Movie review from a history teacher – 1917

1917 - no man's land

As a History teacher, Historical reenactor and writer, I have VERY high standards for movies that claim to be historical or even based on actual events. When I critique a movie that has a historical premise, I ask a few questions: does this movie have useful information, as well as being entertaining; can I show this movie to my students; and, if I show this movie, will it cause more confusion than clarity?

I am extremely choosy about which films I show in class. Some movies have good historical content, but for one reason or another aren’t suitable in a historical lesson.

1917-trenches

1917 checks all the boxes as great historical fiction

1917 answers all of the questions I listed above very well. One of the biggest aspects of WWI that I have to get my students to relate to is life in the trenches. 1917 constantly shows how muddy and nasty the trenches were — the rats were a good touch! The battlefield conditions were excellently displayed in the depiction of how desolate and dangerous “No Man’s Land” was. Also cool — the new technology of how airplanes were used. (It was the aerial photographs that told the general The British were walking into a trap.)

The action and pace of the movie was good. 1917 has a compelling story and it keeps you engaged. It is not just the hundreds of brother’s in arms they are trying to save, but also his real brother in the story.

1917 is historical fiction done right

In short, this movie is NOT actual history. The two main characters are a composite of the director’s actual grandfather, and his service as a message runner in WWI during The Battle of Poelcappelle.

Did it happen in the movie exactly like his Grandpa said? No, but slight embellishments that do not alter the telling of the story or the relating of the historical event are forgivable. If a student asks, I can easily explain that the characters show what the dangers of being a messenger in WWI was like.  1917 was very well done historical fiction and it earns every award that it gets!

Where was 1917 filmed?

Is there anything extra during the end credits of 1917?

Movie Review – 1917

 

Critic Movie Reviews v RunPee Family Reviews

RunPee FamilyNot having professional or writer-educated staff (besides First Officer/COO Jill Florio, who was a journalist and magazine editor back when people still had real jobs), RunPee’s reviews are written from the heart, and are hopefully more useful than what we get from the well-paid critics of Rotten Tomatoes…  Because we send RunPee family members who are actual fans of the genre to get Peetimes and review them.

RunPee Reviews? What Peeps See What?

jill florio
RunPee Jilly likes blockbusters. She fully admits she has tentpole tastes and is not ashamed.

So we have Jill and Dan on sci-fi, fantasysuperhero, and action films; RunPee Sis on horror and comedies; RunPee Mom on animation, childrens’ films, dramas, and historicals; with Dana and Shani on miscellaneous flicks of their choice.

Of course we “RunPeeps” have interest overlap, and don’t always get our first movie choice. Sometimes one of us has to view a film we dislike (or even hate), or is totally out of our expertise to comment on — for example, don’t ask me to see War films, unless it’s Star Wars (or 1917, which rocked!).

We see hundreds of movies a year; life happens. We try our best. We try to keep off-interest assignments down.

chewbacca
Chewie is happy with most movies, if his family is any indication in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

RunPee has superior movie reviews!

What makes our movie reviews better is that a typical critic sees every movie willy-nilly and aren’t necessarily fans of each genre. So if they cordially dislike Sci Fi or superhero films, they will piss on them (to use a “Pee” reference) in their reviews. They DON’T GET THEM. We do. We try to make this inequality right.

This element explains the frequent discrepancy between Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Scores and Audience Scores. Sometimes the numbers variance is huge and seemingly inexplicable. It’s not that Critics are stupid — these are often very educated people — but each critic is not going to appreciate every type of film. They can’t. Could you?

jumanji-game-box
Would you play this game? Seriously. Like, ever?

Critics often grade/rate genre films as if they were the bastard stepchildren of serious dramas. And that’s just wrong. At least, it’s not helpful to die-hard (or at least emergent) genre fans. If you loved, say, Jumanji 2, you should review Jumanji 3, because a built-in fan will have better opinions of its relative worth in the series than someone who didn’t appreciate the first two. If you are a Harry Potter fan who’s read the books, you’ll review it better than a casual fan who doesn’t know what Expelliarmus means. Savvy?

(Ten points if you get the franchise where savvy is a thing!)

To sum up why our reviews are better 😉

We also don’t waste your time merely recapping a movie. You can get the basics from the IMDb and the trailers. We offer our honest insights instead.

RunPee co-founder and CEO Dan says it best, “Our reviews resonate with people because we generally review movies in our favorite genres. The last thing I ever want to read is a review of a Marvel movie by some snooty movie critic. If you’re not a fan of the genre you’re writing about, then how can you expect to write something meaningful?”

You do know RunPee writes reviews, right? Check them out on our blog here or do a search on RunPee.com

Types of Peetimes: recommended, emergency, alert

Why do I only see old movies in the Movie List?

RunPee Family

 

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

mr rogers neighborhood
Even the trailer for this has me crying.

Everyone’s saying the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie is great and I definitely plan to see it this Thanksgiving week. I remember loving “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child, with the trolley and the cute puppet kingdom…but haven’t given the show another thought as the decades passed. Then 2018’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor hit the indie circuits, and people recalled Fred Rogers as a sort of folk hero.

I figured I’d watch the documentary before seeing the dramatic, wide release version.

I’m happy to report Won’t You Be My Neighbor is an absolutely lovely 90 minutes of time, well-spent. If you watch it before seeing Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, you’ll go in with a greater understanding of this incredibly kind, compassionate man. I look forward to seeing Tom Hank’s take on it: I’m told Hanks channels Rogers’ essence, instead of performing an exact mimicry.

The documentary shows clips of the television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (which ran 31 seasons, beginning in 1968), interview segments with Fred Roger’s wife and sons, and a bit of background on what the show was about — mainly (and I didn’t realize this as a child) to provide children a role model for dealing with difficult emotions. The show promoted tolerance for others and self-love.

In a world where hate is accepted as the New Normal, being reminded of human kindness/acceptance of differences is hugely important.

Did I cry while watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? You bet I did. The documentary felt like a long, warm hug. Fred Rogers somehow radiated love and patience to everyone he met, even through the TV screen, to thousands of children everywhere. I’d forgotten this.

How often do you hear “I like you just the way you are?”

My guess is, not enough. Perhaps never. And that’s a damn shame. It’s so easy to accept and love one another, and yet we don’t. Life hurts us and we get jaded. We harden our hearts. And sometimes we hurt each other because we don’t remember what’s it’s like to receive unconditional love.

Watching a grown man reach out to others through old puppets, especially the sensitive tiger Daniel (who, like The Velveteen Rabbit, has most of his fur loved off) was surprisingly heartwarming. You absolutely buy into the notion that Mr. Rogers loves everyone. And everyone includes me and you.

Watching this made me want to be better — to be like him. And it made me feel more optimistic about humanity in general. I don’t think it’s possible to watch Mr. Rogers do his thing and not be comforted.

And I for one am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Movie Grade: A-

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review - A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodFirst of all, big kudos to the writers, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. They put together an amazing story which showcased the brilliance of the beloved Fred Rogers. Although the story was only partially true (the character of Lloyd Vogal was based on writer Tom Junod) the embellishments were there to emphasize the true nature of our….hero.

Tom Hanks, of course, did a spectacular job of capturing the essence of Fred Rogers. The tone of Tom’s voice was a little off, but every inflection and nuance was shown respect by this talented actor. For me, it was in the eyes of Tom Hanks that revealed the absolute perfection in which he portrayed Mr. Rogers. It has been said that Tom has the kindest eyes in Hollywood, and this characteristic translated beautifully into the eyes of Rogers. So beautifully that it should garner, at the very least, an Oscar nod for Supporting Actor.

This is not a children’s movie; they’d be bored senseless. Instead, I believe the target audience are those who grew up watching Mr. Rogers. Or, as it is in my case, had children who watched the show.

I give A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood a solid ‘A’.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I was able to get two good Peetimes in this movie. Both Peetimes have protracted scenes of very little dialog or complete silence as the characters have moments of deep reflection.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language
Genres: Biography, Drama, True life story

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Ancestry.com has discovered that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins. That’s made all the more relevant due to Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Bringing a whole new meaning to getting into character.)

“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation.

According to Ancestry.com, Fred and Tom share a 5x great-grandfather (Johannes Meffert), who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century.

At first glance, that seems pretty astounding, but when you consider probabilities of family trees overlapping, it becomes less and less impressive the further back in time you go. For instance, there’s nearly a 100% probability that any two people of European decent share an ancestor from 1,000 years ago.

And of course, if you want to get pedantic about it, that banana you had for breakfast was your 108-cousin. 🙂

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

What happened to Pete Miles – Ken’s son in Ford v Ferrari?

ford-v-ferrariPeter Miles was 14 years old — almost 15 —  at the time of his father’s fatal crash. Shortly after his father’s death, Peter went to work for Ken’s friend Dick Troutman at the Troutman and Barnes custom car shop in Culver City, CA. Peter worked there for 14 years.

Peter joined Precision Performance Inc. in 1986. He started out as a fabricator, and then became a mechanic, before advancing to the position of crew chief. Peter was the crew chief for Ivan Stewart when Stewart won the 1991 Nissan 400 in Nevada.

In a 2019 interview, Peter revealed that the last time he went to Le Mans was in 1965 with his father Ken.

Ray McKinnon in Ford v Ferrari – where have I seen him before?

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

JoJo RabbitAlthough I’m a fan of director Taika Waititi, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit didn’t inspire much confidence.  The scene of an imaginary Hitler comforting a ten-year-old boy fell pretty flat.  Waititi isn’t the first person to mine World War II for laughs.  Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and the TV show Hogan’s Heroes have made light of Hitler and the Nazis.  Does Waititi find new ground to cover?  Oh yes.  And thankfully, there’s more to the film than hinted at in the trailer.

Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo, a German Bart Simpson, whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler.  Jojo is full of patriotism and fanaticism.  Like most young boys, he does not want to admit he has anything as tender as a heart, but his innocence betrays him.

Waititi himself plays Hitler, and portrays him as absurd, funny…and scary.  He brings the same comedic sensibility to this role as he does to Korg in the MCU films.

The imaginary friend aspect leads to some great moments of physical comedy, such as what Jojo imagines Hitler eats or how he has Hitler exit a scene.  Hitler does not become a sympathetic figure like I was concerned he might.  Instead, he remains mostly a figure of ridicule….taken seriously by Jojo, much less so by the audience.  By his final scene, Jojo has seen the monstrous side of Hitler more than once.

Sam Rockwell plays the worst soldier/Nazi in the world.  The fact that he is put in charge of a camp full of children is both hilarious and terrifying.  At this point, we are going to have to deal with the fact that Rockwell is going to be a contender for Best Supporting Actor nearly every year for the foreseeable future.  If he got a nomination for playing W in Vice last year, he’s got a shot at Oscar gold again for playing yet another bad boy misfit.  (One who has a memorable and redemptive final scene.)

Scarlett Johansson is also probably in the Oscar race for Best Actress (or Best Supporting Actress, depending on Oscar politics) for her role as Jojo’s mother.  Her zest for life recalls characters like Maude from Harold and Maude or Anthony Quinn’s Zorba.

Thomasin McKenzie, who was so good in last year’s Leave No Trace, plays a Jew Jojo’s mother is sheltering.  McKenzie continues to do stunning work as a young actress.

Archie Yates plays Jojo’s buddy Yorki.  Yates is effortlessly funny and a total scene stealer.  I hope to see more of him in the future.

Although it’s rare for younger male actors to be nominated, Davis could receive a Best Actor nomination for his role as Jojo.  His face is so expressive.  He carries a lot of the film.  He plays a complex character.  And he captures the essence of childhood without being cutesy, cloying, or manipulative.

Jojo Rabbit  exists in its own universe, combining the madcap comedy of a Mel Brooks film with something more emotional and dramatic.  It’s rare for a comedic film to make it to the Oscars, however, this one will probably get a Best Picture nomination.  It has already won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Since 2011, every People’s Choice Award winner has gotten a Best Picture nom.  This one certainly deserves consideration.

Grade: A-

Fortunately, JoJo Rabbit just went into wide release so we now have Peetimes for it on the RunPee App. We also have Peetimes for all the major releases like Doctor Sleep, Midway, Last Christmas, and over a thousand more films.  Never miss the best parts of a movie when you use the RunPee app.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Midway

Movie Review - MidwaySorry to say: this movie doesn’t live up to the true events it attempts to depict. Unless you feel you must see the battle events on the big screen, this movie is better suited to DVD/streaming…in 2 or 3 months when it’s available.

To be sure, there’s plenty of explosions, bombs dropping, explosions, aerial dog fights, explosions, plane crashes, explosions,… 😉 That aspect of the movie doesn’t fail, except that it honestly gets a little redundant. (I wonder how many minutes of the movie were focused on closeups of Dick Best as he dive bombed — too many for sure.)

Where the movie falls short of it’s target, is in character development. And I mean all of it. There wasn’t a single character that had any sort of depth.

MIDWAY: between a bad movie and a horrible movie.Historically, I know the US Navy winning the Battle of Midway wasn’t just one miracle, it was several miracles. In the movie they tell us that, but we never really feel it. The story just doesn’t connect the dots in the way it should have. I’m not saying this is easy, but with a budget like this movie had there’s no excuse for not having a better script.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I managed to find 4 good Peetimes and would recommend the 3rd one. There are no battle scenes in any of the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking
Genres: Action, Drama, History

Movie Review – Harriet

Movie Review - HarrietAs many of you know, I am a fan of biopics. I said to myself, “Self, is Hollywood going to mess this story up?” But, surprisingly, they didn’t let me down. Harriet is a must-see for sure. Given that many people may not know the full story about Harriet Tubman, this movie does a good job with the golden nuggets about who she was and how she became one of the most renowned conductors of the Underground Railroad.

While watching, I didn’t feel as if the scenes were over dramatic or over saturated with the use of the N-word. The drama, location, and subtle use of humor were blended nicely for such grim subject matter.

The actors did a great job! I can never get enough of Janelle Monáe.

Cynthia Erivo played an excellent Harriet, although many of us may still be partial to Cicely Tyson in that role in 1978. Cynthia also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack — Stand Up. It will raise the hairs on your skin. Speaking of the soundtrack, you might add this one to your musical playlist; it’s hella good.

A couple of quick things that resonated for me. There’s a part in the movie where Harriet makes up her mind to go back to rescue others. Marie, played by Janelle Monáe, teaches Harriet how to blend in and not look or sound like a slave. That scene validated what I tell the women I mentor all the time. Don’t dress like the job you have; dress like the job you want.

The last thing that was paramount in Harriet’s journey was her realizing what her journey was all about. She went back with one mission, but she quickly had to shift gears when she learned that wasn’t her mission at all. That was the moment her real transformation into a courageous, strong-minded, ingenious hero began.

There’s a lot more I can say about this movie but I’ll stop here for now. Feel free to share your thoughts below. I want to know what resonated with you about the movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes. This is a biopic about a well-known figure in American and Canadian history; therefore, sensitivity to the plot was imperative. There are 3 Peetimes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – The Current War

Movie Review - The Current WarUnless there’s some compelling reason you have for seeing this movie in the theater, I think it would make an excellent movie night at home when it’s streaming online, or on DVD.

The only negative thing I have to say about this movie is that the pacing goes way too fast. The scenes cut back and forth between settings way too fast. A long scene in this movie is probably only 3 minutes long, and there’s few of them.

I think this movie could have been much better if it were 30 (or even 45) minutes longer. I felt like I was watching a movie and not experiencing a movie — if that makes any sense.

The casting and acting were good, but not great. It was cool to see Dr. Strange and Spider-Man side by side for a few scenes. But honestly, I think the character of Mr. Insull was totally wasted on Tom Holland. Not that Tom did a bad job — there just wasn’t anything in the script for him to work with.

If there’s one place the movie totally fails, it’s that they focus on the main characters and plot at the expense of establishing just how profoundly impactful electric lights were to the common man.

Can you remember that feeling the first time you used a smartphone? Now take that and multiply by a billion. Humanity had lived forever in darkness, minus a candle or campfire, until the advent of electric lights. (Yes, there were oil lamps on streets in select cities, but even that was ultra new.)

Electric lights, along with the phonograph and telephone, were nothing short of the introduction of magic. They just scratched the surface of expressing that in the movie.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It was hard to get Peetimes for this movie because it cut from one short scene to another fairly consistently. Most of the longer scenes were too important, and full of dialog, to use as Peetimes. I have three Peetimes spaced through the movie. I can’t really say than any one of them is better or worse than the others.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some violent content and thematic elements
Genres: Biography, Drama, History