12 Strong, based on a true story, of courage, ability, and horses!

12 Strong opens with GreenBerets saying goodbye to their families to go behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer made the movie based on the 2009 bestseller, Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. This elite Special Forces unit led by Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) was codenamed: Task Force Dagger. Their mission after 9/11 was to take on the Taliban and its Al Qaeda followers, battle on land and order bomb strikes from the air.
The sounds of war, the thunder of the horses, and the black helicopters made the lounge chairs in the theater vibrate and my heart pound.
These 12 men had to learn to fight Afghan-style. That meant saddling up! Captain Nelson was raised on a ranch. How perfect to have “cowboy” Nelson at the helm.
12 Strong is rich on courage, the meaning of camaraderie and the absence of politics. Theater attendees cheered and applauded confirming the admiration and awe of these brave soldiers.

K-PAX may be just a little out of this world

K-PAX was released in 2001

I’m guessing that when K-Pax was released in 2001 you took a pass. I know I did. At the time, I wasn’t surprised that Rotten Tomatoes gave Pax a 41% rating.

K-Pax is about Port, a guy who says he’s from the planet K-Pax and that lands him in a psych ward. What I apparently ignored were who the 2 great actors starring. Jeff Bridges plays the doctor at Belleview and Kevin Spacey is the patient from K-Pax!  Dynamic duo.

 

 

My husband found interest in the film particularly when Roswell, New Mexico was mentioned. We visited the UFO Museum in Roswell in January and I have to admit, it made me a believer!

While Port is in the psych ward, he befriends the patients by offering to take one of them to K-Pax when he leaves. His popularity causes quite a stir and consideration of what these folks suffer. Port also has an impact on his doctor. I found it rich to have Bridges and Spacey in a film together—even better to be in a film that touches both heart and soul.

Case for Christ will get you talking!

The Case for Christ movie may send some disciples of Richard Dawkins whirling. Not because they fear an epiphany may lead to conversion but because for the first time in living color and surround sound believers witness first hand why non-believers must remove God from the daily mix.

Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel) is a reporter and happily married man until he accepts the challenge to debunk “Jesus,” the new devotee of his wife. Three years of research reveals Strobel’s frustration with being unable to refute Christianity and dispel the death and resurrection of Jesus. “Do you want to know the truth?” a fellow reporter asks, “or is your mind already made up?”

 

Case for Christ is so well edited and acted that you may feel at times you want to jump in with your own comments. You can do that in the car on the way home. What’s really at the crux of this faith-based film is what its audience on either side does with the revelation that yes, the death and resurrection did happen.

In his quest for the truth, Strobel got what he asked for and more. His 1998 book by the same title has sold millions of copies.

Beauty and the Beast——— delightful in 3D

Don’t miss Beauty and the Beast in 3D. My husband and I loved the cast and, of course, the Oscar-winning musical score by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken.


We ignored the hype about diversity and the Beast not apologizing. We were glad they also went with the Disney version and ignored the original with Belle’s jealous sisters. Oh, my gosh, you know the story and this delightful musical romantic fantasy will have you singing or humming along with Celine Dion or “the servants.” According to Wiki, the film’s budget was $160 million and box office to date is $874.9 million.

LION is tender-hearted movie across thousands of miles

LION, the story of an adopted man pursuing his biological family, was also a surprise adventure through two countries. The movie begins w/ a little Saroo who roams the streets to the point of being hungry and lost. His bed in a stationary train takes him thousands of miles from home to Calcutta. Change of language results in his adoption by a couple from Tasmania (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Another boy is also adopted by the couple.

Skipping through the years, the boys are grown and find themselves somewhat estranged. Dev Patel plays Saroo as an adult who is haunted by his childhood journey. He is particularly hurting because he knows his mother, who did not abandon him, must be looking for him. The pursuit of his mother reveals the anxiousness and tragedy experience by some adoptees. What an opportunity to join Saroo on his journey.

(spoiler) Lion is based on a true story. First-time feature director Garth Davis ends the film with the ideal real-life family reunion via pictures. The story was once told in Saroo’s best-selling book A Long Way Home. Lion will bring a tear to your eye.

One man’s persistence makes McDonald’s #one

The Founder is the story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) made McDonald’s fast food chain number one.

“You deserve a break today” begins the jingle to entice you to McDonald’s. It works as does their 24-hour breakfast and French fries that are devoured on the drive home. The restaurant didn’t start out that way. The McDonald brothers began by making money the hard way, frying and selling burgers one at a time.

Ray Kroc

Then Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) came into their lives and business changed. Kroc was a dreamer and a worker too. He could spot others w/such talents. After some bamboozling w/the brothers, Kroc was on his way in 1954 to build McDonald’s into the most successful fast food operation in the world.

Any aspiring entrepreneur will appreciate The Founder. Anyone who can’t drive by a McDonald’s without stopping may wish to tip a hat to the man who made it happen.

Discovery and Deception makes GOLD compelling

 

Matther Mcconaughey and Edgar Ramirez in search of GOLD

GOLD: Film critics have been wrong before. I predict they are wrong on Gold considering the outstanding performance of Matthew Mcconaughey as the compulsive character Kenny Wells. No doubt Wells almost cartoon-like body confirms what will happen when you live like a bird on the wire with a diet of alcohol.

Gold is based on the true story of Canadian businessman, David Walsh. Yes, Walsh did buy land in Indonesia; and, he did hire a geologist who salted a mine with gold flakes. Bottom line, it was one of the biggest stock scandals in Canadian history.

Trust me, Mcconaughey could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. The film storyline offers just such an opportunity. Wells is a young man who wanted to do a good job not only for the money, but, foremost to honor his father. Just how far he is willing to go to do this is what gives his character purpose. Walsh’s frustration for success makes him the perfect pushover. I predict Gold is a film that will be played over and over on movie channels.

FENCES – to separate, to divide, to protect!

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in FENCES

If you are a Denzel Washington fan as I am, you’ll appreciate the excellence of his directing and acting in Fences. Washington as Troy and Viola Davis as his loving wife Rose, also played those parts in this Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play by August White. Fences was written as an intimate play, which is probably why from beginning to end, I felt I was experiencing a stage play or better, observing over a fence.

Troy is a workingman, trying to make ends meet. When he learns that his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo) has the opportunity for a college scholarship for his football skills, he squelches those dreams just as his once were. Rose becomes perturbed, but not nearly as distressed as she reacts soon afterwards to Troy’s news. (No spoilers here.)

Viola Davis and Denzel Washington receive Tony Awards, 2010, as Rose and Troy in FENCES.

Washington and Davis deliver award-winning performances that easily elevate this “play” to the best film category. The story itself is pure and timeless in the back yard conversations.

From Troy’s argument with death: All right . . . Mr. Death. See now . . . I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna take and build me a fence around this yard. See? I’m gonna build me a fence around what belongs to me. And then I want you to stay on the other side.” 

Fences could well be an anthropological lesson of a culture some may prefer to deny was grueling and for others continues to be arduous.

Rich in history even more in inspiration: Hidden Figures

 

Hidden Figures is a based on the true story of three brilliant women of integrity who were held back and basically ignored in the fields of math and science because they were women, black women. Such bizarre and ludicrous behavior undoubtedly stalled, possibly even damaged projects at NASA.

I cringed watching Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, a young widow with three daughters, required to do mile-long runs to relieve herself because “there’s no colored bathrooms in this building.” Real life Katherine Johnson is 98 years old, known for calculating the trajectories for many NASA missions. In 2015 Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mary Jackson, played by Janell Monae, shows what happens when brains and determination meet bigotry and pigheadedness. Jackson’s role will undoubtedly serve to motivate others experiencing discrimination.

 

My favorite of the three is Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer (The Help), whose wit, wisdom and intestinal fortitude eventually knocked down the doors of impossible. Vaughan becomes the first employee supervisor of color in the space program. Oh that audiences everywhere watching Vaughan would strive to emulate those qualities at home and in the workplace.

My favorite is Dorothy Vaughan played by Octavia Spencer. Vaughan has chutzpah! Photo:  wsws.org

The film is adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book by the same name. She grew up with many of these brilliant mathematicians around her. Shetterly’s thoughtfully and thoroughly researched book is a read for everyone to be inspired and even more for the revelation of our history that has been as the title says, one of “hidden figures.”

 

 

Patriots’ Day is a story of courage and resilience–always remember

Patriots’ Day director Peter Berg with actor Mark Wahlberg

Patriots’ Day is a 5 Star film from it’s opening scenes to the credit roll, Director Peter Berg delivers a perfectly paced thriller about April 19, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon when 2 terrorists set off bombs on the crowded streets, murdering, mutilating and wounding its people. Berg outperforms Lonesome Survivor (2013) and Deepwater Horizon (2016) drawing deeper emotions for those whose courage saved lives and showed strength in unity. At times I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry as I watched first responders challenged by human emotions of sorrow, pain and the call to action.

Character development goes a long way in this violent type of film. Unlike Titanic, where I didn’t really care who fell off the boat, Berg has me believing I’m somehow related to these officers and bystanders. Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K Simmons) bringing his wife a blueberry muffin for breakfast, a young couple whose love is blossoming, or a nurse who saves lives everyday, I’m with them all the way.

For the second time this year (the first was Deepwater Horizon) Mark Wahlberg shines in crisis mode. As officer/detective Tommy Saunders (a combination of Boston’s finest), Wahlberg delivers the lines of why Boston folks are strong, watch out for each other, and work together. His lines are heartfelt. After all, he went to school just 250 yards from the marathon finish line. Wahlberg is a master of crisis as Berg is with explosions—I hope they both keep them coming.

The film’s resolve includes several of those who lived to tell their story, stories of innocent people who gathered for a healthy, outdoor event turned tragedy. My thoughts were ranging from “God, I love the people of Boston” to “shoot the _______!” I realized that Patriots Day touched me in a reflective way. I questioned whether I would be as resilient as those who lost their leg(s) or a loved one? If I had the good fortune to escape the explosives, would I turn back to help those in need? Thankfully there were those who were unyielding in their determination to heal and to track down the bombers.