Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Martian

The Martian—2 hrs 22 mins/ directed by Ridley Scott/ screenplay by Drew Goddard/ Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels/ rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): I don’t know what to say about The Martian. It’s not really my kind of movie. It kind of laid flat for me but even at that, it left me questioning humanity’s quirky behaviors. Why would the world ban together to save one astronaut’s life, even while risking the lives of many others? That premise of this film is what appears to be drawing enthusiastic fans to this movie (even the Other Guy in the review below, for example), but it just made me feel like there are so many deserving people on this planet, right now, who need and deserve our help, who we should be banding together to rescue from so many real and immediate problems…Why doesn’t that sense of human responsibility permeate into real problems and real lives? Is it the media, the big budget movie marketing that makes us all want to be heroes? Or, is this something that is built in? Maybe I’m not getting my point across. Human beings often work together to save others, from danger, armies, or the Earth itself (as with miners who have been trapped in a shaft). I just feel like the everyday friend, parent, stranger, who brings even one human being back from the edge of sadness or despair with a smile, a joke or a gesture that changes the course that one human life for the better…aren’t they really the heroes who we should be trying to emulate? Isn’t that worth making a movie about? I give the film itself only two binoculars.

(OG): I think I probably liked the idea of this film as much, or perhaps a little more than I liked watching the actual, whole thing. I don’t know what’s going on with filmmakers these days, but everything I’ve seen lately (with the exception of a very few, such as YOUTH) is simply too much bang for the buck. Cutting what I felt was an extra twenty-two minutes may have made a difference, but it’s hard to say. Anyway, what I liked was the premise that human beings care about one another so much, that if one person is left on Mars, we would all join forces to save them. I have faith in humanity and believe that this film caters to what is good in people, and highlights a positive core characteristic in a way that few other films have ever done. Then, of course, you have Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels in another Ridley Scott crafted visual. I give this film three and ½ binoculars. It’s well worth it.

Brooklyn--the movie

Brooklyn—1 hr 52 mins/ rated PG-13/Director: John Crowley/ written by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name/starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): How refreshing! This is a movie that we can all go and see without it being an animated cartoon. I guess, because of my age and generation, I’ve heard many similar stories about my own ancestors and relatives of family and friends coming to America. As a New Jersey born, second-generation Italian-American, I heard many tales about people coming through New York on their way to a new life…specifically, Ellis Island. That type of nostalgia is very appealing to me. How brave a person must be to leave their loved ones, their native country and venture into a whole new realm, overflowing with opportunities and newness. Just for a moment, picture yourself leaving whatever you possess, right now, that is familiar, comfortable and loved, to strike out into the unknown. This kind of cultural adventure is simply staggering to me. Yet, people did this all the time, in even greater numbers than they do today, perhaps. With that as the backstory, BROOKLYN had some very convincing performances. I loved seeing the innocence of that time portrayed with pitch-perfect emotion. A seemingly simple scene turned poignant, was when, for example the main character has to buy a bathing suit, and then reveal herself on the beach for the first time. It may not seem like much here, but it was the kind of detail that made the movie enjoyable for me. I give this film three-and-a-half binoculars.

(OG): This was a sweet little story. There were no car crashes, no fight scenes, no deaths of unusual circumstance, and most of all no male character overshadowing the women in the film or hogging screen time. This was not a suspense thriller and the main character didn’t resort to unsavory methods of survival. This was a slice of life, the good old-fashion life that everyone keeps harping about these days, a slice of immigration life, the kind that built our country into the great nation that it is. Another interesting thing for me, when you strip away all the violence, fluff and rancor that has become so commonplace in today’s storytelling--that many now believe that blood or sex equals a plot or storyline-- you have a sweet little story about an Irish girl—a Catholic girl who meets a nice Italian boy, neither of which wants to jump into bed at their first meeting--who comes to America on a boat (like so many of our ancestors) and finds not only love, but self worth. I like that; I give Brooklyn four binoculars, one for the story and three for a wonderfully reserved acting job by Ronan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Trainwreck—2 hrs 5 mins/directed by Judd Apatow, written by and starring Amy Schumer/ also starring Bill Hader, with Marisa Tomei, Tilda Swinton/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): I found this film funny. However, it was too crude, too raw for my tastes. Amy is funny to me, has a great, quick delivery without always having to go to the same well for every punch line. I love the fact that she’s comfortable in her own skin, and I think she is a positive role model, in this regard for all women. Whatever anyone can do to help others become comfortable with themselves’, is great by me. It’s not that she makes every joke about sex…she doesn’t, but when she does the lewdness overshadows. After two hours of this, I’ve had more than my share and I’m not left wanting more. I can enjoy Amy Schumer in small doses…an HBO Special perhaps, that I can pause and return to over the course of a week or a month, but a movie? Not so much. That’s just one lens on this Bifocal Review, just my opinion. I give this one two binoculars.

(OG): Here’s what I think: Amy Schumer is Mae West for the millennial generation. Now that I think of it, she even looks like Ms. West! I was not disappointed with this film, because I didn’t go into it expecting any more than what I got. It’s a good way to pass two hours of time, and then, when people ask (and this seems to be inevitable these days) “Did you see Trainwreck? Isn’t Amy funny?” I can answer, “Yes,” to cover both questions and then move quickly on to another topic. I will be slightly more generous than Barbara on this one and give TRAINWRECK 2 and 1/2 binoculars. Men, see this movie to get a glimpse on how modern women, probably really think.

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight—3 hrs 7 mins/written and directed by Quentin Tarantino/ starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir, James Parks/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Like so many films this year, much of what made it to the screen should have spent more time on the cutting room floor. It took too long to get this film started. If I was laying in bed, resting, I probably would have enjoyed the scenery more; I just didn’t like sitting up for that long, watching horse hooves and snowy hillsides. The only part of this movie I liked was when the “mystery” started to unfold in a flashback sequence. Then, however, I started thinking, “Maybe he should have started the movie right here, near the end.” At the end, as expected, there was the signature Tarantino blood bath. I can only give this movie two binoculars.

(OG): Twenty minutes into this movie, when all that had happened was that a few of the main characters had met one another and boarded a stagecoach (in a snowstorm) together, I said to Barbara, “This is why this film is going to be more than three hours.” There was no reason for this movie to be this long. At the end, I realized that this was kind of like Kill Bill, western style with a slight homage to Cat Ballou…and in the unpolished style of Tarantino. Kill Bill was a saga that was told in two films. Hateful Eight tried to get the job done in one. In addition to the usual bloody carnage, this film also had more than it’s share of other gory tissue splatters and bodily function sprays, stretching the length of the movie even further for no good reason. Naturally, Samuel L. Jackson was great. With lots of practice, he knows how to make the most of a Tarantino character…same for Michael Madsen, and really, all the rest of the actors especially Jennifer Jason Leigh. I didn’t hate the Hateful Eight, but I’m sure I didn’t enjoy watching it, as much as Quentin enjoyed writing, directing, or profiting from it. I give this film two binoculars.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Concussion—directed and screenplay by Peter Landesman/from a story by Jeanne Marie Laskas/starring Will Smith (as Dr. Bennet Omalu), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, David Morse/2hr 3 min/rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) I’m a big football fan. This movie upset me, when I realized one of my most treasured pastimes is enjoyed at the expense of the players possibly suffering serious, brain injury. The performances were all excellent, but for me the most outstanding was that of Albert Brooks and Alec Baldwin. In this competition, I give the slight edge to Albert Brooks. Will Smith had the accent of Doctor Bennet Omalu, spot on. However, with all the star power, he was the only one who I felt was just a great actor doing his job. Brooks and Baldwin never appeared to be acting at all. Gugu was good too, and so easy on the eyes. Though I’m sorry about the overall, important message of the film, I’m glad that this information has come to light. Let’s make the game as safe for the players as it is enjoyable for us fans. I give this film 3-and-a-half binoculars.

(OG) I don’t have much experience with football. It’s not my sport, but I do have an interest in TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and related problems, as they are spotlighted in this movie. About 15 years ago I was rear-ended while at a stop on the freeway. As a martial artist of about 40 years experience at the time—where people had been trying to knock me out for decades, but no one ever had—I could not understand why I could not remember the fender-bender, or how what seemed a little bump could cause such big problems in my life. Again, at the time, TBI was not something that was in the national (medical or general) consciousness. When I had severe mood swings (both crying and laughing uncontrollably) and told my doctors that I couldn’t think properly, they thought I was lying or that I had a more severe concussion than first believed. One doctor who did some scans of my brain finally said, “You have the brain of a person who is twice your age.” This movie very accurately depicts the brain injury syndrome eventually discovered by Doctor Bennet Omalu. The acting is absolutely excellent, from Will Smith, to Albert Brooks, to Alec Baldwin, to Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Let’s add a special thanks to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Matthew Wilig, and especially David Morse for bringing back to lfe those football heroes who had to suffer and die prior to Dr. Omalu’s discovery. I give this film 3 ½ binoculars.

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