Category: Z-View

“District B13” (2004) directed by Pierre Morel, starring David Belle & Cyril Raffaelli / Z-View

District B13 (2004)

Director: Pierre Morel

Screenplay: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri

Stars: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli, Tony D’Amario and Dany Verissimo-Petit.

Tagline: Welcome to District B13 Welcome to the future

The Plot…

Three years ago crime became so bad in some Paris suburbs the government built high guarded walls around the troubled districts.  Heavily armed police man checkpoints in and out.  District B13 is one of them.

Leïto (Belle) lives in the district.  He does what he can to oppose the gangs.  After Leïto destroyed one of their drug shipments, the gang targeted him for execution.

When a nuclear bomb is stolen and tracked to District B13, Damien Tomaso (Raffaelli), an undercover cop, is sent in.  The bomb will explode in 24 hours.  Once in, Tomaso finds himself in an uneasy alliance with Leïto.  Millions of lives are at stake and the clock is ticking.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

I’m surprised District B13 doesn’t get more love.  It’s a fun action film with charismatic leads. The fight scenes are inventive.  Oh, and did I mention it features parkour?  That should be no surprise since it stars David Belle who is credited with being one of the fathers of the sport.

District B13 spawned a sequel, District 13: Ultimatum and an American remake, Brick Mansions which starred Paul Walker with David Belle (reprising his role).  It was Paul Walker’s final film.

District B13 was directed by Pierre Morel in his directorial debut.  Morel followed District B13 by helming Taken and From Paris with Love, both movies that I recommend.

District B13 (2004) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Hard Times” (1975) directed by Walter Hill, starring Charles Bronson & James Coburn / Z-View

Hard Times (1975)

Director: Walter Hill

Screenplay: Walter Hill, Bryan Gindoff, Bruce Henstell from a story by Bryan Gindoff, Bruce Henstell

Stars: Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Jill Ireland, Strother Martin, Margaret Blye, Michael McGuire, Michael McGuire, Bruce Glover, Robert Tessier, Nick Dimitri, Maurice Kowalewski, Naomi Stevens, Brion James and Frank McRae.

Tagline: New Orleans, 1933. In those days words didn’t buy much.

The Plot…

1933.  The depression rages.  A man known only as Chaney (Bronson) travels the rails from town to town.  He makes some money and moves on.  In New Orleans, Chaney happens on a warehouse where underground fights are taking place.  High rollers bet on the outcomes of each match.

Chaney watches with interest.  Chaney later meets with Spencer “Speed” Weed.  Weed manages fighters.  Chaney offers Weed the opportunity to manage him. They agree on percentages and head back to the warehouse.  When a promoter offers odds for anyone to take on his fighter, Chaney accepts. Odds are given and bets placed.  Chaney has six dollars to his name and bets it all on himself.  When he easily knocks out the other fighter, Speed sees dollar signs.

Speed tells Chaney he has a plan. If Chaney can beat a well known undefeated fighter, they stand to make a lot of money.  Chaney agrees.  Little do they know the double crosses that await.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Hard Times was Walter Hill’s directorial debut.  Hill followed Hard Times by directing The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48hrs. and Streets of Fire.  What other director came out of the shoot with so many hits?

Hill’s original idea was for Chaney to be a younger actor. Someone like Jan Michael Vincent.  While that would have worked, when Charles Bronson expressed interest, it was pretty much a done deal.  I think that having Chaney be an older guy (Bronson was 53 at the time) works to the film’s benefit.

Bronson and Hill got along well, but never made another film together.  Bronson wasn’t happy with Hill’s opinion of Jill Ireland’s (Bronson’s wife) acting.  He also didn’t like that some of her scenes were cut.

Hard Times is one of my favorite Charles Bronson films.  It’s gets better with each new viewing.

Hard Times (1975) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (1928) starring Buster Keaton!

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Director: Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton (uncredited)

Writer: Carl Harbaugh

Stars: Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron and Joe Keaton.

Tagline: What a thrill! Worth the price of admission alone to see what happened to Buster when the twister hit the town.

The Plot…

William “Steamboat Bill” Canfield is a big, rugged man’s man.  Bill owns and operates the Stonewall Jackson which is an old paddlewheel tourist ship.  J. J. King, a rich business man, has brought in a new steamer and plans to put Steamboat Bill out of business.

Bill’s son (who he hasn’t seen in years) just graduated college and has arrived for a visit. Steamboat Bill is shocked to discover his son is small, awkward and wimpy.  Bill Sr. is determined to make a man out of his son. To complicate matters, Bill Jr. has a budding romance with Kitty, who has also returned from college.  The rub is Kitty is J.J. King’s daughter!

Let the good times sail!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. is considered a classic.  It’s in the National Film Registry.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. features one of the most famous and copied stunts of all time.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen a clip of the stunt.  As a tornado hits the town, Keaton is standing in the street.  The front of an entire house falls down on Keaton.  Luckily, the upstairs window is open and Keaton fits through perfectly.  Many movies and television shows have recreated this stunt, but Keaton was the first!

Steamboat Bill, Jr. was also the inspiration for Mickey Mouse’s debut in Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie!

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Jack Ryan: Season 4” (2023) starring John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Michael Kelly, Betty Gabriel & Michael Peña, / Z-View

Jack Ryan: Season 4 (2023)

Written by: Vaun Wilmott and Aaron Rabin and Steven Kane (ep. 25); Aaron Rabin (ep. 26, 30); Jada M. Nation (ep. 27); Robert Port and Aaron Rabin (ep. 28); Joe Greskoviak and Aaron Rabin (ep. 29)

Directed by: Lukas Ettlin (ep. 25, 29-30 ); Jann Turner (ep. 26, 28); Shana Stein (ep. 27);

Stars: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Michael Kelly, Betty Gabriel, Michael Peña, John Hoogenakker and Adam Bernett.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Jack Ryan steps down as the CIA’s Acting Deputy Director in order to go into the field.  Evidence points to collusion between a high ranking US government official(s) with one or more people in the CIA and a drug cartel/terrorist organization.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Jack Ryan has been nominated for 3 Prime Time Emmy Awards:

  • 2019  Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role – Nominee
  • 2019  Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) – Nominee
  • 2020  Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role – Nominee

It has been fun to see Jack Ryan develop from an brilliant analyst to a James Bond-type field agent.

Season four didn’t resonate as well with me as previous outings.  I liked it and thought it was well done.  The problem is we know Jack is going to survive.  The real danger is to the supporting characters.  John Krasinski is excellent as Jack Ryan.  The supporting cast is wonderful as well.  Kudos to Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Michael Kelly, Betty Gabriel and Michael Peña, (Soon congratulations may be in order for Peña since a spin-off featuring his character is in development.)

Jack Ryan: Season 4 (2023) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“The Cosmic Hoax: An Expose” (2021) / Z-View

The Cosmic Hoax: An Expose (2021)

Director: Michael Mazzola

Writer: Michael Mazzola

Stars: Steven M. Greer, Paola Harris, Carol Rosin and Daniel Sheehan.

Tagline:  None

The Plot…

Dr. Steven Greer believes that our government (and other governments) know about and are in contact with different aliens species. This has been going on for over 100 years.  Greer creates an interesting timeline and provides interviews with other like-minded people/”experts” as well as other evidence (although nothing conclusive).  It makes for an interesting presentation.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

I’m a sucker for well done docs on this (and other conspiracies).  Do not think that my viewing or high rating means I am a believer though.

The Cosmic Hoax: An Expose (2021) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) starring Chris Evans & Hugo Weaving / Z-View

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Director: Joe Johnston

Screenplay: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely based on Captain America comics created by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby

Stars: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones,  Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, Martin T. Sherman and Stan Lee.

Tagline:  The first Avenger

The Plot…

World War II rages.  Steve Rogers (Evans) wants to be a soldier and do his part in the war effort.  Although a patriotic young man, Rogers is small, frail, unhealthy and keeps getting turned down.  While attempting again to enlist, Dr. Erskine (Tucci) overhears Rogers’ story.  Erskine is head of a secret program designed to create “super soldiers”.  Steve Rogers would be a perfect candidate.

The process changes Rogers from a frail unhealthy man into a perfect physical specimen.  That combined with Rogers’ ethics and humanity make him worthy of the title Captain America.

Meanwhile in Germany, Johann Schmidt (Weaving) aka The Red Skull is the leader of Hydra, Schmidt is working to create a weapon of mass destruction.  It will be up to Captain America and a small band of soldiers to go behind enemy lines and put an end to the Red Skull’s plans.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Captain America is one of the first comics I ever read as a child.  Seeing Cap and his cast of characters (especially the Red Skull) on screen was this kid’s dream come true.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“The Walking Dead: Dead City” – Season 1 (2023) starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Lauren Cohan / Z-View

The Walking Dead: Dead City – Season 1 (2023)

Written by: Eli Jorné (eps. 1-2, 4, 6); Keith Staskiewicz (ep.3); Brenna Kouf (ep. 5)

Directed by: Loren Yaconelli (eps. 1-2); Kevin Dowling (eps. 3-4); Gandja Monteiro (eps. 5-6)

Stars: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Gaius Charles, Mahina Napoleon, Zeljko Ivanek, Logan Kim, Jonathan Higginbotham, Karina Ortiz, Michael Anthony, David Chen and Lisa Emery

Tagline: Keep Your Enemies Close

The Plot…

Maggie’s son, Hershel, has been taken hostage by a sadist known as “The Croat”.  The Croat was an enforcer for Negan, when Negan led The Saviors. So Maggie recruits Negan to go with her to Manhattan to rescue Hershel.  Negan agrees on the condition that Maggie’s group give Ginny, a young orphaned girl, refuge.

Maggie and Negan head to Manhattan unaware that three Marshalls are tracking Negan who is wanted for murder.  Because of their past history, Maggie and Negan’s partnership is uneasy at best.  Add in the complications of the Marshalls, New York City full of zombies, dangerous survivalist groups, plus the sadistic Croat with plans of his own… let the fun begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Walking Dead: Dead City – Season 1 clocks in with just six episodes, which is a smart move.  I think all of the Walking Dead spin-offs should come up with a story to tell and get to it,

I wasn’t too sure about the pairing of Negan and Maggie.  Maggie’s hate for Negan should override every reason for her to be around, much less work with him for a common goal.  Then the writer’s came up with a plausible reason… to save her son.  I liked how Negan put his murdering her husband back on Maggie when he asked her “How many husbands have you killed?”  Maggie also got to see how Negan using over-the-top “theatrics” when murdering a person kept a group from attacking them.  Well played, writers.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Laura Cohen are two of the most popular Walking Dead characters.  They have the star power to carry the series.  Zeljko Ivanek plays The Croat with zeal.  Gaius Charles as the Marshall is an interesting character that I believe will be come more important in season two.  Lisa (Ozark) Emery is a welcome addition to the cast. She was mean in Ozark and now she’s mean and creepy.

Bring on Season 2.

The Walking Dead: Dead City – Season 1 (2023) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Batman & Bill” (2017) / Z-View

Batman & Bill (2017)

Director: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce

Stars: Marc Tyler Nobleman, Bill Finger, Fred Finger, Portia Finger, Thomas Andrae, Jerry Bails, Otto Binder,
Athena Finger, Judy Flam, Stacey C. Friends, Carmine Infantino, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Daniela Nobleman  
and Bob Kane.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

For decades one of the biggest “secrets” that insiders knew was that Bob Kane wasn’t the sole creator of Batman. Despite this knowledge, every appearance of The Dark Knight contained the credit “Created by Bob Kane”.  The truth of the matter is Bill Finger was the creator of Batman’s costume, Robin, Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, Commissioner Gordan, the Batcave, Gotham City and more.  Yet Bill Finger received no credit or compensation while Bob Kane got rich and famous.

Batman & Bill is the story of one man’s quest to right this wrong.  Despite overwhelming odds justice finally prevailed.  This is that story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Although the general public didn’t know about Bill Finger, it wasn’t a secret among comic book professionals and many fans. Bob Kane for years claimed he was the sole creator of Batman.  The publishers of Batman and all its spinoffs knew differently.  It wasn’t until after Bill Finger’s death that Kane started to give Finger some credit.  Still, Kane was the only one listed on any Batman comic, movie or merchandise.

When Marc Tyler Nobleman learned of this injustice, he made it his life’s mission to right that wrong.  He had nothing to gain, but like a true superhero wanted justice to be served.  And it finally was.

Batman & Bill (2017) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Give ’em Hell Malone” (2009) starring Thomas Jane & Ving Rhames / Z-View

Give ’em Hell Malone (2009)

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Screenplay: Mark Hosack

Stars: Thomas Jane, Ving Rhames, Elsa Pataky, Chris Yen, French Stewart, Leland Orser, Chris Yen, William Abadie, Doug Hutchison, David Andriole  and Gregory Harrison.

Tagline: Hard to love… Harder to kill.

The Plot…

Malone (Jane), a private detective, is hired to retrieve a suitcase.  When he recovers the goods, Malone finds himself in a building full of hard cases trying to kill him.  Although wounded, he survives.  Now Malone is determined to find out what the case contained and who set him up… even if he has to kill a lot of people to get answers.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Give ’em Hell Malone is full of hits and misses, but man, it swings for the fence every chance it gets.  The film reminds me of a cross between Streets of Fire, Sin City and every tough private eye film ever made.  I mean that in the best way possible.

Give ’em Hell Malone opens in the middle of a protracted gun battle!  There’s a mystery about the contents of the suitcase Malone is hired to retrieve.  Give ’em Hell Malone is set in an undefined time period. It feels retro yet modern. 

The movie features a great cast playing over the top characters:

  • Malone – the hero who takes a beating and keeps moving forward
  • Boulder (Rhames) – Malone’s one time friend who now works for someone who wants Malone dead
  • Matchstick (Hutchison) – the burn-scarred psycho pyromaniac
  • Frankie the Crooner (Stewart) – the small time entertainer (and I mean small time)
  • Murphy (Orser) – Malone’s friend who learns that saying the wrong thing can make things get hot fast.
  • Evelyn (Pataky) – Murphy’s sexy sister who has an agenda of her own
  • Mauler (Yen) – the little assassin with big knives
  • Whitmore (Harrison) – the man with the power working behind the scenes

Give ’em Hell Malone isn’t a great film, but it is a fun one.  Not every scene works, but in every scene you can see what they were working for.  If you’re in the right frame of mind, a fan of noir, old-time detective movies and more modern films like Sin City and Streets of Fire, then you’d probably enjoy Give ’em Hell Malone a shot.  There has been talk of a sequel and I’d love it to happen.

Give ’em Hell Malone (2009) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Mr. Inbetween”: Season 3 (2021) written by and starring Scott Ryan

Mr. Inbetween: Season 3 (2021)

Written by: Scott Ryan

Directed by: Nash Edgerton

Stars: Scott Ryan, Justin Rosniak, Brooke Satchwell, Nicholas Cassim, Chika Yasumura, Damon Herriman and Matt Nable

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Ray Shoesmith is a professional criminal/killer with an anger problem.  Ray’s also juggling his responsibilities as a divorced dad with a young daughter and is caretaker of his older brother who suffers from a degenerative neural disease.

In season three Ray…

  • takes in a guns deal that gets hijacked… Ray doesn’t take it well
  • gets jail time after a want-to-be-tough-guy breaks Ray’s car’s mirror
  • takes a job on another inmate while in jail
  • rekindles his relationship with his estranged father
  • literally helps his friend on a ledge
  • accepts a job to dispose of a woman’s body
  • takes on a hit for free when he learns that an older friend committed suicide after being scammed of his life savings
  • agrees to do some free work for a crime boss in exchange for giving Ray’s friend more time to pay off a debt
  • while on a drug run, is involved in a car wreck caused by a kangaroo
  • is set-up to be murdered by a friend

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Season 3 of Mr. Inbetween continues the streak of excellent shows featuring a great mix of drama and comedy. Each episode clocks in between 21 and 32 minutes which makes it perfect if time is short.

Mr. Inbetween: Season 3 (2021) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Dark Winds”: Season 2 (2023) starring Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, Jessica Matten & Deanna Allison / Z-View

Dark Winds Season 2 (2023)

Director:  Chris Eyre (Eps 1, 2, 6), Michael Nankin (Eps 3, 4), Billy Luther (Ep. 5)

Teleplay by:  John Wirth & Rhiana Yazzie (Ep 1), Max Hurwitz & DezBaa’ (Ep 2),  Steven Paul Judd (Ep 3), Jason Gavin (Ep 4), Billy Luther & Max Hurwitz (Ep 5), Graham Roland & John Wirth (Ep 6)  // Based on the Leaphorn & Chee novels by Tony Hillerman

Starring:  Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, Jessica Matten, Deanna Allison, Elva Guerra, Nicholas Logan, A Martinez, John Diehl and Jeri Ryan.

Tagline:  None

The Plot… (beware of spoilers)

A car explosion kills a terminal cancer patient, and injures Emma Leaphorn (Allison). Emma’s husband, Sheriff Joe Leaphorn (McClarnon) arrives to check on his wife.  Once assured her injuries are minor, Leaphorn checks out the scene of the explosion and quickly finds evidence of a car bomb.  Why would anyone want to kill someone with little time to live?

Jim Chee (Gordon), no longer on the force, is now a private investigator.  Chee is hired by Rosemary Vines (Jeri Ryan).  Rosemary is the wife of B.J. Vines (John Diehl), the richest man in the state.  Rosemary wants Chee to recover a box stolen from her husband.  She refuses to say what is in the box.

When Chee visits Leaphorn to get background information, Chee learns that Vines owns the property where six men were killed in a mining explosion.  One of those men was Leaphorn’s son.  Leaphorn and Chee drive out to the remote desert property.  They are attacked by Cotton Wolf (Logan).  Chee is shot and badly wounded.  Leaphorn returns fire, but Wolf escapes.  They discover that Wolf was burning the contents of the box that Chee was hired to find.  One of the items in the box was Leaphorn’s son’s belt buckle.

Leaphorn and Chee find themselves the target of a psycho-killer who murders without hesitation.  They have also ignited the ire of B.J. Vines who is hiding more than one dark secret.


Dark Winds: Season 1 provided an excellent mystery from a perspective not often seen in television/film. There was a feeling of respect and authenticity to Navajos due to the writers being Native American.  I was happy to see this continue in Season 2.

I’ve been an A. Martinez fan since I first saw him in John Wayne’s The Cowboys.  Loved seeing him here.  Jerri Ryan is excellent as Rosemary Vines.  She reminded me of a fem fatale from the 40s.  Perfect.  Nicholas Logan was spot on creepy as the killer Cotton Wolf.  Logan was scary even in his quiet moments.

Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, Jessica Matten and Deanna Allison have real chemistry.  I look forward to Season 3.

“Mr. Sardonicus” (1961) / Z-View

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Director: William Castle

Screenplay: Ray Russell

Stars: Oscar Homolka, Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe and William Castle.

Tagline:  YOU decide the fate of Mr. Sardonicus during the “Punishment Poll”! Vote “mercy” or “no mercy” right in your theatre seat!

The Plot…

The year is 1880.  Sir Robert Cargrave (Lewis), a world famous physician gets a letter from Maude (Dalton), his former lover.  She requests that he come meet with her husband in a matter of great importance.  Because Cargrave still has feelings for Maude he goes.

Her husband is the rich and feared  Baron Sardonicus (Rolfe).  Upon arrival at Castle Sardonicus, Cargrave is greeted by Krull (Homolka), Sardonicus’ disfigured servant.  When he meets Maude, she says that if Cargrave cannot cure her husband, Baron Sardonicus will take it out on her!  Baron Sardonicus enters the room so she cannot say more.  Cargrave is shocked to see that Sardonicus wears a mask.

We learn that Baron Sardonicus’ face is hideously disfigured.  Sardonicus expects Dr. Cargrave to cure him.  If he doesn’t then Maude will be “punished”.  As Dr. Cargrave decides his next move, he learns that as deformed as Sardoniscus’ face is, his sadistic behaviors are even worse.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

William Castle, the King of Movie Gimmicks, came up with a winner.  Before the start of the film, William Castle tells the audience that the cards they were given on entry will decide the ending of the film.  Before the last scene, Castle will return to tell the audience to hold up cards with glow-in-the-dark thumbs.  Sardoniscus will either be given “mercy” or not depending on how the majority of the audience votes. Thumbs up equals mercy.  Thumbs down, no mercy.   Truth be told, there was only one ending – no mercy.

Most William Castle films focus on horror and jump scares.  Mr. Sardonicus places emphasis on suspense.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Mother” starring Jennifer Lopez / Z-View

The Mother (2023)

Director: Niki Caro

Screenplay: Misha Green, Andrea Berloff, Peter Craig from a story by Misha Green[1]

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick, Joseph Fiennes, Jesse Garcia, Yvonne Senat Jones, Gael García Bernal and Edie Falco.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

“The Mother” (Lopez) is an unnamed ex-military, soldier brokering an arms deal between two of her former lovers, ex-SAS Captain Adrian Lovell (Fiennes) and arms dealer Hector Álvarez (Bernal).  When she discovers that they are both also involved in child trafficking, she turns FBI informant.

While “The Mother” is at a safe house being interrogated, and nearly ready to give birth, the safe house is attacked.  All of the FBI agents except, William Cruise (Hardwick) are murdered.  Cruise is badly wounded, but saved by “The Mother”, who is also wounded and nearly loses her baby.  Realizing she is a marked woman and her child would always be in danger, “The Mother” agrees to put the baby up for adoption with three conditions:
1.  The baby will be put in a good, safe home
2.  Cruise will send her a birthday photo every year
3.  Cruise will let her know if the child is ever in danger

Cruise agrees. The child is adopted and named Zoe (Paez). “The Mother” moves to Alaska to live off the grid.

Twelve years later Cruise contacts “The Mother”.  Zoe who is in grave danger.  Álvarez has learned where she is and is planning to kidnap her.  Together Cruise and “The Mother” move to save Zoe, but will they be too late?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Jennifer Lopez is more than capable to play an action hero.  Unfortunately, The Mother is content to coast.  The story hits all the marks you’d expect.  It feels like moviemaking by numbers.  There are no surprises. It does have enough star power and action to hold our attention.  Unfortunately except for Lopez, the stars are under-used.  I’d have loved to have seen Omari Hardwick and Edie Falco given more to do.

While “The Mother” is an okay way to spend a couple of hours, Jennifer Lopez and her co-stars deserved better.  So did the audience.

The Mother (2023) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Fences” (2016) written by August Wilson, directed by Denzel Washington, starring Denzel Washington & Viola Davis / Z-View

Fences (2016)

Director: Denzel Washington

Screenplay: August Wilson based on his play Fences

Stars: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby,
Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Mele, Lesley Boone
and Rachelle Beinart.

Tagline:  Some people build fences to keep people out – and other people build fences to keep people in.

The Plot…

Troy Maxson (Washington) is a bitter, angry, 56 year old black man.  Once a talented baseball player, Troy was never given a chance to play in the big leagues due to his race.  Then World War II came.  Now that Troy is older, the color-barrier in baseball has broken.  But Troy is too old to play.  So he makes his living as a garbage collector.  Even there Troy see discrimination.  All the drivers are white.  All the workers doing the heavy lifting are black.

Troy’s wife, Rose (Davis) sees times are starting to change.  Cory (Adepo), Troy and Rose’s son, is a bright student and talented football player.  A college is interested in giving Cory a scholarship, but Troy won’t sign the paperwork.  He wants Cory to get educated in a job that will always provide an income.

Troy sees barriers everywhere and is bitter about how life has treated him, never realizing that he is building barriers for himself and his family as well.  Despite Troy’s flaws, Rose loves him.  Sadly Troy’s choices are going to have terrible consequences for his family and friends.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Fences (2016) was honored at the Academy Awards:

Academy Award Wins:

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis

Academy Award Nominations:

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year: Todd Black, Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Denzel Washington
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: August Wilson

“Fences” was first a Broadway play.  It opened in 1987 and went on to win Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actor (James Earl Jones), and Best Featured Actress (Mary Alice).  “Fences” was revived in 2010.  It won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), and Best Actress (Viola Davis).  All five adult actors from the revival reprise their roles in the film.

Although August Wilson is the only credited screenwriter for the film, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Tony Kushner did uncredited work.  They didn’t want their names on the credits to insure that Wilson alone received any writing honors or awards.

Denzel Washing and Viola Davis were rightfully nominated for Academy Awards.  Their roles in Fences may be their best performances ever.  Everyone in the supporting cast is wonderful.

It was fun to see Saniyya Sidney as a very young girl.  Sidney would go on to co-star in The Passage a few years later.

Fences (2016) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Blood & Gold” (2023) / Z-View

Blood & Gold (2023)

Director: Peter Thorwarth

Screenplay: Stefan Barth, Peter Thorwarth

Stars: Robert Maaser, Jördis Triebel, Alexander Scheer, Marie Hacke, Connor Long and Roy McCrerey.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

The end of the war is close at hand.  Von Starnfeld, a disfigured SS Commandant, leads his unit into a small German village.  Von Starnfeld knows there’s gold hidden somewhere in the town.  He just doesn’t know where.  Von Starnfeld is willing to torture or kill anyone and everyone if it will get him the gold.  Only a German deserter and young woman are willing to take a stand against Von Starnfeld and his Nazis.  Let the fun begin.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Blood & Gold contains all of the things you’d want in a World War II movie:

  • It starts off with a bang.
  • A handsome hero
  • A woman willing to risk her life to help our hero
  • A disfigured, evil SS Leader
  • An evil, sadistic Second-in-Command to the SS Leader
  • Nazis who enjoy their power and use it to do bad things
  • Plenty of hand-to-hand fights
  • Plenty of shootouts
  • A couple of twists and a surprise or two

Blood & Gold isn’t a great movie, but it is a good one.  If it sounds like something you’d like, give it a shot. 

Blood & Gold (1972) rates 3 of 5 stars.