Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Movie:  The Man Who Knew Infinity

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   In 1914 India, the rule of the British Raj is soon coming to an end.  In Madras, India, a young clerk named Srinivas Ramanujan (Dev Patel) takes a menial book keeping job to support his new wife Janaki (Devika Bhise).  Ramanujan’s Indian supervisor is soon impressed by the theoretical mathematical formulas created by the young man, and urges him to write to England to get the attention of the best mathematical minds in Europe.  Ramanujan’s letters, containing examples of his theoretical formulas, eventually come to the attention of G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), a renowned scholar at Cambridge University.

At first reluctant to cross the ocean for religious reasons, Ramanujan eventually leaves his wife and mother to go to England and work with G.H. Hardy and John Littlefield (Toby Jones).  However, the assimilation to life in England was a difficult one for the young Indian man.  The customs and climate were difficult to adjust to, and Ramanujan found it hard to even find food to eat that allowed him to follow his religious beliefs because of the rationing going on during World War I.  Then of course there was the racial discrimination to be endured as an Indian in early 20th century England, as well as strong skepticism that was entrenched in the Cambridge scholastic community that doubted the legitimacy of the mathematical theories produced at an alarming rate by Ramanujan.  Acting as a mentor and eventually a friend, G.H. Hardy endeavored to rein in the young genius, and labored mightily to convince Ramanujan to work on the detailed proofs that would give legitimacy to his revolutionary mathematical theories.

This film is a small gem that is getting lost in the cluster of action films cramming the theaters in blockbuster season.  I urge you, the discriminating film goer, to make time to see this fascinating true story about one of the greatest mathematical geniuses the world has ever known.  Most people will not understand the mathematical jargon that is tossed out and batted about, but it doesn’t matter.  You will understand the urgency of the people who are struggling to accomplish great things.   Kudos for Jeremy Irons; could be a Best Supporting Actor nomination for him this year.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Ramanujan – “I’m doomed, like Galileo.  The English think I’m a raving lunatic.”

Indian Accountant – “Why aren’t you using the abacus?”  Ramanujan – “I can do it faster in my head.”

Littlefield to Ramanujan – “See that sapling?  The very tree Newton sat under when the apple hit him in the head.”

Hardy – “Why do you think they want us to fail?”  Ramanujan – “Because I’m Indian.”  Hardy – “Well, there’s that.”

Littlefield to Hardy – “He may belong to a world beyond us, but he’s not God!”

Hardy to Ramanujan – “Major MacMahon says Partitions can’t be done, especially by the likes of you.”

Hardy to Doctor – “I’d be praying, too, if you were my doctor.  And I’m a bloody atheist!”

Hardy – “An equation for him had no meaning unless it expressed the thought of God.”

Actress To Watch Out For:  Newcomer Devika Bhise is not only uncommonly attractive, but has talent as well.  Look for her in starring roles soon.

Get Your Geek On:  For those who speak mathematics, you will understand and appreciate the genius of Srinivasa Ramanujan.  How he came up with his theoretical equations is unknown, but others have followed and proven almost all of his theoretical work was correct.  His work with G.H. Hardy at Cambridge on the Partition of Numbers was groundbreaking, as well as their new method for finding asymptotic formulae which was labeled the Circle Method.  Many years after his death, Ramanujan’s theories have been used to understand the behavior of black holes by physicists.

 

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Money Monster

Movie:  Money Monster

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Wall Street is a money monster that can be very unpredictable and capricious, and if an investor is not careful, their little nest egg can be gobbled up in the blink of an eye.  Money Monster is also a cable TV show hosted by financial whiz Lee Gates (George Clooney), and he is on the air waves to help guide less savvy investors through the perils of the markets.  The producer of the show is Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), and with her calming voice in Lee’s ear piece, the show stays on an even keel despite the devil may care attitude of its star.

One day the Money Monster show gets an unexpected cameo appearance from Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), who is a little miffed that the life savings for him and his wife disappeared in one day.  Lee Gates plugged a “can’t miss” stock called IBIS, and novice investor Budwell put all his chips on it and the roulette wheel of fate landed on green, you lose.  Now a live TV audience is going to find out how an algorithm “glitch” could cause $800 million to disappear.  IBIS Financial Officer Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) is stuck for an answer, and everyone would like to ask IBIS CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West).  Answers better come quickly, as Kyle Budwell has a gun and a bomb vest for Lee Gates to put on.  Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of this episode of Money Monster!

This movie is a fast paced suspense story that grabs you and carries you along on a pretty good ride.  George Clooney is well cast as the smooth talking handsome TV star, and Julia Roberts is his perfect foil and Girl Friday.  Their interaction keeps the wheels of this film rolling smoothly.  Jack O’Connell (star of Unbroken, the WW 2 film) does a fine job of being the poor confused schmuck who knows he’s been wronged, but just doesn’t know what to do about it.  Caitriona Balfe (TV’s Outlander star) holds her own with the mega stars in this film.   If you ever invested a dollar in the stock market or money markets, you should enjoy this character driven movie.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Lee Gates – “We’ll figure it out together.”  Patty Fenn – “It always sounds so simple, yet so moronic.”

Lee – “We don’t do gotcha journalism here.  Hell, we don’t do journalism.”

Kyle Budwell – “I want everyone to know something.  I’m the one with the gun, but ‘m not the real criminal!”

Kyle – “It was a f*cking glitch!  What does that even mean?  They lost 800 million dollars overnight.  How is that even possible?”

Lee to Audience – “I want you to dig deep and ask yourself what a life’s worth.  What’s my life worth?”  

Patty – “IBIS is a pig in a prom dress.”

Lee – “They’re shooting at me, asshole!  Not you!”

Lee to Camera Guy – “What did I do to deserve such a loyal crew.”  Camera Guy – “Not much.”  Lee – “That’s right.”

Lee – “Do you really need your portfolio to know where you put 800 million dollars?”

Huh?  What the….:  On the live TV screen for the Money Monster show, the Dow index never changes.  It’s always 18,132….

Keanu

Movie:  Keanu

Rating:  2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Rell (Jordan Peele) is disconsolate.  He has been dumped by his girlfriend, and has shunned the world, preferring to smoke dope and vegetate.  Which is easy, because his neighbor is Hulka (Will Forte), the dope dealer.  But his best friend Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) is determined to bring Rell out of his shell by taking him out to the movies.  As it turns out, the only thing that gets Rell out of his funk is a kitten that shows up on his door step and makes himself at home, and is immediately christened Keanu.

How could such a cute little kitten be the cause of chaos?  Kind of like that theory of a butterfly in Malaysia having an effect on a different continent.  In this case, Keanu was owned by a drug lord, except he got pumped full of lead by two scary maniacs known as the Allentown Boys, who took a liking to the little critter.  But all the gunplay scared the kitty, who took off for safer digs, and ended up with Rell.  Only problem is, the wheels of chaos are inexorably turning, with bad people about to make life interesting and more than a little scary as Rell and Clarence seek to rescue Keanu from very bad people.  Somehow, along the way, people in the hood think the two guys from the ‘burbs are stone cold killers.

Some critics seem to have liked this movie quite a bit.  I really wanted to like this film; I like Peele and Key, I like comedies, and I like cats.  But it just seemed like Peele and Key had to work overtime chewing the scenery trying to get laughs out of this story.  The main problem is the absurd plot which is held together by chewing gum and paper clips.  Two very average black guys doing their best to come off as bad asses in parts of LA where everyone is a bad ass just didn’t work for me.  Frankly, there just were not many laughs in this movie, and too many places where we had to suspend belief to allow the story line to stagger forward.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “These are the guys who kick the ass of the Bloods and the Crips: the Blips.”

Rell to Clarence – “You sound like Richard Pryor doing an impression of a white guy.”

Rell – “We’re in the market for a gangsta pet.”

Cheddar (Method Man) to Clarence & Rell – “I heard how it went down at King Diaz’s church.  That was some cold shit.”

Clarence The Tough Guy – “You’re going to give us some G*d damned cat, and we’re going to be on our G*d damned way!”

“I’m Bud.  I got into gangbanging after being stabbed by my Mom.”

Huh?  What the ….:  Don’t know how this kitten managed to make his way all over Los Angeles on his own without getting run over.  Used up some of those 9 lives, I guess.

Just One Last Thing:  We never do find out what that “somewhat inappropriate thing” was that happened to Clarence’s wife Hannah (the lovely Nia Long).

Movie Site Oopsie:  If you bother to check Keanu at the http://www.movieinsider.com site, for some reason they think Gabrielle Union was in this movie….

 

 

Elvis and Nixon

Movie:  Elvis & Nixon

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   The King was not happy.  The King of course being Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon), sat in his Graceland throne room and watched the news ever day on his four TV sets, which was dominated by civil unrest and rising crime rates.  Elvis knew the country was in a desperate situation, and he knew that he must step up and do something about it.  But first, he needed a trusted confidant, so Elvis headed to Los Angeles to enlist the aid of his long time friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) to help him with his mission.

On to Washington DC to meet with President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey).  Elvis is confident that when he meets with President Nixon and hears his plan on how to start turning the tide on the drug problem that was ruining the country, that Nixon would give him his full support.  When Elvis shows up unannounced at the White House gate, he finds it more difficult than he thought to gain access to the president.  Nixon aide Bud Krogh (Colin Hanks) sees a meeting between Elvis and Nixon as a publicity coup; however, grumpy chief of staff HR Haldeman (Tate Donovan) dismisses the request out of hand.  When Nixon hears of the plan to bring Elvis in for a visit, he too wants nothing to do with it.  And yet, on December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon have a historic meeting in the oval office.  How that meeting came to pass, and the surprising conversation they had, is a tale worth hearing.

This is one of those “small films” that is getting lost in the summer blockbuster stampede, and that is a real shame.  Not only is the acting first rate, but the real life events are so compelling that you will be captivated by what happened between the two famous men.  Michael Shannon may not be as handsome as the real Elvis, but he is able to find the essence of the international icon, at times surprisingly introspective,  who realizes that he is not a real person to the fans who idolize him, but he tries his best to please them.  Kevin Spacey is not only a great actor, but a gifted impersonator, and he captures the hunched over and stilted mannerisms of Nixon perfectly, as well as the voice pattern.  This is definitely a movie that is worth making the time to go see in the theater.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Elvis to Airline Ticket Person – “Confidentially, this is the first time I’ve flown on my own.”

Clueless Elvis Imitator to Elvis in airport lounge – “Elvis would never wear that.”

Elvis to Jerry – “Have you seen the news lately?  War, crime, drugs…what kind of man would I be if I didn’t offer to help?”

Bud Krogh to Haldeman – “He could really help us with the youth vote.”  Haldeman – “I don’t give a f*ck about the youth vote!”

Elvis – “They never see me.  They never see that boy from Tennessee.  I don’t even know if I know him anymore.  I’m a thing, like a bottle of coke.”

Nixon to Krogh – “And you think I should meet with him?  During my nap hour?”

Nixon to Aides – “I’m not bringing some G*d damned rock n roller into the oval office.  Maybe he’ll have better luck when some Democrat gets the office.”

Nixon to Elvis – “You and me, we rose from nothing.  Look at me now, and look at what you are.”

Nixon – “It’s been an absolute pleasure.”  Elvis – “Sayonara.”

Nitnoid Fact – “The picture of Elvis and Nixon in the oval office is the most requested photo from the National Archives.

Minor Disappointment – No Elvis songs in the movie, not even in the closing credits.