Parkland

Title: Parkland

Release Date: October 4, 2013

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Drama, Crime

My Rating: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 50%

Where to Watch: Google Play, Amazon

Notable Cast: Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, David Harbor

Synopsis: This film depicts the days following the tragic event of November 22, 1963. As the presidential motorcade makes its way through Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the lives several ordinary citizens are about to change. When Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti) unintentionally films the murder, his footage becomes the basis of a Secret Service and FBI investigation. As the motorcade flees the crime scene, President Kennedy is wisked away to Parkland Hospital. Jim Carrico (Efron) and his medical team are only given a few minutes warning before springing into action to try and save the president’s life. When the name of the suspect is released, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother is left to deal with the now tainted Oswald family name. Meanwhile, Special Agent James Gordon Shanklin (Harbor) and his team are embarrased to discover they had the killer in their grasp just days before the shooting. Two days after the tragic event, Parkland Hospital is rocked again when Lee Harvey Oswald is brought in after being shot while being escorted from the Dallas Police Headquarters. The film ends with the burials of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Thoughts: The details and facts about the Kennedy assasination have always been interesting to me. I was suprised this film got somewhat of a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes because it does a great job of depicting the chaos and grief of that fatful day. I loved the director’s choice of using multiple, less well-known perpspectives. It was hard not feel what the doctors must have been feeling when they had to try to save the man who had killed their Commander in Chief just two days earlier. If you like this film, I recommend you also watch Jackie with Natalie Portman.

You can watch the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • This film is based on the book Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi.
  • Brett Stimely portrayed President Kennedy in this film. This was his third time playing the role of Preisdent John F. Kennedy. His other JFK related films include Watchmen and Kill the Dictator.
  • Presidents are no longer allowed to ride in open vehicles as a result of the Kennedy assassination.
  • Former President Kennedy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This is a photo I took when I visited Arlington Cemetery back in November of 2019.

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkland_(film)

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/parkland

Hubie Halloween

Title: Hubie Halloween

Release Date: October 7, 2020

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Crime,

My Rating: 6/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 50%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Notable Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Steve Buscemi, Julie Bowen, Rob Schneider

Synopsis: This Halloween-inspired film tells the story of self-appointed Halloween Helper Hubie Dubois (Sandler). Hubie takes it upon himself to monitor the streets of Salem, Massachusetts every Halloween night. Unfortunately, Hubie’s dedication to protecting the people of Salem results in him being the figure of ridicule around town. On this particular Halloween, Hubie meets his new neighbor, Mr. Lambert (Buscemi). When Hubie and the other residents hear strange noises coming from Mr. Lambert’s home, the easily startled Hubie goes to investigate. To his horror, Hubie finds “Walter” the werewolf (aka Mr. Lambert). When Hubie goes to report his findings to Sergeant Downey (James), the Salem Police Department brush this report aside and chalk it up to another on Hubie’s “little boy who cried wolf” antics. This weird incident leads to several disappearances around town, which takes Hubie on a journey of solving the mystery of the missing Salem residents.

Thoughts: Add this to the list of classic Happy Madison films that Sandler has produced. While this movie is somewhat corny, it has a really good message: “True bravery is being kind, even to those who are being cruel to you”. My one grievance with this movie was Sandler’s accent. Sandler uses a more intense version of his classic “Waterboy” accent throughout the entire movie. Sandler’s accent was hard to understand at times and sounded like garble to me. I had to put on subtitles, but I do this for every film I watch. My family really loves it when I do that. 🙂 On a more positive note, it was refreshing to see Adam Sandler and his usual cast together again. If you get easily scared like Hubie (or me) and are wanting to avoid typical horror movies, this is the movie for you!

You can watch the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • At the end of the credits, Sandler made sure to include a dedication to Cameron Boyce that was very sweet and touching. Boyce tragically passed away back in July of 2019 and played Sandler’s son in the Grown Ups films.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubie_Halloween

https://www.imdb.com/

American Murder: The Family Next Door

Title: American Murder: The Family Next Door

Release Date: September 30, 2020

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Documentary, Mystery, Crime

My Rating: 10/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: This documentary follows the tragic story of the murders of Shannan, Celeste, Bella, and Nico Watts. When Shannan and her friend, Nickole Atkinson, return late from a business trip, everything seems perfectly normal. It isn’t until Nickole calls the next day to check on Shannan that she gets the sense that something might be wrong. When police are called to investigate, they discover that Chris’s wife and two young daughters have disappeared. The documentary takes the viewer on journey through Chris and Shannan’s rocky relationship and the details and events that led up to that fateful night. When Chris is called in for questioning and asked to take a polygraph test, the gruesome details of what actually happened start to unfold.

Thoughts: If you love true crime documentaries, this is the film for you! This documentary just proves that you never truly know someone and what goes on behind closed doors. I thought it was smart of the director to utilize the actual video footage from the cop suit cam, security cameras, arial views, text messages, and social media posts to help tell this tragic story. I am going to break from usual format and give my thoughts on the details of the case. I am sickened by the fact that Chris not only annihilated his family, but had the audacity to lie and blame his deceased wife for their daughter’s deaths. I also found it odd that Chris never spoke to his children while Shannan and the girls were in North Carolina for 6 weeks. I also thought the 6 week trip was a strong indication of how Chris’s and Shannan’s relationship was going. I wonder if Shannan went to North Carolina to get some separation from Chris. On the night of the murders, Chris made his two girls ride next to their mom’s lifeless body while he drove 45 minutes to the burial site. When you discover that Chris cheated on his wife during the 6 weeks she was gone, it makes you wonder if he wanted to start a new life and that is why he committed this heinous crime. My favorite character in this documentary was the blonde polygraph administrator/investigator. She was not afraid to call Chris out for being a compulsive liar. My favorite statement from her was “These are your baby girls and you haven’t even shed one tear.” The most heartbreaking scene in this documentary is the family video of Bella singing a song about her dad being her hero. It breaks my heart to know that the one person they looked up to and depended on to protect them would be their killer.

You can watch the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • One of my favorite podcasts, Crime Junkie, covered this case back in December of 2018. I would recommend you listen to the episode about this particular case before you watch the documentary. You can listen to the episode here: MURDERED: The Watts Family. After listening, be sure to subscribe to this podcast if you love true crime. You won’t regret it!

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Murder:_The_Family_Next_Door

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american_murder_the_family_next_door

https://crimejunkiepodcast.com/

Enola Holmes

Title: Enola Holmes

Release Date: September 23, 2020

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Mystery, Crime, Adventure, Action

My Rating: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Notable Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter

Synopsis: This film centers around the life of Sherlock Holmes’s younger and less well-known sister Enola Holmes (Brown). From word games to jujitsu, Enola and her mother Eudoria (Carter) do everything together. However, Enola feels her mother is hiding something from her. Enola’s suspicions are confirmed when she wakes up on her 16th birthday to find her mother missing. Upon hearing the news of their mother’s disappearance, Enola’s two brothers, Mycroft (Claflin) and Sherlock (Cavill) come home to take care of Enola and aid in the search for their mother. Sherlock grows fond of Enola and sees a little bit of himself in her. Mycroft, however, does not. Mycroft is horrified by how Enola has been raised. Mycroft plans for Enola to attend Miss Harrison’s finishing school in the hopes that she will become a proper young lady. The night before she is to start finishing school, Enola decodes a secret message from her mother and sets off to go find her. Along the journey, Enola befriends Viscount Tewkesbury. Unbeknownst to Enola, the viscount has his own reasons for being on the run. The pair go on wild and crazy journey to find Enola’s mother while attempting to avoid Enola’s brothers and the people that are after Viscount Tewkesbury.

Thoughts: If you love mystery or if you have seen seen any of the previous Sherlock Holmes movies, this is the film for you! I thoroughly enjoyed this film and was intrigued and entertained from beginning to end. I thought Millie Bobby Brown did a fantastic job of portraying Enola. I liked how Millie as Enola would occasionally break the fourth wall. It made you more invested in the storyline and made you feel like you were along for the journey. Both Nancy Springer and Millie have given young girls a character they can admire. (P.S. If you noticed, I didn’t include my typical “This film ends with…” statement becauseI didn’t want to spoil the ending. 🙂 )

You can watch the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7846844/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enola_Holmes_(film)

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/enola_holmes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_actors_who_have_played_Sherlock_Holmes#Theatrical_films

The Devil All The Time

Title: The Devil All The Time

Release Date: September 11, 2020

Rating: R

 Genre: Thriller, Horror

My Rating: 5/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Notable Cast: Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Sebastian Stan

Synopsis: This psychological thriller takes place in the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio. It follows the story of a young man named Arvin Russell (Holland). The film begins with Arvin’s father, Willard Russell (Skarsgard), traveling back from the war to Meade, Ohio. After stoping at a diner, he falls in love with a waitress named Charlotte. However, Willard’s mother is hoping he will marry Helen Hatton and sets them up to meet at a church service. It is at this service that Helen falls in love with Pastor Roy Laferty. Fast forward a few years later, Helen is married to Pastor Roy Laferty and they have a daughter named Lenora. Willard is married to Charlotte and they have Arvin. One day, Roy Laferty and Helen decide to go for a drive and ask Emma and Earskell to babysit baby Lenora. Unbeknownst to Helen, Roy is suffering from hallucinations caused by one of his “spider sermons”. He believes he has the capability to resurrect people and plans on taking Helen into the woods to kill and resurrect her. When his plan fails, Roy flees and is picked up by serial killers Carl and Sandy and is later killed. When young Arvin’s mother becomes ill a few years later, Arvin and his father rely on the power of prayer to save her. Willard goes as far as to offer their family dog as a sacrifice. Unfortunately, all the prayers and spiritual remedies are not able to save Charlotte, which causes Willard to commit suicide. As a result, Arvin is sent off to live with his grandparents where he meets Lenora. Fast forward a few more years, Lenora and Arvin are step-siblings and both live with Uncle Earskell and Grandma Emma. Arvin is very protective of Lenora and defends her against a gang of school bullies. Arvin also often accompanies Lenora to visit her mother’s grave. Through these visits, Lenora develops an intimate relationship with Reverend Preston Teagardin (Pattinson). Lenora later finds out she is pregnant. When Lenora goes to confront Teagardin about her pregnancy, he claims she is delusional and is in denial that the child is his because “all they have done is spend time with the Lord.”

Lenora, ashamed of her situation, commits suicide. When Arvin discovers that Reverend Teagardin is to blame for Lenora’s death and pregnancy, he pays Teagardin a visit and kills him. Arvin instantly flees and is picked up by serial killers Carl and Sally. When Arvin discovers their true intentions, he kills them both. The film ends with Arvin hitching a ride with another stranger and falling asleep in the passenger seat.

Thoughts: This movie is very dark and deals with themes of religion, evil, and abuse of power. These characters have a very skewed and “Old Testament” view of religion. The Reverend Teagardin storyline gave me huge Spotlight vibes, as both films deal with abuse of power in the church. I thought both Pattinson and Holland’s accents were very good and spot on. It is even more impressive when you consider they are both Englishmen. I have to admit that Pattinson’s accent had me cracking up at times because you could tell how hard he was trying to nail the southern accent. In conclusion, this was a good film, but I would not recommend watching it late at night given the film’s dark nature.

You can watch the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • This film is based on the book with the same name, The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Polluck.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_All_the_Time_(film)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7395114/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_devil_all_the_time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_All_the_Time

Mulan

Title: Mulan

Release Date: September 4, 2020

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Live Action, Adventure, Thriller

My Rating: 4/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%

Where to Watch: Disney+

Synopsis: This film is a live-action retelling of the story of Mulan. Similar to the animated version, this film depicts Mulan as a clumsy and accident-prone outsider in her village. When an appointment with the matchmaker goes terribly wrong, her parents fear that Mulan is never going to find a husband and settle down. Meanwhile, imperial China is at war with Rouran soldiers, led by Bori Khan. When one man from every family is asked to serve in the war, Mulan bravely decides to take her father’s place. While in training, Mulan befriends several soldiers in her battalion. The film ends with Mulan defeating Bori Khan and being offered a position in the Emperor’s Guard to commemorate her bravery and service.

Thoughts: I was honestly a little disappointed with this movie. Being a 90s kid and watching allof the Disney classics growing up, I was hoping that this film would be similar to the animated version. My one big grievance with this film was that this version ignored one of the major themesin the original film. In the animated version,Mulan goes through a journey of self-discovery and realizes that it is her intellect and determination that makes her equal to the men that she is fighting alongside. In this version, it is Mulan’s “qi” (pronounced “chi”) or special powers that separate her from all the other fighters. By giving Mulan special powers, this makes Mulan unrelatable. I was also disappointed that some of the original characters were left out and replaced with new characters, while other characters’names were changed. Finally, let’s talk about the price. Not only do you have to have a Disney+ subscription, you also have to pay $30 to watch this film. Disney+ did not do this with the film Onward, which was another film that was released exclusively through Disney+. I guess I can’t get too upset about the price because I bit the bullet and bought it anyway. In conclusion, I would recommend waiting until this movie becomes free to watch it. If you are expecting this film to be like the original, you will be disappointed.

You can view the trailer here:

Sources:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mulan_2020

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulan_(2020_film)

Dark Waters

Title: Dark Waters

Release Date: December 6, 2019

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Biographical Drama, Thriller

My Rating: 9/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%

Where to Watch: Google Play

Notable Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway

Awards/Nominations: Satellite Awards – Nomination for Best Actor (Ruffalo)

Synopsis: Based on a true story, this film centers around the career of Robert Bilott (Ruffalo). Bilott is an Ohio lawyer working for law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. When Bilott is asked to investigate the deaths of several cows on farmer Robert Tennant’s land, he is met with 190 deceased cows with unexplainable medical conditions such as bloated organs, blackened teeth, and tumors. Farmer Tennant claims that DuPont is to blame. In his research about DuPont, Bilott keeps coming across the term PFOA. Bilott later discovers that PFOA is perfluorooctanoic acid, which is used to manufacture Teflon. Teflon is a chemical found in common household nonstick pans. Bilott is horrified to discover that not only does the chemical PFOA cause cancer and birth defects, but that DuPont knew about it’s effects and continued with its manufacturing and distribution anyway. After building his case, Bilott files a class action lawsuit against DuPont. The film ends with DuPont settling for $671 million.

Thoughts: By the end of the movie, I was infuriated with the company DuPont and could not believe that this was based on a true story. This film did a great job of portraying the true story of the DuPont scandal. I also admire Robert Billott’s determination and persistence to bring justice for the people of Parkersburg and all the people who were affected.

You can view the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • The film is based on The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare by Nathaniel Rich.
  • This is Mark Ruffalo’s second film involving the DuPont family. His first DuPont related film was Foxcatcher.
  • The film had many cameos, such as the real Robert Bilott and William “Bucky” Bailey. Bailey was born with birth defects as a result of his mother being exposed to the chemical C8 while working on DuPont’s Teflon line.

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9071322/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dark_waters_2019

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Waters_(2019_film)

The Two Popes

Title: The Two Popes

Release Date: November 27, 2019

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Biographical Drama, Comedy

My Rating: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Notable Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce

Awards/Nominations: Golden Globes Nominations: Best Actor – Pryce, Best Supporting Actor – Hopkins

Academy Awards Nominations: Best Actor – Pryce, Best Supporting Actor – Hopkins, Best Film (see other awards)

Synopsis: This film centers around the lives of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI (Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Pope Francis (Pryce). Following the death of Pope John Paul II, Cardinals from all over are called to Vatican City to elect a new pope. After a grueling voting process and Cardinal Bergoglio almost winning the papacy, Cardinal Ratzinger is elected pope and becomes Pope Benedict XVI. The film fast forwards several years later into Pope Benedict’s reign and in the midst of the VatiLeaks scandal. Meanwhile, Cardinal Bergoglio is considering retiring from the College of Cardinals. Bergoglio has contacted the pope numerous times about his resignation, but has yet to receive a response. Bergoglio finally receives word that the pope requests his presence in Vatican City. Upon his arrival in Vatican City, it becomes very clear that the pope is trying to avoid the subject of his resignation. Pope Benedict later informs Bergoglio that he cannot retire because he plans on abdicating the papacy and would like Bergoglio to be his successor. The film ends with Benedict resigning and Bergoglio being elected to become Pope Francis.

Thoughts: I loved the relationship between the two popes. Throughout their numerous meetings/conversations, you see Bergoglio bring out the best in Pope Benedict and the pair become really good friends. I loved the ending of the movie where they are watching a Germany/Argentina soccer match together. To fully understand the context of this film, you must have some prior knowledge about the Vati Leaks scandal. I would recommend either doing some research about the scandal or watching the film Spotlight first before watching this film.

You can view the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  •  Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas.
  • There have been 266 popes within the history of the Catholic Church, making Benedict XVI the 265th and Francis the 266th.
  • Only 6 popes have abdicated in the history of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI vacated/abdicated the papacy on February 28, 2013. The last pope to do so was Gregory XII in 1415.

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8404614/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Popes

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_two_popes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Francis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/feb/13/popes-full-list#:~:text=What%20can%20we%20learn%20from,German%20Pope%20before%20Benedict%20XVI.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_renunciation#:~:text=Before%20the%2021st%20century%2C%20only,may%20have%20involved%20an%20antipope.

The Highwaymen

Title: The Highwaymen

Release Date: March 10, 2019

 Genre: Crime, Drama

My Rating: 10/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57%

Where to Watch: Netflix

Notable Cast: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kathy Bates

Synopsis: This 1930s drama follows the story of renowned Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Costner). Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (Bates) tasks Hamer with hunting down infamous murder couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Along with purchasing an extensive amount of firearms and ammunition, Hamer also recruits his former partner, Maney Gault (Harrelson). The team attempts to capture Parker and Barrow by following their travel patterns. Unfortunately, the team always seems to be one step behind Bonnie and Clyde and the couple somehow always manages to escape. The film ends with the infamous and gruesome shooting/capture of Bonnie and Clyde.

Thoughts: This film was very captivating and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. It was very frustrating watching the two heroes get so close to finding Bonnie and Clyde and the criminals would somehow always manage to slip away. The shooting at the end was very gruesome yet satisfying, as the viewer had been following a lengthy manhunt. I found it very odd that people idolized killers Bonnie and Clyde. The scene where the bullet-ridden car is being pulled through the crowd of people with Bonnie and Clyde’s lifeless bodies inside was very sad and unsettling to watch.

You can view the trailer here:

Fun Facts:

  • The original Bonnie and Clyde car is on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada.