Molly’s Game

I want to preface this post to profess my love of the game of poker. It is one of the very few games in a casino where you can play against the other players rather than against the house. If you are playing any game against the house chances are that the odds are stacked against you. You can play a lot of those games in a way to give you more favorable odds, but almost none of them will give you over a 50% chance to win. When you play poker you can often tilt the odds in your favor if you know what you are doing. Many times even if you statistically only have a 30% chance to win, you can tilt those odds in your favor if your opponent will fold to a good bet.

I’m not going to go further into the details of the game as Molly’s Game doesn’t. The film throws around a lot of the terminology, but doesn’t expect anyone to know what they mean. It’s a poker movie that isn’t heavy on the poker. The movie is more about Molly and how she built the game rather than the game itself. This is good and bad for various reasons. Poker is a complex game that could turn off the casual moviegoer, but for people who take the game seriously glossing over the actual poker feels like a cop out. In this case it doesn’t take away from the film, but as an aficionado of poker it is disappointing.

Molly’s Game from a storytelling perspective is an interesting film. It mixes interesting characters with a lot of drama and a seedy underworld. A lot of exposition is used to cut through much of the back story for the various characters. This would usually be lazy storytelling, but for a movie it has to be done to keep the film under 8 hours. The twists in the story were also quite interesting.

Typically true life stories don’t have this kind of entertainment value or the twists that this one has. Those are usually reserved for fiction. True to life stories will usually have something outlandish and crazy in a “life is stranger than fiction” kind of way. Molly’s Game has a story that lends better toward film than most true to life stories. Jessica Chastain is also one of my favorite actresses, and her performance is nearly flawless. Go see this film. I can’t wait to see it again. I have also ordered the book and hope it is as good as the movie is.

Update 1/6/18

I know I haven’t been updating here as often as I should. Perhaps that should be a New Year’s resolution for 2018? I am also house hunting, so it is hard to do everything that I am supposed to do within the time frame that it is supposed to be done. I have gone to see every new movie that came out over the holidays. So let’s talk about a few of them.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – This movie is about what you would expect. It loses some of the charm of the original, but it is a worthy sequel/update for the next generation. It captured some of the same magic of the original, but it is more for people who didn’t see it.

The Shape of Water – This is a beautiful and weird sci-fi/monster movie/love story. It is one of Guillermo del Toro’s better films although Crimson Peak is still my favorite. If you like Guillermo’s style and weird love stories then this is definitely for you. I also absolutely loved Sally Hawkins performance.

Darkest Hour – Gary Oldman captures the enigmatic Winston Churchill as I have never seen before. This story is more compelling than it has any business being. I went in thinking it would be an interesting biopic of a British icon that was worth seeing from a historical perspective, but I was surprised at how entertaining the film was. Oldman deserves consideration when awards season comes around for this magnificent performance that would make Godzilla clap. Of course Godzilla would then eat Oldman.

All the Money in the World – There has been a lot of buzz about Christopher Plummer’s performance, but I didn’t think it was any different than any of his other performances. Plummer is a fantastic actor and this is a role that fits his style perfectly. He just wasn’t as big of a character in the story as the trailers make him out to be. Otherwise it was an interesting story with a decent cast that provided some good entertainment.

I also went to see Molly’s Game today and planning to see the new Insidious film tomorrow, but I’ll write more about them tomorrow. I also have a couple of book reviews I am working on, so I should have more updates coming in the near future. Stay tuned!

Currently editing Virtual Wars: Running on Page 11 of 88

The Last Jedi

I went to see the new Star Wars event movie yesterday and it was very very good. If you haven’t seen it yet then what are you doing reading this????¬† Where are your priorities at? GO SEE IT ALREADY.

I do have a few thoughts on the film from a writing perspective. There are always some campy moments in Star Wars, but they only seemed natural with the original cast. The new addition of bird creatures added a couple of moments of comic relief, but they kept shoving them in the audience’s face where they served no purpose other than as a marketing tool to sell merch.

The Last Jedi begins with what seems like a large time jump after The Force Awakens. At the beginning of the new films the Empire is dead and the Republic is hunting down the last remnants of The First Order who are in hiding. At the end of the film you get the sense that The First Order are a threat to the Republic and have dealt a massive blow, but both sides are maybe on equal footing now in the battle to come. At the beginning of The Last Jedi it is more like the tiny resistance is trying to fight off an overwhelming force led by Commander Snoke. So what happened in between? Maybe I need to watch both movies again?

The writers also tried to do too much within the confines of one film. They did a great job of tying everything together, but it might have worked better if it had been broken up and parts of this film were used in the next one. Many times when writers do this you end up with parts feeling rushed or they just don’t make any sense (Batman v Superman). With The Last Jedi you get a feeling of it being rushed, but it is so awesome that you don’t really mind it too much.

Now I want to talk about the good stuff. The original trilogy of Star Wars was great because of the underdog nature of the films and the moments that they build up that cause you to watch with your mouth agape like HOLY SHHHH… Moments like the first time you see the Death Star blow up, Vader’s confession that he is Luke’s father, Vader turning on Emperor Palpatine. These moments were for the most part missing from the prequel films, although seeing Yoda fighting with Dooku was epic. The Last Jedi reminds us of why we love Star Wars, and it has several of those amazing moments that will stick with you. This is why The Last Jedi will be considered one of the very best Star Wars movies. I can’t wait to go see it again.

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Lady Bird

I went to see Lady Bird today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.¬†Saoirse Ronan is a fantastic actress. It seems like she is only getting better with each subsequent film. Lady Bird is a coming of age film that captures the angst and generational gap that we all feel at that age. The drama isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but it is done very well. The biting sarcastic dialogue and relationships between the characters are what make the movie. It isn’t exceptionally great at any one thing, but it is good at nearly everything. The one thing that stuck with me about the film is that you cannot make anyone do what you want them to. They are going to do what they want to. It’s a theme that continues throughout the film and it rings true to life.

One of my writer friends asked an open question on Facebook asking how to build a story off an ending and a vague idea of a beginning. My answer was to develop the character in your head then figure out how their motivations would lead them toward that ending. The steps in a story become easier to write if you understand the motivations of your characters. Each one is going to do what they want regardless of what you (the writer) want them to do. If you force them to do something out of character then it will not feel authentic and your readers will notice.

Writing Update

I just got back from seeing The Disaster Artist film. What I found amazing about it was how ridiculous the story was, but then at the end you realize that the actors pretty much nailed the characters they were playing. The film is based on true events and proves that life can be stranger than fiction. I wasn’t expecting the film to be as good as it was, but was pleasantly surprised. Oh, I guess I should include a writing update here as well. Weeeee

Currently editing Virtual Wars: Running on Page 5 of 88

Writing Update!

This is where I will be sharing news updates for upcoming events, writing updates, and other things to look forward to. Today’s update has me really excited. I have been working on the sequel for Virtual Wars: Initialization since last November, and I just finished the first draft. The first draft of Virtual Wars: Running weighs in at 50,064 words. To give you an idea of how long that is, Initialization was around 58,000 words in its final version. Now time for the super fun time known as Editing. Godzilla would be scared of editing. Just saying…