#BrianBanksMovie, #TheKitchenMovie, and more – Movie Reviews

Table of Reviews

Brian Banks – Review

Brian Banks – Budget of $10 million – 1 hour and 39 minutes

Brian Banks

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Brian looks across at the park he played on as a kid and remembered the freedom he felt.  He walks into the Long Beach City College, suits up, and plays a great game of football.  It’s not Santa Clara University but Brian is happy to be there and happy to play.  After the game, Brian gets a phone call from his parole officer.  A new law was just passed in California.  Anyone on parole for a sex crime will be fitted with an ankle monitor.  They must wear the ankle monitor all the time.  They have to charge it in the morning and at night.  If they tamper with it, they will be sent back to jail.  If they leave their approved areas or come within 200 ft of a school or park, the P.O. will be alerted.  The last rule catches Brian’s attention.  Brian implores his P.O. to make an exception so he can continue to go to school and play football, but the P.O. says no.  Brian gets in his car and screams.  Leomia, Brian’s mother, tells him to write the California Innocence Project again.  But she advises him to take a different approach.  Instead of writing about his case, he should write about himself.  Justin Brooks, the founder of the C.I.P calls Brian.  He explains a few points.

  • CIP works for people in jail, Brian is currently on parole
  • Brian took a no-contest plea, which can only be fought with habeas corpus
  • You can only file a habeas corpus if there is new evidence or a recanted statement by the original plaintiff.
  • While there was no DNA found in the plaintiff or the scene, it was never used in the original case.  Since Brian’s original lawyer had it and didn’t use it, they can’t use it now
  • The plaintiff received $1.5 million from the school because the school didn’t protect her, so she won’t recant.

With all this information, Justin advises Brian to keep his head down and finish his parole in a year.  Then, he can live his life as a free man.  Brian explains that he is on the sex offender’s registry list.  If he doesn’t clear his name, he will be on the list forever.  He will never be free and his NFL dreams will be over.  Justin refused to give Brian hope and can’t take his case.  So, Brian takes matters into his own hands.  Writing the habeas corpus himself, Brian lists the C.I.P as his lawyers.  Of course, this triggers a copy to be sent to the C.I.P.  Justin is impressed with Brian’s legal knowledge and takes the case.  They have 1 year to clear Brian’s name or he will be on the list forever.  It will take a ping on his computer to get the ball rolling.

Based on What Set Me Free by Brian Banks, Brian took lessons taught in jail by Jerome and continued to apply them after he was released from jail (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  Jerome gave Brian As a Man Thinketh and Brian treasures that book.  This movie will make you uncomfortable.  And it should.  The gross injustice Brian suffered is a real-life nightmare people deal with every day.  While the law says ‘innocent until proven guilty’, this movie proves that statement is likely ‘guilty until proven innocent’.  Each time Brian makes a step forward, he is slapped back down.  You will get a pain in your chest for him.  When Brian gets success, you will cheer.  Sit back and watch Brian get the justice he was denied.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars

F*** the system – Brian Banks

Ok – Justin

The car payment can wait. Your happiness can’t, Brian.  You deserve happiness. Not shame. Not guilt.  Happiness. – Leomia

The only thing you can control in life … is how you respond to life – Jerome Johnson

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The Kitchen – Review

The Kitchen – Budget Unknown – 1 hour and 43 minutes

The Kitchen

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Kathy is a wife and mother of two.  She knows her husband Jimmy is in the Irish mob and accepts what he does.  Ruby is verbally abused by her husband Kevin and his mother Helen.  She was never accepted into “The Family” because she is African American.  However, she is tolerated because she is Kevin’s wife.  Claire is only happy when her husband Rob is gone.  He beats her and caused her to miscarry.  One night all three men go out to collect payments. But when no one pays, they decide to rob instead … with the FBI watching. The two agents get out of their van and attempt to arrest them. After a brawl, the three men are arrested for several charges. In court, they get 3 years in jail. The women go to the mob-owned bar and wait. Little Jackie promises they will be taken care of while their husbands are in jail. They are comforted by this promise until they get their first payment. It’s not enough to cover the rent. When they confront Little Jackie, he flips on them. Business is tight because people aren’t paying. So they will take anything he gives them and shut up. The women leave and head to one of the mob-insured business. They admit they haven’t paid because they weren’t being protected. The owners say when Kathy’s grandfather was in charge, no one would bother them. Now, they are getting robbed and tagged. Kathy, Ruby, and Claire offer to give them protection only if the business owners pay them instead of Little Jackie. They know when Little Jackie hears about it, they will have to watch their back. Over time, there is something that scares them more … their husbands’ release.

Based on The Kitchen by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, this 70’s mobster movie stands out from the rest (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  Each woman has her own reason for wanting to start a life of crime.  Ruby wants power.  Claire wants full control.  Kathy wants a future.  Kathy tries other ways to take care of her family but she is rejected.  So she does what she has seen all her life.  As these three women slowly take over the mob, they do it their way.  They handle it like women.  They converse with people to find out their needs and deliver.  They have to be a step ahead of the Irish mob, the Italian mob, their husbands, and – eventually – each other.  You wonder what will they do to survive next and who will survive in the end.  However, this movie feels more like a ‘part 1’ than a full movie.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars

You will be happy with whatever f**king money I decided to give you. Now, get the f**k out – Little Jackie

I am not gonna get knocked around ever again – Claire

Whatever you’re doing, stop it now – Jimmy

Run – Helen

Told you he wasn’t gonna do nothing. He’s always been weak – Ruby

For you – Gabrielle

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Review

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Budget of $49 million – 1 hour and 42 minutes

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

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Dora and Diego love to play explorers.  When Diego’s mom gets a job in the city, Diego must leave Dora and the jungle behind for a new life.  Ten years later, Dora is still a girl who loves to explore the world around her with her monkey, Boots.  During an exploration, she falls into a hole and sends Boots to find her mom and dad.  Safely at home, Dora explains ancient Inca markings she found while exploring and she notices a red peg on their board.  She knows the red peg means they found Parapata, The City of Gold.  Mentally, she is packed and deep in the exploration with her parents.  However, they don’t think Dora is ready to go.  She keeps putting herself in danger.  They worry she will get hurt.  So they want her to go to the city and stay with Diego and his family.  Dora is hurt and scared.  She is worried because she doesn’t know how to make friends.   Her mother tells her to just be herself.  Once in the city, Dora notices how much Diego has changed.  On the other hand, he notices that she didn’t change at all.  On her first day, she loads her backpack with items for exploration, not school.  But she is shocked when the security guard lets her keep her most dangerous weapon: a yo-yo.  She catches the eye of Sammy – an overachieving, athletic, queen bee, who refuses to be dethroned by a smart Dora.  And Randy – a tech lover who gets bullied daily.  Dora quickly becomes the weird girl in school and Diego turns his back on her.  To make matters harder, her daily calls from her parents have stopped.  She calls every day but gets their voicemail.  At the Natural History Museum, the students are put in groups of four and given a scavenger hunt.  Dora, Diego, Sammy, and Randy are on the same team.  The first task is to find the oldest artifact.  Dora knows that will be in the Egyptian display but it’s closed.  A curator offers to give Dora secret access to the artifacts.  When security guard catches Dora sneaking around, Diego, Sammy, and Randy hide in a crate.  Dora tries to explain to the security guard what is going on but he grabs her and stuffs her in the same crate the others are hiding in.  He tells her that she must take them to her parents so they can find Parapata first.  They are treasure hunters.  Then, he throws in sleeping gas.  The four wake up as the crate is being offloaded from a plane.  Dora recognizes that she is back in the jungle.  As Dora takes a peek out of the crate, she is spotted.  Alejandro rescues the four and offers to help Dora find her parents.  Dora has to save her parents before the treasure hunters find them and rob Parapata.

Based on the Dora the Explorer TV series, this movie is better than expected (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  It gets the attention of those not too familiar with the series while staying true to Dora fans.  It has the classic show opening, Dora’s well-known breaking of the 4th wall, and a bit of the cartoon.  This movie is a mix of Dora, Indian Jones, and Spy Kids.   It will give you and the kids an easy laugh at the movies while teaching them about frogs, Incas, and aqueducts.  See it today.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars

Cole, their 6. Treasure hunters bad. Explorers good – Elena

Can you say neurotoxicity? Goodbye Golden poison frog – Dora

Hello 9-1-1, we are at the corner of rain and forest – Alejandro

Oh, it’s official. Movies lie – Randy

We should have waited on the red tag – Cole

If you’re going to take a shot at the queen, you better not miss – Sammy

Oh man, I’m stuck upside down – Swiper

You wore a lot of red and pink that week – Diego

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The Art of Racing in the Rain – Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Budget of $18 – 20 million – 1 hour and 49 minutes

The Art of Racing in the Rain

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While driving to Seattle, Denny sees a sign for puppies and buys ones.  He names it Enzo, after Ferrari car.  Enzo knows he was meant to be Denny’s dog.  Denny is a race car driver who teaches other drives on the side.  Denny is known for being a driver who can race in the rain.  He takes Enzo to the track while he races often.  While Enzo loves Denny’s house, the race track feels like home to him.  When they are not at the track, they are watching races on TV.  Enzo loves it.  He is happy with their family.  Then, Denny meets Eve.  Enzo tolerates her because he thinks their relationship is shortlived.  She doesn’t understand racing and watches questionable TV shows.  But realizes she is there for good after they get married.  He still doesn’t understand why Denny loves Eve.    Then, Eve becomes pregnant.  This is the moment Enzo accepts Eve as family.  His life with Denny was his race track and Eve was his rain.  When tragedy strikes, can Enzo keep Denny from swerving into a wall of pain? Enzo has a plan to keep him going for the next phase in life.

Based on The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, this movie captivates the true story of a dog (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  It’s told through Enzo’s perspective, there are few scenes without him.  With so many times Enzo wishes he could talk, the times he doesn’t will tear at your heart.  You will cry, laugh, and cheer as Enzo makes decisions to help Denny.  You will feel your angry rise when Denny has to fight for his family and Enzo has to fight for his life.  And you will hurt as Enzo hurts.  Don’t be surprised if you go home and hug your family, that includes your dog, tighter after seeing this movie.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

My soul just felt more human – Enzo

That’s a kids game. I have to be a grown-up now – Zoe

Hey Enzo, you don’t mind if I love him too – Eve

Excuse me, you’re son reminds me of a friend – Denny

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The Farewell – Review

The Farewell – Budget of $3 million – 1 hour and 38 minutes

The Farewell

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Billi talks on the phone to her grandmother, Nai Nai, living in China.  Nai Nai worries about Billi living in New York.  She hears all the scary stories about people being robbed.  Billi worries about her grandmother’s health.  Nai Nai questions Billi about her fellowship but Billi says she never got a response.  However, she is holding the rejection letter in her hand.  Billi questions her Nai Nai about the sounds in the background of her call but Nai Nai says she is at her sister’s house.  Nai Nai is lying.  She is at the hospital waiting for the results of her scan.  The two women hang up, regretting the lies.  Billi goes to her parents’ house to wash her clothes.  Her mother, Jian, tells Billi they are going to China.  Her cousin Hao Hao is getting married.  Billi is confused.  Hao Hao met Aiko 3 months ago.  Billi asks if Aiko is pregnant.  Her mother puts her head down.  Her parents explain that Hao Hao is getting married because Nai Nai has stage 4 lung cancer.  She has been given 3 months to live.  Billi wants to go to China and see her grandmother before she dies.  Jian tells her no.  Jian explains that the family has decided to follow tradition and not tell Nai Nai she is dying.  Tradition tells them people who get cancer, die.  But it’s not cancer that kills you, its the fear.  They worry that Billi won’t be able to keep the secret.  So, they want her to stay in New York.  A few days later, Billi – to the surprise of her parents and the rest of her family – knock on Nai Nai door.  She has to walk the line of Chinese tradition she was born into and the American way of life she lives in today.  Can she bear her Nai Nai’s burden for her family or will she expose the secret?

Based on an actual lie, be prepared to tear up as these actors deliver an honest and loving performance.  You feel compassion for Billi as she struggles with the decision to tell her grandmother.  You almost start to judge the family.  Until they explain their reason for lying.  Then, it makes perfect sense.  This movie is mostly in Mandarin, so it’s 90% subtitled.  However, this won’t bother you.  The story is so compelling, it’s like reading a great book.  You will be drawn in.  Sidenote: Bring food.  There is so much good food in the movie, you will get hungry.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

I quit because I was about to get fired – Billie

I just don’t like to put my emotions on display, like I’m in the zoo – Jian

It’s a good lie – Dr. Song

Stupid child, teasing me – Nai Nai

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