Flash Movie Review: White Oleander

AS SOON AS I HEARD HER use that word in her statement, I knew she was repeating what someone else had already told her. There was no way she knew the meaning of that word, I was positive, having never used it before and pronouncing it incorrectly. Who told her that statement did not have all their facts straight; so, when she repeated it at the restaurant table, I felt if she had any knowledge on the subject it was minuscule. It actually confirmed my suspicions about her desire to get educated on the events the group was discussing at our meetings. Since I had met her husband, I had a feeling she was getting her news filtered through his lens; whatever he thought about on a subject, she digested it word for word then regurgitated it to whoever was listening. I had to wonder if she had been doing this her whole life; because believe me, she is not the first person I met who operates in this fashion. I know several individuals who never seek out the details to an occurrence or event. There was this one person I knew a long time ago who repeated whatever his parents would say, even with the same inflection. If I asked him to explain further, he rarely could do it.      TO SAY IT IS A PET PEEVE would be to harsh to say; maybe it would be better for me to say it is creepy. Whenever I encounter someone who clearly does not know what they are saying, I find it weird, sad, creepy, or a variety of other adjectives. I hope this does not come across as judgmental; I simply do not understand why someone would use someone else’s words without giving that person credit for it. It is like when I see parents dressing up their children in clothing that is identical to their own. For me, it seems as if the parents are denying their child’s uniqueness and individuality. And that is what triggers the creep factor in me, a person having their identity/individuality squashed or tempered. I still remember a classmate who had a mother that tried her hardest to mold her child into an image of herself; it was more than creepy. She wanted her child to follow in her footsteps career wise and in accomplishments. It was difficult for me to be around the mother. Of course, we try to teach our children to be productive and successful; but when a parent so dominates their child’s life’s course, I am never comfortable seeing it or being a part of it. This is why I was experiencing a creep factor while watching this film festival winner.      THEIR LIFE TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL AND colorful up until her mother was arrested and charged with murder. Suddenly Astrid, played by Alison Lohman (Big Fish, Drag Me to Hell), found herself in a series of foster homes. Having to grow up without her mother would be a challenge…or would it? With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, People Like Us) as Ingrid Magnussen, Renee Zellweger (Judy, Here and Now) as Claire Richards, Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, ER-TV) as Mark Richards and Robin Wright (Wonder Woman, State of Play) as Starr; this drama had a wonderful cast of actors. Michelle and Alison were believable and strong in their roles. I was curious about the story, enjoying many of the scenes; however, the script had too many predictable moments. Watching Alison’s character grow in the film was a thing of beauty. There were times I felt I was watching a cat and mouse scenario which added to my enjoyment in watching this movie. I stayed engaged throughout the picture and due to the actors, I think I enjoyed this movie more than I had expected. At least that is my opinion of it.

2 ½ stars           

Flash Movie Review: The Operative

BEING THE FATHER OF THE BABY was the only thing I knew about him, besides living with the baby’s mother. I knew nothing else like his job, his age or where he came from. I had seen photos of the baby and she was adorable, always with a great big smile on her face; who she looked like I could not say. There was going to be a large social event where we were both going to attend. The baby’s mother was excited to introduce the baby’s daddy to me, talking about him more than usual up until the time of the party. I got the sense she was proud of him and wanted to show him off to me; I was cool with it. When it was time to attend the party, I decided to wear my suit since the event was being held at a hotel’s ballroom. It was easy to get to the place and I was able to find parking in front, which I preferred instead of going into the parking garage. When I entered the ballroom, I was met with the sounds of a DJ spinning his music from atop a stage set up behind a huge dance floor. I made my way through groups of people until I found a familiar face. It was someone I had known for many years. We made some small talk, commenting on the decorations that were placed about the room.      IT WAS JUST BEFORE THE WAITSTAFF came out with dinner’s first course, when I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder. I turned around to see the baby’s mother and I assumed father standing side by side behind me. I said hello to her and commented on how tall she appeared. She chuckled and had to show me the high heeled shoes she was wearing. I laughed then directed my attention to the man standing next to her who had been quiet this whole time. Extending my hand, I introduced myself. He took a hold of my hand and gave it a vigorous shake. The three of us fell into easy bantering, though I noticed the baby’s daddy was focusing all his attention towards me. At some point he insisted he buy me a drink at one of the bars that was set up in the ballroom. My gut was telling me to be cautious; I could not explain why I was starting to feel this way, but there was something about him that put me on edge. I knew the baby’s mother would ask me what I thought of him, but I decided that when the time came, I would try to focus on positive statements. However, time would show me that my gut feeling was right. I have been learning to pay attention to my gut feeling, which I believe one of the main characters in this action mystery was doing as well.      THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT RACHEL, PLAYED by Diane Kruger (In the Fade, Unknown), that made Mossad agent Thomas, played by Martin Freeman (The Hobbitt franchise, Black Panther), believe she would be the right fit for what the agency needed. But when Rachel delves deeper into her assignment, Martin begins to wonder if he had made the right choice. With Cas Anvar (Room, The Expanse-TV) as Farhad, Rotem Keinan (A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Exchange) as Daniel and Lana Ettinger (Live and Become, The Road to Where) as Operative #2; this drama started with a slow pace before the action was introduced. I thought the story was interesting, especially basing it in Tehran. The issue I had though was with the script; there was very little variance in the level of drama and excitement. I found this film turned into a generic, mediocre production. Diane really did a good job of acting as did Martin; but the rest of the cast was not memorable. When the beginning started out slow, I should have listened to my gut; but since there was nothing else to watch at the time, I took a chance. Several scenes with German, Persian, Hebrew, French and Kurdish spoken with English subtitles.    

1 ¾ stars       

Flash Movie Review: A Hidden Life

I WAS TAKEN ABACK BY HER harsh response to my comment. She said I was a horrible human being for saying such a thing. My only response was telling her time would change her mind. We were talking about an elderly relative who had to be moved into a nursing home; she was delving into Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. Part of our conversation had to do with the nursing home and some of its residents. There was always a medicinal, almost sour, odor that filled the hallways of the home. In the main dining room during a meal, there would be a mix of people eating together. For example, there was a woman who always came dressed up for dinner. Due to a stroke, she was not able to communicate verbally; she was only able to say one word which she repeated over and over. It appeared to me that she was not cognizant of her lack of verbal skills based on how often she would get angry at the residents sitting next to her, for not understanding what she was saying. There were several times where staff members had to remove her from the dining room because she was getting physically abusive. Another individual in the dining room was a man who had to be wheeled in then hand fed by an employee. As far as I could tell there was no reactions of any kind coming from this person; it seemed to me there was little brain function.      THE REASON WHY I MENTIONED A couple of the nursing home residents was my hope you would not judge me harshly when I tell you what I said to my relative that got her so angry. We were talking about the nursing home and my relative mentioned that this one was one of the better facilities she had visited before moving our relative into it. When I heard this, I told her that our relative would be better off dead then living out her life with no memories in such a place. At this point our relative did not know the people visiting her, had to wear an adult sized diaper and could not communicate. You should have seen my relative’s reaction when I made this comment; you would have thought I said I was going to break into the nursing home and suffocate our relative with a pillow. As word spread, other relatives had a similar reaction to me; but I did not retract my statement. I stuck to my belief as our relative’s well-being slowly descended into non-existence. Seeing what the main character was going through in this biographical romantic drama, reminded me how tough it is to stick to one’s beliefs when one is in the minority.      TENDING TO HIS FARM AND FAMILY was all Franz Jagmrstatter, played by August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds, Love in Thoughts), was interested in doing. His fellow townspeople did not think the same way as he did when troops began to arrive in town. With Valerie Pachner (The Ground Beneath my Feet, Bad Luck) as Fani Jagerstatter, Maria Simon (Portrait of a Married Couple, Good Bye Lenin!), as Resie Schwaninger, Karin Neuhauser (In the Fade, Emma’s Bliss) as Rosalia Jagerstatter and Tobias Moretti (The German Lesson, Brothers of the Wind) as Fr. Furthauer; this film written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World) lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes. This was way too long to sit and watch this picture, despite the beautiful and lush scenes. I have experienced the same feelings seeing Terrence’s other movies; they go on and on with random scenes of water, sky, space as a way to move the audience. The fact is I was interested in the story, enjoyed the outdoor scenes and appreciated the acting; but when things get stretched out, I lose interest in the point the writer/director was trying to make. Those who enjoy Terrence’s work will enjoy this film and if I am in the minority so be it; I needed the film to end much earlier than it did.                                            

2 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Enola Holmes

THE FIRST TIME I SAW SHERLOCK Holmes he was sitting in a chair with a pipe in his hands. I did not know anything about him but was intrigued by that funny looking pipe that looked like a weird letter “S.” The only reason I was watching him was because I thought I was watching a movie about a hound. I was lying on the floor of our living room with an oversized pillow and a blanket, waiting for one of my favorite television shows to start. Every Saturday afternoon there was a program that had a host who would talk about a movie before playing it for the TV audience. I did my best to always be home at the time it aired since I loved watching movies. Seeing this most curious man on television talking in such precise detail, not that I understood everything he was saying, piqued my interest; I had never heard anyone talk like he did. Why was he saying “elementary” to his dear Watson; elementary was a school. Everything about him was odd to me simply because I was a little kid and had never seen anyone like him before. As the movie played, I found myself being pulled into the story; he was secretive like a spy, liked dressing up in disguises and was good at figuring out puzzles. In my mind that is how I was able to relate to him.      FROM WATCHING THAT FIRST MOVIE, I made a point to see every film about him. Both at the school and neighborhood libraries, I started checking out the books the movies were based on; I could not get enough of Sherlock Holmes. And it is funny, with every book I read all I could see was Basil Rathbone as Sherlock. Don’t get me started on the trauma I went through when I realized Basil was simply an actor portraying the detective. Due to having been exposed to his exploits, I fell in love with reading all kinds of mystery detective stories. I flew through each Hardy Boys book I could get a hold of, along with some Nancy Drew books I found at a relative’s house. There was a short period of time where I was carrying around a magnifying glass, just on the chance some mysterious event would take place and I needed to search for clues. I toyed with the idea of getting a hat like the one Sherlock wore in the movies; but the first time I tried it on, I looked silly as it was bigger than my head, coming down to cover part of my ears. From all of Sherlock’s books and movies I have done, I had no idea he ever had a sister. What a surprise it was to see her in this dramatic, crime adventure.      IT MADE NO SENSE THAT HER mother would suddenly disappear from their home and leave Enola, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Stranger Things-TV) to fend for herself. Enola was determined to find a clue or something that would explain what happened to her mother before her older brother shipped her off to a finishing school. With Henry Cavill (Justice League, Night Hunter) as Sherlock Holmes, Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Adrift) as Mycroft Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella, The King’s Speech) as Eudoria Holmes and Louis Partridge (Paddington 2, Medici-TV) as Tewkesbury; this film was such a joy to experience. The characters were perfectly cast with Millie Bobby Brown as the standout. This was my first-time seeing Millie and I found her fresh with a good sense of comedic timing. Being a tad too long, the script had its flaws; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of mystery and politics to make the story relevant. This is despite being set in England during the 1880s. It would be a complete mystery to me if the movie studio does not produce a sequel to this fun and exciting film.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Identity

IT SOUNDED LIKE A FUN TIME, so me and a group of friends decided to sign up for it. A charity was holding an event at a large amusement park that was about an hour’s drive away. They had rented out the park for the evening and planned on having games, music, dancing and entertainment besides the rides. I figured it would be less of a hassle to get around the park than on an average weekend day with the big crowds. Also, because they would be serving alcohol in the park, no one under 18 would be allowed. My friends and I were excited about the prospects of having an easier time riding the big attraction rides multiple times. Usually because the lines were so long for the well-known rides, one might be able to go on it only once due to time constraints. I for one do not like waiting in line for over an hour just to ride an attraction for less than one minute. My only concern was the weather; I was hoping there would be no chance of rain, causing the park to shut down some of their rides. Each of us were getting excited as the date got closer.      ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT, with a clear blue sky drifting towards twilight, we piled into one car and headed out on the road towards the amusement park. I was the driver for the evening since I did not care for alcohol. While we were making our way there, we decided to come up with a game plan on how to get as many of the “big” rides in while still taking part in the charity’s planned activities. A quick survey showed most of us were excited to tackle the park’s top roller coasters first. I had heard the newest roller coaster was the ultimate thrill ride because it not only spun and swerved around the track, it also plummeted down to an underground tunnel. Some of my friends were planning on doing that ride more than once; while I figured I would go find a less stressful ride, one that didn’t have spinning as a main component. The fastest spinning I can tolerate is the speed of a merry-go-round. Our excitement increased by the time I pulled the car into the parking lot. With tickets in hand, we headed inside the park to carry out our strategy. As we got to the first roller coaster, I was the first one to notice it was not running. Maybe it was broken? We moved onto our 2ndchoice and discovered the same thing; it too was not running. Paying attention now, as we were walking around, we saw many of the “big” rides were shut down. All the excitement we had built up melted into disappointment. I experienced a similar reaction while watching this mystery thriller.      DURING A TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM A GROUP of random strangers took refuge in a motel. They thought they would be safe for the night until one of the guests was found dead. With John Cusack (Cell, Grosse Pointe Blank) as Ed, Ray Liotta (Something Wild, Shades of Blue-TV) as Rhodes, Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards, Griffin & Phoenix) as Paris, John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Pardon) as Larry and Alfred Molina (Saint Judy, Frida) as Dr. Malick; this film festival winner was a good old fashioned thriller in the same vein as an Agatha Christie story. I thought the cast did a decent job with their acting, despite the disconnected script. Not that I did not enjoy watching this movie, I did; but I felt let down as the script started winding down to its conclusion. I thought the filming and sets added an extra level of anxiety and dread to the written words. During the picture, I found myself getting into the story with its plot twists and suspense. If only that level experienced in the beginning had lasted all the way to the end.

2 ¾ stars             

Flash Movie Review: Overnight Delivery

ANGER THAT WAS WHITE HOT CAME bursting out of my mouth. I had no filter set up to try and temper the words that were meant to strike hard and fast. The reservoir of anger stored in me was being tapped to intensify my reaction to the news that my trust had been broken. When I heard what they did, a wall of numbness briefly tried to take up residence around me; but that break in trust after our years together destroyed the numbness, which allowed my anger to come out with no restrictions. I could tell my words were striking with accuracy because the responses I was hearing from my statements were feeble and their posture was in the process of hunkering down. To give you an idea of how much force my anger had, imagine walking on a city street lined with commercial buildings on a frigid wintery day. As you turn the corner of the block, you get hit with such a force of icy wind that it makes you lose your footing on the snow-covered sidewalk; that is how strong my anger was coming out. I thought the two of us had a committed relationship; but evidently, I was wrong. There was nothing to stop me until I completely unleashed all the anger I had inside of me.      IT WAS SEVERAL HOURS LATER, AS I replayed all the events of the day, before I admitted I had said some hurtful and hateful things to them. I do not know about you; but when I am in the heat of anger, all my senses are focused on unleashing everything stored inside of me. I have very little awareness of sounds around me. All I feel is heat rising off my skin and my radar for sensing any presence around me goes offline. In my head, my words sounded evil to the point I started to cringe when I envisioned how they were reacting to my statements. It is such a primal reaction, this anger inside of me, that I tap into to enhance the energy inside of me to keep up with the intensity. When I finished taking inventory of all the things that I had said to them, I did not know if and how to either rectify or explain it. There was still the breaking of trust and the feelings of hurt and betrayal I was experiencing; I could not come up with a plan that would achieve positive results like the main character was hoping for in this romantic comedy.      AFTER SENDING OUT A HATEFUL PACKAGE TO his girlfriend who he thought was cheating on him, the regret he was experiencing forced Wyatt Trips, played by Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Role Models), to find a way he could intercept the package before it reached its destination. He would have to outsmart the delivery driver somehow. With Christine Taylor (The Craft, The Wedding Singer) as Kimberly Jasney, Reese Witherspoon (Home Again, Water for Elephants) as Ivy Miller, Sarah Silverman (Battle of the Sexes, The Book of Henry) as Turran and Richard Cody (Ivory Tower, Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire) as Raditch; this film was lucky to have Paul and Reese as main characters. Their acting skills helped the weak script limp along to its predictable conclusion. With such a competent cast, this movie would have been better if the writers had played to the actor’s strengths, besides providing scenes that would have surprised the viewer. Instead, there were many scenes that were easy to figure out before their conclusion. The only thing I can say about this picture is it probably will not produce a strong reaction, either way, for the person who is willing to watch it all the way to the end.

1 ¾ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Living in Oblivion

ONCE I WALKED INSIDE THE BUILDING, I was even less convinced I would have a good time. The building was on a commercial street, in the middle of the block. There was no signage out front except for its address and a small sign above the door that said, “THEATER ENTRANCE.” When we opened the front door, we were surprised there was a long hallway in front of us with a string of lights strung all the way down the ceiling to another door. When we got to and opened the 2nddoor, we found a rectangular shaped room with support columns going down the center of it. There was a dresser to one side with its top drawer open and filled with snack bags of pretzels, popcorn and potato chips. A young-looking man was standing behind it. He asked us if we were there to see the play and I said yes. Asking for my last name, he rifled through what looked like a recipe box to retrieve our reserved tickets. From there he directed us to walk thru a black curtain that looked like it had gone through the wash one too many times, to find seats in the theater’s auditorium.      CALLING IT AN AUDITORIUM WAS A bit of a stretch, based on what I was seeing. The area, no bigger than a neighborhood bakery shop, had black painted brick walls. Along one side was a makeshift wooden stage and by stage, I mean it was raised one foot off the floor, looking like a large box. There were metal folding chairs lined up in rows, 6 rows to be exact. I was already uncomfortable knowing I was going to be sitting on an unpadded chair for two hours approximately. Hanging from the ceiling were a row of spotlights that looked like metal cocoons that were in the middle of hatching. The only other thing in the room was another black curtain that was covering a doorway next to the stage. As we took our seats, I remembered the time I was involved in a school play. It was a barebones operation, similar to what I was presently seeing around me. I remembered an argument took place between two of the stagehands, over what color to paint a backdrop. A cast member refused to talk to another cast member, only speaking to them if it was dialog from the script. Up until our opening night, I was not sure we could pull off putting on a production. With me sitting in this odd space with my friends, I could not imagine what was in store for me and would it even be any good. It is funny, I felt the same way as I started to watch this comedic drama.      INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER NICK REVE, PLAYED BY Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman), has one day to film a powerful piece. It seemed as if everyone else around him had their own agenda. With Catherine Keener (Get Out, We Don’t Belong Here) as Nicole Springer, Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns, August: Osage County) as Wolf, Danielle von Zerneck (La Bamba, Dangerous Curves) as Wanda and James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy, Certain Women) as Chad; this film festival winner was a surprise for me. The story was a strong satire about independent filmmaking. Despite Steve’s yelling getting to me after a while, I thought the cast was fun; Catherine was exceptional with her role. The humor was sly, where one had to pay attention to the dialog closely. Now granted, some scenes seemed way over the top in craziness; however, having it all revolve around the making of a movie made it more plausible to me. All I can say about this picture is that it was quirky and funny; and maybe, that is because it reminded me of that time back in school, when we were trying to put on a play.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Congo

DESPERATE, I TOLD MY FRIEND I did not want to stick my fingers in the bowling ball. Sure, it was dumb to say; but I did not want to go by myself to the charity event. My friend was involved with the charity and they were having an event at a bowling alley, having rented out the entire place. There was going to be food, a raffle, silent auction and some other things. The morning of the event my friend woke up sick. He called to tell me and insisted I still go though now I would not know a single person at the event. Our tickets were already paid for and he wanted me to go so I could tell him all about it, since he was on the committee for the event. I tried using a variety of excuses, even offering to drive all the way there just to scope out the place then leave; but he was not having any of it. Even the offer of bringing him dinner did not work. At some point I finally resigned to the fact that I had to go; but I told him to let me know if he started to feel better later in the day and If he wanted, I could come pick him up. Unfortunately, I wound up going to the bowling alley alone.      THE DRIVE WAS UNEVENTFUL EXCEPT FOR my build up of dread. Because I am not the best in making small talk, I prefer going with someone to these events, especially when there is an activity that I must participate in. I knew I was going to have to be on a bowling team with a bunch of strangers; my anxiety was weighing heavily on me. Walking into the bowling alley I was assaulted with loud, booming music over the loudspeakers. The check-in process was easy; I got my name tag, raffle tickets and lane assignment. I went to get bowling shoes before going to my alley. The shoes I was handed looked newer gratefully than some of the shoes I saw behind the counter. As I got to my lane, I saw my teammates were already there. There was no choice but to go up to them and introduce myself. It did not go as bad as I expected; they all seemed friendly and familiar with each other. When the MC of the event came out to welcome everyone, I was relieved for the ending of our small talk. The MC went through the list of things planned then ended by telling us to have a good time as all the lanes lit up for action. On my first throw of the ball, the wildest thing happened; I rolled a strike. My teammates yelled praises at me; I felt a slight sense of relief. It turned out for the next 4 frames I threw strikes. I could not believe it, but it was such a welcome surprise because all the players around me were being supportive and encouraging. It was crazy and only the beginning for an awesome night of fun, topped with me winning one of the raffle prizes. Here I was not looking forward to going and instead had a great time; it was such a surprise. The characters in this action, adventure mystery experienced something similar by getting surprised; but, with way different results.      AFTER HER FIANCE WENT MISSING DOCTOR Karen Ross, played by Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, The Other Man) found an expedition that would take her to the Congo to look for him. Her travels would lead her to find something more. With Dylan Walsh (The Stepfather, The Lake House) as Dr. Peter Elliot, Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters franchise, The Crow) as Captain Monroe Kelly, Tim Curry (The Hunt for Red October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Herkermer Homolka and Grant Heslov (The Ides of March, Argo) as Richard; this film festival winner was based on the thrilling novel of the same name. Because computer graphics have gotten so much better, this movie looked so out of date. With the script jam packed with action as it tried to pour in as much from the novel as possible, the result was a cheesy mess. The highlight for me was seeing Laura Linney; she was able to command the scenes better than any of the other actors. I could see where the writers wanted to take the story, but sadly they failed. For those curious to see what special effects looked like before computer graphics, they may find this picture somewhat amusing. For the rest, they may be left groaning through most of the film.

1 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: See You Yesterday

I WAS GETTING TIRED AS I was going through a bin of paperwork. For the past hour, I was sorting, shredding and filing papers, cards and clippings. Grabbing a handful of stacked papers, I started to lift it up out of the bin when a letter slipped out onto the floor. I picked it up and turned it over to see a name I had not thought about for some time. It was a friend who moved to California, who would communicate with me via hand-written letters. It was such a retro thing to do; yet, it was fun to get a letter from him in the mail. Lifting the letter out of the envelope, I gently unfolded the pages and smoothed them onto my lap. I chuckled because I had forgotten he always used yellow legal-size paper to write his letters. Starting with page one, the handwriting quickly became familiar to me once again. He was starting vacation when writing this letter because he talked about the hikes he wanted to do and the chance to go rafting for the first time. This was one of the things I admired about him; his freedom to try almost anything once with no hesitation. I, on the other hand, had to mull things over for days on end before agreeing to try something new. For him, it was as easy as taking a breath.      WHEN I REACHED PAGE 4 OF his letter, things took a darker turn. Not on his part per se, but because I knew what the outcome was going to be with these first symptoms he was talking about. Since he moved to California, he was prone to getting sinus infections. At first, he thought it was allergy based and was treating it as such on his own. But after some time, he would decide to go see a doctor about the infections. The letter only talked about how he had to back out of a couple of engagements due to his sinuses acting up. I knew this was just the beginning to a challenging year ahead of him. Over the course of his treatments he went from only taking prescribed medications to trying alternative methods such as meditation and visualizations. He changed his diet, thinking that it would make a difference, but he would find out it did nothing for him. Finally, he agreed with a specialist to have an operation on his sinuses. The relief it provided him lasted a couple of months, but then his health rapidly deteriorated. This letter in my hands was written in 1998; a year later he was gone. The letters I kept were the only way I could go back in time and visit with him.      WORKING ON THEIR SCIENCE PROJECT for time traveling, two science whiz kids are put to the test when a relative is killed. With Eden Duncan-Smith (Annie, Meadowland) as C.J. Walker, relative newcomer Dante Crichlow as Sebastian Thomas, Astro (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Earth to Echo) as Calvin Walker, Marsha Stephanie Blake (The Laundromat, The Blacklist-TV) as Phaedra and Johnathan Nieves (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels-TV, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Eduardo; this film festival winner had a deep message wrapped in a goofy package. With limited special effects and a plot that stumbled a few times, this crime action adventure took an important matter and fed it to the viewer in a new type of way. Eden was impressive as C.J. and it was a treat to see Michael J. Fox in a small role. There were predictable moments but having started out at what I thought was going to be a comedy, turned into something much different. By the end, I found myself having enjoyed sitting through this picture and wishing I had the ability to travel through time.

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Frozen Ground

WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN FOR a flashlight; it was dumb of me not to think of one. I was visiting a friend out of state, who thought it would be a cool idea to climb a mountain. It was nothing like the Rockies, but it was high enough. We were able to drive up part of it, park, then follow on foot a trail to get to higher ground. Up until that point everything was going fine. The vegetation was thick all around us which made our surroundings cooler in temperature and darker. I was okay since the day had been hot and sunny. Because we were making our way in subdued light, we kept assuming it was still bright outside, and this was our first mistake. As we were ducking under branches and constantly checking the ground for solid footing, we did not realize our ascent was going slower than anticipated. Neither of us thought about the challenges we would face by trying to crawl down in the darkness of night.      I THINK IT WAS ME WHO was getting cold first and hungry. We had reached a substantial height where we could see the city glowing in the distance. All we had with us was water; I had wished I had brought a piece of fruit or a granola bar. We decided to turn back by retracing our steps to get back to a trail and then to our car. It did not take long for me to realize we were in trouble. It was nighttime and neither of us could see the ground clearly enough. There were multiple times where one of us thought we had solid footing but then the ground/rock gave away and we would stumble or fall. I fell and scraped the palms of my hands. With no sense of direction, only knowing we had to go down, we were lost. The area was not known for wildlife; however, that did not stop my brain from imagining a multitude of scary creature encounters. The longer we remained stuck on the mountain, the more we were freaking out. After multiple tries and retreats, we finally found a trail. By the time we returned to the car, we had logged nearly 10 hours in total crawling on the mountain. Ever since then, I have always felt an uneasiness whenever I find myself in a remote area. Whether it is in rugged terrain or wide-open spaces, my imagination kicks into high gear on what things could happen to me. This will explain my anxiousness as I watched this dramatic, crime thriller.      WITH YOUNG WOMEN GOING MISSING in an area of Alaska, the only lead Jack Holcombe, played by Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off), had was a junkie named Cindy Paulson, played by Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Dog Days) and she did not want to be involved with any part of his investigation. With John Cusack (High Fidelity, Love & Mercy) as Robert Hansen, Dean Norris (Total Recall, The Book of Henry) as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven and Gia Mantegna (The Prince, Criminal Minds-TV) as Debbie Peters; this film festival nominee’s story was based on actual events. For that reason, I found this movie creepier than usual. The main leads were quite convincing in the story; in fact, I was impressed with Vanessa’s work in particular. The filming of this picture made the feelings of isolation and despair more prominent throughout the scenes. It almost felt like it was hanging in the air. The story basically was a good guy vs bad guy set-up; I only wished the writers had delved deeper into the characters. It would have made for a more intense viewing, in my opinion. I was already uneasy about remote areas and this movie has now solidified my feelings about them. 

2 ¼ stars       

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