Jojo Rabbit is a comedy-drama written and directed by Taika Waititi and is based on Christine Leunens’s book, Caging Skies. The title character, Jojo Rabbit, is a ten-year-old who lives in Nazi Germany nearing the end of WWII. Jojo has created an imaginary friend, who happens to be his version of Adolf Hitler. After the Academy Awards were announced, Jojo Rabbit was re-featured at many major theaters — I’m more than ecstatic for that decision. I’m just going to say, WOW!
Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a ten-year-old boy living in Nazi Germany during World War II with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). His absent father is supposedly serving on the Italian Front but has lost all contact with his family. Jojo’s older sister Inge has recently died of influenza. The nationalistic Jojo often talks with his imaginary friend, a supportive but childish version of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Jojo and his best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) attend a Deutsches Jungvolk Hitler Youth training camp, run by the one-eyed Wehrmacht Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell). When Jojo is ordered to kill a rabbit by one of the older Youth members, he tries to release it and runs off crying. After a pep talk from his imaginary friend, Jojo returns and throws a Stielhandgranate without permission. It bounces off a tree and explodes at his feet, leaving him with facial scars and a slight limp. After Jojo recovers, Rosie asks Klenzendorf, who was demoted after the incident, to make her son feel included despite his injuries. Jojo had been exempt from field training and placed in the back office where he performed small tasks such as spreading propaganda leaflets throughout the town, as well as collecting scrap metal for the war effort. Alone at home one day, Jojo discovers a teenage girl who was his late sister’s former classmate, Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie), living upstairs.
I thought Jojo Rabbit was a children’s film and didn’t bother to see it. Not only is Jojo Rabbit not strictly a children’s flick, but it is also an anti-Hitler Satire, like none I’ve ever seen. There are so many surprises in this film, I’m reluctant to tell any parts of the story, as it may spoil it for you. Out of the eight other movies nominated for best picture Oscar, Jojo Rabbit is my pick. It’s really that good. Between Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waiti, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell, this film shows how brilliantly outstanding these actors are. The scenery allowed me to feel the effects of war-torn Germany. By no means, was Jojo Rabbit a comedy, assassinations of their citizens, the public hangings of bodies, bombs constantly exploding and routine inspections of neighborhood homes for hidden Jews are just some of what reminded the audience of the seriousness, sadness and horrific acts of the holocaust. As of January 20, 2020, Jojo Rabbit has grossed $23.9M, US and Canada, $20M internationally, for a worldwide total of $43.9M. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 361 reviews, with an average rating of 7.52/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Jojo Rabbit’s blend of irreverent humor and serious ideas definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste—but either way, this anti-hate satire is audacious to a fault. Find out who is living upstairs and what happens to Jojo’s commitment to being a Nazi. I promise you will not like Jojo Rabbit in the beginning but by the end, you will love it. Brilliantly presented, you’ve not seen anything like this movie. Check It Out!
[JOJO RABBIT is Oscar-nominated for BEST: Picture, Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design and Adapted Screenplay — TOTALLING 6 OSCAR NOMINATIONS]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged adolf hitler, alfie allen, Archie Yates, Captain Klenzendorf, Deertz, Elsa Korr, Finkel, Fräulein Rahm, Hitlerjugend, johannes "Jojo Rabbit" Betzler, JOJO RABBIT, Rebel Wilson, roman griffin davis, rosie Betzler, sam rockwell, scarlett johansson, stephen merchant, Taika Waititi, Thomasin McKenzie, Yorki
Richard Jewell is a biographical drama directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and written by Billy Ray. It is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell” by Marie Brenner, and the 2019 book The Suspect by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen. The film depicts the Centennial Olympic Park bombing and its aftermath during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, in which security guard Richard Jewell found a bomb and alerted authorities to evacuate, only to later be wrongly accused of having placed it himself.
In 1986, Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) finds employment as an office supplies distributor in a small public law firm. Richard being overweight is mocked behind his back by colleagues. Meanwhile, his over the top boss, attorney Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) forms a bond with Richard over arcade games and candy bars. It was nothing to hear Watson yelling over the phone or banging the receiver endlessly when he was upset. Eventually, Richard leaves the job for a position as a security guard at Piedmont College moving him closer toward his goal of being in law enforcement. Richard took enforcing law much more seriously than most. In some cases, Richard would over-exaggerate the complexity of the situation and react with force or harassment, unnecessarily. After 10 years filled with multiple complaints from students as well as acting outside his jurisdiction, he gets fired by the university’s dean, Dr. W. Ray Cleere (Charles Green). After being fired, Richard is forced to move back home with his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates). Soon, Richard obtains a new position as a security guard during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia and is stationed at Centennial Park.
**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****
Richard along with other law enforcement officers maintain security during the various concerts and events taking place at the venue. Sometime after midnight on the morning of July 27, 1996, after chasing off some drunken delinquents, Richard discovers a suspicious backpack beneath a bench beside the NBC broadcast tower. Not knowing what was in the backpack, Richard insisted that they call 911 to report it. Meanwhile, someone calls the police and says “there’s a bomb in Centennial Park, you’ve got 30 minutes”. The bomb explodes killing two people and injuring over 100. In the immediate aftermath, Richard is heralded as a hero who saved many of the attendees’ lives and is swarmed by media outlets. However, at Atlanta’s FBI office, agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) has been alerted by the dean who fired Richard that based on information from his past records, Richard could be a suspect instead of a hero.
Richard Jewell is based on a true story and was very good. The only problem is if you’re unfamiliar with the incident, we won’t know how much of what we’re seeing is accurate. In the case of Richard Jewell, there are people protesting against the portrayal of the female reporter, Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) because she has passed on and unable to defend herself. Some think the movie was too hard on her and perhaps didn’t really know if she was willing to sleep with anyone to get a story on the front page of the newspaper she worked for. Meanwhile, what the FBI did to Richard and his mother, Bobi was truly devastating. They even tried to label him a homosexual without any evidence. This story actually had me crying, as Bobi made a speech that broke my heart. Richard Jewell received generally positive reviews from critics and was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of the year, with Kathy Bates also being recognized for Best Supporting Actress. The film made $5 million on a $45 million budget it’s opening weekend. See Richard Jewell, it’s worth your time. Check It Out!
[RICHARD JEWELL is Oscar Nominated for Best Supporting Actress — Totaling 1 Oscar nomination]
Posted in CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged Barbara "Bobi" Jewell, Brandon Hamm, Bruce Hughes, Charles Green, Dan Bennet, Dr. W. Ray Cleere, Dylan Kussman, Ian Gomez, jon hamm, kathy bates, Kathy Scruggs, Mike Pniewski, Nadya, Nina Arianda, Olivia Wilde, paul walter hauser, Richard Jewell, sam rockwell, Tom Shaw, Watson Bryant, Wayne Duvall
The Best of Enemies is a 2019 drama directed and written by Robin Bissell. It is based on the book “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South” by Osha Gray Davidson and focuses on the rivalry between civil rights activist, Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader, C. P. Ellis. Mostly based on a true story, this film is both moving, timely and necessary, considering the racial tension that exists in the United States at present.
The Best of Enemies opens with four Klansmen shooting up the home of a White women because she’s dating a Black man. Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson), an African American civil rights activist lives in Durham, North Carolina and is constantly at war with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and their leader and chapter president, C. P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell). Their battle and hate for each other has continued for a decade. Everything changed in 1971 when a fire occurred that destroyed the local Black school, burning half the building down. Because there’s no other school available for Black children to finish out the year, it’s suggested the children attend the segregated White school in Durham. The mind set of the White officials is that their schools should stay segregated. A team was sent to investigate the burnt school to determine if the Black children could continue to attend by splitting the day into two sessions. The White council decided it’s okay for the Black children to attend their partly burnt down school amongst heavy smoke and dangerous amounts of debris.
In order to deal with a court-ordered school desegregation decree, Babou Ceesay (Bill Riddick), who is Black, was called in to conduct a Charrette. Despite that this has never been done in such a big city, Babou was willing to try. The idea is for the community to discuss the pros and cons of integration, take a vote and come to a resolution. The rules included 2 equally chosen teams of Blacks and Whites. C. P. Ellis, who has a wife, Mary (Anne Heche) and four children, Vickie (McKenzie Applegate), Timmy (Brody Rose), Kenneth, (Carson Holmes) and Larry (Kevin Iannucci), wanted no part of the Charrette. Ann Atwater who is a forceful speaker and a single Black mother with two children, Marilynn (Nadej K. Bailey) didn’t want any part of a Charrette that would include C. P. Ellis. However, circumstances forced them to agree to co-chair this two-week community meeting, called a “Charrette”.
The Best of Enemies is part of our dark history of hate, segregation, violence and the kind of backward thinking that plagues this country today. We as Human Beings were not born with hate in our hearts. Hate is taught! What a waste of time, money and energy we keep exerting just to fight against the very people who helped shape this nation. Through The Best of Enemies we saw what living in harmony would be like. We saw two opposing mind sets come together and help one another. We all have something to give, why not share? I am happy to see a movie that deals with the very issues we are facing today. Schools are not legally segregated but communities are which causes schools to be mostly White or mostly Black. One of the best lines in the movie is “the same GOD made you, made me.” Everyone should see The Best of Enemies. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged Ann Atwater, anne heche, babou ceesay, bill Riddick, Bruce mcgil, c.p. Ellis, Carrie Oldham, Carson Holmes, Floyd Kelly, Garland Keith, Henrietta Kaye, john gallagher jr, Kenneth ellis, Lee trombley, Mary Ellis, nick Searcy, sam rockwell, sope aluko, taraji p henson, the best of enemies, wes bentley
Vice is a biographical comedy/drama written and directed by Adam McKay. It is the second theatrical film to depict the presidency of George W. Bush, following Oliver Stone’s “W” and the third collaboration between Bale and Adams, following The Fighter and American Hustle. The plot follows Cheney in his pursuit to become the most powerful Vice President in American history. All I can say is, this film is brilliant and well put together and true.
**** SOILERS ****
Vice is narrated by Kurt (Jesse Plemons), a fictitious veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and opens with Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) along with White House officials responding to the September 11 attacks. The film then flashes back to Wyoming, 1963, where Cheney finds work as a lineman but struggles with alcoholism, which led him to drop out of Yale. After a traffic cop stopped Cheney for driving while intoxicated, his wife Lynne Cheney (Amy Adams) convinces him to clean up his life, using powerful verbiage and ultimatums. The film then flashes forward to 1969 when Cheney finds work as a White House intern during the Nixon Administration. Working under Nixon’s economic advisor Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), Cheney becomes a savvy political operative as he juggles commitments to Lynne and his two daughters Liz (Lily Rabe) and Mary Cheney (Alison Pill). While working at the White House, Cheney overhears Henry Kissinger (Kirk Bovill) discussing the secret bombing of Cambodia with President Richard Nixon (himself on film), which revealed the true power of the executive branch. Rumsfeld’s abrasive attitude leads to a suddal detachment between the two men from Nixon that worked in their favor; after Nixon’s resignation, Cheney rises to the position of White House Chief of Staff under President Gerald Ford (Bill Camp) while Rumsfeld becomes Secretary of Defense.
After Ford is voted out of office, Cheney runs to be representative for Wyoming. After giving an awkward and uncharismatic campaign speech, Cheney suffers his first heart attack. While he recovers, Lynne campaigns on her husband’s behalf, helping him to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. During the Reagan Administration, Cheney supports a raft of conservative, pro-business policies favoring the fossil fuel industries. Cheney next serves as Secretary of Defense under President George H. W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) during the Gulf War. Outside of politics, Cheney and Lynne come to terms with their younger daughter Mary coming out as gay. Though Cheney develops ambitions to run for president, he decides to retire from public life to spare Mary from media scrutiny.
During the presidency of Bill Clinton, Cheney becomes the CEO of Halliburton while his wife Lynne raises golden retrievers and writes books. A false epilogue claims that Cheney lived the rest of his life healthy and happy in the private sector and the credits roll, only for the film to continue. Cheney is invited to become running mate to George W. Bush during the 2000 United States presidential election. Recognizing that the younger Bush is more interested in pleasing his father than attaining power for himself, Cheney agrees on the condition that Bush delegates “mundane” executive responsibilities like energy and foreign policy to him. As Vice President, Cheney works with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, legal counsel David Addington (Don McManus) and Chief of Staff Scooter Libby (Justin Kirk) to exercise control of key foreign policy and defense decisions throughout Washington.
I especially enjoyed Vice because I am sort of a political junky. I th0ught Vice was well thought out and outlined Cheney’s agenda as close to the truth as possible. For those who are not that political, Vice was easy to understand and delivered it’s message for all to process. 44 year old Christian Bale had to gain 40 pounds for the role of Cheney and was barely recognizable. I’ve provided a picture of the transformation from Bale to Cheney — now that’s dedication. I think Vice is worth seeing, you will learn a lot of not so good historical events such as the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq, caused by Cheney. There is also a monologue at the end of the film you wouldn’t want to miss. Vice will probably be nominated for an Oscar. Check it Out!
[Vice is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Supporting Actress, Actor, Supporting Actor, Director, Original Screenplay, Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Film Editing]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged adam barley, aidan gail, alex macnicoll, alfred molina, alison pill, amy adams, antonin scalia, Bill Camp, cailee spaeny, christian bale, colin powell, colyse harger, condoleezza rice, david addinton, dick cheney, don mcmanus, donald rumsfeld, eddie marsan, edna vincent, fay materson, frank luntz, george tenet, george w bush, gerald ford, henry kissinger, jesse plemons, jillian armenante, joan, joseph beck, justin kirk, karen hughes, karl rove, kirk bovill, kurt, lily rabe, lisa Gay Hamilton, liz cheney, lynne cheney, mary cheney, matthew jacobs, naomi watts, paul perri, paul wolfowitz, sam rockwell, scooter libby, shea whigham, stefania lavie owens, stephen adly guirgis, steve carell, trent lott, tyler perry, vice, violet hicks, wayne vincent
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a crime film written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. Simply put, “3 Billboards” is about a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. It sort of reminds me of the TV hit, “Wisdom of the Crowd”. Instead of using computer technology it’s local, instead of involving the world, it only involves those who see the billboards and instead of having information at your fingertips, you have to make phone calls or rely on logic and whatever detective skills you may have achieved over time.
Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is grieving the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela seven months earlier. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, she rents three abandoned billboards near her home, which in sequence reads “RAPED WHILE DYING“, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?“, “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” The billboards are obviously upsetting to the townspeople, including Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and racist officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). The open knowledge that Willoughby is terminally ill is adding to the towns disapproval of the billboards. Mildred and her depressed son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) are harassed and threatened, but stay firm.
Willoughby is sympathetic to Mildred’s frustration but finds the billboards an unfair attack on his character. Angered by Mildred’s lack of respect for his authority, Jason threatens Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), who rented her the billboards, and arrests her friend and coworker, Denise (Amanda Warren) on trivial marijuana-possession charges. Mildred is also visited by her abusive ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), who blames her for their daughter’s death. Mildred is also confronted by the local priest over the town’s disapproval of the billboards, this was one of the great highlights of the movie. Mildred worked her smart retorts against the priest’s words of reprimand, which had audiences cheering at best. The list of disapproving “billboards against Willoughby” supporters continued when Mildred pays a visit to Geoffrey (Jerry Winsett), the local dentist, which resulted in Willoughby bringing her in for questioning because of injuries Geoffrey obtained when he approaches her with a drill while voicing the town’s disapproval of the billboards. During the interview, Willoughby coughs up blood and is taken away by ambulance. Later, Mildred manages to set the police station on fire using Molotov cocktails but is not charged because the town dwarf, James, (Peter Dinkladge) who happens to be smitten with Mildred and provides her with an alibi. In the meanwhile, Jason assaults Red and his assistant, which is witnessed by Willoughby’s replacement, Abercrombie, (Clarke Peters) who fires him.
At this point, 3 Billboards is pretty intriguing and has just about everyone’s attention. I highly recommend this movie because it’s different and quite entertaining. I won’t say you’ll be happy with the ending but you will not forget the movie. Check it out! I think it’s awesome!
[Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri has been nominated for Best Picture, 2Best Actor awards, Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Original Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged abercrombie, amanda warren, bill willoughby, Caleb landry Jones, charlie, clarke peters, denise, frances mcdormand, geoffrey, james, jason dixon, jerry winsett, john hawkes, lucas hedges, milred hayes, missouri, peter dinklage, red welby, robbie, sam rockwell, three billboards outside ebbing, woody harrelson