IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT KIM GENTES MOVIE REVIEWS

The appearance of a movie in this review journal does not mean that the movie is endorsed by Kim.  He writes reviews of movies that he saw that he recommends people avoid as well as movies that he considers worth seeing.  Aside from just critical approval regarding the film, some movies may not be suitable for you or your family.  You must make that kind of determination on your own, and stay true to your own convictions on what is appropriate to see.  Some movies are well made, but have offensive or difficult subject matter that is questionable to many viewers. Again, the reviews listed here should not be your only filter for whether or not a film is appropriate for you and and your family.

Additionally, Kim has his own view on what movies are and why he thinks they are a worthwhile aspect of current culture to be investigated.  You certainly don't have to agree with Kim on his viewpoints of movies, and he would be surprised if you did.

Kim's thoughts on movies -

Movies are the modern art "experience" of our culture. They are transmitted in many forms, on screens in theatres, DVDs, television and even computers. They are the merge of classical theatrical acting and modern day technical set and experience creation (effects). The reason I enjoy and watch lots of movies is that they not only entertain, they communicate the nuances of our society. Of course, some have nothing to do with culture, its just greedy corporations trying to produce profits. I am a guy, and as such am not the ideal audience for romantic comedies or 'chick fliks'. However I am also a husband, and domestic bliss (as well as common sense) compels me to at least review them...occasionally.  For the most part, you will find I like (and therefor review a lot of ) action, drama, science fiction, suspense and similarly themed movies.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey)- Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, ZendayaA great musical!

Overall Grade: A+
Story: A+
Acting: A+
Direction: A+
Visuals: A+


Summary: Of the 50 or so movies I've seen in 2017,  "The Greatest Showman"  is the top of my list. All the presence of what Hollywood does best: great music, character and show. But without what Hollywood does worst: the pretense or self-congratulatory tone of art looking admiringly at itself.

Hugh Jackman plays a rose-colored-glasses version of the famous (infamous to some) P.T. Barnum, whose iconic life and business would later become what most people consider the fountainhead of American show business: The Barnum & Bailey Circus. Most movie-goers will recognize Jackman from the popular X-men movies and follow-ons like the Wolverine films. In "The Greatest Showman", Jackman brings his full talents to the silver screen: brilliant vocals, dance and stage presence. You don't have to believe the veracity of this script to be pulled into the energy of this cast's theatrical chops, of which Jackman leads with unapologetic prowess.

Without doubt the centerpiece of this film is its top notch musical score and award-winning song writing. Academy Award winning Benj Pasek & Justin Paul ("La La Land") write the melodic bliss that is the 11-song musical track for "The Greatest Showman". What I loved about this music is not only its stellar workmanship in songcraft but the lyrical honesty that comprised so many of the pieces. From "A Million Dreams" to "Come Alive", "Never Enough" and "This is Me", Pasek and Paul articulate the lines of the film's characters with the perfect balance of emotion, honesty and art. Those lyrics, set on perfect rhythms and melodies, fill film with the sinews of theatrical reality needed to make this body of work not just move but dance across the mind and enjoyment of the audience.

Where "La La Land" acquiesced to nostalgia and Hollywood penchant for self-aggrandizement, "The Greatest Showman" pushes past the time period context it is set in to blast its message into the visual and auditory space of the 21st century. Pristine songwriting and composition combine with soaring and virtuoso voices to give us the best movie soundtrack since Elton John and Tim Rice's efforts on "The Lion King". Yes. It is that good.

You don't have to agree with history of PT Barnum's life given here to enjoy the best movie of 2017 for what it is- a spectacular yarn, brilliantly sung, danced and presented.

This film is PG and that is appropriate.

While I think this is an amazing film for anyone, I'd especially recommend it to artists of all disciplines. Songwriters especially will find a near dozen top notch examples of pop-based works that demonstrate masterworks created by masters at the top of their careers.

http://www.thegreatestshowman.com/

For those who are interested in the musical sound track, definitely check out:

http://amzn.to/2CqZ1le

Review by Kim Gentes 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)- Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam RockwellThe best, and weirdest, movie of 2017

Overall Grade: A+
Story: A+
Acting: A+
Direction: A+
Visuals: A


Summary:  "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"  is at once tragic, humorous and ridiculous. Martin McDonagh's film is a redneck myth that somehow mingles the irreverence of the Coen brothers and the strange darkness of Guillermo del Toro. Using the blunt instrument of southern prejudice, writer/director McDonagh hammers out a tale of hyperbole, irony and overstatement that cracks open the viewer for a few moments of epiphany.

From Frances McDormand as the grief-crazed mother to Woody Harrelson as the heroic hick-town Missouri sheriff to Sam Rockwell as the dimwitted, bumbling, racist officer, this perfectly fitted cast imbues this sardonic yarn with the power and credibility needed to get past its intentional awkwardness.

I began this review by saying this movie was "weird". Let me explain. It's not weird in the sense that "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" was weird. Instead of using horrific moral ultimatums, it uses the smoldering anger of a broken mother to make a point. It's not metaphorical, though it uses some metaphors. It's not enigmatic and mythical, at least not in the obvious ways "Sacred Deer" push for. "Three Billboards" is absurd, but real. You know the story can't be real, but you still believe it is talking about what real people are like and what is underneath them. It can run at two or three levels at once. As long as no one demands that everyone see it from their perspective, "Three Billboards" will be food for thought at any mental meal.

If I told you the narrative of this movie, you probably wouldn't take a chance on seeing it. But go see it.

"Three Billboards" isn't "the" new epic film but it is a completely worthwhile picture. This is an "R"-rated film that is not appropriate for children of any age. The themes and vulgar language of the movie will manage to offend many. Don't let that keep you away.

Just go. See it.

http://www.threebillboardsoutsideebbingmissouri.com/

 

Review by Kim Gentes 

 

 

Spotlight (2015) 

Spotlight (Tom McArthy)- Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley TucciThe best movie of 2015, by a landslide..

Overall Grade: A
Story: A+
Acting: A
Direction: A
Visuals: A


Summary:  Spotlight is big screen "true story" of the investigative reporting team that uncovered the systemic coverup of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston archdiocese. This film is unflinching and powerful, while remaining emotionally responsible. The best film of 2015.

Full Review: While I was aware (through the TV news) of the scandal that had taken place in the early 2000s regarding the Roman Catholic church and molestation of children by it's priests, I did not know how the story came to light and how it had been investigated.  This movie is the brilliantly directed effort to tell that story. With one of the best acting crews in the last 5 years Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci engulf this story with passion and credibility. Each cast member rings honest and no character is turned into a faultless hero.

With horrific material details surrounding this script, it would have been easy to think the movie would have spun out recklessly on the intensity of the emotional aspect of this controversy. But writer/director Tom McCarthy (and co-writer Josh Singer) keep a disciplined hand on the script, refusing to discredit the power of this narrative by suffusing lurid details of the individual cases. Instead, the cases are represented by a few powerful interviews and the remainder of the film centers around the painstaking efforts of the Boston Globe's Spotlight team (investigative reporting group) to discover the details, perceive the dark pattern of abuse, and correlate an understanding of an even darker delusion within the Catholic Church hierarchy to cover up the evil deeds of its priests.

The acting, the script, the directing and the cinematography are all perfectly done. On a topic that deserves the very best from our creative community, it received a stellar achievement from McCarthy and his cast.

That said, for parents thinking of taking their children, they should be aware that there is some instances of strong language in this film and some brief but painfully descriptive dialog of sexual abuse. There are no graphic scenes or re-enactments, no nudity and no violence. But the topic and its nature are not shied away from. I would recommend that no child under 13 should be allowed to see this movie. The flim deserves the R rating for the subject material that underpins it.

This film just made wide release this last weekend, and I saw no advertising for it. Do not let that stop you. See this film.  If you decide you will see one movie this year, Spotlight should be it.

http://spotlightthefilm.com/

 

Review by Kim Gentes 

 

 

Love The Coopers (2015)

Love The Coopers (Jessie Nelson) - Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Alan Arkin, Marisa TomeiYou can't get this 105mins back..

Overall Grade: F
Story: F
Acting: F
Direction: F
Visuals: D


Summary:  Love The Coopers is a waste of time. Do not see it. This is the most generous summary possible for a film of such low caliber.

Full Review: Plotless, aimless, emotionless, thoughtless dibble wrapped in pretentious philosophical cliches. It appears the answer to a Christmas movie in 2015 is to imagine 150 conversations with no humor, no acting, no character development, and no storyline all wrapped in a cast of great talent and exercising precisely none of it, and culminating in two apex moments involving a dog farting at a dinner table and a family dancing spontaneously (while hating one another) at an airport cafeteria. The best part of this film was, quite literally, the credit roll- which at least accomplished the purpose for which it was designed.

Save your money for Hunger Games latest or the upcoming Star Wars installment. Ignore me at your peril. The worst film I've seen in a very long time.

 

 

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Exodus: Gods and Kings (Ridley Scott) - Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, Ben KingsleyLet my people go to Hollywood...

Overall Grade: C
Story: C-
Acting: B-
Direction: C
Visuals: A


Summary:  Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton try to lead this film out of the slavery of Hollywood cliché, but unlike the protagonist and the Hebrew people of the story, this project starves in the wilderness of dry, empty characters and thoughtless dialog just before drowning from poor direction amidst of a sea of dazzling CGI.

Full Review: Exodus. More than just being an iconic narrative of faith, it is the epic of freedom and struggle, representative of individuals, peoples, and cultures across history and across the world. Envisioning such an epic requires true thought, true vision. Either try for something revolutionary or keep to the story and make it work on the level of character development. Ridley Scott does neither and fails big. The acting, characters and story-line were weak. I fault the director for taking what is basically the major epic narrative of 3 world religions and treating the project like he was distracted and just trying to get it done.

The characters (in contrast to their historic epic) are all one-dimensional, predictable and unconvincing. They show no humanity- just stereotyped ransacking of what could have been thoughtful roles. Moses' character is turned into (like Darren Aronofsky's Noah) an educated, but basically psychotic, lunatic with luck on his side, who leads a military foment of slaves to an uprising. Along the way, lots of amazing things happen, that are all attributed to natural phenomena and don't hold anything like the narrative punctuation of the original book of the same title from the biblical text. Don't misunderstand me- I don't fault Ridley Scott for taking what is essentially an "enlightenment" stab at the Exodus work- no one who believes or considers the story in any sense "real" will likely accept his revision. But that is art. However, what is not art is the emotionless, boring, and even schmaltzy portrayal of characters that role across the silver screen.

Christian Bale does have the thoughtfulness to try to fill his dialog with some passion, but he is working with a script that feels as authentic as the $25 press board desk I put together when I was in college. Aaron Paul hardly has to earn his credentials for playing a passionate supporting role, but his part literally gave him nothing to work with. Sigourney Weaver seethes of contempt as she literally looks like she'd rather be infested by an alien than say the lines she was handed out. Joel Edgerton seems like he took his role seriously, but his court is such a mockery that one has to wonder how he could hold any sense of presence in a such a vilified supporting staff. And finally John Turturro looks like he is about a half second away from cracking up laughing on literally ever single line. Ben Kingsley has a chance at being the one rock in the film, playing a sagely Jewish elder. But he is shoehorned into a few quick segments that give him no space to develop his character.

Here is my point- we all know the story. If you are going to rewrite it, you need do a better job in some aspect than the original. And if you are going to rely on atheist philosophy when you are telling the narrative of a creator God directing his chosen people, then at least have the presence of mind to use good art- develop some great characters, use thoughtful dialog, give us a human interest in the film.

I can't imagine this film made anyone happy other than the various unions who were employed in its production. Save your money. Wait for the Netflix/Amazon free stream or when it hits your local cable free movie feature.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1yOfkmt

 

Review by Kim Gentes