Dr Ed's Movie Reviews

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“Scoop” (+) is an interesting movie about how the BBC coaxed Prince Andrew to agree to appear in an infamous 2019 interview on the television network’s Newsnight to talk about his sordid friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. According to the movie, Andrew also has a strange fascination for stuffed toys. In 2022, Queen Elizabeth (“Mummy”) stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles and patronages. Incidentally, it’s very odd that Epstein managed to hang himself in jail even though he was under watch. Also odd is that none of Epstein’s other celebrity pals have been implicated in participating in his criminal activities.

2024

“American Fiction” (+++) is one of the movies nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. It should win, beating the other nominees, including “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” That’s not my prediction; it’s my opinion. It’s a movie starring Jeffrey Wright playing Monk, a frustrated African American novelist who uses a pen name to write the autobiography of a fictitious black fugitive hiding from the FBI. The book becomes an instant hit, much to the consternation of Monk, who wrote the novel as a goof on similar books pandering to stereotypes promoted by the culture warriors who practice identity politics. In their world, all of us are first and foremost members of an identity group based on nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and social class. Individual identities are not relevant. As a result, they violate the age-old adage “Never judge a book by its cover.”

“Bob Marley: One Love” (++) is an interesting biopic about the life and music of Bob Marley. Kingsley Ben-Adir plays the lead role and does a great job of portraying the reggae star. The film itself is a rather predictable version of the genre, depicting the rise of a great talent from obscurity, poverty, and adversity to fame, fortune, and adversity. Nevertheless, it is entertaining, especially the music.

“Boys in the Boat “ (++) is based on a 2013 nonfiction novel about the quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by nine members of the JV crew team at the University of Washington in Seattle. They were the underdogs competing against the best teams from the Ivy League and then from around the world at the Olympics. The film is a classic come-from-behind tale. It’s predictable, though the races are exciting. The romantic subplot is also predictable but a refreshing throwback to sock hops and gender-segregated dorms.

“Feud: Capote vs the Swans” (+++) is an eight-episode limited series based on the bestselling book “Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era” by Laurence Leamer. It’s all about high society in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s. Truman Capote, the famous American novelist, was attracted to the ladies who dominated that society. They were attracted to him for his wit and wisdom, and he became their confidante. He destroyed his relationship with his “swans” when he published an article about them in Esquire that was a thinly veiled fictionalization of their lives and exposed their most intimate secrets. The script and the performances of all the actors are really exceptional.

“Griselda” (+++) is an intense docudrama series on Netflix. Sofia Vergara provides an amazing performance as Griselda Blanco. She is a single mom struggling to raise her three children after she murdered her husband. She escaped from Colombia with her three boys to Miami, where she became the main distributor of cocaine in that city during the 1970s and 1980s. She was ruthless. Pablo Escobar said, “The only man I was ever afraid of was a woman named ‘Griselda Blanco.’”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” (+) is another very long movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It would have been better if it were shorter. The movie is based on a series of murders of Osage Indians in Oklahoma during the 1920s after their tribe discovered oil on their land. Leading the bad guys are characters played by Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. Neither performance was exceptional.

2023

“Archie” (++) is a British television drama series about actor Cary Grant. He was born into poverty in Bristol in 1904 as Archibald Leach before becoming a star in Hollywood with the new stage name. He was very successful as an actor, playing lead roles in several hit movies. However, his personal life was a mess, as evidenced by his five marriages and four divorces. He suffered greatly from the emotional pain of his childhood. He recognized that he was trapped in the past but couldn’t escape it. However, near the end of his life, he had a baby girl with his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon; it was then that he finally found peace and great satisfaction in the role of good dad.

“Maestro” (++) is another movie about high-powered men who are very successful in their careers but very challenged in their personal relationships. I previously reviewed “Archie,” which is about actor Cary Grant. “Maestro” is about conductor Leonard Bernstein, played to perfection by Bradley Cooper. The movie is as much about his long-suffering wife, Felicia, played to perfection by Carey Mulligan. Both men had abusive fathers. In recent years, many of our recent presidents also had troubled relationships with their fathers and took it out on the rest of us. We are thinking about JFK, LBJ, RMN, WJC, GWB, and DJT. Not much is known about JRB’s relationship with his father. Congressional Republicans are investigating his remarkably close relationship with his son Hunter.

“NYAD” (+) is a Netflix biopic about 64-year-old marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who became the first person ever to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. After several tries during her career, she finally succeeds in 2013, completing the 110-mile swim in 53 hours. The only problem is that her feat wasn’t independently verified. So her controversial achievement was not ratified by the World Open Water Swimming Association or the Guinness World Book of Records. The movie stars Annette Bening as the eponymous American swimmer, while Jodie Foster plays her coach.

“Reptile” (+) stars Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez in this crime drama, which is almost as long as his name. The plot is interesting but is a bit too slow paced. Then again, Del Toro is always fun to watch. His understated intensity is ever-present in the roles he plays. This movie is about a murder, real estate agents, drugs, and cops. Alicia Silverstone and Justin Timberlake have parts, but they don’t add much to the movie.

“The Holdovers” (+) is about a curmudgeonly instructor of ancient history at a New England all-boys prep school. Much to his chagrin, he is picked by the school’s headmaster to watch over a few of the students who have nowhere to go during the Christmas break. The teacher, played to perfection by Paul Giamatti, and one of the students get to know and understand one another and themselves better. The message is that some people aren’t as bad as they seem once you are forced to spend some time with them.