In Black Earth Rising, Hugo Blick’s 8 part mini-series on Netflix, we watch a metaphoric chess game taking place. Humans claim dominion over the game. They assume different roles on the game board, determined by greed or altruism, the quest for power, the quest for justice, the need to love or to hate. When the game is done, the board is reset. New players take their places and the game begins again.Continue reading “Review: Black Earth Rising”
What’s new on the tube? I’ve been trying out some new shows and some old favorites. Here are a few thoughts on some of those shows. I’ll discuss The Connors, Supergirl, and Murphy Brown. Continue reading “Brain Dump: The Connors, Supergirl, Murphy Brown”
Roseanne is back with the same cast members playing the same characters in the Conner family that we laughed with back in the 1990s. They’re all grown up and older, but are they any wiser? I thought the premier episode was true to the original and had a few good laughs. Continue reading “Roseanne is Back”
Atomic Blonde could definitely become a franchise like the James Bond or Jason Bourne movies everyone keeps comparing it with. Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton is smart, tough, relentless, cool, stylish, resourceful, beautiful, deadly, and really good at the spy game. Continue reading “Review: Atomic Blonde”
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a French space opera / science fiction action film produced, written and directed by Luc Besson. The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline. Dane DeHaan stars as Valérian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”
Dancing on the Edge is a British mini-series from 2013. Set in 1930s London, the series is about a black jazz band that becomes entangled in the aristocratic world of London. Continue reading “Review: Dancing on the Edge”
Trumbo is a fact-based story about Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was blacklisted during the Communist scare of the 1940s and 50s. Bryan Cranston is brilliant as the chain-smoking, hard-drinking writer who lead other Hollywood writers in a quiet but effective revolt against blacklisting.
Trumbo served time in prison for his liberal beliefs, as did many others during the hysterical fear-based Communist scourge of the 1950s. The 1st Amendment was under attack by many who sought to control the remarks and opinions of others – and throw them in prison if they disagreed. Continue reading “Review: Trumbo”
Trumbo is a slice of American history written through the lens of pop culture and Hollywood. The film details the life of Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted as a Hollywood writer in the 1940s for being a Communist. It’s based on the biography Dalton Trumbo by Bruce Cook.
The film stars Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo. Louis C.K., John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alan Tudyk and Helen Mirren are also in the film. Trumbo’s wife is played by Diane Lane with Elle Fanning as his daughter.
When Trumbo and many other Hollywood writers were called before House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C. and then blacklisted for their political beliefs, Trumbo orchestrated a fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom. The blacklisting scandal eventually entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne (David James Elliott) to Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman) and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel).
Trumbo was one of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were denied the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960 because of blacklisting over the Communist scare. Trumbo managed to win two Oscars for films written under other names during this time: Roman Holiday and The Brave One. His struggle ended when he finally saw his name on the screen again for the film Exodus.
Trumbo was directed by Jay Roach and written by John McNamara. It is set for a November release. Early reviews from film festival viewers have been mixed. I think the topic is interesting enough, and relevant to still occurring witch hunts in American life today, to merit giving it a chance and making up my own mind about it.
Moneyball (2011) and Trouble with the Curve (2012) are two baseball stories that are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of theme. Yet both are good movies. Since both are out on DVD now, it seemed like a good idea to review them together.
The earlier film Moneyball takes the stance that technology can solve any problem, even the problem of who to draft for a baseball team.
Moneyball stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Jonah Hill plays a geek who uses a computer and stats to decide who a team should draft. Brad Pitt trusts him to know who to pick and the film is about how they convince other people in their organization that using this new technological technique to predict baseball greatness will work. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the coach.
Moneyball is based on a true story about the Oakland Athletics in 2002. Since Oakland proved their point with an amazing team, many other baseball organizations have learned to rely on technology to predict the best picks.
You don’t have to like baseball to like Moneyball. It’s a great underdog story and certainly has good actors. It earned 6 Oscar nominations including ones for Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. I particularly love the geeky part of this film, since I’m pretty much the elder geek of the interwebs.
Trouble with the Curve
Trouble with the Curve, on the other hand, is the anti-technology baseball story. It comes at draft picks from an experience-can’t-be-beat point of view. Clint Eastwood represents the experience, of course. He’s a talent scout named Gus who is going blind. He can still pick ’em better than any computer based on his years around baseball.
Amy Adams is Eastwood’s daughter in this film. She brings the theme of father-daughter relationships into the story, which gives both Eastwood and Adams some nice opportunities to dig in and show their chops. Justin Timberlake plays another talent scout.
Amy Adams. Justin Timberlake. You know what happens when boy meets girl. That. Adams and Timberlake are particularly effective at telling this ages-old tale in the condensed form it takes when mixed into the larger story about Gus and his draft picks. Two stories in one, it’s a bargain.
The final important character is John Goodman, who is a lifelong friend of Gus’s and is backing him in his picks against the guys who want to do it with technology. There are a few interesting plot twists along the way, especially involving Amy Adams character, but I’ll let you enjoy them as they are revealed in the movie. I will share one spoiler. Amy Adams sings in this movie – and not very well. For a fabulous singer, she must have really had to work at sounding like a normal person singing.
Have you seen either of these baseball stories? What did you think of them?