Flash Movie Review: The Child Prodigy

GATHERED IN THE HOUSE WAS A mix of adults and children for the celebration. Everyone was getting along and enjoying the food. The children were being kids with their usual interruptions of “She said” and “He did” complaints. There were a couple of incidents where a child was crying, but the adults quickly intervened to calm the child down. At some point a four-year-old came up to me and asked if I could read a story to him; in his hand, he already had a large hardbound book. I told him I would be happy to read to him. He led me over to the couch and told me where to sit. After the boy handed me the book he climbed up and sat next to me. I started reading out loud to him, pointing at the illustrations when they were being described in the story. He seemed to be enjoying the story and even asked me a couple of times to explain something further. At one point, I do not recall specifically what topic I was reading at the time, the little boy pressed his finger to a word on the page then turned and slapped me in the face. He giggled which angered me more. I closed the book, putting it down on the couch. Next, I turned to him as I started to stand up and lifted him at arms’ length away from me. We went right to his parents where I explained why I was not going to finish reading the book to him.      WHERE DOES A CHILD LEARN THAT it is okay to strike someone? It is a question I have always wondered about. Some of the reasons I have come up with include the child may have seen family members fighting or the child had been a victim of abuse and/or bulling or maybe the child’s parents had poor parenting skills; I honestly do not know. There is another option I have thought about based on my experiences when I was a small boy. There are just some kids who are bad. Now you may say there is no such thing as a bad child, but I would have to disagree. Maybe it has to do with a child’s environment; however, I feel children at some point understand the difference between right and wrong. If nothing else among their peers, they would be judged on their actions and realize what is and is not appropriate behavior. In school wouldn’t the child get an explanation on why they were given a detention or sent to the principal’s office? I think some children thrive on bad behavior. If you don’t believe me then see what the young boy does in this dramatic horror thriller.      HUSBAND AND WIFE JOHN AND SARAH, played by Peter Mooney (We Were Wolves, Rookie Blue-TV) and Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), quickly realized there was something special about their son Miles, played by Jackson Robert Scott (It, Locke & Key-TV). That specialness however had a good and bad side. I was somewhat surprised by this movie and I think it is because I enjoyed the acting from Taylor and Jackson. The script was a close copy of previous child horror film scripts; there were few new elements in this story. In addition, most of the scenes meant to scare the audience were telegraphed well in advance. I did appreciate at least that the writers and director kept the blood level to a minimum. There was an opportunity here to make something different and scary, but I have to chalk it up to “bad” decisions being made that turned this film into a bland movie watching experience.

 

2 stars    

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Flash Movie Review: Cold Pursuit

IT IS MY MAIN GROCERY STORE that I have been going to for over 10 years. Though the store is one of the grocery chain’s larger format stores, I can quickly navigate through the aisles with efficiency. After so many years I pretty much know where everything is located, and I must tell you that is the reason I do not mind shopping for groceries. I am such a routine person that I find calmness when I can go on automatic and not have to think about what I am doing; I am talking about the more mundane chores we do as adults. Pushing my shopping cart to the exact products I need to buy is a wonderful thing. I do not have the patience to wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, as I try to find something. It is such a waste of time. Another thing I try to do is go food shopping late at night when there are less people in the store. During these times I can be in and out of the store with several bags of groceries in under 15 minutes. When I walk in I know what to expect.      THE DATE WAS OCTOBER 10TH, A date I will never forget because that is when everything changed for me. My grocery store was closed for a short time after they spent months remodeling. The closure was to fully restock all the shelves and have their “Grand Reopening” celebration. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into a strange place. All the aisles had been redone; I did not know where anything was as I struggled looking for some semblance of normalcy. My bread was no longer in Aisle 2 as well as my cereal was now hiding somewhere else. I was distraught. Ok, maybe I am being a little too dramatic here; but I was not comfortable having to go up and down aisles, trying to find the stuff on my grocery list. In time I knew I would learn all the changes and go back to putting myself on automatic, to quickly make my way thru the store. I do not think I am the only person who does this, but don’t others like to know what to expect when going into a situation? Whether it is the grocery store, sporting event or instructional session; there are times where a person wants to know what they are getting into before committing to it. That is usually the case with this actor’s movies; you know what to expect from him.      BEING TOLD HIS SON DIED OF A drug overdose was not something Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Widows), believed; he knew his son was not a “druggie.” Nels was determined to find out how his son died, and he was not going to let anyone stop him. This dramatic action thriller also starred Laura Dern (Wild, Wild at Heart) as Grace Coxman, Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Kim Dash, Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched) as Trevor “Viking” Calcote and Domenick Combardozzi (Miami Vice, The Family) as Mustang. These days you know exactly what you are going to get when you see Liam Neeson in a film. He played the same type of character here as he has done before; an uber masculine, macho man who doesn’t appear to have the lethal skill set needed for the character but does. The only difference with this script compared to the others Liam has recently been in is this one had an element of dark humor. It wasn’t bad; but I thought there needed to be more of it, to tell you the truth. I was confused by Liam’s character; how did he get to be such a menace in this film, there was no back story. Still the story was not so different that it would stand out. I expected as much when I bought my movie ticket.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: What Men Want

WHEN I WAS A MUCH YOUNGER BOY I thought there were many differences between men and women. Maybe it was the times, the environment or the teachings; but outside the physical characteristics both sexes were treated differently. I never understood why the color blue was designated as a masculine color and pink a feminine one. I was taught to open doors for women and to give up my seat on the bus or train for a woman who is standing. Rarely do I see either of these things being done these days. If a female drops something it was ok to pick it up for her; however, if a male dropped something it was okay to ignore it. To pick something up for another male was akin to telling them they were weak and puny. Seriously, this is what I was led to believe. And of course, there is that thing about showing emotions, especially sadness and tears. Heaven forbid you are watching a sad movie in your film class and tear up; your classmates will pounce on you for being a weak sissy. These are only a couple of the things that I encountered in my youth; I am glad I grew up.      HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I see today: both women and men saying ignorant things, both sexes displaying prejudices, men and women competing on the same team and both capable of being poor drivers. In other words, in my small world I see very little difference between men and women. As such, I treat them the same. If either sex drops something I will pick it up for them. In my fitness classes I do not even see males and females; I see people working hard and doing their best. With the participants in my classes ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old, I see the younger generations have a different mindset about the opposite sex than the older members. It is encouraging to me because I believe everyone should be on equal footing and treated equally. In the locker room the only negative remarks I have heard about the opposite sex have come from older men. In my opinion there is a lack of respect on their part, based on their comments. I do not think they have a clue that their attitude is part of the problem. For all I know they may not even know what a woman needs and who knows, maybe the same thing goes on in the women’s locker room and they don’t know what men need. This was not the case for the woman in this dramatic, romantic fantasy.      NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE WORKED Ali Davis, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, No Good Deed), never felt like she was being treated fairly at her job. Could it be because she was the only female sports agent? This remake of the male version also starred Josh Brener (The Internship, The Belko Experiment) as Brandon Wallace, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) as Will, Max Greenfield (The Big Short, About Alex) as Kevin Myrtle and Brian Bosworth (The Longest Yard, Three Kings) as Nick Ivers. I do not know when this movie was completed but a part of me had to wonder while watching it if it was purposely written to appeal to our current events between the sexes. I felt the script had holes in it causing me to be bored. If it was not for Taraji’s valiant effort to get as much as possible out of the script, I would have been even more bored. Gratefully her acting kept this picture alive, along with the few scenes that I found humorous. I do not know how much you will gain from watching this film; I think you would learn more from one of my classes.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

THERE WAS AN OLD SET OF blocks I found in my toy box. It must have been handed down because the color used on the wooden blocks was faded and worn out. Each block had a letter of the alphabet, but I never used the blocks to make words; instead, I used them to make more important things. Stacking the blocks one on top of another made a tall lookout post, with certain letters like “U” and “M” being hidden cannons and machine guns. I would use the blocks to build a wall that was used to surround a moat filled with alligators. One of my favorite things to build were these unusual shaped structures that I pretended were buildings used for outer space outposts. The letters carved into the blocks were windows or shades to protect the inhabitants from the effects of a sun. My imagination would be all over the place as it was being nurtured while playing with these old, wooden building blocks. Every time I would play with them I would discover new adventures and places to explore.      IT WAS SOON AFTER I STARTED playing with other toys that would feed my imagination. I remember a box that contained these miniature logs with notches carved towards the ends, like ones used to make a log cabin. However, I used mine to build bridges that would carry visitors over churning rapids or deadly volcanoes. You are probably saying a bridge would never last over an active volcano; but in my world, the logs were made of a secret element that allowed them to withstand the heat from the lava churning inside the volcano, that was preparing to spew up and out. Most of my building type toys were of a smaller scale; in other words, I could create whatever I wanted but it would not be life-sized. That all changed when I received a gift of Styrofoam blocks from a friend of mine. These blocks were bigger than anything I had in my possession. They would interlock using the three pegs sticking up from the top into the three holes that were at the bottom of each piece. The key was not using all three pegs into another piece. All I had to do was use one of the pegs at the ends and I could form a curving wall to form an igloo or fort that was big enough for me to sit in. Add a towel or bedsheet at the top and it would become an awning. There was no limit to my imagination with any of my building toys. The same could be said for the writers of this animated action sequel.      LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED THE PAST FEW years from everything being awesome to everything being destroyed. The only citizen who kept a positive attitude was Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Magnificent Seven), but that was about to change. With Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Lucy, Will Arnett (Show Dogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise) voicing Batman, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Nobody’s Fool) voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, The Light of the Moon) voicing General Mayhem; the previous cast returned with a few new additions in this adventure film. The actors were all in tune with their characters, delivering the finely tuned humor in the script. As with building blocks, the writers had free rein to go anywhere they wanted with the story. For the most part, they did a good job; however, I think they defaulted to the safe side to avoid risking damage to this burgeoning franchise. The entire family will find something to enjoy in this picture. If there is going to be a third installment, I hope the writers see it as an opportunity to build something new and fresh for these building block pieces.

 

3 stars       

Flash Movie Review: Cold War

EVERY TIME I SAW THEM I would always wonder why they wanted to be with each other. From what I saw, they were not nice to each other. Actually, I think it had more to do about respect; they did not have respect for each other. Whenever we were together in a social setting, they would inevitably get into an argument with each other. And they were nasty about it. It is one thing to argue in a rational and respectful way over an issue; but, they would call each other names and do something that is one of my pet peeves: bringing up something from the past that was never discussed at that time. You may have encountered this yourself when somebody would say, “Remember when you did such and such,” and you have no idea what they are talking about because they never brought it to your attention back then. I cannot tell you how much this annoys me. If I do something that unintentionally offends, upsets or bothers someone; I want them to tell me right then and let us talk about it. To bring it up months later, where I get blindsided, is something I find to be manipulative.     IT IS POSSIBLE THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS love each other; they just don’t like each other. Or, another possibility is they are both co-dependent with one another. I was in a relationship with someone who was manipulative and passive aggressive; two traits that are not fun to deal with, I am here to tell you. Until you catch on to them, you might find yourself doing things you normally would not have considered prior to them. Gratefully, I eventually caught on and ended the relationship; it simply was not a healthy union. However, I have seen other people in similar situations who remain in non-healthy relationships. I am not one to judge, but I do wonder what pleasure they get from their partner that keeps them locked in such a union. There was a couple I knew years ago who on the surface were toxic. They would yell, argue and manipulate each other on a constant basis; however, there were times where they were affectionate with each other. It was so weird to me. How could you have this explosive battle with someone and in the next minute be flirtatious and cutesy? I still remember hearing one of them threaten that they were going to leave the marriage all the time. Maybe this is one of the downsides to love; it can cause havoc in one’s life. It certainly influenced the couple in this dramatic, musical romance.      THERE WAS SUCH A STRONG PASSIONATE connection between Zulu and Wiktor, played by Joanna Kulig (The Innocents, The Crime-TV) and Tomasz Kot (Gods, Bikini Blue) and that was exactly the problem with their relationship. This film festival winning, and Oscar nominated movie from Poland was beautifully filmed. Shot in black and white, I felt doing it this way was more effective in presenting a precise no-frills story. Even the script did not have any excessive dialog, which ultimately kept the story going forward. Taking place during the 1950s in communist Poland, the settings and costumes were perfect for the settings. With Borys Szyc (The Mole, Symmetry) as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza (Ida, These Daughters of Mine) as Irena and Cedric Kahn (Up for Love, Miss and the Doctor) as Michel; I felt everyone was connected to the story, putting on a wonderful show of acting. Now there were times where I felt the story dragged; particularly when the scene presented a similar situation I felt I had seen previously. However, it was not enough to make me feel like I was having a love/hate relationship with this film. Polish and French were spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

LOOKING AT THE SPREADSHEET OF THEIR family tree, I noticed it was quite full. Their family tree showed generation after generation going back hundreds of years. If I would have mine done it would have a few gaps in it. With my deceased relatives who immigrated from basically three countries, I am aware of the ones who grew old here in the states. However, the ones who remained behind are only known to me by faded photographs lying in a drawer. None of my relatives were smiling in the photos. How I wish I knew more about them and the life they had growing up. There were a few photos of my relatives dressed in bulky winter coats with fur trimmed collars and elaborate embroidery down the front, engulfing the buttons and buttonholes. One of the photographs had three family members standing side by side with a small pony behind them. How I wanted to know what the story was about the pony; was it their pet? Were they at a farm or a zoo? What if they had survived and made the trip to the states, settling down and starting a family? I always thought about the relatives I would never have because of relatives dying before having children. A group of my relatives had died during the wars.      I HAVE VERY FEW FAMILY MEMENTOS or keepsakes that were handed down to me. There are only 2 items that came from overseas, a small engraved silver wine cup and a gold coin. The cup’s story told to me was it only had been used during special family occasions. More than likely it would have held some type of wine. As for the gold coin, I never heard a story about it except how old it was, and some family members believe it belonged to a great, great, great relative of mine. All these deceased relatives can be traced down to me, yet I do not have any of their history. I so want to know what they did, what they ate, what they wanted in their lifetime. Imagine if I knew some of their stories and was able to trace them back to some type of historical event; wouldn’t that be awesome? Seeing the Eiffel Tower being erected, or the Winter Palace being built; I would so enjoy knowing the history of that time that cannot be found in any textbook. If you want to see history come alive and maybe spark a thought inside of you then watch this amazing documentary.      WISHING TO FEEL A DEEPER CONNECTION to his deceased relative, director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings franchise, King Kong) and his team poured over thousands of decaying World War I film clips from Britain’s Imperial War Museum, hoping to bring some of them back to life in a way that had never been done before. Simply stated, this historical war film was extraordinary. I have seen movies and film clips about World War I, but I have never seen actual footage that looked so natural. Usually actual footage that old has scratches and light distortions; but, the path Peter painstakingly took created a sense of dialog and a sense of the times. The story to this film is the minor aspect of it; pretty much everyone has some familiarity to World War I. However, to see this actual footage enhanced to such a high level made me feel like I was seeing something brand new. Peter introduced this documentary and encouraged the audience to stay after the credits to listen and watch him explain some of the things they did to create this visual masterpiece. I highly recommend you stay afterwards to see what people did to keep this portion of history alive.

 

3 ¼ stars             

Flash Movie Review: Miss Bala

I COULD BUY MYSELF PAINT, BRUSHES AND CANVAS; but that would not mean I am an artist. Even if I had an abundance of confidence, I could not pretend to be a painter if I had never done it before. Now, that is me; however, there are people who start or try something new and decide they are an expert in that field. I can see someone being passionate about a new-found skill and immersing themselves into it, but I would not consider them an expert. For example, someone discovers they have a knack with numbers. They decide to pursue it, taking all the math classes they could through their school years. Gaining as much knowledge as possible, they open the possibility of becoming a CPA, actuary or pursue their love of math into a teaching position. I commend such an individual because they represent one of my philosophies: do what you love, and the rest will follow. What this means is if a person can find something that they are passionate about and pursue it into a lifelong career; then everything in their life, including money, will fall into place for them. This is a beautiful thing when it happens; but one needs some self-awareness.      YEARS AGO, I WAS RENTING AN apartment in the city. I decided to paint the rooms, so I went out and bought a few cans of paint, choosing colors I felt would complement each other. I did what I felt was my best, being careful not to have any paint drips or streaks on the walls. It took me several days to finish the project because I was going slow since I had never painted before. When I finished I was pleased with the results. After I put the place back in order, I invited a few friends over to see my new apartment. One friend brought someone with them who after hearing I had done the paint job began to tell me the things I did wrong. The way she was talking I thought she was a painter or interior decorator. After listening to her comments, I asked her where she went to school for interior decorating. Imagine my surprise when she said she had no schooling for decorating; what she learned came from the magazines she read. I stood there and thought this woman had a lot of nerve critiquing my painting efforts; who was she to tell me what I should have done differently? I may have been fooled by her but that was not the case with the main character in this dramatic action thriller.      WHEN HER CLOSE FRIEND WENT missing Gloria’s search, played by Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin-TV), found her at the mercy of a drug lord. She would have to do things she had never done before. With Ismael Cruz Cordova (In the Blood, The Pastor) as Lino, Cristina Rodio (The Condemned, Red Hook Black) as Suzu, Damian Alcazar (Herod’s Law, The Crime of Padre Amaro) as Chief Saucedo and Ricardo Abarca (Motel Acqua, Cumbia Ninja-TV) as Poyo; I had a hard time believing this story because of the poorly written script. Gina did a good job of acting, but the rest of the characters were a bit cartoonish for me. The drug gang could have been more threatening, and the initial reason Lino became attracted to Gloria was ludicrous to me. Considering everything Gloria encountered I did not believe a person in that situation could have performed all the things that were shown in the movie, particularly the way the story ended for her. If the writers would have instilled a more threatening atmosphere with more grit, this film could have been better. After the picture ended I left not believing what I saw and not believing I had to sit through it.

 

1 ¾ stars            

Flash Movie Review: Serenity

IT WAS AN OUTDOOR SHOPPING CENTER made to look like a town square. I was not interested in how it looked, only needed to go to one store located somewhere inside. Within the first minute of turning into the mall I was already annoyed by the parking lot; it was set like an English garden maze, except the green hedges were replaced with concrete curbs. From the posted signs I knew I had to be somewhere in the right area, so I decided to park and make my way on foot. Luckily the store was easy to find and once inside I quickly found what I was looking for before I headed back to my car in record time. Next on my to do list was going to the bank. I asked the virtual voice assistant on my phone for the nearest location to a branch of my bank. Directions were offered which I followed out of the parking lot. I made my way down the street for a short time, just past the shopping mall. Being told to turn down a side street I would up winding my way south, having to stop at each intersection because of stop signs. Finally coming out onto a thoroughfare I was instructed to turn west. The next thing I knew I was back at the shopping center and right there was a sign pointing me to the bank.      I FOUND IT ANNOYING THAT I HAD to drive out of the mall, through a residential area, only to be directed back into the mall. It made no sense to me. Maybe there was some reason why the interactive assistant had me drive that way, but I found it confusing. These days I find many things confusing and it is not because of an addled mind. It just seems as if common sense is becoming a rare commodity. Later in the day I was at a condominium building and the elevator had a handwritten sign taped inside that said, “Due to the freezing temperatures it is suggested the cabinet doors under all sinks are opened to prevent pipes freezing. This made no sense to me; how would pipes freeze in a unit of a multi-storied condominium building? Don’t all the residents get their water from a main line that then divides out to each unit? I could spend all day listing the things I come across that make no sense to me; but instead, I will just let today’s movie show you what I am talking about.      THE QUIET PEACEFUL LIFE BAKER DILL, played by Matthew McConaughey (Gold, The Dark Tower), had created for himself came apart when his ex-wife suddenly appeared with a desperate plea to save her. This dramatic thriller also starred Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, The Intern) as Karen Zariakas, Diane Lane (Trumbo, Secretariat) as Constance, Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest) as Frank Zariakas and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Duke. I actually think the actors could have handled anything that got thrown to them, but I do not know how they maintained their composure with this bizarre script. Their first clue, I believe, would have been their initial read through of it. The story made no sense to me which added to my boredom. Maybe the writer wanted to create a twisted, sexy, tension building story but all I found were things that made me scratch my head in confusion. It is a shame because I enjoyed the look of the film and particularly the setting, which was this idyllic island. There is already enough I encounter that dumbfounds me; there was no reason why I needed to pay for my confusion by watching this picture.

 

1 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

THE MAN’S FACE ON THE PAGE of my business magazine looked familiar to me. I stared for a moment and felt I knew him but not at his present age. Reading thru the accompanying article it turned out I was right; we had been friends in elementary school. He had the same wavy hair and dark eyes except the hair was silver gray instead of black. From what I read he was an executive officer of a venture capital firm. I was completely shocked because, at least during our time in school, he was quite conservative; you could say he was not a risk taker at all. The idea of him now putting capital into startup companies surprised me. It seemed like a total contradiction and for some reason it amused me. We hadn’t had any contact for decades, so my perceptions were based solely on a younger version of himself. If someone were to have asked me what I thought he would be doing when we grew up I would have said sales or marketing; it just seemed he had the type of personality that would cause a person to say he was a “people’s person.”      FROM READING THAT ARTICLE ABOUT HIM, I started thinking about other people I had known for a long time. I looked at my perceptions of the person compared to the career they had chosen. In some cases, it was obvious to me there were many who had a good fit between their job and personality. There were some who surprised me because they did not do very well in school; yet, they were now employed doing some technical work that I thought would have been way beyond their capabilities. In fact, one was a scientist; working on testing the strength of a new compound. This person used to cheat on their exams when we were in school. I am sure I mentioned this before but there are several of my former classmates who were stunned to find out I teach in the health and fitness industry. Having been an overweight geek who flunked PE twice; no one, including myself, would have imagined that I now conduct yoga and cycle classes. It really is amazing to me how we all wind up in our chosen career paths. I guess it goes to show you one can never underestimate what a person wants to do in life. This was certainly true for the main character in this family adventure fantasy.      NONE OF HIS CLASSMATES WOULD BELIEVE Alex, played by Louis Ashbourne (Alice Through the Looking Glass; Noddy, Toyland Detective-TV), was the one to save the future. How could they, he did not believe it himself. This film festival winning movie also starred Denise Gough (Robin Hood, ’71) as Mary, newcomer Dean Chaumoo as Bedders, Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower, Doctor Foster-TV) as Lance and Angus Imrie (Pond Life, Kingdom-TV) as young Merlin. This fun film reminded me of those live action fantasy films from the 70s and 80s. It had a sweet charm to it that I found enjoyable. The script was written with the young teen in mind, but it also provided amusement for the adult. The story was an updated version of the King Arthur and the round table tales and I liked the blending of the old and modern takes. There was nothing extreme in this picture; everything was kept within a safe parameter. This movie may not win any major awards; but for a couple of hours of light entertainment, this film was an easy viewing for me.

 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Roma

THOUGH HER EYES WERE COVERED WITH OVERSIZED sunglasses, the sun was reflected in each lens to make it look like she had stars in her eyes. I stared at the photograph for some time, wondering if the photographer realized that when they captured the image. Hanging next to this photograph was one that depicted something completely different. It was done in black and white and at first glance I thought it was a photo of a closed toilet seat. The camera had shot it from the front at eye level to the seat. I assumed the photographer was attracted to the dark splotches on the seat’s rims; personally, I thought it looked nasty. As I read the information card next to the photograph it turned out the subject of the photo was actually a small bunch of ripe bananas, done in closeup. I was surprised and had to look back at the photo hanging on the wall. Now that I knew what it was I could make out the three bananas stacked on each other; what a hoot! In photography I have always gotten a kick out of taking photos of ordinary things in such a way as to play with the viewer’s perceptions of it, turning the subject into something extraordinary.     AS I WALKED AROUND THE GALLERY I saw some gorgeous photographs. When the subject was human, I spent more time in front of it wondering why the person was photographed; what was their back story? One photo had an elderly woman sitting on a park bench. She was knitting a scarf while wearing it. The finished end was draped around her neck then rolled down her chest to her hands that held two large knitting needles. The needles looked like they were pointing to one spot. I wondered why the woman was sitting outside with her knitting; was she waiting for someone, did she like sitting outdoors because of the lighting and temperature? Did the photographer even know her, I wondered? Usually I have seen people knitting in waiting rooms; this photo piqued my curiosity. There were other photographs that showed individuals in a variety of emotional states. Coming out of one of the photos was an anguished looking woman who looked like her skin was melting; she looked deflated and sad. I came up with a few scenarios that all ended in some type of tragedy. But isn’t that what art is supposed to do; make one think and react to its content? That is exactly what was taking place in this film festival winning drama; the subject’s story came to life right before my eyes.      CLEO, PLAYED BY NEWCOMER YALTA APARICIO, was the maid for a middle-class family that had some issues behind its façade. Set in Mexico City during the 1970s, this movie also starred Marina de Tavira (The Skies-TV; Love, Pain and Vice Versa) as Sra. Sofia, newcomer Diego Cortina Autrey as Tono, newcomer Carlos Peralta as Paco and newcomer Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermin. Directed and written by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men), this film was visually stunning. Shot in black and white, Alfonso took his time with each scene. There was always something else going on besides the main subject in the scenes, filling up each frame with feelings and emotions. The story essentially was basic; there was very little action to speak of until the last half of the film. In fact, I found the script somewhat slow at times and felt Alfonso was spending too much time on some shots. For newcomers I was surprised to see how well the cast did with the script.  I only wished there was more to the story. This was one of the most beautifully filmed pictures I have ever seen; however, I found out the back story of some subjects may not always be so exciting.

 

3 ½ stars  

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