12 STRONG (2018)

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A film by Nicolai Fuglsig

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña

The story of 12 men from the special forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11. They team up with an afghan war lord and under a new captain to taken down the Taliban .

Chris Hemsworth Capt. Mitch Nelson, never been in a war, but did his training is going to lead 12 men to Afgannistan . They  were the first American troops to set foot in Afghanistan after 9/11. Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) the most experience, Sam Diller (Michael Pena) the joker, plus a weapon expert Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes) and the rest of the gang. Nelson gets his orders from the Colonel Mulholland (William Fichtner) and Lt. Col. Bowers ( Rob Riggle). Their mission is to invade northern Afghanistan through Uzbekistan with the help of the Uzbek warlord General Dostum (Navid Negahban), who has his own reasons for taking on the Taliban. Dostum and his men, Nelson and his team must capture the Afghan city of Mazar-Sharif. well despite their training the American is going to ride horses in oder to get where they are going because of the rough terrain. 

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Director Fuglsig here has shown what war can be a dark place where a blood bath is going to take place. Here is 12 men who are on horses against tank and heavy artillery survived this ordeal. Amazing or pure luck. Everybody underestimate Nelson is the dynamic here and he had little experience in the field. Not only he made a promise he will come back to his wife but tells the colonel he can do it in 21 days before the snow comes otherwise they are going to be stuck there. Not the big film here but the purpose of it is entertaining and surprising that those 12 men has survived this ordeal on horses. The film here is design to make you feel good.

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L’ÉCHANGE DES PRINCESSES (2017)

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A film Marc Dugain

Cast: Lambert Wilson, Anamaria Vartolomei, Olivier Gourmet

English: Exchange of princesses 

Versailles, 1712. The Duke of Brittany has just died of measles, his brother Louis succeeds him and thus becomes Dauphin of France. It was then that Philippe d’Orléans, regent, suddenly had an idea to strengthen France’s position in Europe: to exchange her daughter, aged 12, by marrying her with the heir to the Spanish throne, with the young Spanish infant, aged 4, who would marry the future Louis XV …

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Arranged marriage just to preserved the peace. Princesses are thrown at the wolves like a piece  of meat. It is an adaptation from the book by Chantal Thomas, adapted by Marc Dugain in Exchange of princesses. As always, in this type of film mixing History and fiction, that the french knows how to make. If Olivier Gourmet is convincing in the role of the regent, Philippe d’Orléans, Lambert Wilson sometimes seems to overplay a little bit  his interpretation of Philip V of Spain. It was above all two actors in supporting roles that we appreciated. Kacey Mottet Klein as Don Luis. He is remarkable. The director here manages to make the book alive where the intrigues and power changes hand plus all the difficult and ridiculous situation that is going to follow. The thing is most the characters here are cold as hell the only character who is warm and kind comes from their governess (Catherine Mouchet). Image that you have to marry some one they tell you at age of 12. It is a messed up world back then and to top it all off to preserved the peace. Nice piece of cinema week filmed with some great landscape pictures.

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JACKIE (2016)

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A film by Pablo Larraín

Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and want to preserve her husband’s historic legacy in doer to do that the invites a journalist in her own term to tell her story.

What a beautiful performance by Natalie Portman who is married to a French guy and suppose to live in France soon that is beside the point. Noah Oppenheim’s brilliant screenplay fells claustrophobic  and it is centre on Jackie. Jackie has  invited a Life Magazine  journalist played by  ( Billy Crudup) in which Jackie is invited to give her own version of what happened on that fateful day in Dallas, Texas.

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Here Natalie Portman embodied Jackie essence so well that you forget that you are watching Portman you think you are watching Jackie who had the physical illusion of the elegant woman whose fashion statement, sense of style and grace. But Portman capture much more how she walk, talk, breath, her speech, her smile, to the grief-torn woman in total control of her public and private image, that revealed her vulnerability in private. Of course her priority is clear making a mark in history and leaving a legacy for people to remember. Plus her husband indiscretions where Larrain did not go there it kept it on Jackie the all time. We see Jackie going from room to room with new outfits popping pills, drinking wine, vodka, and smoking cigarette wondering in her mind what is she going to next. Peter Sarsgaard here shines as Bobby Kennedy I did not recognised him at first until he started talking. Plus Greta Gerwig who plays Jackie confident and John Hurt is the Irish Catholic priest with whom Jackie can let her guard down. The assassination scene here is perfect, short and beautifully shot. Even the music for building the tension was dead on. Even the decor and the costumes were out of their world I think Larrain nails it here. Here you have it a great film not to be missed.

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THE FOUNDER (2016)

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A film by John Lee Hancock

Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch

Here is an entertaining biography  of this ruthless business man who wanted to make McDonalds a household name and entrepreneurship at its most purest form.  Andthe founder is born.

Every business has a beginning, a blue print where satisfaction is meet. Ray Kroc is a man with a vision not an original idea, a vision from an original idea. Kroc’s claim to fame was taking a popular local hamburger restaurant  and turn it into a franchise with a symbol of American excellence: fast, efficient, one of a kind. Well we are talking about McDonalds. So how did it start?

It is a fascinating story here about it all came together. Personally I am not crazy about McDonalds back in the day it was good at some point but I come from where my culture is fine dining great food that taste good , now days some McDonalds are not clean enough and the food is no longer quality even their fries, like I said back in the day it was good. McDonald’s creator brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald You will se how they started with this ingenious idea to deliver food fast and efficiently. In the end shit happens and friction between the owners and ray is going to start and it is not going to be pretty. Great performance by Michael Keaton who incarnated Ray beautifully well and it is a joy to see him having a good time doing it. Potential and opportunity are the things that drove Ray to success plus other thing and no spoiler here. Laura Dean here shine as Ray’s wife. My thing here if you have an idea you better act on it have the vision of seeing big and take care of it yourself or someone will. To me here the film stand out and is very entertaining and fun to watch how it was back in the day the decor the first McDonalds and of course the cars. And by the way you can make a better burger at home. I do.

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HACKSAW RIDGE (2016)

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A film by Mel Gibson

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn

Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge is a hard-hitting drama about faith, conviction and conflict. And why is that surprise me. It seems to me that Mel has this passion for religion and faith. After a while he was trying to get rid of his demons I won’t go in the details. It has been 10 years since Gibson directed Apocalypto (2006) and this Australian co-production (shot in Australia) is a  reminder of his strong vision and directing skills.The heart of the film is about morality.

It is the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a WWII Army Medic who refuses to carry a gun because killing is against his beliefs; he wants to save lives, not take them. Strongly influence by his dramatic childhood when his self loathing drunk father (Hugo Weaving) would beat up on his mother (Rachel Griffith) and became obvious that killing for the worst sin on earth. First his mother and father is trying to protect him not to enlist for the war obviously he did not work for his brother who enlisted and soon after Desmond who falls in love with a nurse enlist as well against his mother and father wishes.

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What better way to make a film from a director who is religious himself who also questioned his own religion plus Gibson has this great vision for the film and that makes it a different kind of war film. The beginning of the film is charming and you see how it was when a man court a woman with the romance that is going to follow. Soon after that the battle starts on the battlefield where bodies are piling up shooting and merciless Japanese getting to be killing machines.Vince Vaughn is awesome  as the bullying drill sergeant and  Sam Worthington is perfect as the battalion leader. The action is merciless, bloody, violent when to think a soldier without a gun went as a medic to save 75 wounded soldiers in extreme condition well my hat goes to him to top it all off he is the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Look out for footage of the real Desmond Doss at the end of the film.

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FREE STATE OF JONES (2016)

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A film by Gary Ross

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali

American Civil War, defiant  Southern farmer, Newt Knight (Matthew McConaughey), becomes a deserter and ends up leading a small but effective armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other farmers and local slaves, Knight launches an uprising that leads Jones County, Mississippi, creating a Free State of Jones,a southern region that opposed and/or threatened to secede from the Confederacy.

Here is a different kind of civil war movie the one that is not in the history book that I know of. It tells the true story of a rogue farmer rebelling against the Confederacy. This man recruits fellow army deserters and runaway slaves in his fight against military confiscation of land and supplies. You see the state is supposed to take 10% but the state instead takes it all leaving the farmers to starve in the winter. Along the way, Newt breaks down barriers between soldier and civilian, white and black, free and enslaved. The film explain notes on the screen as it progresses through time. The performances are not too surprising here you know that McConaughey is going to be incarnated the personage perfectly well. As for Gugu Mbatha-Raw is terrific here as the slave who becomes the mother of Knight’s second son, the young man who is the bridge to the story’s extraordinary continuation some 85 years later.It is missing something in this story they are so much to tell that Ross I think was obligated to cut a lot of it. But it is still good. Mahershala Ali is memorable as the black slave Moses, who is one of the first freedmen when Abraham Lincoln freed  the slaves.

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ELVIS AND NIXON (2016)

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A  film by Liza Johnson

Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer

Say what Elvis has met the president Nixon? No way ! Way back in the 70’s elvis wanted to meet the president Nixon because he had some concern about the country and what direction is it taking plus the young people issues about drugs. So he decided to write to the president about it to see if he can see him to talk about those issues and more.

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This is the untold story of Elvis meeting Nixon. No transcript exists on these events, just a photograph that now has become the most requested photo from the US National Archives. one thing I did not know about Elvis is that he had  a deputy’s badge from Memphis. It also turns out that he went to meet Nixon so that he could become a Federal Agent At Large in order to influence the American youth to get them off drug. With a stroke of luck Elvis is in the house. It had to be funny to the politicians that Elvis wanted to meet Nixon. It is this crazy true story inspired by the book “Me and a guy named Elvis” Jerry Schilling,  who went on a trip , so someday he can tell us the story about  Elvis and Nixon. Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey deserves each other in this off beat comedy both of them has done a terrific impressions of their characters. Could you imagine this happening in a million years, well it did and what a beautiful film it is.

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