‘The Danish Girl’ is awards-bait but not brilliant

Quick, ask yourself a question.  Before Bruce Jenner made the transition to being Caitlyn Jenner, who was the most famous transgender person you knew of.  Chaz Bono?  Renee Richards?  Lana Wachowski?  Jan Morris?  Christine Jorgensen?  Before any of these people, there was a man named Einar Wegener (Redmayne).  He was a landscape artist married to Gerda Wegener (Vikander) who was a portrait painter.  The Danish Girl is the story of this couple and how Einar transitioned, becoming one of the very first men to undergo what was known then as sexual reassignment surgery to become Lili Elbe.

Read more‘The Danish Girl’ is awards-bait but not brilliant

‘Creed’ goes the distance and delivers brilliance

One of the toughest tests a director can be faced with is taking on a film in a franchise that features a truly iconic, larger than life character.  That’s the task writer/director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) accepted with Creed.  “Adonis Creed” (Jordan) is the illegitimate son of the late “Apollo Creed” (Weathers, seen only in flashback).  Born after the tragic death of his father, Adonis’ mother dies soon after his birth and he has moved from group home to group home before winding up in Juvenile Hall.  “Mary Ann Creed” (Rashad) decides to open her home to her late husband’s son.

Read more‘Creed’ goes the distance and delivers brilliance

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ brings franchise to an epic close

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 ends with Peeta (Hutcherson) trying to choke the life out of Katniss (Lawrence) who has become the Mockingjay, symbol of the rebellion against President Snow (Sutherland) and the capitol of Panem.  Part 2 begins with Katniss recovering from that assault and the rebels attempting to undo what had been done to Peeta.  He’d been tortured and brainwashed using the venom of tracker-jackers.

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‘Legend’ isn’t quite legendary, but it’s damn close

Tom Hardy has the difficult task of playing twin brothers Ronald and Reginald Kray in the film Legend and he is more than up to the task.  The Kray twins were gangsters in London’s East End and this film concentrates on their exploits during the 1960s.  Both had boxed in their youths and this was something that would be part of their violent natures throughout their lives, although Reg was the brains and Ron the true muscle.  They owned clubs, ran protection rackets and they wanted to ‘rule’ London.

Read more‘Legend’ isn’t quite legendary, but it’s damn close

Documentary film ‘Kingdom of Shadows’ tries to shine a light on the drug trade

Documentary films that run less than 85 minutes raise an immediate question.  Would this have been better as a PBS special stretched out to two hours with pledge breaks, rather than as a feature project?  It is a valid question for Kingdom of Shadows, from writer/director Bernardo Ruiz.  Don’t take this to mean this is a “bad” film, because it isn’t.  It attempts to look at the utter failure of the so-called War on Drugs, through the lives of three very different individuals.  Drugs and the attempt to stop them from being imported into the U. S. across the border with Mexico has had major impact upon all of their lives.

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‘Trumbo’ is a movie that’s every bit as outstanding as the scripts he wrote

“There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides; and almost every individual involved, no matter where he stood, combined some or all of these antithetical qualities in his own person, in his own acts” – Dalton Trumbo in a 1970 speech.

Read more‘Trumbo’ is a movie that’s every bit as outstanding as the scripts he wrote

‘Spectre’ is an excellent Bond film, but pales in comparison to ‘Skyfall’

One thing every movie sequel has in common with other sequels is that it will be compared to the film or films that came before it.  With the 24th film in the official James Bond line of films (ignoring the original farcical version of Casino Royale in 1967 and the non EON Production movie Never Say Never again in 1983), the problem is only magnified.  Especially since 2012’s Skyfall was one of the best Bond films in a long time.  If we evaluate Spectre solely by comparing it to Skyfall, it suffers greatly.  However, the proper way to critique Spectre is to evaluate it without such comparison.  On that level it is an excellent effort.

Read more‘Spectre’ is an excellent Bond film, but pales in comparison to ‘Skyfall’