2019 Movie Reviews

Rated best ( + + + ) to worst ( – – – )

Latest Movie Review

“Mary Queen of Scots” (+) has a great cast working with a disappointing script that is rife with historical inaccuracies. Top-notch performances are delivered by Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I. There’s lots of bad blood in the relationship of these two royal sisters, especially since Mary was a Catholic and Elizabeth was a Protestant. The movie does remind us that as awfully uncivil as our political divisions have become in the US today, it was often much worse in the past when monarchs reigned supreme. There was constant intrigue, deception, and backstabbing both in and among their courts. It hasn’t gotten that bad yet in our nation’s capital. Then again, as George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


“Mary Queen of Scots” (+) has a great cast working with a disappointing script that is rife with historical inaccuracies. Top-notch performances are delivered by Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I. There’s lots of bad blood in the relationship of these two royal sisters, especially since Mary was a Catholic and Elizabeth was a Protestant. The movie does remind us that as awfully uncivil as our political divisions have become in the US today, it was often much worse in the past when monarchs reigned supreme. There was constant intrigue, deception, and backstabbing both in and among their courts. It hasn’t gotten that bad yet in our nation’s capital. Then again, as George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

“On the Basis of Sex” (+ +) is an interesting, if formulaic, biopic about the life and times of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film stars Felicity Jones in the title role of a young woman who excelled at Harvard Law School, but couldn’t find a job at a law firm. Instead, she accepted a teaching position at Rutgers. However, she teamed up with her husband, a prominent tax attorney, to bring a precedent-breaking case before the US Court of Appeals. They won their case, overturning a century of gender discrimination. The movie reminds us of the importance of the rule of law in America. When the rules become antiquated and even oppressive, it’s good to be reminded that there is a very civil legal process for adapting them to conform to our society’s changing needs. It may be a slow process, but it beats the alternatives of radical change.

“Vice” (-) is another historical docudrama that is rife with inaccuracies, which reduces its credibility. The movie is about the political life of Dick Cheney, who served as vice president under George W. Bush. The movie’s unflinching theme is that Cheney was power hungry and was directly responsible for the war in Iraq, waterboarding, global warming, and everything bad that has happened to us since 9/11. At the end of the movie, Cheney’s character, played eerily well by Christian Bale, addresses the movie’s audience directly. He snarls and growls that he does not care how he is portrayed because he made the country safe. One person stands out as able to have stood up to Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell. He gave a speech at the UN on February 5, 2003 to drum up support for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. It was based on flimsy intelligence, and Powell knew it. In September 2005, Powell was asked about the speech during an interview with Barbara Walters and responded that it was a “blot” on his record. Imagine if he had refused to support the war.