Ad Astra is a science fiction adventure produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. The Movie follows an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System. The trailers for Ad Astra indicated the film as a possible Oscar contender, which piqued my interest so I went to see the movie. I do not agree that Ad Astra is Oscar-worthy.
In the near future, Earth’s solar system is being struck by a series of mysterious power surges, threatening human life. After surviving an incident caused by a surge, Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), son of famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), is informed by U.S. Space Command (SpaceCom) that the surges have been traced to the “Lima Project” – created to search the farthest Solar System for intelligent life, under Clifford’s leadership – from whom nothing has been heard for sixteen years after reaching Neptune. Informed that Clifford may still be alive, Roy accepts a mission to travel to Mars to try to establish communication with him, joined by his father’s old associate Colonel Pruitt (Donald Sutherland).
**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****
Once on the moon, Roy transfers to the ship, Cepheus, that takes him to Mars. The ship receives a distress signal from a Norwegian biomedical research space station that seems abandoned, but a baboon test subject escaped, killing the captain of the Cepheus before being neutralized by Roy. Another baboon attacks, but Roy locks it in a module and depressurizes the chamber, killing it instantly. The Cepheus lands on Mars as a surge hits, forcing manual intervention. The interim captain is too afraid to fly, leaving Roy to land the ship. Upon landing, Roy is taken to the underground SpaceCom base where he meets facility director Helen Lantos (Ruth Negga) and is tasked with recording voice messages to send to the Lima Project, in hopes Clifford will respond. During a recording, Roy goes off-script with an emotional appeal to his father and is abruptly taken off the mission, presuming a response has been heard and his personal connection poses a risk to himself and the mission’s success.
Kept in a “comfort room”, awaiting expedition back to Earth, Roy is visited by Helen, who reveals she was born on Mars and the daughter of Lima Project crew-members. She shows Roy classified footage revealing that Clifford’s crew mutinied by trying to return to Earth, leading him to turn off their life-support systems and that her parents were among the crew killed. She tells Roy that the crew that brought him to Mars are leaving to destroy the Lima Project base with a nuclear payload. The two decide that Roy should confront Clifford himself, and Helen sneaks Roy to an underground lake beneath the rocket launch site. From this point, Ad Astra gets somewhat interesting. I’m stopping here as not to spoil any more of the movie.
Ad Astra made me feel tired and a little bored. It is as though the movie was filmed in slow motion. The trailer wasn’t very clear about the film’s plot but deemed Ad Astra as one of this year’s best. While I love Brad Pitt, I didn’t love Ad Astra. It was too slow and too stretched out. The movie showed an old concept from a different perspective. Son follows in dad’s footsteps with a huge twist. There’s no relationship between them, plus a 16-year gap as dad was presumed dead after being trapped on Neptune during a failed mission. New evidence indicated life combined with a mental challenge, dad lives. Interesting but not a lot of substance causing technical fill-ins that make great special effects but little interest or excitement. Well done but boring with a predictable outcome. Considered a box office underperformer, Ad Astra has only grossed $111M to date. Skip this one or see it on DVD/Blu-ray. If Brad holds that special place in your heart and you just have to see Ad Astra, do Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged Adjutant General Amelia Vogel, Bobby Nish, brad pitt, Captain Lawrence Tanner, Chip Garnes, Colonel Pruitt, Donald Stanford, donald sutherland, Donnie Keshawarz, Eve McBride, Franklin Yoshida, General Rivas, General Stroud, Greg Bryk, H. Clifford McBride, Helen Lantos, Jamie Kennedy, John Finn, john ortiz, kimberly elise, LisaGay Hamilton, Liv Tyler, loren dean, Lorraine Deavers, Major Roy McBride, Natasha Lyonne, Peter Bello, ruth negga, Tanya Pincus, tommy lee jones
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a comedy-drama written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Heyday Films, and Visiona Romantica and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, it is an international co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie — I am neutral as to the quality of the movie but I feel it is worth seeing.
**** SOME SPOILERS ****
In February 1969, Los Angeles actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), star of 1950’s Western television series, Bounty Law is now a struggling has-been. Realizing he is no longer the young budding star he was in the 50s, Rick shares this revolution with his best friend and former stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), that his career is over. Cliff, a war veteran, lives in a trailer behind a drive-in movie with his pit bull, Brandy. He drives Rick (whose license is suspended) around town and relies on him for work because there have been rumors circulating that Cliff got away with killing his wife.
Meanwhile, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband director Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) have moved next door to Rick’s house, causing him to have dreams of befriending the couple in order to restore his failing status. Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) stops by Polanski and Tate’s house looking for record producer, Terry Melcher, who used to live there but is turned away by Tate’s ex-boyfriend, Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch). Cliff later picks up a young hitchhiker he’d seen around town, named Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) while driving Rick’s car. He drops her off at the Spahn Movie Ranch, where Cliff shot Bounty Law. She tries to persuade him to stay, but he is suspicious of the large number of hippies squatting on the property. Worried that owner George Spahn (Bruce Dern) is being taken advantage of, Cliff insists checking on Spahn despite Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s (Dakota Fanning) objections; Spahn dismisses Cliff’s fears. Returning to his car, Cliff discovers that Steve Grogan (James Landry Hébert) has slashed his front tire; Cliff brutally beats Grogan and forces him to change the tire. Manson girl, Sundance (Cassidy Hice) goes to fetch Charles “Tex “Watson (Austin Butler) but Cliff is driving away by the time Watson arrives. Meanwhile, Rick lands the role of a villain in a new series called Lancer. He strikes up a conversation with his young co-star Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters), a method actress. During one of his scenes, Rick struggles with his lines due to his alcoholism and later has an emotional breakdown in his trailer. He returns and gives a powerful performance that impresses the director and Trudi, bolstering Rick’s confidence. After watching Rick’s performance as a guest star on an episode of The F.B.I., director Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) offers Rick the opportunity to shoot a Spaghetti Western in Rome.
I really didn’t dislike Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, I thought it was a bit slow at times and downright boring at times. I wasn’t sure where this movie was trying to take me or what the moral of the story was until the end. Tarantino rewrote a story everyone knew and made it the way he wished it had ended. This twist was a big surprise that made the movie worth seeing. The acting was absolutely brilliant. FYI: This was the last film to feature (Luke Perry who played Wayne Maunder) and died in March of 2019. This also became the first Tarantino film not to be associated with producer Harvey Weinstein, after Tarantino cut ties following sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein in October. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that critics had “an overall positive view” of the film, who called the film “Tarantino’s love letter to ’60s L.A.” and praised its casting choices and setting, though some were “divided on its ending.” Bounty Law is based on Wanted Dead or Alive (1958–1961). Rick Dalton’s relationship with Cliff Booth is based on that of actor Burt Reynolds and his longtime stunt double Hal Needham. Once Upon A Time… isn’t for everyone however, I highly recommend it to those who like a good fantasy ending. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged "Butterfly", "Delilah", "Froggie", "Pebbles", "Pussycat", Abigail Folger, Al Pacino, angel, Austin Butler, “Tadpole”, Bill "Sweet William Tumbleweed" Fritsch, Billie Booth, Bobby "Top Hat" Beausoleil, Bounty Law, brad pitt, brenda vaccaro, bruce dern, bruce lee, Cassidy Vick Hice, Catherine "Capistrano" Gillies, Catherine "Gypsy" Share, Charles "Tex" Watson, Charles Manson, Cliff Booth, connie, Costa Ronin, dakota fanning, Dallas Jay Hunter, Damian Lewis, Damon Herriman, Danielle Harris, Dianne "Snake" Lake, donnie, Dyani Del Castillo, Ella Jo "Sundance" Bailey, Emile Hirsch, Francesca Capucci, George Spahn, Harley Quinn Smith, James Landry Hébert, James Stacy, Janet, Jay Sebring, Joanna Pettet, Josephine Valentina Clark, Julia Butters, Kansas Bowling, kurt russell, Lena Dunham, leonardo dicaprio, Leslie "Lulu" Van Houten, Linda "Flower Child" Kasabian, Lorenza Izzo, Luke Perry, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Madisen Beaty, Mama Cass, Margaret Qualley, margot robbie, Marvin Schwarz, Mary Alice Schwarz, Maya Hawke, Michelle Phillips, Mike Moh, Mikey Madison, Monica Staggs, Nicholas Hammond, Omar Doom, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parker Love Bowling, Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel, quentin tarantino, Rachel Redleaf, Rafał Zawierucha, Randy, Rebecca Gayheart, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Rick Dalton, Roman Polanski, Ronnie Zappa, Ruby Rose Skotchdopole, Rumer Willis, Sam Wanamaker, Samantha Robinson, Sandra "Blue" Good, Sharon Tate, Steve "Clem" Grogan, steve mcqueen, Susan "Sadie" Atkins, Sydney Sweeney, Timothy Olyphant, Tom Hartig, Trudi Fraser, Victoria Pedretti, Wayne Maunder, Wojciech Frykowski, Zoë Bell
Allied is a romantic thriller that takes place in 1942 during World War II. It is brilliantly directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight. Allied is among the best movies I’ve seen this year. Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) travels to Casablanca in French Morocco to assassinate the German ambassador. He is partnered with a French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), who escaped from France after her resistance group was compromised and killed. They pose as husband and wife in order to complete their assignment. While readying themselves, they begin to grow close despite knowing “feelings will get you killed”. They end up successfully assassinating the ambassador along with many other Germans officers and guest. Max proposes to Marianne, asking her to come to London with him as his wife. She quickly agrees joining him a few weeks later. A year later, Marianne gives birth to their daughter, Anna in the middle of an air raid. The couple are very much in love but trouble is on the way. Just when things are going so well, Max’s boss, Frank Heslopcalls (Jared Harris) calls him in to give him what Max thought was a promotion but was in fact baffling and unexpected news about his wife, which he chooses not to believe. From this point on, the movie goes into “prove them wrong” mode. The suspense will keep you guessing right up to the surprise ending.
I really enjoyed Allied so I highly recommend it to the masses. Brad Pitt looked better than ever. Marion and Brad made a beautiful couple and were quite believable as undercover opts, she more than he. I wouldn’t be surprised if Allied gets an Oscar nod, despite the mixed reviews the film received.
The Big Short is a brilliant piece of film work. To keep excitement, interest and focus on financials from so many different perspectives for 128 minutes in not easy. The Big Short played like a well oiled machine. Each player was like a detective unraveling a case and there were many players. In 2005, Michael Burry (Christian Bale) noticed the US housing market was very unstable because of subprime loans based on high risk, providing very few returns. He predicted that the market would collapse around the second quarter of 2007 but he also realized he could profit from the situation by creating a credit default swap market that would allow him to bet against the housing market. He went to several banks and successfully sold his idea. However, his clients felt he was wasting their money and demanded that he cease all activities plus return their money but Burry refused. As tempers heated, Burry placed a moratorium on withdrawals, which made his investors even more angry. The market did indeed collapse as Burry predicted and he produced 489% profits from his plan.
Trader, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) hears of Burry’s actions so he decides to put his own plan into something call the credit default swap market. In turn Hedge Fund Manager, Mark Baum (Steve Carell) joins Vennett. Together they discover the collapse is being further perpetuated by the sale of CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) that are pretty much worth nothing but dishonestly AAA rated. After attending the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas, Mark finds synthetic CDOs have now entered into the market, which will render the market completely helpless at the banks’ expense, so he decides to go through with the credit default swaps to make a bundle for himself while the economy goes belly up.
Two young investors, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) discover a paper by Vennett that leads them to become involved with the credit default swaps. Because they fall short of an ISDA, they had to turn to a friend and retired banker, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) to help them pull off all they would need to be successful in this endeavor. Together they attended the mortgage securities forum in Las Vegas and made lots of deals. The two were never happier to make deals that would result in making them super rich but bring the economy to its knees at the same time. Rickert wasn’t happy but didn’t pull out either. Brad Pitt’s performance was phenomenal.
The Big Short is a fast moving film that really says it all when it came to the endless financial corruption that ran rampart during the end of the Bush Administration. I don’t feel anyone paid enough for all the crime that happened. So many innocent people lost everything and some even lost their lives. The Big Short really told it like it was. The acting was fantastic. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind getting upset at how easily these guys manipulated the US economy.
[THE BIG SHORT is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged ben rickert, brad pitt, CDOs, charlie geller, christian bale, finn wittrock, isda, jamie shipley, jared vennett, john magaro, mark baum, michael burry, ryan gosling, steve carell, the big short
When I rate a movie 10 or close to a ten, it means I found nothing wrong with the movie. The acting, the plot, the ending, special effects, substance and the message are taken into consideration. I take off 1/2 to 1 whole point for each of the above categories I feel the director didn’t get right. Fury is a near perfect movie. I took off a half point because I felt the ending could have gone a tiny bit further. Fury tells a story that is so profound it had me in tears. Imagine a young christian boy thrown in the middle of WW2. Of course he has never killed anyone but now he being told to kill as many Nazi’s as he can, without batting an eye. This kid has to learn to be a killing machine in a matter of minutes. To survive, he has to comply with his leader’s commands, despite his feelings. On the other side of the coin, without the guidance and hand holding of the leader, they could all be dead in seconds. Any hesitation on the part of the kid could end it all. Norman Ellison played by Logan Lerman is so green on so many levels that he’s no use to the troops, but in the end, he emerges as a hero. Fury tells it like it is when we had christian values — many of the soldiers survived believing those values. Brad Pitt (Don “Wardaddy” ) plays as an Army Sergeant who commands a Sherman tank filled with 5 soldiers and does a fine job of leading them to the finish line. Fury is a very good movie that sends a very good message under the direction of David Ayer. You can’t go wrong with this movie, you’ll get your money’s worth!