Author Archives: jjcwn

About jjcwn

Retired Software Developer, blogger, screenwriter, novelist, chess player

Movie Review: Serenity

Movies like “Serenity” that are described by some critics as “January junk” are the kind of films that come out early in the year because they have no chance for any kind of an award and are essentially just early year filler until much better movies come around later in the year. The reason why screenplays are so difficult to write is that when you are trying to trick the audience, everything along the way has to have plausibility. All along the way the story has to make sense and the way people react to what is going on, also has to make sense.

Academy Award Nominations 2018

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“A Star Is Born”

Lead Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Lead Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”


Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Movie Review: Farenheight 119

Whether you like Micheal Moore or hate him because he is so extremely liberal, there is no denying the greatness of the documentaries he produces or his incredible energy, passion and anger when it comes to seeking out horrendous injustice and with his movies, tries to do something about the problems in this country. The truth about his new movie, “Farenheight 119” is that its about far more than just the insanity of the 2016 election. Moore covers many other subjects in this movie and the number one injustice he shows is the criminal activies of the governor of Michigan and billionaire Rick Snyder, who according to Moore, unnecessarily re-routed the water sources to the city of Flint entirely for financial reasons. Then even after the water was found to be contaminated, Snyder continued to poison the citizens of Flint. Since the water contamination in Flint, tens of thousands of children will forever have lead poison and many people have died from legionaires disease and other diseases that are caused by lead poisoining.

Movie Review: White Boy Rick

The new movie “White Boy Rick” would be impossible to believe even happened, were it not for that fact that this is a true story. Is it possible for any child born in 1970 in the declining years in the inner city of Detroit Michigan while being raised by a lowlife single father who is a gun runner to succeed in life? In a poor depressing environment in the mid-80’s in Detroit where a 15 year old kid by the name of Rick Wershe Jr. is born, is it even possible barring some miracle that someone like this could amount to anything but someone who dies young from a drug overdose, a drive by shooting or winds up in prison? What are your options? Your education is a disaster and your father is a gun runner. Very few ever make more out of a life like this – born to you because of where you are and who your parents are. I was most amazed by this true story because its about a young white kid of 15 who was used by the FBI to spy on a group of drug pushers who are all black. Somehow, he was able to get into their group and then somehow, was able to help the FBI get information to arrest them. How he was then treated by the police and FBI is another amazing part of this true story that was hard to believe. On top of all of this, his sister was a drug addict that left their home and lived in flop houses in local Detroit squalor.

This movie was well acted by Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Richie Merritt – who seemed very adept and getting the mumbling incoherent dialogue of not only that period in the 80’s but also to meld with the black drug pushers that he was able to become friends with. The downside of this is that very often its hard to understand what he is saying much of the time. The actor Bruce Dern was also in this movie, playing the boys grandfather and he also does a very good job despite his advanced age.

This movie as an average rating of 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and for me I would have given it about a 70%. I was surprised that McConaughey had so little screen time, given that he is supposedly the star of this film. I give a solid recommendation to White Boy Rick.

Movie Review: The First Purge

This is the 6th Purge movie in one of the worst long running movie franchises of all time. Apparently they all made enough money to justify another one and considering each movie is about the same thing “crime gets a holiday for one day”, its amazing that these bad movies get the audience they do. Even more amazing for me is that this movie has Marisa Tomei in this film and she plays a scientist who is studying the end results of letting crime have one day off. There is no better example of how difficult a field acting is when you see an actress who is the caliber of Tomei in a bad movie franchise. I can only guess that she did it as a favor for a friend or needed the money.

This is a bad movie about nothing but violence and like all the other movies in the franchise it should be skipped by everyone – including me, who only saw this garbage because of this blog. Hopefully they will make “The LAST Purge” very soon and put an end to this long list of bad movies.

Movie Review: First Reformed

The logline for the new movie “First Reformed” goes something like this. “A man about to have a baby is extremely concerned about the environment and global warming, worried that in the year 2050, when his child is 33 years old the planet Earth may no longer be a viable place to live”. The man consults a priest, who himself is having major problems including his health. From this point the quality of this movie is overall very well done, receiving a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The acting of the 3 main actors, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and of all people Cedric the Entertainer in the first serious role I have ever seen him in – are all outstanding in their roles. The problems with this movie – like many movies that are made today is that in some instances, it is trying too hard to be different and because of this, some parts of the movie just do not make sense. This includes one scene that actually involves levitation – coming out of nowhere. This movie also has one of those endings that will confuse and infuriate many viewers, for me it was just OK, although part of the ending did not make sense. Somewhere along the line, people have to react and behave in ways that make sense to a normal person. In many cases when it comes to a good solid story idea, less is more.

This movie is very low budget and was made for only 2.5 million dollars and shot in 20 days. Its also rather dark and depressing when you consider the possible end of the world scenario’s discussed. Despite the 95% recommendation on Rotten Tomatoes I give First Reformed only a mild recommendation.

Movie Review: Dead Pool 2

The reviews for “Dead Pool 2”, the sequel to Dead Pool that was released in February 2016 are mostly in the 80% range on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. Many of the ideas that worked in the first Dead Pool are present in this new version, although I thought it was not nearly as funny as the first one. Dead Pool 2 once again stars Ryan Reynolds as Dead Pool, the cancer ridden and facially deformed super hero who cannot be killed, even if he is ripped in half. I thought the story in this film was much more erratic and off the wall than the first one and for this reason, I lost interest in what was going on several times.

Despite the very solid reviews, I give this movie only a marginal recommendation only for big fans of the Dead Pool character, and Ryan Reynolds sarcastic and at times funny lines.

Movie Review: The Rider

When your born in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota, where there is nothing but plains, cold, horses and cattle your life options are very limited. You’re probably going to be poor and working on a farm, or training horses or riding dangerous animals in a Rodeo bucking bronco contests hoping you don’t get kicked in the head and become brain damaged for life. This is the story of “The Rider” about a young man who is kicked in the head by a horse in a Rodeo and his life after the accident. Obviously these are all not very good life options, but when your are born and live in the middle of nowhere and live in a trailer with no money, what are your alternatives? As I have said in this blog before with other films I have reviewed, “you’re going along for the ride”. We are all the products of our parents, our DNA and where we are born.

Very unusual for this movie is that the characters are fictional but the actors in “The Rider” are the actual people who lived through the real events in this story. One of the actors is Lilly Jandreau who is the mentally disabled sister of Brady Jandreau who was brain damaged in the Rodeo accident. The main character Brady Blackburn, played by Brady Jandreau does not have severe brain damage and despite his severe injury throughout most of this film, seems to be able to function normally. Another actor in this film was not as lucky and his brain damage was severe and some of the most depressing scenes in this movie involve his struggles in the hospital while Brady visited him.

The ratings for this movie are very high 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, but my rating for this movie is more in the 70% range, mainly because the film dragged too long in several areas and I thought there was enough of a story to tell. The huge vistas of South Dakota were impressively filmed, providing one good reason to see this movie. I thought this was a very simple story, very well told, but due to the other problems, I give The Rider only a marginal recommendation.