Movie Review – Mary Queen of Scots

Movie Review - Mary Queen of ScotsLet me begin by saying I’ve studied this beguiling queen for decades. I once spent a day at Holyrood Palace walking in the gardens where Mary once walked. I climbed the stone staircase Darnley and his henchmen rushed up to murder David Rizzio, and saw the chamber where Mary was entertaining her four Marys, and Rizzio — the place where the murderers dragged him from the room and stabbed him 56 times, ending his life.

One of my biggest gripes is when Hollywood takes a perfectly good piece of history and turns it into something barely recognizable. This didn’t happen with Mary Queen of Scots. There were a few minor inconsistencies, but for the most part the movie did follow John Guy’s book, Queen of Scots, except for the fact that Mary and Elizabeth never met face to face.

Giving Mary and Elizabeth a vis-à-vis scene may not be historically accurate but has been hypothesized to such an extent that it would a shame not to include it in a cinematic recreation . Beau Willimon did a fine job of approaching this movie with the attitude of ‘what if’. What if the two queens had met face to face, who would be the dominant figure? You can read 50 different books on the subject. Some lean toward Elizabeth and others Mary. (My money would be on Mary.)

The costumes, makeup, and hair were outstanding. The costumes were appropriate for the period, and I found it interesting that the Scottish court was dressed in more muted colors, reflective of their environment, but the English court dressed in more brilliant colors, reflective of the English gardens. The hair styles seemed to take on a life of their own, getting bigger and more outlandish as the movie progressed. I’d like to know how much of the budget went to hairspray.

The real heroes in the making of this movie are the cinematographers. This department went the extra mile to give us the most beautiful views of Scotland, which basically is anywhere you look. My son, AKA, RunPee Dan, my daughter in law, and I spent a great deal of time traveling through Scotland. On our visit to the Isle of Skye, we stayed at the Skye Walker Hostel, where one evening I actually watched a towel being slowly pushed off the shelf and onto the floor. Honestly, I did. In a conversation with the owner, I mentioned this event and he, so very casually, told me, “Happens all the time.”

I noticed that much of the film was shot in the Highlands, near the historic village of Glenco, where we spent a week trying to take in all the magnificent beauty. So thank you, cinematographers, for adding so much to the movie. <3

I want to give high praise to Saoirse Ronan for her interpretation of how the historic Mary conducted her life. Saoirse captured the essence of the queen flawlessly, and brought her to life. I’m pretty sure if Mary Queen of Scots were to see this movie, she’d be pleased. Likewise, Margot Robbie made a wonderful Queen Elizabeth, complete with small pox scars and thinning hair.

However, I honestly didn’t feel the male actors invested much of their talents in the movie, which went against the grain of how the men in both courts were misogynistic bullies. That misogyny was central to the story; not only were the two queens vying for control of of England and Scotland, they had to also do battle with the men of both courts.

I do recommend this movie even if you have only a passing knowledge of the subject — or if you just want to enjoy the scenery, you’ll be in for a good ride.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This is RunPee Mom doing the Peetimes for this movie. Yes, I was near death’s door yesterday, however, I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long that I was able to pull myself out of bed, search for my cleanest dirty clothes, stuff my pockets full of tissues, call Uber, and off to the movies I went. I have 3 good Peetimes, evenly spaced apart, so I didn’t think I needed an emergency break. In the last 20 minutes of the movie, we’re moving quickly toward Mary’s execution, and also, the last 20 minutes includes the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth that can’t be missed.

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

Movie Review – The Favourite

Movie Review - The FavouriteThe Favourite was an entirely different kind of movie. This period piece was raunchy, stylish, opulent and wicked all at the same time. Based on the previews I was excited to see it and it really delivered what I was hoping for.

There was humor and a lot of it. I honestly can’t decide which of the three main characters were funnier. They all had such a commanding presence that picking one as my favorite would be impossible. Each one played off of the others impeccably. (I bet they had fun making this film.)

There was a tremendous amount of back stabbing, lying, and self preservation at work here. These women had their own agendas and really wouldn’t stop at anything to achieve them.

The sets and costumes were a delight to watch; the sheer majesty of their lifestyle was so decadent that my envy was running thick. Did they really live like that?

The movie certainly earned its R rating. There was some kinky stuff going on in that palace. All day long, every day, and every night. It’s not a movie for youngsters.

If you like quirky, somewhat the off-beaten-path types of movies, then I’d recommend this one to you. You’ll get a little bit of everything with The Favourite.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: I decided upon 2 Peetimes. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. This was a very difficult movie to do, due to the character development continually taking place, and the plot is thick with many layers. I’m comfortable with these 2, but pay close attention to each Peetime’s meta.

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

Movie Review – Welcome to Marwen

 

Movie Review - Welcome to MarwenThere have been so many ‘based on a true story’ movies recently, that if this were real life, we’d all in a world of hurt. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a happy, comedic real-life movie. Maybe we just don’t like seeing people happy, whose lives turns out splendidly without any muss or fuss. Just this week alone, I’ve seen three such movies. IDK.

Welcome to Marwen is yet another movie based on a true story, however, this one gives you hope that if you’re beaten severely about the head and shoulders, you can still leave your ‘Mark’ on the world [Pun intended].

Steve Carell brought the poor, unfortunate character of Mark Hogancamp to life with very little effort. I could almost taste his fear every time he was reminded of that terrible night, when three upstate New York rednecks –yes — NY does have rednecks (they just have a different drawl) beat him savagely, and took all his memories from his previous life.

Leslie Mann also gave a great performance as Nicol, playing Mark’s neighbor with good intentions but no courage to act on them. In one scene, we did see on her mantle several photos of Nicol with a preteen boy, sitting in a wheelchair. What was his part in this drama? And why were we introduced to Nicol’s belligerent ex-police officer boyfriend? He brought nothing to the movie other than complete ignorance of mankind.

Also, the ‘Barbie Dolls’ kind of freaked me out, but I still found them interesting in a way. Basically, that just about sums up my critique of Welcome to Marwen, freaky with a touch of intrigue.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I was able to get 3 good Peetimes, evenly spaced, with one being an emergency break.

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

Quiz – Steve Carell

Movie Review – Schindler’s List

Movie Review - Schindler's ListI honestly don’t know how to review this movie; everything that could be said has been said. I have nothing new to add nor take away.

So, I’ll just express my feelings I had after watching this masterpiece.

I watched Schindler’s List a few years after it came out, and some studio executive thought it would be festive to show the movie on television during the Easter weekend. I’m not kidding…Easter weekend.

After watching it the first time, I swore I would never watch it again. I had a real love-hate relationship with this movie. I loved that there were such good people living on planet Earth. There have been many Oskar Schindlers, who have seemingly popped out of nowhere, only to so something magnificent for the human race. Like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, the Dali Lama, and Princess Diana, to name a few.

The ‘hate’ part of the relationship, of course, is seeing pure evil, not just in the form of Hitler, but so many other megalomaniacs who dared to impose their will on the rest of the world.

Have we learned anything from these events? Probably not. There are holocausts taking place right now in various hot spots all over the world. Just look at the mess in Syria.

After writing my quiz on Oskar Schindler, I felt that I needed to know more about this man. So it was back to Netflix to rewatch the movie. I now realize that this movie was not about the Hitler Regime, but about the microcosm of Oskar Schindler’s world during the war.

It would be tough to chose the best movie between Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. One was from the view of the Holocaust victims, and the other was from the view of our boys sent over to help free those victims. Basically it’s the same movie, just a few years apart.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This being a 3 hour movie, I felt that 5 Peetimes were in order. It was not a challenge to get 5, since there were some protracted scenes that could be easily summed up in the synopsis. Some of these are also Alert Peetimes for sensitive viewers.

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

Movie Review – Green Book (It will touch your heart)

 

Movie Review - Green BookGreen Book was amazing! Everything about this movie was awesome. The acting, the story, the conclusion, it all had me seeing stars. I’ve not enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time. Every person in America needs to see this movie. It simply touched my heart in a way that movies haven’t been doing lately.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deserve every award out there. These two guys together are dynamite! Their chemistry was so intense that it oozed off of the screen.

I can’t express this enough — the ticket price will be worth it. If you’re looking for a holiday movie, go see this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: There is nonstop dialog and character development throughout the entire movie. I’m going to recommend the second Peetime since it was shown in the trailers.

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

Quiz – Viggo Mortensen – Actor, Musician, Painter, Photographer, and Poet

Movie Review – The Front Runner

 

Movie Review - The Front RunnerI’m having a difficult time reviewing this movie. When I asked myself if I liked it, I had no answer. It bored me; it made me despise politicians even more, and now I think there is a lot of shadiness in journalism. Thanks, Hollywood. This movie is all about people doing whatever they want, whenever they want, and not worrying about the outcome until they get caught.

Then it turns into a blood bath to cover your own a$$.

I sensed that they were portraying Hart in a favorable manner, but I’ve got to say Hart deserved what he got. A man that was campaigning about morals and doing things the right way, and in the very next breath sleeps with some young girl, and no, she wasn’t the first — with no thought about his wife sitting at home — should NOT be our President.

I get the theme here. Does a politician’s personal life deserve to be in the public eye? Umm, yes. My husband and I sat outside the theater and debated about this question for an hour. We agreed to disagree.

I’m not going to keep ranting about the ethics of politicians here, but I will state it burned me up. I’m still on fire about it. That leads me to the question: why did they make this movie? What relevance does this have today? It was decades ago. A guy wanted to be President but then cheated on his wife and got caught. Boo-hoo. He gets mad about it? Really? What did he expect? Should the journalists just roll over and say, “It’s okay Gary — no one cares what you do. We’ll just go and report on something useful and pertinent to the American people.”

I would give this movie an F, but if I take out my absolute distaste for the events that led up to this and think about it in a cinematic point of view, I’m going to give it a B. Hugh Jackman did an amazing job making me hate Gary Hart. Vera Farmiga did another splendid job in playing that man’s wife. J.K. Simmons was also at his best; I enjoyed his role immensely.

I am not recommending this movie; it was a total waste of my time and gave me heartburn. A thought occurred to me as I fell asleep last night: my tax dollars, my hard earned money, pays their salaries. We the people are literally footing the bill to the shenanigans we call our government. Sure, there are a few good politicians, but as we will be reminded a few years after Hart that these men we call our Presidents definitely didn’t learn from his mistakes. I think I’ll sit back now, relax and smoke a cigar.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Both Peetimes will work well for you.

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

Virgin Movie Review – Sully

tom hanks in sullyLet’s just open with this axiom: Tom Hanks can do no wrong.

Done.

That’s not much of a review, is it?

Starting again: I just watched Sully last night for the first time. Somehow, I never heard about “The Miracle on the Hudson.” I shy away from the news, because “news” usually equals “bad news” and I don’t need any more of that. But in this case, as with The Apollo 13 mission, the story fell into the rare “good news” category.

[pullquote]Funnily enough, both Sully and Apollo 13 star Tom Hanks. This man can really lead a film — and I kind of felt, watching Sully, this was a bit like “Apollo 13 with Planes.”[/pullquote]

Take a situation where the wrong split-second decision (here it’s a 32-second decision) means a loss of all hands.  155 people survived because Captain Chesley Sullenberger saw no feasible options, and came up with a brand new one. He landed a passenger aircraft on the Hudson River, and everyone — everyone  — survived. RunPee Mom, who used to be an airline attendant, tells me no one survives an emergency landing on water. I assume this aspect led to the “Miracle” moniker. [pullquote position=”right”]The image of everyone standing on the wings as the Airbus plane slowly sank into the Hudson River is indelible, iconic perhaps.[/pullquote]

(The rescue scenes in the frigid water reminded me of Titanic, another true-life-based disaster film, but in that case, only 706 out of 2208 souls were pulled from the water. I assume that’s because Tom Hanks wasn’t there to save them.)

Since everyone lived, there had to be SOME kind of plot jeopardy. In Sully, it’s the “blood sucking lawyers.” The climactic formal hearing was tense and well-structured: it perfectly illustrated the obfuscating influence of insurance companies needing to place the blame on someone. How about on the shoulders of the calm-under-pressure hero who saved all the people? Great, let’s go after him! He’s about to retire anyway.

I for one loved the simulation sequences. I’m a sucker for that kind of movie exposition. I liked it when they did it on Titanic, too. It’s an early version of Star Trek’s holodeck!

What else happened in this film? There’s the inquiry and the hearing. The simulations. Tom Hanks acting opposite a cell phone. Tom Hanks having traumatic flashbacks and nightmares. He gets a drink named in his honor: The Sully: Grey Goose Vodka with a splash of water. Get it?

tom hanks and aaron eckhart
You have 32 seconds to save 155 people. What do you do?

Aaron Eckhart had an agreeable role as the co-pilot. I appreciated that he had Sully’s back. He was there; he knew what happened (“BIRDS!”).  He loyally told everyone that he trusted Sully’s judgement and was grateful to be alive. Laura Linney, playing a thankless role as Sully’s wife, had absolutely nothing to do, stuck on the end of a cell phone, in the kitchen with their daughters. That’s one of the misfires of this film. Mike O’Malley, playing the heavy, looks like he tried, but he still seemed to me like Burt Hummel from Glee, and it was hard to take him seriously. I’m glad he found a leading part in a good movie, but it was probably miscast — someone either scarier or more arch would have been a better choice. (Maybe he looked like the real person. I don’t care enough to check.) 🙂

Trying to make a side plot with some of the passengers didn’t pay off so well. Early on we are introduced to a trio of golfers getting last minute seats on the plane. That went exactly nowhere. There was also a woman with her wheelchair bound mother shoehorned into the narrative, and that was a dead end too.[pullquote position=”right”] It was a bizarre choice: what worked in Titanic with people’s stories was only a token effort in Sully. Those well-drawn characters are what made the Titanic film so immersive and enduring.[/pullquote] We know what happens at the end, but you kind of forget the ship will sink, because you’re caught up in the story of Jack and Rose.

Maybe they wanted to pad out Sully’s 88-minute run-time, but if so, they should have expanded the film to have these side-stories resonate. Or don’t bother trying to put a human face on the passengers, and expand on Sully’s family watching the news, back home (again, as in Apollo 13).

tom hands and sully photo
Tom Hanks and the real hero, Sully

I really enjoyed Sully and don’t want to nit-pick on it anymore. It’s a feel-good true to life story, and an inspiring one. It’s a relief to know that sometimes things work out.

By the way, Tom Hanks can carry an entire movie just talking to a volleyball. How’s that for good acting?  Who would have guessed from his early comedic films like Bosom Buddies and Big that he had so much talent? I think without him, this sometimes dry and definitely spare film would have felt like a documentary.

I also think the non-linear, almost Roshoman-type story structure helped keep the interest high. There are no world changing stakes, but things could so easily have gone wrong, and crashing a plane into New York City’s skyscrapers would have rocked the nation with memories of 9/11. We can be lucky Manhattan escaped this time, and we saw from Sully’s nightmares that this was entirely on his mind. What if? Thankfully, we never found out.

(Just thinking — maybe it’s time to move the NYC airports out of the city, like Denver did, closing down Stapleton Airport. The new one is safely out on the Colorado plains, and is a state of the art, lovely airport to get stuck in.)

Overall: Sully provides an easy hour and a half of entertainment, with a real-life disaster tale and a happy ending. You get to know a little bit more about the historical events and Captain Sully himself. I was glad to see it. Like I said, there’s too much bad news out there.

Movie Grade: B+

 

Movie Review – A Private War

 

Movie Review - A Private WarI’ll start this review by getting one thing out of the way. I’m giving A Private War an A grade, which I don’t award often. And in this particular case, it’s something of a surprise that I’m not failing it with an F.

Let me explain: I had a terrible time with this film. It’s brutal, and this is exactly the sort of movie I need to avoid. I only sat though it to the end because it’s my job…as Marie Colvin says, “I see these things so you won’t have to.”

I honestly don’t think anyone could sit through this and say they had a good time. I had to wrack my brain to come up with the target audience for it. (More on that in a second.)

So, it’s bad? It’s good? Which is it?

I’ll start with the good: [pullquote]Everything in A Private War is indicative of top shelf movie production. The acting, soundtrack, lighting, set design, nonlinear storytelling, characterizations, direction, everything. It’s like this film was created as Oscar bait. [/pullquote]I’m sure it will win a lot of awards. (And that’s the target audience. The Oscar Committee. )

I recently watched Gone Girl for the first time, and it was a surprise to see Rosamund Pike again in this. She knocked this out of the park, carrying almost the entire movie by her lonesome. Pike seems to specialize in portraying complicated characters who make questionable choices, then see their lives spiraling out of control. She does this very, very well.

[pullquote position=”right”]The only other “character” to rival her powerful performance was the war setting itself. The director and crew crafted an indelibly inedible smorgasbord of the gruesome ferocity of war, and the effect it has on the bodies and minds of the unwitting people damaged by it.[/pullquote]

Or even on the people going there on purpose, like Pike’s Colvin: a real person, on a real mission, who deliberately sought the worst places on the planet as fodder for her war column.

So, here’s the bad: This is a really terrible movie that no one should have to endure. By the time the parade of grotesquely mangled bodies is done you’re done — done in. I had to wash my mind out with soap. And then I sat in again to Fantastic Beasts 2 for a while, just to feel like myself and not a war torn victim.

[pullquote]This movie relentless bombards you with extremely graphic imagery of mangled bodies and violent, disturbing imagery.[/pullquote] For example, there’s a scene where a throng of war correspondents stare silently at the body of one of their own. Or rather, what’s left of him.  You get to see it too: this is the stuff nightmares are made of.

We’re also bombarded by bombardment: endless mortar explosions, gunshots, pounding artillery, and automatic rifle salvos provide a sensory overload that will make your head ache and ensure you won’t sleep well that night. But it will most probably win awards, and is effective at getting across a message we should all understand by now: that war is hell, and the people who wage it are the real demons.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This isn’t a short movie, but every scene is either action-filled, or emotionally resonant. I have 3 Peetimes avoiding the war action. I recommend either the 2nd or 3rd Peetimes, as the 1st has an intense series of emotional cut-aways, but will still serve — the whole film is intense, and you won’t miss anything that won’t be shown later. Alert Peetime Note: This film is very graphic. For example, we see images of dead people with their lower torsos blown off, with their intestines spread all over the floor. I will probably add a few Alert Peetimes later, but you should realize that around a third of the movie is disturbing.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Private War. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Movie Review – Boy Erased

Movie Review - Boy ErasedI’ve been looking forward to this movie for a while now, but as I found out today, it was worth the wait.

Boy Erased is an award winning movie, period. My prediction is that this flick will need a mighty big mantle to display all the bling it’ll garner during the Awards Season.

The acting really didn’t seem like acting, as much as it seemed more like real people talking to other real people. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I have a very good sense of how a small town Christian community operates. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman were spot-on in their interpretation of their characters, right down to the clothes they wore and the way they did their hair. Kudos to the makeup and wardrobe department for their efforts in making the characters all the more real. Lucas Hedges gave another spectacular performance equal to, or maybe ever better, than his role in Manchester by the Sea. Yeah, I think he may need a bigger mantle.

With a subject matter so polarizing, I wasn’t sure how the material would be presented, but Joel Edgerton did a brilliant job showing us the emotional side of this societal dilemma, without resorting to Hollywood theatrics. Well done, Joel.

I rate my movies based on the target audience, but I honestly feel the target audience for Boy Erased is everyone — regardless of race, age, religion, or, of course, sexual preference. This is our world today; we can all learn something from this extraordinary experience.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This was a steady drama all the way through. There weren’t many slow spot that usually makes for a good Peetime. The 2 that I did get were definitely squeezed in between ‘must see’ moments.

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

Movie Review – Beautiful Boy

Movie Review - Beautiful BoyBeing a retired nurse, I feel qualified to recommend this movie to anyone going through recovery, or any friend or family member who’s trying desperately to stand by their side.

Beautiful Boy succeeds —  where so many other have have failed — in showing the insanity of addiction. Never, at any time, did I feel that the ‘powers that be’ had ‘Hollywooded’-up this incredible film. (My family can attest to the fact that I do go just a little berserk when Hollywood has to go and add some bling to a truly great piece of history. Don’t get me started on the upcoming movie, Mary Queen Of Scots.)

What this movie showed, with great detail and honesty, is the bleak underbelly of addiction. It seems that Felix van Groeningen knew exactly how to reach the audience without going over the top.

Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet both gave an Oscar-winning performance. If they gave an award for Best Onscreen Couple, these two actors would win hands down, for sure. Carell is a phenomenal actor that can make your sides split in one movie, then make your heart break in the next. Carell’s performance seemed to come from his very soul. Each facial expression was a reflection of his pain.

Chalamet did a spectacular job of showing the highs and lows of his character’s addiction. This pair had such incredible chemistry that it made us believe everything they were feeling, and everything they were saying to each other, in their many one-on-one conversations. And when you hear David singing Beautiful Boy to Nic, your heart will break. It’s definitely a five Kleenex moment.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: In a 2 hour movie, I like to get at least 3 Peetimes. Couldn’t do that in Beautiful Boy. The last half of the movie had so much drama and tension that should not be missed. If you do hear the call of nature, my suggestion is that you make a mad dash for the loo, and back to your seat in no longer than 2 minutes.

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