Flash Movie Review: Lightyear

MY JOB WAS NAVIGATION ON THE ship; rarely did I ever take on the role of captain. We were traveling in uncharted space; so, we were under a yellow alert, which meant everyone had to be at their assigned places, ready to go into action. I wound up steering the ship because my commanders were impressed with my instincts and ability to outmaneuver alien spacecraft. Our ship looked like an arrow; it was built streamlined for maximum speed. The front half was a triangular shiny silver shape, and the back half was an oversized cylinder that housed our massive engines. The bridge was at the base of the triangle, slightly elevated above the front half. At the forefront, just under the tip of the front part of the triangle, were a series of weapons that were incorporated into the design of the ship. We as a crew always strived to come in peace; however, if we were threatened, we could quickly become assertive to protect ourselves. On one trip, we encountered an alien ship that was shaped like half a circular dome with two long engines jutting out on one side. The dome had a honeycomb pattern to it. Without warning they started shooting at us, but luckily are protective shields withstood the blasts. I quickly steered the ship to dive underneath the enemy and blast them with our aft laser cannons to disable their craft. It worked.      I NOTICED IT WAS GETTING LATE, so I quickly got up from the floor and put my rocket ship back in the kitchen drawer that held serving utensils. My rocket ship was a pie server. The enemy spaceship was a strainer that I hung back up on its hook in the pantry. There was so much cookware that I was never at a loss for finding something that I could pretend was a rocket ship or alien headquarters. There was a hand mixer that was one of my favorite kitchen items to turn into a rocket ship because by turning the handle, the two beaters would spin and become the engines that would propel the converted ship forward in the air or submerge and propel it underwater. Our kitchen was a treasure trove of objects and things that would stimulate my imagination to create a multitude of outer space adventures. Even ballpoint pens would become rocket ships to help Flash Gordon defeat Ming the Merciless and any other character I had seen or created. The feelings I have attached to these memories were stirred up while watching this animated, action, adventure film.      DESPITE BEING STRANDED ON A FOREIGN planet, the mission still needed to be completed according to Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans (Gifted, Captain America franchise), no matter what was taking place around him. With Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Joyful Noise) voicing Izzy Hawthorne, Peter Sohn (Luca, It Starts with Murder!) voicing SOX, Taika Waititi (The Suicide Squad, Free Guy) voicing Mo Morrison and Dale Soules (Aardvark, Orange is the New Black-TV) voicing Darby Steel; this science fiction movie was enjoyable. The animation was outstanding, with several incredible looking scenes. I thought the cast did an excellent job with their characters and was surprised by the emotional depth that was instilled in several of them. My concern with this picture comes down to the story line. The opening scene appeared to steer the story one way, but then there was no other reference to it the rest of the time. With the multiple story lines, I found they were distracting at times and lowered the connection between viewer and character. Granted, the story was not unusual or that exciting; however, the messages being conveyed were touching and the execution of events with its own unique humor made the time go pleasantly by. Though this Pixar movie might not reach the super status level of their previous works, I still found it stimulating and imaginative. There were two extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.                                

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Northman

I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them.      UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film.      A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.                                                         

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Jurassic World Dominion

THERE NEVER WAS A TIME WHEN the shop’s floor was clean of chicken feathers. A relative worked at a butcher’s shop not too far from our home. I was young enough where I needed adult supervision still, not old enough to go by myself. The feathers were mostly whitish in color, covering most of the floor; it looked like it was snow melting after a couple of days of warmer weather. I would walk around, shuffling my feet, to stir up the feathers so they would float in the air for a moment like dust on a windy day, before gliding back onto the floor. The sound of clucking chickens was constant, coming beyond the swinging doors behind the counter. I was too young to understand these live chickens would soon be killed to become someone’s meal. At that age, I must have thought they were being kept as pets. There were several men all dressed in long, white aprons that stood behind the glass counters to take customers’ food orders. Besides the chicken feathers, my other strong memory is the different pieces of equipment these men would use to fill orders. Blocks of meat would be pushed through one hole and come out like thick strings in an opposite opening. It was the oddest thing for me to watch, yet I would be mesmerized by the different shapes and sizes of things being wrapped in some type of waxy, white paper that came off big rolls at each carving table.      AS I WAS GROWING UP, IT did not take long for me to realize that every item in that shop came from a live animal. When I was a small child, I did not make the connection that animals were a food source; in my mind they were pets. But after this new realization, I stopped going to that butcher shop. I did not want to see the process from live to grocery bag. To this day I do not eat red meat; the idea of it has never sat right with me. With that being said, I can appreciate the fact that the items in the butcher shop were as fresh as one could get compared to most people’s way of shopping today. When I see a package that mentions GMO (genetically modified organism), I get scared. The idea of eating something that has been genetically altered frightens me. Maybe it is my ignorance on the subject, but I wonder how the human body will manage something that was tweaked, for whatever reason, to produce a stronger or disease resistant product. What then does the body do with that when it is consumed? Before you answer that, maybe you should see what takes place in this action, adventure sequel.      WITH DINOSAURS NOW LIVING OUT IN the open among humans, the standard list of animals on the food chain is in a bad need of an update. With Chris Pratt (The Tomorrow War, The Kid) as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, Rocketman) as Claire Dearing, Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Little Women) as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill (Ride Like a Girl, Blackbird) as Alan Grant and Jeff Goldblum (The Mountain, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Ian Malcom; this science fiction film had excellent special effects and chase scenes. It was enjoyable to see the blending of the original cast with the rebooted one; however, past that, this movie lacked the exhilarating fun found in the first picture of this franchise. The script was a mixture of story lines, none that really did a decent job of telling a good story. Some of the humor and references made to the earlier films were amusing, but I only wished the writers could have written a better, evil character in a thrilling setting. Instead of going out with a big bang, this movie was tired and bored. The dinosaurs would have been better off to have stayed extinct.

                                                           

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT teaching fitness/yoga classes is filling in for an absent instructor. Though I never refused unless logistically I could not make the class, there always was apprehension on what I would encounter from the participants. Like going to doctors or hair stylists, people find an instructor they like and stick with them. Walking into a class to find out a substitute is filling in for your favorite instructor usually leads to some level of disappointment. I remember filling in for a fellow yoga instructor and as I was introducing myself, three participants rolled up their mats and walked out. Ten minutes later as we were doing our warmup poses, a member asked me why I was not turning the lights off; evidently the assigned instructor teaches in subdued light. When I told the member I needed light to observe how each person was doing the poses; she made a sour face, uttered what sounded like a “harumph” before gathering her things and stormed out of the room. I totally get how individuals have expectations before they walk into the fitness room; but I must ask what options do they think are available? Either the substitute instructor teaches class, or the class would have to be cancelled; under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be better to deal with a different instructor’s style of yoga instead of no yoga at all?      WHEN IT COMES TO INSTRUCTORS OR really anyone who is in a visible position, people are funny about those they like. Where I experienced more of the negative aspects when filling in for another instructor, I have heard from those instructors who have subbed for me. They have experienced the same negative reactions to their presence in my classes. I understand disappointment; when I go to a live theater event and the leading star’s character has a stand-in, I am disappointed, but I am not going to deny myself the experience of seeing the production. Just like those stories one hears about a rabid fan doing things to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, people want what they want as they say. I have read about millionaires who pay exorbitant prices to get a singer to perform at one of their parties. Or what about the individuals who do an outrageous act in the hopes of getting their celebrity crush to notice. I had a member who turned into a stalker, who would pop up at the oddest times to talk and ask me out until I had to file a complaint. As I sat down to watch this action crime comedy, I wondered which way would one of the main characters act, upon meeting their celebrity crush.      DOWN ON HIS LUCK AND NEEDING the money was enough incentive for Nick Cage, played by Nicolas Cage (Pig, Between Worlds), to accept the offer to show up at a wealthy man’s estate. If nothing else, it would be a new role for him. With Pedro Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984, The Mandalorian-TV) as Javi Gutierrez, Tiffany Haddish (Like a Boss, Bad Trip) as Vivian, Sharon Horgan (Game Night, Dating Amber) as Olivia and Neil Patrick Harris (The Matrix Resurrections, Gone Girl) as Richard Fink; this movie was a lighthearted, fun experience. What made it so was the pairing of Nicolas with Pedro; they were great together as they played off each other. The idea for the story was novel, where I could appreciate the tongue in cheek flavor of the script. The writers were creative in setting things up for Nic to spoof Nicolas’ old films. Honestly, there is not anything that is a surprise here per se; however, it was just fun to see Nicholas doing such an excellent job parodying himself. As the film ended, I wondered if the movie studio would do another film with the two main leads; I think it would be a hoot. 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Senior Year

MAYBE I AM BIASED BUT FROM the people I have met, those that told me they had a wonderful time in high school were more than likely part of a clique or group. I am not saying that as a negative or positive; it is simply my findings. When someone is part of a group, they immediately have a social structure in place where they can find support, friendship, kinship, and a variety of other attributes. But if one is not part of a group, they could have a tougher go of it through their school years. Trust me, I should know. It was not until my junior year before I found a group of students that I would hang out and do things with, in and outside of school. Before you think I was a hermit or something when I started high school, I want to state I did have friends throughout my years in school; the only difference early on is none of us were part of a group. We did not participate in sports activities, let alone any other sanctioned groups of the school. I was on the school paper one year, but after that nothing else.      PART OF THE REASON I DID not want to be part of a group/clique was due to the ones I did see when I started high school. There was a sport, a cheerleader, a druggie, and an academia (brainiac) group, along with a few others. The most lethal group to me was the “popular” group. Freshman year I saw two older girls get in a fight that was vicious. They were scratching, slapping, and ripping each other apart until a teacher came and broke them up. The reason I knew they were part of a popular clique was due to hearing a couple of junior students talking in the lunchroom. It turned me off from wanting to be part of a group. Also, my high school was one of the smaller ones in the city; maybe if it had offered more options of interest, I would have had a different mindset. It is easy for me to say this now, so many years later; but back then I always had an issue being part of a social pecking order, where one is supposed to look and act a certain way. I always gravitated to those who embraced their individuality. Maybe it would be easier to explain if I suggest you watch this comedic drama.      AFTER BEING IN A COMA FOR 20 years since her high school senior year, a former cheerleader who was hoping to become the prom queen, wants to return and win her crown. With Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect franchise, Isn’t it Romantic) as Stephanie, Angourie Rice  (The Nice Guys, The Beguiled) as young Stephanie, Mary Holland (Happiest Season, Keeping Company) as Martha, Sam Richardson (We’re the Millers, Hooking Up) as Seth and Zoe Chao (Downhill, Love Life-TV) as Tiffany; this movie’s saving grace was having Rebel Wilson as the lead. If you like her style of comedy, she gave it her best with the little the script provided her. Besides being predictable, there was only a couple of times where I chuckled at a scene. For the most part, the script tried to do too much and wound up doing little. There were scenes that were not believable, some that were touching, others that tried to be funny; yet all together they did not blend well with each other. At times, the musical numbers seemed to have been created because the writers did not know which way to go next. Overall, there is not much here to make the viewer want to go back and experience their high school years. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

THE SENTIMENT WAS TOUCHING; BUT unless there was follow-through, I knew the relationship would not be sustainable. We worked at the same company for several years and formed a bond early on because we were similar in so many ways, both personally and in work ethic. She had a childhood that mimicked mine and I think that is what cemented our relationship the most; we reacted the same to the situations that came up in the office. When she told me she was leaving the company I was both sad and glad. I would miss her, but I was happy she found a job that paid her better. On her last day she came into my office to say goodbye and let me know we will still be friends, that our work time did not define our friendship. We agreed we would stay connected and get together. She left on a Friday and when I came back to the office on Monday, it did not take long for me to miss her. With our time together, we came to a point in our work relationship where we did not have to explain what we were doing; we already knew how the other would manage the situation as it revealed itself.      FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER SHE LEFT the company, we stayed in touch via text and phone calls. I would keep her abreast with any unusual activities that arose among the employees she knew. We agreed to meet for lunch a couple of times and had an enjoyable time sitting and talking to each other. However, as time went on our times in getting together were growing further and further apart. We texted more than called each other and even the texts started to get fewer. I knew if we did not incorporate some type of activities into our relationship besides just sitting and eating, there would be fewer and fewer things to talk about. I mean how much does it really matter to hear about an employee’s exploits at the office after being away for so long? Mostly these days our friendship is limited to sending and receiving birthday and holiday cards. It is an odd situation but not an unfamiliar one to me. You grow together while at the same company, but once one leaves the relationship does not stay the same. It is funny; I feel the same about this prequel franchise to the Harry Potter films. I have a stronger connection to the Hogwarts series than the movies I have seen so far for this current franchise.      WITH AN ELECTION COMING UP PROFESSOR Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law (The Nest, Black Sea), is aware one wizard is trying to stack the deck in their favor. However, the professor cannot act against him directly due to a magical pact created a long time ago. With Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) as Newt Scamander, Ezra Miller (Madame Bovary, Justice League) as Credence Barebone, Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, In Like Flynn) as Jacob Kowalski and Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round, Doctor Strange) as Gellert Grindlewald; this action, adventure fantasy left me with a bland feeling. I felt the drama was usurped by the action. Now there were parts of this movie that were exciting and magical, however, the script felt more one note than incorporating some highs and lows into the story. I normally enjoy Mads’ performances but, in this film, I did not think he was utilized fully for his character. A base comment for this picture would be to say it was lackluster; without the sparkle of wonderment, the magic and creativity did not pop like they did in the Harry Potter films. It almost felt as if the writers and studio were following a set game plan to produce this film. As I mentioned earlier, unless there is interest on both sides, this franchise is destined not to succeed.                                                                

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Our Father

THROUGHOUT MY ELEMENTARY AND HIGH SCHOOL years, I only met two individuals who had been adopted. They happened to be half-sisters, who shared the same mother; a married couple agreed to adopt them both. When I was told about their adoption, I became curious about them. They had the same color hair and eyes; one was taller than the other. That was pretty much all they had in common as far as I could see. The taller one was studious and quiet, while her younger sister did poorly in school and was considered a wild party person. They were not part of my circle of friends for the most part; however, there were times we would be eating at the same lunch table. While eating, I would keep an eye on the two of them to see if they ate the same type of food items. I do not know why I focused on this; I guess I was simply intrigued about their story of being birthed by one woman and raised by a different one. As I said earlier, I had never met anyone who had been adopted. From my observations, I chalked up their differences were due to having different fathers. I have not thought about them for some time, but I wonder with the easy availability of DNA testing if they ever were curious to learn more about their genetic history.      THE REASON I MENTIONED DNA TESTING, is because I had recently heard about a woman who, out of curiosity, decided to get tested because she was curious to find out what countries her ancestors originated from. When she received the results, she learned something more that she was not expecting; her DNA did not match with her dad. This news did not settle in immediately; but after studying her results again, it sunk in that the man she knew her entire life was not her father. Sadly, she could not ask either of her parents because they were both deceased. As far as she was concerned, her mother must have had an affair with another man; either her father knew and her parents decided to never say anything about it, or her mother kept it a secret her entire life. The woman was devastated by these results. I know it bothered her because she became angry that she could not confront her mother to find out the truth. Since this person is only an acquaintance, who I have had no contact with for some time, I now wonder if she delved deeper into her DNA results to see if she might have had any half siblings she could reach out to for any answers. It would be a shock if she experienced anything close to what happened in this startling documentary.      AWARE SHE WAS ADOPTED, JACOBA BALLARD was curious to know if she might have any unknown relatives. A DNA test could help, and it did, but not the way she was expecting. Directed by first time director Lucie Jourdan, this film played out like a suspenseful crime story. The story is so incredible that I was in synch with what was unfolding for Jacoba. The use and mix of actual recordings with reenactments went seamlessly and made for a more powerful statement in my opinion. As the story progressed, I found myself going deeper into shock from what was happening. I will also add that I became angry while watching the outcome of an issue that was being worked on. To think before we had the ability to test our DNA, there could be many people living under a delusion/fantasy. Be prepared when watching this documentary; it might have a bigger effect on you than you expect.

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Downton Abbey: A New Era

EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling.      THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama.      ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Men

EVERYTHING I RESEARCHED WAS TRUE ABOUT my travel destination. The weather was perfect for me when I disembarked from the plane, in the 80s with a gentle breeze. I was almost overwhelmed with the about of vegetation everywhere. There were flowers along the streets, blooming bushes in front of buildings, tall hedges surrounding homes; the place was so colorful, like an artist splashing different colored paints all over the place. I arrived at my hotel and was not disappointed. The lobby had live trees that received sunlight from the large geometrical skylight in the roof. There was artwork, paintings, and sculptures, from local artists that was placed throughout the lobby. After checking in and getting the key to my room, I rode the glass elevator up to my floor. The room was clean and bright, with a view overlooking one of the hotel’s swimming pools. On the bed was a couple of cut flowers that gave off a lovely fragrance; I could not have been happier. Because I did not know if it would be hard getting seated at the hotel’s main restaurant, I had made reservations because I knew I was going to be hungry when I landed.      BEFORE I HAD ARRIVED, I WAS told what foods to stay away from; so, I did not have as many choices of food as I had hoped for. It was okay since I tend to like simple foods. It turned out the restaurant was full; I was glad I made reservations. When the waitress handed me the bill, I decided I would pay for it in cash. I also wanted to break the large bill so I would have enough change for tips and small purchases. After sitting there for several minutes, I wondered what was keeping the waitress from bringing back my change. I finally had to ask another server to find her. When she finally came back, I asked her for the change from my payment. She acted like she did not know what I was talking about. I described how much my bill was and the payment I gave her, that I was expecting change back. She said she would go check and when she returned, she had my change. I was ticked off but chalked it off to a one-time thing. However, this same thing happened to me at a couple of other restaurants. My second day there a monsoon hit the place and the hotel lobby flooded; I could not leave my room for a few hours. When I finally was able to get to the lobby, a staff employee was standing by the entrance to the pools. He said they were closed due to the staph infection that had occurred after the flooding. I was not done; throughout my visit I was constantly being asked for money. By the time of my return flight, I was ready to go; my trip was not relaxing. That is what the main character should have done in this dramatic horror science fiction film, go home at the first sign of trouble.      GETTING AWAY FROM THE TRAGEDY SHE had been enduring back home, a woman retreats to a quiet estate in the country. During her first walk on the grounds, she encountered a man with no clothes. With Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Lost Daughter) as Harper, Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Geoffrey, Paapa Essiedu (Gangs of London-TV, I May Destroy You-TV) as James and Gayle Rankin (The Greatest Showman, Glow-TV) as Riley; this movie directed and written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) left me confused. I thought the acting was wonderful, with Jessie having a commanding screen presence. The filming was shot beautifully throughout the English countryside. However, I felt the script was too ambiguous; I did not quite know what was going on. Individual scenes were well done, but I could not tell you what this movie was about, except maybe it has to do with guilt or man’s relationship to females. I feel if one must work hard to try and make sense of a movie, then it is not entertaining.               

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Black Crab

IT WAS A TERRIBLE STORM WITH high winds and snow piling up quickly. I remember I stayed home because there was no way I wanted to venture out into the cold, let alone with a blizzard taking place. A friend of mine who I had talked with earlier in the day was driving out to visit his son who was in college, out of state. I mentioned how the weather was not going to let up according to the latest news reports, but he insisted he had to see his son who was performing in the school’s play. Asking if there were multiple performances, my friend said this was the only performance and he had to be there for it. I asked him why; what would be the harm if he missed this one performance; his son would surely understand based on the horrible weather, I added. My friend said he had never missed one of his son’s performances and he was not going to let that happen now, especially since his son was getting close to graduating. He told me how important it was to him, to be there and support his son who was working on attaining his dream. I could not fault him on being such a loving and supportive parent; that he was willing to take such a risk in this awful storm just to be there for his child. It was quite admirable.      A SHORT TIME LATER, AN ACQUAITANCE of mine was telling me what she was planning for her son’s high school graduation. Because the school wanted to maintain their safety precautions, it decided it would hold the big celebratory senior dance at the school. According to her, many of the students were disappointed they were not going to a “fancy” location. The mother felt sad for her son so decided to get herself on the decorations committee. I was stunned when she told me about her ideas for the dance; she was going to decorate/build a setting that would look like the courtyard of a Spanish or Mexican house. She wanted some type of fountain in the center, even if it turned out to be the punchbowl, with Spanish moss and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling and walls. Using large picture frames, she thought about inserting class photos or scenic ones depicting exotic locations. Listening to her descriptions, I could see it in my head. When I asked her if she had enough free time, she said because of her job she would have to do the bulk of the work at night and weekends. I found it touching that she was willing to sacrifice most of her free time to provide a special setting for her son and his graduating class. Here are two parents who would do anything for their child and now I find the mother in this action, adventure drama doing everything she can for her child.      HOPING TO SEE HER MISSING DAUGHTER, a soldier agreed to participate in a life-threatening mission. All she would need to do is skate across a frozen lake. With Noomi Rapace (The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine) as Caroline Edh, Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki, Agent Hamilton-TV) as Nylund, Dar Salim (The Devil’s Double, Game of Thrones-TV) as Malik and Aliette Opheim (The Deposit, Alone in Space) as Forsberg; I found the story curiously intriguing. Noomi was excellent and I think that was a large part why I stayed engaged with this movie. The idea behind the story was new and different, which grabbed me quickly. On the other hand, the execution of it was typical. There was a bit unevenness in the directing, along with some predictability; however, I stayed interested in the story because of the acting and variety of tense scenes. If nothing else, this movie is watchable just to see what a mother would do for her child.

2 ¼ stars 

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