A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: My Review

I saw “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” the other day.  I enjoyed it and I think you will as well.  It’s not exactly what I was expecting but the surprise added to the success of the movie.  I was expecting the movie to simply be a biography of Fred Rogers but that wasn’t quite the case.  The movie didn’t even revolve around Mr. Rogers.

This film is a testament to how great of a show “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” really was.  I learned that the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, PA and Fred Rogers was a long time married man with two sons.  None of this ever crossed my mind.  The production of the show and Mr. Roger’s personal life was not something I ever questioned even as an adult.  I bought into what the show was selling and I accepted that Mr. Rogers was a bachelor that lived a quiet life in the Land of Make Believe.  It wasn’t weird to me at all.

I also learned that the mission of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” was to teach children how to process emotions.  I watched the show as a child and I never realized I was being taught anything.  I just watched adults talk to puppets while a train milled around and enjoyed it.  How brilliant!  I guess you have to sneak up on children like that.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” also revealed that Fred Rogers was real sweetheart.  He was a baby doll that would melt the coldest of hearts if you got too close to him.  Fred Rogers was brave because it takes bravery to extend yourself to a person in love and that’s what he did face to face and through his TV show.

Another great thing about the movie is that it is 109 minutes long.  Over the last twenty years or so it seems that all movies have become very long.  It’s to the point that a film needs to be very special to make me want to invest the time.  But this delightful film didn’t waste time and I appreciate that.

I didn’t love this movie as much as some people.  It’s not even my favorite Tom Hanks work.  That distinction still belongs to “Bosom Buddies”.  But it is a respectable, light hearted film about a very nice person.  This movie is optimistic as opposed to the cynicism that we’ve all grown use to.  If you get a chance take the time to watch it.

“Joker”: My Review

I saw “Joker” over the weekend.  I enjoyed it and I would think you might too if you’ve enjoyed movies in the “Batman” series.  I’ve seen all of the “Batman” movies in the theater shortly after their release since the first “Batman” film came out in 1989.  The first film starred Jack Nicholson as the Joker back when these films weren’t so dark.

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“Joker” was good, not great.  “The Dark Knight” is still my favorite installment of the series.  My favorite thing about “Joker” is the aesthetic of the movie.  It seemed to take place in the 70s or 80s and I love 70s and 80s fashions, interior design and cars.  I also love big cities.  I like it when they when they are gritty.  There is something beautiful to me about urban decay.  It gives a town character.  I know it’s weird but I credit this to my life which has mostly been spent in Midwestern, industrial towns.  There is something very familiar and comforting about Gotham City to me.

Joaquin Phoenix did a great job portraying the Joker.  I think he was the perfect person to portray the role.  He made the Joker, sympathetic, awkward, charming, weird, delusional and psychotic.  He tied the facets of the man together well for the role.

We’ve come a long way since the first “Batman” was released thirty years ago.  I’m not saying we’ve gotten better but we’ve definitely come a long way from the starting point.  I remember Jack Nicholson’s Joker being cheeky and comical.  I don’t know if I remember the Joker killing anyone in 1989.

Well, today’s rendition of the Joker has some bloody scenes.  It’s a very dark movie.  You may want to skip seeing the film all together if you are a sensitive person.  This is definitely not a film for children.  I was fourteen in 1989 and if I had a fourteen year old today I would not want them to see “Joker”.

Before “Joker” was released there were complaints that the film shouldn’t be played in areas like Aurora, CO and other cities due to the shooting that happen in America every other month or so.  The naysayers have a point.  That’s all I’ll say for now because I don’t want to spoil the story.  “Joker” is current in many of its underlying themes.

Overall, I would recommend the movie.  Joaquin Phoenix is great and I bet he’ll get another Oscar nomination.  The movie has a beautiful retro look while addressing trending topics.  I always enjoy the grit of Gotham City.  It’s gory in parts though so skip it altogether if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing or be prepared to see extreme violence.

Review: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Over the weekend I watched the 2017 release Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.  It’s a very good film and Frances McDormand does great work in it.  The only other movie I’ve seen Frances McDormand in is Fargo.  The two films have a lot in common.

Both films are centered around a mysterious crime in a small town which is McDormand’s sweet spot from what I can tell.  In Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.  Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a single mother of two teenagers.  Her daughter Angela becomes a victim of a rape and murder during a night out.  The local police force doesn’t make any progress in finding the girl’s rapist and murderer.  Months go by with no leads and no contact from the police department.

Mildred decides to buy billboard space on the edge of town.  The three billboards have a bold and confrontational message.  The ask the town police chief played by Woody Harrelson in bold block letters why no arrests have been made in her daughter’s case.

ThreeBillboards

The billboards quickly become controversial because they challenge the town’s sense of righteousness.  The Ebbing police department had been accused of race based police brutality but the billboards which spotlight lackadaisical police work in the murder of a local White girl angered the townsfolk.  I’m sure they like to think of themselves as God fearing, salt of the Earth kind of people.

Mildred becomes the town pariah but I don’t think it mattered much to her.  She doesn’t seem to socialize much and she doesn’t scare easily.  Through a peculiar chain of events the police department is inspired to put more energy into solving the mystery of Angela’s death.

Frances McDormand plays a resilient and stoic woman that pushes back when she is pushed, or ignored.  I was moved to tears watching this imperfect mother fight for her daughter’s honor.  Angela was a bad girl which may be the reason that the town didn’t rally around her mother.  Mildred is a bad girl too and she couldn’t rest while the world went moved on without anyone being brought to justice for killing her daughter.

This is definitely a good movie and worth your time.  It is dark without being too vulgar and there are several interesting plot twists.  The movie pulled at my heart strings.  If you haven’t seen Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri add it to your to see list.