Hacksaw Ridge – A Mobi-Film Review – 25th February 2017

You will be “shocked and awed” and come out feeling a little better than when you went in.

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I’ll get this review in just ahead of the Oscar awards, as it deserves my support – not that it will make one iota of difference. Of all the films I have seen recently which are nominated for best picture, in my humble opinion, only “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Manchester by the Sea” are worthy contenders.

“Hell or High Water” is a good movie but not deserving of Best Picture. “Arrival” starts OK-ish but deteriorates into rubbish. La La Land is rubbish throughout. I gave up on “Fences”, for while it is a worthy subject and brilliantly acted, it’s a stage play – not a movie. “Moonlight” is good but is not the finished article, and I haven’t seen “Lion” or “Hidden Figures”, so I can’t comment.

Back to “Hacksaw Ridge”, which is beautifully directed by Mel Gibson. Gibson has been through purgatory, quite rightly, for his rabid anti-Semitic comments and other sociopathic meltdowns. But the academy has judged him on his artistic achievements and put his misdeeds to one side – which is how it should be.

I wonder if they would have been quite so understanding if Mr. Gibson had declared himself a Trump supporter?  In the eyes of Hollywood, you can be a racist, and a wife abuser, but not a Republican.

I digress.

I doubt that Hacksaw Ridge is the war movie most of us expected to see when we sit down to watch it. As a genre, I am not keen on war movies, although there have been some pretty good ones, such as “Platoon”, “Saving private Ryan” and “Good Morning Vietnam.”

To these, I would definitely add Hacksaw Ridge. It is the true story of Desmond Doss, a deeply religious man who decides to enlist in WW2 because he wants to be a medic and save lives.

We first meet the adult Desmond at his home in Virginia where he saves the life of a man in a road accident which leads him to meet his future wife at the local hospital.

After signing up, his troubles start when he has to go through basic training and he refuses to carry a gun. He is court-martialed and is at the point of being sentenced to years in a military jail when he is granted a last minute reprieve and is allowed to continue his training and go to the war front – without a gun.

The action switches to Hacksaw Ridge, the taking of which will presage the collapse of Okinawa and the ending of the war against the Japanese.

At first derided by his fellow soldiers due to his refusal to bear arms, Desmond is thrust into the front lines of a murderous battle, where many of his comrades are killed or mortally wounded.

The US army is obliged to retreat from the ridge, leaving their wounded behind for the Japanese to kill and mutilate at their leisure.

But they hadn’t reckoned on Desmond Doss, who returns to the battlefield time and time again, and under the noses of the Japanese, he succeeds in single-handedly rescuing 75 casualties from certain death.

In later skirmishes on the ridge, he performs more unbelievably heroic rescues, before becoming seriously wounded after he kicks a grenade away to save his comrades from the explosion.

There is much more to this story, and you don’t have to be a lover of war movies to appreciate this deeply moving tale. It is actually an anti-war movie because it shows you what war is really all about, stripped of romantic and heroic notions. It shows up close the manner in which war wreaks terrible consequences on the participants – of both sides.

To say that Andrew Garfield is utterly brilliant in the role of Desmond Doss is an understatement, and nobody was more surprised than me to discover he was an Englishman, so convincing is his accent.

There are no bad actors in this movie – From Teresa Palmer, who plays the nurse who becomes Doss’s wife, to all the myriad actors who played the members of his family and his comrades (and enemies) in the military.

Gibson has used all his consummate skill and vast experience to show us the horrors of war and what true heroism is all about. We applaud this gallant soldier who was the first man to receive the Medal of Honor – America’s highest award for bravery – without ever firing a shot.

We could do with few more like Desmond Doss today. What a wonderful example of simple humanity in these times of unspeakable violence, hedonism and such manic selfishness and self-love that is slowly destroying our cherished beliefs and even civilization itself.

Oscar for Best Actor? It really is impossible to choose between Andrew Garfield and Casey Affleck for the best actor award, (although Affleck will get it), and as far as the Best Picture is concerned, I think maybe “Hacksaw” just has the edge over “Manchester”, but the I’m sure that the rubbishy “La La Land” will get it.

Go see Hacksaw Ridge – you will be “shocked and awed” and come out feeling a little better than when you went in.

Five Mobi-Stars out of Five for Hacksaw Ridge.

You can find all my film reviews here: Mobi’s movie reviews on IMDB

Manchester by the Sea – A Mobi-Film Review – 12th February 2017

100% “Note Perfect” – Masterful Stuff!

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This is masterful stuff, and there wasn’t a single minute in the 2 hours and 17 minutes running time when I so much as glanced at my smartphone, let alone picked it up and scrolled – as is my want…

Casey Affleck plays Lee, the younger brother of Joe, who lives with his son, Patrick, (Lee’s nephew) in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a small picturesque coastal town in Massachusetts. Lee lives in a single room, 45 minutes’ drive away, where he works as an apartment handyman. 

We soon realize that Lee is not exactly your run of the mill handyman. While he knows his job pretty well, he is surly, rude and prickly to the tenants, prompting one woman to complain about him. Later, he is rude to another woman who tries to befriend him in a bar and after that, in the same bar, he becomes violent with two men who he thinks are talking about him.

So we get the message – our friend Lee is a troubled man.

Then Lee gets a call from home – his brother’s doctor is calling from Manchester – Joe is in hospital and it’s very serious.

Joe has died by the time Lee arrives, and after viewing the body, Lee drives to the local school to break the news of his brother’s death to Joe’s somewhat obnoxious teenage son. The two of them drive home. It is all very low key, with little – if any – emotion displayed on either side. 

Patrick also behaves as if nothing has happened. He just wants to continue his rebellious teen-life with his two girlfriends and practice playing in a heavy metal band. His uncle remains taciturn and non-communicative.

By now, we are bursting to understand exactly what “gives” with this family.

Joe’s will is read. He has left his property to his son but has appointed Lee as Patrick’s guardian, with the house and property to be held in trust by Lee until Patrick is of age.

Lee is furious and tells the lawyer he cannot take on the role. Patrick is also none too impressed by this turn of events and the two of them quickly develop a love /hate – more hate than love – relationship, as they both are obliged to come to terms with the reality of the situation. 

Through a series of flashbacks, we start to put this puzzling jigsaw together. 

The heart of this drama is a terrible tragedy. After a drunken party at home with friends, Lee forgot to put a fireguard in the fireplace when he went out to buy some beer in the middle of the night. He returned home to find his house engulfed in flames. 

His wife, Randi, who was sleeping downstairs, was saved, but his three children, who were upstairs, all perished.

Lee went to the police station to explain what happened and he grabbed a gun and tried to kill himself, but the cops, aided by Joe brother and his father prevented another tragedy.

We now completely understand why Lee is so troubled. Everyone blames him for his children’s deaths – including his wife who leaves him – but nobody blames Lee more than Lee himself. 

There is much more that happens in this bittersweet melodrama. 

Poor dead Joe has to be kept in a freezer until spring as the ground is too frozen to dig a grave. 

Lee and Patrick have a very hard time of it with each other, with Patrick rebelling at every turn and Lee desperately trying to do the right thing, but he is woefully ill equipped for such a difficult task.

A woman sets her cap at Lee until she finds she has more chance of charming a sheep than getting a rise out of the embittered protagonist. 

And it keeps on coming… 

There’s the boat… 

…and Lee’s chance street encounter with his ex-wife, Randi, who has now remarried with a new baby. This becomes one of the most heart- rending moments into the whole film, as Randi tells him she deeply regrets leaving him and it is clear that she still loves him. 

Lee goes to a bar to drown his sorrows. He soon picks a fight and the entire occupants of the bar gang up on him and he is very badly beaten. Rescued by a family friend, he is taken to their home, when he finally breaks down and cries.

The tale continues, and it eventually reaches a satisfactory conclusion – of sorts

If I was unkind, I could describe “Manchester” as a very high-class soap, But this film is so much more than a soap. It is a raw, totally believable drama that cuts right through a slice of life in small town America, pop. 5136. 

If you enjoy watching family dramas, I promise you that you will never get bored with this film with its strange, poignant narrative and superlative acting throughout. 

Would the film have been as good without the incredible performance by Casey Affleck in the lead role? I’m not really sure, but there is no doubt that he fits the part like a glove. 

Those who say he acted the part badly haven’t the foggiest notion of what they are talking about. Yes, he is that good! Not for him, the shouting and histrionics – Affleck is so effective with his understated and brilliant portrayal of a man who has basically lost the will to live. Whenever he is on screen, your eyes are riveted to that tortured soul.

This movie is “note perfect” – writing, acting, directing – and I hope that it wins some major Oscars, although I somehow doubt it.

Five Mobi-Stars out of five for Manchester by the Sea.

You can find all my film reviews here: Mobi’s movie reviews on IMDB

 

 

Moonlight – A Mobi-Film Review – 10th February 2017

There is much that is good about Moonlight, but it’s not quite the finished article.

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There is much that is good about Moonlight and in the overall, I quite enjoyed it.

But I cannot for the life of me see how it won the Golden Globe for the best motion picture drama, or that it can win the best picture Oscar, as while enjoyable, it is some way from being a great movie

It is the story of Chiron, a gay African American, and it is split into three distinct time periods, with three different actors playing the main role.

The first part is when Chiron is a young boy, and to this reviewer, it is by far the best part of the movie. The sensitive young boy, who scarcely understands his own sexuality, is mercilessly bullied and made fun off by his schoolmates, who sense that he is different.

His mother is a prostitute crack addict and he has no father. A kindly drug dealer (now there’s an oxymoron for you) in the neighborhood takes Chiron in hand, and between him and his girlfriend, they provide a safe haven from the horrors he suffers at home and at school.

While the first part of the story doesn’t move along particularly quickly, there is more than enough going on to hold your attention.

Part two begins with Chiron in his mid-teens. He is still shy and his schoolmates still tease and bully him. One day he is taunted viciously about his prostitute mother; he gets angry but takes no action.

Kevin, his school friend since childhood, takes him to a deserted beach where they kiss and Kevin gives him a hand job. Later at school, Chiron is taunted, yet again and Kevin is put under pressure by a school gang to punch Chiron. This he does, and urges Chiron to stay down on the ground, but Kevin keeps getting up again, whereupon the gang descend on him and beat him severely.

This is a pivotal moment in Chiron’s life. He has clearly had enough of being picked on and intimidated. The next day he enters class, picks up a chair and breaks it over the gang leader’s head. He is dragged off by teachers and arrested by the police.

The story still holds your attention, as you care enough to want to know where it goes from here. But there are many overly long gaps in action and dialogue, and we just watch the screen for minutes at a time, waiting for someone to speak or something to happen.

This is particularly so in the scenes between Chiron and Kevin, where I suppose we are watching the transformation of Kevin from school friend to gay conspirator, but it is not done very well and frankly, you just get rather bored.

Part three begins ten years later when Chiron is out of jail and is now called “Black” – a powerful drug dealer in Atlanta.

Kevin is now a cook in a diner back in Florida and one day he calls Chiron for the first time since he was incarcerated. They have a stilted conversation, and as a result, “Black” decides to drive back to Florida and pay Kevin a visit.

The third part is the worst. Moviegoers have already invested a fair amount of time in this movie that now seems to be running out of steam, but you hang in there and hope for the best. Once more there are long periods where not much happens – Black and Kevin stare at each other, and Kevin cooks a meal for Black.

The only really good scene is when Black visits his mother on route Kevin’s diner. Mum begs forgiveness for all the wrongs she has committed, and for her failure to bring him up properly.

But subsequent scenes at the diner, and at Kevin’s home, are so slow to the point of sleep-inducing.

In the end, we find out that although Kevin has been married and has a child, he is still gay. Black tells Kevin that he has never touched anyone since that day on the beach when he kissed Kevin.

Moonlight is clearly a 21st-century American morality play. America is a country where poor black gays are treated so badly that they have no chance of a achieving a good life. They will end up in prison and become drug dealers. Those who do survive on the right side of the law are obliged to hide their sexuality, as is the case with Kevin.

But I’m not too sure that this little three-part mini-drama tells us anything we didn’t already know. We are forced to watch a lot of angst – and I get that, but I don’t feel that much of it was done particularly well. For most of the time, it isn’t clear what is going on until it happens. If that’s what the director wanted, then he succeeded, but for this reviewer, it just resulted in frustration.

I know I shouldn’t question the story line as I have no way of knowing if such a story is feasible, but it did strike me as rather ‘pat’ that Chiron had been a virgin all his life. Sure, he wouldn’t have wanted his sexuality to be known, but surely a powerful drug lord would have found a way. I wonder how many gay men with raging hormones, from any ethnicity, spend their adulthood in sexual abstinence? Where there’s a will there’s usually a way.

I think his sexual abstinence was a ploy to justify him driving across America to visit his schoolboy friend, and to drag the audience across the finishing line on a dramatic high.

The acting throughout is pretty good. Mahershala Ali, and Naomie Harris richly deserve their Oscar nominations

Three and a half Mobi-Stars out of five for Moonlight.

You can find all my film reviews here: Mobi’s movie reviews on IMDB

 

 

Donald J Trump – Cut Him Some Slack!

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The Moral Conundrum

A few years ago, Anthony wiener, the New York politician (Democrat) sent a picture of his penis to a young lady on twitter and was subsequently pilloried, forced to resign and banished to obscurity.

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But it wasn’t long before the estimable Mr. Weiner resurfaced and received popular support to rebuild his political career. Unsurprisingly, his constituents were quite willing to forgive and forget.

It wasn’t until he started misbehaving all over again – clearly an unreformed serial sexual deviant – that he was chased off the political stage for good.

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President Clinton (Democrat) was given blowjobs by a pretty intern in the Oval Office and continued to deny it until it became undeniable. These days, he is loved and admired by a great majority of Americans and quite rightly, is regarded as one of the better presidents in recent decades.

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John F Kennedy (Democrat) had a number of documented extra-marital affairs when in the oval office – including one with Marylyn Monroe. His legacy from his short time in office has practically elevated him to sainthood.

And so it goes on and on…just Google political sex scandals in the USA, and see how many of them are (a) democrat and (b) still in high office.

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In the UK, one of our most famous statesmen, William Gladstone, used to wander the streets of Soho at night looking for fallen women to ‘save’. (‘Save’ being a euphemism for fornication).

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UK’s most famous 20th-century statesman, Winston Churchill, was a long way from being a paragon of morality and virtue. Apart from extra-marital sex,  extreme vanity (he destroyed a portrait because he felt it unflattering), and many other faults, he was an out-and-out racist.

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Prime Minister John Major, (the one who followed Thatcher), had an extra-marital affair with another member of the cabinet.

And so it goes on and on…

The truth of the matter is that if we expect our leaders to be pillars of morality in the way they conduct their private lives, then we are going to have a world that is run by mediocrity.

And to large extent, that is what has happened too often in this age of political correctness, (think Bush and Blair), when even the slightest transgression from our elected leaders is regarded as the ultimate sin and betrayal.

Of course, Weiner got his comeuppance as he was a nasty little man who didn’t learn anything from the public’s willingness to understand and forgive.

But by all accounts, a vast majority of the world’s greatest leaders have not been very nice people. How could they be? First and foremost, they have to be narcissists and egotists to have the necessary belief in themselves that will propel them to high office.

Then they have to fight, cheat, lie, cajole, blackmail and bribe their way to the top. So how on earth could they possibly be nice people? It just doesn’t go with the territory.

But for some reason, the world’s free press and the bleeding heart liberal elite believe that all our leaders must behave as though they were Jesus Christ himself.

And yet what was it Jesus said? “Let he who is without sin…..”

So the new President Trump is a misogynist who used to get away with groping women.

Sure, it’s pretty disgusting and leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, but to be quite honest, this revelation doesn’t surprise me one iota. It is just the sort of thing I would expect of a vain, brash New York businessman who hosted beauty pageants.

That doesn’t mean he can’t be a great president. The fact that he has these serious moral faults may actually aid him into becoming a great president. His shortcomings have been exposed and he has humbly apologized – just Like Weiner did.

Provided he doesn’t do it again and start groping Teresa May, or Angela Merkel in public, then let him get on with running America and regain its place in leading the free world. Clearly, his supporters don’t give a jot about his moral shortcomings. They know their leader isn’t perfect, but they believe he is the best man for these difficult times.

Surely he needs to be as dirty and slimy as the swamp he wants to drain?

So why not give the guy a chance?

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As for all you luvvies in Hollywood and the entertainment business – well, shame on you! You are entitled to hold any political convictions you like, but to threaten, intimidate, and blacklist anyone in your profession who holds different views to you is, in my opinion, worse than anything Trump has done.

How many performers were forced to withdraw from performing at Trump’s inauguration celebrations following the vicious backlash from the luvvie lobby?

You are trying to hijack the very liberal principals you stand for – the democratic process, the right to free speech, and the right to hold any political opinion, however extreme.

Without free speech, we would never have known about Trump’s transgressions in the first place.

But for the luvvies, the only permissible opinions are those that follow their own narrow line of politically correct leftist socialism.

That Speech

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You would have to be a pretty dyed in the wool Democratic partisan not to have been affected by Trump’s inauguration speech.

There is no denying the fact that America has seriously lost its way. I don’t know how many times I have been met with disbelief when I tell the Thais that in great swathes of Middle America, people are living in greater poverty than the poorest do in Thailand.

They simply refuse to believe me when I say that 43 million Americans are on food stamps; that Americans are killed on a daily basis in no-go areas in the major cities; that the country’s debt is in astronomical trillions.

As for America’s standing in the world – trust me, folks, it has never been so low. America has become the joke of international politics. It is a toothless tiger and countries like Russia and China, and even lowly Philippines can stick their fingers up at them at will – with absolutely no consequences.

There is no question that the elite political ‘establishment’ in Washington have been driving their nation down a one-way street to hell in a handcart for a very long time. They simply don’t care.

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President Obama was swept into office 8 years ago on promises of “change” – promises to make real changes in the way the country is run. Even I was caught up in the rhetorical euphoria and was more than prepared to give him a chance.

But he changed nothing. Never once did he put his hands across the aisle and seek compromise.

“Obamacare” did not receive a single Republican vote and members of his own party didn’t even bother to read it; to say nothing of the false promises about doctors and cost increases that were dished out. Did he lie, or was he foolish and naïve?  Either way, not a pretty sight. How on earth was it ever going to endure?

And never once did he try to dismantle the obscene Washington business lobbies that hold all the major politicians in their pernicious pockets.

Unemployment has increased, (don’t believe the official numbers, as they exclude over 10 million people who have long since given up on finding a job); poverty is up; the national debt has trebled; racial tensions are still high; the country’s international standing is at an all-time low.

So would you rather have a highly moral, wonderful orator like Obama, who achieved very little in the White House, or a morally flawed, property developer, with zero political baggage, who is going to use all his nous and business cunning to give it a real good go?

Eight years ago I cut Obama some slack, and look what happened?

How about cutting some slack for the 45th President?

And let’s see what happens.

 

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La La Land – A Mobi-Film Review – 16th January 2017

Yet Another Hollywood Con-job!

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It ain’t “West Side Story”, which is quite possibly the best musical ever made.

It also ain’t “Singing in the Rain”, which is arguably the best postwar musical made in the Hollywood tradition.

It also ain’t “Top Hat”, rated by many as the best Rogers/Astaire musical.

It also ain’t “Moulin Rouge”, which was a riot of great music, comedy, genuine drama, and emotion.

And it ain’t even “Les Misérables”, arguably the finest ever stage musical which was ruined on film by a non-professional singing cast who could barely sing in tune, (Anne Hathaway excepted).

As with other ‘duds’ that were adored by the professional critics and film insiders, such as “Birdman” and the recent “American Honey’, it seems to be yet another case of the “Kings new Clothes”. Nobody dares to criticize.

We are told by the experts that La La Land it is absolutely brilliant and when we go to see it we will swoon in the aisles, barely able to find the superlatives to describe how much we loved it.

Yet if you scroll down the IMDb user reviews of this smash hit musical, in among the glowing 10 out of ten-star reviews, you will find a fair sprinkling of one-star reviews. (Two full pages of them). Not five or six or seven stars … no, just 1-stars among the 10-stars.

It doesn’t make sense – why do all these people give it ten stars and others only one, with headlines such as “Painfully Bad Film Musical”, “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To”, and “So Disappointed!” “Been There, Seen That” and “Visceral hatred for a con job”

If you are wondering why is it that some people can love it and others hate it – go and read some of the one-star reviews. The reviewers are movie lovers, (like me), and many are movie-musical lovers, (like me), and they intelligently articulate with tremendous clarity why La La Land has been ridiculously over-hyped, and why the endless publicity has simply turned 99% of the movie-going public into one enormous flock of sheep.

So what’s wrong with it?

In a single word, it is INSIPID. (Insipid: lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge; dull, vapid, flat….)

The songs are insipid.

Even though I am partial to jazz – and some of the jazz sequences with John Legend do sparkle – in general, the music score is mundane to a fault and the tunes are instantly forgettable.

The singing is insipid.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do their best, but they are NOT professional singers, and I suspect you could find better singers at any local amateur dramatic musical production. The movie directors of old were smart enough to understand that if their stars cannot sing, such as Natalie Wood in “West Side Story”, then dub in a decent singer. How many people ever realized that Natalie didn’t actually sing those wonderful songs?

The dancing by Stone and Gosling is insipid.

Again, they do their best but they are NOT professionals. In some sequences, you can almost sense the dance instructors off camera shouting out “Stop! one step left! one step back!” and so on. They are soo… wooden.

The ensemble dancers are pretty much OK, but to be honest, there are no really great, original dance sequences that astonish and astound you- nothing that even comes close to the kind of stuff we have seen in the movie musicals of the past. Frankly, I can see better dance sequences every week in “Strictly come Dancing” or “Dancing with the Stars” than I saw in La La Land.

The story is insipid.

It takes forever to get going and for the first half of the movie you have to pinch yourself to keep watching these insipid characters playing out their thoroughly unoriginal, utterly boring story. You really don’t care what happens to either of them.

The Story

Struggling actress meets struggling jazz pianist. Pianist makes good, actress dumps him because he opts for “wealth and fame” over his musical principles – whatever that may mean. The actress gives up, and goes home to mom; successful pianist comes to the rescue and persuades her to go to one last audition. Guess what? She makes it and becomes a star, and the two stars go their separate ways.

What an enthralling story, don’t you think? This review hardly qualifies as one of those containing spoilers, as the story is so insipid.

Okay, so is anything good?

Yes – the cinematography and editing are good, as you might expect of a movie with a budget exceeding 30 million dollars. They can afford to hire to very best technicians that money can buy – and they do.

But a good cameraman and a good editor, and a good costume designer and a good set designer, and so on, do not a good movie make. These wonderful technicians were already let down from the start by director Damien Chazelle, who wrote the insipid story and by Justin Hurwitz who penned the insipid music.

If you’ve got nothing better to do, and like me, you hate all the Hollywood franchise trash that fills our cinema screens these days, then you might do worse than spend a couple of hours snoozing through this piece of insipid, sleep-inducing rubbish.

But if you expect to be uplifted and leave with a fine tune ringing in your ears, then you’re in for a major disappointment.

Unless you’re one of the sheep… baa aaah...

One Mobi-Star out of five for La La Land

 

Captain Fantastic – A Mobi-film Review

A rare film that will make you laugh, cry, feel good and even think a little.

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Some reviewers love it and a few hate it, but the ‘love-its’ have it by a country mile.

As for this reviewer, well, yes I did enjoy it very much, but maybe the first hour a soupçon more than the second hour – but I’m splitting hairs.

Are you tired of formulaic, franchise hi-tech rubbish that the Hollywood factories churn out these days?

Do you sometimes wonder if there are any films being made anymore that can make you laugh, make you cry, make you wonder, make you think, and make you leave with a good feeling in your belly?

If so, then Captain Fantastic may well be the movie for you.

The story is quite simple. An American couple, Ben and Leslie, decide to uproot from so-called civilized America with their six kids and go and live in a cabin located deep in the mountains of Washington State. There’s no electricity or water, no TV, no radio, no smartphones (or any phones) and none of the luxuries – and most might say necessities – of modern day living.

The children are ‘home schooled’, are taught to hunt and forage for their food, and they live the life of backwoodsmen. They are obliged to follow a strict and sometimes dangerous fitness regime and are trained to deal with any emergency that may arise.

They are all apparently happy with their lives in the wilderness, and their intelligent and well-educated parents imbue them with the precepts of socialism and teach them the evils of capitalism, corporate America, and the outside world.

But Mum, (Leslie), has fallen ill. She has a serious mental disorder – paranoid and bipolar – a condition that has possibly been exacerbated by her chosen lifestyle. We don’t see Leslie, except in very brief flashbacks, as when the film opens, she has already been shipped to a hospital where her estranged parents can watch over her.

Soon after the movie starts, the family learn that Leslie has killed herself and the remainder of the film is devoted to the family’s efforts to attend her funeral and what happens in its aftermath.

Leslie’s father, a very wealthy and influential man, blames Ben for the death of his daughter and warns him that if he tries to attend the funeral, he will have him arrested.

At first, Ben accepts that he cannot go, but the six kids want to see their Mom one last time, so in the end, they load up their converted school bus and head back to civilization.

The next part of the movie is really a road trip, and there some amusing incidents along the way. One with a cop who stops them for having a faulty tail light, and an embarrassing episode with the eldest son who has his first kiss with a strange girl, and in particular, a planned raid of a supermarket. Here they succeed in stealing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries under the noses of the shop owners.

There follows a mix of both amusing and serious confrontations with the in-laws. Leslie’s father succeeds in extricating the six kids from Ben’s custody for a while, but it all works out pretty well in the end.

The first part of the film was totally captivating in every possible way, but once they embark on their journey back to the real world, some of the plot holes were a little hard to stomach. In particular, the robbery of the food mart didn’t sit well with this reviewer. Would a father who despised capitalism and wanted his kids to understand the true meaning of right and wrong embark on such a criminal venture?

But apart from the moral issues of the robbery, what about the high risks of getting caught? If they were arrested it would be all over for family life in the mountains. Would he really take such a risk?

Okay, I appreciate it was all done in a spirit of good humor, and it was genuinely funny – but at the expense of the good-natured and well- meaning citizens who become innocent dupes in their felonious act.

One of the most amazing parts of the film was the kids. From the very start, I completely forgot that I was watching a team of child actors. For me, nearly all films containing child actors, no matter how good they are supposed to be, usually make me squirm a little when the ‘little dears’ say their lines. I am always painfully aware that the kids are actors acting parts.

Yet never once throughout the whole movie did I once think to myself, “Hey! these are just kids acting.” I was truly in their world from the very first frame of film to the last. All six kids were truly outstanding, and I was transported to their world. As indeed was Viggo Mortenson who played Ben, their father, to say nothing of the remaining ensemble cast. Not a dud between the lot of them. I particularly liked Frank Langella as the grieving, angry father.

So apart from a couple of plot holes, (which only people like me are mean-spirited enough to take issue with), it is difficult to find fault with this very enjoyable film.

The cinematography, screenplay, and direction were masterful and I hope we will see much more from the pen and undoubted directing talents of Matt Ross.

We need more writers and directors like Matt Ross to bring us back to a time when filmmaking isn’t just another rehash of yet another comic-book hero or a prequel, sequel, spin-off of Star Wars/Star Trek/West world/Frozen/ Finding Dory……and God only knows what franchise.

Four and a half Mobi-Stars out of five for Captain Fantastic.

You can find all my film reviews here: Mobi’s movie reviews on IMDB

A Mobi-Babble for New Year’s Day – 1st January, 2017

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I guess once a blogger, always a blogger.

Last week I posted a movie review, and today I am have decided to write an end of year Mobi-Babble.

I have decided that in 2017, while I will not get back to full time blogging on my old scale, I will try to put out a blog post every now and then – maybe a film or book  review, or a Mobi-Babble, or maybe a new article series, “Tales from Tainted Paradise”, in which I write about events across Thailand that have either amused me or, occasionally, shocked or saddened me.

So here it is, my Yuletide blog.

2016 – What a bloody year!

Nobody can claim that 1016 wasn’t a tumultuous year. One way or another, it has been a year that most of us would prefer to  forget.

For me, and no doubt many, there are probably three events which stand out head and shoulders above the rest – namely, Brexit, the rise and rise of Trump, and the appalling, massacres in Syria.

Strange to say, but our dear departing US President Obama has had his hand in all three.

BREXIT

Yes, even Brexit. Who can forget that at the height of Brexit campaign fever, that the good President  Barrack visited ‘Call me Dave ‘ in Downing Street. When he emerged through the doors of number Ten to meet the throng of reporters, hand in hand with Davey-boy, he told us that if we voted ‘yes’ to Brexit, we would have to get to the back of the queue.

Note it was a ‘queue’ not a ‘line’ (as the Yanks normally say) we would have to get to the back of – as he had been well coached by Dave and his remain team.

Now I’m not for one moment suggesting that this statement alone was instrumental in creating what turned out to be the ‘protest’ vote to end all protest votes against the establishment, but it certainly didn’t help.

I do not wish to go over the old ground as to the reasons why so many voted yes, (see my blog, What The Hexit!), but there is little doubt that many of the Brexiteers did indeed vote for Brexit as a protest.

Many –especially across the Northeast, hadn’t slightest notion of the economic implications of such a vote. In fact, many have since admitted on air, that if they could have their vote over they would have voted to remain.

But it’s too late for that, and it’s probably going to take years before we realize the full implications of Brexit. In the meantime, our ‘Sceptred Isle’ is going to continue to stumble along in limbo, with no one knowing from one month to the next what the end result will be, and not even whether it will be a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit or maybe a combo Brexit.

We will eventually succeed in putting this sorry affair behind us and Britain will probably emerge stronger and better nation without the EU. We little Englanders are used to having our backs to the wall and coming up with solutions.

But it is going to take a generation – least 20 years – and I for one will be long dead and gone before the halcyon days dreamed about by Farage and his Brexiteers are finally achieved

Trump

As for Trump – well there is not a shadow of doubt that the political situation which prevails in the USA was ripe to spawn such a person.

Readers know I have never been a fan of Obama.

I acknowledge his tremendous skill as an orator, his likable personality, and his integrity and honesty – as much as its possible with any politician.

But quite frankly, he has been so much hot air – one could say he’s just all mouth and trousers. I am convinced his 8 years in the White House will go down in history as one of the worst two-term presidents in US history. As these final weeks play out,  it is looking most unlikely that he will leave any legacy of note behind him

Things could have been so different. For his first term, he had the complete control of Congress (both houses) and he was well positioned to do some great things – but, unfortunately for my friends across the water he was a man of straw and he couldn’t even stand up to the left-wing forces within his own party – let alone the outside world.

His only action of note was to pass the totally divisive, partisan Obamacare, which has been almost universally derided. His claims at the time that “you can keep your doctor”, “keep your health plans “and the “costs will not increase” has become the stuff of jokes on comedy circuits across America.

That Obamacare will in some way be repealed or at least be drastically changed there is little doubt; along with all the countless presidential ‘orders’ he made during his second term when he was obliged to “rule by decree” after he lost his majorities in Congress.

Not only will Obama go down as being one of the weakest presidents on the international stage,  his pursuit of extreme left wing policies and his politically correct leftwing legislation that has thrown thousands of people out of work and disrupted people’s personal lives did not go down at all well with his electorate in middle America. The blue collar workers deserted the democrats in droves.

The richest and most powerful country on the planet has 50 million of its citizens on food stamps and suffers daily deaths from gangland killings in no-go areas of cities like Chicago. But Obama and his cronies were more concerned with establishing transgender bathrooms and taking states to court if they refused to comply. Crazy ain’t it.

I could go on and on, but you know the story. It has been Obama’s abject total failure to bring about the promised changes that swept Trump to power on a tide of populist optimism that has germinated the rise and rise of  Trumpism.

The Democrats were – and still are – so blind to public opinion and how they have alienated Middle America, that they actually believed they could nominate someone like crooked Hilary, (and make no mistake she is crooked, very crooked), a woman who has been corrupt for decades and doesn’t have a caring bone in her body. They thought that she would easily retain the White House for them.

Quite frankly even if they had gone for a less high-profile candidate, without all the messy baggage that Clinton brought to the stage, I imagine that Trump would have still won, but it might have been a much closer run thing.

And don’t tell me all about  Clinton winning the popular vote. If you remove California from the equation, Trump won the popular vote by a landslide. California – the land of Hollywood luvvies, the obscenely rich, and where a majority population are  Latino – ain’t the USA.

Trump might surprise us all and be a great president; the world certainly needs one, so I hope so. The omens are not good – but who knows? Trump may achieve much where Obama achieved zilch. But nobody, not even his closest advisors, really know what he may do. We shall just have to wait and see.

Aleppo

Remember Aleppo, that town in Syria that one of the candidates for the presidency of the USA had never heard of?

The town where over half a million innocent civilians have been massacred. The town where the USA was ostensibly involved in helping the forces opposed to Assad. 

For weeks now  I haven’t able to listen to or watch the massacres that occur on a daily basis,  perpetrated by the war criminal, Assad, and his Russian ally, Putin.

I am so disillusioned with the western world and it’s total inability to do the right thing.

The fate of Syria and over half a million who have died was cast on the day that Obama did not follow through on his infamous ‘red line’ warning. Assad used chemical weapons; he killed and maimed thousands, and Obama did sweet FA – nothing.

Once Putin got a whiff of Obama’s reluctance – some may say cowardice – to become involved – then it was all over, bar the shouting and the genocide.

Putin judged correctly that no one would stop him moving in and becoming the major player in the Syrian conflict.

Obama was shown to be totally toothless, and as a result, generations of Syrians have been wiped from the face of the earth, and  many more will suffer a similar fate before this nightmare reaches an end. As I write this blog, there is some semblance of a cease-fire, but I will be very surprised if it lasts for any length of time.

Can you blame Trump for his derision  towards the United Nations?

When the US ambassador at the UN recently asked the Russians, “Are you truly incapable of shame?” The Russians just smiled.

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Well that’s the world at large  – now what about the world of Mobi?

Sadly, it hasn’t been a great year on the Mobi-front. It’s been almost a year since I tried to earn a living by taking up contract writing.

In the early days, a trickle of work flowed in, which started to increase over the months. So by the time my daughter and family came to visit in August, I was reasonably confident that with a bit of luck, I might eventually be able to earn enough to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, the first blow in my survival was struck when the aftermath of Brexit caused a huge devaluation of the pound. This had the unfortunate effect of reducing my meager UK state pension by over 10%

Then, although I initially enjoyed a couple of months of okay earnings, by October,  my work had all but dried up.

Since then, it’s been a real struggle. There is one great guy in Bangkok who provides me with a regular weekly blog to write, but apart from that, there hasn’t been very much to get excited about.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up another job, which paid fairly well, and there are two follow-ups jobs from that source which I will do in January, but right now there’s not much else on the horizon.

I have decided to concentrate on the US markets, as they pay better and obviously, there is more work on offer. But it is really hard to find new clients who will give me a try. All I can do is plug away, keep applying for jobs and see what comes up.

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My lovely wife, Lek is fully aware of my situation and we are now making contingency plans, as my savings are nearly all gone.

We have agreed on two courses of action. The first is that Lek will try to find work this month as a contract house cleaner. She will try this on a part time basis and see how it goes.

But first she has to find some customers, so if anyone out there needs at their house cleaned then please let me know. Lek is quite experienced at this kind of work, as when she was younger she used to work as a hotel room cleaner, so she knows the ropes.

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The second step we have agreed on is that if things don’t improve very soon, I will have to go back to the UK, for several months – possibly for good.

There are many reasons for this, but suffice to say, if I go back I will get my state pension upgraded and I will have free access to the UK healthcare system, which is currently closed to me as I am a non-resident. I have many chronic medical conditions, including heart problems that are not being attended to in Thailand because I simply can’t afford it.

This is a heart breaking decision for me, as I have no idea if and when I will ever be able to come back again, but I think I can make a better fist of looking after my family from the UK than I can by staying here in Thailand.

I am hopeful that if I am in the UK, it will give me better access to writing work. The die is truly cast and unless I suddenly get a dramatic increase in my earnings over the next few weeks, it will soon be bi-bi to the Land of Smiles.

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I should explain to my more recent readers, that it is now almost 4 years since I lost 90% of my savings, (including my private pension), in an Australian investment scam, which left hundreds of people across the world, like me, in dire financial straits.

Ever since that fateful day in March 2013, the clock has been ticking and I always knew this day would come – and it hasn’t been exactly been a picnic waiting for it.

But who knows what 2017 may bring? I must all remain optimistic. Maybe I will win the lottery….

As for my valued readers, I do hope that 2017 turns out to be a great year for all of you. From time to time, I will be making the occasional blog post, to update you all of my take on world events, and also events nearer to home.

Happy New Year everyone!

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