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Thumbnails Mar 17

by Tony Medley

13 Minutes (8/10): This is near the top of the list of films I wish everyone could see this year. It’s tells the virtually unknown story of George Elser (Christian Friedel) who came within 13 minutes of assassinating Hitler in 1939. This movie truly captures the awfulness it must have been to live under the Nazis in the 1930s. But it also tells how an ordinary man of no particular background or training can perform heroically. In German. Opens March 17.

Gold (8/10): When a film starts with the statement that the film is “inspired by true events” I normally take what I then view with a grain of salt. However the fictionalization of what actually happened is so well done that it is not only appropriate, but necessary to make this story cinematic and as compelling as it is. It’s highlighted by an over-the-top performance by Oscar®-winner Matthew McConaughey, equally good performances by Edgar Ramirez and Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron’s daughter), and exceptional cinematography of the jungle.

Live by Night (7/10): I’m a sucker for good period pieces and with some exceptions this is a good one. The big exception is the weak acting performance by director Ben Affleck who displays his starkly limited range in a role that demands a lot more. Ben should stick to directing, where he excels.

The Founder (5/10): Just as Shakespeare’s “Richard III” was a Tudor hit job on the last King from the House of York, this is a hit job on Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald’s into what it is. Most of the info in the film came from the McDonald brothers’ grandson, Jason French, and the story is told from their POV, so what’s in the film defaming Kroc should be taken with a grain of salt. As bad, Michael Keaton’s performance is not up to his generally high standard.

The Space Between Us (5/10): One expects plotholes and impossible occurrences in sci-fi films. But the silliness of many of the scenes is what keeps this movie from being as entertaining as it could have been.

A Cure for Wellness (2/10): Lowlighted by cartoonish-looking characters at the outset that almost look as if they are animation, and a story that makes no logical sense whatsoever, this horror film that lasts for 2-1/2 hours, is 2-1/2 hours too long.

John Wick Chapter 2 (0/10): One of the most deplorable, shamefully violent films I’ve seen, this consists of little more than Keanu Reeves graphically shooting as many people as possible in the head, basically the same scene over and over and over. In an August 23, 2013 New York Times Op Ed piece, forensic psychiatrists Vasilis K. Pozios, Praveen R. Kambam, and H. Eric Bender wrote,

“There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior — a link found by many scholars to be on par with the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke and the risk of lung cancer. In a meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990, the psychologists George Comstock and Haejung Paik found that the short-term effect of exposure to media violence on actual physical violence against a person was moderate to large in strength.”

It’s disgraceful that Hollywood keeps foisting movies like this that glorify viciousness and desensitize people to bestial brutality. But I guess I'm whistling Dixie when I hope for integrity in Hollywood.

Recommended reading: Two good mysteries: “The Girl Before” by J D Delaney & “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena