Monthly Archives: July 2017

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Movie Trailer – Crown Heights

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Matt Ruskin

Starring: Lakeith Stanfield

Release: August 25th, 2017

What a relevant topic for a film today, and what a way to deliver it, wow.


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Movie Trailer – Alpha

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Albert Hughes

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee

Release: March 2nd, 2018

The amount that this looks better than 10,000 BC is immeasurable and KSM is the absolute man.  The Road, ParaNorman, Romeo & Juliet, Young Ones, All the Wilderness, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Slow West (my personal favorite), X-Men: Apocalypse; the kid can do it all.  He’s a major up-and-coming talent, keep your eye on him, and watch this movie.


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Sports – 2017 NFL Predictions

Category : Sports

The 2017 NFL season is almost upon us, with Free Agency and the Draft complete, Training Camps beginning, and the Regular Season right around the corner.  It’s time for Olie’s Too Early To Tell Season Predictions!  Here’s to another great year!

AFC Division Winners

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NFC Division Winners

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AFC Wild Cards

NFC Wild Cards

Super Bowl

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Champions

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Movie Trailer – Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Angela Robinson

Starring: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote

Release: October 27th, 2017

I’m intrigued, and only partly because of the potential sex and polyamory.


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Movie Trailer – The Disaster Artist

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Franco

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco

Release: December 8th, 2017

I have never seen The Room, but I think I need to.  And then I need to see Disaster Artist because I think it might be magic.


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DVD Review – The Zookeeper’s Wife

Category : DVD Review

Director: Niki Caro

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl

Year: 2017

American audiences will recognize Jessica Chastain of course, and they may even know Daniel Bruhl, who I recently raved about in my review of Alone in Berlin.  But Johan Heldenbergh might not be someone you’ve seen before, and that’s a shame.  I can’t claim higher ground, I’ve only seen him one time, in The Broken Circle Breakdown, a powerful film in which he shone.  And his light radiates again here in a film that isn’t his vehicle, but which he steals whenever he is on camera.  He & Bruhl duel for the attention of Chastain, which is one of the themes of the movie, though not its primary by any means.  But that subplot does pit these two fine actors against each other, and I think it, along with the true story behind the action, saves the film from potential ruin.

The Movie

Based on the book by the same name, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the true story of the Zabinski family, their zoo, and their heroic acts during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland during WWII.  The Zabinskis ran the Warsaw Zoo with care and dedication, loving the animals as their own children, forming relationships that went beyond humans and animals.  Antonina was as hands on as possible, living among the creatures, helping them through struggles, viewing each of them as an individual life.  Jan was a hard worker, a strong husband, and loved to see his wife moving hay right beside him, her bare feet in the soil of the land.  And their son Ryszard grew up in the heart of it all, a magical place of energy and caring that radiated warmth to all who visited.

But war was coming, and its evil effects were inevitable.  When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Warsaw was bombed, including the beloved zoo.  Buildings were destroyed, animals were killed, and those who ran confusedly free were quickly shot by soldiers.  The Nazis rolled into the city and took complete control, claiming the battered zoo as a weapons depot, and taking over its operation.  The animals were taken to Berlin by Lutz Heck, Hitler’s head zoologist, who believed he could breed aurochs back into existence.  Meanwhile, under his very nose, the Zabinskis refused to be beaten.  They turned what was left of the zoo into a pig farm to feed German soldiers, but also began smuggling in Jews from the ghetto, hiding them in cages beneath the ground, helping them to escape the brutality of the Nazis and their Final Solution.

What an incredible true tale, a story of bravery in the face of pure evil and of a family who risked everything to do what was right.  The Zabinskis saved over 300 Jews from certain death over the years, all the while putting their own children’s lives in danger every day.  That kind of courage is only called upon during terrible times, but I don’t think that everyone has it in them to convert it into action when death is the punishment for discovery.  The Zabinskis were simply heroic beyond measure, and although their effort saved such a small number compared to the millions who died, each life was a sacred thing being stolen away, each life saved was a miracle.

Now back to the movie, which I have to say was mediocre compared to the actual events that inspired it.  Most of that is because of Jessica Chastain, who has fooled so many into thinking that she is ultra-talented, when the opposite is true.  She’s a one-note actress, made all the more apparent by the use of a fake accent, which hampers any actor’s ability to emote properly.  She isn’t as strong as her preceding reputation, and the film could have flopped because of it.  To say that the men saved the day would be sexist, but in this film Heldenbergh and Bruhl were the far more believable leads, perhaps helped by their actual accents, but I also believe aided by their superior talents.  The film was fine, it didn’t feel overly long, I was interested throughout, but the majority of that was due to the reality of the situation, not by the work of the woman who was supposed to be the reason to watch.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (1o80p HD Widescreen) and shot using both Arri Alexa M cameras with Hawk V-Lite lenses and Arri Alexa XT Plus cameras with Hawk V-Lite, V-Plus, and V-Series lenses, the video quality of the film was top-notch.  The colors were magnificent, the scenery was beautiful, the animals looked lovely, the costumes were cool, and the visuals of the majority of the movie should be commended.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio, with alternate choices of English DVS Dolby Digital 2.0 and Spanish DTS Digital Surround.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  Also, menu button sounds can be turned on/off.  The audio quality of the film was excellent, with a nice backing track and a strong balance.

Extras – There are a few extras on the Blu-ray, if you were interested in learning more.  There are 6 deleted scenes that can be played all at once or individually.  The Making of The Zookeeper’s Wife is a 7-minute behind-the-scenes segment.  The Zabinski Family is a 4-minute featurette including interviews with the author of the novel and the children of the real life Jan and Antonina.  And there are also 6 previews: The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl, Hyde Park on Hudson, Loving, Race, Suffragette.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  With this film, the content may outperform the delivery, but there are enough positives about the movie itself to warrant a watch, if not a falling in love.  Chastain is the weakest link by far, and I wish that the critical and cinematic worlds weren’t so taken with her, that a different actress could have taken this role to the place it needed.  Why not a Polish actress, there’s a simple question with a predictably complicated answer.  Heldenbergh and Bruhl succeeded in part because they were more authentic, although the former is actually from Flanders, and the latter is half Spanish.  They are simply more talented as well, that point should be made, and their screen time was of a higher quality because of it.  The video was superb, the audio solid as well, and there are some special features for those who want more.  Overall, a strong showing, a fascinating tale, just not a movie that will make an awards splash or be remarked upon often in the coming years.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Bushwick

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Cary MurnionJonathan Milott

Starring: Brittany Snow, Dave Bautista

Release: August 25th, 2017

I’m completely giving up on Brittany Snow.  When I saw her in Nip/Tuck and then The Vicious Kind, I thought she was a guaranteed up-and-coming talent, a beautiful actress who had a dark side to fuel a ton of great characters.  But since then it’s been crap after crap, and I’m done.  Meanwhile, Dave Bautista is more a bodybuilder than an actor, and the pair of them won’t make this weird plot work.


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Movie Trailer – Birth of the Dragon

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: George Nolfi

Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen

Release: August 25th, 2017

I’m a little confused about just what’s a true story and what isn’t.  Honestly, I’m not sure I care that much, as I’m sure the movie itself will not be as cool as the actual legend of Bruce Lee.


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Movie Review – Free Fire

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ben Wheatley

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer

Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley

Year: 2016

Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump are a director/writer combo, but I almost feel like they need a third person to help them make movies.  I don’t say this to be insulting, because I enjoyed both High-Rise and Free Fire, up to a certain point.  Past that point, there needs to be another person to rein in the wacky and to get it tied to a firm fence post, because in both films my love dissolves when the plot forgets to stay put.  My favorite director, Wes Anderson, needs the same thing, another voice to shout his down when he’s lost connection with reality, an editor to put on the brakes when the wagon is heading for a cliff.  My basic point is that I wanted to adore Free Fire, that I did for about the first half, but that it failed to continue the momentum, and that’s a bleeding shame.

An arms deal in an abandoned factory between the IRA and a South African gunrunner; what could go wrong.  Especially when you add in two independent brokers, a pair of thugs for each side, dozens of automatic weapons, and a suitcase full of cash.  The scene is set for a battle royale once the deal goes south, and you know it’s about to.  Chris & Frank the Irishmen, with some dimwitted relatives in tow.  Vernon the wack job from Johannesburg, with equally violent sidekicks.  Justine the beauty, Ord the tall drink of water, and maybe a few extra shooters thrown in for good measure just to make things more exciting.  Shit is about to hit the fan, and anyone who makes it out alive will have pushed fate to the absolute limit.

I love the set up, I love the characters, and the humor from the very beginning until about 30-40 minutes in is to die for.  Free Fire is exactly what I wanted for about half a short movie; the dumbasses making the deal, the awesome accents, the 70s vibe, the bumbling brutality.  Copley specifically is amazing, never better, just a horrible person who you’re rooting for to die but also to keep cracking you up.  And Jack Reynor, I don’t know what he did, but if you had told me he was Seth Rogen I would have believed you.  So all was well, until it wasn’t.  You can only watch people lying in the dust shooting at each other before you need something else, and that something else never really came.  As action-packed as it was, I started to get bored by the end, and when the deaths became extremely gruesome I was probably already checked out instead of impressed.  The ending left a lot to be desired too, so I wish I could just go back, watch 45 minutes, write a climax myself, and walk away having seen what I wanted instead of what was actually delivered.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Brigsby Bear

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Dave McCary

Starring: Kyle Mooney, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill

Release: September 21st 2017

WT wacky F was that?  He’s in a bunker?  He’s in a bear costume?  This is Frank meets Smoochy meets Blast from the Past?  I don’t think I’m interested.