Monday, October 28, 2013

Wknd Box Office: All Is Lost, The Counselor, Enough Said, 12 Years a Slave

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: All Is Lost, The Counselor, Enough Said, 12 Years a Slave

By Debbie Schlussel

Only one good choice among the new movies at theaters, this weekend. Actually it’s a great choice. (I did not see Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Why? Obvious reasons.)

* “All Is Lost“: Absolutely terrific. One of the best movies I’ve seen this year. This is the smart man’s “Gravity” (read my review). It’s got a similar story, although in a different atmosphere, but the person struggling to survive is much smarter here.

And there’s much less dialogue. Whereas Sandra Bullock talks non-stop and does everything wrong in “Gravity,” Robert Redford’s character (who is a nameless solitary man) says almost nothing and does everything right. Yet, both are trying to stay alive in challenging atmospheres that threaten to end their lives. The most dialogue is about two or three lines uttered by Redford at the beginning of the movie, reading aloud some sort of good-bye note to family.

I thought I would find this movie boring and slow because of the lack of dialogue, but, in fact, the movie was riveting and I was on the edge of my seat the entire way through. The movie is spectacular, both in story/plot and visuals. Its attention to detail is terrific

Redford plays a man who is alone on his sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean. He wakes up, one morning to the hull of the ship filling up with water. A stray cargo container that has fallen off some ship (and contains “Made in China” athletic shoes) crashes into the sailboat and creates a giant, gaping hole. (I wondered if the cargo container was meant to be symbolic of “Made in China” products crashing our economy and creating a giant, gaping hole in America’s future.)

The rest of the movie shows Redford’s travails and triumphs as he attempts to repair the hole and survive, with all of the odds against him. I’m making it sound far less interesting than it is. It’s actually a great adventure and really a great movie about the human will to survive (“Never Give Up” is the movie’s tag line). Despite all the disasters and horrible conditions, Redford remains ever calm and calculating, using his brain and know-how to stay alive.

While young kids won’t get this, you can take your teens to see this movie (but don’t complain to me that I didn’t warn you about the one F-word in it). Don’t let Redford’s lefty politics keep you from seeing this fantastic movie. And I recommend you see this in the theater, as it won’t have the same effect at home on video.

I highly recommend “All Is Lost.”


* “The Counselor“: More disgusting, violent garbage put out by Rupert Murdoch.

Extremely pretentious, absolutely disgusting, and very violent. This is yet another one of those time bandits. It robbed me of two hours of my life I’ll never get back. The movie is very high style–expensive, gaudy, flashy clothes, cars, and jewelry (and even a pair of pet leopards–or tigers, I forget which and don’t really care). The movie is long, slow, and boring.

It’s also very bloody. There are a beheading, point blank gunshot murders, bodies in tanks, and–at least this part one could enjoy watching–Brad Pitt gets murdered with some mechanical wire device strapped around his neck that keeps squeezing.

Cormac McCarthy, at age 80, should probably get out of the business. This is his first screenplay that made it to the big screen and doesn’t come from one of his novels. It should be his last. The conversations in the movie are pretentious and absurd. Nobody talks like that. And the movie tries too hard to be both philosophical and a Quentin Tarantino movie. It stinks at both.

A lawyer (Michael Fassbender), whose name we are never told (he’s merely called, “Counselor”) needs money. So he decides to go in on a drug deal with clients and friends of his (including Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt). The drugs are smuggled from Mexico through a southern border town in tanks in tanks carried by truck. But there is a complication, the drug deal goes bad, and the lawyer gets blamed for it. The lawyer knows he will have to flee, lose everything that’s important to him, and be in fear for his life forever. The same goes for his friends and clients.

Oh, and did I mention the dumb feminist angle in all of this? The person pulling all the strings and getting all the money–while screwing all the men over and getting them killed–is Cameron Diaz (who is a terrible actress, not believable in this movie, and who hit the wall about 13 years ago). Yay, grrrrl power! Diaz, who wears all kinds of fancy, flashy post-modern style clothes and jewelry (and very ugly silver-white nail polish) is just awful in this movie. I almost think this movie was made so that she could show us her breasts (which are laid out in one scene plus about two millimeters of her nipple). And so that she could masturbate on the front window shield of a fancy sports car in an incredibly sleazy and unintentionally very comical scene. This is after she tells her boyfriend (Bardem), “I’m going to f— your car.” Classy. That’s all anyone will be talking about with regard to this incredible joke of a movie.

A complete waste of time and extremely obnoxious. I hated this.


* “Enough Said“: I had mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it’s mostly light and very funny. But then it gets slightly melodramatic and sad for my taste. Also, I could have done without the main character, Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who plays a mother of a teen daughter, advising her daughter’s teen friend that she should have sex with some random guy. Um, nice parenting. I did like that the movie made fun of left-wing female poets and how intolerant and base they actually are. And I liked the movie’s slight commentary on the deviant, all-too-casual sexual behavior of teens today.

Eva is a masseuse and divorced single mother. She is about to lose her teen daughter to college and her daughter’s classmate and friend is a little too close to Eva. Eva and some friends go to a party hosted by someone in the publishing industry. While there, she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet, who hires Eva to massage her. Eva also meets Albert (James Gandolfini in his last role), who asks Eva out on a date.

Soon, Eva becomes good friends with Marianne, who constantly, snobbishly attacks her ex-husband. Eva also becomes romantically involved with Albert, who talks about how his ex-wife treated him terribly. Eventually, Eva puts two and two together and realizes that Marianne and Albert are divorced from each other. But Eva doesn’t want to tell either of them that she knows the other because she thinks it’s too awkward and too late. But Eva and Albert’s relationship is poisoned by Marianne’s attacks on her ex.

The movie presents several ethical dilemmas, and it’s definitely entertaining. But, as I noted above, I could have done without the slight, brief, melodrama, as well as the horribly irresponsible parental “advice” from Eva to her daughter’s friend. This would have been a TWO REAGAN movie but because of that, I give it . . .


12 Years a Slave: Racism, 2013, and My Beef with the Solomon Northup Movie

By Debbie Schlussel

“12 Years a Slave,” in movie theaters today, is yet another movie about which I had mixed emotions. It’s an interesting story, the main character is a fine, admirable, and incredibly courageous man, and it’s based on a true story. But it appears to have been made for pure propaganda purposes, especially when we see what’s going on today in a culture that Solomon Northup–this movie’s protagonist–would probably abhor. But race-baiting is hip in our Obama/Kanye world.

Those who’ve looked into its historical accuracy say that this movie hews quite closely to the book of the same name, written by Solomon Northup, a free man from New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years. However, the New York Times reports that many believe Northup embellished his story to tailor it to the former slave narrative from the time. It also reports that Northup’s book appears to have actually been written (and story embellished) by a White abolitionist with an agenda. We might have a hint of the movie’s own agenda when we note that one of the movie’s consultants is Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. (the man who accused the Cambridge police officer of being “raaaaacist!” for arresting him–and then they both had a beer with Obama, after he said the police “acted stupidly.)
My beef with this movie is that it was heavy-handed, and I feel like I’m being hit over the head with repeated two-by-fours of racism movies, when we have a Black President, Black reparations (affirmative action, minority set-asides, ObamaPhones, ObamaCare, welfare, etc.). This is like the fifth or sixth racism movie we’ve been subjected to this year, and that’s too bad, because this was probably the best by far of all of them . . . and the most honest in terms of historical accuracy and truth (maybe–read the New York Times link above).
There was the Jackie Robinson movie, which left out that he was a lifelong Republican (read my review), the lying, fraudulent “The Butler” movie (read my review), which made the Republican butler into some sort of anti-Reagan crusader he never was, a Nelson Mandela movie (or two), a Winnie Mandela movie (or two), and this. Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head, and I’ve heard enough N-words uttered in these movies to last me several lifetimes. Ditto for the White on Black violence depicted over and over and over again. Yes, slavery happened, and racism is a part of American history. It is actually still practiced today in the Muslim world, and where are the movies about that?
But when will we see the movies about the current state of racism: Black racism against White people which I feel quite often, living as a White minority in a Black suburb where I grew up? (Just last night, two Black women at a movie theater threatened to beat and kill me, with the Black and White managers laughing at the racially-motivated incident and threatening to lock me up in the theater.) Where is the movie about murder for “Jogging While White” and assorted other racist crimes that occur every day in 2013 and don’t fit Hollywood’s preferred narrative on racism? When are we going to see the movies about how Black America itself has introduced a culture whose music (hip-hop/rap) and lifestyle encourages many fatherless children born to many women–with many of those children growing up hopeless, involved in drugs, and likely to commit crimes, especially if they are male?
These racism movies only serve to make Black Americans feel like they are still being oppressed, despite what they have achieved and who is Prez and so on. The movies only motivate more Black racism against the rest of us in America. There is nothing to resolve now, as far as issues present in this movie. That is the past. Slavery is long over. Sadly, I’ve spoken with many Blacks who still think they are slaves in America 2013, who still blame racism for everything that happens or doesn’t happen to them. Victimhood sells. Or Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be outta business. And Barack Obama would not be President.

I’m sure I’ll get the usual retorts from some readers that there are plenty of Holocaust movies, too, and I don’t get sick of those. Um, wrong. I reviewed just one Holocaust-related movie this year. And it was a documentary about Israelis who remained friends with Nazis after the War, despite the Holocaust. That’s something new. And the thing is–despite my maternal grandparents having survived the Holocaust, most of both sides of my family being wiped out in it, and my mother being born and subjected to a displaced persons camp in Bergen Belsen–I don’t ask for ObamaPhones, special treatment in university admissions and public hiring, welfare, and minority set-asides. And that’s despite the fact that the Holocaust was recent. Slavery happened long ago. While anti-Semitism is at its highest levels since the Holocaust, racism is at its lowest levels in White America. In fact, both anti-Semitism and racism–in poll after poll–are embraced most by one group: Black Americans. And the anti-Semitism is higher among wealthier, more educated Blacks.

But I digress. Now to the movie.

I cannot disregard the excellent acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Solomon Northup, the free man who was sold into 12 years of slavery. Ejiofor, it should be noted, was born to Nigerian parents. So, none of his ancestors were victims of slavery in America. Northup was educated and a classical musician who played violin. He was upper class among free Black men and White ones, as well. I’m glad the movie shows that he did have White friends and allies (from New York) who were involved, after all, in freeing him from slavery. Unfortunately, that is a tiny, almost afterthought in the film. The one really good, anti-slavery man (Brad Pitt) is a Canadian.

We see Northup tricked by two men who say they perform in a circus and have a business opportunity for Northup to play in it. Instead, he was drugged, and wakes up in chains, and no one believes that he’s a free man. We see the indignities he must suffer as a slave, and the horrible things that happen. I could have done without the masturbation/sex scene at the beginning with another slave. Was this really necessary? We see the repeated violence against and torture of slaves. We see the disgusting things they are forced to do, sexually, as minstrels, as laborers, and otherwise. None of this is new. (Nor is the fact that there were free Black men in America at the time of slavery.) And it is depicted very forcefully.

The things I liked most about this movie are the smart things Solomon Northup did, such as making ink from blackberries, so he could secretly try to contact his family and friends in the North to seek his freedom. It reminds us that once Black Americans did value education and brilliance, and they taught themselves without affirmative action, set asides, favorable treatment, and the drug that is entitlements. There wasn’t much emphasis on this in the movie. And it reminded me, also, that there aren’t enough movies about the positive things educated Blacks have done, such as George Washington Carver’s many inventions, or the many Western towns developed and established by Blacks. Those movies would be inspirational. This just inspires more hate.

I hope this is the last of this kind of movie I’ll see. But I know it won’t be. As I said, America–particularly the minority “civil rights” community–loves victimhood. That’s what sells tickets. That’s America’s mentality today.

Gimme, gimme, gimme, you crackaz. I deserve it because, 150 years ago, a free man of my complexion was enslaved.

To me, that was the point of this movie. There can be no other.


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