Radioactive (Movie 2019)

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Streaming on Amazon Prime is Radioactive, a movie about the life of Marie (Sklodowska) Curie, played by Rosamund Pike. The movie is rated on the mediocre side by most critics and has a lousy 3.2 start rating on Amazon (somewhat like some of my books).

If you don’t know who Marie Curie is, shame on you because you didn’t pay attention in your science class. You can thank her and her husband for discovering radium and polonium. She also came up with the name “radioactivity.”  You can read about her life here at the Nobel Prize website.

You know, if you’re interested in a simple down-to-earth science refresh, I found this show on PBS that actually got my attention far more than the movie.  Do a refresh about Radium that is found in Uranium by watching Twisting the Dragon’s Tail.

Okay, back to the movie. There are things in this movie that work and don’t work. You will find Marie Curie portrayed as a rather eccentric individual. She falls in love with another scientist, and their discoveries win the Nobel Prize. After two children and a husband who dies tragically, there are endless boring scenes of her depression and subsequent affair with a married man.

The oddity of how this movie plays out is that it juts back and forth from the timeline of Marie Currie’s life and suddenly fast forwards to the scenes of the future such as the invention of radiation therapy for cancer, the testing of the atomic bomb in the United States and the subsequent falling on Hiroshima and it’s destruction. It also flashforwards to the Chernobyl disaster.

The purpose, of course, is that Marie and Pierre realize early on that their discovery contains both good and evil.  Pierre has more hope in humanity than most, hoping that only good will come from radium. However, as time goes on, people who are using the newly discovered radium for anything under the sun are becoming ill. The pointing fingers of blame start coming their way.  Eventually, even Madame Curie dies of prolonged exposure to radiation. She died in 1934 of aplastic anemia.

The movie was a bit slow, dark, and uninspiring. I must be in a bad mood lately because everything I’m watching recently isn’t popping my kernels. Unless you are really curious about who Madame Curie was and her discoveries this one may put you to sleep. True scientists will probably be bored as well. Actually, the PBS documentary linked above is far more interesting and teachable.

 

Archive (Movie 2020)

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Now streaming on Amazon, a newly released movie you can rent for $6.99 since you cannot see it in the theatre (thanks to Covid19). The only reason I tuned into this science fiction fantasy flick was to see Theo James, having gone gaga over him in Sanditon, wearing a cravat.

I usually like robot movies, and there have been a few good ones over the years. The most recent Humans (3 seasons); Short Circuit; I, Robot; Wall-E; Bicentennial Man (some of my favs), and if you need a list try this article, “The 100 Greatest Movie Robots of All Times.”  Well, Archive has your robots, with a semi-familiar trope of dying and you’re “consciousness” being downloaded onto a computer chip.  It’s been done in a few other movies, with the hopes of immortality.

Archive is just that. A person dies and their conscious essence is transferred into a machine whereby the family can continue to communicate with the dead person for a period of time.  Apparently, this version of transfer has a shelf life. Eventually it fades, and you still are forced to say your final goodbye.

Meet George Almore, played by Theo James, the computer robot-maker geek, who has his wife’s archive in a black box. He works for a company that makes robots, so why not use the tools he has to develop one that can house his dead wife eternally. He has made two versions already, each growing only so far, taking on a life of their own.  One has the mental capacity of a five-year-old and the other a teenager.  Now on version number three, she is more life-like, fully conscious, and he’s the happy camper to have her return. He gives her a humanoid body, clothing, hair, and he’s dancing around the complex with the reincarnation. Frankly, it would have been a lot better for the guy to go through the stages of grief and get over it rather than go through everything he has to try and recreate his wife.

Theo James has very little action with anyone breathing in this movie.  It’s definitely played out in the future, with high tech. He is held up in the mountains of Japan in a secure facility doing these things all alone, with his two first versions as companionship. He interacts with them in a loving fashion, because after all that have an itsy-bitsy part of his dead wife but they are not the full capacity he wishes. You will see clips of flashbacks of his former life with his wife and how she dies in a car crash.

Sound is a bit iffy in this movie, and trying to understand the robots with their tin-like voices can be a chore. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the security system that is always down, his ranting boss who comes on video chat, and a strange visit by the Archive people to check on the black box.

It’s the ending that will gobsmack you, and frankly, I didn’t see it coming until he picks up that receiver and he hears a certain voice. SPOILER ALERT: Think of the ending as a mix of the Sixth Sense and the Matrix.

Well, the movie is okay. Nothing for me to rant about. I’m not blown away by it. I should give it a three for Theo’s good looks, but the popcorn was pretty plain and the tropes recycled.

 

The Last Tycoon (Amazon Pilot)

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You watch.  You vote.  Will the pilot go on or will the story die a quick death?  Well, that decision is in your hands.

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of studio politics in early Hollywood, it is actually another adaptation. The Last Tycoon, was filmed in 1976 starring Robert DeNiro and Tony Curtis (also on Amazon for rent). This remake stars the handsome Matt Bomer and not-so-handsome Kelsey Grammer, plus a host of young ladies, including Lily Collins, with glaring lipstick, harsh makeup, and stylish clothes.  Add the men in hats and suits from the thirties and you have early Hollywood.

Nearly the entire pilot is shot on a Hollywood set, except for a few scenes.  Set in the fictitious studios owned by Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer), it includes his slick producer Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer).  Matt is looking rather debonair in his slick-backed hair, but also noticeably thinner than the con artist he played on White Collar.

For a quick background of the story, Monroe is a grieving husband whose wife died tragically in a home fire.  All the girls at the studio gush at his feet hoping they will be his next love, including the bosses’ daughter, Cecilia Brady.  Monroe pretty much roams from set to set throughout the pilot giving orders, instructing writers to rewrite, complaining or approving about sets, picking out costumes, etc.  Everyone jumps at his beckon call, but he does some sparring with his boss who agrees with the German embassador’s demand for no Jews in movies or on their payroll in Germany, so that Hilter can continue to enjoy Hollywood in his spare time. Monroe is a Jew, so the tension between keeping the German market happy and the studio going bankrupt is a no brainer for its owner, who is afraid of going bankrupt during the depression.

My first take on this pilot is…wait for it…blah.  I dTycoonon’t know why.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s my mood or what I had for lunch.  As much as I enjoy looking and handsome Mr. Bomer, something about him in this role just doesn’t sit right with me.  I don’t know if it’s his character, his lines, or his acting. He seems stiff and unnatural.  Perhaps, I’m just used to seeing Neal Caffrey instead. As far as Kelsey, he can be the usual grumpy and moody older man, but his performance is par for the course — nothing special to make you really like or dislike the guy.

The only thing that gave me a small smirk at the end was the illicit affair you learn about between Monroe and the bosses’ wife.  She’s waiting for him in a nightgown when he comes home from work.  He says that their meeting must stop.  She says but it can’t, and lays down on the bed. Tauntingly, she asks, “Does that make you angry?”  He goes to the curtain and gruffly closes them in front of the audience and says, “Yes.”  She replies, “Good.”  The only thing I could think of were the millions of women who wished he had played Christian Grey in Fifty Shades.  Well, you get a tiny peak of what could possibly happen with Matt Bomer being in that role!

So I voted – gave it three stars.  I suppose if they continue it, I will watch the other episodes.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion that if it stays as flat as the pilot that it probably will not be a weekend binge watch by any means.  As usual, whatever floats your remote…

Go watch it.  It’s free on Prime.  Cast your vote while Amazon gives you the chance to put in your two cents worth.

 

Amazon Prime Video Picks Up Julian Fellowes’ British Period Drama ‘Doctor Thorne’ | Variety

Amazon has acquired rights to British period drama series “Doctor Thorne,” from “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.

Source: Amazon Prime Video Picks Up Julian Fellowes’ British Period Drama ‘Doctor Thorne’ | Variety