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Movie Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky, 8/18/17, 1hr 59mins, PG-13

In 2013 Steven Soderbergh announced he was retiring from making films.  He has returned to direct Logan Lucky and we are lucky he did. 

Logan Lucky is a heist film.  Soderbergh made “Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13.” So heist movies are in his wheelhouse.  This time around though the actors portray stereotypical southerners trying to steal money from Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Not only one of the most notable tracks on the NASCAR Schedule, but they want to do it during one of the biggest races of the year, The Coca Cola 600.

The humor in this film is a dry, deadpan style that is funny.  The best character for me was Joe Bang.  Daniel Craig playing an explosives expert with bleach blonde hair was really fun.  He never once sounded like James Bond and was always on point.  Plus there are some cameos in the film of NASCAR Drivers not playing drivers that were fun to catch.  Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as the Logan brothers play off of each other very well.

I was very entertained by this film but I must say I am a NASCAR fan so there was something extra in it for me.  The ending did make me ask some questions, but there may be a sequel.  Also this is not a true story as you will see in the disclaimer at the end of the credits.

If you plan to take your kids to Logan Lucky there is some language spread throughout the film.  You will also see some violence in the jail as prisoners fight guards and each other.  A man is naked in the back seat of a car but he is visible only from the chest up. 

Logan Lucky is rated PG-13 and I am giving it a B+.  

Movie Review: The Glass Castle / The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

The Glass Castle, 08/11/17, 1HR 27 Mins, PG-13

The Glass Castle is the story of the Walls Family.  Jeanette Walls (Brie Larson) and her siblings learn about life from their eccentric and government hating parents Rex (Wood Harrelson) and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts).  The parents keep the family together despite being on the run from bill collectors and the law in a few states.  The kids always hope for more but never quite seem to get what they hope for.

You might think this film would be considered a tragic story but this slice of life is very well done.  The characters in this film are deep and learning about them throughout the film is a joy.  Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of a father who loves his family deeply but can’t always show it, is beautiful to watch. 

This film is based on a true story and it feels like it.  The scenes in which Naomi Watts and Harrelson are fighting and then making up are both crazy and touching.  This dysfunctional family hurts each other but at the same time would go to the ends of the earth to save their family.  You can see both the love and the disdain on the screen.  I have become a fan of the director Destin Daniel Cretton even though this is one of his first feature films.

The film is rated PG-13 and does depict violence in the home although the parents do not hit their children.  A daughter is taught to swim by throwing her into the water.  There is a suggestion of sexual abuse by a grandparent.  A woman is seen hanging from a window ledge.  A child’s clothes catch fire on the stove and she is burned.  There is some language and one daughter sews up a gash on her father’s shoulder.

The Glass Castle is a wonderful film and I am giving it an A-. 

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, 8/11/17, 1hr 31 mins, PG

Yes folks there is a sequel to The Nut Job that came out in 2014.  This time around though it’s not a bad film.  Surly (voice of Will Arnett) has it made with his other animal friends in the basement of the Nut Shop. There is plenty to eat and life is good until the boiler explodes and they have to go back to the park.  Even that is troublesome though since the Mayor wants to replace the regular park with a revenue generating amusement park.

This may not be a bad film but it is also not a film that will change your life.  The story is simple and easy to follow which is good for kids.  Plus there are jokes that will make adults and kids laugh at the same time.  I was surprised since I did not have high hopes for this film from the start.  There are some touching moments and the characters go through a learning process during the film that is interesting.  All in all the film is fun and can be entertaining at times.

The animal characters are relatable but the bad guy in the film, The Mayor (Bobby Moynihan), is really annoying.  That may be what the filmmakers wanted but this was too much for me.  Plus his daughter is just Darla from “Finding Nemo.” 

Since the film is rated PG there isn’t much for parents to worry about.  I do have to say though that there is a bit of violence in the film but that is all animated and so not on a level of reality.  Many pratfalls and people being attacked by animals.  One character is a mouse that uses Martial Arts.  Animals are attacking humans to get them out of the park so there is some reasoning for the violence.  There is also a scene where a dog regurgitates his food on purpose and then eats it. Eww!

The Nut Job2: Nutty by Nature is rated PG and I am giving it a B-.      

Movie Review: Valerian

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, 7/21/17, PG-13

Director Luc Besson gathered funds together to make this film and was inspired by the original French comics “Valerian and Laureline.”  In this story Valerian (Dean DeHann) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) must investigate a mysterious energy at the center of Alpha, the city of a Thousand Planets. 

The visuals of Valerian are mesmerizing, as Besson created an incredible look for the film with all the different aliens and planets that are in the story.  Artistically the film is stunning.  The story fell a little short when it came to keeping my interest.  When the story waned though I had the visuals to look at.  The range of characters is fantastic in the film, going all the way from elegant savages to scruffy intellectuals.  The love story in the film did not work for me.    

The big mystery of the film is not that hard to figure out either so my attention again went back to the visuals created by the team of artists Besson had working for him.  The look of this film does feel reminiscent of “The Fifth Element.” That is not a bad thing.

This adventure does have some violence in it, including the shooting of weapons and threats being thrown about.   Explosions decimate a planet as well as many creatures upon it.  A large shootout takes the lives of many.  A creature dances on a pole. The main Characters are seen in swimsuits for some of the film.

Science fiction fans will enjoy this film as will those who go for the artistry.  I did enjoy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and I am giving it a B grade. 


Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk is the latest film from director Christopher Nolan.  It tells the story of 400,000 soldiers who were driven into the town of Dunkirk, on the northern coast of France by German tanks in 1940.  The film is the story of their rescue.

This is a difficult film to talk about.  Not only because it is a war film, but because Nolan is telling this story in a non-linear fashion.  He uses 3 different points of view.  The stories overlap in many places and at first I was confused.  I also did not like it when Nolan increased the volume of the soundtrack so the dialogue of the actors is drowned out by the music.  Of course there is not much dialogue to drown out.

I do realize though that Nolan is using these conventions to confuse the audience on purpose.  He does it to make us feel more like we are one of the soldiers in the story and it is this fact that makes this film so incredible.  On the one hand I dislike the story telling and the audio but on the other hand I understand why it was done and it hits that mark.  You will want to pay attention during this film.

Being a war film there is much violence.  Soldiers are shot and die from enemy fire and bombs.  Ships are bombed with people on board.  People are burned by an oil fire on the water.  Planes are shot down and crash.  One civilian passes away on his way to assist the soldiers.  Torpedoes are launched and hit a boat.  Soldiers below deck in a boat are fired upon from the outside.  Bodies are seen floating in the water.

Despite not liking the storytelling I am giving Dunkirk an A- for making me feel a part of the story. 

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes, 7/14/17, PG-13

This is the third installment of the latest Planet of the Apes” series.  Andy Serkis reprises his role of Caesar, leader of the apes.  An illness is infecting humans and killing them and humans are blaming the apes for it so all the apes are in hiding. 

Woody Harrelson plays “The Colonel” and he finds where the apes are hiding and kills two of them in their sleep, thinking he has killed Caesar.  Instead he killed Caesar’s wife and son.  Caesar decides the apes must move somewhere else but he will not go with them so he can get his revenge.

This film really got my attention.  It is amazing that the motion capture of the actor’s faces can project so many emotions.  Andy Serkis can really make you feel something with this technology.  The story moves along really well and kept my interest as new characters were introduced. Woody Harrelson’s character is ruthless to everyone in this film. 

If you have not seen the other two most recent “Planet of the Apes” films there is a quick story review.  But those films are good as well.  I’m not sure if this will only be a trilogy of films, but I would go see another one. 

As the title says this is a war movie.  There are battles during this film with guns blazing and people and apes being shot and killed.  Apes are forced to do manual labor and are held in a camp.  Caesar is tortured.  The final battle scene is massive and destructive.  Some bloody wounds are visible and there are many explosions.  Not much profanity in the film.

War for the Planet of the Apes is rated PG-13 and I am giving it an A-.  

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming, 7/7/2017, PG-13

Spider-Man: Homecoming begins right after the events of Captain America: Civil War.  In fact it begins with an original movie made by Peter Parker that shows how he got to Berlin and into the fight with all the super heroes.

After the big fight Peter goes back home and there is not the same level of excitement stopping petty crimes around the neighborhood.  Then he comes across bank robbers who have some really advanced weapons.  He traces the weapons and finds he may be over his head this time.

If you didn’t know already, this is not an origin story.  Peter Parker has already got his powers when this film begins.  You will get to see how Peter learns what it is to be a hero.  That is what makes this movie different. Also Tom Holland makes a really good Peter Parker.  I was apprehensive about his best friend knowing he is Spiderman and that does become a problem.

The action in the film is really good and Michael Keaton plays a really bad guy as the Vulture.  There are some twists that make you think, and I must say the film has the best end of credit scene ever!  Stay to the end of the credits to see what I mean.

Parents, there is violence in this film including people being vaporized by weapons and punches being thrown.  There are threats and some perilous action.  There are a few instances of language including replacing Peter’s name with a body part and gestures. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming is rated PG-13.  I really enjoyed this film and I am giving it an A- grade.  

The Right Kind of Wrinkles

The other day I was at a restaurant with my friends. I was making a comment about how I look angry when I relax my eyebrows completely, so I find myself in the habit of always having my eyebrows half-raised so that I look friendlier to everyone around me. My friend laughed and said, “You’d better watch out or you’ll get wrinkles!”

That is the warning from society today, “Watch out! You’ll get wrinkles!” When I searched ‘smile lines’ on Google, it came up with pages and pages of links to Botox surgery and anti-aging cream. Everything online was about getting rid of or avoiding smile lines and wrinkles. Never once did I see a post that said, “Embrace and enjoy them.” But something that I saw online once a while back has stuck out more in my mind than all of the ads for Botox and plastic surgery I’ve ever seen on Google. It was a Facebook post of a newly engaged couple’s picture. The girl was young and beautiful. You would’ve thought she was one of the Botox consumers by the look of her porcelain, flawless skin. But in the picture she was genuinely laughing with her fiancé, and slight lines formed at the corners of her mouth. You could tell it wasn’t the first time this guy had made her smile. The caption read, “I'm starting to get smile wrinkles. Worth it.” Isn’t it worth it? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives? Laughing, playing, and loving so hard that our joy is creased into our faces?

So what are people afraid of? What should people be avoiding? I would say you should be avoiding the wrinkles that come from furrowing your brow at a disobedient child, from frowning in anger at an imperfect spouse, or from stressing over your bills and the unimportant things in life; but don’t miss out on the joys of life to preserve your youthful look.

I’ll never forget a boy I met in junior high who had deep wrinkles at the corners of his eyes at only the age of 14 because he never stopped smiling at people in the hallways or laughing hard at good jokes. No one ridiculed his wrinkles, but rather found them charming. People looked forward to those wrinkles every day. Would you really give up laughing with your spouse, working outside with your children, or brightening someone’s day with a friendly eyebrow raise merely to preserve your tight skin? I can promise that people will notice a glowing smile over a small crease.

Forget the Botox and the anti-aging cream. I propose a new kind of beauty; a kind of beauty that doesn’t try to trap people in the past, but embraces the past, relishes the present, and looks toward the future. Don’t fear aging. People will forget your wrinkles, but they will always remember the moments that made them. I hope you grow into a withered, tanned, calloused, wrinkly old person. I hope you can wear your wrinkles like a memoir of your life’s journey and that for every wrinkle you flaunt, I hope you can say, “I earned that!”

(By: Liana Tan, BYUradio Segment Producer for "The Matt Townsend Show")

"Poetry is Truth in its Sunday Clothes"

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.” – Joseph Roux

I’m always embarrassed to tell people that I write poetry. I’m afraid they’ll lump me into a category of people that wear thick-rimmed glasses without lenses, lament over complicated ex-relationships, expand their vocabularies exponentially in order to confound the barista taking their order (no sugar, no cream), and insist that nobody—no, nobody—will ever understand their souls. That is, in my mind, a stereotypical poet. Inaccurate, as so many stereotypes are, but I think it’s stuck in today’s society.

When people aren’t rolling their eyes at their idea of modern poets, they seem to think they are being scarred by the ancient everlasting epic poems they were forced to read and over-analyze in sophomore English, terrified of nature descriptions using more than four-syllable words to paint the trees fall colors, and nauseous at the idea of one more love poem relating hearts to flowers.

And all of this is really too bad, because poetry is incredible. Weirdness in poetry comes when the poet wants the reader to come away thinking something mysterious and wild about the poet, aka underground coffeshop girl with the fake glasses and big vocabulary. Greatness in poetry comes when the poet has some crazy idea, and just has to get it down on paper. Greatness in poetry comes when the poet notices something, and writes it down as some sort of tribute to the universe. Example: Thanks, Moab, for that crazy lightning storm last weekend. Just so you know, I appreciated it. Even if no one else did. Greatness in poetry comes when the poet touches on an eternal truth that the reader was waiting patiently to tap into. As Gustave Flaubert said, “There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.”

The stereotypes and over-analysis need to be shut away in a kitchen cupboard somewhere far away, so we can gallantly describe the universe in peace.

So I’ll say it: I’m a poet. And it’s noble, okay? I’m not a very good poet, and most of my poems lie in unfinished bunches on my hard drive, but I am making a solid attempt to put the right words on paper. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think more people should try it. Just because poetry’s hard doesn’t mean it’s scary or bad.  

(By: Emma Hancock, BYUradio Segment Producer for "Top of Mind")

Changes Coming to BYU Radio

We have some exciting changes coming up here at BYU Radio!

Beginning Monday, February 9th, we’ll have some slight alterations to our schedule as the Matt Townsend Show moves to mornings with an expanded broadcast time – Monday through Friday, 9-Noon ET/ 7-10am MT.

Also starting Monday, we debut a brand new daily show: “Top of Mind, with Julie Rose” – a current events and interview program that airs Monday through Friday, 5-7pm ET/3-5pm MT. Social, cultural and scientific topics will be featured each show with a  constant focus on “How can this knowledge improve our understanding of the world?”

Here is what the basic daily (Monday through Saturday) line-up for programming on BYU Radio will be starting February 9th: 

2am ET/12MT – This’ll Take a While (Repeat)

3am ET/1MT – The Kim Power Stilson Show (Repeat)

4 am ET/2MT  – The Tantara Hour (Repeat)

5 am ET/3MT – Highway 89 (Repeat)

6 am ET/ 4MT  – Notes from the Kennedy Center / The Wheatley Forum

7 am ET/ 5MT  – Top of Mind with Julie Rose (Repeat)

9 am ET/7MT  The Matt Townsend Show

Noon ET/ 10MT– BYU Sports Nation

1pm ET/11MT Traveling with Eric Dowdle

2pm ET/12 MT – The Apple Seed

3 pm ET/ 1MT The Kim Power Stilson Show

4 pm ET/ 2MT This’ll Take a While

5 pm ET/ 3MT  Top of Mind with Julie Rose

7 pm ET/5MT  – BYU Sports Nation (Repeat)

8 pm ET/6MT The Tantara Hour

9 pm ET/7MT Thinking Aloud

10 pm ET/8MT – Highway 89

11 pm ET/9 MT – The Apple Seed (Repeat)

12 am ET/10MT– Through the Garage Door

1am ET/11MT – Traveling with Eric Dowdle (Repeat)

Remember, you can listen to us on both iOS and Android platforms with our BYU Radio app, as well as live streaming on, and of course, on SiriusXM Channel 143!

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