Media Update 12/22/2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I went to Rogue One this past Saturday because I could not stand leaving it until later for fear of spoilers. Also, a whole bunch of my friends were going and we had assigned seats in a very cushy movie theater in Columbia. I had been hyped about Rogue One since the first inklings of a plot had been released. Most Star Wars movies have been sweeping epic fantasy movies that deal with the most important people in huge political conflicts. This movie pays more attention to the regular people in the Rebellion and the Empire. The heroine is important but she’s long been overlooked by everyone around her. The main villain is a sycophantic bureaucrat with high-minded aspirations of greatness. This is a darker, dirtier story about doing what it takes to spark the flames of hope in people ground down by the evil in the universe. This movie was exactly what I needed it to be. It had humor, it had sadness, it had triumph. It also had a lot of allusions or direct references to the rest of the Star Wars movies but nothing felt too forced or overdone. The ragtag group of heroes felt like they grew together and fought their hearts out. I do not want to spoil it too much because I definitely recommend you go see it. I do like Star Wars VII better but that is only because I feel like the normal Star Wars movies are a little happier.

Magnificent Seven (2016)

I am a big fan of the original movie but it has honestly been a while since I have seen it. The original was modeled after The Seven Samurai and both of those films are classics. When the trailer for the remake was released, I was definitely interested. A remake is not necessarily a bad thing. The True Grit remake was a lot better than the original. If you attach good writers, good directors and good actors to a project, it can succeed remake or not and this movie is proof. This version is a great story about people who have every reason to hate each other, gathering to fight for a just cause. The whole cast is excellent, as you would expect for a movie designed to be an ensemble affair. Of the cast, Chris Pratt was the one who drew me in first. He is proving that he is not only fun but he is a great actor as well. Of course, once I found out Denzel Washington was involved, I was even more excited. I really liked the friendship between Byung-hun Lee and Ethan Hawke. Vincent D’Onofrio once again plays a weirdo but this time with a heart of gold. To round it out, Martin Sensmeier is a great silent killer and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is funny. On top of the seven, Haley Bennett is great as a widow with revenge on her mind. Peter Sarsgaard is a great, purely evil villain. I definitely recommend this one as it is a great tribute and companion to the original movie.

Female Agents

This movie is a dark but interesting tale set in 1944 in war-torn France in the Spring before the Normandy landings. A British agent has been captured and it is up to five female agents to rescue him from Nazi-occupied France. Since this was made recently, the women are portrayed realistically. So this is not a Charlie’s Angels type affair. This is more like an all-girl Dirty Dozen with each woman having a bit of a specialty that can help on the mission. They are all brave women but not all of them are badasses but they are all women who have had a hard life. The movie was made in France and the whole thing is in French with English subtitles which add to the movie. I like when I get to see a story about a region that is actually told by the country where it happened. The agents in question are from a few countries, the leader is a British agent but she teams up with French women and an Italian Jewish lady. The real title of this movie is actually The Women of the Shadows and that better describes the feel of this movie. War is Hell and it shows with the decisions these women (and their male allies) have to make in order to serve their countries against a greater evil. The actresses all have strong personalities and great characters who all come to the story from different directions. I was surprised by how interesting this movie was especially after I found out that it is based on a bunch of true stories. In fact, the story it details is very fascinating. I definitely recommend it as it is very dramatic and has a lot of twists and turns that I did not expect.

Music of the Week:
Vince Vance and the Valiants- All I Want For Christmas Is You

Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Harvey Fierstein and Michael Mckean – Heat Miser and Snow Miser

John Lennon – Happy Christmas (War is Over)

Twisted Sister – Silver Bells

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Hope in the Face of Evil”
– Happy Holidays. Keep safe and be happy.
– I got to Season 5 of The Office and it actually gets better as it goes
– I rewatched Nightmare Before Christmas, as I do every year
– I am on Season 3 of Parks and Recreation
– I am almost done Season 2 of Dark Matter


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