Archive for Biography

Bron Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Follow Through Productions,

Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller, Gabrielle Union, Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry, Roger Guenveur Smith, Mark Boone Junior, Esther Scott

The Birth of a Nation is the story of a real character, Nat Turner (Nate Parker) who as a child was found to be an educated fellow who could read and write, even though raised as a slave on a plantation. Nat became a preacher, and was paid to preach to the other slaves to convince them to work hard and listen to their masters to avoid trouble. But after events that turned Nat into a rebel that hated the treatment of his people in the south and caused him to start a bloody uprising that killed scores of white men, women, and children, until a battalion caught up with him and his men and they were all brought to pay for their rebellion. Based on a true character, this is harsh look at the terrible treatment of slaves and former slaves that occurred in the South in 1831 before the Civil war.

This was an interesting film, that is difficult to criticize without casting a very dim light on yourself. First let me say that the brutality and abuse that did occur was very horrible and unexcused, but I’m not sure that this is a completely accurate vision of what in particular happened this time. Historically Nat Turner did head a bloody uprising 1n 1831, but he was despised both in the North and the South due to the killing of little children and women along with the true slave masters. This film certainly does take one side of the story and makes a very shocking story that may be quite a bit embellished as to what really happened in this instance. Nate Parker, who plays Nat Turner, wrote the screenplay and the story and directed the film besides being the primary actor in it. It has a rather weird vibe to it. Though it’s obvious a brand new film, the style and feel of the movie made you think you were watching one of the old 70’s movies, just by the look of it. It wasn’t really very well put together, and it seems to suffer a bit from one guy having to do everything. Perhaps a bigger team would have helped. Still, it’s very touching and moves you to the core, but I’m not sure if we’re being played or if there’s really much truth to this one particular character and his portrayal historically. Likewise, the title, The Birth of a Nation is a political and racial hot button due the to D.W. Griffith 1915 film about the death of Lincoln and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan which is unfortunately a racist white supremacist one sided film that was certainly made to excuse the Klan, make them heroes, and appeal to the racists that existed, and to create many more of them. Now 1915 was a long time ago, but it seemed to be created to stir people up and tell a very incorrect and lopsided tale of who were the heroes and who were the villains. This film, was most likely given the same title to invoke some of the hatred toward the original film and start people off with a particular point of view. I don’t really think this movie is very fairly told either, as I doubt the true character of Nat Turner was really presented here. It was a really flat one sided portrait that simply appears to fire people up to protest. It doesn’t feel like a historical analysis or a documentary, but a one sided attack with no effort to show any balance. Now I can understand how this could happen, as it is a very touchy subject, and one that we really have to deal with in a rational manner. I just feel like this is throwing gasoline on a house fire and doesn’t serve a really good purpose other than to promote hatred. It’s a shame, as I certainly have seen other films that depicted the horrors that happened through a lot of the South at the time, and as a child of the 50’s I’ve seen it in person and on TV and in people I actually know. It’s an ugly thing to judge someone by the color of his skin, but it’s ugly either way, and we need to come together, not try to drive a wedge in to stir up the radicals and make them develop more hatred. With all that’s going on in our nation these days, it’s hard to tell what it all means. Maybe my own fear of being labeled is causing me to feel uncomfortable at this portrayal, and I really wish I had the opportunity to see Nate Parker and find out if he really hates me because of my skin color, or if he’s actually a really nice person who would like to talk to me as well. I would hate to prejudge that, but going by what I see in this film, I don’t think he’d like me very much. Most all ‘isms suck, but racism is one of the worst. In summary, I’m glad I saw it, but I’m just not sure how to react to what I saw.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Endgame Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment, KrautPack Entertainment,

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Scott Eastwood, Logan Marshall-Green, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage

This biographical drama covers the life of Ed Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) for a period of about 10 years until he shocked the world by showing the world the scope of the data the U.S. Government was collecting on private citizens. It covers his love of his job with the CIA, and his relationship to his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) which was doomed from the start because he couldn’t divulge what he was up to without putting her in danger, and she knew very well something major was going on, but had no clue. With a lot of background on the time, and the technical data collection, and the life in the CIA, it’s a very technical look into the events and the motivation behind what happened. Whether you look at Snowden as the devil, or as an American Hero, this will give you the background of what really went on.

I was a bit disappointed in this movie, although I have been anxious to see what it had to say. I think I have figured out why I was disappointed as I struggled to figure out why. I do not think I have ever seen a movie made by Oliver Stone that I was not disappointed with. I don’t mean to say he’s not a good director, or that he is not an amazing talent, but I am saying that his movies never seem to work for me. There must be something on a personal level that make these movies never click for me, even though I have always been excited about the subject matter. It’s just one of those things I guess. So what did I find wrong with this film? Well, typically when you watch a movie about a historical event you are given enough background for even a layman to understand what it all means. From the housing bubble and the stock market crash which was explained to us in a way that I was able to understand, to even the crash and investigations covered in the movie Sully which dealt with complicated issues of whether or not the right choices were made or not, was fairly easy to follow. But I feel, after this one, that I couldn’t really follow the technical gobbledygook that was thrown out at us at a feverish pace. Yet great detail of Ed’s relationship to Lindsay was explained in great detail which doesn’t seem to really have much to do with the story or the motives of Ed Snowden. I found at times it was really slow and hard to stay interested in, and at other times the scope and magnitude of the data that was being gathered was overwhelming and went past me way too fast. I suppose I could get more out of it by watching it again, but I am not sure I want to put myself through the slow parts again. I think it’s a very interesting subject and one very worthwhile to learn about, but I’m afraid this movie is a missed opportunity to explain the story to us normal folks out there. I work in IT and I still found it hard to follow. It’s a shame.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Anthem Productions, Paul Schiff Productions,

Finn Wittrock, Aaron Eckhart, Robin Tunney, Sarah Bolger

Based on the book “Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story” by Jim Dent this biographic film of Freddie Steinmark follows the history of his life as one of the best high school football players who was recruited by Texas and played in the Game of the Century against Arkansas in 1970. The film is pretty accurate in portraying Freddie’s life story. Being only 5′ 9″ and well under 200 pounds everyone told him he was too little to play defense. But he had been trained by his father very well and was really full of grit and able to play way beyond the level he should have been able to play. An inspiration to the team, Freddie motivated the team to win the SW championship and to be rated Number 1 in his final year. Freddie hid an injury from everyone and played through the pain in the final game until finally he had to go see the doctor and was given a very serious diagnosis. This is a heartwarming, tearjerker of a story showing the enormous fight in this kid.

This film got lost in the shuffle around all the other releases when it came out in the theater in late 2015. Many people have overlooked this film, but it is a very good retelling of the true story, and unlike most docudramas, this one seems to be very accurate on most all points. The research was thorough and it seems they really got it right. Starring Aaron Eckhart as Coach Royal and Finn Wittrock as Freddie, the performances are very good. The characters really look like the real people as well and the actual scene is presented at the end of the film, and it’s real, not recreated. This is a touching story, similar to a lot of the true sports tales, but since it is a true story of an amazing life and how he touched so many people, I was truly impressed with it and though many critics didn’t like the way it was portrayed, I felt it was done properly, with loads of respect, and though a sad story, told in a remarkably upbeat and uplifting way. This is a great football film with lots of sports action that is recreated very close to the actual history, and I highly recommend this film as a good film for all ages.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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1492 Pictures, CJ Entertainment, Hyde Park International,

Adam Greaves-Neal, Sara Lazzaro, Vincent Walsh, Sean Bean, Jonathan Bailey, Agni Scott

Based on the novel by Anne Rice called “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” this is the story of Jesus (Adam Graves-Neal) as a young boy. As the young boy is learning who he is, the family heads out after their hiatus in Egypt. King Herod, from when the child was born, is now dead, and his sons have split the kingdom of Judea into North and South portions. The son who has the southern part was still terrified of the rumors of the Messiah who is foretold, and sends the Roman Severus (Sean Bean) out to find and kill the boy. But young Jesus is determined to figure out his role and many things he still doesn’t completely understand just yet.

This is a generic religious story, as the producers and directors did definitely try to stay true to what might have happened without offending all the different flavors of Christianity of the world, but because there is very, very little information in the Bible about the childhood of Jesus, the writers (and the author) have to take a LOT of liberties and ultimately don’t claim to be telling the true facts, but more a feel for what it might have been like. As such, it is a beautiful film. There aren’t any good films about the youth of Jesus, and it’s nice to think about what it would have been like to be born this special, but as a child, not understanding all of it. I’m sure it took time to learn the whole scope of his mission. The scenery in Italy where most of the film is recorded is beautiful and suits the feeling of Israel perfectly. They purposely chose unknown people to play the holy family so that we would not be distracted by familiar faces. This was an excellent move. This is not a pushy film, not proselyting in any way, and it feels like a biography, yet it is true to the religious beliefs and sensitive to them. It’s a very good balance. This is not “The Greatest Story of All Time” nor “The Ten Commandments”. With a small budget, but a lot of love and care, they crafted a really well made movie without the need to go all out. Less is more in this case, and this is a fine film. Hint: IF you have the DVD, it might be worthwhile to listen to the commentary track after you’ve watched the film. It’s very well done.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Paramount Pictures,

Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton, Nicholas Braun, Christopher Abbott, Sheila Vand, Stephen Peacocke, Evan Jonigkeit, Josh Charles

Based on the memoirs of Kim Baker (Tina Fey) this is the story of a news reporter who is embedded with the Marines in Afghanistan and the dangers and excitement of trying to get the scoop and bet out other reporters while being in harms way every moment. This is the true story of this reporters experiences over a number of years in the early years of the 2000’s.

I was caught off guard by this film. Knowing it’s Tina Fey, and looking at the posters in the theaters, and not knowing anything about the content in advance, I expected a comedy romp through the middle east. This is NOT a comedy by any means. Now I have lots of respect for Tina Fey, and I don’t think she did really bad in this serious role, but still it was a little off putting to have her play such a dramatic and dark role. I ended up having a hard time keeping my attention on this film and found my mind wandering away. The story is interesting enough, but other than a few short episodes, most of it was bad romance and lots of talking and talking. One highlight was Bill Bob Thorton who plays the commander of the team Kim is placed in. He did a really good job, though it wasn’t a big role, playing this guy as tough as nails with a kind streak a mile long. I enjoyed him any time he was on the screen. But for the most part, it dragged and was not really that interesting to me. I was not highly impressed with this movie, and I guess the public pretty much agreed with me as it really disappeared in a hurry and ended up on DVD pretty quickly. If you are really interested in the subject of a female reporter in Afghanistan, the you’ll probably do better reading the book, and if you’re not particularly interested in the subject, then there’s probably not enough substance here to make it worth watching this nearly 2 hour film.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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