Category Archives: Movies

Jul. 16, 2016 Ghostbusters In Silicon Valley

The latest Ghostbusters movie was fun and actually said a lot about today’s workplace. The actors were hilarious and there were lots of cameos from the first movie. The special effects were okay. Maybe it was too close to home for fanboys here in Silicon Valley. It is funny to listen to men who have no trouble with technological change freak out over social change. They seem threatened by a story about  women over forty with technical skills working as a team and trying to manage their own careers. Well guys, get used to it or watch the original on VHS.

Despite them, things are progressing. Smart companies are hiring women in senior technical positions at above market rates.  One hiring manager said it was a good idea to hire now than scramble for talent after November. Get used to that too.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 12, 2016 Trumbo

Bryan Cranston and a capable cast retell the story of the Hollywood blacklist. Dalton Trumbo moved from Colorado to California to become one of the highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood. He was a hard-working, generous man and that was reflected in his films and liberal politics. He was in the war and served his country well, while Ronald Reagan and John Wayne posed for the cameras at home. Being nice got him trouble with a woman who was not very nice at all. Hedda Hopper was a gossip columnist known for the hats she wore to allegedly hide her thinning hair and for trying to destroy people she did not like. She accused Trumbo of all sorts of things and a Congressman named Parnell Thomas had Trumbo sent to jail. In one of the film’s karmic moments, Trumbo and Parnell find themselves in the same prison, Trumbo for not talking about his friends and Parnell for not talking about his taxes.

Trumbo eventually got out of one prison but found himself in another, the blacklist. He was a writer and that was how he could support his family. Astoundingly, Hopper helped create a situation where writers could not work for a living and then she proceeded to ridicule them for not working. Instead of disappearing, Trumbo became even more famous than before. The solution was to work very hard and create so many different identities or pseudonyms that many of his scripts would get made into movies. In the beginning he was only able to sell them to low budget production companies. One of the funniest scenes in the film is John Goodman as a schlock producer going berserk on a blacklister who tries to intimidate him.

Soon Trumbo’s scripts start winning awards. Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger help end the blacklist. There is a scene at the end were Trumbo is getting some lifetime achievement award and he talks about how everyone was forced to do horrible things to survive. I disagree. Hedda Hopper had a choice, her survivors did not. Because of her, films were not made, careers were ended, lives were shortened or lost.

When Trumbo died, people cried. People wrote books, plays and movies about him decades after the blacklist. When Hopper died, people cheered. People watch Trumbo’s movies everyday but no one reads anything Hopper wrote. If people remember Hopper at all, it is as a villain. I’ve heard that she has a star on Hollywood Boulevard that was regularly defiled not only by the blacklisted, but by total strangers who knew about the horrible things she did. It may have been one the reasons why she is buried far away in Pennsylvania. Of course, that is only gossip. Funny, huh?

Note: The Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce?

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Jan. 8, 2015 The Big Short

This is a hard film to watch… in a theater. The Big Short film is based on the Michael Lewis book about the causes behind the financial collapse in 2008. When I heard it was showing at a multiplex. I bought a ticket and sat waiting for the film to begin. After twenty minutes of commercials, the film never started. I went to the ticket counter and was told there was a problem. I got my money back and went to another theater. Once there, I saw the first few minutes of the film then silence. Once again I was refunded and went to the third theater for the day. After many technical difficulties I think I have seen most of the film. I should say that the Star Wars films at all theaters were working just fine. The problem seemed to be with just this particular film. And what a film it is.

This is a good film. It shows rich people getting richer while poor families are living in cars and under bridges. It explains a complex subject in a funny and simple way. At one point a Brad Pitt, playing a character based on the real life Ben Hockett, points out the tragedy buried in this comedy. He says that every percentage point of unemployment results in 40,000 deaths. It checks out. In the November 4, 2012 New York Times reporter Benedict Carey wrote “Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession.” “The study was conducted by Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge and Sanjay Basu of Stanford and included researchers from the University of Bristol the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Hong Kong.”  These startling statistics turn unemployment into a death sentence.

Go see the film and then go vote.

Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

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Dec. 21, 2015 Predestination

Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” has been turned into a film called “Predestination” starring Ethan Hawke. The story is about a man who creates himself using time travel. You will need pen and paper to diagram it all out. I also recommend rewinding to catch everything that happens. It seems even more relevant today.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Dec. 18, 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In Silicon Valley a new Star Wars movie is the equivalent of a snow day. No code will be written, no deals will be made. A private bus will pick you up and take you to a theater. It seems silly to review a movie that everyone has already seen. I thought the first Star Wars movie from 1977 was lots of fun, but having to watch the rest of the series tested my patience. I was extremely wary after the last three films, but J.J. Abrams seems to have revitalized the brand, ironically by bringing back the original cast members. It is a reunion and a reboot.

Note: If you strike me down….

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Oct. 13, 2015 Steve Jobs Movie

Hope no one ever makes a movie about you. Famous people are still people, often very flawed ones. The fiction of film distorts actual events and human beings. The screenwriters may make you sound wittier than you actually were. The actors may make you look younger and prettier than you were. You and everyone who thought they were having private conversations will now have them streamed online. If history remembers you at all, it may not be favorably. Be nice to the people who write the first draft of history. They are called journalists.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Pirates! Band Of Misfits

djcdvd

The Pirates: Band Of Misfits movie is made by the same people who created the Wallace and Grommit animated series. A rather nice but ambitious Pirate Captain and his diverse crew get involved with Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria, both portrayed in a way I guarantee you have never seen before. Darwin has his own career ambitions and has trained a chimpanzee that pretty much steals the show. Queen Victoria is played as someone who really does not like dodo birds. Highly recommended silliness.

Copyright 2013 DJCline All rights reserved.

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Banner 2074 Titanic Tribute

A hundred years ago the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage. It became an icon of hubris and disaster. People take many lessons from it. No matter how much you prepare for disaster it can still happen. When it does happen you have to act fast and be resourceful.

Most of the hoopla is not about the tragedy but about the revival of the latest movie about the Titanic. I’ve seen all the versions and a friend thinks it is the worst. They think the girl takes advantage of the guy’s generous nature and he pays the price. They actually wrote a sequel where the guy survives and shows up in New York, for the gem. Not quite the sequel anyone expected…

Frankly I thought the acting was pedestrian and the effects were overblown. My heart may go on, but it won’t be going back to the movie theater.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Captain America

This a solid movie of Captain America that integrates special effects to tell the story. The skinny kid from Brooklyn is transformed by a scientist refugee from Germany into a super soldier. The movie captures the fears and anxieties of the period, when it was not clear who would win. It is also not afraid to make fun of itself and heroes in general.

The movie brings to mind a song by the Kinks called “Catch Me Now I’m Falling.” It tells the story of a hero who is trouble and discovers that the people he helped are not going to help him. It ends with the line, “The next time you are in trouble better not come running to me.”

I’m curious to see that inevitable next time as the movie ends with the promise of a sequel.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Contagion

This is not a movie to see in a crowded theater. Wait until you can watch it at home when you are sick with the flu. I thought it was an incredibly evenhanded account of a very dramatic story.

A bulldozer disrupts the rainforest habitat of a bat. The bat seeks shelter in a barn. The pigs in the barn are infected by the bat with a new virus. The pork is served in a restaurant to an executive from the bulldozer company. The virus spreads from China to people around the world. Millions die but most survive in a state of fear and panic. A CDC scientist tests an experimental vaccine on herself and proves it is safe for humans. People fight to get the vaccine. People begin to realize how important it is that everyone get access to health care to fight epidemics.

It seems like science fiction to me, but there is a subplot about a San Francisco reporter with a blog who figures out not only what is going on before anybody else but figures out how to make money from it. The bad guys try to arrest him but he has too many friends so they let him go. BTW: Jude Law looks ridiculous in his DEVO-esque isolation suit.

Wash your hands.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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