Mike at the Movies

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At times, I go on movie rampages; watching many.  (I’ve done the same with buying lots of books, which I’ll never read. The only negative about watching movies is that I stop reading for pleasure).  Never-the-less I watch as much as I can (most likely because I eat plain popcorn every night).  I just love movies because they show me worlds, both fictitious and documentaries, people, places, etc., which “move” me to write, to form a new opinion, to broaden my thinking or just to “get-away” even for a brief period of time.

Being from a family of artists, my sister Robyn and her husband Michael formed the duo Bright Blue Gorilla; I love their music, as well as the fact that they’ve been writing, directing, producing and acting in movies, their latest being Go with Le Flo, enjoying some commercial success.  My daughter Sarah has been an artist, dancer, singer, musician, director, writer and actor from the time that she was born, now making her first full-length movie, All is Forgiven which she wrote, directed and acted in (and now trying to raise money for). My son Daniel is a monk, an incredible poet and artist.  My mom is a painter, has acted a bit, my dad is just an all-around guy, having acted in a number of my sister’s movies, as well as Sarah’s. 

As for me, well I’ve done some acting in Shakespeare plays as part of Flock Theatre in New London, Connecticut; played hava nagila on the guitar at my bar mitzvah; rented a drum kit for one summer, bashing to Led Zeppelin songs, until my neighbors screamed over Robert Plant’s voice and said to, “turn it down” (my parents weren’t in the house at the time);  played piano for a few years, every time I visit my parents my mom says,  (in a New Yawk Jewish accent), “Michael, why don’t you play, you play so well” and now host a TV Show on Nepal TV2, called Inspirations, and, of course, write quite frenetically, but mostly I just do my own thing. (I also have some amazing artistic cousins in Florida whom I’m sure will go onto great success).

The following is a limited review of some of the movies which I’ve recently watched.  I’m not really a movie critic, but given my love of writing I thought that I’d take a stab.  I always loved Roger Ebert’s reviews and recommendations; there are still lots of movies which he reviewed, which I haven’t seen. I always enjoyed his lists of top movies and documentaries.  I also just check out other online movie databases to find somewhat eclectic and mainstream movies, as well as get recommendations from friends and family. 

American  Hustle

A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.  Christian BaleAmy AdamsBradley Cooper |

Even when they are “stretched”, I typically like movies based on real life stories. Given Wikipedia one can always read about the actual “truths” of the movie.  Before watching I thought it was a movie, given the title, about the ‘70’s, so was prepared for some  Bee Geesjive talkin”, but I was not disappointed. 

As I try to be fairly honest, movies showing duping others, tend to amaze me.  I thought that Christian Bale, who I didn’t recognize in this role, was just superb.  Although I haven’t seen Hunger Games yet, I have downloaded the first two movies, primarily because I want to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman; I really liked Jennifer Lawrence, especially given that she is so accomplished at only 23 years old. 

Although somewhat predictable, even if I didn’t know what would happen in the end because I wasn’t aware of the story, I enjoyed this movie and would  recommend it just to understand more about how people will do whatever they have to in life, even if it means total  dishonesty.

Captain  Phillips

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Tom HanksBarkhad AbdiBarkhad Abdirahman

Who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?  Unlike Phillip Seymour Hoffman, we will never read about Hanks taking drugs and he will probably live out his life making many more wonderful movies, a giant of this generation. 

This movie was quite riveting, especially when I read, a bit about the real Captain Phillips, one finds the story quite compelling.  The movie kept me riveted especially from the time that the Pirates came onto the ship.  I especially enjoyed the interweaving of the Pirates planned attack and the launch of the ship to deliver its cargo.

I found the Navy Seals killing of the Pirates, quite incredible, how does, “stuff like this really happen”?  But we know that it does from among others, movies such as Zero Dark Thirty. I do recommend this one, even if only to gain a little insight into the Pirates.  (Maybe I enjoyed this movie so much because I’m a pirate too).

Owning Mahowney

A bank manager with: (a) a gambling problem and (b) access to a multimillion dollar account gets into a messy situation. Based on the story of the largest one-man bank fraud in Canadian history.  Philip Seymour HoffmanMinnie DriverJohn Hurt

I was quite devastated when I read about the death of Mr. Hoffman, an actor, seemingly in his prime, dealing with the demons of addiction.  One of the articles that I read spoke about Owning Mahowney, and although I’ve seen many of Hoffman’s movies I had never heard of this one. 

I so much enjoy the characters that Hoffman portrayed during his lifetime, so believable, so hurt, so sensitive and in this movie, he does not disappoint.  This movie, ranked by Roger Ebert as one of the best of 2003 is also based on a real life story of a Canadian Banker with a gambling addiction, on some level not so far removed, a foreshadowing? from Hoffman’s own addiction, although the Banker is still alive and seemingly doing all right. 

I can’t wait to see Hoffman’s last movies, A Most Wanted Man and God's Pocket, even the last Hunger Games. This movie as well as Hoffman’s many others is worth seeing, if only to remember the greatness that he possessed, as well as, the fact that we will all miss seeing how much more he would have thrilled us with his acting.    

The Act of Killing

A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.   Anwar CongoHerman KotoSyamsul Arifin |

I had previously written a review of this movie, if you’re interested you can read that. My review.  But this is a movie definitely worth seeing, something probably best described by the Jefferson Airplane’s album titled Surrealistic Pillow.

The Imposter

A documentary centered on a young Frenchman who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.  Adam O'BrianAnna RubenCathy Dresbach

Talk about another bizarre, surrealistic movie, this is it.  I saw the movie, Stranger than Fiction, which could very much be the title of this movie, but the original doesn’t even approach this documentary.  People are definitely crazy, this movie poignantly making that case.  See it, you’ll be amazed by the lengths which people go to, in order to fit into society and not believe the truth. 

One Day in September

The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich   Michael DouglasAnkie SpitzerJamal Al Gashey 

I remember the 1972 Olympics because it was the year that the US was robbed of a gold medal for basketball.  More importantly though it was the Olympics in which Israeli athletes/coaches were held hostage by a terrorist group, in which 11 eventually were murdered, due to a very botched rescue attempt. Watching this movie, I was appalled that much of life went on as normal in the Olympic Village and that the games continued after these murders.  This made me wonder if American, German, French or other countries’ athletes were held hostage, as to whether or not the games would have continued.  Life definitely began to change for all of us, after this horrific event. 

5 Broken Cameras

A documentary on a Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.   Emad BurnatSoraya BurnatMohammed Burnat

After watching One Day in September I saw this movie, quite a contrast, showing a very different perspective. Movies show a certain perspective i.e. that of what the Director wants us to see but especially that which camera persons see.  In this movie we follow a Palestinian and what he sees behind his cameras. He has five because as one is broken, well shot at, he has it replaced with another. This movie also chronicles the birth of his youngest son providing a picture in the development of this child, as well as, non-violent protest, although people are being killed everywhere.

Brooklyn Castle

Amidst financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Brooklyn Castle takes an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school's champion chess team.  AlexisRochelle BallantynePobo Efekoro 

This is a fun movie following some amazing children, who are not athletes but incredible chess players. 

Searching for Sugarman

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez.  RodriguezStephen 'Sugar' SegermanDennis Coffey

I loved this movie and it left me at the end with a huge smile.  Like most Americans, I had never heard of Sixto Rodriguez, before this movie. Rodriguez, who supposedly committed suicide on stage, is an incredible human being, a true humanitarian.  Rodriguez a pretty good musician, I’ve also downloaded his music) with a sweet voice, never made it in the US, (but unbeknownst to him made it in huge fashion in, of all places, South Africa) although it seemed likely that he would.  This is another one of those, stranger than fiction movies showing what can happen to people who are, by nature, good souls.  Definitely see this, you’ll sleep quite contentedly after watching and wake up thinking that all is right in the world.

Inside Llewyn Davis

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.  Oscar IsaacCarey MulliganJohn Goodman

Like a lot of people, I adore the Coen Brothers and try to see everything that they do.  I mean Barton Fink, the Big Lebowski, which Hoffman was in, just to name a few.  How could you not love the movies which they make? 

Inside Llewyn Davis doesn’t disappoint.  I thought that John Goodman, who has also been in many other Coen Brother’s movies, was terrific, as usual playing such an odd character.  Although I’m not that partial to Justin Timberlake I thought he was very convincing in his role and although I had never seen Oscar Isaac before he also was very convincing as the down and out folk singer. For those of us who wondered what life was for folk singers trying to make it in Greenwich Village in the ‘60’s this, most likely, presents a very real portrait.

Cutie and the Boxer

This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.  Ushio ShinoharaNoriko ShinoharaAlex Shinohara

I watched this movie tonight thinking by the title that the movie was about an orphaned girl and a big hearted boxer.  It wasn’t.  This is a love story about two artists and what they endure to be with one another.  One doesn’t see many relationships like this.  What is a boxing painter, watch the movie to find out, especially through to the credits, and maybe even start doing boxing painting, I think that I’ll try.

12 years a Slave

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.  Chiwetel EjioforMichael K. WilliamsMichael Fassbender 

Movies about slavery always make me a bit sick, especially considering that there are some 30 million people still enslaved throughout the world.  I probably don’t need to say much about this movie, as many have already seen it.  But it still amazes me how people can be so cruel to other human beings.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this, I’ll keep writing more because I still have about 100 movies on my laptop that I haven’t watched yet.  Of course, the list will keep growing. As we say in Nepal, ke garne or what to do?






Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

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