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“MIDWAY”  –  8.5


     In a word: Deja Vu

Here’s the short version. “Midway” is a well-made war movie, but if you’re a middle-aged (or older) you will think you’re seeing the 1970 version, “Tora Tora Tora” all over again. It’s a remake, a la, scene after scene of American pilots flying, bombing and diving over Japanese war ships.

Just as in “Tora,” Yamamoto is often featured as the Japanese leader aboard his battleship leading the enemy into an invasion of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, and later, reciting the same phrase “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant.”

Certainly, with technology advanced over nearly 50 years, the action shots are more spectacular and frightening. And, while the Pearl Harbor raid is well-recreated at the beginning of the film, the later objective is to defeat the Japanese air and naval forces at a crucial setting at the Midway atoll, in the Pacific. The movie certainly highlights the bravery and valor of the American military heroes as they finally claim victory over the enemy but not before thousands lose their lives. Without a doubt, some filming shots are visually spectacular, as the American commanders and soldiers fight with valor.

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     In a word: Engrossing


     This is a great movie, with shades of Agatha Christie and John Grisham creating a plot with so many twists and turns that keep the viewer lasered to the characters while anticipating what comes next in every scene. For people who like mystery, this is a do-not-miss film.

     The irony is that this film may not draw appeal among the bread-and-butter movie goers, the massive count of youths and millennials who keep the film industry thriving. The usual come-ons are absent.  There are no sex scenes, no nudity. No one uses the “F” word as a perennial adjective. Guns and bombs are not going off in every other scene. No Sci-fi or super natural. There is a scene or two involving struggles and one killing, but the story does not surround those events as the basis for the storyline. What does emerge will surprise everyone.

     The main characters are not a young hot woman and a sexy jock, nor politically correct mixed races as we often see today. Rather, the story encompasses two lonely British people in their late 70s, a widow and widower deftly played by Helen Mirren and

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“HARRIET” – 9.5 


     In a word:  Powerful

A month ago, I wrote a movie review of “Judy” that began like this:

     “I can see it coming …“And the Oscar goes to – Renee’ Zellweger”…

Now I say, Whoa, not so fast. I hadn’t yet seen “Harriet.”

     It will be a tight Oscar race for best actress because a lesser known, 32 year-old British actress named Cynthia Erivo has given the movie industry one of the greatest female performances ever.

     The “Harriet” in this movie centers on a slave woman known in her earliest years as “Minty” who later changes her name to Harriet Tubman, a woman of unbridled courage and tenacity in the pre-civil war era in which she was responsible for hundreds of slaves being rescued and brought to freedom in the north, and later to Canada, while under the most hazardous of conditions.  She had escaped from the hands of her slaveholders in 1849 Maryland at great risk and steadily became a fearless, storied conductor on the Underground Railroad until the Civil War was over.

     This is not just a “slave era” movie in which the audience witnesses endless whippings and beatings, and heart-breaking plots

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A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “JEXI” – 3 / 10 (M. Frank)

A Frank Movie Review

JEXI  –  3 out of 10.

In a Word: Hunk-a-junk


First of all, do not bring kids to this movie. Sure, they’ve all heard the dirty words and seen suggestive stuff before, but this film was an overdose pushing the proverbial envelope to the edge of acceptability. There comes a time when kids need to know the barriers between art and pure garbage. Bringing a 12 year-old, even a 17 year-old to a movie like this sends a message that vile language, revolting behavior and references to male body parts – including pictures of pictures – is not acceptable in a venue that helps mold the minds and hearts of kids.

     Yes, there were a few funny scenes that made me laugh, which is why I didn’t give the movie a zero.  Rotten Tomatoes, on line, probably the most prestigious review site, awarded Jexi one star out of five.

     The premise was clever enough, if only the writers and director would have realized that excessive filth and immorality does not define humor.

     In a wrap, the movie is about a wussy fellow (Adam Devine), single, in his 20’s who is addicted to his cell

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“JUDY” – 9 out of 10

     In a word:  Depressing


     I can see it coming …“And the Oscar goes to – Renee’ Zellweger”…

     She carried the entire movie. Zellweger wasn’t just playing the role of Judy Garland, she WAS Judy Garland. This is a one-woman show in which the now-deceased actress/singer was the complete center of attention in nearly every scene. Without doubt one of the best female performances in Hollywood history. When the movie ended and the credits were rolling on the screen, audience members remained glued to their seats, many wiping tears. Students of theater and motion pictures would to do well to see this film, maybe more than once.

     Judy gives us a stark background of the arduous life led by this tiny bundle of talent that most of us, from her era, knew little about. My succinct “in-a-word” label: Depressing, is not attributed to the movie as a whole, but rather a take-away denoting the highs, lows and misery endured in the constant conflicts within Judy Garland’s life.

     Those of us who are old enough to recall Judy Garland’s movies, from Wizard of Oz to the second edition of A Star is Born and more,

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A Frank movie review

“Downton Abbey” –  9 out of 10.

In a word: Exquisite     

     I never watched the TV series (same name), so I bring an independent assessment of this movie untainted by past images, stories and opinions.

     I wasn’t going to see the movie either, as I admittedly pre-judged this film as just another turn of the century British drama, where the elite are stuck-up, condescending, proper and boring.  But a little arm-twisting by my dear wife of 32 years convinced me to acquiesce and give it a try.

     I’m glad I did. This was an extraordinary film with plenty of sub-plots and interesting characters that kept me glued to the story, enhanced by a talented array of class-A thespians such as Dame Maggie Smith, Mathew Goode, Elizabeth McGovern and many more. If you need sex, foul language, violence and guns to spice a story, you’ll learn that good movies can be produced without those elements. Yes, it’s rated PG, a rarity these days.

     Set in early 20th century England, most of the film is centered within on the great Downton mansion amid the sprawling countryside, from which the photography is utterly captivating. The movie offers a

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OVERCOMER  –  7 out of 10.

     In a word: Tear-jerker

If you like movies that have lots of action, violence, guns, bombs, racism, sexual references and bad language, DO NOT see this film. There’s none of the above. Ergo, it’s kinda refreshing to see a “clean: movie these days.

     This is a good story with an emotional plot about a small town high school basketball coach who loses most of his student players when a major industrial plant is closed and people have moved to new towns where the local economy is better. Coach John Harrison (played by Alex Kendrick) then meets up with a young girl student, age 15, who shows some interest in long distance running, though she is the only runner remaining from the “team.” Harrison, by necessity, reluctantly accepts the job as running coach.

     Played by Aryn Wright-Thompson, runner Hannah Scott had never known her father which was clearly a void in her life. Now living with her grandmother, she is torn between expectations of her school, her friends, her grandmother and her coach. Struggling with a history of rejection, the movie follows the path of young Hannah and Coach Harrison who becomes her mentor and

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