“Logan” Review

I was waiting in line buying a new monitor on Black Friday when a discarded “Logan” Blue-ray.  I checked the price and decided to add to my purchase.  It was on the list of movies that I wanted to see in the theater but never got around to, a very long list.  Now I own what both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart claimed would be their last X-men movie.Logan

Going in I was hoping for a conclusion to the saga that “X-Men: The Last Stand” didn’t give me.  The fact that Hugh has been in so many movies as this one character goes to the strength and timelessness of Wolverine and his overall betrail of the Logan.  The bad movies that Jackman’s Wolverine has been in it was never his fault that they were bad.

[Quick overview and opening act and setup]

It’s the near future. Logan is a drunk Limo driver who isn’t healing as fast as he used to.  He is caring for his elderly father figure, Professor X, who is fighting end of life issues that don’t mix well with the power to manipulate minds.  Logan just wants to buy a boat and sail into the sunset with Xavier. When fate brings them a kid with powers that needs their help.  Bad guys are after them and the girl.  They must defeat the bad guys and reach salvation.

[End spoilers]

This movie felt familiar like the warm blanket I was under while watching it.  It didn’t hit me until later why.  It has two very familiar things about it.  First, these characters are like old friends.  Logan is Logan, a loaner with a troubled soldier’s past who reluctantly does the right thing.  The take on Xavier as the elder is all of what you could hope for from a retirement-home bound all-powerful mutant.

The other very familiar thing is the story itself.  Its plot is straight out of the “Troubled soldier finds a person who needs them and finds redemption through them” trope.  From the most recent one I saw “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” to the classic “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” It makes for good redemption story for a familiar character. Even Dumbledore’s and Darth Vader’s storylines could fall under this tale of redemption through helping a “Helpless” individual.

The plot is predictable and a trope but good.  That is all you need to tell this story.  There are some “Oh crap!” moments. Logan feels defeatable which helps a lot.  The reveal of the Laura’s (Played very well by Dafne Keen) backstory is wonderful.

The action is good, effects are well done and understated for the most part.  Laura felt a bit young to be doing the killing she was. (This movie is not for kids.) Moments of levity were well spaced.  For what it is one has little to complain about.

I remember watching the first “X-Men” movie 17 years ago.  How it opened with Logan being the loaner who happens upon Rouge and is lead to the X-Men through his watching over her.  That opening is reflected in “Logan” as cares for another girl, dragged back into that life he left long ago.  In that first movie, one of the best lines is after Rouge askes if, when the claws come out, if it hurts.  Hugh Jackman says “Every time.” After “Logan” you can leave them in for good.  Well done.

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“The Hateful Eight” Review

Quentin Tarantino, for those who love film, is one of those figures that is hard to MV5BMjA1MTc1NTg5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTM2MDEzNzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_criticise.  He changed film with “Pulp Fiction.” He is a master of realistic and meaningful dialog.  And he has attempted, since “Pulp Fiction,” to break new ground or take something familiar and elevate it to new heights with every film. (I’ll ignore one of his films in this assessment but you get the idea.)

“The Hateful Eight” the eighth film by Tarantino as he likes to remind us, was something I was looking forward to.  His take on the single room mystery where all the action happens in one room with no place to hide.  People are forced to confront each other when in normal circumstances they would never interact.  It is a western period piece that has potential. And in these aspects, it did not disappoint.

Unexpectedly it took quite a while to get to that single room.  We follow a stagecoach for nearly an hour of this over 3-hour long movie. Introducing a few characters along the way.  But you could also call the stagecoach a moving room.  You don’t really leave it until everyone is trapped by the blizzard. This is a western done by Tarantino so there is period accurate racial language.  Post Civil War frontier plays a heavy role.

[Opening scene spoilers]

Samual L. Jackson’s character’s introduction, along with others, is beautiful.  Stopping a stagecoach by sitting on a horse saddle that’s on top of three dead people.  The driver worried about beating the storm and his payday.  Kurt Russel very protective of his Bounty in the cab with him.  It sets the scene for the “I don’t trust anybody’ that happens for the rest of the movie.

[End spoilers]

This is a long movie, but it never drags. The dialog is spectacular.  The reveals are, by timing and their nature, amazing.  There is a lengthy flashback that doesn’t really need to be there.  It does add to the understanding of the antagonist and the setup of the cabin before the audience arrives but I think it would have been fine without it.  There is quite a bit of “Reservoir Dogs” in it and I can’t complain about that.

My one true complaint about the movie is the over the top gore.  People get shot and their brains travel 15 feet to land in someone hair and mouth.  It serves no purpose.  everything else in this movie, even non-lethal gun wounds are realistic. But if it comes out of one’s head lets B-movie gore it up!  It really pulled me out of the atmosphere.

Any Quentin Tarantino fan will love this movie.  People who like the genres it falls into will like this movie.  Did he break new ground with this movie?  It was the biggest production of a one-room movie I’d ever seen but other than that, no.   

It is worth a watch as it is currently available on Netflix streaming (not a sponsor.)  So when you have the time, make some popcorn and watch, pause it half way and go make some more popcorn and finish it.

 

Donald StrangeTrump: or 9 Reasons I Stopped Worrying and Love the Trump

Well, here we are. One of America’s two major parties has a name-calling, wall-building, fear-mongering Billionaire as its nominee.  And me, a left-leaning, feminist loving, GLBTQIA supporting, tree-hugging, refuge accepting, peace-loving, Black Lives Matter supporter thinks this is one of the best things to happen in politics in decades. And I can say that with a (mostly) straight face.

strangelove_gop_debate_article_banner_3-2-16-1How you may ask? Once you get past the shock brought on by his crazy behavior and look at what has actually happened as a result around the world of politics and media, how can you not? Let’s do this!

1. Right wing is reaping what it sowed.

For eight years (Or is it 40?) the Right has systematically called Obama and the Left evil monsters that want to destroy America and kill Santa.  Now they are paying for it.

The way right media has been calling Obama a Kenyan Muslim Nazi communist while people in office and those from the more main stream right media won’t denounce any lie that gets told.  That was fine inside the bubble of right listening to the right.  The GOP leaders until now were able to present national figures that were centrist and could survive being looked at by the entire nation.

This time around the 20% of Americans that live in this closed media loop of the right and vote in Republican primaries actually believe the rhetoric they have been fed.  “Muslims and Mexicans are taking your jobs and killing your kids! I’m going to vote for the guy speaking the truth I’ve been fed!”

How is this good?  The Republican/right wing media money people are taking a hard look at what they have done and will change to tell the truth instead of truthiness to survive as a unified party in the future.

2. The Republican alliances will fracture

The strange bed fellows of Evangelicals, business, libertarians, and the deep south that formed in the 70s-80s will not survive Trump.  Business is already trying to distance itself from the GLBTQIA fear mongering laws that are being pushed forward by the religious right.

Libertarians and Ron Paul followers are getting tired of the GOP.  Penalties that are being pushed against individuals like restrictions on solar panels to become self sufficient. The deficit spending to fund other countries’ wars. In bed with banks and the Federal Reserve. All of this and they already have a Libertarian Party to run to.

The traditional South has moving beyond its racial divisive past. (Faster than the North it seems. Discussion for another day)  The racist elements of the party are harder to hide and will have many people fleeing. If the GOP wants to still be a national party they will have to make new alliances.

3. Watching the inner struggle within the Republican Party is great entertainment.

Need I say more on this point?

4. The main stream media realized its part in creating the monster.

For those who complain about the media coverage in general the media has been asking itself “What have we done?!” Big Media is everywhere and what is reported has an effect on the outcome. Before the 24 second news cycle and endless space online for articles, you had an editor who would decide what was news.

Now when somebody says something stupid it is on Twitter instantly then big media shares the tweet to get hits. Then stupid comments on any side become “newsworthy.” Perhaps this is the point where news stations won’t make the worst tweet the news story and actually tell actual news.

5. His positions are more progressive than any other Republican presidential candidate.

If you normally look at the Republican platform and gag you will only get a bile taste from his platform.  Reading it is a little like interpreting a tween’s dissertation on the meaning of life but his stated positions are less scary than Ted Cruz’s platform.

The biggest example of this is his policy on NAFTA and trade. When was the last time politicians everywhere were discussing this issue?  The last time I can recall is when Ross Perot was a viable third party candidate to talk about it.

I’m looking forward to reading the differences between the GOP platform and Trump’s.  There will be much hay made over that.

 

6. Trump doesn’t believe the crap he says.

Ted Cruz is a believer.  He thinks (or thought) he was chosen by God to become president.  All the crazy things he has said is actually what he would fight for.

Trump is a pragmatist.  He says things to get what he wants.  He doesn’t care about the views he takes so he can change views to what people actually want.  He is at the whim of the polls. Take a look at where the polls are on the issues and breath a sigh of relief.

He will have many etch-a-sketch moments before the general

7. Now we get to see Trump debate a Democrat

Pay-per-View Anyone?

8. Trump got money out if politics.

Bernie wants to get money out of politics but Sanders is doing it by raising a crap ton of money.  Donald has won a nomination without holding fundraisers and without spending (relatively) a lot.

It proves it is possible to win against the tide of big money in politics.  All you need is great name recognition and get the media to talk about you all the time

Bernie would be just another has been if it wasn’t for the RECORD SETTING AMOUNTS OF MONEY he has raised.  Even if it is $27 at a time he raised the money. Now before I get pummeled on twitter by the Berners. (@TobySterl to give you a head start.) what he has done is amazing but Obama did it 8 years ago.

9. He can’t win

Winning big among the  GOP Caucus goers is one thing. That’s winning the majority of 20% of the nation that have been lied to for decades.  The electorate is getting more Hispanic, Black, and young. When Trump says he is winning the women, the poorly educated, the Mexicans, and the Blacks he is actually winning the women in that 20%.

There is no way he can win.  Even before the onslaught of his past indiscretions that will come out after the primary is done, (Here comes the Dem’s attack machine!) his numbers among women alone are enough to sink him.

So sit back and enjoy it.

We get to watch the fracturing of the GOP, the Trump media road show, and the fall of right wing media machine.  At the same time the Senate and possibly the House will become Democratic.

Just ponder on the history that is to come, the late night comedy that will be made, and we get to witness it all.  Join me in enjoying the flames to come.  I’ll bring the popcorn.

 

Toby Sterling