Monthly Archives: February 2014

Flash Movie Review: In Secret

There are a multitude of actions and reactions that can be attributed to love. The warmth that rises up to the surface of your skin when your significant other engulfs your hand with their hand is due to love. Saddened as you look at the remnants of your love’s face outlined on their pillow while they are away on a business trip, slows your heart rate for the duration of their time away. I remember spending weeks driving around the city and suburbs, taking photographs of places we had been to that were associated with happy moments, to create a memory photo album for their birthday. Yep, due to the love I had for them. Love can overrule the mind’s practical side and make us do some things that can be embarrassing, odd or even scary. For me, I cringe when I think about the time I went to meet them at the airport, dressed up as a shirtless cowboy. Please excuse me for a moment as I clear the taste of bile from my mouth. Most of us associate being in love with joyful thoughts, but in this dramatic thriller love revealed a darker side. Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy, Liberal Arts) played Therese Raquin who was sent to stay with her aunt Madame Raquin, played by Jessica Lange (The Vow, Big Fish). She was to become a companion and caretaker for her sickly cousin Camille, played by Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise, The Apparition). As time passed Therese was taken by surprise the day her aunt decided that she would be marrying her cousin and the three of them would live happily ever after. That was until one day Camille brought home his old friend Laurent, played by Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive). The sets in this period piece were excellent, depicting France in the 1860s. Already fond of Elizabeth Olsen, I thought her and Jessica’s performances were outstanding. Actually I enjoyed the entire cast; the acting level was of a high caliber. The problems with this film have to do with the script and the directing. There were slow dry scenes where I felt the story sagging. It was sad because the potential for a highly dramatic, powerful film was there but it never reached it. The only love I felt for this film was for Jessica Lange and Elizabeth Olsen.

 

2 1/2 stars

Razzie Award Predictions

This past Oscar season I have discovered new things about myself. From the nearby couple who kept talking during the movie I learned restraint; instead of asking them to look around and notice they are not sitting at home in their living room, I quietly whispered the “shhh” sound. During a particularly tedious film I realized I could do several yoga poses if I lifted up the armrests of my seat. Due to my keen observations I figured out to never sit near anyone who is carrying a large bag, purse or backpack; they inevitably have food in them, from candy to full size meals and cannot help but make munching, slurping or crunching noises. There is one other thing I learned and that is realizing how strong my determination can be. No matter how awful the film, I refused to nap or get up and walk out of the theater. As a result I have seen a whole bunch of movies I would normally never bother seeing. So I am going to try something new here and predict the Golden Raspberry Awards, also known as the Razzies. These awards for the worst performances and picture were started in 1980 by the American copywriter and publicist J.B. Wilson. If nothing else consider this my little gift to you in the form of a cheat sheet on what to avoid, thereby saving  yourself time and money. Without further ado please find below the winners for the worst of last year.

Worst Actor: Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger

This was close since Johnny was up against Sylvester Stallone who was nominated worst actor in three different movies. I chose Johnny because he coasted through this role, bringing nothing of value. Sylvester was simply trying not to act his age in boring movies.

Worst Actress: Halle Berry in The Call and Movie 43

With Naomi Watts being nominated for Diana and Movie 43, this could easily go her way. Both women were awful in their films. I did not see nominee Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons.

Worst Supporting Actor: Chris Brown in Battle of the Year

A pathetic performance for a silly film.

Worst Supporting Actress: Kim Kardashian in Tyler Perry’s Temptation

All my classes know not to mention the “K” word; not one family member’s name shall ever be uttered during class. So it kills me that Kim gets the award.

Worst Picture: Movie 43

I was torn here between this film and The Lone Ranger. Both would be suitable for worst film of the year; however, I went with Movie 43 because I found it offensive. The Lone Ranger was simply dumb.

May you avoid these lame movies unless you have a white elephant movie party, where everyone sits around and makes fun of the film.

Flash Movie Review: Pompeii

There are some things in life worth fighting for, metaphorically speaking. If I believe something is the right thing to do, I will argue the point without any time limit. I am willing to fight traffic if it means I get to spend quality time with a friend. (I bet you thought I was going to say a movie.) Love is certainly worth fighting for, wouldn’t you agree? There was someone I dated where I was wiling to make sacrifices or more accurately compromises because I felt it would help the relationship continue to grow. You may think it is silly, but one of my strongest self-imposed rules is my last meal cannot start later than 6pm, for dietary reasons. They liked eating at 8pm, feeling my time was too early. Luckily we both wanted to keep investing in our relationship so we negotiated times and made adjustments to help each other. In this situation it was worth it to me, to fight myself in the name of love. This fighting for love was one of the things I admired about this dramatic action film. Kit Harington (Games of Thrones-TV, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D) played Milo, who witnessed his parents’ death at a young age. Orphaned and alone he grew up a slave until he was old enough to become a gladiator. None of his fights meant anything to him until one day he saw Princess Cassia of Pompeii, played by Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, The Uninvited). I enjoy watching a movie that includes a historic setting or reenactment. It allows me to add a visual to what I have learned in school and books. Unfortunately the story for this film was pretty much a cheap knockoff of the movie Titanic, except there was fire instead of water. Kiefer Sutherland (Phone Booth, 24-TV) was forgettable as Corvus. I actually felt bad for Kit; with all the work he did to sculpt his body, he should have devoted some time to polishing his acting abilities for the big screen. He was one dimensional throughout the film. The only actor who did decent acting was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Oz-TV) as fellow gladiator Atticus. I saw this film in 3D and it did nothing for me except cost me more money and made the picture look darker. The concept for this movie was silly to start with, add in the weak script and there really is no reason to fight your way to the movie theater to see this film. There were brief scenes that included blood.

 

1 2/3 stars

Oscar Predictions 2013 Season

In a few days the big event will be upon us. I know it will be worth everything I endured the past year. There was the teen movie where the audience looked like it was separated into different groups, huddled by the campfire glow from their cell phones, texting away. I recall the small cluster of elderly people behind me who I assumed were addicted to hard candies based on the crackling, unwrapping noises that pierced the still air throughout most of the movie. All of these things will melt from my memories as the flood of winning Oscar nominees settle into fresh impressions. This was a tough year for me with a few of the categories because the competition was so close. I have my pre-Oscar meal planned, washed my soft cozy afghan and dusted the big screened television; so, I am ready for my favorite day of the year. I really do not have a bucket list but one day I want to be part of the audience sitting at the Oscar telecast. Better yet, I would do almost anything to be a seat filler. If the chance ever comes I already know I would leave behind a tastefully wrapped chocolate candy on each celebrity’s seat upon my departure. Please find below my choices for who I feel should receive the Oscar this year.

BEST ACTOR:  Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

This was a tough call because I feel Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave deserves it just as much as Matthew. I would prefer a tie here; however, I feel the academy will choose Matthew based on his recent body of work.

BEST ACTRESS:  Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

If anyone can grab this from Cate it will be Judi Dench for Philomena. This is tough but I decided on Cate for her different moods on display.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

His role was more complicated to pull off and he was brilliant with his performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave

I actually was leaning towards Jennifer Lawrence for the longest time but the more I thought about it I decided Lupita was extra special. The dark horse here would be June Squibb for Nebraska, but Lupita deserves the win.

BEST DIRECTOR:  Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

This was the hardest one for me to make a decision.  Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity deserves this just as much as Steve McQueen. The new technology he created for the cameras, the difficulty in pushing actors who were alone in many scenes; it was amazing work. However, I am choosing Steve based on the variety of cast and scenes in this film. He kept me absolutely engaged throughout the film.

BEST PICTURE:  12 Years a Slave

Since the beginning I have been telling everyone that this film needs to be shown in every classroom. Being based on a true story only made this movie more incredible for me.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  Gravity

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:  Frozen

I only saw 3 out of the 5 nominees and if I had seen The Wind Rises my answer may have been different.

VISUAL EFFECTS:  Gravity

So another year comes to a close and I want to thank each of you for your encouragement, support, comments and total acceptance of me; a part neurotic, obsessive, film lover.

Flash Movie Review: 3 Days to Kill

If one is not careful they will find their job has taken over their life. There are some people who define themselves by what they do for a living: I am not one of those individuals. I cannot tell you how many times people have assumed I adhere to a strict, proper diet because I teach fitness classes or that I must be a tough SOB since I am a credit manager. These are my professions, what I do for a living; however, they do not represent all of me. I am aware my multiple jobs have had an effect on my personal life; some relationships did not last due to my frequent unavailability. Now with the addition of movie reviewing, I have quite the hectic schedule. Here is one example from this past Saturday: I taught a cycle class from 8 to 9am; changed and ran out of the club to make a 10:15am movie; stopped for groceries afterwards then on to home for lunch; out the door for a 2:30pm matinee; came home to change clothes and make a banquet reception from 6 to 11pm; returned home and collapsed into bed. This is a day in my life but at least I do not have to kill people for a living like they did in this action film. Kevin Costner (Man of Steel, The Guardsman) played international spy Ethan Renner who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Having stayed a safe distance away from his wife Christine and daughter Zoey, played by Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Gladiator) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Romeo and Juliet), for their protection, Ethan wanted to reconnect with them before it was too late. There was only one problem; to receive an experimental drug that could extend his life expectancy, Ethan would have to take on one more job. How could he be a father and a spy at the same time? From an early start into the movie I did not find the story credible. The character of Vivi Delay, played by Amber Heard (Never Back Down, Drive Angry), made no sense to me. If she was a superior of Ethan’s, I did not understand the whole car and wardrobe look to her character. Kevin and Hailee did a decent job of acting but the script was dull and often times ridiculous. The fight and chase scenes were decent though. Maybe instead of taking 3 days to kill they could have done it in two. There were a few scenes that had blood shown.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Tim’s Vermeer

There is a saying, “curiosity killed the cat,” that is used to remind us that there are some things we should not be sticking our noses in, such as someone’s personal affairs or condemned buildings. There certainly is some validity to that; however, there are times where curiosity is a healthy trait. With all the wonders this earth has to offer, I cannot imagine someone not having curiosity about something. It is like being on a date and the person never asks you any questions; I find that so odd and would have to assume the person is not interested. When I was little I went through a period, some would say obsession, where I was taking things apart to see how they worked. It did not matter that I could not put them back together. One day my parents came home to discover I removed the doorknob and lock from the front door. At least I used a screwdriver because I will admit there were times I would break an item to see what was inside–especially if it was not working correctly. A healthy portion of curiosity can reveal many magical things around us. The extent the individual went in this documentary to satisfy his curiosity was both fascinating and amusing to observe. Texas based inventor Tim Jenison was not an artist but was intrigued with 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Tim wanted to know why the artist’s works stood out from all other artists’ pieces during the same time period. Part mystery, part detective story; I enjoyed the way this award winning movie played out. A portion of it was due to the director Teller, half of the comical magic act known as Penn & Teller. Another part was both the narration by Penn Jillette and the subject himself, Tim Jenison. There was a light playful humor throughout the film as Tim devoted a portion of his life to find the answers to his questions. Some of those queries even led him to England to visit the British artist David Hockney. Depending on your frame of mind, some viewers may find this film a bit repetitive; I could have easily seen this on public television or DVD. Surprisingly, I rather enjoyed seeing this at the movie theater. The reason was due to the crowd’s reactions after the film. It was funny to hear all these strangers being curious about a variety of topics that came up for them during the film. Now aren’t you curious to find out for yourself?

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Endless Love

The world quickly changes when you are experiencing your very first love. For some it may have taken you from receiving an allowance to carrying a purse or wallet; it is a new found independence. If you are the first to experience it among your friends, it can be unsettling for some of them. I remember one of my earliest dates was going to a carnival that came to the neighborhood. Both of our best friends came with us so no one would have to go on a ride alone if one did not like the ride. The two of us went on a ride similar to a Ferris wheel but at a 45 degree angle, with each car looking like a parachute attached to a seat. She was wearing a sundress and a big floppy hat; neither of us realized what the consequences would be on this attraction. Spinning faster than it looked from the ground, our seat veered further out on its axis and the generated wind hit us smack in the face. She let out a screech as her dress flew up while the flaps of her hat folded back. The ride seemed to continue on forever as she screamed the whole time with one hand holding down the front of her dress and the other hand pressing down the hat on her head. Luckily we both were able to laugh about this later in the day. This is a fond memory I have carried with me through the years. I do not know if the couple in this romantic drama will be able to say that with their memories. Alex Pettyfer (I am Number Four, Magic Mike) played high school senior David Elliot. Through the years he had admired classmate Jade Butterfield, played by Gabriella Wilde (Carrie, The Three Musketeers), but never had the courage to approach her. It was graduation time and David would only get one chance to talk to her. Could he do it even if he lived on the wrong side of the tracks? This remake of the 1981 film was painful to watch because it had so few redeeming qualities. The script was laughable; truly, the audience chuckled at some of the cheesiest dialog I have ever heard in a long time. The acting was horrid except for Joely Richardson (Anonymous, Nip/Tuck-TV) as Jade’s mother Anne. Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek franchise, Deja Vu) played one emotion for most of the film–angry, as Jade’s dad Hugh. Since seeing this picture I have seen a couple of reviews where they said Jade’s hair was one of the best parts in this awful film and they were right. The memory of this movie is something I hope I can soon forget.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Winter’s Tale

Look around and you will see the carcasses of lost love. Like the spent cocoons of former butterflies, love does not always last; people sometimes grow out of love in their relationships. Sure it can flourish and last for many years, where the two of you seem to be sailing in the same direction through the currents of life. But things change and your love for each other cools, slipping off of you like the final rays of a setting sun. There is, however, a love that lasts a lifetime and beyond. Even if you are no longer together, you carry your love for them like a comfortable sweater draped around your shoulders. It does not necessary hinder you but its presence always reminds you how love can feel. Within this dramatic fantasy there was a beautiful love story. From the trailers I was not only excited to see this mysterious movie, but I wanted to have a good cry. Yes, I admit I enjoy watching a well done picture that can move me to tears now and then. I thought everything was in place to make it happen with the story in this film. Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks, In Bruges) played a burglar named Peter Lake. Thinking a house was empty, Peter broke in only to be startled by an ailing Beverly Penn, played by Jessica Brown (Albatross, Downton Abbey-TV), who had remained behind from her family. There was something about her that stole his heart. This was writer Akiva Goldman’s (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) first attempt at directing and it was one of the major issues I had about this movie. I was so disappointed to see the actors lifelessly move through their scenes. There was a nice chemistry building between Peter and Beverly, but the director never fully utilized it. Russell Crowe (Les Miserables, State of Play) as gang leader Pearly Soames was good, but after I saw who played his boss in this film I just sat in my seat in disbelief. I am sure the book is better and maybe it is hard to translate a century old love story to the big screen; but in more capable hands, I have to wonder if this movie would have been better. Colin gave it his best, working great with his horse, but I did not love this movie like I wanted. Walking away from the theater I could feel my hopes and unrequited love for this film dropping off of me like the petals of a wilted flower.

 

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: RoboCop

Does one’s love diminish by the amount of hair left on someone’s hairbrush? Does the amount of poundage on your significant other directly relate to the intensity of your love for them? The higher the number the less love you have to give? I have said before I believe our bodies are only being rented; what is inside of them is what counts, at least for me. It always amuses me when I hear someone say they do not like facial hair or redheads. Taking it one step further, I find it perplexing when someone makes a judgement based on a person’s ethnicity, race or even where they were born. What does that have to do with love? You will have to excuse me but I find individuals who lose their love and leave their mate due to illness utterly despicable. The essence of an individual remains the same as the body evolves through the years; those are my feelings. In this updated version of the 1987 science fiction film, you can see how love is stronger than any one body. After a suspicious explosion Detroit police officer Alex Murphy, played by Joel Kinnaman (Safe House, The Killing), had only one chance available if he was to survive. That decision fell to his wife Clara, played by Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Bright Star), who gave her consent to the corporation that would provide her husband with a robotic body, giving birth to a new crime fighter for the city: RoboCop. The only comparison I will make to the original movie is an obvious one; the special effects were better in this action crime film. I thought Gary Oldman (Lawless, Harry Potter franchise) as Dr. Dennett Norton and Michael Keaton (Jackie Brown, White Noise) as Raymond Sellars were the best of the cast. One of the issues I had was Joel Kinnaman; he did not have a powerful screen presence, coming across stiffly and I do not think it was due to his suit. The story had a satirical streak with the addition of Samuel L. Jackson’s (Django Unchained, Oldboy) character, talk show host Pat Novak. Along with a couple of twists in the story it pretty much was a standard good against evil plot. When this movie ended I did think about the advancements being made today in the medical field and wonder what will the effect be on humanity in the future. Will love wane based on the amount of mechanical parts a person has inside of them?

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: About Last Night

The challenge does not take place until after the honeymoon phase of the relationship. When the two of you started dating, each of you was always excited to see the other. Every time you got together you experienced the air rippling around you as if it were humming across your skin in waves of affectionate chills. On your best behavior; the two of you avoided uttering any negatives to questions, wore only the most flattering  of clothes, would not eat any food like corn on the cob or fried chicken that could leave something between your teeth or hanging off your lips. However, once past this phase you two enter the reality period. This is the place where each of you sees how supportive the other can be in an anxious situation. You are not afraid to get your hands dirty, so to speak, plus you take more risks in revealing your fears and dreams. The key to making this all work is maintaining good communication between the two of you. Think of communication as the mortar that keeps the bricks of your relationship together. In this romantic comedy you will see two couples as they try to navigate their way from the dating phase to the real world, with some unexpected results. Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Grudge Match) and Michael Ealy (Seven Pounds, Taken) played best friends Bernie and Danny. One night out at a nightclub Bernie’s acquaintance Joan, played by Regina Hall (Law Abiding Citizen, Think Like a Man) introduced her roommate Debbie, played by Joy Bryant (Antwone Fisher, The Skeleton Key), to Danny. What followed was a bumpy ride in figuring out what each person wanted in a relationship. This film was an updated version of the 1984 movie that was based on the David Mamet (Hannibal, Glengarry Glen Ross) play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. I found this version of the story to be crass and raunchy, with less of the sophisticated nuances that were part of the previous one. Once again here was a movie with Kevin Hart where I felt he was just doing his stand-up comedy act. His rapid fire style of talking or more precisely yelling got old for me pretty quickly. I felt the Danny and Debbie characters were more real, enjoying their story line better. There were parts of the movie that were fun and humorous but for the most part I never felt fully invested in the story. I want to say there was some merit in seeing this movie, if for no other reason just to witness the consequences of poor communication within a relationship; however, there was too much vulgarity and arguing for my tastes.

 

2 stars

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