About Schmidt

My score 9/10. They put horses out to pasture when they’re old. Elephants are said to migrate to a certain place to die, it’s instinct. There is no such ritual for people. If we’re lucky, we retire from work sometime between age 55 and 70 and we live out our lives with what passions and hobbies we have left. in between doctor visits. This is a story about a man in that phase of life who is trapped yet open to learning what the universe might have to teach him.

About Schmidt (2002)
R | 2h 5min | Comedy, Drama | 3 January 2003 (USA)

A man upon retirement, embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter’s wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Louis Begley (novel), Alexander Payne (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney

Our director, Alexander Payne, is behind “Nebraska” and “Sideways,” two films I absolutely loved. Based on these plus this film, I’d say he likes to focus on individuals facing challenges in their human journey. This film definitely can be filed in that category. There is humor within that context but I would not classify it as a comedy, it’s more a drama. I think Schmidt learns a lot in this film and his lessons are our lessons if we have the ears to hear. It’s a great film about being human and I recommend those every time 9/10.

A History of Violence

My score: 6/10. Finding out someone’s true identity when it doesn’t mesh with the one you know can be a shock. That’s what we learned from this small family in a small town where someone is not who he says he is. Can you blame that character for just wanting peace?

A History of Violence (2005)
R | 1h 36min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 30 September 2005 (USA)

A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.
Director: David Cronenberg
Writers: John Wagner (graphic novel), Vince Locke (graphic novel) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris

David Cronenberg is the director here and he does a great job establishing the couple and son as a happy innocent family. You wouldn’t expect anything gory as you may usually from him but there are a few scenes later on where he shows his stuff tat way. Still, this is just a drama/thriller that doesn’t include too many special effects or too much latex. We see that Cronenberg can tell a story that makes the audience churn.

Viggo Mortenson’s character is married to Maria Bello’s. They have a son who it seems might be a step-son. As the story unfolds we find out he can handle a gun and the mob seems to know of him. That’s where the plot begins to squeeze you. Ed Harris plays a wicked mob leader who appears to have ben injured by Mortenson’s character. As a result, he wants to take him out of town. His family and the sherrif are all baffled because he has seemed to be a good old boy as long as they have known him.

He has some open chapters to close so he leaves town to do that. That’s where the excitement really begins. I give this film a 6/10 because I thought the love-making scenes were a lottle forced and unnecessary. I don’t think the rest of the film lived up to its potential.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

My score: 6/10. A complete rethinking of the original premise, this film probably let many viewers down. I mean, what other reason do you go see a Halloween film than to see Michael Myers in the mask. You won’t find him here. What you do get is a reimagined story involving robots like “Westworld” and a mind control campaign that utilizes television. Sound like a breed apart? It is.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
R | 1h 38min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 22 October 1982 (USA)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Poster

Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Tommy Lee Wallace
Stars: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy

Director Tommy Lee Wallace has done a lot of stuff since this film. None of it was blockbuster material but I find no fault in that. For example, he directed two episodes of the original made-for-tv “It.” Unfortunately, Halloween III lacks the sensibility of the original. The formula of “The Shape” (Michael Myers) coming back for more killing is the chilling premise that worked. It wasn’t broken so it shouldn’t have been changed.

This is a fun movie though. I see it on par with a “Child’s Play” or an episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Indeed Halloween is the top of the hill for classic horror but there’s a long way to fall from there and still be a great movie. I give this one a 6/10.

Stronger

My score: 10/10. This is mostly a tale based on a true story that shows the individual challenge after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Movies about tragedies often concentrate on the upswell of motivation for a city, like Boston or New York, and how the citizens banded together, as in 911, to become strong and able to defeat the enemy or criminal that caused the problem. This one is less like that and more like shining a light on one victim and his rugged path to survive.

Stronger (2017)
R | 1h 59min | Biography, Drama | 29 September 2017 (USA)

Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: John Pollono (screenplay by), Jeff Bauman (based on the book “Stronger” by) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson

Our director here is David Gordon Green who has directed different sorts of films. “Prince Avalanche” starring Paul Rudd is one example. His films tend to focus o the individual more than the big picture. He really threw a swoosh with this one in my opinion. One aspect of the film is to show the inherent selfishness in some slogans and corporeal recovery campaigns. How good is it to be “Boston Strong” when you have no legs? These are simply alternative ideas that come up, they aren’t preached at all.

The crux of this story is the relationship between Jake Gyllenhaal’s character and Tatiana Maslay’s. The were an on-again off-again couple when Jake’s character tried rekindling their relationship. This happened a few days before the bombing. Her main gripe with him wa sthat he “never shows up for anything.” She halfway-jokingly says, if he wants to be with her he can start by “showing up at the finish line” of the Boston Marathon she has trained to run.

As a result of him showing up, he randomly happens to be standing in a place where the bomb blows his legs off. Without getting into too much detail, the movie is his journey from that point. This is a great film as a relationship study as well as a study in recovery from profound, violent trauma. I greatly enjoyed this film and gave it a 10/10.

Jennifer’s Body

This one came out 2009 but it looks a lot like a 90’s slasher. Jennifer is not who she once was. At times it’s funny at others it’s downright as scary as “I Know What You Did Last Summer” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Despite the gore and the scare, the cheese factor is there.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)
R | 1h 42min | Comedy, Horror | 18 September 2009 (USA)

A newly possessed high school cheerleader turns into a succubus who specializes in killing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Stars: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody

This one is fun for watching Amanda Seyfried try and save the day from the evil Jennifer. They used to be friends, which is a part I found a little hard to believe. Jennifer is just too hot and apparently too stupid to pick a friend like that. This one was recommended to me by IMDB and I have to say, it really wasn’t my type. Some may like it for the high school shallow humor and slasher attitude. To me, it seemed like it dodn’t know what it was trying to be and that made it hard to stay focused. Sadly, I had to give it a 4/10.

Lucky

My score: 8/10. An eccentric 90-something aged man goes through his routine as the camera goes with him. It’s a similar concept to “The Straight Story” if you’ve seen that. However this one is a little more bare-bones. There is no conflict or odyssey. In this case, we are left wonderig what Lucky’s life was about. That’s what makes it special and probably a unique experience to each viewer. WE remember life through his character.

Lucky (2017)
Not Rated | 10min | Comedy, Drama | 29 September 2017 (USA)

The spiritual journey of a ninety-year-old atheist.
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Writers: Logan Sparks (screenplay), Drago Sumonja (screenplay)
Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston

John Carroll Lynch is our director here. He is a phenomenal actor you may remember from “Fargo,” “Gothika,” “Zodiac” and “The Founder.” This film seems like a very meaningful piece of art he has bestowed upon us. It is very well staged and directed.

The film is slow at times and since the lead actor is in his 90’s there isn’t a lot of raucous western suspense. It’s more like a film to think about while watching and afterward. The cinematography and western desert setting are peaceful, tranquil, and serene. While not for everyone, I do recommend this film. It was enjoyable to watch. I give it 8/10.

Patriots Day

The story of a police officer with a trick knee is the centerpiece of this much larger tale about the Boston Marathon Bombings. It’s a fitting focal point because he’s a larger than life star and it helps us scan through this horrific event.

Patriots Day (2016)
R | 2h 13min | Crime, Drama, History | 13 January 2017 (USA)

The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists responsible.
Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg (screenplay), Matt Cook (screenplay) | 5 more credits »
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

If you don’t have characters and their personal stories to see the story through, it’s less a movie and more a documentary. This film does a good job in its script of showing the day’s events through the story of Wahlberg’s character. True story films really come alive when they use this method. This one is done very well and keeps you intrigued from beginning to end.

As the marathon went on, the early finishers crossed the finish line. No one would know that soon, two terrorists with backpacks would lay their dirty bombs down and remotely detonate them causing shards of nails, scrap metal shrapnel, and other weapons of harm to wound and kill both participants and spectators.

This film also tells a side-story of the two brothers who did the bombing. We learn they were of a splinter group related to an American hating organization. It does a good job of showing their manner and mindset through the tragedy they caused. They also show shadows of the older brother’s wife and what her role may or may have not been in this.

As a true story film, this one is best at telling the events that led up and transpired throughout the event. It’s a bit documentary in it’s framework but there is plenty of story in the script that fuels powerful acting. It falls short of focusing on the recovery of these people but it doesn’t really mean to be that type of film. To learn the details of the story, this one is great. For the human aftermath and effect on drama for the survivors, “Stronger” does a great job at that. I give this film a 10/10 for what it sets out to do.

The Woman

I hope you like Bob Dylan style singers because you’ll get that pretty much throughout this film. It’s ok, just a smattering of hatred against a certain type of male that beats and takes advantage of women. It’s cool to see Pollyanna McIntosh, she’s the real star here. You might know her from The Walking Dead, she’s the leader of the tribe that’s sort of with Negan then not. It appears she has only women on her team? That one.

The Woman (2011)
R | 1h 41min | Horror | 18 August 2011 (Australia)

When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.
Director: Lucky McKee
Writers: Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee | 2 more credits »
Stars: Pollyanna McIntosh, Brandon Gerald Fuller, Lauren Ashley Carter

The woman needs its halfway mark before it really gets believable. Before that it looks like a day gone bad for an otherwise goofy husband and dad. The director Lucky McKee has a unique style in this one. In a way it reminds me of Rob Zombie only the music is more folk and upbeat. It’s a vengeance film about a woman who gets her vengeance. Some will enjoy it, I found tense for tenses sake and not really believable. For example, the stunt his son pulls? Would that happen? I guess that depends on how messed up you take the dad for right? Pretty good but annoying music and not much verisimilitude. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve seen a lot of horror movies and this one keeps being recommend to you (as it was to me.) 5/10.

Dismissed

A gut-wrenching horror about a teacher and his “gifted” student. The truth is, this student is a gift any teacher should reject. When teacher tries to make a point to said student by giving him a B+, he opens Pandora’s box and all hell starts to break loose. This clean cut kid is definitely not what he seems. Still, there are signs.

Dismissed (2017)
Not Rated | 1h 27min | Horror, Thriller | 8 October 2017 (USA)

An idealistic, straight-edge teacher is drawn down a horrid rabbit hole by an honors student when he gives him a B+ on a paper.
Director: Benjamin Arfmann
Writer: Brian McAuley
Stars: Kent Osborne, Dylan Sprouse, Rae Gray

The director here is Benjamin Arfmann, this is his first feature film but he has done television and short films. It’s well directed. I especially appreciated the scenes in the Principal’s office with the police. She was for him, then against him. At some point, the whole situation was so out of control. no authority could contain it. Those are the scariest parts.

WE al know Dylan Sprouse from “The Secret Life of Zack and Cody.” He’s taken on a huge acting challenge bu doing this horror film. I hope it pays him back because he’s a good actor and I am a horror fan. He is scary and annoying, almost in a Norman Bates sort of way. I liked the film, it was scary and well paced. I give it a 9/10. It could have been a 10 if it fleshed out the character’s past a bit more to show maybe why he did this stuff.

Black Mass

Pretty good, not bad, skip the spaghetti and meatballs because we got IRISH mob kills this time. So what shall we eat? Corned beef and cabbage with green beer? Sure why the hell not. Johnny Depp plays another Johnny. He’s a killer. This one’s a true story too. (I love those)

Black Mass (2015)
R | 2h 3min | Biography, Crime, Drama | 18 September 2015 (USA)

The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Mark Mallouk (screenplay), Jez Butterworth (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson

Scott Cooper is the director. He did ‘Out of the Furnace’ starring Christian Bale and I have to tell you I loved that movie. He apparently picks the stories from the city streets. This one is really gritty like Furnace. The characters are grounded and they cuss as well as they handle guns in execution style mob killings. This is not a study in what happened, it’s more a display of what this whacked out killer did when he was alive. Some of the stuff goes way beyond cold hearted. It’s a good mob film, it has an amazing cast as well. It was a little slow in telling thhe story I thought but I got beyond it. I give it an 8.5/10.