Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Poster for the movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

20171 h 55 min

After seven months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at Bill Willoughby, the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Jason Dixon, an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated.

Director Martin McDonagh
Runtime 1 h 55 min
Release Date 10 November 2017
Movie Media VoD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

If I had to use just one word to describe this movie, it’d be “sorrowful”. The film is very much a black comedy, but there are segments where it leans a lot more towards “black” than “comedy”. The premise is pretty simple; this woman’s daughter was raped & murdered, the cops didn’t catch whoever did it, and that is destroying her. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that Frances McDormand’s character Mildred does not take shit from people. But at the same time, she feels powerless in so many ways and it’s hard to watch all the struggles happening to this woman and the people around her all stemming from this one horrific act of violence.

The performances here are amazing. Just about every time Mildred opens her mouth, you can feel the anger and resolve of her words in the air. But we also see her moments of grief; she is a very 3D character. One moment you’re laughing at how she’s made some bastard feel like a fool and the next you’re sucker-punched in the gut by seeing her vulnerable. And it all just feels…real. Movie characters can be pretty 2D and simplistic, but everyone knows that real life is a swirl of emotions. Horrible things like this actually happen, all the time, and even fictional stories like this one (built with a grain of truth, mind you) can hurt even while being entertaining once you remember that.

Now, I have seen a couple of other reviews that complain about the portrayal of racism in this film. On one hand, I definitely agree that the racist characters turning over a new leaf and all is forgiven is bullshit. On the other hand, this movie takes place in rural Missouri. It would be weird if there weren’t any racist characters. I say that as someone who lives in Missouri, born and raised. You get more than a couple of miles from the major city limits around here and you start to hear banjos.

This is definitely one of the emotionally strongest films I’ve seen, ever. Everybody goes through some form of pain and loss in their life, but my god, I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child. Most people can’t, thankfully. But this film comes shockingly close to giving audiences a taste of what those emotions can do to people. And despite all the plot holes…well, it’s still a movie. Suspension of disbelief is a thing, use it and just enjoy the film.

January 31, 2021

Free State of Jones

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Poster for the movie ""

Free State of Jones

Based on the incredible true story.

20162 h 19 min

Free State of Jones was a little misleading with its trailers, but that by no means indicates that it was not a good film. The trailer portrayed the movie as more of an action film. There are a fair number of gunfights throughout, most of which can be partially glimpsed in the trailer. But the action sequences are not what the film is about. A large portion of the story takes place during the American Civil War so of course there are going to be battles. This is by no means an action movie; nor could the brief action sequences even be intense or focused enough to call Free State of Jones a thriller. It is, at its core, a historical film.

If you are a fan of history, that is fantastic. I sincerely think that you are going to enjoy this movie. Other viewers may feel that the film just drags on and on and on. The movie has a lot of talking; characters just standing around and talking. Sometimes they talk to each other and sometimes they monologue, but talking is talking. While that may not be the best path for a giant blockbuster $$$ film, it was perfect for a historical story. War is a lot of standing around and talking with brief moments of action, just as this film portrays. Free State of Jones is meant to show another side of the Confederacy. Not everyone in the Confederate Army was up in arms ready to fight for the South. Many of them were men who were just told, “We are going to war. Consider yourself conscripted.” But Free State of Jones is not about the war itself.

For viewers who are not very familiar with the American Civil War, it will be harder to follow this film. That being said, the movie deals with a theme that is not entirely uncommon. Soldiers who are poor farmers and other simple men ask themselves, “Why are we fighting and dying for these rich folks? They are not bleeding to keep their wealth, so why should we bleed for them?” This leads to soldiers deserting and they end up being helped by runaway slaves, whom they help in return. These black men fight alongside them for freedom from the Confederacy and become fellow soldiers, brothers-in-arms. Then the war ends.

Anyone who has ever read a history book can tell you that the Emancipation Proclamation was only a baby step forward in ending slavery. When there is a war on, people are willing to let bygones be bygones so that they will not die. But once that is over, things become a racial issue again. Free State of Jones ultimately focuses not on war or even freedom, but segregation. The abolishment of segregation is an increasingly slow process that even today is still a major issue. It certainly did not come close to ending within Newton Knight’s lifetime. Nor did this one man’s action in a single county of Mississippi have a particularly remarkable impact on history. But the film portrays how the seeds were planted for those equal rights and how much of a struggle it is to have those seeds germinate. While the overall rating for Free State of Jones is not exactly 5 stars, as a historical film it is certainly worth your time.

September 25, 2016