Free State of Jones  –  8 ½

Those who like historical drama, especially Civil War era, will love this movie because it brings realism and authenticity to the screen.

Those who think good movies consist of crashing cars, gratuitous violence and a constant blast of the “F” word, they will not like this movie.

Yes there is graphic violence, but it belongs in the picture, even the scenes where wounded soldiers are having their limbs amputated under a hospital tent. Sexual content is basically absent. And, if the “N” word offends you, prepare to be offended. It’s part of the authenticity from the times. 

Some reviewers have criticized this picture as boring and slow moving. Perhaps those critics need to study movie-making to learn the difference between quality drama and juvenile nonsense. Yes, there are some scenes involving quiet dialogue under the stars in the bowels of the Okefenokee swamps, but the message ties into the plot quite well.

Free State of Jones tells about the curious settlement of Jones County, Mississippi in the mid and late 1860’s, a true story. During the Civil War, Jones County began as a swamp outpost for runaway slaves plus Confederate soldiers abandoning their

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When your house is infested with cockroaches, the problem can’t be solved by killing individual bugs that come out of hiding. The only way to get rid of them is by killing the nest.

     We don’t do that and it boggles the mind why not. Now and then, some al Qaeda or ISIS leader will be taken out and the government plays that up like a major victory. It’s not. Killing Osama bin Laden made for good press and propaganda, but it failed to put a dent in the overall problem of international terror.  If ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was killed tomorrow, nothing would change on the overall scheme of radical Islamic terror throughout the world. He would be replaced and the Jihad would continue.

     The major goal of radical Islam is world conquest. That’s not a guess. They have been making these objectives clear for nearly three decades, now accelerating with graver threats than ever before. It does not matter which organization is dominant in achieving the objectives, be they ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, or any others. These objectives have been recorded in writing.

     Two documents were seized by federal law enforcement that tell the entire story, a story our

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Now You See Me 2”  =  5 out of 10.

     This is one of those kinds of movies that target specific audiences by genre; You either love them or hate them.  For me, it was the latter.

     Granted, good acting prevailed with Hollywood “A“ actors, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.  The genius of special effects prevailed among the digital technicians who created images making the impossible seem possible. 

     But the story was lost in the razzle dazzle of cameras swirling, upside down, right-left, speed clips that you cannot beqin to understand what the hell just happened, fight scenes where it seemed like the cameramen were as much part of the fight as were the actors, where the viewer couldn’t see what was really happening, but it didn’t matter. As always, lots of crashing cars and chases and speed…but little story line until it gets past the halfway mark, at which time I was ready to walk out. What was missing? The rewind button on my remote.

     Magic tricks?  Plenty of them, but they were (ho-hum) expected and predictable in this drama about a group of magicians on the run from bad guys.

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(This Guest Column, by yours truly, appeared in the June 9 issue of TC Palm newspapers, serving the Treasure Coast, from Vero to Stuart)

Was Muhammad Ali the greatest boxer of all time? Well, of course.

He said so.

While some folks might dispute that, there were two attributes Ali had more than any other athlete in history: charm and pizazz.

Ali’s attraction came not only from his boxing prowess, but from a dynamic personality and natural charisma. From his beginning as a professional, he lit up the sports world in and out of the ring, boasting about his greatness, spouting poetry, charming the press and basking in the limelight.

People applauded his unabashed braggadocio.

He also made headlines by adopting the Nation of Islam as his chosen religion and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, claiming “Clay” was a slave name.

As the controversial Vietnam War raged, Ali shocked the nation by refusing to obey the draft as a conscientious objector, citing his religion as well as conscience.

“I have no quarrel with the Viet Cong,” he ranted. “My conscience won’t let me shoot my brother or some poor hungry people in the mud for big,

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“Me Before You”  =  8

If you don’t like tearjerkers, avoid this movie. It’s a classic flick for draining the eyeballs.

     The problem with the movie is that most of it is very predictable, much like 1970’s Love Story and so many others where impending death or paralyzed characters – blended with deep devotion and love by others – are the focus of the story. Me Before You has all these elements, but more, which is what sets it aside from the others.

     Set in modern England, Emilia Clarke is a simple, spry young woman in need of a job who answers an ad for someone who will be willing to work with and provide aid to a paralyzed man. Handsome and young, once an athlete, and quite wealthy, Sam Claflin’s character  is confined to a wheelchair suffering from a broken spinal cord. The union does not go well at first, but as time passes, the chemistry between Emilia and Sam catches on and, voila, they fall in love. No surprise there.

     But there’s much more to the story, one in which will make many of us think about the alternatives to suffering in our own culture. I’ll leave

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“Black Lives Matter” is a well-funded anarchist movement designed to create havoc and dissention within America. In most of these renowned cases which resulted in accusations of police overreach, we need only to examine the facts to see that people are being brainwashed into believing lies. In essence, organized efforts abound from within the political netherworld to create hatred toward police, in general. 

     Yes, cops will occasionally make mistakes for which they are usually called to task. There are 800,000 of them, responding to 11 million calls a year, many of whom are plunged – over and over — into volatile situations that average citizens cannot conceive of. Each minute of each day, police officers are at risk, and they know it today more than ever.

     Three prominent cases brought about the black lives matter “movement.”

     Ferguson, Mo., August 2014. A five year police officer with an impeccable record of public service was confronted by an 18 year-old thug who had just robbed a convenient store, then embarked on a surprise attack on Officer Darren Wilson, trying to take his gun. As Wilson attempted arrest, the young man angrily charged toward him, menacing. The media referred to Michael Brown as

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The Nice Guys  =  6 out of 10.


In a word: Overrated.

     I’ve read two other newspaper reviews, which gave four stars and three stars (out of four) raving about this antic-laden comedy set in 1970’s Los Angeles, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, both seasoned actors. Because the anticipation for hilarity was high, the movie simply did not deliver on the same level of Meet The Fockers, Blazing Saddles or even Some Like it Hot.  It’s a good and silly movie, but not a first–rate comedy.

     First of all, if you saw the previews, you already saw most of the funniest scenes. 

     Second of all, while the actors are great, the movie falls flat in many spots which detracts from the story.  The problem is not in the plot or the acting, it’s with the writing and/or directing which seemed to over-play the comedy card that fell flat. 

     Third, some of the lines are just plain dumb, certain to draw painful “ooohs” from the audience.

     Russell Crowe is a shabby tough-guy unlicensed private investigator who crosses paths with another licensed P.I., single father, smoke-aholic played by Ryan Gosling.  The plot centers around the search for a

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