Benz Eye View: Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures

Pros:

1.) The three main leads are just awesome.  Katherine Johnson is an incredibly intelligent woman who wants to help NASA in their space program.  Dorothy Vaughan wants to help lead as a supervisor, but cannot due to segregation.  Mary Jackson is a sassy engineer who wants to work her way to the top.  All three are a joy to watch, and have great chemistry with each other.

2.) Since this takes place during 1961, you can expect the film shows racism via segregation.  While this is very tiring at this point, it is well done, and how the leads deal with it is great.  Instead of being violent towards it, they do their jobs for NASA while respecting their bosses despite segregation in the work place, and it pays off.

3.) They sure know how to make mathematics and NASA fun while showing that it is no cakewalk.  Unless there is someone in NASA or in mathematics who can point out that what they are doing in the film is wrong, they manage to make the calculations interesting to the point where it is kind of fun.  Hopefully, this film will inspire some people to go to that field.

 

Cons: 

1.) I really like all three of the main leads, and I understand that the film spends more time with Katherine than Dorothy and Mary since she is the main character.  As a result, Dorothy and Mary’s plots are somewhat glossed over.  I still recall what Dorothy’s plot is, but Mary’s plot is so basic, it might as well be removed from the film.  Mary is my favorite character in the film, and it kind of ticks me off that she is placed in a forgettable plot.

2.) The film introduces a few minor characters and spends time with them for a few minutes, and they are barely seen again.  One of them are really liked was a Polish Jew named Karl Zielinski who welcomes Mary despite being black, and he is not really seen again until the third act.  I like to know them, but the film mainly concentrates on the three leads.  That is fine, but I wished I get to know some of the other characters as well.

3.) There are a couple of subplots that are not really necessary.  One subplot that stands out is that Mary’s husband has implied that he may want to do something to stop the racism via violence, but nothing really happens.  Do not bring these up if you are not going to do something about it.

 

Overall: 

Well, the Academy Awards have officially released their nominations, and I might as well catch up on the nominated Best Picture films that I have not seen yet.  I will start with this film: Hidden Figures.  Does the story of three black women working for NASA in the space program deserve to be nominated for Best Picture?  Yes.  If it is going to win is another question entirely, but it at least deserves it.  It is a great tribute to NASA, the three women who worked there despite segregation, and the hard work that eventually lead to the man walking on the moon.  It shows that it is best to work together in order to achieve your goals, and eventually creating new goals to outdo your previous ones.  It is inspirational, funny, and enjoyable to watch.

9/10

A small announcement, I decided to no longer make my Academy Award Choices since I found it to be pointless.  I will try making a Top Ten Best and Worst Films of 2016, but no promises.

Benz Eye View: The Founder

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The Founder

Pros: 

1.) I found the characters to be quite charming largely thanks to the strong acting.  They are believable, lively, and energizing (especially Ray Kroc).

2.) This small moment is so good that I might as well mention it.  In the first act, the McDonald Brothers talk about how they created McDonald’s.  It is so well-explained and edited that it should be its own film.  However, considering what happens in this film, it probably be somewhat pointless…and depressing.

3.) I see this film as a good cautionary true story.  It shows that being persistent is good and it can lead to good things, but it can also lead to greed and desperation if not checked.  It can effect how you treat people around you, and the damages will hurt them more than it hurts you.

 

Cons: 

1.) Considering that this is based on a true story, I feel like they were obligated to put in some characters and moments in the film despite them being unnecessary.  One good example is Ray Kroc’s wife: she barely does anything in the film other than support him, and disappears by the end of the second act.

2.) There are a few editing errors that pass by pretty quickly, but I have a keen eye on this.  A pretty good example is early in the film when one shot is just a normal wide shot, cuts to an over-the-shoulder shot, and then cuts back to the wide shot that is obviously a mirror shot.

3.) Halfway into the film, you are likely going to hate the main character, Ray Kroc.  Not going to spoil what he does, but let’s say that if you want him as a business partner, you may want to go with someone else you trust instead despite having great charisma.

 

Overall: 

When it comes to films based on true stories, I keep a close eye on those films for two reasons: if it is well-made and if it is accurate to the actual events.  If one works yet the other does not, it will affect on what I think of the film.  While there are times where cannot really tell if the events are true or not (like this film), I am willing to make exceptions if it is well-constructed.  Long story short, I like it.  I appreciate that the film says it is fine to be persistent on what you want, but warns that the same persistence can also lead to greed; ultimately hurting others in the process, and changing you into something that you may never realize.  It is worth watching with the characters, and learning the history of McDonald’s.

8/10

Benz Eye View: Patriots Day

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Patriots Day

Pros: 

1.) There is a great build-up to the inciting incident, or the Boston Marathon Bombing in this case.  You get to know the people involved in the Boston Marathon (even the bombers themselves), and it all leads to the Marathon itself.  If you know what happened in those moments, you know what to expect yet the film does a great job making the moment tense and nerve-wrecking.

2.) The investigation of the bombing is logical and human.  The F.B.I. wants to catch the bombers, but they do not want to screw it up considering that one wrong report can make them, and the falsely-accused look back.  The police (particularly Mark Wahlberg’s character) have an emotional connection to Boston, are horrified on what just happened, and they want to catch the bombers.  They work together to stop the two responsible, and shows great unity in times of crisis.

3.) Despite very little of it, the action is realistic and tense.  For one thing, the cinematography makes it look like a news camera crew is witnessing the action.  Mainly, it is loud, destructive, and brutal; just the way I like how this action to be filmed.

 

Cons: 

1.) This is pretty minor, but they introduce many people via text.  Pretty lazy, but it is the one way to introduce the real people involved in the Boston Marathon Bombing, because there are few characters that are completely fictional in the film.  Hint: Mark Wahlberg’s character.

2.) There are some characters who were shown in the first act, and have little appearance.  A couple of them have good reason to have little appearance, but others do not since the film shows them in the first act, and disappears until near the end of the third act…

3.) …The only reason I see for the small character roles is a little speech near the end of how love will triumph over evil, and they use them as examples.  It is a nice speech, but does not really fit since the entire film is about a manhunt towards the two terrorists.  I can see the speech hitting hard if this film spends time with the victims of the bombing, but it spends more time with the investigation with the F.B.I., the police, and the bombers.

 

Overall: 

On April 15, 2013, there were two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon; killing three people.  It is one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the USA.  When I heard of a film about the event, I was intrigued to see their perspective, especially since this is directed by Peter Berg (who also directed Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon).  He captured the horrors of the bombing, the fear of the bombers in the city, the desperation of the bombers’ escape, and the determination of the police and the F.B.I. trying to capture them.  The bravery of these men stopping these terrorists will not be forgotten, especially with this well-made film.  If you want to see these courageous men and women go against one of the biggest terrorist attacks of our time, Peter Berg introduces you to Patriots Day.

8/10

“
May the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing rest in peace.  

Benz Eye View: Railroad Tigers

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Railroad Tigers

Pros: 

1.) It is really good to see Jackie Chan again, and it is nice to see that he still got his acting talent.  He still shows great charisma in his acting, and has great chemistry with his actors and fighting staff…

2.) …Speaking of fighting, the action scenes are great.  There are a few choices of action that bother me (i.e. slow-motion is not necessary), but these fight scenes show that Jackie Chan can still pull off action scenes that we can see (most of the time), and stunts that show off their hand-to-hand combat and movements (especially on the third act).

3.) Adding to the fights and stunts is the comedy.  Not only are there funny moments, but it also implemented in the fight scenes.  Jackie Chan knows how to be funny even when he is fighting.  If you do not know how he does it, this video should help:

 

Cons: 

1.) The cutting from shot to shot can get really annoying in the first two acts.  There are so many moments where there is a shot that lasts for a second, and then the next shot lasts for another second.  Sometimes, the movie cuts to establishing shots so many times, it becomes tedious.  The audience gets where the scene takes place, so stop showing the establishing shot five times in the past ten seconds.

2.) You know what is a smart way for a filmmaker to familiarize characters?  Introduce them with them taking action that matches their character?  No.  This movie’s idea: cue card introductions that show their names, a few-word descriptions, and a tagline for some characters.  Yep…that lazy technique.

3.) It is actually kind of hard to follow the movie in the first act.  I get that it takes place in China during World War II, but the plot and character motivations is difficult to understand when the movie begins.  Largely thanks to the bad editing in the first act, it is confusing to understand (especially when the short cuts is accompanied with quick subtitled lines).  In addition, there are moments when the tone can be off.  It is mostly played for laughs at one point, but suddenly becomes serious later.

 

Overall: 

I am a big fan of Jackie Chan ever since I was little, but it has been a long time since I have seen a Jackie Chan movie.  Fortunately, this movie called Railroad Tigers was just released this week in the USA, and it seems that very few people know of its existence (considering the people watching in the theater I was in).  If you love Jackie Chan and his use of martial arts for action comedy, then go watch this movie.  The movie reminds me so much of his old work, and it is so much fun despite some glaring flaws.  I wish to see more of him in the future (hopefully, he comes back to America with competent filmmakers like his Hong Kong staff), and I look forward to see Jackie Chan to kick some butt while receiving pain in hilarious fashion.

7/10

Benz Eye View: Fences

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Fences

Pros: 

1.) The acting is done well enough to make these characters have natural chemistry.  The actors do so well that you can buy that they are friends and family.  All these actors have great chemistry, and they play well with each other.

2.) Troy’s conflict of taking care of his family affects them.  It is gripping (to some extent) to see how harsh Troy can be to keep his family together despite how much they may not like him at the time.  He may have the best intentions, but his methods are a bit brutal.

 

Cons: 

1.) This is a talking movie, so you will see little action happening.  Many things that the characters are discussing (particularly their past events) are not shown on-screen.  If you like the “show, don’t tell” rule of filmmaking, then you are likely going to hate this film.

2.) This is a well-shot film, but there are few continuity issues.  There are moments where the sun shines bright in one shot, but it is slightly dark in the next.  It may not bother many people, but for those who have a good eye on detail, this may trouble them.

 

Overall:

Based on the 1983 play of the same name, Fences is the third film starring and directed by Denzel Washington.  I really like the guy, so I thought I should check out this film.  After watching it, I say that this film is not for everyone, especially for people who do not like films that involve much dialogue and little action.  Probably meant for the hardcore film people, but I am certain that average audiences can go through with it as well if they are patient enough.  It does have a compelling conflict about what to keep in or out emotionally, and how it may have consequences.  If that interests you (despite the amount of talking and lack of action), then I encourage you to watch this film.

8/10

Have a Happy New Year, everybody!