Hamilton – Musings on F#*!

For those living under a rock (and probably in a better position than the rest of us), Disney+ is releasing Hamilton with the original Broadway cast on July 3. Some controversy erupted this week when they announced that Hamilton will have a PG-13 rating, since R-rated movies are not allowed on the service (you heathens have to go to Hulu for that). This caused much frothing of the mouth in the Twitterverse since Hamilton violates the PG-13 F-bomb Rule™.

If you’ve never read any of my movie reviews, know that I believe the F-bomb Rule™ is the greatest decree the MPAA has ever made. It states that a PG-13 movie can have no more than one F-bomb. I like to imagine Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October saying, “Mr Visilli, just one fuck only, please.”

This rule is great because it prevents lazy jokes. Too often, humor relies on shock factor instead of, you know, jokes, With only one round in the chamber, directors have to make it count. It helps watching movies with this knowledge in hand since you can judge their efforts for yourself. I tend to look like this when that bomb hits.

Back to Hamilton.

Folks were worried about censorship and “director vision” and all that. Lin- Manuel Miranda put it all to rest with this explanation.

So, there ya have it. Caving to the Mouse? Or much ado about nothing?

Just Mercy – Review

A recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour showed that children develop a sense of justice at age 6. Let me do the math real quick… and yes I think it’s fair to say that for the vast majority of our lives, we would have no trouble picking justice out of a lineup. And yet, we have the prophets of the Old Testament telling us to “seek justice” as if it were an oasis in the desert. How can we all know a thing for so long and have it be so rare?

Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian. A death row inmate falsely imprisoned in Alabama. His story is so outlandish, so heartbreaking, and so devoid of justice, logic, or reason that if it were a Grisham novel, Twitter conspiracists would be convinced Dan Brown wrote it.

And yet it’s true.

Just Mercy serves as a companion story to 13th. It paints a world run by people who have forgotten what they learned when they were 6. It’s a Hollywood story, so the villains outnumber the heroes. But when I look at our world today (not that far removed from this story) I see the odds stacked against those fighting for what’s right. Too many are silent. Too few are actively seeking justice. The reality from Just Mercy is the reality for so many and has been for decades. I just never saw it. I hope I finally am.

Grade: A

13th – Review

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently wrote, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”

Our world is hurting from the injustices that have gone unchecked and the silence from too many. I am yearning for understanding, and for me, I default to books and movies. I think it was Ice Cube on Twitter that said, “if you want to understand, watch 13th, When They See Us, or Selma instead of The Help. Ignore the Disney shit.” I figured Mr. “Fuck the Police” has a pretty good idea of what’s going on right now, so I sat back and paid attention.

The 13th Amendment of the Constitution states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 13th, the Netflix documentary explores the history of that loophole in the middle that has kept a form of slavery alive and well through our justice system. After slavery was abolished, we had Jim Crow laws, then the Civil Rights era of the 50s and 60s, to the mass incarceration of the 80s, and the 1994 Crime Bill that lead us to today.

It’s almost embarrassing to state how much information was new to me. So much history that I wasn’t taught or thought to research on my own until now. There is still lots to learn, but even this small amount is convicting. There are signs of hope out there that things are changing for the better. With more listening and learning, I believe we can get there. Justice has waited too long.

Grade: A

Brother Bear – Review

Mid-movie aspect ratio changes are one of the few things that are better in the theaters. You may have seen a movie where, at some point, the curtains along the sides draw back to suddenly create a wider screen. Galaxy Quest is the most memorable for me. It starts at 4:3 like the old Star Trek episodes on your home tv. When the scenes shift to live action, it changes to 16:9, or normal widescreen. Then, when the docking bay doors slide open to view the larger universe, the sides (curtains) keep going until you get 2.39:1, or true Cinescope. In a theater, the effect is truly special.

Replicating that experience on your home TV essentially involves shrinking the black bars around the video. It’s not perfect, but I still find the effect to be a powerful storytelling gimmick.

Brother Bear (our Friday Family Movie Night pick) not only changes aspect ratio, but also swaps color palettes. Our hero is a young Inuit hunting a bear, when suddenly the spirits turn him into one. At that point, the screen is wider and the colors are brighter, pointing to a deeper lessons around man being the monster. Basically, it’s Disney doing Nietzsche.

The story is good, but the real reason to watch Brother Bear is for the two moose, played by Bob & Doug McKenzie. Not Dave Thomas & Rick Moranis. The moose are Bob & Doug. The end could have been these guys waking up with a massive hangover talking about their crazy dream as a moose and it would have been a perfect sequel to Strange Brew.

Grade: B

Train to Busan – Review

When I was younger, my friends with kids would share stories about how they could not watch movies where children were in peril. I never really understood, but went along with it like I was ordering for someone with fake food allergies.

Fast forward a lifetime and I sit down to watch Train to Busan while my own toddler is sleeping for the night. Suddenly, every conversation I had all those years ago makes perfect sense.

Train to Busan is a zombie movie out of South Korea. Think the fast zombies from 28 Days Later vs Romero’s slow movers. A father and daughter are headed by train to Busan to visit the girl’s mother. You can guess how a train ride through the Korean countryside goes during the zombie apocalypse.

Train to Busan is hailed as one of the greatest zombie movies of all time. The father/daughter relationship is well crafted and the performances are perfect, even when subtitled. There’s plenty of action, but it’s one of the rare zombie movies that focuses on the emotions of what is taking place. Heart instead of braaaiiiinss.

Definitely give this a watch, and then hug your kids afterwards.

Grade: A