This is a brief YouTube video about a horse race that has a happy ending.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Lincoln--Directed by Steven Spielberg/Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field,Tommy Lee Jones (and many others)/screenplay written by Tony Kushner, in part from a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin/2hr30min/PG-13
Bifocal Reviews by Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(B) At times, this film played more like the History channel than a movie. It was very wordy and it covered only a short time in Lincoln’s presidential term. You could see the parallels in today’s government with it’s “tug of war” within Congress. Lincoln wanted to get the amendment to abolish slavery passed and Congress wanted to end the war first.
Lincoln fought hard and diligently to pass the amendment. Tommy Lee Jones was the scene- stealer as he played a craggy sharp-tongued abolitionist congressman. You will watch and recognize many character actors you have seen on different TV shows. I found myself saying, “I know that guy. Where have I seen him before?” Daniel Day-Lewis’ uncanny resemblance to Lincoln worked in his favor. My favorite parts of the film were Lincoln’s personal life and the powerful tenderness he showed. Sally Field’s portrayal of Mary Todd was a little over the top for me. The scenes in the White House were very dark and dreary. It gave the mood of depression, which may have been intended. This was not one of my favorite films. I can only bring myself to give this movie two and half binoculars.
(OG) We saw this film on premier day, but it has taken me this long to finally get around to having an opinion. When the movie was over, the first thing I noticed was, one person gave a single clap, but was quieted by the somber silence of the rest of the audience. It wasn’t that people hated the movie, but the all started to file out self-consciously, like they were in a mortuary at a funeral. No one knew how to react! The somber quality of the film and the audience’s reaction to it, stayed with me. As I look back now, I realize that this was about as good a biography about Lincoln as I can remember. Daniel Day-Lewis is usually too over-the-top for me, but he portrayed Lincoln perfectly, in a very personal and realistic manner. I expect another Oscar nod for him. Sally Field bothered Barbara, but I thought she performed well. I liked the acting, but Spielberg is getting a bit self-indulgently “artsy” for my taste. The lighting was dreary and dismal, even in the outside scenes. Light and shadow washes in through windows like it is the central show at times, surrounding and hiding the characters. There was one “dream” sequence that didn’t seem necessary to me. The film was just a little bit too long, boring and dreary for me to put it at the top of my repeat performance list. However, I have to recommend it to anyone who is interested in Lincoln or the fight to end slavery. There are lessons here for us all with the modern political climate. I give it three binoculars.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
SKYFALL--Directed by Sam Mendes/starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe and Ben Whishaw/screenplay by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade from a story by Ian Fleming/rated PG-13/2hr23min
A Bifocal Review by Barbara Rich and The Other Guy
(B) Well, after viewing this film, I decided to change the title to one more fitting. The new title is: SkyFAIL. For me, this movie was a complete failure. The other four people who viewed this movie with me all agree with thumbs down. Way down. By the way, those four people included three generations, male and female. I’m sorry to say that for all Daniel Craig’s efforts with keeping fit for the numerous stunts he accomplished, he did not connect for me. His lack or charisma was very obvious. Craig could not convince me of any chemistry with either one of these two stunning women. It was like a documentary of stunts and chases. Where, I ask, was the storyline? It was lost somewhere, and when finally we try to put it together, it is so weak it wasn’t worth the effort. Javier Bardem’s character was way out there, but at least he was bazaar enough to hold my interest. This film was much too long, but does achieve one great thing. It makes the other films this year look much better by comparison. I do not recommend this film. I give it only half a binocular, and that my friends is generous!
(OG) Although, going into this film I had a healthy skepticism regarding this being “the best Bond movie ever,” I still left the theater somewhat disappointed. First of all, no matter how you slice it, this is decidedly NOT the best Bond movie ever. Sean Connery is a better 007, and arguably so are Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan or (fill in the blank with your favorite). I don’t hate Daniel Craig, but I think he has been given a difficult task that is made more difficult by this kind of ridiculous promotion, setting the audience quality expectations extremely high while delivering mediocre material. Everyone needs to take an honest look at the difference between being optimistic and ignoring reality. I really have no idea what the pre-release buzz is about. Here are my list of beefs when it comes to this movie: 1) The script violates good storytelling conventions. There is no reason for us to care about the heroes or villains. Nothing is fleshed out. We are not given enough details about ANYTHING to care. Everything is sketchy or relies on the audience’s love and knowledge of previous films in the series. 2) Javier Bardem is miscast. He is not villainous enough. Part of this problem, again, is with the script. This character is poorly drawn. His motivations and therefore his actions are unclear. I was not impressed. 3) The action was hackneyed. Everything we saw on the screen (even beyond the Bond film franchise itself) we’ve seen before…and better. Chase scenes and explosions still need a story for context. This one did not have a compelling enough storyline. The conflict between the old and the new was forced. I was not surprised when one of the old-timer/great actors dies (I won’t tell you which one, in case you decide to see this film despite our warnings), as it seemed like they were saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” The producers may want to think in those terms too. I know I will. I give this one only one binocular.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Flight--Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly,John Goodman/written by John Gatins/rated R/2hr20mn
Bifocal Review by Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(B) I am a white knuckler when it comes to flying, so I was very apprehensive about viewing this film, but I decided to face my fears. When I left the movie I was not afraid to fly, I was afraid to drink! Whip, the role played by Denzel Washington, is a dedicated alcohol and substance abuse addict. How he miraculously manages to safely land a plane with mid-air mechanical failure and save most of the passengers is nothing short of an impossible feat. However, a post flight analysis of his blood, revealing how drunk he was gives cause for investigation. This drama continues with the dichotomy of his ability to perform under such unbelievable pressure and his alcohol and substance abuse. Denzel smoothly transitions from a struggling alcoholic to becoming vulnerable to a confident pilot. He fools many by acting sober even though he is drunk. Denzel’s performance deserves an Oscar nod. John Goodman as his supplier never disappoints. He totally filled the bill. My favorite scene takes place in the stairwell of the hospital where a terminal cancer patient, a young lady (another addict who later becomes the love interest of Denzel) and Denzel are taking a cigarette break. I give the film three binoculars.
(OG) For me, a person who has seen the inside of a few 12 Step meetings in my life, this film was a marvelous metaphor for the importance of accepting a higher power (and following the rest of the recovery steps) if one is truly interested in cleaning up the wreckage of ones life. I used to work with recovering alcoholics and addicts for many decades and every one of them told stories--though not as dramatic as a plane crash—but based on a near-death experience from which they were forced to accept that alcohol and other drugs were not contributing to anything positive in their lives. Denzel Washington is perfect in this role and I have to point out that my first positive impression of Don Cheadle came when he portrayed Earl Manigault, in the film Rebound. Manigault (known as The Goat) has been called by such greats as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “the greatest basketball player of all time.” The reason that the average person never heard about The Goat, is because of his addiction to heroin, which ruined his chances of a professional career. Cheadle is a great actor beyond this film, but my Rebound intro to him was in the back of my mind when I viewed Flight. With such a great cast, including Kelly Reilly and John Goodman, a great blend of rock-tunes in the background, and a really tasteful use of special effects in the crash scene, I overlooked some heavy-handedness with the script and also give this film three Binoculars, perhaps for no other reason than the message is an extremely valuable one.