22 February 2018

Samson

SAMSON is an action drama film. It is based on the man Samson who is mentioned in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. Samson is known for his strength. In the movie he expresses God gives him great strength as long as he does not drink wine, touch a dead body, or cut his hair. The great strength allows him to battle an entire Philistine army and kill a lion with his bare hands.

Samson (played by Taylor James) is called by God to lead his people. They rely on his strength when dealing with cruel treatment from the Philistines. Billy Zane plays King Balek, who orders his son Rallah (played by Jackson Rathbone) to kill Samson, but Rallah wants to keep Samson alive so he can discover why Samson is so strong. As a result, Rallah pays a woman named Delilah (played by Caitlin Leahy) to ask Samson about the source of his strength so that he can obtain it. Samson is faithful to God (that is his real strength) and hesitates, but eventually tells Delilah. His decision to share with Delilah changes everything.

SAMSON is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://samsonmovie.pureflix.com/.

08 February 2018

Winchester

I really wanted to see WINCHESTER, because I have toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California (http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/). The concept of the home's architecture is intriguing and Sarah Winchester seems like an interesting, but misunderstood individual. Currently, the home is smaller than in Mrs. Winchester's time, but still a maze of a residence with beautiful gardens. Here is a photo I took of Mrs. Winchester's notorious seance room:


Helen Mirren is a talented actress and always gives outstanding performances. She is an excellent choice for the role of Sarah Winchester.

WINCHESTER is a supernatural horror film. Since so many people are intrigued by Mrs. Winchester's desire to have continual construction on her home, the movie would be better as a mystery-suspense story. That could have worked because several gothic elements are already in place: large house, desolate location, mysterious events, etc. Screenwriters The Spierig Brothers and Tom Vaughan are clearly inspired by what prompted the home's design, but could have a more complete script by fully developing the character of Sarah. She is the one whose story needs to be shared, and then the mystery of the house would be solved. However, the full title of the movie is WINCHESTER: THE HOUSE THAT GHOSTS BUILT. So in this movie the focus is not on Sarah Winchester (as many may expect). Perhaps someone will write a story about Sarah Winchester one day, showing her home as the setting, and illustrating why she lived in such a residence.

Jason Clarke plays Eric Price. Eric is a doctor hired by the Winchester Company to assess Mrs. Winchester's mental state since executives want full control of the company. If Dr. Price can prove her mentally unfit, she will be removed from the business.

WINCHESTER is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.cbsfilms.com/winchester/.


25 January 2018

Proud Mary

Taraji P. Henson is an outstanding actress. PROUD MARY shows audiences she has action film star skills. Henson is starting to produce more projects; hopefully there will be more action movies.

PROUD MARY also includes another fine performance by Danny Glover. He is the patriarch of the organized crime family Mary (Henson) works for. Also, Jahi Di'Allo Winston, who plays Danny, the young orphan boy Mary protects after feeling guilty about killing his father, gives an exceptional performance.

PROUD MARY is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://www.proudmary-movie.com/.


19 January 2018

English Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

Before I started a career in education, I worked for various businesses.  I remember receiving e-mails, memos, and other documents that, unfortunately, had grammar errors and misspelled words.  Depending on the workplace, I was asked to proofread reports and brochures, because my employer knew I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

As a result, I decided to go back to school and earn a teaching credential.  I figured I could teach English and help make a difference.  I wanted to assist people in becoming better verbal and written communicators.

Now I am teaching the course English Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics online for anyone to take.  You can be anywhere in the world and enroll in my class.  The course is for people who are learning the English language and individuals interested in improving their grammar.  I am also recommending the course to students taking a composition class.

For more information and to enroll visit:  https://www.udemy.com/english-grammar-usage-and-mechanics.

17 January 2018

The Post

THE POST is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Meryl Streep as Kay Graham, a Washington D.C. newspaper heiress, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the editor who works for her at The Washington Post.  The movie is set in the 1970's, and features the real story of journalists at The Washington Post attempting to publish an article titled The Pentagon Papers, which consists of classified documents never released about the involvement of the United States (U.S.) government in the Vietnam War.

THE POST makes journalism look exciting and basically highlights Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution, which grants freedom to the press.  Even though this movie is set during the 1970's, its release is timely.  We are living in a time when freedom of the press is being threatened, because some people question the integrity of most publications and news broadcasts. A common expression often used is 'fake news.'  Many people are concerned about this, and the audience I watched THE POST with clapped at the end of the movie. It is fair to assume the crowd supports the Constitution.

THE POST is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post.


20 December 2017

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Denzel Washington plays the title character in ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.  As many have said, the role is different from what he usually performs, and that is a good thing. The movie provides its audience with an opportunity to witness Washington's skillful abilities.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. serves as a morality tale.  Roman creates a faux pas, and there are consequences for it. He is a proficient attorney, but his blundering social aptitude makes him misunderstood by many. Maya (Carmen Ejogo), a civil rights activist, is patient with Roman and sincerely tries to make sense of his behavior. She even tells Roman that he inspires her. George (Colin Farrell), the lawyer in charge of the law firm where Roman works, tolerates Roman and entrusts him with several clients. Ultimately, George respects Roman.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://sites.sonypictures.com/romanjisrael/site/.


12 December 2017

Riverdale

As I was growing up I discovered Archie Comics. I enjoyed reading the adventures of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. I also looked forward to the occasional appearance of Josie and the Pussycats. In addition to reading the comic books, I watched the cartoon on television.

Today people can watch RiverdaleRiverdale is a television series based on the characters of Archie Comics. As a result, viewers who are afficionados of the comics probably expect a light, comedic program. On the contrary, Riverdale is a teen drama complete with mystery.

The main characters are fully developed. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) each have conflicts. This creates a lot of drama, and is so different from the original comic books. Archie has a dark side, but is still musical. Betty is tougher than most would assume. Veronica is gentler than one would expect. Jughead is from the other-side-of-the-tracks and must join the Southside Serpents gang for survival.

During Season Two Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) is beginning to have some conflicts and her friendship with the arrogant cheerleader Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) is developing. Also, the parents are often involved in storylines. However, it seems they were more active during Season One. Betty's mother Alice is played by Madchen Amick, and is the parent viewers see the most because of her controlling nature. Veronica's parents, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) and Hiram (Mark Consuelos) are mysterious. Hiram is a businessman who committed white collar crimes and Hermione has connections with the Southside Serpents gang. Jughead's father FP, played by Skeet Ulrich, is in the Southside Serpents gang. It seems most of the parents have connections with the Southside Serpents (even Alice), except for Alice's estranged husband Hal (Lochlyn Munro) and Archie's father Fred (Luke Perry). Mayor Sierra McCoy (Robin Givens) strongly dislikes the Southside Serpents. And, of course, Sheriff Tom Keller (Martin Cummins) dislikes the gang. It is unknown whether he has any connections to them or not; his character is obscure. His son Kevin (Casey Cott) is a friend of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. There are various recurring appearances by other characters. Lastly, there is Pop of Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. Every time Pop places a milkshake on the table or counter, viewers probably crave one!

Season One provided the murder mystery of Cheryl's twin brother Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines). Season Two is all about figuring out who could be The Black Hood. This person shot Fred and is believed to be the one who killed the former music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel). Overall, Riverdale is a teen drama with a hook that even keeps adult viewers engaged. In many ways, the series is more appropriate for an adult audience.

Riverdale broadcasts Wednesdays on the CW Network. Netflix has exclusive international broadcast rights to the series. Official Web sites are http://www.cwtv.com/shows/riverdale and https://www.netflix.com/title/80133311.


01 November 2017

The Foreigner

THE FOREIGNER stars Jackie Chan as Ngoc Minh Quan, a former Vietnam War special forces operator who now owns a restaurant in London, England and seeks vengeance after his daughter dies in an explosion.  The movie is based on the novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather. Ngoc challenges Liam Hennessy (played by Pierce Brosnan), an Irish government official he believes has knowledge of and is responsible for the bombing.

Jackie Chan is superb and THE FOREIGNER is an excellent action film.  The official Web site is http://theforeignermovie.com/.  The movie is currently playing in theatres.


26 October 2017

Same Kind of Different As Me

Human kindness is a treasure. It is more valuable than money. Giving a homeless person money makes him or her happy, not the cash, but the acknowledgement that he or she exists. The movie SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME shows a courtesy towards the homeless. It is a true story, indicating that life may be the best adventure.

The film is based on the book Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent. The screen adaptation is by Ron Hall, Alexander Foard, and Michael Carney who is also the film's director. SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME tells the story from Ron Hall's (played by Greg Kinnear) perspective. His marriage to Deborah (Renee Zellweger) is falling apart, but he still listens to her. Thus, Ron spends time with Deborah feeding homeless people at Union Gospel Mission. Deborah is dedicated to serving others. As she spoons food onto plates, she introduces herself to each individual and asks them their names. This exercise reveals a caring person engaging with another human being. Initially, Ron is reluctant to participate, but eventually he serves at the mission, too, and the Hall's befriend a homeless man named Denver Moore (played by Djimon Hounsou).

Throughout their friendship Denver shares his story with the Hall's, which tells how he grew up in the American South. Also, Denver spends time with the Hall's two children (Olivia Holt and Austin Filson) and Ron's parents (Jon Voight and Geraldine Singer). The people from different worlds learn from one another. Hence the movie's title, everyone realizes for the most part, people are the same kind of different.

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.samekindofdifferentasmemovie.com/.

18 October 2017

Marshall

The play and TV movie, THURGOOD, starring Laurence Fishburne tells the story of Thurgood Marshall's life: his childhood and family life, his college life, his career in the judicial system fighting for human rights, his role in the Civil Rights Movement, and how he became the first African American Supreme Court Justice. Based on the title, MARSHALL, viewers may expect a movie about Thurgood Marshall's life similar to THURGOOD.  However, screenwriters Michael Koskoff and Jacob Koskoff have chosen to focus on one of Marshall's first cases, one in which he was not even able to speak in court during the trial.

The story takes place in 1941 when Thurgood Marshall (played by Chadwick Boseman) is a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is continuously working on human rights cases. When he is presented with a rape case in Connecticut, the NAACP  must first find a lawyer in that state. Sam Friedman (played by Josh Gad), a white insurance lawyer, is selected.  Initially, he is reluctant to team with Marshall because he does not handle criminal cases, but his brother Irwin (played by John Magaro) prematurely assures his participation. James Cromwell plays Judge Foster and does not allow Marshall to speak in court because he is not a Connecticut lawyer and possibly even the other obvious reason for the time period.

Several talented people make MARSHALL an exceptional film. In addition to Boseman, Gad, and Magaro--Kate Hudson, Sterling K. Brown, Dan Stevens, and Ahna O'Reilly give highly effective performances. Furthermore, director Reginald Hudlin has a firm grasp of the subject matter and his passion for it is obvious.

MARSHALL is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://marshallmovie.com/.


13 October 2017

Victoria & Abdul

VICTORIA & ABDUL showcases the unlikely real life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim.  At the time, England also ruled India, making Queen Victoria Empress of India. The movie is based on the biography book Victoria & Abdul by Shrabani Basu. Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal plays Abdul. Both actors give outstanding performances.

The comedic parts of the film are in part because the British people who work for the queen do not understand much about Indian Muslim culture--they assume Abdul and his friend Mohammed (played by Adeel Akhtar) are Hindu and refer to them as "the Hindus"--or why the queen would keep Abdul as a servant beyond presenting the ceremonial coin. The queen rather enjoys Abdul's company and learns his language, culture, and religion. She embraces their differences.

THE YOUNG VICTORIA displays the early life of Queen Victoria, and now VICTORIA & ABDUL exhibits Queen Victoria's later years. She reigned for 63 years and seven months from 1837 until she died in 1901. The time was known as the Victorian era.

VICTORIA & ABDUL is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://www.focusfeatures.com/victoriaandabdul.



11 October 2017

I Can Only Imagine

This week I previewed the movie I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. The hit song "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe was inspired by events in the movie. Lead singer Bart Millard wrote the song after finally having a positive relationship with his father. Growing up Bart lived with his father after his mother left, and he was miserable.

In the movie Dennis Quaid plays Bart's father Arthur. Bart is played by J. Michael Finley. Both performances are excellent. Unfortunately, this father-son relationship is dysfunctional. The father is always angry. Bart and his grandmother (played by Cloris Leachman), affectionately called Memaw, just assume it is because his life did not go the way he wanted. He takes that disappointment out on Bart. Bart desperately wants his father's attention so in high school he plays football. This works out great until Bart is injured and can no longer play the sport. This is how Bart discovers music; he is enrolled in the school choir class as a helper, but the choir director, Mrs. Fincher (played by Priscilla C. Shirer), hears him singing one day and insists he start singing with the choir. After graduating from high school, Bart pursues a music career and forms the band MercyMe, leaving behind his father, Memaw, and his girlfriend Shannon (played by Madeline Carroll).

Trace Adkins plays Brickell, who becomes the band's manager. He introduces Bart to Michael W. Smith (Jake B. Miller) and Amy Grant (Nicole DuPort). Brickell is the one who encourages Bart to dig deep into his soul so he can write a hit song. At the same time, Bart learns his father has cancer so he spends more time with him, and the two develop the relationship Bart always wanted. After his father dies, Bart writes the song "I Can Only Imagine."

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE will be in theatres March 16, 2018. The official Web site is http://icanonlyimagine.com/.


22 September 2017

American Assassin

AMERICAN ASSASSIN is a non-stop action movie. Viewers may want a break, but this film keeps on moving. So while watching, hang on!

Dylan O'Brien is effective as Mitch Rapp, a young man who is disheartened after his girlfriend's murder by terrorists. The experience puts him into fight mode, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) takes advantage of that. Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (played by Sanaa Lathan) is the one who recognizes his skills. Lathan is excellent in her role; she should be cast in more parts like this.

In addition, Michael Keaton plays Stan Hurley, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who trains Mitch, along with Victor (played by Scott Adkins), and other recruits. Keaton applies great wit to his performance. After completing Hurley's training, Mitch and Victor join him in intercepting the sale of nuclear material, plutonium. The mission does not go as planned, and there are casualties.

The action thriller is directed by Michael Cuesta. The screenplay is written by Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz. The movie is based on the novel American Assassin by Vince Flynn.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN is currently playing in theatres.  The official Web site is http://www.cbsfilms.com/american-assassin/.


15 September 2017

Tulip Fever

TULIP FEVER is adapted from a novel by Deborah Moggach.  Tom Stoppard is the screenwriter. The story is set in 17th century Amsterdam during a period known as tulip mania. The lively scenes of the movie take place at the tulip market. People invest in tulips and behave similar to what we would see in today's New York Stock Exchange.

Dame Judi Dench plays a nun, The Abbess of St. Ursula, who grows tulips at the convent for people interested in the tulip market. Her convent is where Sophia (played by Alicia Vikander) is raised. Sophia leaves the convent upon her marriage to an older gentleman named Cornelis (played by Christoph Waltz).

Cornelis desperately wants a child, but he and Sophia are unable to conceive. To place his mind on other matters, Cornelis hires artist Jan van Loos (played by Dane DeHaan) to paint a portrait of him and Sophia. Unfortunately, Sophia and Jan are immediately attracted to each other and begin an affair.

Meanwhile, Cornelis and Sophia's maid, Maria (played by Holliday Grainger), discovers she is pregnant by her estranged betrothed. The story becomes a soap opera when Maria knows Cornelis may not keep her on as help if he learns she is pregnant. As a result, Sophia suggests pretending she is the one who is pregnant. She and Cornelis will then have a child and everyone will be happy.  However, due to Sophia's peculiar plans and promises to Jan, events do not flow so smoothly.

TULIP FEVER is currently playing in theatres. The official Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/TulipFeverFilm/.


24 August 2017

Wind River

WIND RIVER is a thriller movie written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The entire film is highly suspenseful and provides an uneasy feeling. The circumstances make this possible: the location is a small town in what seems like the middle of no where, snow is on the ground, it is cold, wild animals are present, and the local wildlife officer Cory Lambert (played by Jeremy Renner) finds a woman's dead body.

Since the body is found on a Native American reservation, the sole tribal officer Ben (played by Graham Greene) is put in charge and swiftly contacts the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Jane Banner (played by Elizabeth Olsen) arrives. Because murder is not the cause of death, the FBI does not send Banner any back up, and it is up to her to solve the mystery of why the woman had run for so many miles in the snow.

WIND RIVER is currently playing in theatres.


Samson

SAMSON is an action drama film. It is based on the man Samson who is mentioned in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. Sams...