Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The best films of 2018 (Ann and Stan)

Ann and Stan: In 2018, Americans continued to love movies.  We watched them on DVD and Blu Ray, we streamed them on our phones, tablets, laptops and TVs and, yes, we continued to enjoy them in an enclosed space with people seated around us -- the barbershop!  

2018 continued the trend of offering a ton of superhero movies but not a lot for adults.  

So imagine our surprise when Oscar winner Helen Hunt returned to the screens.  Twenty years after AS GOOD AS IT GETS, there she was in another comedy: MID90s. 

Mid90s (2018 movie poster).png
By Source, Fair use, Link

She gave an inspired performance as 13-year-old, skateboarding Stevie.  Why she wanted to be billed this go round as Sunny Suljic, we don't know.  But like her earlier work in THE GLASS HOUSE under the name Leelee Sobieski, choosing a pseudonym really freed Helen up.  Brava, Helen, brava.

Now . . . the best films of 2018.



Boots Riley writes and directs a film and it's the finest of the year.  Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson deliver strong lead performances and the supporting cast includes Danny Glover delivering another memorable performance.  We should also note Armie Hammer who is carving out a memorable career in the same way Faye Dunaway has -- by making legendary films.  Like NETWORK, CHINATOWN and BONNIE & CLYDE, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is a film classic. 



Debra Granik's drama is another great film for the year.  Ben Foster is dealing with Post-Traumatic Syndrome and trying to raise his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) but the government moves in because they don't want him living on public land.  The rest of the film is a response to that and an exploration of our natural rights.

3) 55 STEPS


This film is based on a true story and works because of the realism and because of the performances of Hillary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter -- both women should be Oscar nominated.  The film deals with informed consent and the right of the patient to determine their treatment.



Steve McQueen's film twists and turns and offers an amazing lead performance by Viola Davis.  In fact, everyone delivers a great performance: Robert Duvall, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Tyree Henry, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Hass . . . A tight heist thriller with real surprises.



Jane Fonda's starred in some great comedy films including CAT BALLOU, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN and 9 TO 5.  But who could have guessed that, at the age of 80, she would star in the summer's biggest comedy.  That's what BOOK CLUB was.  And Jane was part of a lead cast that also included the great Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen.  Mary was okay.  We would have preferred another actress, honestly.  Maybe a woman of color?  But Jane, Diane and Candice delivered.  They went for the laughs, yes, but never at the expense of the characterization.  Praise should also go to Andy Garcia who hasn't been this fresh since GODFATHER III.  A funny movie that's about so much more than many critics gave it credit for.



Characterization is one of the reason this film really succeeds.  Unlike most superhero films, this can be watched over and over (unlike most superhero films of late, we should say -- Tim Burton's films can be watched over and over and any Superman film with Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder can be as well).  Paul Rudd creates a real character once again and the Ant Man's relationship with his daughter remains real and sympathetic.  Michael Cena and T.I. are back to provide both context and humor.  Evangeline Lilly gets to develop more as she becomes the Wasp and you root for her and her father (Michael Douglas) to find her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer as the original Wasp).  All that and a magical performance by Laurence Fishburne and a spooky new character essayed by Hannah John-Kamen?  This is a film you can watch repeatedly and always find something to enjoy.



Director X really worked with visuals in a way that no other director did this year.  The colors flashed off the screen -- not since Roger Vadim has a director explored colors in this manner.  Trevor Jackson is a strong lead who should have a promising career based on this film alone.  It zips in high energy mode and is among the best action films of the decade.  



As critics of color, what do we think of 'mainstream critics'?  We think they miss a great deal.  SUPERFLY didn't reach them, most films with leads of color don't.  Jennifer Lopez has made a great comedy but the mainstream critics want to sneer at it.  Their loss and their stupidity.  It's hilarious.  And audiences get that.  Which is how this film that's been sneered managed to rake up nearly $22 million domestically in nine days.  Poor ''mainstream" critics -- they wanted to kill the Latina star but her fans aren't letting them.  The film will easily make double its shooting budget despite the attacks.  See it for J-Lo, see it for Leah, see it because you love funny films, see it for diversity and for a film where a woman is the lead.  



This is much better than the 1974 film.  In fact, only Lauren Bacall's performance (ridiculed by some in real time) manages to hold up in the 1974 version.  This go round?  Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Tom Bateman, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe and, yes, Kenneth Branagh are wonderful and they create an ensemble performance the way a good theatre group does.  Branagh also directed the film and he's sure footed and hits every needed note -- that includes the ending which segues into "Never Forget" (sung by Pfeiffer) which further expands the meaning and the mood.  We hope Branagh does follow up with THE DEATH ON THE NILE remake.



Since this unique film scored big at the box office, seems everyone's trying to imitate it.  But they aren't John Krasinski -- who starred in the film, directed it and co-wrote it.  Even with Emily Blunt doing her usual ain't-I-good self-reflective performance (no, she's not), the film triumphs.  Again, credit to Krasinski for a thriller like nothing we had seen before.  But like everything we seem to be seeing since.  We're being kind but you know what films we're talking about, right?  Like the one on NETFLIX right now, right?  Remember, when John Krasinski delivered this film, there was really nothing like it.

Now, C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 28, 2018.  The US press exposes covert ops in Iraq but blames Donald Trump,

Is there any low or lie the press won't go to in order to lie about US President Donald Trump?  There's a reason no one believes the bulk of the pres, the hysteria, the weasel words, the rush to attack.  I don't like Donald Trump and that's from years and years ago.  I have not used that as an excuse to turn this site into THE DAILY HATE TRUMP.  Our focus is Iraq.  I don't know what the focus of the press is other than hate.

It's an obsession and it's one I don't share.  As I've noted before during the Trump crazy, I actually have a life.  I'm an adult with a full life.  I don't have time for all this b.s. of what his wife wore -- I'd have to look her up online to know how to spell her name -- that's how little she matters to my life.  That's also why I referred to her only as "First Lady" this week in the piece I typed (as opposed to dictated).  While we are noting her, she's said to be the first First Lady to travel to combat zone since 1969 (apparently the tripe Hillary made -- that Sinbad and all of MSNBC mocked her for in 2008 -- did not count).

I don't trust the press because I know it.  I know how it lies, I know how it backbites, I know how it distorts.  I've seen it first hand.  But what's happening is the American people are seeing it now.  Even more so than during the lead up to the Iraq War, they are seeing it.  A lot of people in this country are scratching their heads and wondering what the heck is going on?

This really is how the press has always been, it's just now they're being that way in the open.


Is that the screaming headline?

I've never known of a more useless piece of 'reporting.'

But since all the outlets want to insist it happened -- in their headlines -- let's note what actually took place.

Donald Trump posted many photos on his Twitter feed of the visit he and his wife took to Iraq.

This is the one that's become the focus.

.@FLOTUS Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!

I'm sorry, where does Trump say "covert ops."

He doesn't.

So if someone's exposed them, that would be the press.

I see visual evidence of some people Donald met on a US base in Iraq.  I see they are a group of men in military uniform.

I see that with my own eyes.

The same way any Iraqi near the base would see them with her or his own eyes.  They're obviously non-Iraqi, even if they're not in the uniform.

That visual posted to Twitter exposed nothing.

Nor did his words in the Tweet.

I'm shocked because I know the press is trash (yes, friends in the press, you are my exception -- but if you're really my friend, you know I've felt the press is trash for as long as I've been alive -- and you know why -- starting with the first political scandal).

I know they are trash but I was thinking I'd be seeing something that backed up their claims.  I don't like Donald so I thought, "What stupid thing did he do now?''

Actually, he didn't.

He's in the clear.

It's the press that exposed the covert ops by identifying them as such.

I don't see exposure as the end of the world but the press sure does so maybe they need to do article after article -- screaming headlines with no qualifiers included -- about their own actions.

NEWSWEEK started this crap.  It's always been a CIA cut-out and remains one to this day.

But let's leave their b.s. for a moment to note the other idiots running with it.  "Trump Exposed Location, Faces Of Navy Seals Team In Iraq Tweet" screams the headline at HUFFINGTON POST -- despite the fact that Mary Papenfus writes:

The Office of the Secretary of Defense told NBC that no rules were violated by Trump’s tweets.
“The special operators voluntarily participated in this open press event,” the office stated. “There was no security violation.”

And if you doubt who did the exposure, it was the press.  Even NEWSWEEK garbage article reveals that -- the pool report issued after the embargo said Donald Trump met with special ops.  That same pool report?  It i.d. the chaplain of the special ops team.  So the press did the exposing.

Not Donald.

Special ops?  They're going to go off the base in Iraq.  And when they do, they will be seen as Americans.  And when they are, it will be assumed that they are part of the American troops who are 'training' Iraqi troops.

To get outraged by this non-story, you have to think that the special ops have the power of invisibility or that the Iraqi people are so stupid that they can't even tell a foreigner when they see one.

The story -- even in the screaming lie version -- was not the end of the world.  A security assessment takes place after an incident like this.  If reassignment is determined to be necessary, it takes place.  That's another fact that the press 'forgot' to include in their hysterical and deceitful coverage.

But the reality is that Trump did not Tweet that anyone was special ops.

These are troops in Iraq which the Iraqis are more than aware are present.

The press exposed them and the press needs to own up to that.  And if we need a name, the reporter was Brian Bennett.

But they aren't about the truth, they're about hating Donald Trump.

Which is why you've seen so many headlines about the Iraqi Parliament (usually identified as "Baghdad") being outraged by Trump's visit and insisting it was a violation of their own national sovereignty.  But left out of the hysteria?  The same people outraged are calling for US troops out of Iraq.

The Barbara Starrs won't note that reality because they are all about continuing the Iraq War.  They always have been, the whores have no blood in the game but they wouldn't feel as important if they weren't betraying the American people by cozying up to US officials.  It's an empty and pathetic life but Barbara Starr is an empty and pathetic individual.

Phil Issa (AP) reports:

Iraqi lawmakers Thursday demanded U.S. forces leave the country following a surprise visit by President Donald Trump that politicians denounced as arrogant and a violation of national sovereignty.

Trump’s trip to U.S. servicemen and women at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq on Wednesday was unannounced and the subject of extreme security, which is routine for presidential visits to conflict regions. But it came at a time when containing foreign influence has become a hot-button issue in Iraqi politics, and it provoked vociferous backlash.

In general it is bad for a president to be impulsive. But Trump’s rash decision to go to Iraq without informing the Iraqi government created a new demand for a full U.S. withdrawal. Perhaps a good outcome.


That's a real story.


There are real stories.  Maybe in 2019, we can grow up and address them?  Starting with Basra.

details challenge of poor governance = rise sub-state actors. Look at Iraq: PMF fill in security gaps/earn legitimacy in ISIS fight. GoI yet to truly bring under state control. Basra protests of corruption/poor services not reconciled = opportunities for exploitation


Iraqi police dispersed on Tuesday fresh protests in the southern Basra province as demonstrations seem to make a comeback decrying poor services.

Alsumaria News said...


Let's wind down with this from Burn Pits 360.

We are grateful for your support this year.

One of things that keeps me going every morning when I wake up is knowing that we here at Burn Pits 360 have already set the foundation for us to accomplish our goals in 2019 –  which includes a much more aggressive legislative push at the federal and state levels of government.

With so much at stake for our service-members that were exposed to burn pits, and with so much working against the best interest of those service-members, it’s vital that we have continued support to fight the battles needed to be successful. I’m reminded daily of what we’re fighting for due to my exposure to burn pits when I was serving our country, and I’m grateful to have my wife Rosie fighting alongside with me – but this is where I need your help.

We have a goal to raise $7,000 in the next few days before the end of the year to meet our fundraising goals. We’ve raised $1,203 of that goals and need more of a push. Can you chip in $36 or more right now to help us get to that goal? Your support will go directly towards our efforts to accomplish our legislative agenda which is already being supported by a growing group of Members of Congress.
Thank you for standing alongside us this year and hope to have you by our side in 2019.

CPT. Le Roy Torres, U.S. Army, Retired
Texas Highway Patrol, Retired
Founder of Burn Pits 360

Copyright © 2018 *|LIST:Burn Pits 360|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Burn Pits 360
201 N 4th St.
Robstown, TX 78380

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated:

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