Archives November 2014

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: BIRDMAN 8 1/2

Birdman  =  8 ½

     In a word:  Bizarre.

     But bizarre in a good way.  It’s hustle-bustle enough to hold your attention from scene to scene, but not so bizarre that it strays from the central, captivating storyline. This movie is not mainstream Hollywood. It’s about actors playing actors who play actors – on Broadway, that is.

     I was never a big Michael Keaton fan, but I must hand it to him, this is the role of his career for which I have no doubts he will receive his first Oscar nomination. Keaton plays a down-and-out actor/director in a side-street theater off Broadway when he lands another top actor (Edward Norton) who is as nuts as he is, to play a lead role in a developing play, one in which Keaton’s character must succeed or his life on Broadway will be over.

     As sad as the characters are in their struggles for acceptance and adoration, the audience will be captured by the depth of the plot, and the talent of actors at their best. Add two female powerhouses, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone, one (Watts) playing a first-time Broadway actress, the other (Stone) the young daughter of Michael Keaton’s character. Emma Stone may also get a supporting nomination for her intense, yet sensitive portrayal of a daughter forever yearning for love and acceptance from her father. She is one of those characters from whom you can’t tear your eyes away.

     While foul language is heard throughout the movie, it never seems to be gratuitous nor implausible. The words fit the story and the characters. And, though there are some suggested sexual scenes, the movie is not fixated about sex, nor violence.  It’s about human struggle, fear of failure and ego.

     Birdman is not a comedy, by any stretch, yet you will find yourself bursting out in laughter at some of the lines.  One scene is uproarious when, toward the end of the movie, Keaton finds himself in a publicly precarious situation. He is a multi-dimensional actor, indeed.

     My primary criticism of the movie would of Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s penchant for overplaying the paranormal beyond the scope of logic and reality.  Keaton’s character, besides being an obsessed actor, is possessed with certain abilities that go above and beyond the plausibility scale. Other viewers may feel different, but I felt it was unneeded in the story.

     The picture moves quickly as we follow the actors through the labyrinth of backstage hallways and the raunchy lifestyles of some of the backstory characters, too numerous to name here.

     If the movie was to be rated based on acting performances alone, this would be a solid 10.  But a few imperfections get in the way, so I give it a 8 ½.

     Roger Ebert called it a “blast from start to finish” giving it 5 for 5.

Click here: Birdman Movie Review & Film Summary (2014) | Roger Ebert

RATING THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS FOR 2016

Here’s a brief perspective on all the early possible candidates for 2016 in the Republican side.

 

Gov. Mitt Romney

     Outstanding choice, outstanding human being and reeks of competency. But he lost. He’s had his shot, and should move on, or eventually accept a position in the new cabinet. Adlai Stevenson was a good man who tried twice, and it just doesn’t work. 

Sen. Ted Cruz

     Moot issue. A waste of anyone’s interest because he is ineligible.  Republicans and Obama critics in general made a huge issue about Obama being born outside the U.S.  It would not only be hypocritical for him to run, the democrats would have a field day because Cruz was born in Canada. That’s life.

Gov. Jeb Bush

     He may be a good guy, but it doesn’t matter. Too many folks are bushed from the Bushes.  Time to move on to new names, new families, new thinking.    

Gov. Chris Christie

     One of the more prominent front runners because he’s tough and effective. But he’s not beautiful and can be overly gruff with people.  People might like his hard honesty.

Sen. Rand Paul

     Smart, young and full of logic and ideas on the domestic front. But does he have a handle on the foreign problems?  He’ll probably join with Christie among front runners but I don’t think he can win.

Dr. Ben Carson

     Great guy, smart, and black besides. But he’s untested in the political waters with no experience in the government process.  Though likeable, I don’t see his chances moving forward.

Speaker Newt Gingrich

      One of the most savvy in the bunch, with lots of experience in government working with both sides of the aisle. I think he would be an effective president. But he lacks charisma, a deadly sin in modern times.

Gov. Mike Huckabee

      Likeable, smart, honest, experienced, conservative appeal and tons of exposure from his TV show. I think he would be a very good president. But he would have to overcome the rash of demonizing he’d get from the left, labeling him a religious nut.

Gov. Susana Martinez

     New Mexico governor with an excellent record. The only viable female in party circles who would stand a chance. I see her as a likely VP candidatebased on her record, gender and Hispanic heritage.

Sen. Marco Rubio

     The obvious is that Rubio would draw Hispanic appeal, but more from the Cuban community than the Mexicans where the immigration problems lie.  Rubio is smart, handsome and charismatic.  Another probable front runner.

Gov. Scott Walker

     Not a front runner because he’s not a national figure as much as Rubio, Huckabee or Christie. But he’s established an effective record in a complex state, overcoming hard challenges and showing that his conservative style brings results to the state economy. He’s a doer, and people like that. I see him moving up to front status as the campaign rolls along. Also a good looking man with charismatic appeal.

Gov. John Kasich

     Ditto from the Scott walker comments, another doer, very effective governor, a model for state governing. Good speaker, smart man, not as handsome as Walker. But he could move up too.

Gov. Rick Perry

     Had his shot four years ago with too many gaffs that will be held against him. His excellent record as an effective governor won’t matter.

Sen. Rick Santorum

     He’s no longer an effective national figure and will fizzle out fast if he throws his hat in the ring.

Cong. Paul Ryan

     Ryan would be an excellent president, particularly on the domestic front. Very savvy when it comes to budget, economy and social issues, but he’s not a great speaker.  I don’t see him a serious challenge.

Gov. Sarah Palin

     Forget about it. She’s dead meat. Her views, her record and her appeal is not enough to move her forward. The democrats have successfully demonized her out of contention.

Cong. Allen West

     Great man. Not enough government service outside the military. His savvy on the international front would be a tremendous asset in the White House, and he would surround himself with true Americans on the domestic front.  West would make a great president, but is he too rigid? Taciturn? Certainly an asset among the black conservative ranks.

Cong. Trey Gowdy

     Could be a game changer, one of those surprises that suddenly emerges from the back of the pack. People love his direct, no-nonsense, style and in-your-face when it comes to law breakers and corruption. Look for Gowdy to rise to national prominence, especially if results come from his Benghazi investigation.

Donald Trump

     Always interested in what he has to say, though his chances of being a president is nil to none.

Gov. Bobby Jindal

     Likeable, but hasn’t got “it.” Wouldn’t be surprised if a nominee chose him for VP on the ticket.

Amb. John Bolton

     An outstanding choice for Secretary of State, but he’d never make it to the presidency.

Secr. Condoleezza Rice

     Utterly brilliant. Probably one of the most qualified persons in the Republican ranks to be president. Besides that, she’s black and female. Should be a winner, if she throws her hat in the ring. But, she has one problem which will weight her down like Watergate weighted Nixon:  Iraq. Rice is seen as one of the architects of the Iraq war, which the democrats will use to render her political demise.

     If it were a perfect world, my dream team would be:

     Scott Walker/Condi Rice

     I’m not holding my breath.

     Other honorable mentions, who don’t stand a chance:

     Gov. Jan Brewer

     Sen. Scott Brown

     Cong. Marsha Blackburn

     Sen. Bob Corker

     Sen. Lindsey Graham

 We’ll see how this all plays out eighteen months from now.

Click here: 2016 Presidential Candidates (Presidency 2016

 

 

 

OBAMACARE PASSAGE RELIED ON "STUPID VOTERS"

Jonathan Gruber is a college professor and one of the primary architects of Obamacare.  During a panel discussion in 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania, he was explaining (without teleprompters) the problems in passing the Affordable Health Care law, and the complex drafting of the legislation.  He may not have realized he was being taped, and has since apologized for making the remarks, but you cannot unring the bell.
     Here is part of his remarks:
     This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK? So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed. OK? Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass. Look, I wish … we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.
 
     In other words, the American people were lied to, deceived and bulldozed into believing false facts in order to get the bill passed. This…by the “most transparent administration in history.” And, it was important to know that the passage of the bill relied on the “stupidity of the American voter.”
     Nothing further needs to be written. Just watch the video imbedded in this Forbes article:
Click here: ACA Architect: ‘The Stupidity Of The American Voter’ Led Us To Hide Obamacare’s True Costs From The Public

OBAMACARE PASSAGE RELIED ON “STUPID VOTERS”

Jonathan Gruber is a college professor and one of the primary architects of Obamacare.  During a panel discussion in 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania, he was explaining (without teleprompters) the problems in passing the Affordable Health Care law, and the complex drafting of the legislation.  He may not have realized he was being taped, and has since apologized for making the remarks, but you cannot unring the bell.

     Here is part of his remarks:

     This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK? So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed. OK? Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass. Look, I wish … we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

 

     In other words, the American people were lied to, deceived and bulldozed into believing false facts in order to get the bill passed. This…by the “most transparent administration in history.” And, it was important to know that the passage of the bill relied on the “stupidity of the American voter.”

     Nothing further needs to be written. Just watch the video imbedded in this Forbes article:

Click here: ACA Architect: ‘The Stupidity Of The American Voter’ Led Us To Hide Obamacare’s True Costs From The Public

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: ST VINCENT – 8 1/2

Usually, at this time of year, the best movies are released in advance of the Oscars.  So, far it’s been a dull movie season although Fury was more than fair and Interstellar an utter bore.

     Then along comes a surprise. St. Vincent is what movies are supposed to be about; drama, emotions, human struggle interspersed just enough with a few comic scenes. It’s a movie that will leave you talking about during the dinner after, or among other movie lovers searching for a decent story devoid of the constant barrages of the “F” word, gratuitous violence, car chases and sex.

     Ironically, the two major stars are best known as comedians, playing dramatic roles as good as any DeNiro or Redgrave. Bill Murray plays an anti-social, rude old grouch whose world is embittered with loss and the absence of love. Mellissa McCarthy plays a frumpy, soon-to-be-single mom of a 12 year-old boy seeking asylum from a cheating ex-husband, and moves next door to Murray. She works overtime to care for her and her child, only to face unwanted confrontations with the old grouch next door. Things don’t go well at first. But that all changes as Murray’s character develops an unexpected relationship with the kid, played by a wonderful young actor, Jaeden Lieberher, who we are sure to see more of in the future.

     Add to the story, Naomi Watts who deftly plays a pregnant, Russian hooker so well, I suspect she’ll get a nomination for best Supporting Actress.

     That’s enough revealing. Watch it to the end.

     The movie will draw a bundle of emotions from feeling people who love to immerse themselves in a heartfelt story line, accented by outstanding actors.

     I give it 8 ½  out of 10.

        Click here: St. Vincent (2014) – IMDb