May 7, 2017, - 10:46 pm

Wknd Box Office: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Norman, The Dinner

By Debbie Schlussel


I had mixed feelings about the new offerings at the movies, this weekend. Two of the new movies star Richard “Israeli settlements are illegal” Gere.



* Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – PG-13: I liked the first installment of this comic-book-based series, and I think I liked this one even better (other than the last 25%, which was a total mess and ridiculous). But be warned: if you were born before the late ’60s, then this is probably not for you and will seem too juvenile and immature for your tastes. If you liked the first one, then–like me–you will probably enjoy this one, too. It’s not a “great” movie. Not even close. But it’s funny, relaxing, enjoyable, and–as superhero movies go–it’s okay.

Chris Pratt, as Peter Quill, and his usual gang of “guardians” are back. There is the green alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana, whose real-life wimpy husband took her last name), the talking raccoon “Rocket” (Bradley Cooper), the miniature tree character called “Baby Groot” (Vin Diesel), and the blue ravager “Yondu” (Michael Rooker, best known as Merle in “The Walking Dead”). There are also a lot of new characters, maybe too many. Among the newbies is Mantis, a charming women who looks like she is part human, part praying mantis, complete with antennae. Sylvester Stallone also makes a couple of appearances (and one during the credits).

You needn’t have seen the first movie to get what’s going on in this one, but it helps. In the first movie, we learn that Quill never knew who his father was and that his mother died when he was very young. He was essentially raised by the ravager (or salvager) Yondu/Rooker, who trained him to salvage junk throughout space to garner rewards and money. In this second installment, Quill meets his father, the “god” Ego (Kurt Russell), who controls his own planet. But things are not as they seem. Also, at the beginning of the movie, Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy were hired to find special batteries that were stolen from a planet where everything and everyone is glittering gold. But Rocket steals some of those batteries and so the Guardians are chased for this misdeed for the rest of the movie, as the gold people want revenge. I noted that the queen of the gold planet looks a lot like Paris Hilton.

As we learned in the first movie, Quill only has old mix tapes of ’70s and ’80s music by which to know and remember his deceased mother. So, as with the first movie, this one also comes chock-full of ’70s hits, and I loved the soundtrack (except for the Cat Stevens song–I hate it when movies give royalties to HAMAS financiers like Stevens a/k/a Yusuf Islam who defend death fatwas, as Islam did against Salman Rushdie). And there is a cameo by a famous celebrity, which is kind of funny.

Don’t leave when the credits roll, as there are five “stingers” (scenes hinting at what will happen in future movies in the series) during the credits. You have to stay for the entire thing.

Like I said, I liked this, but it’s a total mess and completely bogs down to confusing drivel for the last quarter of the movie. Also, it’s very violent and bloody for a superhero movie heavily marketed to kids. But, sadly, that’s movies, these days. This isn’t Superman or anything (and when I say that, I mean the old Superman movies of my youth–the smart ones, starring Christopher Reeve). The protagonist in this movie, Quill, is something of a moron and not exactly “heroic.” But it’ll do, as it’s still entertaining.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* Norman a/k/a Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer – Rated R: I have mixed feelings about this movie. It’s an Israeli-made film set mostly in New York and is mostly in English. Usually, when movie is “Israeli-made,” that means it’s so-self-hating, so-anti-Semitic, so-anti-religious-Jew, so-anti-Israel that it could have been by ISIS studios. But there are exceptions, and this movie is better than those movies (by a lot). It’s made by Joseph Cedar, who also made the very good Israeli film, “Footnote” (read my review).

Still, I was conflicted by this for a few reasons. First, it makes it look as if the Jews in America are sooo connected, so powerful, that they run the show–kind of the same argument made by many Jew-haters. Second, it makes Israeli politicians look like easily-bribed schmucks. Unfortunately, as in many countries, many of them are, and this movie is loosely based on the story of Ehud Olmert, convicted of taking bribes from Americans. Joseph Cedar, who wrote and directed this, is the nephew of the Orthodox rabbi who supposedly paid those bribes and then testified against Olmert. But this story could happen with politicians in any country, be it American, European, or Latino, African, Asian, or Muslim. And this entertaining tale is kind of like an Israeli-Jewish tragic tale a la “Death of a Salesman.”

Finally, I hate that Richard Gere–as skilled of an actor as he is, and he’s very good in this role–has anything to do with an ostensibly Jewish and Israeli film. This is the guy who had the chutzpah–when he was in Israel in March, promoting this movie–to call Israeli settlements “illegal.” This is the guy who, as I detailed on this site years ago, appeared in commercials with Palestinian Muslim terrorists who called for the mass murder of Jews and Christians, urging them to vote in Palestinian elections (which elected HAMAS). Here’s what he said in Israel in March:

Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone. There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal – and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process. Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.

Whatta bunch o’BS. If there is ANY “occupation,” it is by Palestinian Muslims. They control at least 95% of the lands that are supposed to constitute “Palestinian lands.” Their “leadership” hasn’t had free elections in years. That includes both HAMAS and the Palestinian Authority. And Gere is NO scholar of international law. Not even close. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly on this site over the years, Eugene V. Rostow–the author of United Nations resolutions 232 and 338, which address settlements–expressly said that settlements are NOT illegal and that the UN decided to make it so, in order to leave it up to the parties in negotiations. Yes, the settlements are legal. Got that, American Gigolo?

All of that said, I found the movie entertaining. Norman is a New York Jew of mystery. He doesn’t seem to live anywhere, never seems to eat (except when he sneaks into his synagogue to eat a late-night snack of herring on crackers), doesn’t seem to have an office (except on his cellphone and through business cards), and so on. We know very little about him, other than that he has a nephew who is giving him advice on the deals he is trying to make.

Yes, Norman Oppenheimer is a wannabe deal-maker. He’s trying to make deals by enticing some wealthy New York Jewish finance people to invest in business deals, so he can make some money. In the process, he meets an Israeli Vice Minister of Energy and inveigles his way into the man’s life by buying him a pair of expensive shoes by the French design house, Lanvin. It’s the most brilliant product placement I’ve ever seen in a film, as the shoes–which keep popping up–are literally a character in this movie.

Soon, this minor Vice Minister becomes Israel’s Prime Minister, and Norman’s fortunes change . . . sort of. As the Israeli politician’s fortunes go up and down, so do Norman’s. But the Israeli politician is a total schmuck and uses Norman. And Norman isn’t your usual shrewd deal maker (a “macher” in Yiddish). In fact, he’s way out of his league, and it gets him into trouble . . . and makes you feel bad for him.

Lior Ashkenazi is brilliant as the Israeli Prime Minister. He is typical of the Israeli center-left, as he blames scandals he casued in his life on “those who want to take down the peace process.” He’s a user and a schmuck. (I’m not normally a fan of Ashkenazi, as his most famous other Israeli film is “Walk on Water,” a typically awful self-hating, anti-Israel Israeli film, in which a Mossad agent questions his life and his life’s work when a Palestinian Muslim son of a terrorist dies in one of his missions. And he falls for the family of a Nazi war criminal. Typical Israeli leftist schmuck.)

So, again, I liked this movie, but when watching it, you have to pretend it’s not Richard Gere or Lior Ashkenazi or a semi-anti-Israel tilt to it. And again, you have to look at it as a fictional tragicomedy.

***

Although the writer/director has an Orthodox rabbi for an uncle, he isn’t up on Jewish law or the various sects of Judaism. In this movie, the rabbi–played by Steve Buscemi–is “bribed” to marry Norman’s nephew, a “kohane” (or “cohen,” a member of the tribe of Jewish priests) to a convert. Kohanim are not allowed to marry converts or divorcees, among others. But the rabbi obviously presides over a Conservative or Reform Jewish synagogue (the men and women sit together at services and sing together in the synagogue choir, which wouldn’t happen at an Orthodox synagogue). And Conservative and Reform rabbis–since they really don’t follow Jewish law and are mostly ignorant of it–would have no problem marrying a kohane to a convert. It wouldn’t be an issue. They simply don’t care that much about Jewish law at all (unfortunately).

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* The Dinner – Rated R: This is the third movie based on the novel of the same name, by Dutch author Herman Koch. I saw the far superior Italian version, “I Nostri Ragazzi” a/k/a “The Dinner,” and it was very well done. In contrast, this English-language version, starring Richard Gere, is absolutely horrible. It ruins the story, just to be “different” and avant-garde, and ends up just being stupid and silly. A complete and total waste of time.

In the novel and the Italian version (a Dutch version was also made), two couples–one of them very wealthy–meet at a very swanky restaurant for dinner. The link is that the husbands are brothers. One is an intellectual, who thinks he is morally superior to his weathy businessman brother. Ultimately, we learn that their children were involved in a tragedy. And how they choose to deal with it is illustrative of what their real morals and their real characters are made of.

In the American version, we learn pretty much right away what has happened with the children. And none of the characters are likable at all. Instead of an intellectual professor-type, the corresponding brother character in this one (Steven Coogan) is an obnoxious, mentally ill Civil War buff who imagines himself on the battlefield. It’s a distraction from the story. His wife–instead of the introspective, moral character of the Italian film–is a weak, dopey, cancer-stricken woman (Laura Linney) without much to say. Richard Gere–who would have been he wealthy businessman in the Italian version–is a wealthy, important Congressman in a leadership position. He is on his second wife, and there are confusing scenes with this first wife. His second wife (Rebecca Hall) is sulky and bitter-acting the whole time. She is pointless.

Also, the children are not subtle. They are obvious, spoiled, and also obnoxious. Completely unsympathetic, whereas they are more nuanced in the Italian version. Also, in this, there is an added, irrelevant storyline about interracial adoption. It adds an unnecessary and irrelevant distraction from the plot. Also unnecessary and a distraction is the elaborate presentations and descriptions of the food being served at the restaurant.

Nothing really happens in this movie. There is none of the philosophical discussions and arguments about morals here. Instead, the movie goes off on tangents and sidetracks that have nothing to do with the plot at hand and add nothing to the story or the characters.

As I said, this movie is dreadful and pointless. I recommend you see the Italian version. It’s good, tightly-written and well done. This isn’t. Not even close.

TWO MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

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12 Responses

Richard Gere, what a Jew-hater (I remember him once playing King David on a big TV series back in the 1980s). The Dinner is directed by an Israeli who makes films in America, Oren Moverman. Usually his films are pretty good, Ramparts and The Messenger with Woody Harrelson starring in both, were good movies. But yeah I don’t hear good things about The Dinner. A misstep by Moverman. Plus why even make a movie that’s been filmed twice already, and recently of course?

Lawrence on May 8, 2017 at 4:09 am

Richard Gere has been claiming that he’s been virtually blacklisted in Hollywood because of his support of the Dalai Lama, and Hollywood’s pandering to China. If so, why is he in all but the “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” film, being reviewed here? And besides, there are others in that town besides him who take the side of jihad against Israel and the Jews in this way.

Also, I’ve been thinking exactly the same about the French elections. Les morons. How many of them that voted were swayed by Obama’s sales pitch?

Concerned Patriot on May 8, 2017 at 8:43 am

Good day dear Debbie thanks for sharing and God bless you!sincerlly Tirdad.

TIRDAD GHARIB on May 8, 2017 at 11:04 am

I was born before the late 60’s but did enjoy the first Guardians of the Galaxy partly because of the great 70’s/80’s
soundtrack minus Cat Stevens.It was a fun movie not a great movie and will see it based on Debbie’s review.
I will never understand why people will believe and support
what all these far leftist celebrities have to say!They are so
removed from reality,living in there own fantasy world thinking
how important they are while their admirers won’t even look at a conservative website like Debbie’s which has so much good and
truthful info that goes for her Twitter page too.
So tired of these leftist idiots who think we must be inclusive of everyone and everything including radical Islam!
Obama couldn’t even say those horrendous acts were terrorism
rather using terms like workplace violence!Meanwhile they upped the terrorism.I’m glad President Trump dropped that big bomb on those rat bastards and hope he drops a few more of those monster bombs on them.
My life changed forever on 9/11.I will never forget the horrific sight of those poor people jumping to their deaths instead of being burned to death.All the incredibly brave first responders who raced into the towers many who never came out.People of all races,religions and political affiliations were slaughtered!And so many radical Islam terrorist attacks in all parts of the world.It saddens and angers me that many people don’t seem to care-just look at the French election results..You wouldn’t want to offend anyone!
Thank God Trump is president and not Hillary and that there are true conservative voices like Debbie out there.

Todd on May 8, 2017 at 11:58 am

You mean to tell me Richard Gere isn’t an international law scholar?! I’m shocked. I’m devastated. Now I have to rethink the rest of my life.

Tommy Thomas on May 8, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Gere is indeed an international legal scholar — in the same manner that Gore is a thoughtful, sincere and scholarly climatologist.

    Jerry on May 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Sorry, Debbie, but I will not pay to watch any movie with Richard Gere in it. When the DVD hits the Free Library, I may watch his movies. But that’s it. I feel that strongly about it.

Richard Gere’s mantra is “Hug a Terrorist today!” as well as “Israeli Settlements [i.e., HOMES] are illegal!” So you’re talking about someone who empathizes with the terrorists who commit atrocities and who holds scorn for those who oppose them.

Gere’s been doing his leftist shtick for a long time. For example, back in October 20, 2001, shortly after 9/11, Gere addressed an audience of rescue and police personnel and their families during the “Concert for New York,” in which many celebrities participated.

Gere said the following that was met with a chorus of booing:

“In a situation like this, of course, you identify with everyone who’s suffering. But we must also think about the terrorists who are creating such horrible future lives for themselves because of the negativity of this karma. It’s all of our jobs to keep our minds as expansive as possible. If you can see the terrorists as a relative who’s dangerously sick and we have to give them medicine, and the medicine is love and compassion. There’s nothing better.”

After more booing:

“That’s apparently unpopular right now, but that’s alright.”

So, if you want to follow Gere’s example, hug a Terrorist today and shower them with love and compassion.

And, in keeping with the leftist tradition of fake news, the DVD of the event was digitally altered to remove the booing. (Leftist Susan Sarandon was also booed, as was then New York Senator Hillary Clinton, but all of the booing was replaced with sounds of cheering.)

Ralph Adamo on May 8, 2017 at 6:55 pm

And he has just as much expertise on Buddhism – not!!

Concerned Patriot on May 8, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Well,it’s good to see your movie reviews back. I hope there are going to be others in the near future. I hope there are more coming up. I even hope there are those coming from previous months. I’d love to read them.

Ghostwriter on May 9, 2017 at 12:08 am

What?. Richard Gere’s anti semtic?. how shocking!. What’s next?. Bill Clinton’s a sexual predator, Barack Obama’s incompetent with a wife meaner than diarrhea and Barbra Streisand can’t sing?. It would seem for these people that being anti semitic is a chic thing to do. This is why there should be tests for voters, fewer dolts at the polls. Sadly the line”I am Groot.” makes more sense than the usual poltician’s statements on high taxes or foreign policy.Oh and by the way, why do you worship on Saturday and not Sunday?.I’m asking out of curiosity as didn’t God rest on Sunday after Creation?.

Robert Swords on May 9, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Thanks, Debbie. I may see the “Guardians” movie. Otherwise, Sturgeon’s Law always applies, to movies and to Hollywood people (“95% of everything is crap.”—Theodore Sturgeon).

It is obvious that Mr. Gere would benefit from a “Lunch in Tul Karem,” as would Mandy Patinkin.

Occam's Tool on May 13, 2017 at 5:35 pm

I think I might have like Guardians 2 a little better than you did Debbie. I really laughed a lot during the first half. The second definitely wasn’t as good though. I thought those plastic people they kept showing were pretty weird. And I kind of wish Kurt Russell could have been something other than the the bad guy. That was a little too predictable. I thought the one mass-killing seen was kind of shocking for something that young kids would be seeing and especially the way it was choreographed to music. One thing I was really impressed by was the FX’s work used to make Kurt Russell look young at the beginning. Usually that kind of stuff looks fake but I was amazed that it looked so realistic.

Daniel Middleman on May 23, 2017 at 6:29 am

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