The Professor (a movie blurt)

A surprisingly good film starring Johnny Depp as a college English professor, who finds out that he has cancer discovered too late. After treatment would buy him only one year to live. If left untreated, he would have six months at most. So, he feels F—-D. As he tries to process it, he goes back to feeling the same thing:  F—-D. Soon after he’s learned his fate, he decides to share the news with his small family at dinner time. But, before he gets a chance to do so, his daughter says she has something to say. After her somewhat surprising news, his wife tells him something life changing as well. With news that seem to match the gravity of his situation, he decides to live out what’s left of his days a little differently. Make that  a lot differently. The movie then builds on a series of life changing events in the classroom, campus, and home.  There are  both funny and sad moments that showcase Depp’s noteworthy acting abilities. It’s worth a view.

Jackie (a movie blurt)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, aka “Jackie,”has always fascinated me. She’s enigmatic.  This recent film portrays the young widow’s perspective following the assassination of her husband on Nov. 22, 1963. The contrast of the shocking violence that unfolded against Jackie’s quiet demeanor reinforces the feeling of how painful it must be to endure such an unbelievable and unfair fate. For example, the charismatic and popular President John F. Kennedy’s brain matter splattered over Jackie’s lap is just one of the harrowing images showed in the film. The film’s focus on Jackie’s private moments in the first few days following the assassination gives us a new understanding that there was more behind her character than just a stylishly dressed woman, who appears stoic on TV. Natalie Portman plays Jackie’s character admirably, revealing the former first lady’s strength, intelligence, grace, and appreciation for history.

The Hollars (a movie blurt)

A movie about a family with dreams that somehow didn’t take off as they wished. John Krasinski directed this movie, as well as starred in it as a son who returns from New York to his Midwestern home due to a family illness. While visiting with his parents and brother, we soon learn about the family strains bubbling beneath the surface, not too different from many families experiencing hurt and feelings of inadequacy. Krasinski’s character himself is also wrestling with disappointment. He doesn’t quite know how he feels about his relationship with his live-in girlfriend, played by Anna Kendrick. She’s pregnant and ready to give birth at any time. In the midst of this angst comes the eventual realization of self-worth, gratitude and stronger family bonds. Overall, the movie is heartwarming and well-acted with a surprise twist in the end. Other stars include Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, and Sharlto Copley.

A Walk in the Woods (a movie blurt)

This movie is based on a book by the same name written by Bill Bryson, who at 44 years old decides to hike the Appalachian Trail (2,190 miles long). Robert Redford, who is in his late 70s, plays Bryson in the film. He is accompanied by a long-lost friend, Stephen Katz (played by Nick Nolte); the two traveled Europe together when they were in their early 20s. They lost touch soon after their European trip and through some fluke they find themselves reunited to hike together.

Even though it seems a stretch for Redford to be playing a man in his 40s, such a thing can be overlooked because of the repartees between Bryson and Katz, beautiful photography, and other interesting characters — notably one of the hikers they meet along the trail. Before I watched the movie, I thought it would be boring because it’s just about two people walking and talking, but it isn’t like that at all. The story line’s themes – relationships and one’s purpose in life – make for some funny scenes, notable truths, and fine dialogue.

American Heist (a movie review)

The acting is good by Adrien Brody, who plays big brother Frankie to Hayden Christensen’s James/Jimmy, but the lines and story could be better. The movie is about two brothers with conflicting goals. Frankie, who just gets released from prison after 10 years of serving, has to pay a favor that requires stealing from a bank. As much as Frankie keeps declaring his love for his brother, he gets James involved in the heist. Continue reading

Good Kill (a movie review)

This is a look at the frustrated and conflicted life of a pilot, played by Ethan Hawke, who sits thousands of miles from war in a station in the Las Vegas desert. He works out of an over-sized metal box which inside looks like a cockpit. He works with a co-pilot and their job is to control drones that target selected sites, persons, or groups, depending what their intel tells them to do. A good kill is when they hit efficiently and quickly strike the enemy. Continue reading

Boulevard (a movie review)

This movie is Robin Williams’ final on-screen performance. Robin Williams plays a banker who has been in the same position for 25 years, which is almost about as long as his character has been married to or known his wife. I can’t remember. They have no kids. Their social life is rather minimal. We know that Williams’ best friend since college is a college professor played by Bob Odenkirk of the Breaking Bad fame. As a momentary aside, Odenkirk’s Saul character spun off into another series, Better Call Saul, which is just as good and equally engrossing as Breaking Bad, but the second season doesn’t start until early next year. Continue reading

Danny Collins (a movie review)

When I saw the trailer to this movie, I thought it would be a slow-moving story about a washed up star. I almost didn’t watch the movie, but I’m glad I did because it turned out to be a gem. Al Pacino is excellent as Danny Collins, an aging rock star who somehow gets stuck doing the same thing. That’s because he got sucked into pleasing a fan base that ironically stifles his creativity, always expecting the same old songs night after night. During the 40 years of going through the motions, he tries to forget his misery by snorting coke and drinking heavily. Continue reading

The Forger (a movie review)

This is a bittersweet father and son heist film. John Travolta plays an art forger who is imprisoned for four years. To get out sooner, he makes a deal with an outside well-connected criminal, who pays off a crooked judge to release Travolta’s character, Ray Cutter, nine months before he finishes his prison term. Not too much later, the viewer is shown that Ray Cutter has a teenage son, played by Tye Sheridan, who has cancer. Ray’s father, played by Christopher Plummer, has been taking care of Ray’s son while Ray has been in prison. Now that Ray is out of prison, he is indebted to the criminal who arranged for his early release. The payment is for Ray to steal a painting by Claude Monet and replace it with a forgery. Then things start getting interesting. Continue reading