Thursday, February 27, 2014


“Gravity” is one the most gripping adventures films ever. It creates more tensions viewing it than just about any other movie. It has the main character in constant danger of death and places the characters in a very scary place to be on their own without outside help, namely In outer space,

This movie also makes many viewers sad, and not just from the horrific events of the main storyline. The life story we learn of the lead character Dr. Stone alone is tear producing. The movie also skillfully uses story points that chugs at viewer’s hearts.

The outers pace photography is brilliantly beautiful. It creates more a sense of awe along with heightening the awareness of how alone they are in space. The sceneryi including the space ships is incredible.

A problem with a movie like this which shows real world high technology is that most viewers will not be able to properly assess the actual degrees of risks and possible solutions to dangers. This film, though, does an excellent job in signifying the high degree of difficulties that are being faced such that this knowledge is not essential. Viewers will likely share the fear felt by the characters.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Inequality for All

This is an excellent documentary. It admits it has a viewpoint and does not hide it: That there is economic inequality and that this inequality can be harmful to our economy and our democracy. Yet it is neither preachy nor boring academic although it does fall more on the academic side. What is good about this documentary is it backs its arguments with facts and statistics. People may still wish to argue interpretations of the numbers, but this film makes solid arguments without being preachy nor melodramatic, as some failed documentaries do.

Viewers learn that household wages rose from the 1940s to the late 1970s and then began dropping after that. The wage increases were helped by an increased graduations from higher education that made the U.S. the most educated country which in turn led the U.S. to be the most economically productive nation. There was a similar growth in unions which protected wage growth.

In the late 1970s, the I.R.S. allowed companies to deduct executive pay based on performance. This resulted in an increase in greater compensation to executive with stagnant pay to other employees. In the 1980s, taxes on the wealthiest Americans were reduced to levels seen before the depression. Unions faltered and many wage protections were removed. The financial industry experienced increased growth as law changes permitted increased speculation that brought them wealth yet did little to create new product snd more jobs. By 2008 the disparity in economic wealth was similar to that which existed before the depression of 1929.

Household spending had kept pace even as housing, education, and health care costs continually grew faster than the inflation rates. Households achieved this by the historic entrance of women into the labor force, by people on average working longer hours, and by households taking on increased debt. Consumer debt reached $500 billion by 1929.

As in the depression, there was another economic crash in 2008. The country has seen a revival in stock market prices. Yet nearly all of the increased wealth has gone to the wealthiest people.

Economic growth occurs when the middle class and poor spend money which increases demand for more products which produces more jobs. This creates an upward cycle of growth. Concentrating wealth in a few people who do not spend as much money creates a downwards cycle of economic downfalls.

This creates a threat to our economy, this film argues. The wealthiest Americans are investing more in lobbyists and in campaign contributions to politicians who are keeping tax rates on the wealthy are kept low. A 2010 Supreme Court ruling now allows unlimited amounts of funds to flow to candidates. The lower taxes paid by the wealthy reduces public sector revenues which in turn leads to cuts in spending on public education and higher education. The education levels overall decline which diminishes the productivity of our labor force. This results in lower wages and further lowers public sector revenues and the downward cycle continues.

I found this movie informative. I suspect many will bring their prior biases and political beliefs to when they view this film and their reactions may be in accordance to their prior conceptions. I would urge people to have an open mind when viewing this movie and to think of more questions on these economic issues to which we should seek further answers.

Monday, February 24, 2014


“Haywire” begins in the style of mysteries where the viewers observe characters yet we have limited knowledge as to their motives or identities. Over time, these are revealed to the audience in a manner meant to keep curiosity stimulated. For some, the pacing of the awareness as to who is who and what they are doing may be a bit slow. One knows the main character is in life-threatening danger, yet from whom and why and what their capabilities are, for awhile, kept unknown to viewers.

There are not many facets presented regarding the characters. One sees how they are over a period of a few days. There is some sense of a past between the main character and her father which is positive yet even that is quickly presented. Overall, this is a good, quick spy drama with fights and escapes yet not much else. It is well shot, the fight scenes are realistic, and there is a female hero to root for.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bad Grandpa

If one wants to see gross examples of “Candid Camera” gone wrong, this is the movie for them. It is laugh out funny, yet is purposely disgusting at times, so note that intent beforehand. Unwitting people witness and interact with offbeat, insane, and sometimes inane antics and their reactions are recorded. The antics are hilariously incorrect which surprises those who stumble across these actions.

This movie connects the series of trickery on unsuspecting people into a plot. This makes the movie a little more interesting as there is a storyline. While many scenes result from spontaneity, the plot is established. Some of the scenes contain planned dialogue to move the plot. Still the focus is on hidden cameras capturing reaction shots from people witnessing planned set-ups.

There is lots of foul language and sexual content, much of which occurs t in front of a child actor, which may disturb some. There is “gross out” humor and inappropriate humor galore. That was what the movie intended. If you don’t mind this, you may well find this movie hilarious. If you do mind that, you may be offended. Yet we may even be offended and find yourself laughing out loud. The comedy is generally well timed. The reactions are real and capturing that is what makes this movie work. It ain’t Shakespeare, but it is fun.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Captain Phillips

“Captain Phillips” is a thrilling adventure of modern day piracy and kidnapping at sea. The story and script are excellent as one learns about the characters, both criminals and victims. The motivations and lives allow viewers to understand where each comes from and what their desires are. Most of the movie presents an almost constant struggle. The tension is nearly non-stop. The actors all make the movie very believable. This movie should be noted as one of the greatest “edge of your seat” thrillers of all time.

The photography and scenery bring viewers into the story. The story and the dangers are very believable. Each actors displays convincing emotions. This movie is about as good as a realistic action drama can get.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Girl Most Likely

This is a good presentation of a woman watching her life heading towards destruction and her efforts to climb back upwards. The initial story is not a compelling: she does so poorly at work she deserves to be fired. Her boyfriend leaves her and she creates her own crisis to win him back only to find herself sent to live with her estranged family. The greater and more interesting story is of a woman who is lost in who she is and her struggle to find who she is. The storyline rapidly and continually improves as increasing difficulties are thrown at the main character as she struggles in coping with eccentric family members and boarders. Yet it is they who help her turn her life around.

This is a comedy and has some “laugh at loud” moments. The humor does not detract from its being serious and introspective look at depression. The real story is that of a woman who failed to live up to her potential and has given up on achieving what she once thought she could. Learning who she is, what she can do, and what is important in life, the viewer learns, is what really matters.

The dramatic turn near the end is a stretch from realism, which is a shame for a movie that otherwise is quite realistic. The bizarre brother role is skillfully portrayed with an authenticity that kept this movie appearing lifelike. The climax ties into earlier elements presented throughout the movie. It also has a display of great symbolism in what the brother constructed. The climax, though, failed to adhere to the realistic feel that existed throughout the rest of the film although it does resolve most of the story’s questions, creates heroes, and vindicates some.

Kristen Wiig is convincing as the lead character. The sustaining cast each add their own special elements to this movie. The acting is all around excellent and the dialogue is good. The plot could have been more dramatic and the climatic twist was lacking. Overall, this is a fun movie that achieves both tragic plot elements as well as humor.