Snubbed for all the awards, Hostiles is a movie reminiscent of the westerns of the past.
In 1892, the Civil War has been over for years and the fighting with the Native Americans is coming to a close. Most have been captured and moved to reservations. A decorated Army captain, Joe Blocker (played by Christian Bale), who earned his reputation as an Indian fighter, is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne Chief and his family from New Mexico to Montana so that Yellow Hawk (played by Wes Studi) may die and be buried among his ancestors.
With his handpicked team, Joe must face his toughest assignment- protecting a man he’d rather kill than save. He faces death at every turn. Joe must also come to grips with his anger toward the Chief and his part in the destruction of the Native people.
With sweeping vistas, the cinematography is beautiful. Director Scott Cooper filmed on location across the West and only filmed at the same place twice so as to showcase the beauty of the Wild West. Using real native people in the roles of the Native Americans also gives a realistic feel to the fictionalized story.
Based on an unfinished manuscript by Donald E. Stewart (Hunt for Red October), Scott Cooper wrote a story which feels relevant today at a time when many different sides are fighting, each thinking they are correct. Hostiles shows that both sides of the Native conflict were at fault and only through acceptance and friendship can we repair the damage done by the fighting.
Hostiles has an amazing cast with Rosamund Pike as Rosalie Quaid, a woman who overcomes harsh obstacles which would send many people into a sobbing fetal position. Rory Cochrane plays Master Sgt. Thomas Metz, one of Joe’s soldiers and closest friend. He’s killed for so long he’s lost his ability to be happy and longs for death. His character serves as a barometer for what happens to humanity when you end so many lives.
Come prepared though with some extra tissues. This movie pulls on the heartstrings and will have you thinking about battles and forgiveness.
Gritty crime drama, Den of Thieves focuses on the battle between an elite group of police officers in LA and the sophisticated robbery gang they set out to bring in.
Nick Flanagan (played by Gerard Butler) is the bad boy of the force. He’s the leader of a group of the Major Crimes division in Los Angeles. These guys don’t play by the rules. Force is always applied when they need information, so forget any body cams! When an armored car robbery goes south, cops are killed bringing the crime to the attention of Nick and his gang. As they begin to put two and two together, they realize that they are dealing with a major group who has big plans.
Merrimen (played by Pablo Schreiber) has plans to rob the Federal Reserve office in LA where money is counted and taken out of circulation. As a former military man, he commands his troops with precision as they stand together as a family brought together for a common purpose. (Think Fast and Furious meets Ocean 11)
Donnie (played by O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) is a man caught in the middle. He’s been brought in by Nick to snitch on Merrimen but is also being used by Merrimen to feed Nick information. Filled with strippers, drinking and swearing, Den of Thieves isn’t a movie for those who are easily offended. The big shootout scene is over the top with machine guns and dodging through stalled traffic.
The diversity of the cast is interesting with a variety of Hawaiian and Māori actors. But it’s the name power in the movie which is fun with 50 Cent (who has an amazing scene as a protective father) and the brother of Liev Schreiber and Ice Cube’s son. Gerard does double duty on this movie, putting up his own money as producer, so you know he really wanted this movie made.
In today’s world of body cams and cell phone video, a police group like Nick’s would never be able to do the many things they do in this movie, but this is Hollywood and it makes a good movie. The surprising twist at the end will leave you shocked and eager to see it again so you can catch the clues given along the way.
While the action is wonderful on the big screen, this is easily a movie you can see at home and save some money…especially since you will want to watch it a second time for all the clues.
Taking place in 1962, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is set against the backdrop of the Cold War and tells the tale of misfits finding love. Winner of two Golden Globes for best director and best score, The Shape of Water is a movie filled with beautiful imagery and scenes set to shock.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute cleaning lady. She was found as an infant by the water with scratches on her neck which damaged her voice box. Her life consists of a regimentation but she dreams of shoes. Her best friend is a gay, older painter named Giles (Richard Jenkins) who’d been let go from his job as an ad designer and now laments his losses. Giles is rebuffed both with work, even when he does his best and when he reaches out toward love. Together, Giles and Elisa, share a love of old movies and dance numbers.
Working with Elisa in a secret government facility is Zelda Fuller, an outspoken and caring African American woman (Octavia Spencer) who works to support her lazy husband. The two women stumble upon a mysterious asset--a merman who can breathe both in water and on land--which the scientists are studying. Making a connection with the merman, Elisa finds someone who sees her as whole, not a misfit. When the scientists decide to open up the merman and see how he works, Elisa and her friends with the help of a Soviet spy set out to free him.
Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) captured the merman in South America and has brought him to the center in order to find a way to replicate the breathing system for astronauts, allowing them to breathe in space. Using violence to control the creature, Strickland must get the answers he needs or face his own demise. But the merman isn’t complacent nor friendly to anyone other than Elisa. Michael Shannon’s character is angry, brutal and often does things for the shock value. His fascination with both the merman and Elisa borders on obsession.
Guillermo del Toro co-wrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor but the idea was based on the Creature from the Black Lagoon movie which he saw as a child. The Shape of Water resonates with audiences because of the lush visuals as well as the undertones of inequality. The beauty of the love story between Elisa and the merman is touching and leaves us with a good feeling.
With a lot of nudity and swearing, The Shape of Water is not for the younger audience or the faint of heart. But it will leave you believing in the impossible.
Both movies are based on real people but tell the stories in very different ways. Both were nominated for Golden Globes and are compelling movies to see, but for different reasons.
The Greatest Showman tells the story of PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who sets out to bring his dreams to fruition through sharing spectacles with the general public. The Greatest Showman is a musical written by the same duo who did the award winning LaLa Land from last year. The music is catchy and the story is a wonderful tale of underdogs who set out to set New York on its ears.
While based on a real person, The Greatest Showman is mostly fiction. The story blends the truth with amazing song and dance numbers. Many of the characters were based on real people but two characters were completely fiction (Phillip Carlyle, played by Zac Efron and Anne Wheeler, played by Zendaya). The screenwriter also played with the timeline and gave the audience a simple image of a man who is still quoted today. PT Barnum went on to serve in government and as a lecturer.
The Greatest Showman will have you feeling good and tapping your feet along to the music. You will leave the theater feeling good as the message of inclusion and overcoming adversity is a message we all can hear again and again.
The Darkest Hour is about Winston Churchill’s (played by Gary Oldman) rise to power in the British Government during the time when Hitler was conquering Europe during World War Two. Not the ruling party’s first choice, Winston Churchill came into a tough situation and stood firm in the face of horrible adversity as the German’s advanced through France.
Also based on a real person, The Darkest Hour tells a more honest look at the man who commanded a country in the face of war. His decision to not enter into peace talks with Hitler, almost lost him the support of the party. Churchill’s way with words garnered him the support of the people which in turn provided him the support in the Parliament.
The Darkest Hour is a war movie without any real fighting. Emotionally draining at times, it provides an interesting look at a period of history and a man who stayed true to himself in the face of adversity. While also a movie where one man faces adversity, The Darkest Hour will have you feeling pensive as you leave, but it provides an important look at a period of history which as Americans, we know very little about.
Both movies are entertaining in their own ways and serve as an interesting look at real people.
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