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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.

Entries in movie (26)

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.

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

Review by Kim Gentes 


Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler - (Dan Gilroy) Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill PaxtonWork hard. Pay your dues. Don't cut corners. Succeed.

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

Summary:  Jake Gyllenhaal assumes complete mastery of his role as fledging video news videographer, Lou Bloom. Everything you always feared about modern news reporting comes to vivid life in the most gripping persona of evil since Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh (in No Country For Old Men).

Full Review: Dan Gilroy has a stellar debut in the director's chair with Nightcrawler. A screen/TV writer for over 10 years, Gilroy commands the storyline (which he also wrote) by a vivid videography of intense "realistic" style that superimposes the kind of professional seriousness that is echoed in the obsessive protagonist of the movie.

The story is simple. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a small time thief that is looking for a focus to his obsessive energies. Through a happenstance encounter, he realizes the thrill and potential rewards of video-taping crime and mayhem in the night life of the LA basin.  Gyllenhaal's character, Lou, shows a fanatic demand for detail which results in acquiring some much sought-after footage of gruesome car crashes, bleeding attack victims and other tragic scenes. His stock with local TV station news rises sharply and he uses it to his full advantage.

At first blush, Lou appears demanding and intense, with an almost uncaring sense of fairness and justice. But his amoral sense of duty and hard work quickly are set aside for the fruits of an immoral rampage to gratify Lou's desperately hungry ego, and the accompanying monetary rewards. The film is very dark, but a couple of times grasps unrealistically at trying to convey the depravity of Gyllenhaal's character when plot twists allow him to get away with obviously criminal acts.

Nightcrawler is not a film for everyone. It will be too dark for some. But those who liked Crash or characters such as Walter White (Breaking Bad) or Dexter Morgan (Dexter) should think of Nightcrawler as the next evolution of the darkest form of antihero. Technically speaking, the cinematography, acting, directing and writing are some of the best you will see anywhere, in any year.

The language, violence and themes of this film are easily "R" in rating. But I would not allow any child under 18 to see this film. For me, the rating should have been NC-17.

This film is powerful, convincing, but very dark. For those whom it fits, it will be the single "must see" movie of the year. One which you should not wait to see on video- this is powerful, intense and important silver screen visual overload. That said, do not go if you have a queezy stomach or need a heroic and moral character. For those things you will definitely be disappointed.

Perhaps the best film this year.

Amazon Link:


Review by Kim Gentes

Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska - (Alexander Payne) Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy KeachThe false dreams of Americana. It's hopes, failures and resiliency.

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

Summary: Few stories are told with impact when highlighting the mundane, the common and the broken. This film unabashedly suffuses the screen with the image, language and lives of a mid-American family. It is this unstoppable honesty that makes Nebraska not a heroic film, but an honest one. Brilliant film-making and unquestionable acting.

Full Review: Bruce Dern is in his best role ever, as Woody, an aged, honest and cantankerous father and husband who believes he has won a $1 million sweepstakes prize (as notified by a typical postal mail letter). His son, David (Will Forte), is drawn into the plot and (knowingly) acquiesces to drive Woody to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his "winnings".

The trip is a plot device from which a recital of Woody's life can be hung and revisited. In the trip, the father/son duo venture to Woody's hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska on their drive to Lincoln. In Hawthorne, all the clichés come to life- the old girl friend, the jilted business partner, the crazy relatives- in a portrayal that would seem plastic if it weren't so honest. The brilliance of this film lays at three main levels- the dialog, the direction and the acting.

The dialog here is so pregnant with rural life idiosyncrasies it might seem alien to those who haven't experienced it. But to the native-born, Nebraska will be an almost eerie nod to daily life. The speech, the references, the values and the conflicts all make pinpoint accuracy of the story of the rural mid-American family. There are several strong segments, but the most poignant is an interaction with Woody and David at an old tavern in Hawthorne. As they sit down, Woody orders a beer. David recoils, not wanting to join in. Woody says to his son, "C'mon, take a beer with your old man. Be somebody." The brevity and matter-of-fact harshness of the dialog rips open the idea that this movie is a "comedy" in the popular American comedy sense. There are some powerful things said here, and they need to be heard.

The direction and production of this film is perfect. Filmed in black and white, the nuance of texture becomes so important to understanding the people and their lives. There is no assumption of hope here, but there is always the unacknowledged homestead mentality that never quits.

Finally, the acting is absolutely perfect. Bruce Dern and Will Forte are unquestionable in their characters. This may be the best character Stacy Keach has ever played.

While I think this is a great film, it does have some foul language- commensurate with the standard verbal repertoire of its portrayed characters.  You won't want your children watching this film, as the "R" rating for language is modestly deserved. Parents who find this film to be within their tastes may well want to watch it with their older teenage children (especially father/sons), not because of the redeeming nature of the characters, but perhaps in spite of that.

If you grew up in rural towns or mid-America, this film will be as much about dealing with your issues as it will be about watching these characters wrestling with theirs.  If you haven't seen this yet, this film should immediately be placed on the top of your Netflix or Amazon Video queues. One of the few films I will buy a BluRay of. I will be watching this for many years.

One of the best films in the last decade.

Amazon Link:


Review by Kim Gentes

Safe Haven (2013)

Safe... for heaving your cookies.

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

Summary: If you absolutely must see a romantic drama, I suppose you won't be committing complete artistic and intelligence suicide by watching this film. But almost.

Full Review: You know the drill. It's date night. It's time for the little lady to pick out some romantic comedy or drama squeeze to appease the cupid-impulse that seems to be prodded back to life almost monthly by silly things like Valentine's Day, Anniversaries and birthdays. This time, she picks out the latest love story that most reminds them of some even more terrible love story from past theatre visits. "Oh no", you think to yourself, remembering back to The Notebook, "I can't be the only guy in the theatre again, with all those weeping women crooning over a sappy plot." 

But you know what? You love this woman. You aren't going to sit by and let some salute to machismo keep you from showing her that she is worth a couple of hours of humility just to be by her side. So you muster up your courage and face it like a man.

"Damn it, Jim", you think, "we're putting the engines at 110%".

So off you go, driving like mad to make the movie on time. You get there. The parking leaves you about 16 football fields away from the front entrance. You sprint ahead to get the tickets. She walks calmly to the theatre entrance. You wince ever-so-slightly as they rake you for $23.00 for two tickets. You smile and let your sweetheart go sit down in the theatre while you take another beating for a small bag of stale popcorn (that someone had stored in a garbage bag, no less) and watered-down soda. After rushing into the theatre, you realize you aren't late at all. In fact, your slight happiness turns sour after 25 minutes of previews that play after the supposed start time of your feature film.

Finally, it starts. Queue the opening scene. Abused wife running away from terrible home life. Escape to stereotypical "little-town" on the Carolina coast. Start new life. Find tall, handsome, single dad who is raising two kids- and who somehow seems to know less about kids than the beautiful, run-away wife who never had kids. The whole thing unfolds like the seeming clockwork of a widget factory from the 1950's postwar industrial machine. One shiny, predictable romance coming right up!

You enjoy the odd cutsie line, laugh at the two or three well-placed chuckles, and smile at the real love of your life sitting next to you, knowing that the agony and pain of this scriptless, thoughtless film will be over soon. Even though the romance movie was corny, you feel like you have dodged a bullet. You might even give the film a "C-" rating just because your sweetheart liked it and you didn't completely convulse through the entire film (as you did with The Notebook).

And then it happens- the most stupid, idiotic, half-baked, tag-on ending you've ever seen. Some marketing whiz who can't be bothered to write a real book or movie script thinks they will throw a "hail Mary" in to try to make this movie about something deeper, more important. But their attempt at quasi-spiritual transcendence is so inane, so inconsistent to the plot, and so unbelievable as any real art, it makes you want to tear your jacket and bite through the plastic arm of the chair that you are sitting on.

For those who don't escape seeing this movie from just plain old common sense, (or because you think that seeing "Safe Haven" will be a requirement for your love life) I have just one recommendation- leave after the appropriate people are rescued and the story seems to be happily concluded. Don't watch the last frames of this movie where the man gives his beauty a letter. It's pure BS. You've been warned.

For parents, the danger in seeing this movie is less about the offensive material they will see- though there is threatening behavior and violence- than it is about the questionability of any parent who would allow their child to see such dumb film making. Heed the movie's MPAA "PG13" rating, if for no other reason than limiting the damage to our future artisans in the next generations.


Amazon DVD Link:


Review by Kim Gentes

The Impossible (2013)

Impossible to explain. Unbelievable to experience.

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


Summary: The 2004 Tsunami that plunged across the coast of Thailand (and other countries in Indian Ocean basin) is one of the largest natural disasters in recorded history. Inside that event, this movie uncovers the story of one family. Following them from their vacation to the terrible event to their languishing journey to survive and reunite. It is human, evocative and realistic.

Full Review: I went to this movie without having seen any ads or promotion to it, except for the trailer I watched on my cell phone while looking for the movie times at our local theatre. What intrigued me was the claim of this movie being a true story. Not based on, or set in events, but actually the true story of a family. I am very glad I went to this movie.

Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as the parents who experience the unthinkable tragedy of the 2004 tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of Indonesia, Thailand and many other southeast Asian countries. To give away much of the setup or story would be to deny you the experience of the movie. I won't spoil that for you. But the movie is excellent in its pacing, its character drama and even its portrayal of trauma and its physical and psychological effects that are the aftershocks in real human lives.

The special effects, visuals and cinematography on this film are exceptional. If you can see this while it is still in theatres do so. If you miss it, be sure to watch it in surround sound in a theatre experience. The sound and visuals are astounding and pull you into the experience. Go see "The Impossible". It is an exceptional film.

For parents, this movie should be reserved for children that are 9 and over. Extensive scenes of disaster carnage are not as graphic as they might have been, but they do not lack the sensitivity to uncountable bodies, broken lives and lost families that were effected. There some nudity but only in the most tragic sense- a woman whose shirt it torn in the storm, a destitute man walking without shorts- these are sad reminders of the dehumanizing conditions of tragedy, not sensationalism. Because of the fear and pain the films images can invoke, parents should consider heeding the movie of its MPAA "PG13" rating. 


Amazon DVD Link:


Review by Kim Gentes