic Skywalker saga.  It was the second biggest opening ever behind only “The Force Awakens”.  In this new installment, the plot thickens as the first order gains power while our main hero Rey (Daisy Ridley) learns the ways of the force from the now old and wise Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill).  The space opera continues, but does it live up to the original classics?  Not even close.

I will keep this review spoiler free for the most part in case you are one of the five people who have yet to see it.  Instead, I will describe the positives and negatives in generalizations.

It is impossible not to get excited for a “Star Wars” movie, no matter how good or bad the previous installment is.  Now owned by Disney, this current trilogy has breathed new life into the franchise, and created a whole new generation of Star Wars fans.  My anticipation was sky high for this latest installment, even though I found “The Force Awakens” disappointing and vastly overrated.  “The Last Jedi” was a let down, but it was not a total failure.

The opening space battle between the resistance and the first order is fantastic.  It hits the audience like a freight train right away, and is pure “Star Wars” excellence.  The ending is unbelievable, and will have you cheering in the theater.  I will not reveal what happens, let’s just say what Luke Skywalker does is awesome, and a great piece of writing for a film like this.  In between those two moments, this movie kinda sucks.

Leia floating in space?  Luke drinking breast milk?  Emperor Snoke hanging out in a giant red room because that is what bad guys do?  These are just a few of the elements where you will scratch your head and wonder how actual adults with millions of dollars would think this was a good idea.  The original trilogy is all time great.  The prequel trilogy is all time awful.  This new trilogy is all time mediocre.  It has excellent moments, but lacks consistency.

The biggest problem here is the characters, or lack there of.  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the only interesting person in this new series.  The resistance fighters led by Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dammaron (Oscar Isaac) are boring heroes.  Rey is a solid main character, and centering this new trilogy around a female hero is great, but she certainly is not iconic.  The late Carrie Fisher as General Leia seems to be collecting a paycheck more than embodying the character she made famous.  The side characters are absolutely useless, in particular Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and DJ (Benico Del Toro).  All three are excellent actors in their own right.  In this film, it feels like they’re more excited to be in a “Star Wars” movie instead of delivering good individual performances.  Kylo Ren is the only one the audience cares about.  He’s complicated, driven, and a great bad guy.  This comes as no surprise as Adam Driver is the best actor this franchise has ever had.

In the original series, we received a plethora of interesting characters.  Princess Leia had spunk and fight in her.  Darth Vader was classic evil.  With the side characters, we got the awesome Lando Calrissian, the wise Yoda, the moody yet hairy Chewbacca,  the disgusting millionaire-esque Jabba the Hut (Donald Trump anyone?), and the ultimate role model Obi-Wan Kenobi.  What drove the original films was Han Solo.  In between the lightsaber battles and depressed Skywalker family tropes, Harrison Ford made the films fun without making them cheap.  We have none of that in this new trilogy.  After Kylo Ren, it is hard not to forget this new cast three days after walking out of the theater.

My second example comes with the head honcho villain, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis, doing his motion capture acting once again).  This will be the only spoiler I give in my review.  This guy has been touted as the new big evil, similar to Emperor Palpatine.  When we finally get a full scene with him, we find Snoke hanging out in a red room surrounded by red soldiers because you as an audience need a color to know that this guy is bad.  Then a fight breaks out, and Snoke is killed off.  What?  Why was this character introduced in the first place?  Completely useless.

The final example I would like to address is the Porgs.  With “The Return of the Jedi”, George Lucas was destroyed for introducing the Ewoks.  It was an obvious move to sell toys and cuddly pillows.  The Porgs are the same thing.  The difference?  In “The Return of the Jedi” the Ewoks, while admittedly silly, impact the plot of the movie.  These teddy bears help defeat the evil empire.  In this film, what do the Porgs actually do?  What is their purpose for existing other than to sell pillows?  “Star Wars” is about selling toys, I get it, but you have to give reasoning for these creatures to exist.

So now, after sitting through hours of nonsense, we come to the ending.  This is unbelievable popcorn entertainment filmmaking.  You will be on the edge of your seat.  It is one of the best sequences in recent years.  That is what defines this new trilogy.  We see unbelievably stupid stretches of filmmaking, then we get brilliance.

“Star Wars” is a giant in the world of film, deservedly so.  I am glad that a generation of kids have a new appreciation for the series, and I hope they revisit the originals.  “The Last Jedi” is not awful, but it is very disappointing.  I am not sure how it will all end with Episode IX, but I hope they return to the model of consistency the originals had.  It is better to be really good for two hours instead of being awful for an hour and a half then suddenly be amazing for fifteen minutes.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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DARK

jonas, cave, dark, netflix, still, screen grab, 2017

DARK

Dir; Baran bo Odar.  Starring: Oliver Masucci, Karoline Eichhorn, Louis Hoffman.  2017.  NR.  Color.  10 Ep.

photo of tv series dark poster, caves, trees, forrest

After the inevitable bingeing of Netflix‘s ’80s throwback, “Stranger Things,” fans will be craving a new series to fill the void and DARK is just the series to do that.  DARK is a combination of drama and sci-fi: the double crossing, the affairs, the murders, and – the time travel.  The title lends not a glimpse into what you’re about to see – and I don’t even know how to write this review without spoiling it for you.  My suggestion is to stop reading here, turn off the lights, close the curtains, and go watch all 10 episodes.  Do so blind: read nothing, skip the trailer, pass over the about section, and hit play.  Afterwards, take a moment to let it sink in.  Let your mind readjust, and then continue reading this review, as if you and I were having a conversation about what we just witnessed.

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

DARK plunges you into a world that takes away everything you thought you knew about time. It introduces you to the residents of Winden, a small German town, who are caught up in something much bigger than themselves.  There is an overarching storyline which gives you the sense that there is a bigger character than the actors you are watching on the screen, and that character is time.  Time is something we all have in common, something that crosses all cultures, and something we all want more of. To begin, and to set the tone, the opening scene is a suicide, in a dim attic office.  As a native English speaker, with very little knowledge of Germanic languages, reading the title cards and following the story made this show entirely captivating. The guttural tones of the language add to the sinking feeling that something terrible is going on in this town.

Right away we are swept into the life of Ulrich Nielson (Oliver Masucci), a cop with weak morals who is having an affair with the widow of the man who killed himself in the opening scene.  From here we are thrown into events that are beyond comprehension – first we learn a boy is missing, Erik Obendorf, and there are zero leads.  Next, a second boy goes missing, Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz), Ulrich’s son, while out in the woods with his siblings and Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann), who is the son of the widow and the man who hung himself. This is when everything becomes incredibly entangled with time and it is no longer about “where” these boys have gone missing to, but “when.”

If only that was the single mystery to be worked out, this might have been a simpler series.  However, it is not.  The town’s major source of employment, the nuclear power plant, is hiding something, and just when it feels as if we might have grasped what is transpiring, a dead boy is discovered in the woods- the place where Mikkel first disappeared- but nein, it is not Mikkel, nor is it Erik.  It is a third boy, with ghastly wounds disfiguring his face. The townsfolk are all thinking the same thing – this has happened before. The same strange occurrences are happening again, dead sheep, birds falling from the sky, neighborhood boys disappearing into thin air.  The first boy to go missing was in 1986 – Ulrich’s brother, Mads Nielson.  As a cop and a brother, Ulrich must relive the events of 1986 to try to piece together the disappearance of his own son. As he untangles the web he finds himself going back to the year 1953 to try to stop the man he believes is responsible.

Jonas, a worn-down young man struggling with the untimely death of his father, begins a journey of his own, into the discovery of his father’s true heritage and how he is entangled with Mikkel’s disappearance.  Not immediately clear, we learn through a series of time-travel related events, that Mikkel is in fact, Jonas’s father.  Jonas learns this from a letter Mikkel has left behind for him. Jonas travels back in time to 1986 through the cave-system inside Winden’s forrest, part of which is owned by the Nuclear Power Plant, and sees this for himself.  Jonas’s story is incredible, as you learn that he would not exist if it were not for the disappearance of Mikkel.  Mikkel is alive and well in 1986, where he meets Jonas’s mother, Hannah, the very widow having an affair with Ulrich, who we now know would be her true father-in-law.  Jonas becomes a mysterious figure himself, from the past and the future, as he takes on the disappearance of the boys and tries to set time back on track in Winden.

I’ve only skimmed the top of this deeply unsettling series – also entangled in Winden’s mysteries are the Tiedemanns and the Dopplers, two families with their own private issues and roots that go deep into the past of Winden.  As the series plays out, it feels as if we are being let in on a profound and well kept secret. The mysteries continue to pile up, bit by bit is revealed, but nothing is wrapped up in these quick 10 episodes.  The imagery is beautiful, though the subject matter is dark and weighty.  It’s as if you have been passed the torch, and you now possess the knowledge of Winden, while it’s residents still have yet to fully discover what it’s hiding deep within it’s caves. Each resident of this town has been touched by the secret, and they have yet to put it all together.  We are left at the end, with Jonas being welcomed to the future – he is no longer in 1986, nor 1953, and it is definitely not 2019. DARK is unforgettable and I am eagerly awaiting part two.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by The Girl

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” Classic Film Review

The Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader

“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”

Dir; Irvin Kershner.  Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher.  1980.  PG.  Color.  124 min.

The Empire Strikes Back Film Poster

My favorite story from behind the scenes of “The Empire Strikes Back” is that Mark Hamill was sitting in the theater for the premier screening of the film at the famous Hollywood Chinese Theater.  Darth Vader says the classic line “I am your father”.  Harrison Ford turned to Hamill and said “You didn’t tell me that was gonna f-ing happen!”.  Before the internet, before spoilers, “The Empire Strikes Back” was the original twist ending.  “Star Wars” was a sensation that everyone had to see.  The sequel made the series iconic.

The visual effects on “The Empire Strikes Back” are unparalleled.  George Lucas, after the surprising success of the first film, was given free reign to do whatever he wanted.  Lucas walked away from directing duties, and Irvin Kirshner made the best Star Wars film of all time.  Together, these two filmmakers employed models and old school film trickery to create excellent action pieces.  CGI is great, but seeing real life things battle each other looks so much more real.  It ages better.

The Hoth planet battle instantly kicks you in the ass.  The resistance has been forced to a snow planet.  Vader will stop at nothing to find Luke Skywalker.  He sends his army of mechanical soldiers to destroy the resistance.  Our main characters are plucky and fun as we expect.  Then, this battle happens.  The bad guys win, and Vader has to watch Han Solo fly away in the Millennium Falcon before his eyes.

Luke Skywalker escapes as well, and he goes to a swamp planet where he meets Yoda.  Quite possibly the best character in “Star Wars” lore.  Luke is young, and out of nowhere he finds his greatest teacher.  Yoda forces our main character to face his biggest fear, becoming his father.  The “Star Wars” films are simple kids stuff.  “Empire Strikes Back” made the series adult.

There’s Lando Calrissian and his “Sky City”.  He was a friend of Han Solo, and betrayed the man in order for his city, and his money, to be protected from the Empire.  All Darth Vader asks for is to lure Luke to an inevitable end of becoming evil.  Why?  Because the dark side is better.  Luke leaves his training from Yoda in hopes of protecting his friends.  This is the wrong decision, but it is the best thing he can do at the time.  An iconic lightsaber battle ensues.  Vader makes Luke chase him around the inner workings of the city, and Luke must find a way to stay strong and not succumb to the dark side. Good vs. Evil, and evil is so much easier.

The surprise from “The Empire Strikes Back” will never be achieved again.  Audiences today have no idea what its like to stand in line at your local theater with no idea of what to expect.  The “Star Wars” series is not going anywhere.  The series is a juggernaut of cinematic enjoyment.  It started with “A New Hope”.  It became iconic with “The Empire Strikes Back”.  Not just a great geek movie, one of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever made.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“The Disaster Artist” Film Review

The Disaster Artist James Franco

“The Disaster Artist”

Dir; James Franco.  Starring; James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen.  2017.  R.  Color.  104 min.

The Disaster Artist James Franco

As the title suggests, James Franco has created a movie that looks at a disaster with compassion, hilarity, insight, and honesty.  This is the true story of a mad man who dreams of being a Hollywood movie star.  It speaks to the core of every person who dreams of fame and stardom.  Is a project you put your heart and soul into ever a failure?  “The Disaster Artists” boldly says NO!

Tommy Wiseau is a fascinating human being.  In 2003 he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in “The Room”, a film that has become notorious for being one of the worst movies of all time.  Made for six million dollars out of Wiseau’s own pocket, it grossed $1,800 its opening weekend.  The movie was a “disaster”.  Over the years, it has become one of the most celebrated midnight movies in America.  It is a charmingly awful cult classic, similar to “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “Manos: The Hands of Fate”.  Where did Wiseau get the money for the film?  What country is Wiseau actually from?  How old is this guy?  Who knows, and he certainly will never give us the answers.

James Franco plays Wiseau, in the best performance of his career.  He is neurotic, egotistical, and borderline insane.  During a theater acting class, a shy dreamy-eyed actor named Greg Sistero (an excellent Dave Franco), watches Tommy give a ridiculous re-enactment of the “STELLLAAA!” scene from the famous Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  Wiseau’s acting is ridiculous, but Greg is awe-struck by the man’s boldness on stage.  Greg approaches Tommy, and an unlikely friendship is born.

Tommy has a strange accent, claims he is only 22 years old, and insists he was born in New Orleans.  He is clearly a liar, but his charisma is infectious.  Desperate to break into acting, Greg agrees to move with Tommy to Hollywood.  The two men make a pinky-promise, at the grave site of James Dean, that they will make it big.  After months, both are being worn down by the process of trying to break into the Hollywood acting scene.  The lies Tommy tells are becoming more evident every day for Greg.  Then, one day, Greg suggests that Tommy should just make his own movie.  A spark goes off in his head, and Tommy begins writing his “Opus”.

Production finally begins on “The Room”.  It is a trainwreck.  Tommy quickly becomes a dictator director.  The crew whispers every day about how awful this movie is going to be.  The only person who believes in the project is Greg, Tommy’s only true friend.  Little did everyone know “The Room” would become so bad that, in a strange way, it was actually great.

Praise for this excellent satire belongs first and foremost to James Franco.  Just like Wiseau, he is the films writer/director/producer/star.  Acting wise, Franco is unrecognizable in this role.  An Oscar nomination should be in his future.  He gives everything to this character, and makes a seemingly awful person sympathetic and human.  It is clear watching this film that “The Room”, and Wiseau himself, have a special place in Franco‘s heart.

“The Room” is so bad that one should not care about how it was made.  James Franco does care, and he has made a fantastic movie about an unknown story.  It is a beautifully hilarious reflection on what most would consider a failure.  For all the dreamers out there, “The Disaster Artist” is the movie for you.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

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“Lady Bird” Film Review

“Lady Bird”

Dir; Greta Gerwig.  Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Laurie Metcalf.  2017.  R.  Color.  94 min.

Lady Bird Film Poster

“Lady Bird” is the story of a girl trying to navigate her way through adolescences. Adults always say that this period in life is not important. In reality, high school is the bridge between childhood and being a grownup. This is one of the most important times for all of us. “Lady Bird” is a simple movie. It is insightful, funny, depressing, and inspiring all at once. Just like high school.

Saoirse Ronan plays our titular character, Christine.  She has decided, based on her own merits, to go by Lady Bird. She is entering her senior year at a catholic school in Sacramento. In Lady Bird’s head, her parents come from two different planets. Her mother Marion (an excellent Laurie Metcalf), judges every move she makes. Her father (Tracy Letts, in full contemplative form), just wants the best for Lady Bird. She idolizes her father, and despises her mother. In reality, they both love her in different ways. Just don’t tell Lady Bird that.

Lady Bird meets her first boyfriend in a school play, and he might be gay. The second boy she loves is in a band, and cares little for anything other than himself. Lady Bird tries so hard, but she cannot catch a break when it comes to romance.

At its core, “Lady Bird” is the story of a mother and daughter. A mother who is so afraid to let her little girl go. A daughter who so desperately wants to have her own identity. There is something very genuine to life about this story.

The script is pitch perfect, as it encapsulates teenage life. Our characters say the wrong things constantly. Mother and daughter argue over a dress. Girl and boy have an awkward moment after sex. Best friends love and hate each other. It is not fine tuned like “adult” movies, which only adds to its brilliance. It lives in a world of adolescent behavior, making it more “adult” than so many lesser movies.

Director Greta Gerwig has made a movie based on her life. She avoids being pretentious, and enters the realm of honesty. This film has set a record on “Rotten Tomatoes” for its perfect score. Critics are gushing over it. It is not a classic, but it is really good. Damn good. The high school boys have their “Avengers” or “Transformers”. Guess what guys, “Lady Bird” is smart, and better than those films.

Suck Factor: out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)

Written by Byrd

*The Suck Factor! – How it Works

I’ve flipped the switch on the standard rating system for film criticism. Instead of rating a movie with stars or letters representing how good a film is, I rank films from 0 to 7 to tell you how much a movie SUCKS! So if the film is a masterpiece, like “The Godfather” for example, then it gets a 0 on my scale, meaning the movie gives 0 SUCKS! If the movie is absolutely terrible, for instance every Michael Bay film, it scores a 7 so you know to avoid it at all costs.

For all other movie review requests, feel free to comment here, or send us a message! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you’ll never miss a review!

Follow on Bloglovin
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Concours du Soleil – Albuquerque’s Favorite Car Show

Concours du Soleil Car Show

Concours du Soleil 2017 Automobile Expo

Admittedly, I have never been what you would considered a “car guy”.  A love for automobiles is often passed down through family and close friends, a passion that was not passed down to me.  However, I have always had a great appreciation for artistic beauty, finely tuned design, and excellent craftsmanship.  The wonderful vehicles on display at the 2017 Concours du Soleil embodied all three of these characteristics and more.  If you have little interest in fine art for example, I would challenge you to visit the historic Georgia O’Keefe museum in downtown Santa Fe, and would expect that you would walk out with a great deal of respect for her work.  That is how I felt as I left the Concours du Soleil.  It is a wonderful car show for seasoned enthusiasts as well as fresh newbies like myself.  A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with family and friends.

1932 Buick Model 97 4-Door Sedan

Back in 1997, Concours du Soleil began as a small, informal get together of the New Mexico Viper Club.  Held at a local resident’s house, it was little more than a group of car lovers joining each other for an afternoon of engine revving and test drives.  Very quickly, this humble gathering grew in notoriety, attracting a larger audience every year.  In 2005, organized with the support of the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation, the first official Concours du Soleil was held at a beautiful location in Los Ranchos.  It was a two day event with a Saturday evening Gala, followed by the public show the following afternoon.  All proceeds went towards various charities promoting growth in the local economy.  The event is still held at the same location to this day.

1953 Crestline Convertible

The 2017 show featured a plethora of exquisite vehicles; an American classic, the 1957 Ford Thunderbird, the exotic 2015 Ferrari 458 Spider, and an eye-catching one-of-a-kind 1965 Lotus Elan Convertible.  These are just of a few of the cars I had a tough time walking away from.  Classics like these are to be expected at a show such as this, but one thing particularly enticing at this years Concours du Soleil were the brand new hybrid and electric vehicles on display.  Once the butt of many jokes, notably the Toyota Prius, these eco-friendly vehicles prove that helping the environment does not mean sacrificing style.  One vehicle in particular seemed to attract the largest crowd of the show, a 2016 Tesla Model X, owned by show supporter Kevin Cooper.  Completely electric, the Model X somehow goes from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds.  Without a doubt the greenest car of the show, and to my surprise also one of the fastest!

2016 Tesla Model X
2016 Tesla Model X

In what was perhaps the most talked about exhibit at the show, the City of Albuquerque Transit Department unveiled one of its brand new A.R.T. buses.  Short for Albuquerque Rapid Transit, the A.R.T. bus is completely electric, and one member of a fleet of 20 the city purchased for the hefty price of $22.9 million.  The A.R.T. project, a three year long construction endeavor along miles of Central Avenue, has been highly controversial here in Albuquerque.  Residents near the area have been greatly inconvenienced by an endlessly changing slew of construction cones and torn up roads.  Local businesses in the surrounding area, particularly the Nob Hill district, have seen serious declines in business during construction.  However, the city encourages those opposed to the project to have patience, as they assure them that upon completion the project will bring new life and increased business to Albuquerque’s famed Route 66.  No matter what side you’re on, seeing the bus first hand was informative.  Another excellent aspect of the Concours du Soleil.

     2017 A.R.T. Bus

Since its inception, Concours du Soleil has always been an event for the better of the local community.  Proceeds have gone to various local non-profit organizations throughout the years, with over $750K awarded in the last 10 years alone.  Visit their website at www.SEEHOTCARS.com for more details, as well as information on how to get involved in supporting the local economy.  To all the car enthusiasts, start polishing up your prized automobile now.  2018’s show is sure to be even better, and only the finest of vehicles will do.  I can’t wait to see what the show has in store for us next year.

Written by Byrd

Photos by The Girl

Feel free to comment here or send us a message to tell us what inspires your adventures! & Don’t forget to sign up for updates in the sidebar to the right so you never miss a post.

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