Monday, January 15, 2018

THE POST (2018)

Rated: PG-13

STARS: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
GENRE: Docudrama

In 1971, the Nixon White House tried to quash the publication of what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers--a classified report on the Vietnam War that was leaked to the press--revealing that the public had been lied to about the war and America's prospects of winning it going back, essentially, to day one. It's no coincidence that in 2018, as history repeats and the free press has once again come under  attack from the oval office, that a blockbuster film, The Post-- drawing parallels between then and now--should come along to strike a blow for truth, justice, and the American way.

Taking up the mantle of Clark Kent back in '71 was Ben Bradlee, executive editor at the Washington Post--played here by Tom Hanks in what surely will be regarded as the role of his career. Co-starring with Hanks is Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, the widowed inheritor of the Post, whose decision it will ultimately be to put her livelihood and even her freedom on the line if she defies a court order that halted the New York Times, which originally broke the story, from further publication of the report.

 I won't be surprised if  Hanks and Streep  both get Oscar nods. Her name is always there come Golden Globes and Oscar time, but she hasn't collected the hardware in a while, and this may be her best shot to get back in the win column. 

The Post has all the earmarks of a Steven Spielberg film--it's high drama drenched in the authenticity of the era, and it's playing to sold out performances. Not so good for claustrophobics like me, but I managed to keep some space between myself and the guy a couple of seats down who had his feet propped up, shoes kicked off (it's these new comfy adjustable seats the theaters are installing now) and halfway through the movie I heard snoring. I expect to see filmgoers showing up in their pajamas soon. 

The Post, however, should keep most viewers wide awake and glued to their seats--it's riveting stuff that also serves as a much needed reminder, in these precarious times, of why freedom of speech and a free press appear at the very top of the Bill Of Rights. 



While we're on the subject of lean-back movie seats, I want to kvetch about the overwhelming smell of french fries and the loud chewers sitting next to me.... I realize that movie theaters are bending over backwards to woo customers—although the first time I tried to see The Post it was sold out—but how I long for the good old days when movie theaters were for watching movies!

I pretty much agree with everything Tim says about this film. The attention to detail that Spielberg is so famous for was outstanding. It made me miss phones you could dial, typeset, the whir of printing presses, etc. And I especially loved the authentic outfits, i.e. Hank's striped shirts, Streep's conservative dresses.  High marks go to costume designer Ann Roth, a veteran of Broadway, whose movie credits include other Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep films such as The Bonfire of the Vanities and Postcards From The Edge.

Not only will the leads in this film garner nods from The Academy on Sunday, March 4th. I'll go out on a limb here and say Hanks will win his third Best Actor Oscar. I might also predict a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Bob Odenkirk, who plays Ben Bagdikian, Bradley's right-hand man at The Post. Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul") is one of my favorites.

I might have cut a bit more of The Post(especially the bedroom scene with Streep and her daughter), as I felt it dragged in spots. And I definitely felt Sarah Paulson's acting talent was wasted as Ben Bradley's dutiful wife. But the audience clapped at the end and people are packing the theaters in southern California. So it's definitely worth seeing. And if you want to be sure of getting a seat? Order one online!

Grade: B +

Saturday, January 6, 2018


Rated:  R

STARS: Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams,  Charlie Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
GENRE: Drama/Action-Thriller

I like a good thriller.  Because I know if the film is a little slow in the beginning with background stuff (which All The Money In The World is), it'll pick up later with the action scenes (which All The Money In The World does). So there's your review. want more?  Cheeky bugger!!!

It's 1973 and John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), grandson of the then richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer--no relation), has been kidnapped off the streets of Rome. A ransom of 17 million dollars is being demanded for the teenager's safe return. Only problem is, the old tight-ass doesn't want to fork over one penny, even though it would be a drop in his bucket!  This naturally doesn't set well with Paul's mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), who will spend the entire film trying to save her child's life, with the help of former CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), who has been directed by the elder Getty to figure out another way to rescue the lad without dipping into his precious coffers. Easy for him to say.

I might have been one of the few in the audience who could generate some empathy for the old guy. Few situations are ever black and white. Getty had stated: "I have fourteen grandchildren, and if I pay a penny of ransom, I'll have fourteen kidnapped grandchildren." He had a point. Not to mention that the family and the Italian police thought Paul might be faking his own kidnapping to get funds out of grandpa that he thought he deserved. J. Paul Getty was one of the foremost art collectors in the world, and I think it was what he said about art: that it never disappoints you like people do (he was married and divorced five times) that provided a hint in the direction of explaining the man as being deeper than what showed on the surface, though the movie never quite takes you there.

Christopher Plummer does a sterling (pardon the pun) job of turning J. Paul Getty into the man you love to hate--a turn made even more notable by the fact that it was done on short notice to replace Kevin mean Spacey.  Plummer and Michelle Williams--who's always right on the money--are what raise this film above your run-of-the-mill action/thriller.  Along with a collection of Italian thugs so authentic looking you can almost smell the garlic.

Grade B


Whether it's Michael Douglas' portrayal of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street ("Greed is good") or Christopher Plummer's turn in All The Money In the World, audiences love to see how the rich get richer. (And ultimately get screwed.) Although this movie lagged in spots, it held my interest 95% of the time. And I couldn't help musing that the recasting of 84-year-old Christopher Plummer as the tightwad tycoon was a stroke of pure genius. Kudos go out to screenwriter David Scarpa who managed to create a well-rounded portrait of this very complicated, power-driven art connoisseur.

Without giving too much away, I want to share what I felt was a wonderful twist: one of the sleazy kidnappers (played brilliantly by Romain Duris) begins to develop a relationship with his prisoner. At first, he's a typical Italian gangster, ready to do whatever it takes to get the boy's grandfather to pay the ransom. Over time, however, we see his attitude change. I know it's been done before in films but Duris' characterization was truly noteworthy. For you trivia buffs and acting hopefuls, I looked him up on IMDb and discovered the following: "Appealing actor Romain Duris is the exact example of those who arrived in the movie industry by chance, and to stardom without really desiring it. Discovered by a casting director while he was waiting in front of a high school in Paris, he was offered a role." (Some people have all the luck!)

If I were to nitpick about Money, it would be about young Getty's other siblings who appeared briefly and then completely disappeared. I would've like to have seen how they handled this horrific situation. Nothing major, mind you. But you don't introduce a family-in-crisis and then simply delete some of its members for expediency.

Beautiful score by Daniel Pemberton...breath-taking cinematography thanks to Dariusz Wolski. It's a movie well worth seeing.

Grade: B-


Saturday, December 30, 2017


STARS: Matt Damon,  Hong Chau,  Christoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig
DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne
GENRE: Comedy/Drama

For viewing Downsizing, I'm suggesting you adopt a totally different mindset. One you would enter when preparing for a sitting meditation. You don't get the full effect of meditation until afterwards. In between, your mind may wander. You might feel bored. But if you're patient and hang in there, you'll find yourself in something of an altered state. And altered states are what Downsizing is (literally) all about. 

Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig), are a lower middle class couple dissatisfied with their station in life. When a scientific breakthrough allows humans to be shrunk to around five inches tall and live in doll house communities with others who have undergone the procedure, the implications for the planet are huge. Something I've harped on for decades--that all of the world's major problems can be traced back to overpopulation--is at the heart of this film's premise. With people taking up much less space and using fewer resources, and polluting on a much smaller scale, perhaps Mother Earth could begin to recover. It doesn't hurt that a family of modest means can live like kings in the new scaled-down world either. 

Paul, who's a hapless kind of dude who is just trying to roll with the punches of life (many can relate), sees brighter days ahead, and undergoes the shrinking procedure. His wife balks at the last minute, and leaves him in this brave new world all on his own. 

He's going to learn that everything from the macro  pretty much transfers to the micro. People are people wherever you go. When slum tenements are shown, it's something of an epiphany. As above, so below. There is no utopia.

What makes Paul's journey (and this film) memorable is the relationship he develops with a hobbled Vietnamese woman named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau). She pulls no punches, and will lead him to come to terms with who he is...and who he ultimately wants to be. (And Hong Chau is going to win something for this performance!)

While comedic elements abound--one of them is Christoph Waltz as Paul's free-spirited neighbor (the other memorable turn here)--the end of this visually and emotionally stunning film left me meditating on the ultimate fate of mankind. Will we wake up in time to save ourselves...or continue down the current path to self-destruction? 

That's a movie coming soon from a future generation.

Grade:  A


Watching Downsizing brought me back to a time when I was obsessed with building a doll house. Everything normally used for what it was meant to be used for became something else: white bottle caps were tables, pennies turned into patio pavers, etc. So when these pint-sized people began appearing, I loved it.

At first, I thought the movie was going to be about Damon's relationship with his decidedly larger wife. (Whose decision not to miniaturize herself was one I definitely identified with!) Then it became another movie – about Damon's survival in his strange and sterile environment. And lastly, the movie morphed into yet another Cocoon like tale. Too disjointed for me. And I'm not comfortable with too many plots. Or too much overt preaching.

I, too, think Hong Chau will be nominated for her brilliant performance. And it's not the first time director and co-writer Alexander Payne has introduced us to an Asian lady with acting chops. Remember Sandra Oh in Sideways? (Granted Oh is Korean and Chau is from Thailand but you get my drift....)

And Christoph Waltz has always been one of my favorites. I remember when he received a Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Inglourious Basterds as a totally evil, totally believable Nazi. I half expected him to be equally evil in person. Quite the opposite. He was humble, almost shy in his acceptance speech.

But I felt Downsizing dragged in spots, especially towards the end. It's not the first time shrinking humans have been depicted in a film (Meet Dave with Eddie Murphy, Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson, Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black, etc.) I'm sure it won't be the last. I just hope next time, the movie will stick to one theme.

Grade: B-

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Rated:  R

STARS: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
GENRE: Drama/Sci-fi/Fantasy

The Shape of Water wants to be an endearing movie. It tries really hard. It wants to be E.T.  It wants to be La La Land. It wants to be Creature From The Black Lagoon.  It wants to be Beauty And The Beast. That's too many films for me to keep track of in my head.  It wants to be poetic...and yet there's an overabundance of gore. It's like having Freddy Krueger reciting Emily Dickinson at the end. What the hell was that? Bottom line, it doesn't know what it wants to be.

Elisa Espisoto (Sally Hawkins) is a cleaning lady who hears just fine but doesn't speak. She works at a secret government lab that is housing an "Amphibian Man" who looks a lot like the Gill Man from Creature From The Black Lagoon. The merman was captured in the Amazon by government agent Strickland (Michael Shannon), who gets his kicks by abusing the poor thing with a cattle prod. (Fish Guy gets a measure of revenge by biting off a couple of Strickland's fingers.) The evil fed wants to kill the amphibian (played by Doug Jones) and study him like a dead frog in a biology lab. Strickland is opposed by scientist Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who wants to keep the scaly being alive. It's 1962--in the thick of the cold war--and a subplot has the Russians trying to get their mitts on Amphibian Man for their own nefarious purposes.

Elisa, being an outcast herself, repeatedly sneaks into the chamber (security seems to be really lax for an "asset" of this magnitude) where the creature sits in a tank tethered by a chain around its neck. She and Amphibian Man hit it off right away. Cut to the chase: An escape plan must be hatched, as the creature's days are numbered. With the help of Elisa's unemployed artist neighbor (Richard Jenkins), and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), she springs the fishy dude from his confines (like I said, security is really lax) and takes him to her abode. That's where the real fun begins, as Elisa ends up naked in the shower with him and discovers he's a lot more like a regular guy than meets the eye!

Okay...The Shape of Water is a fantasy, so anything goes. But to buy into it hook, line and sinker, the willing suspension of disbelief must kick in. That was hard for me because Amphibian Man looks sorta like Frankie Valli in a wet suit with barnacles hanging off him. At no point are you going to think it looks like anything but an actor dressed up in a cheesy rubber costume--a la those laughable creature features from the fifties. The only reason I can imagine why  director Guillermo del Toro--in this era of CGI wizardry--chose to go this low tech would be as a way of paying homage to that era of cinema, which he seems to love.

But The Shape of Water does have its visual delights, and one of them is Sally Hawkins. They've got her made up to look really plain--as befitting a lowly toilet cleaner--but they couldn't hide her light under a bushel for the whole movie, and that becomes abundantly clear when she strips down for the steamy shower scene.

There are aural delights as well, with a big band flavored soundtrack from Alexandre Desplat. There's Andy Williams, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and a silky rendition of "You'll Never Know" from opera singer Renee Fleming.

Nice touches...but not enough to make me gush about this movie.

Grade:  C +


Finally. Tim and I disagree! I found The Shape Of Water to be absolutely brilliant, even Oscar-worthy. (Hell, it's already nominated for seven Golden Globes.) For starters, the opening underwater sequence deserves a special award for its dank and delightful originality. I was not prepared to like this film since sci-fi and/or fantasy is not one of my favorite genres. But I'm so glad I allowed myself to see it!

The girl I went with, a visitor from Oregon, liked it too. But afterwards, she mentioned how similar this creature was to the creature in Hellboy. I later looked up that movie and was blown away by the physical similarities. And the fact that both films were directed by Guillermo del Toro!

I do agree with Tim about the lax security. But by then, I was hooked on saving the poor creature from any more cattle-prodding. And since Tim gave away the finger chomping bit, another friend pointed out how the smell of rotting flesh would have been apparent to both Agent Strickland and anyone else long before those blackened digits departed. Sure, there were a lot of implausible scenes in the The Shape of Water but romances between humans and non-humans have worked for a long, long time. (Beauty and the BeastPhantom of the OperaKing Kong, etc.)

The Russian plot was, for me, unnecessary. But I did find it interesting that the roles played by the two Michaels (Shannon and Stuhlbarg) were reversals of the roles they played in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire." In that one, Stuhlbarg played mafia boss Arnold Rothstein and Shannon was a bumbling FBI agent. And Richard Jenkins, who never turns in a bad performance, was superb. (I wept for him at the end.)

Grade: A

Monday, November 27, 2017


Rated:  R

STARS: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes
DIRECTOR: Martin McDonagh
GENRE: Dark Comedy/Drama

Think of how hard it is to get through life without making a wrong move. Or a boatload of them. Next to impossible. It's not easy in the movies either, which portray life in a manner that involves a lot more forethought than most of us use in our real life decisions. It's easier to go off the rails than not. Wrong moves in casting...pacing...length...effectiveness of the message--if there even is one, etc. That's why it's rare to find a movie that makes all the right moves from start to finish--and that film is 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which deftly balances the darkly comical aspects of its characters with the serious drama they create.

A young woman has been raped and murdered. The perpetrator has not been caught. The victim's mother, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), is a feisty old firebrand (the townsfolk have other names for her) who has grown weary of the lack of progress since many moons ago in solving the case, and she's out to hold the local sheriff, Bill Willoughby  (Woody Harrelson), accountable. This she will do in a big way, by renting out three billboards that remind the locals of the crime, and call the sheriff out by name.

Sheriff Willoughby is well-liked in the town, and there are folks who want Mildred to shut her trap. And some will try to do it for her. One of them is officer Jason Dixon, a mama's boy and a racist, with a penchant for violence. Sam Rockwell plays him to clueless perfection, and that's why when Dixon actually stumbles upon a major clue--as things really begin to heat up--he becomes a more interesting and unpredictable character. It's the unexpected twists and turns of 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that are part of the reason why it's so good. Along with providing tasty food for thought in asking the question: Should one man pay for another man's crime, solely because it appears he may have committed a similar evil?

Frances McDormand will undoubtedly receive an Oscar nomination for her work here--and I wouldn't be surprised to see Rockwell and Harrelson joining her. And let's go on record as predicting a Best Picture nomination as well. That's what comes when you make all the right moves and go down the right roads right up till the end...which, by the way, is as poignantly perfect as any I can recall.

Grade:  A


Dammit, Tim. Our readers prefer these joint reviews when we disagree. But that won't happen this time as I couldn't agree with you more. Except perhaps for the movie's lengthy title. (Three Billboards would've worked just as well.) The one element you didn't mention that I just loved was the score. Carter Burwell has outdone himself this time. I'm not at all surprised that he also created the musical background for another cinematic gem that was set in a small town with a bumbling sherriff's deparment:Fargo.

But since Tim has covered just about everything I would've written, I want to digress. About a month ago, I was watching "Real TimeWith Bill Maher" on HBO. He and Woody Harrelson were reminiscing about the good old days when they were both pot smokers. Apparently Harrleson has been clean now for a year. Maher remarked that his friend's new weed-free status had undoubtedly upped Woody's film-making energy! (I would have to agree since we've reviewed him in three major movies in the last three months: The Glass CastleLBJ and nowThree Billboards.) Right on, Woody. Right on!

What I admired most about Three Billboards was its unexpected twists and turns. I'm not one of these movie-goers who automatically predicts outcomes before they happen. Many of my movie buddies are which often makes me feel like a mental sloth. But I challenge any of them to guess the outcomes in this flick! (Full credit belongs to English director/writer Martin McDonagh.)

If for no other reason than you are addicted to "Game of Thrones," go see this movie for the wonderful cameo by Peter Dinklage.

Grade: A

Sunday, November 12, 2017

LBJ (2017)

LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

Rated:  R

STARS: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Richard Jenkins
DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
GENRE: Docudrama

Many of us who lived through the sixties remember Lyndon Baines Johnson as a redneck from Texas who rose above the prejudices of his upbringing to instigate the most important piece of social legislation in the history of the United States--the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But we also despised him for escalating the Vietnam war, and it was his unpopularity due to the war that brought him to the decision not to run for a second term. That aspect of his legacy is given scant attention in LBJ. Instead, the film concentrates almost exclusively on the period leading up to the historic legislation of 1964 and how it was accomplished. So in this particular version of history, the man comes out smelling like a rose.

The major flaw in LBJ is that it's too talky--way too talky--as Johnson twists arms and makes deals, even while sitting on the crapper. Not unexpected, I suppose, for a character study about a politician (too much talk and not enough action!) Rob Reiner--a director I admire--does what he can to counteract the draggy parts by interspersing them with an impressively realistic recreation of that terrible day in Dallas when John Fitzgerald Kennedy met his fate.

Woody Harrelson knocks it out of the park in the title role. Only they've got him made up to look even uglier (sorta grotesque even) than the real Lyndon Johnson was, and that's saying something. On the other hand, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson is so spot on in appearance and mannerism it's scary. You have to use your imagination with the rest of the supporting cast---Jeffrey Donovan in particular, who bears little resemblance to JFK, though he has the accent down. I guess William Devane is too old to play the forever young president now. 

Those who remember the charismatic Bobby Kennedy will be taken aback by Michael Stahl-David's portrayal. He comes off as a kind of vindictive little shit in his not so well publicized at the time feud with LBJ. I don't think it does Bobby's legacy justice.

But LBJ is a film you may want to see--especially if you're a history buff--as it provides some deft insight into the character of the 36th president of the United States.   

Grade:  B -


Tim pretty much covered it in his review. I, too, thought they overdid the makeup on Woody Harrelson. (On the other hand, I thought Bryan Cranston as LBJ in "All The Way" looked incredibly like the former president.) What I admired most about this cinematic slice of history was the editing. Whether the credit belongs to Rob Reiner (director), Joey Hartstone (screenplay writer) or Bob Joyce (film editor), the way they kept flashing back and forth between Dallas and JFK's actual assassination, and LBJ's life before that horrific event, was a definite tension-builder.

For me, the one actor Tim didn't mention gave an Oscar-worthy performance. Having already received a Best Actor nomination for The Visitor(2009), Richard Jenkins deserves a Best Supporting Actor this year for playing the old school segregationist Senator Richard Russell. (Jenkins became one of my personal favorites when he appeared in the TV series "Six Feet Under.")

But while I'm on the subject of Oscars, I'm sorry that Woody Harrelson, who will probably be nominated twice this year for both this flick and The Glass Castle, won't win anything. (Double nominees never do.) If I were voting, I'd give him the gold statuette for his role as Rex Walls not LBJ....

As I was leaving the theater, comparing notes with my film-going accomplice, an elderly woman turn to us and said "We lived through this time, didn't we!" It made me wonder how a younger generation, one unfamiliar with this particular segment of political history, would view the movie. Would it hold their attention? I'm betting it would.

Grade: B +

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Rated:  R

STARS: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg
DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Snowman, adapted from the novel by Joe Nesbo,  is hauntingly reminiscent of a Stieg Larsson tale, and not just because it's set in Norway. As with most screenplays of the the murder mystery/suspense/thriller genre, the plot will have you scratching your head--lagging one step behind the action as you try to keep up--and in the end just settling for trying to enjoy the performances; after all, it has Charlotte Gainsbourg in it, so it can't be all bad. (Tell me what it is about her...TELL ME!!!)

Michael Fassbender stars as police detective Harry Hole (no puns from me required--at least they didn't make him a female detective).  He's a drunk who needs a case to work on to keep him focused. And then a young woman disappears, and other women start disappearing, and Harry figures there's a serial killer on the loose. It's all tied in with a strangely bizarre prologue about a young boy and his mother. I won't go into further detail because it's pretty convoluted, and I hate convoluted. And anyways you deserve to suffer through it the same as I--saying  HUH? all the way through, should you decide to tackle this one. 

Harry Hole is paired with a female detective named Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson). The character names are the only comic relief in The Snowman--unless you want to count when she says early on to him, "You're not going to try to sleep with me, are you?"  He responds in the negative, which normally would set the two of them up for just that kind of thing to happen...but it doesn't. What a waste. And then we have the not often used plot twist of one of the  principal characters biting the big one half way through the film. That's a don't expect it...they've got you thinking this person is integral to the story and will be there to the end...and then they aren't. And that sucks. 

The infamous Chloe Sevigny has a bit part--she's had a lot of those lately--and likewise Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons. A waste of an interesting cast--and ultimately a waste of your interesting money.

Grade: D + (the plus is for Charlotte Gainsbourg!)


Tim called it 'convoluted.' The fellow I saw The Snowman with muttered "Obtuse," as we left the theater. For me, the one good thing about this time-waster was thinking up other words to describe it: disjointed...confusing...fragmented. You get the idea. But according to my own rigid movie-viewing rules, I must now find something cinematically redeeming about this film.

I guess it would have to be the photography. Dark, moody, snow-filled and unrelenting – like the hard-to-figure-out plot. So many bit parts played by good actors, too. This only added to my befuddlement. Who was I supposed to root for? Who was I supposed to be suspicious of? And what was the damn movie about!

Okay, onto what really pissed me off. The bombastic, hit-you-over-the-head score by Marco Beltrami. "Be afraid," the music kept screaming at you. "You're watching a very scary movie!" If it were up to me, I'd make Mister Beltrami write 'subtle is good' six hundred times in his music notebook. And then, just for good measure, I'd handcuff him to a chair and make him watch Jaws. Over...and over...and over!

There is another positive: I love seeing a really bad movie and looking forward to lambasting it on this blog. Some of you may buy into that old bromide about 'saying something nice or not saying anything at all,' but I sure don't. Movie prices being what they are these days, at least venting allows me a verbal bang for my buck.

Grade: D -