Justice League: Must Watch! 4.5/5

NO SPOILERS !

I did not expect much from this movie and nor did I read any reviews before taking my seat. All I had to go on were the trailers. I was expecting another dark movie but I was determined to sit through it. But what followed was a pleasant surprise – my Christmas came early this year. Let me give my opinions of the characters first

Flash: The arrogance of youth and the on-your-face humor are balanced in perfection. I have never liked flash before, Ezra Miller might have just changed my mind.

Aquaman: His arrogance at being invincible was a joy to the eyes. Jason Momoa is here to stay. He has some drool worthy scenes sans his shirt. I am looking forward to his origins story as I don’t have a lot of back ground on his character and do not want to ruin any surprise by reading about him.

Wonder Woman: As usual – she carries the burden of the being the wisest person on the team with grace and strength. Gal Gadot does justice to the daughter-of-god character that she plays.

Batman: Ben Affleck has outdone himself in this one. After the dark brooding batman from the past, this one was a joy to the soul. This was the batman that I grew up reading. (Still fuming about the last movie where the Bat was portrayed as a self-serving hero)

Cyborg: With half a face to act with, Ray Fisher does a wonderful job conveying his pain at the knowledge that he might be the next monster. It is nice to see his fear evolve into confidence and conviction at doing the right thing.

Superman: Is it just me or does Henry Cavill seem to be getting more gorgeous with time. The character does come across as too perfect at times or maybe I am more of a Batman fan than a Superman fan. (I know they are on the same side, but a lady can still choose)

The movie does not have a single boring minute. All the folks look like they got out of the gym and into their costumes. If you are like me and on the heavier side, don’t be eating food while watching this movie. Those actors will make you guilty for sure.

DC seems to be taking a leaf out of the Marvel Algorithm as we see a lot of witty and humorous dialogues when least expected. Humor might be what saved this movie as without the humor, it is very intense. The visual effects were on-point. My personal grievance is that Superman was granted more power than the last movie where his powers matched that of Wonder Woman. (That’s the reason for the docked 0.5 in the ratings)

The word for the wise. There was hidden wisdom in a few scenes that seemed to resonate with me. The first one, Artificial intelligence should be feared. Cyborg wakes up knowing something new every day. AI is an unknown beast. I loved the scene where the advice to the scared is ‘Save Just One’. It was a beautiful 3-word sentence about which books could be written. Last – The wonder woman dialogue on good leadership was wise beyond experience.

Not that it matters, but the villain was a worthy opponent. Sometimes, a villain can make or break the movie and this movie had a nice bad villain for everyone to hate.

In a nutshell – Just go and watch the movie already!

 

Broadchurch | Netflix | Yet another reason why British shows are leaps and bounds above the rest.

Broadchurch , is a British crime-drama thriller based on a small coastal town by the same name. I just got done with the first season and it has been nothing short of outstanding till now. The story begins when a young boy is found dead at the beach and investigation begins on what transpired on the night of the death. A new DI, Alec Hardy (David Tennant) heads the investigation along with DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) as the story unfolds on the lives and lies of the closely knit Broadchurch community. It’s not often you get a crime-drama which shows in proper depth how a family and community deals with the death of a close one.

 Olivia Colman does a wonderful job in the role of DS Ellie Miller, the detective in charge of the murder investigation of Danny Latimer, the kid who gets murdered. She, with her family, were close to the Latimer family as well as all the suspects involved and the makers did a wonderful job of exposing the frailties and apprehensions that an event like this can cause on a community as close as Broadchurch. The Latimer family (played by Jodie Whittaker ,  Andrew Buchan & Charlotte Beaumont) had their own share of secrets before disaster struck them. All three of them played their roles to perfection. DI Alec Hardy’s character was the now clichéd grumpy, middle-aged cop with a shady past and is all about the job on hand. 

There are quite a few subplots which make for some compelling suspects in the form of suspicious close friend Nige, the reckless boyfriend of the daughter, the best-friend of the dead kid who seemed to have not liked him as much as people made it to be, a pastor who seemed to invoke curiosity, a tempestuous old lady who is new to the town and an old man who had a secret past and had employed the deceased kid. Then there is this trio of journalists who always seemed to thread the thin line between responsible and irresponsible journalism.

Yes, the story is not just about a murder, its about a town which finds itself in a conundrum where its impossible to move on or stay still. Broadchurch is just one of the many shows where British Crime shows are the real winners when it comes to binge-worthy quality TV. Its like carrying the baton forward from where shows like Luther , River , The Five , Sherlock & Shetland left off.

****/5

~j

 

Wheelman | Netflix | The Ultra Low budget Fast and Furious.

Wheelman  is a one time watch with a sizable share of pretty decent car chases. If the Fast and Furious franchise had a baby with The Transporter series, that mini movie would have been this Frank Grillo, who is the Wheelman. The movie revolves around a bank robbery job gone wrong when the getaway driver (Frank) ends up double crossing his partners as somebody who had inside knowledge of the job double crosses him.

As is always the case, the hero has a family and a teenage kid whom he needs to protect and super fast car to get him around in his fight to earn is freedom and get back at the people who put him in a bind in the first place. The movie is not about the story but about the situations the hero finds himself in and even though it spans close to 1.5 hours there are very few dull moments in between all the melee that ensues.

The various chases throughout the movie, strung together in a shoestring budget, were all top quality, edge of the seat stuff and that is pretty much all that the movie is about. Wheelman turned out to be one of those rare movies where you really didn’t have to watch out for bloopers as they were sprinkled throughout the movie and would have been too hard to miss. On the whole I would say its one movie that would not make you regret the time spent and at the same time one that you wouldn’t remember much of in a couple of weeks time. ***/5.

~j

Mindhunter | Netflix | One of the best takes on the mind of a Serial Killer.

Netflix, has taken it upon itself to be the undisputed pioneers when it comes to certain genres and they continue the good work in churning out interesting stuff . Mindhunter is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea and is of the slow burner type which grows into you as the season progresses. It’s intelligent, well scripted, engaging and probably as close to the truth as there ever would be, without resorting to mind-numbing gory images that we usually associate with this genre. Mindhunter follows the journey of two FBI agents Ford & Tench in the 1970’s as they delve into psychology behind ‘Series killers’ and how they ended up being who they are and in effect shed light into how their minds work.

I was a bit slow to latch on to the Mindhunter mania ( a friend suggested that i should), as I had just finished binge watching a couple of series which I assumed to be similar (The Investigator: A British Crime Story & Manhunt: Unabomber) but boy I was wrong. Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford is the backbone of the series and rightly so ! His performance does put into shade some other really convincing performances from Holt McCallanyHannah Gross and Anna Torv.  Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper does get under your skin as one of the several ‘Series Killers’ (yeah this was the time before it was known as Serial Killing) interviewed by Ford and Tench. 

There was a time during the series when I could not really judge whether Ford had indeed crossed that thin line which makes him closer to the people he was interviewing than the people whom he worked with. There was an subtle subplot involving an ADT serviceman which sets the canvas ready for painting for Season 2.

In short, I would recommend this if you are into psychological thrillers of the slow variety and if you are willing to let your mind tampered with. It’s not something you might enjoy in short spurts of viewing over time and would be best watched over a couple of days. I would rate it a 8/10 overall.

~j

The Mist | Netflix | One of the better Stephen King Adaptations for Mini Screen

The Mist turned out to be one of the better Stephen King Adaptations from the numerous torturous ones out there, that is only if you can survive the really boring couple of episodes in between and the obnoxious ending. The series revolves around a small town which gets engulfed in a mist that results in strange and mysterious things which often end up with people getting killed.

As always is the case in such series there is a central family comprising of the parents and a kid where the father defies all odds to protect his family. Then there are set of people who start the season as ‘good people’ and remain so till the adverse conditions bring out the darker shades in them. The way the season ended left many open ends and pretty much shouted out that ‘Season 2 is definitely on the way’. I wouldn’t hold my breath though and would most probably skip Season 2 (Update: No season 2 as the makers too had enough).

The performances by the cast was pretty average to be honest and the central theme which had so much of potential sort of fizzed out to nothing in the end because of the makers insisting on stretching it out for a few extra episodes and keeping it open for the next season. 1922 , Gerald’s Game & The Dark Tower being the most recent Stephen King adaptations, this did not disappoint much as the expectation was rock bottom and the train rides are too boring otherwise. 2/5 from my side for the premise and build up and the rest all went up in mist 😉

~j

Stranger Things 2 : Stranger, Slower, Binge-worthy, Halloween Special and Netflix still nails it despite it being the same of the old stuff.

The much awaited Season 2, started pretty slowly and did not pick up pace till the Chapter 3. Then on it was business as usual from the hit-churning Netflix Originals conveyer belt. They did manage to put in quite a boring Chapter 7 in between all the drama as well. The Duffer brothers (Matt Duffer, &  Ross Duffer) managed to bring back same 80’s style that made the first season so very interesting. The introduction of three new main characters (Max , Billy & Bob –Sean Astin) did give the story the much needed umph.

As was expected the original five friends, Eleven , the two elder siblings, the boyfriend, the Mom (Winona Ryder ) & the Cop (Jim Hopper) were all heavily involved and formed the crux of the story which now moved in a direction focussing the ‘Upside-down’ world. The producers of the show did stick on to the formula that clicked in the first season by providing occasional comic relief through Mike, Lucas and Steve. There were a few deviations in the plot that could have been avoided to keep the story nice and tight but I am guessing it was done intentionally to keep things open for a Season 3. I was waiting for the MJ’s Thriller to pop-in during one of the episodes as well, since the makers spent a fortune in getting the right for it. 

In short, I was sort of expecting a murkier part two with a lot more of the  Demogorgan (don’t even know whether I am spelling it right 😀 ) which it didn’t turn out to be. However, I did manage to binge watch the whole Season without having to take a break in between which meant it was not a let-down either. 

Next up in the binge-watch list is the Season 2 of Glitch which comes out Mid-November in Netflix.

~j

Slow, boring and not worth the time spend : 1922 – Stephen King Novel Adaptation (A Netflix Original)

Another weekend and another one of those Netflix originals. The second Stephen King adaptation from the Netflix stable did not live up to the ‘above-average’ show by its predecessor Gerald’s Game. Although a big fan of Stephen King, this is one book/short story that I had not read and should have ideally kept me intrigued throughout as I didn’t know the story.

However, this crime/drama/horror movie ended up just being a below average crime/horror flick with an average drama quotient. The storyline surrounds “A simple yet proud rancher in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate. (imdb)”. This is all I can tell about the movie without revealing the very little the movie has to offer. From the word go, the movie was slow, boring and pertaining to a lifestyle I probably cannot fathom 🙂 . The lead actor Thomas Jane was very good in his role, ably supported by  Dylan Schmid & Molly Parker. – Nothing really wrong there. However, the script, CGI, direction and story were loose and unappealing. 

Let me keep things short by saying I have seen a lot better movies in all three genres and I would have skipped this one had I read a review before ! 2/5

~j

A brilliant ComDra and yet, not Everyone’s Cup of Tea : The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Netflix Original

My Take: Netflix strikes gold in a non-thriller genre, after a long time !

Adam Sandler used to be an actor that I liked long ago (okay, don’t shoot me 🙂 ) and yet, his presence in this Netflix original made me skeptical about spending valuable time on it. My curiosity on what the Meyerowitz family had to offer got the better of me largely due to the presence of  Dustin Hoffman (Harold) & Ben Stiller.(Mathew) in the cast and yet, it was Adam Sandler (Danny) who stole the show in the end. 

It’s not often that an ordinary, every day comedy/drama would hold your interest every frame of the movie and director Noah Baumbach did just that. The story is all about the fragile dynamics of a dis-joint family where a self-obsessed/needy father, played by Hoffman, reunites with his three kids (played by Elizabeth Marvel (Jean), Sandler and Stiller) due to a series of events. From the word go, the family strikes a chord bordering tension and unresolved issues.

The story begins with Danny, a house-husband, in his 50’s is left in disarray after his adult daughter (Eliza) leaves for college and he separates from his wife as there is no longer anything that binds them together. He meets up with his father Harold, who was a once famous and now washed up contemporary artist, who still has not forgiven Danny for letting slip his passion for music slip. As the story unfolds we are introduced to the second troubled sibling, Jean, who was always there for the father and brothers when they needed her but sadly it was never reciprocated. Mathew the youngest of the siblings was the only person in the family who ‘knew how to make money’ and was doing good in life and happened to be the father’s favorite kid by far, despite not taking up the father’s passion for art. As the story unfolds, we get to see the Harold’s stubbornness, favoritism towards Matt, Danny’s bouts with anger caused by inferiority complex and the unconditional love from Eliza and Danny towards their family.

The movie is a slow paced drama with subtle dark humor intertwined at regular intervals.  Adam Sandler is the standout performer in his best performance since the turn of the century. Dustin Hoffman did what Dustin Hoffman does. Elizebeth Marvel and Grace Van Patten were very good in their roles as well. Ben Stiller did not have too much to do in the movie and was okay in parts. The script was darn good and direction was decent. 

In short, I would recommend this for people with a taste for slow paced, drama/comedy. Would not blow your mind and yet would not disappoint you either.

3.5/5

~j

The Five, definitely binge worthy !

Netflix continues to spoil fans of mystery drama with more of the same awesomeness that we saw in  some of the Netflix originals like Stranger Things, Glitch, HOC, Black Mirror, Sense 8, Ozark et all albeit this time with a hit British series, The Five.
Without going into the spoilers, this mystery thriller starts 20 odd years ago with the disappearance of a young boy and follows into the present where it surrounds the lives of the 4 individuals  (kids then), who were present that day with the kid. All hell breaks loose, when the DNA of the kid mysteriously presents itself in the scene of a murder and the four friends who were leading distraught lives in separate locations reunite to get to the root of it all. Harlan Coben succeeds in keeping us interested throughout with enough drama, mystery and thrill. The cast does justice to the entire act and so does the background score. 
This one is for the binge-watching list !  4/5 from my side.
#NetflixFTW

The Millionaire Next Door – Book Review

I do not know why but I am into Financial Blogs these Days. And one of the books I came across on multiple blogs is ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. This book was available on EBay for 2$ with free shipping so I got a copy for myself*.

Anybody who is $ conscious should read this book. It is about 2 researchers who study common habits of millionaires. Here the term Millionaire is someone who has 1 million in savings\investment\worth. Why should you read it? Because it answers the following questions

  1. Where is my money going?
  2. Can we live happily and save with 1 person’s salary in the USA.
  3. Kids are so expensive these days. It is impossible to save with kid(s) in USA?

Some of the most interesting things I learnt from the book

  1. People who drive Flashy and expensive Cars are not necessarily millionaires.
  2. You cannot point out millionaires by their attire\car or their house.
  3. Most Self-Made Millionaires’ households run on budget.
  4. Ivy League Education may guarantee a high paying job but not necessarily a high bank balance.
  5. Millionaires don’t necessarily eat fancy food or at fancy restaurants.
  6. There are more millionaires than we think of.

Maybe if those aren’t the things that you are looking for in a book, the following might be interesting. The authors have presented the book as a case study with detailed math charts. Most of the case studies are presented in a way that one could easily relate to. It is easy to find yourself as a character in the book. So, if not to gain a new perspective on the world of millionaires, read it to judge yourself on the scale set by average millionaire next door. The presentation and point of view of the authors is presented in a practical yet humorous way.

What the book does not do is give you recommendations on what you should do with your money. It just tells you what Millionaires so with their money. Even if it is just for fun, go read it!

 

*Most FI Blogs don’t recommend buying books. They recommend Library.