Flash Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

BEING INQUISITIVE BY NATURE YOU CAN imagine how I must have felt when I saw for the first time a world globe. I spent time attempting to memorize the capital city of each country. My interest in other countries was sparked early on due to several of my friends having relatives in foreign places. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a couple of them during one of their visits to the states and was fascinated how the words they spoke had an accent. As time went on I found myself gravitating to conversations I heard when I was out and about, to guess where the person came from based on their accent. Whether it was an accent associated with a part of the US or one from a foreign land, I wanted to learn a few simple words from each place. Some of my friends tell me it is rude or demeaning to attempt to say a few words in a person’s native tongue, but I disagree. I feel not only can it be an icebreaker with a stranger, but it shows my interest in getting to know the individual. For this reason, I have learned greetings in several different languages.      NOT ONLY ARE THE WORDS IMPORTANT that we use, it is the way we say them. In my daily life I talk on the phone with many individuals from different parts of the world. I do not think I am alone when it comes to forming a picture of them in my mind based on the person’s voice. With my own experiences people have asked me if I grew up in a different part of the country based on my speaking voice. I do not hear an accent and feel like I have a newscaster’s type of speech. What I really get a kick out of is when the image I have of a person is so different from their actual appearance. I remember a customer I used to speak with on the phone, who came to my office once to deliver a payment. Based on his voice I had the image of a tall, brawny type of man. He had this baritone belly laugh that reverberated over the phone line. Though I was expecting him, when he walked into my office it took me a second to figure out who he was supposed to be. He was a short wiry man, with a receding hairline; nothing like I pictured. At least I did not share my thoughts with him, unlike the characters in this comedic film festival winner that is based on a true story.      BECOMING THE FIRST BLACK POLICE OFFICER in Colorado Springs, CO; Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington (Monster, Malcom X), wanted to prove himself to the other officers. He found a way to do it; however, he could not be seen because he was a black man. This comedic crime film also starred Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, Logan Lucky) as Flip Zimmerman, Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Last Five Years) as Patrice Dumas, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Chief Bridges and Ryan Eggold (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Blacklist-TV) as Walter Breachway. I felt this was one of director Spike Lee’s (Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever) best films. The story was outrageous, but Spike and the writers truly blended uncomfortable and humorous scenes together to form a solid piece of work; that includes the juxtaposition of movie clips chosen to accentuate the message. I found everyone gave a solid performance, especially Adam and Topher Grace. This picture demonstrated the importance of words, no matter how they were spoken.

 

3 ½ stars        

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Flash Movie Review: Dog Days

FROM ALL THE ANIMALS AND PETS, I have encountered, there are two special pets that stand out the most in my mind. The first one was the very first dog we had in the family. I was around 7 or 8 years old when this small black furred puppy came into our lives. She was extremely smart, knowing which rooms in the house she could go in. The living room was off limits because it had white carpeting. You could try and coax her to come in, but she knew better; she would simply sit down at the edge of the room and observe whatever activity was taking place. I do not remember her ever being afraid of anyone; she loved everyone who came into the house. Because of her I learned a new dimension to unconditional love and friendship. In addition, I had to be told what “being in heat” meant after a couple of dogs chased me down the street while I was out walking her. I refused to walk her for the rest of the week if I remember correctly.      THE OTHER PET THAT STANDS OUT in my mind was this dog that my significant other brought into our relationship. He was a “pound puppy” of mixed breeds. He grew to around 40 pounds, this furry bundle of love whose tail was always wagging. I soon began referring to him as the “shadow” because he did not like to be by himself whenever anyone was home. He would follow you from room to room; in other words, from the laundry room to the bathroom to the bedroom to the balcony; it did not matter if you were in the room for only a minute. As he grew up there was one thing neither of us could understand; he took a dislike to children. Specifically, any child who was around his height. It was the oddest thing that we finally attributed to him wanting to be the alpha dog with any kid around his size. Except for this weird trait he was a very compassionate pet. He had this sixth sense that always knew how each of us was feeling. If I was watching a DVD movie that made me tear up, he would jump into my lap and put his front paws up on my shoulders to stare me directly in the face as he licked the tears from my cheeks. He was something else, wasn’t he? I feel fortunate that I had these pets in my life, just as the individuals did with their pets in this dramatic comedy.      SEVERAL PEOPLE CROSS PATHS WITH EACH other that alters their lives, all because of their pets. With Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Tara, Nina Dobrev (Let’s Be Cops, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Elizabeth, Finn Wolfhard (It, Stranger Things-TV) as Tyler, Lauren Lapkus (Jurassic World, Blended) as Daisy and Eva Longoria (Overboard, Lowriders) as Grace; this film had a few different stories taking place at the same time. It was not confusing to watch, but I felt it may have contributed to the script remaining one dimensional throughout the story. Besides being predictable, I never felt fully engaged with what was taking place on screen. However, what I did enjoy was all the animals. I appreciated that the writers did not write script for the pets, where they would need CGI to have the animals mouth the dialog. Instead they let the expressions on the pets’ faces do the talking and it was cute I must say. Excuse my verbiage but this was a “fluffy” piece of entertainment. You could easily experience the same feelings by going to an animal shelter and seeing the animals live. The only thing you might remember if you see this picture is the pets.

 

1 ¾ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Slender Man

WHILE LOOKING AT OLD PHOTOGRAPHS I could not stop asking myself what was I thinking to wear such a thing. I understand part of the fashion industry’s mission is to constantly update clothing trends, so consumers will buy clothes for every season of every year. If all we wore was a pair of blue jeans and a plain cotton shirt, the clothing manufacturers would not last long. As far as I am concerned there is no reason to ever wear pleated pants; this is just my opinion. The clothing choices I saw in my old photos could be classified more as a fad. I do not mean to disrespect any culture or group of people, but there really was no reason I needed to wear puka shells/beads around my neck. There was a time where wearing puka beads was considered cool; I have no idea why but as I saw other people wearing them, I decided I needed them. Another fad I went through was Nehru and surfer shirts. I cannot remember when these items were a fad but all of us wore them. In fact, it was extra cool to wear a Nehru collared shirt with puka beads around the neck. Please do not judge me but at one point I even made my own puka bead necklaces.      IN WRITING THIS REVIEW TODAY I looked up other fads from the past and came up with a variety of items. There was the Slap Bracelet, Garbage Pail Kids, Push Pops and Jelly shoes. Most fads, such as the ones listed, were innocuous; they are what I consider a singular fad because you do not need anyone to participate along with you. However, there are some fads that have a darker side. What may start out as a fad could turn into a cult. I have to wonder if the flash mob videos that were posted online was the spark that lead individuals to start posting more and more daring or unusual events. Do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It was a novel idea created for a good cause; but, do you think it could be the first step in people trying more difficult and dangerous challenges to gain notoriety? The subject of today’s film started as a fad that I saw in the news led two Wisconsin 12-year old girls to lure their friend into the woods to stab her multiple times, just to impress this fictional character who stars in this horror, mystery film.      WHILE A GROUP OF FRIENDS START to check out the internet stories about the Slender Man, one of them goes missing. Starring Joey King (White House Down, The Conjuring) as Wren, Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair-TV, Bunheads-TV) as Hallie, Jaz Sinclair (Paper Towns, When the Bough Breaks) as Chloe, Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic, Oculus) as Katie and newcomer Alex Fitzalan as Tom; I cannot think of one positive thing to say about this incredibly, poorly thought out movie. The acting was basic; add in the dull script and it was close to painful to sit and watch this mess. I thought the special effects were a total joke. Taking a telephoto camera lens and moving it quickly back and forth from near to far did not produce anything close to scariness for the scene; if anything, it simply made me dizzy. I was not familiar with the Slender Man; but if one should be fearful of him, this picture did not place him in the proper light. There was nothing scary or suspenseful in the story. If this character of the Slender Man was supposed to be sinister, then the writers completely missed the point. My deepest wish is for this fad to go away; I never want to see a sequel or hear about him again.

 

1 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: The Meg

ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND more annoying then autocorrect changing my misspelled words to something completely different is a person who never believes what you tell them. I have this one friend who for some reason must confirm pretty much any details you share with him, even the most random of things. For example, if I were to tell him about a travel survey I read that listed the world’s top travel destinations, he would have to confirm it by looking it up for himself. When I told him that the retirement age for Social Security was not 65 anymore, that it was now based on the year of one’s birth, he did not believe me and had to go research it. Here is the specific part that I find the most irritating; he feels the need to come back and tell me that I am right. I just want to ask him why he thinks I would make up such a thing. Now of course there have been times where I misunderstood what I heard or read; but not enough to warrant disbelief for every single thing I have mentioned.     THERE ARE OTHER TYPES OF PEOPLE who like to see things with their very own eyes. Mention there was a car crash and they immediately want to see it for themselves. I am good with just hearing about it; though there are times where I am being told too much detail, especially if it is gory. Oh, and there are also some individuals who will share something they experienced or witnessed but add their own personal flair to it. I have mentioned before a friend I used to have who had this great saying: a story is not worth telling if you cannot exaggerate it. This is the category I fall into the most; I am all for telling a good story but keep the essential facts intact. To me this makes the difference between a good versus mediocre storyteller. I knew someone who everyone dreaded when she would try to tell us a story. She would have to give every single detail, weighing down her story to the point where you did not care how things turned out. And what made it worse was when the story was supposed to be humorous and she would explain why it was humorous as if you were unable to understand what made the story funny. I think the writers were not sure what type of audience was coming to see this action, horror thriller.      WHEN MEMBERS OF A DEEPSEA EXPLORATION team found themselves stranded on the ocean floor, the crew’s leader felt there was only one person who could save them. He was a former, discredited diver who believed there was something lurking at the bottom of the ocean. Starring Jason Statham (Spy, The Expendables franchise) as Jonas Taylor, Bingbing Li (The Forbidden Kingdom, Transformers: Age of Extinction) as Suyin, Rainn Wilson (Permanent, The Office-TV) as Morris, Cliff Curtis (Training Day, Whale Rider) as Mac and Winston Chao (The Wedding Banquet, Road to Dawn) as Zhang; this movie felt like one of those “B’ type of pictures that would play as a matinee. Jason was fun to watch but I found the script predictable and basic. There was little suspense though some of the special effects were good. As the story progressed after its slow start it appeared as if the script was constructed with bits and pieces from other movies, washed together with a Moby Dick vibe. As far as I am concerned this was an afternoon popcorn movie; I cannot recommend paying full price for it. I understand some of you will want to see it for yourself; I do not have an issue if you do.

 

2 stars              

Flash Movie Review: Puzzle

THIS WEEK I WAS LOOKING AT a recipe for a cherry tomato tart. It was in the newspaper and it sounded interesting to me. As I was reading the list of ingredients and directions I visualized how I would prepare it. I need exact measurements listed when it comes to cooking and baking; I am not one of those people who can eyeball a recipe and put a dash of this or a pinch of that into the mix of ingredients. With this tart recipe there was one direction that caused me to have second thoughts. After I was supposed to cook the onions, butter, parmesan cheese and spices in a pan on the stove; I was to pour the mixture into a pie crust. Here is where I got tripped up; the recipe then said to place the cherry tomatoes on top of the mixture and overfill it because the mixture will settle down as it is baking. How much is overfill is my question. For me taste is not the only thing that is important in a food dish, it also is the look of it; it must be visually appealing to me. The way foods fit together on a plate means something to me. In fact, it is more; the way things fit together in everyday life mean something to me.      THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO use their closet as a repository. Their clothes hang haphazardly with no continuity; work and play items mingle together, so they must search all through their closet when seeking one particular item. Maybe I am showing my OCD tendencies, but calmness comes when wardrobes are grouped for specific functions. Even with relationships, isn’t the goal when dating to see how each of you fit together as a couple? There are some people who meet and easily fit their lives together as if they had been together for years. Others find themselves in different spots yet have the awareness of how things could be. I would like to say being in a relationship is like starting a garden. One needs patience first of all and an idea of what they want their life to look like as they grow older. Then they need to choose the foliage and the placement of it to fully maximize its growth. A person would have to have commitment to their garden, tending to its needs and requirements. It is the same way for a relationship; working to see how each piece fits together to continue its growth. This dramatic film festival winner does a beautiful job in showing the viewer how things can fit together.      AGNES, PLAYED BY KELLY MACDONALD (No Country for Old Men, Goodbye Christopher Robin), had no idea what she needed to spark her into living life. She would find it in a simple birthday gift. With David Denman (Logan Lucky, The Gift) as Louie, Irrfan Khan (The Lunchbox, Jurassic World) as Robert and Austin Abrams (Brad’s Status, Paper Towns) as Gabe; watching this movie was like taking a leisurely walk through a garden. I thought Kelly and Irrfan were completely devoted to their characters and did a wonderful job of acting. The story quietly unfolded in a way that matched the game that was being played; at least that is how I interpreted it. There were a few passages where I felt a lull taking place, but then the script would move out of it. I especially was fascinated with the dynamics that played out between the characters. The director really spent the time needed on each character to allow them to develop before our eyes. Though I was left with a couple of unanswered questions; for the most part, I enjoyed the way the pieces of the story were put together in this lovely film.

 

3 stars           

Flash Movie Review: The Darkest Minds

IT HAS BEEN SAID “IMITATION is the sincerest form of flattery” but not in the case of chocolate. To tell you the truth that goes for almost any kind of food. Let me tell you why I think this way. Occasionally when the grocery store is out of something I need, I will try the store’s brand. One time I had to buy their brand of raisins when they were out of stock of the ones I preferred. They were raisins; what could they possible do differently I thought. Well when I opened the container and tried them I was disappointed. Yes, they tasted like raisins do but they were small and shriveled; I was used to these dark and plump ones that had more taste. They were cheaper and of course I used them, but they were just okay. The same thing happened when a friend insisted I try this store that only sells their brand of products; they carried no national brands. Out of a small shopping cart of items I bought, the only things that tasted good to me were the sunflower seeds and nectarines. Their granola type cereal tasted vile to me; it tasted like dust.      BY NO MEANS AM I A food snob, far from it. These days I consider food to just be fuel, except for desserts of course. However, I still want my food to taste good. It just seems from my own experiences many of the generic foods and products I have used are not as appealing to me. Heck, I even tried a pharmacy’s cotton swabs once and they were horrible; because they had so little cotton on them they kept scratching the outside of my ears. When it comes to new products many of them are not based on an original idea. Instead they take someone else’s idea and improve upon it. This is the nature of commerce; companies want you to buy stuff and continue to buy their products. This is one reason why there seems to be more film sequels to me. When a movie studio produces a successful picture; they immediately want to recreate the success they had with another movie. I have to wonder if the film studios check out their competition and when something is a hit, they try to do something in a similar vein, hoping to be successful with it too. For me the story in this science fiction thriller was very familiar; I know I have seen something like this somewhere before. You may have also.      WHEN A MYSTERIOUS VIRUS NEARLY wipes out all children on the planet, the ones remaining become a threat to the adults. So much a threat that they need to be put away… or put down. Starring Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, The Hate U Give) as Ruby, Mandy Moore (47 Meters Down, This is Us-TV) as Cate, Bradley Whitford (Get Out, Saving Mr. Banks) as President Gray, Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars franchise, Game of Thrones-TV) as Lady Jane and Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Trust-TV) as Liam; I thought the actors fit well into their roles. The story started out fine; it made me curious to find out more and I especially enjoyed the acting from Amandla. But as things started to happen I was left underwhelmed. This story for all intents and purposes was a lite version of the X-Men or anything like it. The special effects were nothing special and ultimately the script failed because it bored me. It was obvious where things were going and worse, it appears the movie studio is hoping to do a sequel. The best thing about seeing this generic piece of work was the price; with the money I had on the theater’s loyalty program, it only cost me 53 cents.

 

1 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Spy Who Dumped Me

FRIENDS HAVE TOLD ME I should write a book about all the excuses I have heard to end a relationship. You might think I am making them up but that is not the case; some of the ones I will list here were given to me. One of my favorites is the one where our relationship had to end because I lived in the suburbs. It wasn’t as if I resided in the farthest suburb that was miles away, where one needed to pack a lunch before heading out. My house was literally 5 blocks from the city limits; from my place to theirs was a total of six miles that was easily accessible by car, bus or train. From someone else their reason to me why they were ending the relationship was because I walked too fast. My response was to ask if it had ever occurred to them to ask me to slow down. How was I supposed to know otherwise? I have long legs; so, I guess I cover more ground quicker than someone with shorter legs? Several of the other excuses that people have told me they heard were: you are too intense, we have different interests and you are not an animal lover.      AN IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNED ABOUT break-ups is to not take them personally. I know, it can be hard not to take them personally; but in my experiences a majority of the time I had not caused the separation between us. There were times where I later found out they were going through personal issues that had nothing to do with me. I will say I have gained something from every person I have ever dated. At the time I may not have understood what insight I had received; but eventually, it would reveal itself to me so that I could get a better understanding about myself. Sound too deep? Yea, I agree; I do not want to turn this review into a session of therapy. One more thing and then I will move on; I was not always an understanding individual who would take the ending of a relationship in stride. Oh no, I could easily turn it back on them and get real ugly. There were a few where I not only gave them a piece of my mind but gave them an encyclopedia of derogatory adjectives to describe what I saw as their failings. And I never did it in a text message; unlike what happened to the poor woman in this action comedy.      NOT ONLY DID AUDREY, PLAYED BY Mila Kunis (Black Swan, Bad Moms franchise), not know why her boyfriend Drew, played by Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, American Psycho), broke up with her; but now she was wanted by people from all over the world and not in a good way. With Kate McKinnon (Rough Night, Office Christmas Party) as Morgan, Sam Heughan (Heart of Lightness, Outlander-TV) as Sebastian and Hasan Minaj (Most Likely to Murder, The Daily Show-TV) as Duffer; if for nothing else, the only reason one needs to go see this movie is for Kate McKinnon. She is truly gifted; watching her, I had to wonder if she was ad libbing half the script. Her timing and delivery was wonderful. Mila was good; but Kate is in a different category. As for the film the script could have used a couple of rewrites. I found the story going from one outrageous caper to another, some bordering on silly. At least I did get some laughs from time to time; but these 2 actresses easily could have taken on a better developed story and script. I think with a little tweaking and work Kate and Mila could be a long-term, fun relationship.

 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Christopher Robin

THOSE WHO YOU HAVE BEEN FRIENDS with you for a long time hold an extra special place inside of you. I believe this whole heartily because these individuals are the safe keepers of your history. Think about it, your relatives may be familiar with you; but their version is in a different context, based more on family rankings. Your friends may know you in a different light. All of this falls into the analogy I use to describe friendships. Drop a pebble into a still pool of water and look at the rippled rings that spread out from the drop point. The closest and smallest ring represents your inner circle, your closest friends. Each ring moving away from the center point is wider and bigger, encompassing those friends that know you but not in as intimate details as the inner circle friends. At some point the rings of water switch to represent your acquaintances and so on and so on. Your close friends, at least for me, are the ones who can verify your history because they have lived it with you. They also can be reminders of your past.      ONE OF THE MANY GIFTS FRIENDS have is the ability to remind us to have fun. I look at my life and notice as I have gotten older it has been a challenge at times to experience fun times. When I was a kid much of my time was devoted to having fun; but as I entered the adult world (at least I believe I am in the adult world) I had to take on more responsibilities. I look at the people around me and realize I am not alone in this situation. It seems as if our responsibilities can consume us if we do not schedule time to have fun. Maybe you have experienced this predicament where you feel like all you do is sleep, eat and work; I have numerous times. With my day job, teaching classes, writing reviews, maintaining the house along with the rest of life’s “chores;” I can get lost in them. This is why I make plans to meet up with my friends from time to time. Granted with all the things I need to handle during the week, I pretty much have to use weekends to meet up with friends; which means I might have to set a date to get together several weeks out. I know it might seem odd to call a friend to make a date 2 months ahead, but it is important that fun remains a part of my life. If you watch this adventure comedy you will understand why.      CONSUMED WITH WORK DURING A critical time at his company Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor (Jane Got A Gun, The Impossible), could not take time for himself. That is until an old friend appeared one day. With Hayley Atwell (Captain America franchise, Ant-Man) as Evelyn Robin, Bronte Carmichael (Darkest Hour, On Chesil Beach) as Madeline Robin, Mark Gatiss (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who-TV) as Giles Winslow and Oliver Ford (Star Wars franchise, Johnny English) as Old Man Winslow; this movie was ripe to be sweet and charming. I thought the special effects were beautiful of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. A mixture of the script and directing of the cast caused me to lose interest during the first half of the film. It was a surprise to me because based on the trailers I thought I would have fun throughout the picture. It turns out it was not until the second half that I enjoyed watching this story. It is all about fun and at least I got to experience it partially during this viewing; I guess it is better than not having fun at all. Wouldn’t you agree? There was an extra fun scene during the credits.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

EVERYTHING THAT ONE IS BORN WITH works together to achieve a harmonious state throughout the body. This is part of my belief system, that we can achieve this harmonious state when we are in balance. I know when I am stressed I usually can figure out what is causing it. With the schedule I keep there are multiple opportunities for me to get stressed out. I find myself thinking about what I need to do instead of being present in the moment. When I am in this state of mind I am much more forgetful, which in turn causes me further stress. It feels like I am jogging in one of those hamster wheels that goes around and round without going anywhere; there is no down time for me. To get back in balance I would need to stop overbooking myself and take some “me” time. The body and mind are so connected; when one is lacking something the other tries to compensate. Well known examples of this would be Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Though he lost his hearing his mind filled in the tones he was putting together for his musical pieces. Helen was blind and deaf but her mind and sense of touch for signing were extraordinary.      RECENTLY I WAS OBSERVING A martial arts class. One of the participants had underdeveloped arms; they were small for their body size and looked as if they stopped growing at the elbows. I watched this member as the class was put through a variety of exercises. It was incredible to see how the lack of arm strength was made up by the amazing leg strength they incorporated into their one on one exercises. I know it is a cliché to say “when there is a will there is a way;” but in the case of this student, their mind and body found a way for them to be an active participant in the class. I am in awe when a person is denied one sense or body part and another one fills in the gap. People who are blind tend to have exceptional hearing capabilities. Or those confined to wheelchairs usually have powerful upper body strength. In the case of the main character in this biographical dramatic comedy, I started out not being sympathetic towards him; however, as the story unfolded I found myself going with him on his journey of discovery.      A NIGHT OF PARTYING AND DRINKING led to a horrific accident that would change the life of John Callahan, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, You Were Never Really Here), in unimaginable ways. Based on a true story this movie also starred Jonah Hill (War Dogs, True Story) as Donnie, Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Annu, Jack Black (The D Train, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Dexter and newcomer Tony Greenhand as Tim. The fact that I went from being an unsympathetic viewer to admiring Joaquin’s character tells you how impressed I was with his acting skills. He has an eclectic body of work already and each character he does always leaves me amazed at his acting abilities. The rest of the actors were not slouches by any means; they were wonderful. I felt the director handled not only them gracefully but did a beautiful job with the script. Nothing came across as preachy or inspirational; the director took what was a tragic event and found a way to mine the humor and sadness in equal portions. As for the story, the theme may have a familiar feeling to the viewer; however, the execution of it makes it worthwhile to watch. If for nothing else this story will show you not to give up hope because when you lose one thing, something else will take its place.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Eighth Grade

ALL IT INVOLVED WAS WALKING ACROSS the street, but it meant so much more to me. My elementary school that I had been attending for 9 years, if you include kindergarten, was across the street from what would be my high school in the fall. Where the elementary school was half a block long, the high school filled out the entire city block. Though it was an old building my classmates and I were excited to become freshmen, because for whatever reason we felt we would be independent. Not being a closed school campus, we could go out to eat lunch, though all of us were curious about the lunchroom; there was none in our elementary school. Before the end of the school year and our graduation, a field trip was arranged for the 8thgrade students to take a tour of the high school. We walked over in groups and one of the first things I noticed was how everyone in the high school looked older. You would think a span of 1-4 years would not make a big difference in a person’s appearance, but for some reason the way the students were dressed, their demeanor and size made them appear so much older to me.      THERE WAS ONE POINT WHERE OUR elementary school teacher left my group to go talk to someone while we were about to get a tour of the gymnasium. We were told to remain in the hallway outside of the gym until she came back. Several of us strained to get a look of the gym through the narrow windows of the gym doors. Suddenly we heard a pinging sound and then a student behind me let out a yelp. When we turned to look who was behind us we found a group of high schoolers blocking the hallway as they threw pennies at us. I had no idea what was going on. A few of the boys in my group yelled at the high schoolers, making threatening gestures towards them. As suddenly as it had started they stopped flinging pennies at us, turned around and walked away into the echoes of gleeful laughter. This was my introduction into high school. Little did I know it was only a prelude to what was in store for me. The summer before the school semester started I spent fretting over what kind of high school was I going to, away from the safety evidently I felt in elementary school. This film festival winning comedic drama’s story is as authentic as it can be, in depicting the transition from 8thgrade to high school.      DEALING WITH HER INSECURITIES INTROVERTED 8thgrader Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher (Bad Behavior; McFarland, USA), looked to high school as the place that would give her a chance to overcome her fears. There was the fact that her classmates were also going to the same school. With Josh Hamilton (Francis Ha, Kicking & Screaming) as Mark Day, Emily Robinson (Behold My Heart, Transparent-TV) as Olivia, Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Gabe and relative newcomer Catherine Oliviere as Kennedy; I fell in love with Elsie’s performance. She was utterly believable with the wonderful script given to her. I feel everyone could relate to some aspect of this story; there were parts where I smiled along with others where I was cringing because I knew exactly what Kayla was experiencing. The writer truly tapped into the fears, dreams and hopes of every type of student who is about to enter high school. I especially enjoyed the subtle ways the director had the cast convey feelings without the need to verbally communicate them. This picture gets a grade of A on its report card, even without the throwing of pennies.

 

4 stars

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