Fact: Abraham Lincoln (Republican) who authored the Emancipation Proclamation as a presidential proclamation and executive order in 1863 drew support from the antislavery portion of the Whig Party, and combining Free Soil, Liberty, and antislavery Democratic Party members, the new Republican Party formed as a northern party dedicated to antislavery. Hence, it is expected that Knight was a Republican.
Anyhow, I saw "Free State of Jones" as a voracious student of history more than a film enthusiast. Yet it helps that you read some Newton Knight backgrounder first before you settle down on the couch for this 2 hours and 20 minutes $50 million-budgeted saga. We can't lose with McConaughey as a thespian non pareil, plus there's the always reliable Mahershala Ali (as freed slave Moses), so by virtue of sheer lead acting, this mini epic is not really a boring exercise. Yet I find some of the dialogues kinda dull speeches. Many so I won't mention. I wanted to dig in some flaws in Newt's character but the movie wasn't into that. He was a hero, period. Like you, I wanted to know where the fiction starts and truth ends, and vice versa. But maybe I am over-intellectualizing. As I said, this movie is not a boring thing. More importantly, it makes me dig deeper into the evolution of America's politics. You should as well. Something to think about.
"FIFTY Shades Darker." I don't know what words to fit in a 300-word "review." But I will. While I cook dinner. There will be a "Fifty Shades Freed," by the way. OMG. I don't know what angle or position in bed or non-bed they'd explore next. Nothing new to me. I am 57 years old with dozens of broken valentines not to know, dig? To save yourself the torment of dialogues and soap, cut through the chase and go to pornhub. Or better be, read Anais Nin's "Delta of Venus" or Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying." There's also "The Other Side of Midnight" by Sidney Sheldon, a high school reading shenanigan, that is much better that this E. L. James ersatz. Or try A. N. Roquelaure's (a.k.a. Ann Rice) books. And I mean, read. READ. Don't watch. Reading kickass erotica fires up the imagination and then boom! You know what I mean?
"THE Founder" (2016, via Netflix), directed by John Lee Hancock, stars Michael Keaton. The story of businessman Ray Kroc, and his (re)creation of the McDonald's fast food chain after a cunning "takeover" or buyout of the original San Bernardino, California barbecue store from founders Richard and Maurice McDonald. Dick and Mo McDo built their store in 1940 and 8 years later, reorganized their business as a hamburger stand, using production line principles. Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent in 1955 and subsequently purchased the chain from the brothers, then moved its headquarters in Illinois, Ray's home state. Today, McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain, serving approximately 68 million customers daily in 120 countries across approximately 36,900 outlets.
According to a BBC report published in 2012, McDonald's is the world's second largest private employer (behind Walmart with 1.9 million employees), 1.5 million of whom work for franchises. But of course both giants are widely criticized for alleged wrongdoings in the line of environment, health, and labor. That's not the subject of this post though. The movie's kick is the value of toil. In Croc's words, "Persistence." He didn't inherit the store or franchise compared with the Waltons. He worked his ass off. Studied the plan, reworked it, traveled, faced investors, got turned down and then got up again. Such is the industry wisdom of the olden days when entrepreneurs actually hit the road and talked with people, face to face.
The movie is an obligatory bio narrative, nothing big deal. It's Keaton's ferocious grip of the character and hyper insistence that kept the film interesting. And I always love movies that talk about the past.
"ARRIVAL" (2016), directed by Denis Villeneuve, based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. Stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. The main intrigue (for me, at least) is Chiang's exploration of language and determinism. Determinism is a doctrine that says all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. It also implies that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. The subject of Determinism is a multi-pronged intellectual provocation hence it was a favorite topic in vacant hour jousts in my college years.
Chiang (and the movie, of course) navigated that theme via linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Adams), who narrates the story, from the day her daughter is conceived. Addressed to her daughter, the story alternates between recounting the past: the coming of the aliens and the deciphering their language; and remembering the future: what will happen to her unborn daughter as she grows up, and her untimely death.
It's a pretty esoteric treatise but Villeneuve's deft handling of the material makes the storytelling accessible even subtly suspenseful. At first, it had the ruminative makings of a Terrence Malick bore but the movie kept me focused and wanting more.
"THE Great Wall" (2016), directed by Zhang Yimou. I knew what's in store for me in this movie yet I still watched it. Just wanted to know how Mr Zhang squandered his huge talent with this $150 million-budgeted CGI ersatz. Who is Zhang and why I dig this dude? He's the director of non-Hollywood classics "Red Sorghum" (1987), "Ju Dou" (1990), "Raise the Red Lantern" (1991), and "To Live" (1994).
The lead writer for "The Great Wall" is no joke as well. He is Tony Gilroy, nominated for Academy Awards for his direction and script for "Michael Clayton." He also wrote the screenplays for the first four films of the Bourne series, all great. But don't let this top notch tandem bullshit you. This movie isn't about the Song Dynasty or how two marauding white men showed up looking for "black powder," which could have been a swell plotline, right? Nope! This movie is all about Chinese warriors outfitted like Power Rangers battling antsy monsters who think like slick blow hustlers in Detroit. The white hunk who led the battle royale? Of course that'd be Matt Damon, a kickass archer warrior from Massachusetts. If you like that kinda cinema, go ahead, enjoy. Good for you. For me? At least it was fine while I do other house chores like wash dishes with my hands.
SOME of the movies above are available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.