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“KIDNAP”  – 8 ½

In a word:  Intense.

     This is a good movie, because it entertains, raises heart rates, captures dire emotions between mother and child, while the 1 hour and 34 minutes fly by like it was half that time. It is packed with “intensity” from beginning to end.

     Halle Berry’s character, a restaurant waitress, is a single mom of a six-year-old boy, in the throes of a custody battle with an ex-husband.  She brings her boy to a local carnival when she takes a brief phone call about the impending court battle and tells her boy to “wait right here.” Moments later, she realizes the child is gone which triggers maternal panic, especially when she spots, at a distance, the child being loaded into a vehicle by a strange bedraggled woman. Berry goes ballistic, racing after the car on foot, to no avail. From there she boards her own vehicle which begins the hour-long, plus, nerve-wracking chase through highways and by-ways, causing too many crashes along the way. But…this is a movie.

     It exudes the same emotions as the movie “Taken” only in this film all the events take place during a single afternoon of a harrowing

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“DUNKIRK”   –  6 1/2 

In a word:  Nerve-wracking

     This is an unusual movie as it has no stand-out male actors and no females at all. Neither did we see any minorities, nor did we hear any significant foul language. But we did hear guns, bombs, screams and crashes to the highest of decibels which caused me, my wife and our two friends to constantly cover our ears. Add to that, the loudness of haunting deep music strains to accent the horror, played throughout the film to a point of virtual annoyance.    

     The entire movie from beginning to end is set in the 1940 beaches of Dunkirk, France (near the Belgium border) and the English Channel, where British, Belgian, French and Dutch were trapped, at the will of Nazi air raids where it was like picking off ducks in a barrel. The horrific assaults on land and sea caused over 350,000 casualties among allied forces. That does not include the 40,000 that were taken captive nor does it include the German casualty numbers.

     The assault followed the invasion of German forces into France, just weeks before they would march through Paris. The allies were desperate to evacuate, but that would not

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“THE BIG SICK”   =  8 ½

In a word:  Deep

     What happens when two people fall in love and their cultures collide, specifically American Christianity and Pakistani Islam? Watch this movie, it answers the question.    

     The story follows the plight of a young couple from two different worlds. Based in Chicago, Emily is a pert, bubbly graduate student who meets a handsome young Pakistani in a comedy club where he is testing his skills at stand-up. They work hard at avoiding a serious relationship but, alas their efforts fail and love blooms.

     The two eventually face two major crises.  Kumail, the young Pakistani, is very close to his family, who constantly pressure him to marry within the faith, often introducing him to marriage “prospects.” When his mother and father learn that he has fallen in love with an American, non-Muslim girl, Kumail is crushed between his love of her and the love/obligation to his demanding family.

     Meanwhile, as all this erupts, Emily is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness that requires her to be induced into a coma. This is when Kumail is pitted against her parents, traditional American folks who come to Chicago from another state.  The challenges faced

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“The Beguiled.”  –  6 ½

     In a word:  Slow.

This is the antithesis of an action film. Directed by Sofia Coppola, (daughter of Francis Ford Coppola) it is a remake of a 1971 movie of the same title, which starred Clint Eastwood.

     Set in rural Virginia, 1864, as the Civil War blazed in the distance outside the frames of the camera, the entire setting for the story is in and around a mansion in the woods – nothing else — that has been converted into a girl’s school of some four students who are sheltered from the war. The property is owned by Martha, a stoic, discipline-minded woman deftly played by Nicole Kidman.

     While alone in the woods collecting mushrooms, one of the young girls stumbles upon a wounded union soldier lying under a tree. Though this is a staunch Confederate region, the girl assists the soldier (Colin Farrell) to the mansion where Kidman takes charge and reluctantly treats the soldier’s wounds, with the objective of releasing him back to the field once he is ambulatory.

     The soldier’s presence ultimately creates a wave of interesting relationships and curiosities among the four students, one adult teacher and Kidman, of which Farrell’s

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“Megan Leavey”  – 8 out of 10


In a word:  Emotional

If you’re prone to jerking tears, bring a tissue box.

     The only thing wrong with this movie was that it was mostly predictable. Young woman from a dysfunctional family looks for a place to be worth something. She joins the Marines and ends up drawn to working with explosive sniffing dogs and develops a strong attachment to “Rex,” a beautiful German shepherd with whom she develops a loving relationship. So, the plot is set, the outcome is expected to be heartbreaking. 

     The setting is Iraq’s war in 2007. The IEDs explode and the young female Marine is injured along with “Rex.”  She is devastated when the Corps orders a separation of the two.

     Megan then spends all her energy, love, money and resources to recover “Rex” so she can adopt him for the remainder of his years.

     Based on a true story, the audience knows they’re being set up for a tear jerk, but it’s all okay because it’s about unconditional love and all the right reasons.

    Acting is good, particularly from the main character, “Megan” played by Kate Mara.  Rex also plays a magnificent role. (Woof Woof)

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“BAYWATCH”  –   Rating:  1


In a word: Junk

     This is among the worst of first-run movies I’ve seen, at least the first excruciating hour before walking out.

     Some might say — being among the senior set — we should have expected that.  We expected silliness, we expected light comedy and sexual references. We knew this was going to be a movie aimed toward young people. But we didn’t expect garbage.

     The movie is nothing more than an expose’ in skin and muscle ad nauseum, with Dwayne Johnson’s monstrous body consuming most of the screen, and then the little people along the beaches. If you like stupid dialogue, stupid plots and horrible acting, you’ll like this movie.

     Hardly a scene went by that the characters were not referring to or featuring some personal body parts, male and female. The “action” scenes were pathetically contrived.

     All things considered, the movie will probably be a big hit at the box office because of the target audiences who think the plethora of foul language and sex-based body appendages are a great source of humor.

     I wasn’t going to waste my time writing a review, but then I figured the bad deserves ratings as

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In a word:  Sleeper.

     This was a surprise. Based on other reviews and limited showings after release, we assumed this would be, at best, a fair movie, but worth taking a chance. The longer the film went on, the more engaging it became.

     Basically, it’s a story centered in England circa 1940, when the populous was subject to air raids by Nazi Germany. The central characters are writers hired on by movie producers to create a story that would convince the U.S. to get involved as an ally. 

     I’m amazed at some of the sets, how authentic they appeared and the horror of bombings of innocent people for doing virtually nothing to hurt or threaten anyone. Meanwhile, the main character, Catrin Cole (played by Gemma Arteton) is a woman who manages to get hired as one of the screenwriters for the new picture. This is one good actress who drives the story through various windows and plots earning the respect and sympathy of the viewer.

     Interesting, how we see the making of a movie in 1940, the sets, the props, actors, writers, director, as the subplot brings us to Dunkirk where one of

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