Monthly Archives: March 2016

Eye In The Sky

Movie:  Eye In The Sky

Rating:  5 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   We all know about the War On Terrorism, but it is an undeclared war.  We are not at war with a country, but on an ideology of terror, so nations fighting these terrorists must act under certain protocols.  The military act under Rules Of Engagement (ROE), and can only resort to military action if certain legal parameters are met, and civilian authority approves the use of force.  These restraints are necessary, but can lead to dicey situations where decision making is difficult at best.

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) wakes up in Surrey, England one morning to be advised that British national Susan Danford (Lex King), a terrorist that has been hunted for six long years, has been spotted in Nairobi, Kenya.  This information has been provided by Kenyan special forces coordinating with the British military, and facial recognition support provided by the U.S. Image Analysis Office at Pearl Harbor.  There is masterful coordination of real time data among the three countries, with audio and visual signals whipping around the world via satellite imagery.  And of course the “eye in the sky”, a high flying unmanned drone  that is flying over Nairobi piloted by a U.S. Air Force officer at Creech AFB, Nevada by one Lt Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), who alone has the ability to release the devastating power of a Hellfire missile.

In addition to the British terrorist, there are several other high ranking terrorists all gathered in one location, clearing plotting to create mayhem in the city within a short time interval.  Time is of the essence to stop them, but Col Powell must seek authority to take military action, and calls Lt Gen Benson (Alan Rickman) at Whitehall in London, who in turn must deal with an escalating array of civilian authorities in England as well as the United States, all concerned with the issue of collateral damage.

This is a fantastic movie, as timely as it is well done.  This is not an action movie, but rather a story that could easily be true, and accurately shows all the moving parts of how difficult decisions have to play out when deploying force in a foreign land.  The acting is brilliant, and the tension is slowly and continuously ratcheted up until the viewers are holding their breath for an outcome.  Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman give bravura performances.  A must see film.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Col Powell – “This is an operation to capture, not kill.  You’re to be our eye in the sky.”

Col Powell – “We need to put a Hellfire into that room right now!”

British Government Official – “Has there ever been a British led drone attack on British and American nationals in a friendly country?”

Lt Watts – “Is my government aware we are targeting a person with a U.S. passport?”

British Legal Officer to Col Powell – “The law is not here to get in your way.  It is here to protect you.”

Lt Gen Benson – “Minister, do we have authority to prosecute the target?”

Lt Gen Benson to Civilian Minister – “I have attended the aftermath of five suicide bombings on the ground.  Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.”

Nitnoid Criticism:  Helen Mirren was dynamic and perfect in the role of Colonel Powell, though realistically a bit old in real life at 70 to be in the military.  Ditto for Aaron Paul, despite his boyish face, at 36 too old to be a second lieutenant.

 

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Hello, My Name Is Doris

Movie:  Hello, My Name Is Doris

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   We are all searching for someone to love.  Often times, the path to finding love is fraught with missteps, failures, and divorce.    A few are afraid to really look, which brings us to Doris Miller (Sally Field).  Doris has spent her adult life caring for her mother, and now that her mother has passed on, Doris is truly alone for the first time in her life.  She has a few friends, most notably Roz (Tyne Daly), but mostly Doris goes to work and spends her day in a small cubicle crunching numbers as an accountant for a large company.  Her brother Todd (Stephen Root) and his wife are determined to get Doris to sell the house and split the proceeds, but Doris is too emotionally attached to the place and its contents.  In fact, Doris is something of a hoarder.

But Doris, well into middle age, is about to come to a crossroads in her life.  She has drunk the emotional Kool-Aid supplied by self help guru Willy Williams (Peter Gallagher), and Doris sets out to try and grab life by the … horns.  Specifically, Doris has been bitten and smitten by the love bug, and the object of her affection is co-worker John Fremont (Max Greenfield).  Only problem is, John has no inkling of what is happening inside the mind of Doris Miller.  Furthermore, Doris is on the prowl for a man who is at least 25 years her junior.  What could go wrong?

This is really quite a wonderful little film.  It is labeled a comedy by promoters, but is probably 60% comedy and 40% drama.  All of us can relate to the wishful daydreams of making the object of our desires suddenly respond to our mental commands.  But life is never that accommodating for us.  A cast of stellar supporting actors in this movie.  Tyne Daley steals every scene she is in.  I suggest you catch this film in the art houses before it disappears.

Dialogue Nuggets:  John to co-workers – “It’s really great to be here in the city that never sleeps.  Eee, Bedee, Eee Bedee, Eee Bedee, That’s All Folks!”  (apology to Porky Pig )

Willy to Audience – “Life is short, it is over in the blink of an eye.  There are 7 days in the week, and someday isn’t one of them!”

Doris – “I think I was the first person on my block to have cable TV.”

Roz to Doris – “Be careful.  You appear to be taking dating advice from a thirteen year old!”

Todd’s Wife – “Why are you donating that?  Who is going to want one ski?”  Doris – “Someone with one leg!”

Roz – “It’s like someone stole my friend and replaced her with a wild animal!” 

Huh?  What the….:  Not sure how Doris can afford to go to a psychiatrist.   Even less likely, said headshrinker makes house calls….

Bummer:  Sadly, Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters is not a real band.

 

 

10 Cloverfield Lane

Movie:  10 Cloverfield Lane

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is very upset at her boyfriend Ben.  We don’t know what he said or did, but the cad must have done something despicable because Michelle is packing up her stuff and hitting the road.  And she is not answering Ben’s phone calls no matter how much he begs her to.  But while Michelle is on the run, strange things are going on in the skies, and tremors on the ground.  Then something traumatic happens, and Michelle finds herself in a small concrete room, and no idea how she got there.

Enter Howard (John Goodman), a middle-aged bear of a man, Navy veteran, who has rescued Michelle and brought her into his underground shelter.  There is another young man, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), who is also sharing the safety of the bunker.  This is no 20 by 20 hole in the ground, but a multi-room shelter stocked with several years of supplies along with an entertainment center that provides music and plays DVDs.  There is even a shower – what more could one ask for!  But why are they hunkered down in this shelter?  Some calamity has befallen the country, and Howard isn’t sure if it was an atomic attack, or some biological/chemical attack.  All he knows is they are going to have to stay buttoned up for years to come.

This is a very smart film with three very good actors who are on screen all the time.  With a confining set, the movie manages to crank up the suspense level a few notches at a time, and keeps the viewer guessing about what is really going on.  Definitely worth seeing for the thrill factor.  Goodman is superb in this role, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead has become one of the premiere actresses in Hollywood; she is mesmerizing on the screen.  This may be one of the best films of 2016 before the summer blockbusters show up.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Howard to Michelle – “I’m sorry, but no one is looking for you.”

Howard – “They’re not okay.  Everyone outside of here is dead.”

Howard – “Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.”

Emmett – “How often do you get hired to build a doomsday bunker?”

Test Your Powers of Hearing:  Michelle’s boyfriend Ben is heard but never seen.  However, he is played by a very famous actor.  See if you can recognize him.

London Has Fallen

Movie:  London Has Fallen

Rating:  2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   The British Prime Minister keels over and dies rather unexpectedly, at a relatively young age, and many of the world leaders decide they need to show up at his funeral.  This includes U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), who barely survived that little dust-up at the White House, and his favorite Secret Service protection detail agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to ensure his safety.  Banning is a little reluctant to make the trip, as his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) is about to have their baby, but Mike Banning is a loyal dude who is duty bound to protect the President, so off to London he goes.

Really there should be no security problems in London.  After all, with all of those world leaders gathered in one place, every security precaution and every policeman and federal agent is on high alert and armed to the teeth.  What could go wrong?  Well, as it turns out, the United States dropped a smart bomb on a wedding party for Aamir Barkawi’s (Alon Aboutboul) daughter a few years ago, and he is pretty pissed about it.   So all those world leaders in London are about to feel the wrath of this Middle Eastern arms merchant.

Movie goers who crave lots of action, violence and things that go BOOM during a movie will no doubt enjoy this film.  To this reviewer, the premise is too far fetched to believe, in that a couple of terrorist baddies can  infiltrate every security system and totally stymie all the world’s best security forces at every turn.  Totally unrealistic on so many levels.  But it makes money, so no doubt we will keep seeing  more of these movies:  Paris Has Fallen, Buffalo Has Fallen and so on.  One would think President Asher would learn to stay home from now on.