West Side Story

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana Debose, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno and Mike Faist

Director: Steven Spielberg          

Writer: Tony Kushner (Screenplay) and Arthur Laurents (Based on the stage play, book by)

Synopsys: An Adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Shark, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.

The mind that brought us E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List gives us an updated take on this classic musical. It’s been three years since his last feature release (Ready Player One) and in lead up to this I remember a lot of people thinking that he was a poor choice for this remake. Thinking that they should have gone with a lesser-known minority director to take this one on. Which would have been fine. And as much as I love what Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing (Encanto, Tik Tik Boom) I don’t think there is anyone that could have captured the magic of the era quite like Steven Spielberg did. So, with that in mind I’m happy Mr. Spielberg chose to take this one.

Just as a disclaimer before I jump into it, I need to be honest. I have never seen the original 1961 musical. My opinion is simply of this film and its own merits. I wasn’t even aware of the specifics of the plot outside of the romance aspects that came between rival gangs. So, I was pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns that came forth.

What it did well- I thought the chemistry between the characters was enjoyable to watch unfold. The casting of fewer mainstream actors and actresses was a huge plus for this movie. If it were faces of people that we’ve seen say in a recent marvel movie it would have been a detriment to the film. I’ll be honest I was even distracted for the first few minutes by Ansel Elgort because of the few things I’ve seen him in. But that quickly subsided as the movie progressed. I thought the plot moved quickly but the love at first sight relationship between the two leads (Elgort and Zegler) and their Romeo and Juliet subplot worked so well that you went along for the ride. While Ariana Debose stole the show as Anita for the middle portion of the film and the rag tag group of Jets and Sharks fit their roles and did their parts to bring this world to life. But what really drew me in wasn’t the nostalgia which our movie going experiences are over saturated by at point, but the feel, and I guess some would call it nostalgia. The tone, presence and cinematography truly felt not so much like a remake of a 60’s movie but a remastering.

There aren’t any cons that come to mind outside of a few underlying liberal agendas that were present but not too aggressive. For me it was more like, “oh I see what you’re doing there”. There was a character that followed the Jets around wanting to be a part of the gang. They wouldn’t let her because she was a girl, but there was a scene where explains that she isn’t a girl but a boy and makes them despise her even more. They end up excepting her later when she proves herself/himself. I’m only assuming that was a different character arc in the 61 version. There is rampant racism, which is a key plot element, that feels all to relatable to today’s world. And, unfortunately people had to die (SPOILERS) to get the point across that there are more important things to consider about a person than the color of their skin. Advice a lot of people should consider today…just saying.

In summary I would absolutely recommend this movie, I believe it is on both Disney plus and HBO Max. Not sure how that works. The cast was enjoyable the musical throwback was pleasant, they didn’t just try and update it for the sake of being modern and the story is simple and something that I think all of us can get behind.  


Just a thought

I’m sitting here learning more about running internet ads and watching Avengers: Endgame. Over the course of the last few weeks Vera and I recently watched the three movies leading up to Zach Snyder’s upcoming Justice League remake. (Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and Joss Whedon’s 2017 Justice League).

I’m sitting here thinking about the differences between these two powerhouse markets. Trying to figure out why Marvel seems to have nailed down a fool proof method of storytelling while DC seems to abound in foolishness and falling short.

CAP just picked up mjolnir!

Sorry didn’t mean to get off topic. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed is characterization. Warner Bros. and DC seem to want to take as many shortcuts as possible to create a world that feels fleshed out and real. Well as real as a world with superheroes can feel. They haven’t taken chances that are risky and invested in them whether they pay off or not, instead choosing to play it safe and predictable with cookie cutter story and cardboard cutout characters and if Marvel is an example of anything it is that, taking chances. With more hits than misses to date.

It goes to say for any story, but gives us characters we can relate to (even if they are aliens from another planet). Give them flesh and blood and motivations and failures. Man of Steel is a well made and focused movie, and there are elements of Batman v Superman that I think work but nothing in the DCEU world gives me goose bumps as much as Captain American finally saying Avengers Assemble. So for now I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Zach Snyder can do recreating a story that’s already been told. But lets take care to flesh out our characters in as many films that its going to take to tell the story to its fullest potential.


About me

Hello everyone, I was just sitting here thinking it was about time my site had a bio section. SO “here we go”(said in a menacing tone) guess that movie. My name is Jesse Keehn, I was born in August of 1990, my parents were very interactive in my life and the lives of my four sisters. So much so that we were homeschooled through high school. To a lot of people that sounds crazy but we enjoyed it. It was at an early age where my father instilled in me a love for Jesus and movies. One of my fondest memories growing up, especially being the only boy in a house full of little women, was getting the opportunities to go to the movies with my dad. Even more than just going and watching a film though, it was the drive home that I enjoyed just as much. Just about the entire 40-minute drive, we would talk about the movie, and not just did you like it or not. But why, why did you like it? What about it didn’t you like? What is the movie telling us, things like that? It made the movie-going experience more than just a two hour waste of time or escape from reality and turned it into an incredible time to take the realities in the film and relate them to our world and our situations. It made it real, even movies about dinosaurs or robots or whatever. I loved and appreciated every time we went and could talk about how a movie would impact our lives. I can still remember where I was the first time I watched Transformers. What seat I was sitting in when Heath Ledger gave us the performance of a lifetime in The Dark Knight. The feelings I got watching Passion of the Christ on the big screen. I remember my feet sticking to the floors of the Laporte Theater, we had to go there when we would go as a family. There were a lot of us, it was cheaper but not one of the nicest establishments. This is still something that my dad and I do to this day and a tradition that I desire to carry on with my children as they grow.
When I was 19 I met my wife to be Verarose, she introduced me to a specific genre that I was never really a huge fan of. Growing up my dad and I never really watched horror movies, they can be inappropriate and have a weak story. Sorry to everyone who loves horror movies, but once I started hanging out with my wife’s family it was a genre that they frequented more than any other. And I noticed that there were good movies, like any genre not all movies are good, but not all movies are bad as well. I remember watching The Mist or Saw in her living room with her entire family. By the way, I understand if you do not like The Saw movies but that first film is much deeper than just people being murdered. Ironically after she had our first child she no longer enjoyed horror movies as much as I did, movies like the Conjuring films, Silence of the Lambs. Or the It movies, but those movies have a lot of flaws. Now we have been married for over 10 years and we love to sit and watch movies, we even came up with our review sheets a few years ago which ask specific questions about the movie while we are watching it. Now we have a house full of kids, we enjoy sitting together and I like showing them Marvel or other Disney movies and discussing why these movies impact our lives so greatly. They are pretty insightful kids for being 9 and under. I like playing movie score soundtracks and talking with them about the emotions behind the music and how it hits us in ways that what we see on screen can’t. To go a step further from there the way God designed us to take these mediums in and absorb it. It is a beautiful thing. Throughout my life I can’t help but quote movies all the time, typically getting weird looks from people who don’t know what I’m talking about or chuckles from those who have seen the movie and get the reference. I find it fitting for me to end this in the same fashion. “So in case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.” and “I love you 3000”.

Sea Fever

So Verarose and I had an opportunity even amid our quarantine state to be a part of a live stream premiere. The movie we watched is a small thriller called Sea Fever. It was an amazing opportunity, even if it was just online. We watched the movie then we were able to be a part of a Q &A session with the director and a few of the actors involved. It was a lot of fun to hear about the movie from the people behind it, except the only thing different is that instead of a special feature on a DVD it was live before the movie was even released to the general public. Such an interesting opportunity.

This movie was written and directed by Naesa Hardiman who has brought us the likes of Jessica Jones on Netflix and The Inhumans on ABC and stars a cast with incredible talent in Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2, Hitman, Snatch) Hermione Corfield (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation) and Connie Nielson (Gladiator, Wonder Woman). There are only a few other characters in this movie because it takes place mostly on the small fishing troller and all the people that make up this cast do really good jobs. They do well to make this small world feel lived in with real people. It was a lot of fun to hear from the actors in the questions and answers, all of who were named above and were involved, about how their lives growing up impacted their roles. This movie is rated R and has a 95 minute run time. This movie goes a long way in a short amount of time and to give a positive critique right off the bat, doesn’t waste any of its run time.
The movie that we watched was again Sea Fever, it was about a young oceanographic biologist off the coast of Ireland joins a fishing troller to gather information. While she and the crew are on their trip the group comes in contact with an unknown substance in the ocean that after things begin to happen on the ship they fear for more than just their lives. From there they must answer the question, Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Haha
Along the same lines, especially for me being someone who loves these aspects of storytelling, it was cool to listen to the director go into detail her process of writing the story and choosing the cast and producing this film. I love reading screenplays because a lot of times you can see the writer’s passion behind the story, which can sometimes be lost when that story is given to a director and a team with their vision behind that same story. So it’s always pleasant to watch something that was written and directed by the same person to see that vision from beginning to end. Then to hear live from that person about their work, it is incredible to be a part of. I know I keep going back to that and I’m sorry but I love what goes on behind the camera and the people involved just as much as watching the film itself.
The scenes that were shot from an actual boat were well put together, the rest was shot in a studio with a full recreation of the ship. It all looks great and realistic and claustrophobic. They also do a good job picking and choosing where to and where not to use CGI over practical effects. So when the tension begins to build it really feels like there is nowhere for the characters to go. The chemistry between the characters is palpable. It is not without its shortcomings. In a lot of ways, it tries to be a modern sci-fi film like the movie Alien but falls short of the character story arc that was present in that film. As well all the characters have Irish ascents ( which is not a bad thing) but at times does make them hard to understand, and in a movie with little actual action, it relies heavily on the dialogue to continue the plot. That can at times make it easy to miss things. The story at times tries to be deeper and more convicting than the plot allows for, but you can’t blame them for reaching for the stars.
All in all, this was a perfect movie to live stream premiere and I was blessed to be a part of it. Would I go to the theaters and spend 20 or more for my wife and me, no probably not, but it was not a waste to spend 5 dollars to reserve my spot. As well, it was a pure delight to listen to the people behind the scenes talk about the roles they had in the movie. So now it is to the point when I have to recommend whether or not to watch… So I guess I’ll say unless you can find it on one of your 50 streaming services then I would have to say FORGET THAT MOVIE. If you are looking for something that will kill an hour and a half but aren’t looking for something too deep then yes, this movie will suffice, but outside those parameters, I don’t think this movie will live up to the expectations.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


I’m taking the opportunity after having a conversation with a friend of mine to talk about this fantastic movie that comes from Ridley Scott (Bladerunner, Alien). I remember the first time I saw this movie, I was 17 and rented it from LNS Video (since closed down). It has forever left an impression on me and given me an appreciation for Russel Crowe and this specific era of films. Gladiator came out in May of 2000, and was written by David Franzoni and stars a superb cast with the likes of Russell Crowe (Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman). As well as a stellar suporting cast of incredible talent.

This swords and sandals epic has great vision, and it’s crazy to think that this film is almost 20 years old. Boy does it hold up to its two decade lifespan. Since it has been out for so long I think it’s safe to say I can talk about this movie in detail without spoiling it for anyone. But DISCLAIMER! If you haven’t seen this movie I urge you to stop reading and go watch it. My simple words can barely compare to other critics, let alone the film itself. But after watching it again I couldn’t help but write about it. Everyone involved is at the top of their game as they follow this simple story. The arc of our protagonist Maximus, is compelling as it revolves around revenge of the man who murdered his family. Russell Crowe goes above and beyond to show the struggle of man who loses all that he cares about and gains a knew understanding of life and to the word honor. Also just as intriguing is our antagonist Emperor Commodus. Joaquin Phoenix plays a role that you do not want to watch, while simultaneously being unable to take your eyes of everything he is doing. Watching this it is obvious that his career was on trajectory to play a role just as unhinged in the character of the Joker this last year.

It is the story about a Roman general Maximus Meridius who after the loss of his commander, Emperor Markus Araelius, he is forced to make allegiance with his son Commidus. Upon refusing because he knows that Commidus murdered his father to take the throne is thrown into a new world, they make an attempt to murder him and successfully murder his wife and son. After escaping he is injured and sold into slavery, forced to fight in the roman arena as a gladiator. Since he is a skilled fighter he builds favor and the crowds love him, at which point he finds his way back in front of the man who killed his family.Making friends in high places he secretly gets involved in a plot to escape and use his army of loyal roman soldiers overthrow the emperor. Due to the politics of Rome and the situation with the senate, at this time the Emperor cannot just end his life, it comes to a head as Commidus realizes the only way to get rid of Maximus without hurting his image to the roman mobs is to fight him in the arena. Which doesn’t go over so well for Commidus. Of course the movie ends with Markus saving the day.

This movie is intense from the opening battle scene to its heartfelt conclusion. The cinematography is griping, as though you can feel the sand and the scorching heat, and tonely it brings about emotions that can make you drop your jaw in awe while crying along with our main character. Ridley Scott is a visionary in bringing this to life, being very reminiscent of movie we know and love like Ben Hur or Spartacus. There are not many negatives to say about this movie but I tried to come up with something. Nothing on this earth is perfect. One thing is that it has many historical inaccuracies, most of which had to be done in order to create a compelling story, so it is easily forgivable. As well I am not a fan of the fowl language, hearing modern cure words did nothing but pull me out of the story thinking that they probably didn’t use those words in that time. Again, it did not effect the movie experience or my enjoyment of it.

Gladiator is rated R for intense graphic violence and that is an accurate description of what you see in this movie. It is as brutal as the period it comes from. They take every opportunity to, like Braveheart and movies of this nature, to show how the people from this time thrived and even enjoyed the violence. Let us not forget that this is the same period where Christians were being murdered in mass numbers in the arena. Persecuted for following Christ being killed by wild animals and skilled fighters.

As well as the violence there is a fair amount of Language from all characters as I briefly stated already. Their is no sexual content outside of situations involving Commidus and his sister. But that is never explicitly seen or even talked about. Just a creepy aspect of of his character.

At the end of the day I have to say yes, “Remember this movie”.

“ but thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18