REVIEW: STAR TREK: PICARD – SEASON 1

Patrick Stewart and Dinero the Dog in Star Trek: Picard (2020)

Starring

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
Isa Briones (Takers)
Evan Evagora (Fantasy Island)
Michelle Hurd (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Santiago Cabrera (Heroes)
Harry Treadaway (Honemoon)

Patrick Stewart in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2 (2020)
Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Brent Spiner (Independence Day)
Jonathan Frakes (Camp Nowhere)
Jeri Ryan (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Marina Sirtis (Crash)
Jamie McShane (Gone Girl)
Orla Brady (Into The Badlands)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Jonathan Del Arco (Major Crimes)
Merrin Dungey (Alias)
Sumalee Montano (10 Cloverfield Lane)
David Carzell (Sophomores)
Ann Magnuson (Panic Room)
Rebecca Wisocky (For All Mankind)
Amirah Vann (Tracers)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
John Ales (Burn notice)
Necar Zadegan (NCIS: New Orleans)
Dominic Burgess (Santa Clarita Diet)
Barbara Eve Harris (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation)
Derek Webster (Stargate)

Peyton List and Harry Treadaway in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2 (2020)Star Trek: Picard’s best aspect is also its biggest issue: It has one foot firmly in the past of the long-running sci-fi franchise, and another in a more modern, darker present. The show is a big, fan-servicey return to the story of legendary Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), complete with visits from a few beloved characters along the way, and no end of Easter eggs and references that often feel like high-fives to the dedicated viewers who’ve been enjoying the sci-fi franchise for decades, especially in the mid-1990s. Throughout its first season, it often works to update those series, reimagining some of their best ideas through the frame of the modern world. Though it can get bogged down in its attention to Treks of the past, Picard is a darker look at a future that challenges the franchise, not by just telling the stories of great people doing great things–but by amplifying their flaws and forcing them to choose to be better.Patrick Stewart and Jeri Ryan in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1 (2020)Picard picks up the story of Jean-Luc 15 years after he’s suffered a major failure: He attempted to lead Starfleet in an enormous rescue to save the endangered Romulans, the Federation’s oldest enemies. An immense tragedy, the destruction of the Starfleet’s rescue fleet, led to the Federation abandoning the plans to save the Romulans and Picard’s resignation in protest. More than a decade later, the series finds him languishing in his French vineyard, while Earth’s branch of the Federation has become isolationist and bigoted. Hardship and injustice have festered, especially against synthetic lifeforms, the apparent perpetrators of the tragedy–and Jean-Luc has done little in the intervening years to stop it. That’s a stark contrast to the unwaveringly principled captain seen in The Next Generation, which makes it a perfect starting point for Star Trek: Picard.Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Evan Evagora, and Isa Briones in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1 (2020)Picard is shaken out of his complacency with the arrival of Dahj (Isa Briones), a young woman being hunted by Romulan assassins, on Picard’s doorstep. Dahj turns out to be a synthetic created in violation of the ban from the remnants of Data (Brent Spiner), Picard’s former android crewmember and old friend, who died to save Picard’s life. Stirred by his loyalty and friendship for Data, Picard takes it upon himself to protect Dahj and her sister, Soji, gathering a ragtag crew and taking to the captain’s chair one last time.Patrick Stewart and Isa Briones in Star Trek: Picard (2020)The season is slow to start, especially as it gets bogged down in setting up a world that’s something like 30 years ahead of where The Next Generation left off. After the first three episodes, though, Picard hits its stride as it fuses two Star Trek identities: the more action-packed, adventure-focused takes of more recent Trek movies, and the moralistic, cerebral approach of The Next Generation. It’s a hybrid that mostly works, too, with Picard occasionally interspersing fun, well-produced action and fight scenes with the moral quandaries and diplomatic conundrums of the Enterprise’s voyages. In a lot of ways, slick CGI space battles and choreographed hand-to-hand fights between Romulan agents and super-fast androids make Picard a more modern take on the franchise. With the budget and the effects technology, some of The Next Generation might have looked a little more like Picard.Marina Sirtis and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Picard (2020)The darker, more modern take on Star Trek also makes Picard feel more relevant to the world in which we’re watching it. The show focuses on the plights of refugees, including the Romulan survivors who were scattered across the galaxy after the failed rescue, and the XBs, victims assimilated by the deadly cybernetic Borg who have been freed from enslavement to its Collective, but who are still mistrusted and exploited. The Starfleet of the future is more insular, abandoning much of its focus on exploration of the galaxy and understanding other life and cultures. It’s a Star Trek that uses the lens of science fiction to explore the plights and issues of a more reactionary world than the one in which The Next Generation was made.Patrick Stewart and Isa Briones in Star Trek: Picard (2020)But much of Picard’s power comes from its dedication to the past. Few opportunities slip past for references to The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, or the Star Trek movies. It’s not all just about appeasing Trekkers, though–Picard has a deep, encyclopedic knowledge of everything that’s happened to its characters over the years, and does a brilliant job of rejoining their stories, exploring their traumas, and advancing their characters in ways that feel true to them.Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Picard (2020)The new additions to Picard, however, function less well. Where returning characters like Jean-Luc and Voyager’s Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) get the benefit of the show building on their lengthy histories, the new ragtag crew often don’t really have enough to do, even as the show spends a little time rounding out their backstories. Jean-Luc’s often-drunk former first officer, Raffi (Michelle Hurd), exists to tap away on holographic computers; what interesting conflict she has with Jean-Luc, based on him abandoning her after the Romulan rescue along with everything else, evaporates not long into the season. The same is true for cyberneticist Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), who struggles with her role in the creation of Dahj, Soji, and the other synthetics, but who gets back to normal for plot reasons.Patrick Stewart, Michelle Hurd, Alison Pill, and Santiago Cabrera in Star Trek: Picard (2020)Rios (Santiago Cabrera), the hardnosed captain of the ship Picard hires, is mostly just angry and stoic, and the childishly idealistic, sword-wielding warrior Elnor (Evan Evagora) seems to primarily exist for fight scenes and innocently misunderstanding situations for laughs. There’s also Narek (Harry Treadaway), a Romulan spy tasked with getting close to Soji, who struggles a bit with his task but never really evolves as a character because of it. All of the characters are interesting, with well-built backstories and strong performances, but none can really take the room needed to grow with the show so often putting a hard focus on Picard and Soji, who spends most of the season unaware of her nature as an android and slowly catching up to a point the audience reached much earlier.It all makes Picard’s 10-episode run feel just a touch too short to really expand on any of the new characters, especially with the show making lots of detours down the memory lane of The Next Generation. As mentioned, those looks to the past are strong if you’re an established Trek fan, but they often hobble the show’s present. Much of what goes on Season 1 of Picard feels like it’s setup for a more fleshed-out Season 2. Still, there’s a lot Picard does right. Its update on the Star Trek formula is a sorely needed catch-up to the modern world that makes it feel like Trek has something important to say, and its signature optimism is a perfect fit for the times. It’s also keenly aware of everything that made Jean-Luc Picard such a resonant character, and it revisits those aspects without retreading old ground. On the whole, Star Trek: Picard does well to bring Treks of the past forward, and for fans of Jean-Luc and The Next Generation, it’s a powerful and emotional revisit to beloved characters.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: COOTIES

CAST

Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Alison Pill (Hail, Caesar!)
Rainn Wilson (The Meg)
Jack McBrayer (Smurfs: The Lost Village)
Leigh Whannell (The Bye Bye Man)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Jorge Garcia (Lost)
Ian Brennan (Save The Last Dance 2)
Morgan Lily (X-Men: First Class)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Matt Jones (Mom)

Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Leigh Whannell, Jack McBrayer, and Nasim Pedrad in Cooties (2014)In Fort Chicken, Illinois, fourth-grade student Shelly consumes a tainted black-dotted chicken nugget and begins wheezing and growing blisters. Elsewhere, aspiring horror writer Clint substitutes at Fort Chicken Elementary, where he reunites with his former high school crush Lucy, only to discover that she is already dating physical education teacher Wade.Elijah Wood and Alison Pill in Cooties (2014)During Clint’s class, Shelly attacks and infects her classmate Patriot after he inadvertently pulls a pigtail out of her scalp. She also claws Clint as she runs out of the room. Though she tries to escape the school by digging her way out before she fully turns, Shelly turns feral and passes the virus to another bully, Dink, who spreads it throughout the playground by scratching the majority of the children. They quickly become infected and kill several staff members along with a police officer. The few surviving staff members, consisting of Clint, Lucy, Wade, Doug, Tracy, and Rebekkah, hide in the faculty lounge but are attacked by Patriot.Elijah Wood and Cooper Roth in Cooties (2014)After escaping to the library and joining with uninfected student Calvin, the staff barricades themselves in the music room. Wade notices Clint has been scratched by Shelly and quarantines him. Clint is only experiencing symptoms of stomach flu, and Doug deduces that the virus does not affect adults like it does children. The staff plans to wait until the parents come at the end of the day, but the first parent to arrive is killed by her child. The children charge them and the group is forced to flee, managing to rescue a teenager, Tamra, only to discover that she has also been scratched.Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, and Leigh Whannell in Cooties (2014)The staff is attacked again, and Wade kills Dink with a fire extinguisher. Doug extracts and analyzes Dink’s brain, which has turned black and rotten due to the virus. He concludes that the virus is only dangerous to the prepubescent, which is why Clint and Tamra did not turn feral. The group unites with the school janitor, Hitachi, but Calvin passes out due to diabetic shock. The group sends Clint through the ventilation system to gather a chocolate bar for Calvin, Wade’s truck keys, and their cellphones. Lucy joins Clint and they manage to secure a chocolate bar to bring Calvin out of diabetic shock. Clint and Lucy are separated from the group and get trapped in the library, where they confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Shortly after, Wade apologizes for his behavior over a walkie-talkie. Clint knocks out several children with pills and he and Lucy reconvene with Wade and the others, who utilize various tools in the school as improvised weapons. They discover a horde outside, and manage to fight their way through, although Hitachi is overwhelmed inside while Wade stays behind to ensure the others get away.Cooties_2Patriot, having hidden in Wade’s truck bed, attacks Clint who crushes him against a tree. The group continues to the nearby town of Danville, where they run out of gas and discover it similarly overrun. The group learns that the viral infection has spread across the country. Several children ambush them, and they barricade themselves inside a nearby building. They retrieve a contaminated chicken nugget for Doug to study, with the intent of creating a vaccination for the virus. The group continues into a playroom, filled with more children including Shelly. Wade and Hitachi arrive and help the group escape the room. Wade uses a massive beach ball to barricade the children inside while spraying them with a water gun filled with gasoline. He lights the gasoline trail and burns the building down. They escape in a van, driving out of the town to “someplace kids don’t wanna go” as Shelly burns to death in pursuit.cootiestrailerCooties is funny and thrilling while it’s also wonderfully disgusting. Also if the beginning of this movie won’t make you a vegetarian, then nothing will.

REVIEW: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN

 

CAST

Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday)
Alison Pill (Milk)
Megan Fox (Jennifer’s Body)
Adam Garcia (Kangaroo Jack)
Eli Marienthal (American Pie)
Glenne Headly (Dick Tracy)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Sheila McCarthy (The Day After Tomorrow)
Tom McCamus (Mutant X)

Mary Elizabeth “Lola” Steppe (Lindsay Lohan) is a 15-year-old girl who grew up in New York City and wants desperately to be a famous Broadway actress. Lola narrates the story. Much to her annoyance, she moves with her family to the suburbs of Dellwood, New Jersey, but she confidently tells the audience, “A legend is about to be born. That legend would be me.” At school, Lola makes friends with an unpopular girl, Ella Gerard (Alison Pill), who shares her love for the rock band Sidarthur. Lola idolizes the band’s lead singer Stu Wolff (Adam Garcia). She also meets Sam (Eli Marienthal), a cute boy who takes a liking to her, and makes enemies with Carla Santini (Megan Fox), the most popular girl in school.When Lola auditions for the school play, a modernized musical version of Pygmalion called “Eliza Rocks”, she is chosen over Carla to play Eliza, and Carla promises to make her life miserable. Lola also beats Carla on a dancing video game at an arcade, where Carla reveals that she has tickets to the farewell concert of Sidarthur, who recently decided to break up. Afraid of being one-upped by Carla, Lola falsely claims that Ella and she have tickets, too. She loses her chance to buy tickets and new clothes when her mother takes away her allowance, and the concert is sold out by the time she persuades Ella to pay for the tickets. Lola explains that they can buy tickets from a scalper, though, and she gets Sam to sneak Eliza’s dress out of the costume room for her to wear at the concert.On the night of the concert, Lola and Ella take a train to New York City, but Lola loses the money for the tickets, and her plan to sneak into the concert does not work. Lola and Ella finally give up and walk through the city to Stu’s after-show party. When they get there, Stu stumbles drunkenly out of the building and passes out in an alley. The two girls take him to a diner to sober him up, but he gets in trouble, and they end up at a police station, where Lola gives her father’s New York City address. At this point, Lola’s dishonesty becomes a problem. When she met Ella, she tried to impress her by telling her a dramatic story about her father dying years earlier. Ella highly values honesty, so she becomes infuriated when she discovers that Lola’s story was a lie. After Lola’s father arrives, and they explain what happened, Stu gratefully takes them all back to the party, where Ella forgives Lola for lying, and the two girls see Carla, who sees them, as well, and looks upset. Lola talks with Stu about his work, but is disappointed to discover that he is a drunk.Back at school, Carla humiliates Lola by denying that she saw Lola or Ella at the party and calling Lola a liar. None of the other students believes Lola’s story about being arrested with Stu and leaving her necklace at his house. Afterward, Lola goes home, depressed, and refuses to perform in the play, but she is spurred on by Ella’s encouragement and arrives backstage just in time to prevent Carla from taking over her part. As she is about to go on stage, her mother wishes her good luck and finally calls her by her nickname, “Lola”. The modernist interpretation of Pygmalion (Eliza Rocks) ensues. After a great performance that brings a standing ovation, the cast goes to an after-party at Carla’s house, where Stu arrives to see Lola. Carla tries to save herself from humiliation by saying he is there to see her, but is proved wrong when Stu gives Lola her necklace in front of everyone. As Carla’s lies become apparent, she backs away from the crowd on the verge of tears and falls into a fountain, greeted by everyone’s laughter. In a conciliatory gesture, Lola helps her up, and Carla accepts defeat. After dancing with Stu, Lola dances with Sam, and they eventually share a kiss.I’d recommend taking a younger sister/cousin/friend between about 6-12. Remember, sometimes we need a silly movie!

REVIEW: HAIL, CAESAR!

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2)
Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Emily Beecham (Bon Voyage)
Heather Goldenhersh (The Class)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Fred Melamed (The Dictator)
Patrick Fischler (Old School)
David Krumholtz (Mom)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow0
Robert Pciardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Natasha Bassett (Britney Ever AFter)
Dolph Lundgren (Arrow)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: TLJ)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Peter Jason (They Live)
Jillian Armenante (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jack Huston (Ben-Hur)

MV5BMTkwODAwMTA4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzM3MTA2NzE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,957_AL_In 1951, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of physical production at Capitol Pictures and also works as a “fixer” to keep the scandalous behavior of its stars out of the press. He often has to fend off inquiries from Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), twin sisters and rival gossip columnists. The Lockheed Corporation has been courting him with an offer of a high-level executive position, but he is unsure about taking it. When unmarried synchronised swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant, Mannix arranges for her to put the baby in foster care, and then adopt it without revealing herself as the mother. The studio’s major production is Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, an epic set in ancient Roman times and starring Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). During a shot, Whitlock drinks from a goblet of wine that was drugged by an extra (Wayne Knight); he passes out while rehearsing lines by himself behind the soundstage and is abducted. A ransom note soon arrives, written by a group calling itself “The Future,” demanding $100,000. Mannix arranges to get the money from the studio’s Accounting Department, as “petty cash.”
MV5BMzQ3MzM0NTExNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjM3MTA2NzE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Whitlock awakens in a beach house and finds his way into a meeting of The Future, a Communist cell. The members, who introduce themselves as mostly writers in the motion picture industry, explain their doctrine to him and begin to win him over to their cause. At the same time, Thora threatens Mannix by stating she will release an article about a scandal involving the earlier film On Wings As Eagles, which gave Whitlock his break-out role. Mannix successfully negotiates for her to postpone the story by a day in exchange for information about the romantic life of singing Western film star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). Doyle is cast in a period drama helmed by posh director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) in an attempt by the studio to broaden his appeal. After Doyle’s initial performance is hopelessly incompetent, Laurentz visits Mannix and asks him to remove Doyle from the project so that Laurentz can preserve his artistic vision for the film. Mannix informs Laurentz that Doyle’s role is non-negotiable and convinces him to coach the young actor to give a better performance. Doyle comes to Mannix’s office and admits that he feels the part is too far outside his comfort zone. Mannix reassures him that he has the needed acting abilities and tells him about Whitlock’s kidnapping.
That evening, Doyle attends the premiere of one of his own Westerns with starlet Carlotta Valdez (Verónica Osorio), per instructions from Mannix. Doyle is initially disappointed that his lone singing scene is depicted in a comedic manner, rather than as heartfelt as he intended. However, after seeing the audience react positively to the scene, Doyle warms to it himself. Doyle and Valdez visit a nightclub, where the pair are genuinely developing chemistry until they are interrupted by both Thacker sisters, each looking to get a scoop on their relationship. Doyle suddenly spots the briefcase containing the ransom money, recognizing it because he had lent Mannix his belt to keep it closed. It is being carried by Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), the star of a sailor musical comedy depicted earlier in an elaborate dancing scene. Mannix and Moran meet with a surety agent, Joseph Silverman (Jonah Hill), an average man whom the studio has used to solve public problems; he has a solid reputation as completely dependable, reliable, and discreet. He will agree to provide foster care for Moran’s child, preserving her image. Moran, who expressed frustration with her previous two marriages with a mobster and a Hollywood type, finds herself strongly attracted to Silverman.
Doyle follows Gurney to the beach house in Malibu but, after walking in the front door, finds only Whitlock inside. The rest of The Future’s members have rowed a boat containing Gurney offshore so that he can rendezvous with a Soviet submarine and defect to Russia. The members of The Future give him the money for the Communist cause. As Gurney boards the submarine, his dog jumps into his arms, causing him to drop the briefcase, which sinks into the ocean. Doyle takes Whitlock back to the studio just before the police arrive at the beach house to arrest the group, after Mannix’s investigation led him to the house. Whitlock tries to explain his new-found Communist leanings to Mannix, who cuts him off sharply, slapping his face numerous times, and orders him to finish his role in Hail, Caesar!; the actor is chastened, but encouraged by a final directive from Mannix to be a movie star.
Mannix is notified the next morning that Moran married Silverman who will adopt the child with her. Mannix announces he has decided to reject the Lockheed offer and continue working at Capitol. Thora then meets with Mannix and informs him that the column she plans to publish about On Wings As Eagles will reveal that Whitlock got his major role in the film by having sex with Laurentz. However, Mannix has deduced that Gurney is her source for the piece and persuades her to not run the story since Gurney is a Communist who has defected—which would cause her own reputation to suffer by association. Mannix leaves the worried-looking Thora, secure in his station in life.MV5BMjMzOTcyNzc2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM0Mzk2NzE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,954_AL_I think that you need to be something of a film buff to really enjoy this Coen Brothers offering, which is an affectionate homage to the history of Hollywood. There are references to the influence of McCarthyism and nods to many genres, from the ‘B’ Western to the biblically based epic. Most of the comedy is gentle and occasionally subtle, not to say understated. It is both easily worth 5 stars and thoroughly recommended.

REVIEW: DAN IN REAL LIFE


CAST

Steve Carell (Get Smart)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland)
Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck)
Emily Blunt (The Huntsman)
Juliette Binoche (Godzilla)
John Mahoney (Frasier)
Dianne Wiest (Edward Scissorhands)
Norbert Leo Butz (The English Teacher)
Jessica Hecht (The Winning Season)
Amy Ryan (Changeling)
Frank Wood  (The Taking of Pellham 123)
Matthew Morrison (Glee)

Dan Burns is a newspaper advice columnist, a widower, and single-parent to his three girls. The family takes a trip to the rambling, Rhode Island home of his parents for an annual family gathering. Also in attendance are Dan’s sister and brother with their families and Dan’s younger brother Mitch.
The morning after their arrival, Dan meets Marie in a bookshop. They share a muffin and a heart-felt chat, although Marie gently warns Dan that she has a boyfriend. Dan returns to his parents’ house and announces that he has ‘met someone’. Brother Mitch introduces his new girlfriend Annie. Lo and behold, Dan’s Marie is Mitch’s Annie. Dan is disheartened and resists his father’s relationship advice about finding someone of his own.
Dan reluctantly agrees to a foursome dinner with their once unattractive childhood friend, “pig-faced” Ruthie. Marie jealously watches Dan and Ruthie. The next morning, Dan endures her ‘punishment’ for his late night with Ruthie by eating the burnt pancakes which she serves him. Marie and Dan meet to talk at a bowling alley. The meeting evolves into a date and finally a passionate kiss, but unfortunately Dan’s entire family arrives to bowl. Mitch punches Dan in the face, and Marie hurries out
The plot resolves with Dan and his daughters going to New York City, where they finally find Marie at her gym. As he makes eye contact with her, Dan, in voice-over, tells the readers of his advice column that instead of merely planning ahead in life, they should “plan to be surprised”. The film ends with Dan and Marie celebrating their wedding at his parents’ Rhode Island home, and Mitch happily dancing with Ruthie.Dan in Real Life is a great film, a fantastic escape from the redundancy of offensive and dumbed-down comedies. The quality of the writing, directing, acting, and (especially) cinematography is excellent. It is simply a beautiful, light-hearted comedy.

REVIEW: MILK

CAST
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Josh Brolin (W.)
Emilie Hirsch (Alpha Dog)
Diego Luna (Elysium)
James Franco (Spring Breakers)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs the World)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Dennis O’ Hare (The Proposal)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl)
Ted Jan Roberts (Masked Rider)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)
The film opens with archival footage of police raiding gay bars and arresting patrons during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by Dianne Feinstein’s November 27, 1978 announcement to the press that Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and Mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber) had been assassinated. Milk is seen recording his will throughout the film, nine days (November 18, 1978) before the assassinations. The film then flashes back to New York City in 1970, the eve of Milk’s 40th birthday and his first meeting with his much younger lover, Scott Smith (James Franco).
Dissatisfied with his life and in need of a change, Milk and Smith decide to move to San Francisco in the hope of finding larger acceptance of their relationship. They open Castro Camera in the heart of Eureka Valley, a working-class neighborhood in the process of evolving into a predominantly gay neighborhood known as The Castro. Frustrated by the opposition they encounter in the once Irish-Catholic neighborhood, Milk utilizes his background as a businessman to become a gay activist, eventually becoming a mentor for Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch). Early on, Smith serves as Milk’s campaign manager, but he grows frustrated with Milk’s devotion to politics, and he leaves him. Milk later meets Jack Lira (Diego Luna), a sweet-natured but unbalanced young man. As with Smith, Lira cannot tolerate Milk’s devotion to political activism, and eventually hangs himself. Milk clashes with the local gay “establishment” which he feels to be too cautious and risk-averse.
After two unsuccessful political campaigns in 1973 and 1975 to become a city supervisor and a third in 1976 for the California State Assembly, Milk finally wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 for District 5. His victory makes him the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in California and the third openly homosexual politician in the entire US. Milk subsequently meets fellow Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam veteran and former police officer and firefighter. White, who is politically and socially conservative, has a difficult relationship with Milk, and develops a growing resentment for Milk when he opposes projects that White proposes.
Milk and White forge a complex working relationship. Milk is invited to, and attends, the christening of White’s first child, and White asks for Milk’s assistance in preventing a psychiatric hospital from opening in White’s district, possibly in exchange for White’s support of Milk’s citywide gay rights ordinance. When Milk fails to support White because of the negative effect it will have on troubled youth, White feels betrayed, and ultimately becomes the sole vote against the gay rights ordinance. Milk also launches an effort to defeat Proposition 6, an initiative on the California state ballot in November 1978. Sponsored by John Briggs (Denis O’Hare), a conservative state legislator from Orange County, Proposition 6 seeks to ban gays and lesbians (in addition to anyone who supports them) from working in California’s public schools. It is also part of a nationwide conservative movement that starts with the successful campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida to repeal a local gay rights ordinance.
On November 7, 1978, after working tirelessly against Proposition 6, Milk and his supporters rejoice in the wake of its defeat. A desperate White favors a supervisor pay raise, but does not get much support, and shortly after supporting the proposition, resigns from the Board. He later changes his mind and asks to be reinstated. Mayor Moscone denies his request, after being lobbied by Milk. On the morning of November 27, 1978, White enters City Hall through a basement window to conceal a gun from metal detectors. He requests another meeting with Moscone, who rebuffs his request for appointment to his former seat. Enraged, White shoots Moscone in his office and then goes to meet Milk, where he guns him down, with the fatal bullet delivered execution-style. The film suggests that Milk believed that White might be a closeted gay man.
The last scene is a candlelight vigil held by thousands for Milk and Moscone throughout the streets of the city. Pictures of the actual people depicted in the film, and brief summaries of their lives follow.
Sean Penn played the role of Harvey Milk so well that it really felt like I was getting a historic glimpse on what it might have felt like for Harvey Milk and for those that were the closest to him and helping him out. I normally love and prefer to watch only cheerful feel good movies. However, this movie pulled at my heartstrings because a very powerful, caring, and intelligent man was taken at such a stage in his life where he was just starting to reap the benefits of his hard work. Aside from this caveat, I still feel that this was a terrific movie with some convincing and talented actors and actresses.

REVIEW: SCOTT PILGRAM VS THE WORLD


SCOTT PILGRAMCAST

Michael Cera (Youth In Revolt)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Alison Pill (Milk)
Ellen Wong (The Carrie Diaries)
Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Brie Larson (21 Jump Street)
Aubrey Plaza (Life After Beth)
Ben Lewis (Arrow)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Jason Schwartzman (I Heart Huckabees)
Kristina Pesic (The Vow)
Mark Webber (13 Sins)
Mae Whitman (Independance Day)
Johnny Simmons (Jennifer’s Body)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Thomas Jane (The Punisher)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)

MV5BMTgyNTUyNjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUxNzYyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,822_AL_In Toronto, 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim is a bass guitarist in Sex Bob-Omb, a floundering garage band. To the disapproval of his friends, he is dating Knives Chau, a high school student. Scott meets an American Amazon.ca delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, having first seen her in a dream, and loses interest in Knives. When Sex Bob-Omb plays in a battle of the bands sponsored by record executive G-Man Graves, Scott is attacked by Ramona’s ex-boyfriend Matthew Patel. Scott defeats Patel and learns that, in order to date Ramona, he must defeat the remaining six evil exes.
MV5BMjIwNDkwMzkwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQ0MTkxNw@@._V1_SX1537_CR0,0,1537,999_AL_Scott breaks up with Knives, who blames Ramona and swears to win him back. Scott defeats Ramona’s second evil ex, Hollywood actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee, by tricking him into performing a dangerous stunt. He defeats her third ex, vegan Todd Ingram, who is dating Scott’s ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams, by tricking him into drinking dairy. He defeats Ramona’s fourth ex, Roxy Richter, by prodding the spot behind her knee, which Ramona tells him is her weak point.
MV5BMTQ1MjUxNDIxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgyODYxNw@@._V1_Scott becomes upset with Ramona’s dating history and Ramona breaks up with him. At the next battle of the bands, Sex Bob-Omb defeats Ramona’s fifth and sixth evil exes, twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi, earning Scott a 1-up. Ramona gets back with her seventh evil ex, Gideon, also known as G-Man Graves, the sponsor of the event. Sex Bob-Omb accept Gideon’s record deal, except for Scott, who leaves the band in protest. Gideon invites Scott to his venue, the Chaos Theater, where Sex Bob-Omb is playing. Resolving to win Ramona back, Scott challenges Gideon to a fight for her affections, earning the “Power of Love” and a sword. Knives fights Ramona over Scott, and Scott accidentally reveals that he dated them concurrently. After Gideon kills Scott, Ramona visits him in limbo and reveals that Gideon has implanted her with a mind control device.
MV5BMTkwNTg1MjI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTAwNTE5NQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_Scott uses his 1-up to restore his life. He makes peace with his friends and challenges Gideon again, this time for himself. He gains the “Power of Self-Respect” and disarms Gideon with the sword it grants him. He apologizes to Ramona and Knives for cheating on them, and Scott and Knives join forces to defeat Gideon. Free from Gideon’s control, Ramona prepares to leave. Knives accepts that her relationship with Scott is over. At her encouragement, he follows Ramona.MV5BMTkwODk1NzIzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzQ0MTkxNw@@._V1_SX1537_CR0,0,1537,999_AL_This movie has everything. Action, love, geek background… The plot is great, a good reflection of the comics. But the camera, special effects and music are absolutely awesome. For me, this is one of the best movies in history.