Movie Review – The Goldfinch

 

Movie Review - The GoldfinchDisclaimer; I did not read the 800+ page Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I should have.

Not having read the book, I don’t know how closely the movie followed it, but I did read an article that director John Crowley took great pains to remain faithful to the book. Plus, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes — 74 — is a pretty good indicator that the fans did approve of the movie.

Okay, so I didn’t read the book, but saw the movie, blah, blah blah. How did I feel about The Goldfinch?

Ansel Elgort did a fine job portraying the adult Theo. And he certainly did look like a Manhattan preppy. Nicole Kidman, as Theo’s guardian after the death of his mother, honestly could have been played by just about any other actor. Her character had no meat on her bones.

A Couple of Issues with The Goldfinch

Here’s one problem I encountered with the movie: the two actors playing Theo’s love interests, Willa Fitzgerald and Ashley Cummings, looked just enough alike to confuse me. And what with the flow of the movie that went forward and backward throughout the film, it kinda messed with my head. I really didn’t like that.

I was entertained on a fairly consistent level, and enjoyed the twists and turns that kept the pace going. Biggest complaint: it was about half an hour too long and it wasn’t even a Marvel movie.

I give The Goldfinch a B-.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: This movie was slow paced, making it fairly easy to get 3 Peetimes due to the length of the movie – 2 & 1/2 hours. I had a problem with my timer half way through the film, so the last Peetime may be off by a minute or less. So, sorry if this creates any confusion.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Goldfinch. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for drug use and language
Genres: Drama

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

Movie Review – Blinded by the Light

Movie Review – Downton Abbey

Movie Review - Downton AbbeyAt the premier, everyone in the audience clearly enjoyed themselves. A lot. People laughed so much I could barely get Peetimes. And the entire room was so sold out that I had to sit in the very front row, on the edge.

All this is to say I need to see the film again. The sound was poor in my room, my seat was awful, and I missed a lot of what was going on — and I’m a HUGE Downton Abbey fan — one who did an entire series rewatch last month to prepare (six season’s worth).

So, yeah, I really didn’t get to enjoy this the way the rest of the die hard fans did. For some reason, I also didn’t get my free Downtown Abbey premier snowglobe. I was just lucky to get a seat, even though I bought my ticket hours early. Don’t underestimate Abbey fans!

From audience reaction, this was a very satisfying return to the original 2011 T V show. People laughed throughout, loudly, and applauded twice.

In between the bad seat and poor sound, and trying to find Peetimes for two hours, I didn’t enjoy this the way I’d hoped.

But in spite of this, there were many good things:

  •  The costumes were fabulous. We didn’t get to see as much of the Abbey as I’d have liked, though.
  • The cast looked great. No one really aged, and the actors slipped right back into their characters. Even Lord Grantham’s dog made an appearance.-
  • Thomas Barrow got some romantic attention! This was hinted at in the trailers and was nice to see played out.
  • Daisey’s story was sewn up.
  • Mr. Mosley stole the show, as usual.
  • Mr. Carson and Mrs. Huges were as lovely as always.
  • No more Bates/Anna issues. YAY!
  • The Crawley family showed up, although they were kind of shunted to the side. Tom Branson had the most play time, with Lady Mary and Lady Edith getting some attention here and there.
  • Maggie Smith, as the Dowager Countess, was THE BEST, as always. I could just watch her do the sarcastic, acidic Grandmama for hours.
  • The movie felt mostly like a long episode of the TV show, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Call it a two-hour Christmas Special episode.
  • There’s lot’s of room for sequels.

I’ll be seeing this again when it’s officially released. Although I really want my snowglobe. 😉

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: I was at the premiere…but let me say this was one of the most difficult movies ever to get Peetimes for. The cast is HUGE and each scene cuts quickly from different subplots through the entire thing. I’m going to assume most fans want to see the fun interactions between our main characters, and less of the ‘plot’ the film is hung on. Try to use the 1st or 2nd Peetimes.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Downton Abbey. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language
Genres: Drama

Movie Review – Hustlers

Movie Review - HustlersI’m giving this movie an A for sure. I loved it. Watching these women do their thing was so much fun that I forgot I was working. All of the sudden a little thought popped into my head like, “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be watching for Peetimes?”

So yeah, what they were doing was wrong and illegal, but who am I to judge? I lead a very boring and mundane life on the right side of the law. These women were doing exactly what the little devil on my shoulder whispers in my ear. I of course don’t listen to him, but during Hustlers, I was able to live vicariously through these devilishly, devious women. It was a good time!

Let’s talk about J Lo really quick. Wow! She’s got a body on her that I am so envious of. She could work that pole like a pro. Nicely done, lady.

Everyone has been talking about Cardi B branching out into movies. Well, I gotta say for her first gig, she did great. She doesn’t have a very big part but her character was larger than life. I can see her building a reputation on the silver screen.

Hustlers will make the top of my list for chick flicks. Grab your girlfriends and make a night out of it. A great time will be had by all. Thinking about it, you could bring your boyfriends too; I’m sure they’d see a thing or two that would please them. Wink wink.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Hustlers moves pretty quickly, luckily there are a lot of music montage scenes to choose Peetimes from. These 2 should work pretty well for you.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Hustlers. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language and nudity
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Video – Opening Scene to La La Land (that amazing traffic jam dance)

emma stone and ryan gosling dance in la la land
I don’t buy their relationship, but they sure can dance.

It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of La La Land (as in, the movie. The city itself is fine.) Mostly I think La La Land is a bit silly and overly sentimental. It won a lot of awards, but I just didn’t love it. (Thankfully, I didn’t have to do the Peetimes.)

Also, I think the character Ryan Gosling plays is a jerk, and the film’s ending is not my brand of bittersweet.

But…the opening number is REALLY something else. Jamming during a traffic  jam on a gridlocked Los Angeles bridge — under that bright blue California sky — is not only a charming idea, but the choreography is a stunning showstopper.

Even if you’re not fond of movie musicals, this fantasy sequence is a pure winner. Too bad flash mobs don’t actually do this in real life! Here’s the entire video of the beginning scene that’s sure to bring a smile to your face:

Although I’d give this movie a B- myself, this dancing cold open deserves all the A plusses I can muster.

Read RunPee Mom’s capsule movie review of LaLa Land:

Movie Review – La La Land

RunPee FAQs (about)

RunPee’s “Golden Rule”

Rewatch Review – Dave (1993) … And A Few Notes about Post Scarcity & Star Trek

dave movie trailer 1993 kevin kline
Hail to the chief, even when he’s in the shower.

We should be so lucky to have a real life scenario where Dave, the movie,  happens. I was delighted to re-catch the 1993 film  last night… and finished  off with a real smile on my face. Plus a positive attitude, and a lot of wish fulfillment. Watching again this was a great time and help up surprisingly well so many years later.

Note of excitement that’s only a  little political:

The idea that if we just took a good hard look at our spending choices in the US Budget, we could move that cash into positive reforms, is exciting. I realize it’s not that easy — each cash allowance is earmarked for different departments, and if they don’t spend it they lose it…but that’s a broken system. We should focus on sending money to issues that will help humanity suffer less. Not to buy thousand-dollar staplers for administration employees. (Yes, look this up.)

So, avoiding political battles. I don’t want to upset people. But Dave is just such a darn feel-good movie about what could happen if someone who really wanted to help people became a public servant, and if we had a a simple but smart accountant take a sober look at where we’re leaking money (like millions of ‘petty cash’ allotments), and make some big budgetary changes.

Alright, alright, I’m not saying (as Dave posits) that we can get a job for every American who wants one. But isn’t this what FDR did? The Conservation Corps of America said, “Hey, if you’re able bodied, let’s make stable trails, and safe roads, and solid hospitals…” — and that’s certainly better than sending out a welfare check for no work at all.

In Dave, the message is that people WANT to be productive and feel their days have structure and meaning. Sure, some people would rather be fishing or playing video games, but that’s better than having desperate people become criminals and overload the expensive penal system. Let them fish. Maybe they can help feed their families or communities; never a bad thing.

A Post Scarcity Economy can happen — think Star Trek

I’m getting political again…but I just really think we can do this. We almost have most of the Star Trek post scarcity indicators:

  • Replicators that can create anything off the waste products society makes, from the molecular level up (ie – industrial 3D printers getting better all the time).
  • Self driving cars to prevent millions of expensive accidents and illegal acts.
  • Holodecks to keep people content, entertained, and mentally active (VR and AR simulations are constantly improving. At the last Comic Con, I WALKED ON THE MOON. It was real enough to make me cry with joy). Rome had a good idea with their Bread and Circuses program, cynicism aside…
  • AI – Self-aware, self-replicating computers that can take over the most menial of jobs, be our expert medical diagnosticians, run simulations on how society can benefit most from automation, etc, and so on, ad infinitum (The Singularity could happen any time now).
  • Nano Tech that can create durable goods  with almost unlimited strength  capabilities, including the possibility of Space Elevators (Getting closer every day).
  • Warp Speed and Transporters are not really a thing soon, but we don’t need those to make Earth a paradise for all. We don’t live in a United Federation of Planets just yet. 😉

We aren’t at these scientific levels yet, but many will probably happen in our lifetimes, making goods, education, health, and basic services available to all, almost freely. This is what a post-scarcity economy could mean for humanity.

And honestly, if you think about it, most people want to contribute their skills to betterment in some way. There’s no downside to smarter resource allocation.

Dave (the movie) shows what happens when Dave (the character) — a smart, honest, and caring person who only wants to be a public servant performing the job the country ‘hired’ him to do — accidentally gets into office, and has a chance to do just that. No egos. No excess. Just: Do. The. Job.

Why should “the normal” be to expect less from our leaders? Politicians aren’t celebrities. They are public citizens. And we hire them to make things better.

dave kevin kline and sigourney weaver
Seriously adorable couple.

What else? The characters were great!

Dave (Kevin Kline, in a fantastic double role performance), gives us a comic, sweet-spirited, fascinating take on “What If?…” He’s never been this lovable in any role.

Sigourney Weaver did a bang up job as Dave’s muse, and Frank Langella  (as always) was perfect as the corrupt Chief of Staff you love to hate. “You’re LINT!” might have been my favorite line.

Speechwriter Kevin Dunn as Alan was simply adorable, but the MVP role goes to Ving Rhames as Duane, the “president’s” bodyguard. I melted when he finally opened up about how sweaters made his neck look big. His final line to Dave, about taking a bullet for him, was sentimental without being gooey: a perfect character development moment.

And Duane’s last-second scene at Dave’s office door made me grin like a freaking fool, realistic or not. Just happy vibes all around. Share this movie with everyone you know.

Yes: Real People Cared Too

A LOT of real life politicos, TV hosts, pundits, and celebrities (Hi Arnold!) played themselves in Dave. Clearly, some important folks got the humor of the film, and the sweetness, and also maybe cared about making our country a better place for everyone.

Lastly. Thank you, Director Ivan Reitman (of Ghostbusters fame) for making a seemingly fluffy movie with a ton of heart and hope for all Americans.

Movie Grade: A

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

 

Movie Review - The Little MermaidI am consumed by a move this weekend and will have to flesh this review out for real in bits and pieces.

To start off, the 1989 original Disney animated classic The Little Mermaid is in the cinemas and you should absolutely catch it while you can. Take the entire family. The Danish version of Hans Christian Anderson’s tragic story doesn’t rear its head at all, so you’ll be safe.

The Little Mermaid is my absolute favorite animated Disney movie that manages somehow to offend almost no one.

I know there are issues with the upcoming live action remake, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

And the songs are among the best the studio ever made. I know them all by heart. When I take my sister to see this again on Sunday we’ll have a hard time not singing along, out loud. Unless everyone sings them too — then we’ll belt them along with the rest.

Although the sea scenes are luscious, especially within the limited animated style of the time, it’s the fun and gentle humor that I love so much. If you’re a fan of Finding Nemo, this undersea adventure should also be on your must-watch list.

Lastly, for now, Ursula the Sea Witch is one of Disney’s best villains. Might be their best ever. I have to think on that.

GO SEE THIS IN THE THEATERS NOW. And you might be introducing a ‘whole new world’ to an old classic. (To mix my princess movie metaphors).

Now I’ve got to pack, but I’ve definitely got more to say.

#UnderTheSea

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This animated classic is being re-released in theaters Friday. All 3 Peetimes are good. Make SURE to use them, so you don’t miss the outstanding iconic songs in this wonderful musical.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Little Mermaid. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (G) Some scenes are a little *fishy*.
Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Movie Review – It Chapter Two

 

Movie Review - It Chapter TwoI’ve got so much to say about It Chapter Two, I’m not usually one for long reviews, but this one calls for it. Here we go…

Let’s start off on a positive note.

The beginning absolutely captivated me. I loved how each of the Losers were contacted and asked to come back to Derry. Then we were given glimpses into each of the Losers lives as adults. I really liked that. Eddie’s moment was absolutely hilarious; he grew up to have an intense love of profanity. Bill had grown up to be about what I had expected him to be; it was Beverly’s life that troubled me. I won’t give that away. Richie (Bill Hader) in my opinion stole the spot for funniest character. His sarcastic negativity was priceless. Ben was a bit of a shock, I didn’t see his adult story coming. Let’s just say, “Hot!”

The movie then gathers even more of my attention. The Losers are all now back in Derry. Watching the interaction and reactions of the friends was perfectly done. Mike gathered them all together and his revelations are intensely brought to light.

The Best Part of the Plot

It comes down to the fact that each of the Losers have to find a token of their childhood to sacrifice during a ritual that Mike researched and wants to perform. I won’t say anymore about that. I’m trying to avoid spoilers.

During this shift of the movie, it takes on a surreal feel. Each Loser has “their” thing they are searching for. They are individually done and I thought that was a fabulous way to do it. I chose to not use any of those scenes for Peetimes, as the plot development and character development was at maximum velocity here.

Now we transition into them working together to solve this age-long problem called Pennywise. This was masterfully done, with the exception of Mike and Beverly (Isaiah Mustafa and Jessica Chastain).

Where IT: Chapter 2 Let Me Down

Here’s my first gripe: Isaiah, in my opinion, didn’t have a very strong screen presence. It’s like his expression never changed. He’s a great actor, but I didn’t like him in this. Second gripe: Jessica Chastain is also another great actress, but in It Chapter Two, she didn’t bring the strength and tenacity that young Bev brought (Sophia Lillis). There was no pop to her and I was really looking forward to seeing her rip It up.

Here’s my final gripe….Pennywise. I need to skirt around this as to avoid spoilers, dangit — this is hard to say. Pennywise didn’t drool enough for me; he didn’t use his clipped high pitched speaking tone enough, arrgg… It let me down. This is absolutely not on Skarsgard: his acting was impeccable. It was the writing that faltered here. I’m not crazy about how they portrayed him. That’s all I can say right now.

Now that I’ve got my three gripes out of the way, I can officially say I still loved It 2. The gripes are easy enough to overlook because the positives totally outweigh the negatives. The film had some amazing effects, brutal sounds and hilarious moments. It Chapter Two is certainly good, but didn’t quite do the perfect execution to rate an A.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It Chapter Two is packed with action, with almost no lulls. I hope that these 3 Peetimes will help you get thorough this monstrously long movie. (Seriously, check your Peetimes on the RunPee app, and tell everyone you know — this film is almost 3 hours long!)

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of It Chapter Two. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material
Genres: Horror, Clowns (duh)

All the Problems with the Movie It

Who is Who in IT – Chapter 2

Movie Review – Ready or Not

Movie Review – The Good Dinosaur (and The Pixar Theory)

the-good-dinosaur-poster
He’s really only an okay dinosaur.

Okay, yeah, this Pixar film was pretty, but not as pretty as Disney’s  The Lion King, which it also managed to…ahem…totally rip off. It’s also very reminiscent of Dreamwork’s initial Toothless scenes in How to Train Your Dragon.

It’s got some cute moments, and an interesting take on the feral dog boy. He’s a hoot, and seems smarter and more useful than Arlo, the useless titular young Apatosaur.

And from time to time, the story gives us some insight about how dinosaurs might have evolved culturally if that meteor skipped Earth entirely. But I didn’t really buy it. The world-building wasn’t there. This ended up being a buddy travel movie. There was some cleverness, but not up to the level I expect from a Pixar classic.

Why You Should See The Good Dinosaur Anyway

The only reason I saw The Good Dinosaur:  I watched a bunch of videos on The Pixar Theory, and the Cretaceous Era is kind of where the possibly interlinked overarcing story begins. So I found a copy of The Good Dinosaur (and it’s on Netflix right now, so catch it before Disney Plus steals it for their own private channel). I played it while cleaning my room (it’s not gripping enough to really sit and watch, no matter how amusing Sam Elliot is as a T-Rex herding longhorns).

By the way, The Good Dinosaur is an awful name for for movie. Did the producers really not care at all? What does that even mean?

The movie is mostly just sweet. Not bad. In fact, it’s slightly better than average. But I expect far better from Pixar.

For the first time, I’ll give a movie two grades, depending on how savvy and discerning you are in the animation genre.

Movie Grade for adults: C+

Movie Grade for Kiddoes: B (Gentle film, gentle humor, and hey, it only might make you cry.)

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon (No Spoilers)

Pixar Fast Fact Video – Easter Eggs in Incredibles 2

 

Movie Review – The Matrix

 

Movie Review - The MatrixAfter reading RunPee Dan’s amazing retrospective on “The Matrix After 20 Years“, I’m a little intimidated to try and pen my own review. He’s RunPee’s resident Matrix EXPERT. And I don’t say that lightly. Uber. Fan.

I especially get nervous trying to do justice to classic A+ level films. But I do have a few things to say, and here we go…

I’m packing for a move and might add more later. Suffice to say: this movie was a total mind-f#ck when it came out in 1999…and still is. The only really dated aspects are the corded phones and noisy modem (if you’re old enough, you KNOW this sound and it’s still as jarring as it was back then).

If you’re seeing The Matrix for the first time, remember this was the first film to attempt anything like this. At all. It’s a game changer that subsequent dystopian sci-fi films emulated to varying degrees over the years. “Inception“, for one, got it right. And then quite a few missed the boat more or less, like “Looper” which is a decent movie itself, but doesn’t come close to The Matrix.

(Funnily enough, both Inception and Looper featured one of the the same actors).

Why The Matrix is Still so Good

The difference is STYLE. And terrific direction, color palette, intelligent writing, and actors who couldn’t be better suited — both in the casting department, with each actor going balls to the wall in to the new world they had to sell.

Keanu even gets to say “Whoa,” and it doesn’t seem like fan pandering. It IS a WHOA moment.

the-matrix-bullet-time-keanu-reeves
Bring it.

Not to mention The Matrix sports a fabulous soundtrack, and effects that hold up extremely well. I just rewatched this yesterday to get Peetimes, since The Matrix is enjoying a theater revival. It’s still spectacular in look, feel, and story.

(Little realized fact: Most of the effects were done realistically with real actors in wires, and the 360 degree use of physical cameras to create the “Bullet Time” effect we take for granted now. I’m a huge fan of truly realistic physical effects in a modern age of CGI Everything.)

the-matrix-trinit-carry-anne-moss
Practical effects shot on wires. Trinity can still kick your butt.

This is how to make a movie. I can only hope the Watchoskis are up to the 2020 fourquel after all this time. Some crucial threads are left unresolved, so I’m fine with bringing the original cast back, dead or alive. (In Sci-Fi, death is relative.)

Deeper than The Usual Sci-Fi Flick

I’m not even going to handle the intense philosophies presented in the Matrix Trilogy — Philosophy professors wrote many books and teach actual courses just on this.

Enough for now. This will get you started. Also, if you hurry, this will be your only time to catch The Matrix on the big screen after two decades, so go get on it. Our three good Peetimes on the RunPee app will help you remember what scenes NOT to miss.

Free. Your. Mind.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: We just noticed The Matrix was released on a limited basis, so we added Peetimes now. Keep in mind this is a seriously intense mind-bending movie that you have to pay close attention to. All 3 Peetimes are really good. The last time to go is at 1 hour into the 2 hour film, so make sure to empty your bladder proactively, especially if this is your 1st time watching the film. (Or if it’s been a while.) #TheMatrixHasYou

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Matrix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for sci-fi violence and brief language
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Analysis of Inception

Movie Review – Looper

 

Movie Review – Don’t Let Go

Movie Review - Don't Let GoMy personal opinion: I loved it. The movie starts off fast and keeps gaining momentum, hurtling us toward an incredible ending.

It’s action packed. The story was interesting and the acting was superb.

I don’t know why so many people are trashing it. I’ve read about thirty reviews talking about how this story has been done before. People are referencing Frequency; sure it’s similar, but helloooo?? Does anyone recall the 11 Halloween movies, or perhaps the 11 Friday the 13th movies? I can think of at least 5 Groundhog Day themed movies. My point is, there are so many movies, that finding a truly original script is becoming almost impossible.

(Unless you’re Quentin Tarantino. He’s original and prefect all the time, every time.)

I’m not going to say one word about the story development. I recommend trying to avoid seeing blurbs about the ending. The surprise of the finale is well worth the effort of avoiding any type of news covering Don’t Let Go.

I’m giving it a solid A. I was pleasantly surprised by it and hope you’ll enjoy it just us much as I did.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I highly recommend the 1st Peetime. This movie bounces back and forth in time and it will confuse you, even if you look away for a second.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Don’t Let Go. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, bloody images, and language
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller