Monthly Archives: January 2012

Flash Movie Review: Music Within

The true story of Richard Pimentel; a Vietnam vet who returned to the states severely hearing-impaired. Played accurately by Ron Livingston (Office Space, Adaptation), we watch as Richard struggles not only with his disability, but with the way people perceive him. Channeling his anger, he sets out on a path to alter those perceptions and champion the rights of anyone with a disability. Little did I know when I got this DVD that I was going to watch the history of the American with Disabilities Act. This was such a powerful movie for me, that taught without being stale, along with some humorous moments. The performance of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) as Pimentel’s friend, Art Honeyman, a man with cerebral palsy, was outstanding. I feel everyone should see this movie, to see what type of obstacles people with disabilities have and how Richard Pimentel’s passion, to make a change, has affected us all.

 

3 1/4 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Contraband

Many have heard the line, “Do it because he/she is your family.” And even if we really do not want to do it, we do to keep the peace. What if the relative did something that had dire consequences, if you did not participate? Chris Farraday, played by Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Boogie Nights), found himself in such a situation. His brother-in-law became involved in a drug deal that went bad and if Chris does not make good on the deal with the brutal drug boss, Tim Briggs played by Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, The Rum Diary), the brother-in-law would be killed. Farraday left that type of life behind, now married with two children. The story was set up to provide us with conflict, time limits, action and thrills. The issue was the execution of it. Wahlberg is not a great actor and tends to be the same character in each of his movies. With lifeless eyes and monotone diction, he does not have screen presence that pops out at the viewer. This movie had some exciting scenes and is fine for those who just want to sit and see some action. Nothing great, nothing horrible; it is like settling for a fast food burger when you really wanted filet mignon.

 

2 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: August Rush

What do you call that feeling, where you have no reason to believe something is true; yet, in your heart, you know it to be true? Is it deja vu, a sixth sense, or a connection that was made early on? Regardless, this film is a magical and musical urban fairy tale, that will strike a chord with the viewer. Being raised in a family of music lovers, the variety of music genres performed was in synch with my musical tastes. A young orphan and musical  prodigy, August Rush played by Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland), believes his parents are alive. He has no reason to believe this is true; but, feels he can hear them and if he can simply perform the music he hears, they will come and get him. As young as Freddie is, he has some soulful facial expressions and was a joy to watch. His birth mom, Lyla Novacek played by Keri Russell (Bedtime Stories, Felicity-TV), was a concert cellist and that is all I wish to tell you about this film, wanting you to experience the magic of this movie for yourself. The story was written to pull at your heart strings–so what?  Let the music carry you through this sweet, tender movie as you learn to trust the voice you carry inside of yourself.

 

3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Shoot ‘Em Up

With the feel of a cartoon rivalry like the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote or Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, this movie was an over the top thriller. From the imaginative fight scenes–delivering a baby in the middle of a gun fight–I was buzzed from this film. Clive Owen (Children of Men, The Bourne Identity), as the cool Mr. Smith, becomes involved with a gang of thugs, when they cross his path, chasing a pregnant woman. From a single act of kindness to protect the woman, a battle of wits ensues between Smith and Hertz, the leader of the gang, played by Paul Giamatti (Sideways, The Illusionist). Hellbent on stealing the baby, Paul does such a good job with his character, having been given some of the best lines from the writers. Now I have to tell you, check out your logic and common sense before viewing this crazy thriller. This film knows it is displaying everything to the max, including blood and violence, but not taking itself to seriously. Simply enjoy the rush as the story reveals more than you might have thought there would be, with such a movie title.

 

2 2/3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Eight Below

My love of animals came from Maxine’s unconditional love, my aunt’s French Poodle. Even if you have not experienced that type of love from a pet, I feel you will still connect with this amazing story and fall in love with the dogs in this movie. The acting from the cast, such as Paul Walker as Jerry Shepard (The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious) or Bruce Greenwood as Davis McClaren (Star Trek, Deja Vu) is not worth talking about, it is mediocre. The real stars of this movie are the huskies and they will quickly get under your skin. Inspired by a true story, Jerry the sled dogs’ trainer, must leave the canines behind, as the polar base must be quickly evacuated, due to a fast approaching Antarctic heavy storm. Promising his furry friends he will return after the storm, Jerry Shepard is confronted with complications that prevent him from keeping his word. Will the dogs be able to survive on their own? My attention was drawn to the plight of these brave huskies. Watching this story unfold, one will see the courage, the bravery, the deepest love that drives us to do whatever it takes to help the ones we love.

 

2 3/4 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Adam

Have you ever gone out of your comfort zone because of a hope or desire? Or maybe even for love? That feeling as you first cope with the uncomfortableness, to only have it replaced with sheer joy– it is a wonderful thing. This touching movie played out on this theme as Adam Raki, played by Hugh Dancy (Black Hawk Down, King Arthur), who has asperger’s syndrome, meets his upstairs neighbor Beth Buchwald, played by Rose Byrne (Knowing, 28 Weeks Later). What begins is a course of new experiences. Watching Hugh as he displayed the characteristic traits associated with Asperger’s, I could feel the anxiousness and confusion that he was experiencing. It was a well done performance that was perfectly suited for the story line. I always fine it amazing when the heart and mind try to form a connection, that will lead to a strong emotion. After viewing this sweet film, my wish for you is that one day you tap into your courage and let it sail you across that sea of discomfort, to land you on the shores of delight.

 

3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Carnage

What I have always said about being in a love relationship is this: it is not the things you love that keep you together, that is the easy part; it is the things you do not like. If you can handle the tough aspects of your significant other, then it is true love. At least that is what I have found to be true. Watching these characters in the movie, I was not really clear on why they were still married to each other. But no matter, I did laugh at them throughout the film. The script undulated from sad moments to happy ones to pure lunacy, as the actors were all convincing in their roles. The movie takes place within a short span of time; when two sets of parents agree to meet, to discuss the fight their sons had earlier, where one of the boys was injured. The female leads, Jodie Foster (Panic Room, The Silence of the Lambs) and Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland, Titanic) were stronger on screen than the 2 male leads, John C. Reilly (Step Brothers, Chicago) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, The Three Musketeers). For me, the two actresses’ characters were the power behind the story. The movie started out strong with tight, perfectly framed scenes from the director, Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Chinatown). However, the story petered out as it got towards the end. I felt all the energy was used up in the 1st half of the movie. Maybe with all the energy coming early on, everyone just got tired by the end.

 

3 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Penelope

When you look at couples who are together, do you ever wonder, what was it that each of them saw in the other? What was the initial attraction: looks, personality, heart? For me, I have always said what is on the outside is only rented, changing every day. What a person has inside of themselves is what nourishes my heart. This movie could be called a modern day fairy tale of “Beauty and the Beast,” but it is something more. I felt a kinship with Penelope, played wonderfully by Christina Ricci (Monster, The Addams Family). Born into a high society, wealthy family, Penelope came into the world bearing the family curse. Horrified, her mother keeps her hidden away within the family’s estate, determined to find a way to break this dreaded curse. And the only way to destroy it, is for Penelope to find true love. Once she is of age, Penelope’s mother begins a constant stream of possible suitors for her daughter’s affections. However, each of them leave in horror or disgust until one interesting gentleman arrives, played by James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men: First Class).  Part comedy, part fantasy, this movie will offer you a sweet treat of movie time.

2 2/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The Iron Lady

Sadly, this iron lady has an unattractive patina of rust. No matter your political allegiances, you would have to agree, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom has an important place in history. If this movie is supposed to honor her legacy, I am afraid it failed. This film was a series of flashbacks seen through the eyes of an elderly Mrs. Thatcher and from what I perceived, as she was going to the doorstep of dementia. We all know Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt) is the queen of accents and she looks the part here of Margaret. But do we really need the camera to anchor itself on her face, so we can watch Meryl go thru a checklist of every emotion? As her husband Denis Thatcher, I have always enjoyed Jim Broadbent (Another Year, Vanity Fair) in past roles, but in this movie he comes across as a court jester to his wife. I do not know, maybe in real life that was his role. For me, this movie was more like the cliff notes for an incredible woman’s life. I cringe to think of the real Margaret Thatcher sitting in horror, as she watches this lackluster series of vignettes, that is supposed to be a video history of her life.

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Even within simplicity, one may find complex beauty. This thought came to me as I watched this beautiful movie. Having seen director Yimou Zhang’s “Raise the Red Lantern” and “House of Flying Daggers” movies, I was intrigued to get this film. Without the martial arts fighting or special effects, this movie gently settles on the viewer like a fine silk cloth. With wonderful landscapes as a backdrop, my already abundant appetite to travel simmered to a boil. The story will draw tears from your eyes and spread a smile onto your face. A Japanese fisherman, played by Ken Takakura (Black Rain, Railroad Man), who is estranged from his son, is turned away from the hospital room where his only child lies dying. Being given an unfinished movie by the son’s wife, the fisherman embarks on a journey to China’s Yunnan province.  His hope is to film a famous Chinese folk-opera star, to complete his son’s movie project and in so doing, honor him and possibly win back his affections. The trip leads the father down a road that changes his life forever. My wish for you, when viewing this movie, is you discover the road you are traveling on has unexpected rest stops, filled with wonderment. Mandarin/Japanese with English subtitles.

 

3 1/2 stars — DVD

 

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