I’d posted on my personal FB page that after Christmas I’d joined my husband on a business trip to Del Mar, California, which we turned into a few days of much needed R&R. In addition to eating in fabulous restaurants, we movie binged.
Here are the films we saw and my critiques.
Having received rave reviews, we had high expectations. Described as a comedy, it takes place in the early 2000s when an artistically-inclined seventeen-year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California. While we enjoyed the acting and felt entertained throughout, we were disappointed in the ending.
As a writer, I’ve learned that critical characters need to arc; to make a story interesting, a transformative process (could be positive or negative) needs to occur. In the beginning, I immediately guessed who would arc and how, which made the movie predictable. As a result, I left the theatre wishing for a more creative and satisfying ending.
For the record, many friends disagree with me and love the movie.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
We’d missed this movie when it was playing in the theatres and were delighted to discover we could view it in our hotel room.
The film features top-notch stars: Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. The plot follows Poirot (Branagh), a world-renowned detective, who seeks to solve a murder on the famous European train in the 1930s.
The opening hook and inciting incident were interesting. Unfortunately, as soon as the story reached the first plot point (the murder), the film became boring and tedious. We fell asleep. The next evening we finished the movie. Even the outstanding cast couldn’t save the monotonous tone and pacing.
Based on a true story about Molly Bloom, Jessica Chastain does a great job portraying the beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested by the FBI. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Idris Elba (one of my favorite actors) plays her attorney.
We found this movie to be entertaining, enlightening, and intriguing. I was fascinated by the story and the 2 hours and 20 minutes zipped past. The script is careful not to name names, so afterward we googled Molly Bloom to identify her clients. Having learned who “Player X” was, I lost all respect for the actor and made a mental note to boycott his future movies.
I recommend this film.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBINGS, MISSOURI
This movie is a dark comedy-crime story written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. The phenomenal cast includes Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage. The story is about a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, purchases three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, which polarizes the community.
We loved this movie. I rarely see a movie twice, and this is one of those rare gems that I would see again in a heartbeat. Extremely well-written, full of plot twists and unexpected turns, the story kept our undivided attention. And I loved the ending: there are many interpretations, and the viewer is left to decide what happens next.
I give this movie a five-star rating.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Inspired by true events, the story follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. As her son’s captors become increasingly brutal, Gail attempts to persuade Getty Senior.
My husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the informative and intriguing story. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film kept our attention from the beginning to the end. We’d been to the Getty Museum, but we didn’t know the history behind Getty Senior. It’s a fascinating character study and Christopher Plummer does a great job making Getty Senior sad, sympathetic, and despicable.
I’d read an article in the Los Angeles Time’s Calendar Section that described how Christopher Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey. His scenes were reshot, edited, and produced in twenty days, just before the movie’s release.
I highly recommend this entertaining film.
After returning home from our short vacation, we continued movie bingeing.
This film is about Barry Seal (portrayed by Tom Cruise), a TWA pilot who is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the communist threat in Central America. With plot twists galore, Seal becomes a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that exposed the Iran-Contra Affair during the Regan Administration.
One of the people I’d interviewed for my novel, Busted, was a cocaine dealer who worked for Pablo Escobar in the nineties. He’d told me the CIA had supplied (and still supplies) cocaine to the U.S., and this information was depicted in the movie.
Even though I’ve researched, read, and watched many drug stories, I found Seal’s dare-devil, jaw-dropping experiences fascinating.
I also recommend this movie.
I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy New Year. In these turbulent times, may the merriment of New Year’s Eve stay with you through 2018.
Thanks for reading.
Warmest Regards, Michele
Author, Busted www.michelekhoury.com Link to subscribe to my blogs: http://michelekhoury.com/blog/