Flash Movie Review: Black Widow

I SHOULD HAVE READ THE FINE print before agreeing to participate. We were on vacation, staying at a hotel. When we checked in, we were handed an invitation to a presentation that was going to be held in one of the hotel’s conference rooms. The topic was about a new property the hotel was going to open. Refreshments would be served, and each guest would receive a gift bag worth $300.00. We agreed to participate, hoping the gift bag would at least contain food and drink coupons. On the day of the presentation, we walked into the conference room where a hotel employee greeted us with the gift bag. Finding seats, I went through the bag. There was an assortment of travel sized items like toothpaste, bagged peanuts and body lotion. Along with the stuff there was a gold cardboard envelope. I opened it and found a coupon towards a one night’s stay at their new property being built in the Bahamas; that was where the $300.00 value came in. Though I understood the whole marketing aspect of it, I was still annoyed that I agreed to sit through a 2 hour presentation; where at the end of it, the employee tried to sell us a time share unit at their new property. The way I saw this was I received a few travel sized things and a coupon, which I found out did not include air fare and was not enough for a one night stay, for using up 2 hours of my time.      I REALIZE I HAVE A CHOICE; I do not have to agree to these types of sale pitches. For me it is about my time and effort, and what I am getting in return. Here is an example; remember those old TV dinners in the metal trays with the compartments for each food group? I used to get the turkey and gravy one, despite not really liking it. The reason was I loved the dessert that came with it, a baked apple crisp type of thing. The turkey was not horrible; but I was not a gravy person and did not care for the wetness with pieces of mushy stuffing floating in it. I powered through despite it, just so I could enjoy the dessert. As a little boy, I used to go through a box of cereal I disliked just to pull out the sweetened raisins and add them to a different box of cereal that I really enjoyed. Even today, my friends and family know I rarely order something straight off the restaurant menu without making small adjustments for the things I like and dislike.  I wish I could have done that for this action, adventure film I saw at the movie theaters.      NATASHA ROMANOFF, PLAYED BY SCARLETT JOHNSON (Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story), must confront her past if she wants to overcome the sinister forces that are circling around her. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, Fighting with my Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (No Sudden Move, Suicide Squad) as Alexei, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, My Cousin Rachel) as Melina and Ray Winstone (The Departed, Cold Mountain) as Dreykov; this science fiction origin story was a mixed bag for me. There were times where the scenes were brilliant, both in content and visually; but other times I was not as impressed. I think the basic issue had to do with the script. In a Marvel film, we get overloaded with excitement, peril, humor and incredible CGI effects. This film came close at times but did not quite make it. The women were incredible together, especially Scarlett and Florence, who I think has a future in the Marvel universe based on her performance here. For the story, the evil aspect just wasn’t as diabolical as it could have been. I enjoyed watching the movie, but I did not love it. Sort of like that TV dinner I used to eat. There was an extra scene after the credits.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Awake

I DID NOT BELIEVE IT WHEN I was younger, but it is true; time does go by faster as we get older. There never seems to be enough days in the week, nor minutes in the day, for me to get everything I want done. At one time, I was able to easily stay awake to 4-5:00 in the morning. Now, if I am home and the 10pm news comes on I can feel my body settle into a state of slumber. What happened?!?! In my defense I will say though I might not get home until early in the morning after being out all night; as soon as I walked through the door, I had to go straight to bed. In college, I had friends who could stay up all night studying for a test, drink something with caffeine, go straight to the classroom to take the test, then come home at some point by lunch time to crash into bed. I was never one of those students. Once I went past midnight, my eyes would slowly stop focusing on the words and numbers in a book and my mind started to turn into a helium filled balloon tied outdoors, that was about to slip free from its knot and blow away in the wind. I wanted to stay up, but my body would not let me.      SOME YEARS AFTER GRADUATING, I WOUND up working with someone who was able to survive on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep; I had no idea how they ever did it. Once in awhile they would have to “make-up” for what I considered to be the sleep loss, by sleeping 12 hours straight on a Saturday or Sunday. Still, I never knew how they could function in their job with what I considered to be so little sleep. My average sleep time has always been 7 hours; the larger the gap between my early wake up time and average, the foggier I become. Considering all the things I do; I wish I could handle from time to time less sleep, but my body is not wired for it. I am also a person who cannot easily take a nap during the day. The rare times it has happened, I usually feel groggy the rest of the day. And of course, I have a couple of friends who can settle into any piece of furniture, close their eyes and immediately go into a deep sleep. I thought of them in particular as I watched this dramatic, science fiction adventure.     AFTER A CATASTROPHIC EVENT WIPED OUT all electronic usage, people began to notice they could not fall asleep. That is except for Jill’s, played by Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV), daughter who could sleep and dream. With Ariana Greenblatt (Love and Monsters) as Matilda, Lucius Hoyos (What If, Heroes Reborn-TV) as Noah, Shamier Anderson (Race, City of Lies) as Dodge and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Good Time, Kill Your Darlings) as Dr. Murphy; this action movie had an interesting premise to build on. I thought Gina gave it a good shot with her acting; but the script never lived up to the story. Things were predictable and where I thought scenes were going to become thrilling and tense, they just petered out. There was a heaviness to the directing along with several scenes just being clunky. This could have been such a better movie if more time had been devoted to fleshing out the characters and bringing in some thrills. Overall, there was an amateur feel to the whole production that left me disengaged from time to time. One scene would be exciting, then another would be blah. Maybe the people behind this story and film’s production suffered the same loss as the people in this movie—a lack of sleep that affected their judgment.

1 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Super Jam: A New Legacy

AS FAR BACK AS I CAN remember, I have always looked to see what I could find in clouds. The man in the moon did not interest me for long, where clouds always provided me with a variety of things to look at. For example, some of the things I have found in clouds have been the head of a horse with its flowing mane, a bow and arrow, a runner, numerous profiles of people, an assortment of insects and animals, and different car and truck models. Now that I am thinking about it, clouds were my version of Instagram and TikTok. I say this because I only had a short time to discover the item in the cloud before it was slowly swallowed back into the cloud’s depths. My fascination with finding hidden things in things soon expanded beyond the clouds. I used to love going through those optical illusion Magic Eye photos/pictures, where a secret image was within it. I think another word for it was Autostereograms. Discovering the secret image was a thrill for me as a kid; all it took was a little refocusing of the eye before the image would appear out of the picture I was viewing.      LIKE MOST CHILDREN, I WAS NEVER thrilled to go to the doctor’s office. However, I did enjoy the waiting room because they had a children’s magazine that always had a page with a drawing that contained 6 or 7 hidden objects within it. If I had not finished finding all items before the nurse called my name, I would bring the magazine with me into the exam room. One birthday I received a subscription to the magazine; you would have thought someone had just given me a year’s worth of free chocolate candy; I was so excited by the gift. After training myself to seek out images within pictures, I discovered I was not alone in this practice. The director Alfred Hitchcock, I found out, enjoyed placing himself in a cameo role within his movies. Nothing major, he usually was in the background of a scene, either walking in the middle of the crowd or getting off a bus where the two major stars were waiting to get on board. I enjoyed trying to find him in the middle of his films; the same goes for Stan Lee, the creative force behind Marvel Comics, who could be found doing a cameo in the various Marvel superhero movies. Little did I know my fondness for spotting cameos would go into overdrive during this adventure comedy picture.      AFTER BEING PULLED INTO A NEFARIOUS artificial intelligence’s game, there was no choice but for sports celebrity LeBron James to play the game to get his family back together. With Don Cheadle (No Sudden Move, The Guard) as Al G. Rhythm, Cedric Joe (Loving Him, Good Trouble-TV) as Dom James, Khris Davis (Judas and the Black Messiah, Detroit) as Malik and Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead-TV, Star Trek: Discovery) as Kamiyah James; this animated film was best suited for younger audiences. I say this because as an adult, I felt the script was not the best along with being predictable. In addition, it showed LeBron was not a good actor. If one is a fan of the Looney Tune comics, they more than likely would enjoy the cartoon characters’ antics through the story. As I mentioned before, the highlight for me was the vast amount of cameo appearances by Warner Brother’s stable of licensed characters. At one point I was wondering if Warner Brothers was using this film to promote upcoming film projects; there were so many places to find them that I kept getting distracted from concentrating, as it were, on the main focus of the story. Because the first film was new and fresh to viewers, this one lacked the fun punch it needed to keep my interest. Sort of like looking at the fleeting image in a beautiful cloud before disappearing.                     

2 stars                                     

Flash Movie Review: Woman in Motion

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS DURING A TRAGIC event; I do not think anyone would disagree with this statement. The news agencies are quick to report such events, sometimes right as it is happening. More so now than when I was younger, some sad occurrences get the star treatment. I am referring to telethons. Over the past several years there seems to be more of them; I have seen some for childhood hunger, hurricane and flood victims, the homeless and a variety of others. The goal for all of these is to get people to pledge money to their cause. Usually they will get a stable of celebrities to help; some to perform, others to say a few words and some to help on the phones. It will get reported how the celebrities gave their time to the cause. There is a part of me that appreciates their effort; I have always assumed the celebrities have waived their fees, but I do not know for certain. But here is the thing and maybe I am wrong to think this way. Having a celebrity get up and ask the public for money is not a tough job in my opinion. Truthfully, a star could limo over to the broadcasting site, walk right through to the stage, read from a teleprompter, thank everyone, turn around and walk right back to their limo to take them home. That is essentially it. I feel it would have so much more meaning if they would also pledge their own money to the cause.      MAYBE I AM TOO MUCH A skeptic, but there are times I see these celebrities on these shows, and I feel they are just being self-serving. It looks good to be charitable and maybe they are in their own way; however, some do not come across as being genuine to me. I feel the same way about celebrities in commercials. Just because they are pitching a product does not mean I am going to run right out and buy it. Unless there is proof the celebrity is a user of the product, all I think they are doing is getting an easy paycheck. I remember after Hurricane Katrina, there were several celebrities who flew down to Louisiana to help the victims. Some started companies with their own money to help rebuild the city. To me, that is a celebrity who puts their money where their mouth is, as the saying goes. A celebrity like that is someone I can admire. I also have a whole new appreciation for the celebrity in this amazing documentary. Especially, because this is the first time I am hearing about this aspect of their life.      FROM PLAYING A FICTIONAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER on a television show to changing the minds of space scientists, Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) redefines the term “working actor.” Directed by Todd Thompson (Christmas for the Nations-TV movie, Pre Fab!), this film surprised me in the most positive way. First of all, I found Nichelle to be such an engaging and likable individual. Listening to her talk about what she had planned to do for a career and then what she wound up doing totally shocked me. Then to hear what she did to alter the mindset/perceptions of people/organizations was incredible. There was not one time I lost interest in listening/watching her unfolding story. The director did a perfect job of mixing old clips with interviews from scientists and celebrities such as George Takei and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse. Seeing how history unfolded behind the scenes made me feel like I was an insider who was told a secret. This was such an enjoyable movie watching experience about a remarkable woman. From playing a character on a game changing TV program to becoming a game changer in real life; she has an amazing story to tell.

4 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Tomorrow War

IT TOOK ME A MOMENT TO comprehend what had just happened in front of me. I looked at the receptacle to see if there were any markings on it that would justify what my friend had done. Since there weren’t, I had to ask my friend if his building recycles. He told me they did not; I was shocked. Maybe I was naïve, but I thought all apartment and condominium buildings collected the inhabitants’ recyclables. I told him my thoughts and he said there was a proposal presented to the condo association a couple of years ago, to set up a recycling program; but it was turned down in the voting process. Turned down in the voting?!? I could not believe it. The act of recycling seems like such a no brainer to me; why wouldn’t someone want to do it to help the planet. It is not like I am an extreme recycler who goes around cleaning up highways and beaches; however, if I can recycle plastic items that will go through a process to be repurposed as a park bench or deck, what is the problem? We can save some trees. I could not resist, so I asked my friend if there were any nearby recycling stations, he could bring his stuff. Sadly, there was nothing close by. All I could think about was what type of people lived in his condo building, who voted not to recycle.      I HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO notice the changes that have taken place in our world. When I was a small boy, I used to constantly go swimming in a nearby lake. Now, I would not even wade into it. In elementary school back then I think there was only one student who had asthma; today I know many students and young adults who have it. Could it be something is in the air now that was not years ago? I look at the younger generation and wonder what challenges they will face due to what we as a society have or have not been doing to the planet. Especially because of the heatwave that has been scorching the western states, I wonder if the next generation will still see icebergs or the polar cap. Years from now, I cannot help wondering what the food chain will be. Will there still be corn or wheat? For those who eat red meat, will it all be artificial, pumped with gene altering hormones? I think people, especially those with children, would want to do their part to keep the planet alive and well. Here in this action, adventure drama is an example of what one father was willing to do to save the planet.     WHEN THE MILITARY CAME, SCIENCE TEACHER Dan Forester, played by Chris Pratt (The Kid, Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), had no choice but to join the fight to save Earth, despite what his wife and daughter wanted him to do. With Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, All I See is You) as Colonel Muri Forester, J.K. Simmons (Palm Springs, 21 Bridges) as James Forester, Betty Gilpin (Isn’t it Romantic, The Hunt) as Emmy Forester and Sam Richardson (We’re the Millers, Veep-TV) as Charlie, this science fiction film had potential to become a big attention grabber. However, I think it needed help from a big theater screen. The story was interesting but as I was watching this picture, I felt I had seen some of the story before. At least the action scenes were good; however, I found the pacing uneven and there were times where the script was not believable. In fact, I found a couple of scenes were just ridiculous. Too bad, because I was intrigued with the family connection story line. As I mentioned earlier, maybe this movie would have benefitted by being shown in the theater because as it stands now, I was left with wanting to experience something more.

2 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: A Quiet Place Part II

FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, I have been keeping track of my friends’ and family members’ experiences inside a movie theater. I wasn’t interested in hearing about the movie as much as hearing if everyone in the theater was following the safety protocols. Though I have been fully vaccinated for a few months, my comfort level was low for sitting inside a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. From the comments I received, the movie theaters were sticking to their policy of blocking out the seats around the one the patron picked. In every hallway there was a little stand set up that had sanitizing wipes for people to take to wipe down their seat. My friends also told me all the employees were masked and the water fountains were blocked off from use. Since there was no way to know who was vaccinated, I heard there was a mix of masked and unmasked people sitting in the theater. I knew I would not be comfortable going into a crowded theater; so, I ruled out Friday and Saturday as an option to go to the theater. I also knew there would be no way I could go to an opening weekend release of a film that had gotten a lot of positive buzz and/or was being labeled as a blockbuster. After accumulating this information, the past several weeks, I decided to look for a movie I could go to on a weeknight.      IT TOOK ME A COUPLE OF weeks to find a film time that would fit my schedule, but it finally happened last week. The movie was playing right after work; I knew I would be able to get there in time if that theater chain was still showing 20-22 minutes of previews like they were doing pre-pandemic. I had chosen a seat on the aisle in the last row. When I purchased the ticket online, I was the only person scheduled to see the film at the time; I was feeling better about the whole movie going experience. The fact that it has been 16 months since I have been in a movie theater, I was hoping to see a recently released summer picture. However, that was not the case; I was going to see a sequel that had been out for a couple of months. Luckily, I enjoyed the first movie enormously; so, chances were good that I would enjoy the sequel. I look at sequels like baked desserts. One can make the same dish several times and either one time the item doesn’t taste as good as the others made before or something unknown happens that alters the outcome of the dessert. It is a mystery to me. Regarding this dramatic, horror science fiction sequel; it did not disappoint me in the least.      FORCED FROM THEIR HOME, THE ABBOTT family discovers there are other horrors taking place in the world besides alien creatures. With Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, Into the Woods) as Evelyn Abbott, Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck, Andi Mack-TV) as Regan Abbott, Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight, In the Heart of the Sea) as Emmett, John Krasinski (The Hollars, 13 Hours) as Lee Abbott and Noah Jupe (Honey Boy, Ford v. Ferrari) as Marcus Abbott; this sequel matched the intensity of the first film. Kudos to John in his directing because I enjoyed the way the tension got built up, along with the incredible acting with extra credit for Emily and Millicent. Like the original movie, the dialog was sparse in this one; yet, I did not find myself ever getting disengaged from the story. The only difference to tell you the truth, was the fact that there was no element of surprise in the discovery of the aliens. Having said that, I feel viewers who did not see the first movie would still enjoy this one just as much as I did. For all my nervousness about going to the theater, this was the perfect picture to welcome me back to my former home away from home.                   

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Summer of Soul

I AM SITTING IN A TINY NIGHTCLUB at a time when people could still smoke inside. The air is hazy, making the stage look like it is behind a translucent veil. Everyone in the place is squeezed around small black tables; I can barely get my hand up to take a sip from my drink. I agreed to go the club to see what magazines were referring to as an “up and coming” comedian. When he got to the stage, the crowd was still somewhat noisy with conversation. It did not last long. He quickly commanded everyone’s attention with his ability to quickly change from one dialect to another in his stories and jokes. At one point he was speaking like a Russian; he then quickly changed to a British accent before talking like an innocent 5-year-old. It was extraordinary to witness the lightning speed he jumped from one character to another, all the time zinging out joke upon joke. The crowd, including myself, was mesmerized with his performance. Sweat had formed on his forehead and was slipping down his face while his shirt darkened with the sweat being generated over his torso. The evening was a major triumph; I thought for sure this guy was going to be a major star. It was not a long wait before my thought became reality. The comedian was soon after performing at major concert halls, starring in movies and even became one of the founders of a televised charity event. I felt so lucky that I was a witness to his historic rise.     I AM NOT SURE EVERYONE FEELS this way, but I love being a witness or participant at an event that becomes historic. Having been part of a peaceful march that became a bellwether to changing times makes me feel honored and proud. Something as simple as a museum exhibit’s record-breaking run gives me joy when I can say I was there. There is an iconic singer who has sold out the world’s biggest stadiums, who starred in film and even has been the subject of a Broadway musical; that I can say I saw her when she was a warmup act. I was there at the beginning; I like the way that sounds. The other aspect about this that gives me such pleasure is the randomness of it all. One might not know they are becoming a witness to a monumental event. Think about those who were at the Berlin wall when it toppled or saw Elvis’ last concert or saw The Beatles when they first were starting out in Liverpool; it absolutely excites me to no end. I feel the same way about this documentary; how I wish I could have been there live to see history being made 100 miles away from the Woodstock festival.      ON A HOT SUMMER DAY, A PROMOTOR created and put on a festival in a park in Harlem. What was recorded at that time has never been seen before, until now. Directed by musical artist Questlove (The Roots), this movie was a treasure trove of gold star musical performances. I thought for a directorial debut Questlove did an amazing job of mixing the footage with current scenes; especially when the current artists were seeing themselves from 50 years ago. Some of the musical acts shown were Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, The 5thDimension and Nina Simone. I loved everything about this musical picture; the way it weaved in history, politics and the magic of music. The thing that I found most startling was the fact that this festival footage has never been seen before. Nowhere in history have I ever heard about this festival that was created to celebrate African American music. I hope the entire concert footage comes out on DVD or streaming; I would love to see what took place back in that park in 1969. Too bad, I no longer have any bell bottom pants to wear.            

4 stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Ice Road

WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS JUST RIGHT and the packed snow begins to melt, I am left with a wading pool of water in my backyard. It is especially annoying because the melted snow pools mostly on the sidewalk because it is now lower than the grass. When it is frozen the ice can support my weight when I walk across it. However, when the temperature starts to rise, I feel like I am gambling each time I step on the ice. Sometimes I may be walking on it and all that happens is a few cracks form where I have stepped. But every now and then I may get halfway across the ice before my foot breaks through and cold melted snow fills the inside of my shoes. Ironically, I play that movie line in my head by asking myself how lucky I feel before I get on the ice. If I have the time I will use a shovel to toss some of the water back onto the lawn; however, by the time I get home afterwards the water has come back, waiting to capture and douse my shoes once again. If you are wondering why I don’t just walk on the lawn, I usually cannot because the grass is so wet that I am nearly stepping into a muddy mixture; or, there still plenty of snow that has not melted yet.      DUE TO THIS WINTER WATER TORTURE I have dealt with, I cannot believe the people who tempt fate by walking onto frozen bodies of water. I am not talking about the ice one forms in their backyard with a water hose or frozen puddles in the street; I am referring to things like ponds, lakes and rivers. Living near a large lake, when we have experienced below freezing temperatures the lake portion that is closer to the shore can freeze over. I understand the fascination with being able to “walk on water” so to speak; but unless one is certain the ice will withstand their weight, I do not understand why they venture onto it. Even if I knew the depth of the water at the edges was minute, I have no desire to go walking on top of a frozen lake. Then again, I do not even like being outside in the cold. It always surprises me to see how many people want to experience walking on ice. I have seen them standing there taking selfies of themselves and all I can wonder is what they would do if they fell through the ice. The same can be said for the main characters in this action adventure drama; I cannot believe they willingly do what they do over frozen water.      WITH MINERS TRAPPED IN A REMOTE CANADIAN mine, the only way to bring lifesaving equipment to them was by truck over a frozen body of water, just as the weather was getting warmer. With Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Run All Night) as Mike, Marcus Thomas (Kill the Irishman, Drowning Mona) as Gurty, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Goldenrod, Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion-TV) as Tantoo and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Varnay; this movie had to be made with Liam in mind. It was another typical Liam as the hero movie. Now that is fine; however, after seeing him in these same types of roles, it becomes easier to figure out how the story will play out. I will say I was surprised there were parts of this film that were thrilling to me. It overall was quite predictable and at one point it seemed to me it was getting too silly and I do not mean that in a funny way. If one is looking to find something where much thought is not needed, then this picture would be one to watch. I would say on a cold, snowy day when you do not want to leave your home. 

1 ¾ stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Man Who Sold His Skin

LOVE CAN MAKE A PERSON DO things they never thought of doing before. I know because not only have I seen it in action, I have been a participant. Back in my college days, I used public transportation to get to school, 1 bus and 2 trains to be exact. Taking it every day to and from school, I noticed most people stand in the same spot each time they are waiting for the train to pull up to the platform. With this knowledge in hand, I used to run through the station to get to my 2ndtrain; so I could get to the same train car where I knew a passenger was who I had been having a casual conversation with for a few weeks. I made it look like I just happened to enter the same train car, making sure to take a couple of deep breaths to slow my racing heart down before getting on to look for them. My intention was to ask them out for a drink at some point, depending on how things progressed. Some of you may think these antics, in the name of attraction/love, are a bit crazy; while others may think what I was doing was no big deal. I at least knew my actions, compared to some of the stuff I have seen people do, were more on the mild side.      RECENTLY THE NEWS REPORTED ON A man who lost thousands of dollars (we are talking in the mid five figure range) to a woman he had never seen in person. This is an example of something way extreme for me. The man had met the woman online and the two struck up a “friendship” according to the man. They would exchange photos that depicted family members, home and town. As time went on the man was getting emotionally attached to this woman who had started to share stories of a more personal nature; things about her mother’s ailments, her kids’ schooling, the difficulty she was having paying some of her bills ever since her husband had been killed. I am sure you can see where this is going; the man offered to loan her some money. She protested she could not accept his money, but the man was persistent. They finally agreed that it would be okay for him to send her a “little” money and to consider it an early birthday gift for herself. For the next few months, the woman would share a variety of hardships she was facing, including trying to save up money for an airline ticket to come visit him. By that point the man had handed over most of his savings; the airline ticket was the last thing he sent her money for because once she received it, she deleted her accounts and disappeared. Such a crazy and sad story; but I know this happens when love is in the equation. Simply look at what the man did for love in this Oscar nominated film.      ESCAPING THE OPPRESSION OF HIS COUNTRY’S government, a Syrian refugee agrees to become an art piece so he can travel to Europe to be with the woman he loves. However, it was not as easy as that, he soon found out. With relative newcomer Yahya Mahayni as Sam Ali, newcomer Dea Liane as Abeer, Koen De Bouw (The Prime Minister, Professor T.-TV) as Jeffrey Godefroi, Monica Bellucci (The Matrix franchise, Malena) as Soraya Waldy and Darina Al Joundi (Sisters in Arms, The Tower) as Sam’s mother. This film festival winning drama presented an original, fascinating story line that I found refreshing. The acting was excellent as was the filming of this picture. I felt there were a variety of ways a person could interpret what the writers were intending, that I am not sure if I comprehended some of the ideas coming from different angles. Whether one perceives the story as a political, a marketing, a love or satirical one; I think there is something to gain by watching this thought-provoking film. There were several scenes where Arabic and French were spoken with English subtitles.      

3 ½ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Fatherhood

MOTHERHOOD AND FATHERHOOD COME WITH EQUAL responsibilities, at least that is how I feel about it. The way I see it, both are equal partners in the raising of their children. Now some of you already know I feel adults should be required to get a license to have a child; it is much harder to raise a child than to drive a car which requires a license. I have seen good and bad examples of parenting. Actually, it would be more like outstanding and horrific examples. One person I know has done a beautiful job in raising their child. The way they explained things to their child provided them with ample information to let the child express their feelings in a healthy way. Let me also add the child’s vocabulary increased greatly to the point their reading level reached far beyond their grade level. Another parent I know has taken their life experiences and used them as examples of what not to do to their child. I could appreciate their method because a good part of their upbringing involved guilt and manipulation. They vowed they would never treat their child the way they were growing up. There are several parents I know who are not trying to be their child’s best friend; they are just being the parents.      SADLY, ON THE FLIP SIDE, I have seen too many examples of parenting from poor to horrible. A father who wanted to get revenge on his child’s mother decided to call family services and tell them his daughter is being abused by the mother’s new boyfriend. What transpired next is too much to talk about just in the space of this review; let me just say there were no winners in this struggle. Another parent I know did not recognize the emotional eating their child was doing to themselves. Not that I expect every adult to recognize emotional eating; but don’t you think anything done to an extreme would be a red flag? I also have a hard time with parents who instill their prejudices into their children. Back in elementary school, there was a boy in my class who was anti-Semitic. He not only would verbally abuse students in the class, he would pick on them either by throwing something like paper clips and rubber bands or he would sock them as he passed them in the hallway. I happened to see him at a store with his father, who displayed the same behavior. As I said before, I have seen a wide variety of parenting techniques which is why I could appreciate what the father was going through in this comedic drama.      WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS wife after giving birth to their child, a father must figure out what would be the best option for raising his child. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Jumanji franchise) as Matt Logelin, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Burning Sands) as Marion, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Bad Trip) as Jordan, DeWanda Wise (The Weekend, She’s Gotta have It-TV) as Swan and Melody Hurd (Trick, Them-TV) as Maddy Logelin; this was a surprisingly different role for Kevin to take on and I liked him in it. Not the usual loud, fast talking character in the movie, he showed more dimension than I have seen before. The story is pretty much predictable and could have used more in-depth scenes and character development. With that being said, the script was created with the viewer in mind because it was obvious the writers wanted to pull on the viewers’ heartstrings. This picture may not have been high art, but I did appreciate the way they depicted the trials and tribulations of a single parent. Overall, I did not mind this film at all. Hopefully, Kevin will take on more similar roles that test his acting abilities.

2 ½ stars 

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