*Movie Recap: Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is such a rush of a movie. It is a non-stop anxiety-driven crime thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and Written by Ronald Bronstein. This movie is pretty intense, and an all-around well made film. Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jewelry dealer working out of a showroom in Manhattan’s diamond district. Adam Sandler is excellent here, in a career-best performance. We get to follow Howard around as he hustles his way through life, and how his gambling addiction keeps him going. It is all about the hustle here. Every moment of his day is about hustling and gambling, while his personal and family life is in chaos. At the same time, Howard is undergoing a separation from his wife and kids. Idina Menzel plays Howard’s wife, she has a great scene towards the middle of the movie where she snaps and goes off on Howard.

Adam sandler and Julia Fox

But for me, the character that stood out the most and stole the movie was Julia, Howard’s showroom employee, and girlfriend, played by newcomer Julia Fox. I feel like she was the scene-stealer of this movie. She delivers an incredible and outstanding performance. In most scenes where she is in the background with no dialogue, you still feel compelled to keep an eye on what she is doing and how her character is reacting to the scene. The screen presence and facial gestures of Eric Bogosian’s character (Arno) as he is trying to collect on Howard’s debts are remarkable. Arno is married into Howard’s family, and seems to be mixed up with Armenian mobsters. The goons working for Arno trying to collect on Howard’s debt are intense. Even Kevin Garnett is pretty good playing himself here. The overall casting of this movie was perfect. 

The claustrophobic vibe of Howard’s showroom is an essential fixture of this film, and all the wheeling and dealing going on there. You get to see Howard dig himself deeper and deeper with every decision he makes. It’s a scheme on top of scheme; you feel the anxiety of every scheme because every decision Howard makes doubles down on the previous gamble and makes things worse. The Safdie Brothers seem to be on the cutting edge of cinema, and I can’t wait to see more from them in the years to come. This is a highly entertaining movie.

Four out of Five popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿🍿


*Movie Recap: The Two Popes

The Two Popes (2019). Anthony Hopkins (Pope Benedict XVI), and Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis).

Directed by Fernando Meirelles (“City of God,” “The Constant Gardener”) and written by Anthony McCarten (“Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour”). Anthony Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), and Jonathan Pryce plays Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio). These two actors are just incredible together. It’s all about the acting here. Powerful, big-time acting to be precise. Cardinal Bergoglio writes to Pope Benedict requesting to be allowed to retire. Then he receives a letter summoning him to meet with Benedict in his summer residence at Castle Gandolfo. Here is where the creative license takes over, especially with the particulars on the topics being discussed by the Two Popes.

However, the dialogue between Benedict and Francis is exceptional; McCarten’s writing shines here. We get to see their two opposing viewpoints on life and theology. Their different approach to Catholic doctrine is very evident, nevertheless, they both seem to agree that the church must evolve in order to survive. But Benedict seems incapable of taking the next steps into reforming the church and addressing the issues that have plagued the Vatican for decades. The flashback scenes of young Bergoglio before he joined the priesthood are well executed and elegantly portrayed by Juan Minujin. Here is where the film turns its focus into Pope Francis and how his early years shaped him into the man of faith he eventually became. The controversial period of Bergoglio’s involvement during Argentina’s Dirty war is also presented to show a conflicted priest who will carry the burden of those years into his papacy. The Two Popes is one of the best movies I saw in 2019. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are formidable.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

THE TWO POPES (2019, Streaming on Netflix)

*Movie Recap: Marriage Story and The Report

MARRIAGE STORY  (2019, Streaming on Netflix)

Marriage Story.

Noah Baumbach is known for making captivating, charming, ambitious, and complex films. Marriage Story is another achievement for this brilliant director. I think of this movie as a divorce love story. A movie that deals with the disintegration of marriage — the undoing of a family and the perils of the legal aspects of divorce. Adam Driver plays Charlie a New York theatre company director struggling to balance his work life in NYC and the separation from his wife Nicole, (Scarlet Johansson), who has moved back to California to continue to pursue her acting career. Charlie commutes to the west coast to spend time with his son and wife as often as possible. Both Charlie and Nicole had initially agreed not to involve lawyers in their separation. Still, Nicole decides to move forward by hiring a divorce lawyer and serve Charlie divorce papers, and the custody battle for their son Henry ensues. Laura Dern plays Nora, Nicole’s divorce attorney, Laura Dern’s performance steals the movie. Ray Liotta is hilarious as a high power divorce attorney representing Charlie.

You can’t ignore the parallels of this movie and Baumbach’s personal life and his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh. The acting here is some of the best movie acting in all 2019. At the end of the movie, I could not help but feel invested and caring for these people and root for them to make things work. 

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿

THE REPORT (2019, Streaming on Prime)

The Report.

The Report is a political thriller in the spirit of “All the President’s Men,” or “Syriana,” and even Spielberg’s “The Post.” It feels like some of those investigative true story political dramas made or set in the 70s. However, this movie is based on current events that are still pretty much relevant today. The coverup and the public relations propaganda regarding “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the misinformation of its results and ineffectiveness fed to the public are at the center of this film. Adam Driver delivers another outstanding performance playing Daniel Jones, a senate staffer working for Senator Dianne Feinstein, played by Annette Being, who delivers an excellent and award-worthy performance. Jones is tasked with leading an investigation into the CIA torture practices after 9/11 and deliver his findings in a report to the senate committee on intelligence. We, the audience, get to follow Daniel Jones on an atmospheric and claustrophobic investigation as he uncovers truth after truth, which took him seven years to piece together. 

HBO was supposed to make this movie, but for some reason, they decided against it. Remarkably, It was made in 26 days for a fraction of the original budget. Director Scott Z. Burns has made a very significant movie here, and in a way, a history lesson that should not be forgotten. Vice (2018) attempted to achieve something similar, but this movie goes deeper into the ineffectiveness of the CIA torture practices. I don’t feel that anyone is painted as a real villain in this movie, every character seems to believe that their cause is righteous, and acting according to what they presume is in the best interest to national security. Of course, we now have the benefit of looking back on those years and realizing that wasn’t the case. Movies like The Report and Vice keep those events from fading away into the abyss of memory.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿

*Movie Recap: THE IRISHMAN (Spoilers)

THE IRISHMAN (2019, Streaming on Netflix)

The Irishman is based on the 2004 True Crime book; I heard you paint houses by Charles Brandt. The movie recounts the life of mob hitman Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro) and his involvement in the 1975 disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa as well as the unsolved murder of “crazy Joe” Gallo outside Umberto’s Clam House in New York City’s Little Italy.

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino (The Irishman, 2019)

Martin Scorsese’s mobster movies like Goodfellas and Casino, have an interesting connection in which they all become a type of intense, all-out analysis of the Italian American underworld and their golden years. The Irishman is no exception, although the pacing its a lot slower than Scorsese’s previous mobster films, which is a good thing. I actually felt like the movie needed more time to expand on certain things and individual characters, but that is just me. The acting is legit. It is serious acting, and we don’t get those type of films anymore. Joe Pesci returns to movie acting by playing Russell Bufalino, the Mob boss of the Bufalino crime family out of Northern Pennsylvania. Pesci is excellent here. Al Pacino Plays Jimmy Hoffa, this is one of his best roles in recent years.

Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro (The Irishman)

The whole de-aging thing is impressive, but my only critique is that the characters didn’t seem to have youthful movements, they still moved around as older men. Harvey Keitel plays Angelo Bruno the Mob boss of the Philadelphia family. Stephen Graham plays Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, a capo in the Genovese crime family based out of New Jersey. Tony Pro had become enemies with Hoffa, and he was considered to be a suspect in Hoffa’s disappearance. Stephen Graham is phenomenal here; he is making a career out of playing Italian mobsters as he did in Boardwalk Empire, where he brilliantly played Al Capone.

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Ray Romano. (The Irishman)

When some of the mobster characters are being introduced to the audience, you see a quick caption pop up on the screen with their names and how they ended up meeting their demise. That was cool and different, but I would have liked to see them meet their end on film and maybe see how their death was tied up to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Perhaps they were just loose ends, or maybe their killing was unrelated to Hoffa. Anna Paquin plays Peggy Sheeran in an outstanding non-dialogue performance, she delivers just one line in the film, and it is epic.

The Irishman will be one of those movies that will continue to be talked about and over-analyzed in years to come. There are a bunch of “easter eggs” throughout this film related to classic Scorsese films and even a wink to the Godfather movies. I wonder if there is even a more extended director’s cut coming out at some point. Watch it a few times; it is excellent.

Five out Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

*Movie Recap: 1917

This movie is about Two young British lance corporals during World War I who are assigned to deliver a message through enemy territory and reach a British battalion in the war front. The message, orders the commanding officer to put on hold their imminent attack because they are being led into a trap by the Germans.

1917 Directed by Sam Mendes

This movie was written and directed by Sam Mendes, and the story is inspired by Mendes’ grandfather, who fought in WWI from 1916-1918 when he was 16 years old. This movie has been called a single shot featured film, a simulated single shot movie similar to the opening sequence in Birdman (2014). 1917 doesn’t feel like a conventional war movie, especially since there isn’t a deep pool of WWI movies out there or a WWI movie that expresses the significant human experience of the First Great War, which I sense is what 1917 attempts to express.

Geroge Mackay and Dean Charles Chapman

George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman deliver strong performances, however, as a whole, the film neglects to develop the characters, opting for visuals and long takes. The scenes where the corporals are moving through the trenches are the most remarkable and unique. 1917 is a daring film and aesthetically pretty. On the other hand, there is a sense of relevance within the conditions and political climate that led to WWI and the current European geopolitical climate. There seems to be many similarities in this European notion of National Identity, that swept Europe during the early 1900s, and it is threatening to sweet Europe once again. Which is something that filmmakers, artists, as well as celebrity figures should address before it leads to significant conflicts as it once did a century ago. This film, however, fails to address those issues, focusing mostly on the raw and obscene nature of war, but not the conditions that led to war. Nevertheless, 1917 is a visually stunning and compelling film. An important film to be precise.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

*Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Movie Recap-Spoilers)

I needed a few days to reflect and collect all my thoughts regarding The Rise of Skywalker (TROS). It is a movie, you need to see more than once or twice to process it thoroughly, and sadly, I can summarize by saying that although it is not bad, it is definitely not good.

I still blame The Last Jedi (TLJ) for this mess of a movie, and the current emotional state of the hardcore Star Wars fandom. All I can say is that the Skywalker dynastic heritage and the messianic legacy of the first six films are wasted away in this new trilogy. The Script for The Rise of Skywalker relies heavily on legends and canon material, which was definitely a good idea, but it is not something the casual fan is familiar with. Which makes certain aspects of the storyline hard to understand, unless you are incredibly familiar with legends and canon material. Throughout most of this movie, there are so many twists and turns thrown at the audience in an overwhelming pace.

There is lousy editing, plot lines skipped, or past over. Darth Sidious, shows up alive right from the beginning of the film with a simple cliff notes explanation of how he is still alive; it felt weak and lazy storytelling. There is this long history of Star Wars villains being thrown down a shaft of some kind and somehow surviving the fall, case in point; Darth Maul. So, why didn’t they start there and explain what happened when Vader threw him down the shaft on episode V?. Maybe he opened a portal into a new realm or something along those lines.

Right from the opening text scroll, The Rise of Skywalker distances itself from The Last Jedi as much as possible. “The past must die” was essentially the central message of The Last Jedi, but the past is pretty much alive here, completely ignoring the entire premise of The Last Jedi, which was a F*&% You to Rian Johnson.

The parts I liked the most:

  • They did the best they could with Leia without relying too much on CGI.
  • Rose Tico not being in the movie long was a good thing. Her character annoyed the hell out of me. 
  • Lightspeed skipping was pretty awesome
  • Kylo putting his mask back together was necessary, and another significant F*&% You to Rian Johnson.
  • Lando returning was a good idea, but he should have been back earlier. Once word got around on Han’s death, that is where Lando should have made his return to the series, so basically, he should have returned on The Last Jedi
  • Flying Stormtroopers was a good thing.
  • General Hux being the spy and getting killed off, was the only way out for Hux, who had been reduced to an inconsequential and buffoon-like villain in The Last Jedi.
  • General Pryde was a great addition, and there seems to be a backstory between Pryde and Palpatine — maybe the novelization of the movie will explain further.
  • The story of the former Stormtroopers putting down their weapons as an act of defiance against tyranny was a great inclusion to the story.
  • Zorii Bliss seemed like a cool character but her backstory and past history with Poe did not advance forward and we are still in the dark about their relationship.
  • Epic lightsaber battle on top of the wreckage of the second death star. My favorite lightsaber battle of this trilogy.
  • Leia’s death was well executed. She dies holding Han’s medal. Very touching. 
  • Chewie’s emotional moment when he finds out Leia is dead was powerful.
  • Han solo showing up and having an emotional conversation with Ben similar to their conversation on The Force Awakens was very touching.
  • For the first time in this entire trilogy, we get to see the Luke Skywalker I wanted to see or a resemblance of the Luke I was hoping for in The Last Jedi. Here we see Luke as a force ghost, and as Rey throws her lightsaber into the fire, a hand catches it, and out of the fire, Luke emerges, saying: “A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect.” Giving another severe F*&% You to Rian Johnson.
  • Here is where Luke begins to undo everything The Last Jedi did by admitting that he was wrong. Then we see an awesome flashback of Luke training Leia, where she outduels him and drops him on his back. Here Luke explains that at the end of Leia’s Jedi path, she sensed the death of her son, which prompts her to surrender her lightsaber to Luke and tells him that it will be picked up by another who will finish her journey. Luke digs out Leia’s lightsaber and gives it to Rey. This was the highlight of the movie for me. 
  • Luke then raises his old X-wing out of the water in a throwback manner similar to how Yoda raised the same X-wing in Empire Strikes Back. That scene was pure fan service, and I loved it. 
  • Kylo using Leia’s lightsaber to kill the Knights of Ren, was a cool, badass scene. 
  • As Rey reaches out while battling Palpatine and hears from every Jedi that ever existed was almost perfect, and we get to hear from Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Luke, Leia, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin, Mace Windu. However, what I wanted was to see all those Jedi’s force ghosts appearing behind Rey as she defeats Palpatine. Well, that is how I would have written it. 
  • Ben Solo using his Force healing powers to bring Rey back to life, followed by an epic kiss, was magical. Ben smiling, redeeming himself, and then dying, while at the same time the bodies of Ben and Leia disintegrate into force ghosts was excellent. 
  • The shot of Endor and the Ewoks was cool. 
  • Maz Kanata giving Han’s medal to Chewie was another emotional fan service moment. 
  • Luke and Leia’s force ghost in Tattoine looking over Rey as she takes the Name Rey Skywalker was a transcendental moment for this trilogy.
  • Rey’s yellow lightsaber at the end is very significant. It is associated with an important school of thought within the Jedi order; The Sentinels
  • The twin sun setting was a perfect shot to bring this trilogy to a close.

The Parts I disliked the most:

  • It was the right choice to bring Palpatine back, but his return should have been explained differently, worked slowly into the story. Palpatine’s contingency plan is part of the canon. There was a plan in place if somehow the rebel alliance were to succeed in defeating the empire. The canon and legends talk about Palpatine’s search for immortality, and his obsession with the unknown regions, his obsession with cloning, his obsession with essence transfer, and cloning himself. Cloning a force sensitive being is complicated and not a simple thing to accomplish. Also, let us remember his dark side pitch to Anakin about Darth Plagueis on Revenge of the Sith — so the pursuit of immortality has always been crucial to Palpatine’s plans. Also, the plothole of Palpatine’s family is abysmal. In Rian Johnson’s movie, Rey was a nobody. In The Rise of Skywalker she is a Palpatine. I am fine with this, but the explanation of her parents and Palpatine’s family is weak.
  • Palpatine used to have some of the best dialogue of the entire prequel sequels. Here, his dialogue is unremarkable. 
  • Snoke was a clone?. He was terrifying, intimidating, and now he is just reduced to a joke of a villain. JJ Abrams set up Snoke as the main villain, then Rian Johnson comes along and dumps on this villain and all the characters that Abrams created in The Force Awakens. This whole clone thing seemed like an easy way out of the Snoke storyline.  
  • The Knights of Ren did not get enough screentime to establish their backstory, or even care remotely about them.
  • Jedi hunter’s storyline and the importance of his ship needed to be better explained. The dagger with Sith writing storyline, which C-3PO cannot translate because it is against his programming, was time-consuming and pointless. 
  • Adam driver’s performance is the best part and the main driving force of all three sequel trilogy films. Kylo is the one true constant. When he dies at the same time as his mother, and then Rey resurrecting him with her healing powers was pretty neat. However, healing powers are something straight out of Star Wars lore, you read about them in the books and comics, and they are not explained in any of the movies. So then, the casual fan has no idea how she acquires this power. We, the audience, have no idea who trained her on how to use this technique. All of a sudden, she just knows it, and the audience is supposed to go along with it like dumb monkeys.
  • The suggestion that Finn is force sensitive was a big stretch, and a bad idea. 
  • Horses running on Star Destroyers were not a good idea.
  • Grandpa Palpatine’s plan to transfer his power/essence to Rey is convoluted.
  • In the final battle between Palpatine and Rey: when she is holding back Sith lightning, Palpatine tells her, “I am all the Sith that ever lived.” Then Rey pulls Luke’s lightsaber and says, “I am all the Jedi” while pushing Sith lightning back into Palpatine until his own Sith lightning its turned back into him (similar to how Mace Windu turned Sith lightning back into him on Revenge of the Sith). All of that was cool, but Palpatine melting down and blowing up, and presumably dead (for now…), was too fast, I wanted to see this iconic villain being defeated in more unambiguous way. 
  • The cryptic scene between Lando and Jannah, asking where she is from, and Lando saying, “let’s find out.” You cannot just leave it like that.
  • My other big issue is that we never got to see Anakin appear as a force ghost in any of the sequel movies. We were robbed as fans. We only got Yoda. No Obi Wan Kenobi, no Anakin. What a disgrace!!

The future of the Force:

On a technical level, movies like The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker are excellent, but it is clear that Star Wars is no longer pushing cinema and sci-fi to the next level as it once did. 

This sequel trilogy serves as a perfect example of the importance of having a clearly defined outline before any hiring decisions are made. The outline of the story should have been agreed upon before hiring screenwriters, directors, and even before casting the movie. Especially, if you are making a trilogy, you should have a clear idea where the story is going and what the character arcs should be, and it is clear that this was not the case with this sequel trilogy. Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the Force Awakens, and Solo, so why couldn’t he write The Rise of Skywalker? Or at least have him involved somehow. Maybe Kasdan would have contributed to a more commonsensical storyline.

The Force Awakens was one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences in my recent memory. I remember leaving the theatre happy and excited about the future of Star Wars. Then, fast forward a couple of years ahead, and I remember how confused I felt leaving the theatre after watching The Last Jedi. I was baffled, perplexed, taken aback. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I immediately began revisiting some of my old Star Wars books. The ones no longer considered canon, and have been labeled as “legends,” like Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy and even Dark Lord by James Luceno, just to cleanse my palate. 

There was magic at the end of The Force Awakens—when Rey is holding Luke’s Lightsaber as Luke is just staring at her. It was the whole idea of Luke returning as the lead character in the upcoming movies. Luke returning as a Jedi master, seeing him display some of his Jedi powers one last time, maybe engage in one final lightsaber battle, not some hologram version of himself as we saw on The Last Jedi. And then, at some point, Luke would pass on the baton to another, maybe Rey or another character, who knows. All of that was pissed away on The Last Jedi. This is a clear example of why you need to have specific outlines for all the movies and characters already set up and agreed upon before any hiring decisions are made. In case another director or screenwriter takes over, the outlines are clearly stated and followed, with very little room to tweak things up. 

Luke remains at the very center of the Star Wars fandom, and all those adventures and missions in between the years of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens are a goldmine for future Disney+ TV shows. If Disney wants tor redeemed themselves with the hardcore fan base, then focusing on Luke and the Skywalker bloodline is where the future of Star Wars should be. The same thing should occur with Vader and all those years in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. They are all just sci-fi space adventure movies, simple as that. Jon Favreau and his Mandalorian series arrived precisely at the right time. In this show, we can see and sense the respect and affection Favreau and his team have for Star Wars, which is not what the people involved in the sequel trilogy conveyed, most notably in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. The sooner we put this sequel trilogy behind us and bring onboard TRUE Star Wars fanatics into upcoming projects, the better chance Disney has to salvage whatever is left of the fan base.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

*Movie Recap: Terminator-Dark Fate (Spoilers)

First of all, this is a Mexican Terminator movie, and that is a beautiful thing to say. A Terminator film with a Latino twist, in the spirit of Logan (2016). Because I feel like both of these films shared some similar themes. Specifically, the notion that the heroes or saviors of these two films are Latin characters. Female Latin characters to be precise. In both films, they are here to save humanity or in the case of Logan; to be the last hope and future leader of mutants.

Hollywood has always refused to cast Latinos positively or create stories where the narrative paints Latinos in a positive light. And although this is a step in the right direction, we are still way off from changing the Latino stereotypes Hollywood has bestowed upon my people. My main issue here is in the lack of diversity in the writing team, they were six writers credited, and none of them was Latin or female. You cannot presume to write about Latin culture in general without having experienced our culture first hand by actually being one of us.

Nevertheless, I digress, in this brand new installment, James Cameron finally makes his return to the Terminator franchise. However, this time around, not as a Director. This time, he serves as a producer tasked with properly rebooting the franchise and align it with the first two original Terminator films, which is something the last three Terminator films failed to accomplish. Although, I must note that I did enjoy Terminator Genisys a lot more than some critics did. In the last few years, Cameron has been focused on his Avatar sequels, so I suspect that taking some time off to direct a Terminator movie was not an option. Directing duties were given to Tim Miller of Deadpool fame.

Terminator: Dark Fate is a straight sequel to Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Furthermore, they are overriding all of the sequels after T2, similar to how they rebooted Halloween (2018). As a fan of Terminator, Linda Hamilton coming back was a huge selling point for me. She is incredible in this movie. She reminds us that after all these years away in semi-retirement from acting, she can still carry a film as the lead. The new timeline as it stands now is that Skynet was stopped after T2, and judgment day was prevented. Dark Fate picks things up very similar to how the first two Terminator movies began, with two naked time-traveling killing beings dropping from the sky, beating up, killing anyone in their immediate surroundings, and taking their clothes. Then, we are in Mexico, where we are introduced to our Heroine of the story Daniela Ramos (Dani). Her story arc is similar to Sarah Connor in the original Terminator film. She is young, weak, working a minimum wage job.

Meanwhile, there is a shapeshifting Terminator sent back to kill her, (played by Gabriel Luna), and a non-Terminator sent back to protect her (played by Makenzie Davis); in this case, an enhanced human from the future (similar to how Reese was sent back in Terminator 1 to protect Sarah, except he was not enhanced). We shockingly find out that a Terminator killed John Connor just a few years after the events of T2. We are shown a T-800 Terminator, (A young version of Arnold Schwarzenegger), succeeding in killing John Connor. So we assume that he was sent back into the past before Skynet was destroyed and spent years tracking down John and Sarah, until eventually completing his mission. Skynet is no longer the threat to humanity; instead, it has been replaced by a new threat in the form of Legion, an AI created in the future for cyberwarfare. Legion eventually turns on humanity, and Dani becomes the leader of the human resistance.

One of the coolest things about this movie was how they re-introduce Sarah Connor as this “Terminator Killer.” Where she goes around killing Terminators as soon as they drop from the sky. She is filled with rage and grief, avenging the bastards that killed her son. The mystery angle here is that she receives encrypted messages from time to time with location, time and day where a Terminator will show up and with a signature text saying “For John.” I thought that was a neat touch. We later find out that those messages come from the same T-800 Terminator who killed John. Since his mission has been completed, he finds himself free of any programming. He begins to develop free will and consciousness, which prompts him to seek a way to find a purpose for his existence. He also explains that when time displacement occurs, it sends a ripple effect. Because he is from the future, he can sense those ripples a couple of days before it happens. So, he knows when a terminator is coming from the future. This means that Skynet before it was destroyed, sent multiple Terminators through different timelines to increase the chances of killing John. Then, Sarah shows up and destroys them the moment they arrive.

The special effects were cool; my only issue was with the fighting sequences, all the hand to hand combat action sequences were sped up to a degree where they were somewhat unwatchable and blurry. It cheapens the action; it blurs it. Makes it feel like a video game, they need to stop making action sequences like that, especially in action movies. The Dani Character was very refreshing, to say the least, especially when she has to make her way into the US running away from the Terminator trying to kill her. She has to cross the border with a bunch of other immigrants, turning her into an undocumented Mexican immigrant, and essentially an undocumented Mexican immigrant is the savior of all humanity. There are some recycled concepts from the original Terminator movie. However, those concepts still work, and I have no issues with that. The lesson to learn here is that somewhere in our future, AI will get turned on, and at some point, it will turn on humanity and seek to wipe us out from existence. So, in a way, we are being told that it is inevitable that the machines at some point in our future will rise against humans. I know the Box Office numbers have not been too kind to this movie, and that is unfortunate. Because even if you are a casual fan of the Terminator series, you will enjoy this movie. It is a fun and entertaining film. The best since Terminator 2.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

*Movie Recap: The Joker (Spoilers)

Finally, I got a chance to watch Todd Phillip’s The Joker, and it is a remarkably well-made film. Joaquin Phoenix gives an exceptional performance. I notice how Todd Phillip’s movies have gotten progressively darker and darker, and this is probably his best film yet. The Joker was supposed to be a stand-alone film, but it should not be. There is plenty of meat on that bone to make a few sequels. Especially since this is an origins story, and an excellent origins story to be precise. It gives a deep and profound character study into one of the most iconic comic book characters ever.

And although this is a studio movie, it has the air of an independent film. The film borrows heavily from Taxi Driver (1976), The French Connection (1971), and The King of Comedy (1983), which I think is a thing of genius to draw from those classic films. Right from the opening scene, you get the sense that this movie is set in the late ’70s or early ’80s. New York City and parts of Newark were used as locations for Gotham city. If you commute between NYC and New Jersey as I do, you can tell that most parts of Queens, Washington Heights, and most of North Bergen can easily be used as locations to recreate the feel and vibes of the ’70s and ’80s. It is like those places are architecturally stuck in time. Even the subway shots look outdated. If you ride the subway in NYC as I do daily, you can see how the trains, platforms, and train stations have a very dystopian feel to them, and this movie captures it impeccably.

Arthur Fleck (The Joker), is not a criminal mastermind in this movie, unlike previous Jokers in other movies, those other movies established Joker as a criminal mastermind from the start of those films. In Todd Phillip’s film, he is frail, sickly, weak, sensitive, and insecure. He daydreams of making it big as a stand-up comedian. Any criminal intentions or any anarchist tendencies do not seem to be part of his nature. You cannot help but root for him throughout most of the movie until you get to the point where you can no longer root for him, that is the genius of this film.

Fleck, finally snapping and making the heel turn, is brilliantly executed. The chaos that follows in the streets and uprising of the people towards the establishment due to Fleck’s actions has an air of V for Vendetta where the masses took to the streets wearing Guy Fawkes masks to take on the state. We see something very similar here. We also get to see the connection between Fleck and the Wayne family. We see from where his hate and anger originates. We see a young Bruce Wayne, a young Alfred, and the moment when Bruce Wayne loses both his parents in an alley. All the origins marks are met. However, most importantly, we see how the system lost Arthur, how the system created this monster, how the lack of empathy and understanding of mental health issues led to Arthur Fleck to lose his sanity and become The Joker.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 Documentary

img_1121I liked it, and I didn’t. But overall, I was not very impressed by this new Bob Lazar: Area 51 documentary, Directed by Jeremy Corbell (streaming now on NETFLIX). It didn’t do much for me, and in a way, I felt like Steven Greer’s UNACKNOWLEDGED (2017, also streaming now on NETFLIX) was way more entertaining and thought-provoking than Jeremy Corbell’s documentary, where he made a solid attempt to reframe the Lazar story by adding a more personal structure to the documentary. Showing Lazar at work, at home, also adding his wife and friends to the story. We also get Mickey Rourke as a narrator, adding an air of a Hollywood top billing celebrity to the credits.


img_1123At the end of the day, It doesn’t really matter if you believe in Lazar’s story or not, it doesn’t really matter if you believe in UFOs. It matters how the story and the material are presented to the viewer, which I felt like it was presented somewhat poorly. Although there are some exciting and entertaining moments throughout the documentary, it still fails to bring the story together within the world of UFOLOGY and to connect Lazar’s story with the current impact of the Ancient Aliens TV show in modern popular culture.

Bob Lazar and the director of this documentary (Jeremy Corbell) went to the Joe Rogan Experience studio and recorded a podcast, which was longer than the actual documentary, and to some degree a lot more entertaining. Perhaps the most exciting thing I took away after listening to the podcast was the revelation that some of the “crafts” at area 51 actually came from Archeological digs (according to what Lazar was told). 

Now that is one powerful revelation and a revelation that comes with some serious implications that could put our entire understanding of ancient civilizations upside down (if you believe in Lazar’s story). The idea that most of those crafts were obtained from archeological digs and not recovered from some UFO crash is mind-blowing, to say the least.

Could it be possible that ancient cultures had developed this kind of technology?

Could previous civilizations had at some point reached a higher level of technology, even higher than our own current technological abilities?

Or perhaps there was some type of mass extinction event that suddenly wiped out those civilizations which caused those crafts to be left behind and as time went by they got buried away along with the ruins of those past civilizations, only to be discovered by modern humans within the last century?

Is difficult for me to believe that an alien civilization visited us in ancient times and left behind their crafts and all their advanced technology. Unless they came to stay, brought their technology with them, and never left. Only to be wiped out along with those ancient civilizations at some point. Maybe Graham Hancock’s theory about how humans are a “species with amnesia” is right on the money, perhaps we have lost our own sense of history, our true ancient history, and at some point in our distant past, we were a highly advanced species. A species that had an advanced understanding of physics. Maybe that explains many of the pre-diluvian tales of pre-Columbian cultures throughout the Americas and other parts of the world.

This documentary never addresses the real questions regarding Lazar’s story, it just tries to vindicate the parts that have been proven true, and some parts feel somewhat circumstantial. Element 115 still remains a mystery. Lazar refused to discuss on the screen whether he sneaked some of element 115 out of Area 51, which is a claim he made sometime back in the ’80s. So I guess if you are not familiar with Lazar story, you will find a lot of value in this documentary, but in case you are very familiar with his story, this documentary feels like we are just catching up with Bob after all these years. Like we are seeing how he still manages to live a ‘normal’ life, while still maintaining firm with his claims and story. But the main thing I found fascinating was Lazar’s comments on the Rogan podcast. When Rogan asked him if he had any idea where those crafts come from, Lazar replied that they came from an archeological dig.

Bob Lazar: “it’s not just old, it’s ancient.”





First of all, I’m a huge music fan and an obsessive collector of classic rock LP records, so needless to say, I really, really liked this movie. This is pretty much a conventional, standard biopic, and you can definitely pull apart many inconsistencies in the timeline, as well as in the storyline, and a few other things here and there. But this movie succeeds where other similar biopics fail.

The parts I liked:

If you are a Queen fan, you will notice inconsistencies and exaggerations throughout the entire movie. Still, the real star of Bohemian Rhapsody is the actual music. I would go as far as to say that it feels basically like a “behind the music” episode on steroids. Although the storyline feels somewhat superficial, the movie still manages to be highly enjoyable. I was very impressed by the subtle sleight of hand innuendos the director used in certain scenes while alluding to Freddie Mercury’s sexuality; it was all done in a visual manner, which I assume was done at the request of the surviving bandmates.

Rami Malek’s performance was superb. Regardless of the inconsistencies and many holes in the storyline, Malek’s acting was mesmerizing. Mike Meyer’s cameo was uniquely special, particularly by the strong connection Wayne’s World (1992) has with Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody.  The Live Aid performance was the highlight of this film; even casual Queen fans or even non-fans would appreciate the awesomeness of that concert.

The Parts I wanted to see:

Right after Live Aid, Queen went into the recording studio to make the album; “A Kind of Magic” (1986),  which was also the unofficial soundtrack to the cult classic film Highlander (One of my favorite movies from the ’80s), and I wanted to see them making that album. I think it would’ve been cool to see the bandmates getting back together to create new music, as we see Mercury’s health beginning to deteriorate.

Mercury’s early years and initiation into music were also ignored. I wanted to see a little more of that, primarily since he was known for being a very gifted piano player. I also wanted to see a bit more of Freddie Mercury’s last days in this world and how he coped with AIDS towards the end of his life.

In conclusion: This is a highly entertaining movie, where the music takes center stage. Just watch it, and l guarantee you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018) Three of out Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

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