Monthly Archives: May 2016

Flash Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

I think having the ability to see one’s self through someone else’s eyes would be quite beneficial. It would be like having an instant 2nd opinion, besides the advantages of having an easy access mirror that reflects back perceptions. I have seen various television shows where an individual is shown a videotape of themselves after some event. Most of these are done as a comedy bit on a talk show, but there have been other occasions where I have seen it done. I cringe when I think about things I have done where if I only had given thought to how my actions would be perceived, I would not have acted in such a way. Another positive aspect about someone else’s viewpoint is the confidence one could gain from such knowledge. Can you imagine growing up and being told by someone important to you that you will never be good at art or sports? Any painting you draw or ball you throw never receives a compliment or a word of encouragement. Not until you are in a different environment and someone sees something in you, do you finally hear a positive comment. I know I have mentioned this previously but based on my background no one would have believed that I would become a fitness/yoga instructor; I flunked PE twice in high school. Yet there was one individual at a fitness class I attended in my neighborhood who saw and encouraged me to pursue my passion. It just goes to show you that sometimes our perceptions of ourselves may not always be the most accurate.   THE world En Sabah Nur, played by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Stars Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens) remembered was nothing like the new world he was seeing now. Changes needed to be made. This action adventure brought back most of the actors from the previous film, so I will focus on a couple of the standouts for me. Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise, Joy) as Raven/Mystique was a focal point to this film and I always enjoy her performances; however, I only wished the script would have offered her more. Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones-TV, Barely Lethal) as Jean Grey was perfect casting in my opinion. The other actor I enjoyed was Evan Peters (American Horror Story-TV, Elvis & Nixon) as Quicksilver. I read on Moviejoltz’ Facebook timeline a discussion regarding this story deviating from the comic book. Since I am not familiar with the comic books I can only base my review on what I saw on the big screen. The special effects were good though it seemed the fight scenes overwhelmed the telling of the story. With such a capable cast I wished the script had offered more depth and feelings for the characters. It did seem like some roles were put into this story for possible consideration of a spinoff. I enjoyed watching this fantasy film but after it was done I felt like something was missing. Granted this was my perception of the movie; true comic book fans may have a stronger reaction. There was one extra scene at the end of the credits.

 

2 ¾ stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Lobster

There are some people who are uncomfortable being the 3rd wheel of a group, others do not even think of it. I suppose it depends on what is going on at the time. For those unfamiliar with the term “3rd wheel” let me explain. A third wheel is a person who joins a couple for a social occasion. There rarely is a time when I feel uncomfortable being considered the 3rd wheel. When a friend becomes part of being a couple what do you do? Do you stop socializing with them just because they have a significant other? I don’t think so. We still get together. Now I will say there are times when a friend may be dating someone that I find offensive, but I remain cordial and just deal with it. I can remember though a couple of times where I was aware I was the odd man out. For example, a friend of mine won free tickets to an amusement park and invited me to join him and the person he was dating. Walking and eating in the park was okay but after a while I was getting tired of always having to ride an attraction by myself or with a stranger seated next to me because my friend and his date had to ride together so they could hold hands or hug. It was not a big deal but I did make a mental note to be aware of it if the circumstances were reversed and I was the one in a relationship. If I had time I would tell you about a friend of mine who would come visit me in college and bring along her boyfriend, so they could share the extra bed in my dorm room; talk about being uncomfortable. Do you find it as odd as I do how some people act differently when they are in a relationship?   IMAGINE living in a society where you had 45 days to find a partner otherwise you would get turned into an animal. This was one of the most absurdist romantic comedies I have seen in a long time. Starring Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Miami Vice) as David, Rachel Weisz (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Fountain) as short sighted woman and John C. Reilly (Chicago, Carnage) as lisping man; I had to wonder what the actors must have thought while making this film. There were parts of the story that made strong satirical statements; others were humorous, while some were just odd. I think viewers will have a strong reaction to this film festival winner; they will either love it or hate it. This was confirmed for me by the audience’s reactions I heard after the movie was over. I have to say I had a strong negative reaction to the end of the story; but before I got to that point, I cannot say I was entertained as much as I was curious while watching this romantic comedic drama. The interesting thing about this picture is how it offers something to think about whether you are presently single or in a relationship.

 

2 ¾ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Love & Friendship

They never had any reason to know each other during their high school years. The closest encounter was when they attended the same class during sophomore year. When it was time for them to graduate, both were excited about going to college because each one was hoping to find someone they could marry. For her she had no real desire to study in the liberal arts; she wanted to be a wife. He on the other hand was looking forward to studying business but was concerned if he could find a suitable wife in his economics and accounting classes. During high school neither did much dating for a variety of reasons; but with college looming, the idea of attending a school with an increased population translated into better opportunities for meeting someone. I did not know either of these individuals personally; we shared common friends. When I heard about each one’s similar story about going to college I did think it was an odd goal, but then again one of my main goals was to attend a college where no one else from my high school was planning to attend. Something that amused me a bit was the fact that I was hearing a similar story from a girl’s and boy’s perspective. I knew from history classes and discussions women many years ago were treated more like property than equals to their husbands. Life was hard; without a means of earning income and becoming independent, I can certainly understand the motivation behind finding someone to marry under the circumstances. It is always a good idea to be aware of how far things have progressed; so if you are in the mood for a wickedly fun history lesson then I suggest you watch this romantic, comedic drama.   BASED on a Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice) story this film starred Kate Beckinsale (The Aviator, Underworld franchise) as Lady Susan Vernon, Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, Zodiac) as Alicia Johnson and Morfydd Clark (The Falling, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Frederica Vernon. Set in the 1790s I thought the acting, sets and costumes were all good. Kate especially did well with her memorable character. If you are a Jane Austen fan I feel you will immensely enjoy this movie. I had a hard time with the script. For me there were too many characters to keep track of; I found myself trying to figure out who was related to whom or what was the importance of such and such character. It was bothersome after a while. From my limited exposure to Jane Austen I found this story to be different from the others. There was an underhanded or stronger sense of manipulation from the main character that I don’t recall seeing in her other characters. There was a lot to enjoy about this movie; however, I may be in the minority but there were times where I had wished for the film to end. There is something to be said for seeing how things used to be and it is good to know when they are progressing in the right direction; I only wished this film was more entertaining for me.

 

2 2/3 stars                        3 ¼ stars for Jane Austen fans

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Nice Guys

Besides being humorous can you figure out what each of the following pairings have in common: Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Penn & Teller, Lewis and Martin, Laurel and Hardy. I will set the clock at 60 seconds, now go. Tick, tock, tick tock; your time is up. The common trait between each couple is the 2 individuals that make up the pairing are distinctly dissimilar from each other. Look at Martin and Lewis, one was the goofy clown while the other was the debonair crooner; Hardy was the outgoing talkative one while Laurel was the quiet thoughtful one. It really adds credence to the saying, “opposites attract.” I just find the whole science, if you will, on the attraction of opposites fascinating. When I am waiting for a flight at an airport, one of the things I do to make the time go by is watch the couples walking by and notice the differences between them. Now granted I have to rely on their physical appearances for the most part; but sometimes if I am privy to hearing their conversations, I can get a better idea of each one’s personality. Even within my circle of friends and relatives I have always been aware of how opposites can solidify and form a strong bond. In my past relationships there has always been attributes that each of us were solely skilled in. I remember one relationship where I was the “bad guy” role whenever an issue came up that required talking to a customer service representative; you know, like a returned or malfunctioning product. It was not a problem for me and I was glad to eliminate any possible stress off my significant other. If you do not believe opposites attract then I suggest you watch this wild action comedy film to see how it can work.   PRIVATE investigator Holland March, played by Ryan Gosling (The Big Short, Gangster Squad) was given little choice but to help solve a case with the rude and brutish Jackson Healy, played by Russell Crowe (The Water Diviner, Winter’s Tale). I would not have thought the pairing of Gosling and Crowe would be such a crazy fun couple, but I have to tell you they were terrific together. Ryan was amazing handling the physical and comedic parts to his role. Set in Los Angeles during the 1970s, I got such a kick out of the soundtrack and retro look to the scenes. Also starring Angourie Rice (These Final Hours) as Holly March and Matt Bomer (Magic Mike franchise, American Horror Story-TV) as John Boy, everyone did their part in making this a good movie watching experience. For being a relative newcomer compared to the rest of the cast, Angourie was spectacular in her role. The twists and turns in the script were almost too much for me, but the strong acting carried me through all the way to the end of the movie. At the moment I cannot come up with a current comedy couple similar to the ones I mentioned earlier; but I am here to tell you I hope Crowe and Gosling are allowed to solve another case sometime in the near future.

 

3 ¼ stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Neighbors 2

As I walked into the backyard I could see him out the corner of my eye, crouched down and staring intently at me. He did not move until I called out his name. Immediately after hearing me he sprung up and bounded over to the fence that separated our two yards. He was the youngest of my neighbors’ three dogs and knew he would be getting a back rub once I called out his name. I have even seen him get down on all fours as soon as he hears me pull my car into the garage, for he knows I will be coming out the side door and giving him a back rub. While I was massaging him the neighbor happened to come outside to do some yard work. We talked briefly; he caught me up on the latest news around our neighborhood. He also told me they were thinking of putting up a privacy fence around their yard but they wanted to check with me first and see what I thought about it. I told him I did not have a problem but their dog might get upset; we both had a good laugh over my comment. I have to say I have been very fortunate with the neighbors who live around me. We are respectful and mindful of each other; asking each others’ opinions before undertaking a major project or at least letting others know about repairs that could be intrusive for a short time. I have been lucky that I have not experienced any drama, violence or even out of control loud parties when it comes to my neighbors. There is no way I could live in the type of neighborhood that was in this movie.   WITH their house on the verge of being sold Mac and Kelly Radner, played by Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, The Interview) and Rose Byrne (Spy, The Meddler), only needed 30 more days before the sale would finally close. Unfortunately a lot can happen when a sorority moves in next door to you. This comedic sequel followed a similar game plan to the first film which involved a fraternity instead. I liked what the writers were trying to do here and credit them for allowing Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment, Dirty Grandpa) as Teddy Sanders to shine with his comedic timing. He surprised me with how well he did in this picture. The trailers unfortunately showed several of the highlights in this film so my reactions to the scenes were somewhat subdued. Most of the humor was made up of sight gags; however, I felt the writers could have gotten more punch out of the story if they would have given more focus to Teddy’s household skills. It seems like Zac’s recent film roles make sure he is in some form of undress during them; maybe the movie studios are hoping it will give them better reviews. Fans into that will not be disappointed with this film. My disappointment was due to the story being pretty predictable and similar to the previous film.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Angry Birds Movie

When I tell people I have a dark side most of them do not believe me. If a friend of mine is with me I will have them confirm it. You see I believe all emotions are valid; there is not one that is good or bad. There was that time I was on vacation with a friend and 2 of their friends in New York. Our last day we checked out of our rooms and had the hotel store our luggage since we did not need to be at the airport until late in the afternoon. After visiting a couple of final tourist sites we came back to the hotel to get our luggage and head out to the airport. When I asked at the front desk who we should see to retrieve our bags, I was told that person just went to lunch and would not be back for an hour. I stared in disbelief for a moment then said we needed to make a flight. The hotel clerk looked up at me and repeated the same information. My friend’s 2 friends started to turn away but my friend told them not to move, just wait and watch. I did not yell, belittle or use curse words; however, I looked directly into the clerk’s eyes and unleashed a stream of angry comments and scenarios of what would happen if we missed our flights. Let me just tell you they felt the heat and immediately found the hotel manager who went and retrieved our luggage on their own. With anger I firmly believe one needs to express it otherwise it will fester inside. In this case I felt I was right because it made no sense that there would only be one person responsible for the storage of guests’ luggage. Being familiar with anger I was curious to find out why these birds were so angry.    THOUGH they may have been outcasts Red, Chuck and Bomb; played by Jason Sudeikis (Mother’s Day, Horrible Bosses franchise), Josh Gad (Jobs, Love & Other Drugs) and Danny McBride (Up in the Air, This is the End); were the ones who wanted to know the reason why a ship full of pigs came to their island. This animated action comedy was based on the popular video game, which I have never played. I do not know if there was anything in this film besides the birds and pigs that came from the game. Though the cast was made up of good choices for the characters, it was not enough to keep me interested. This was such an odd idea to develop a story around because what I saw on the movie screen was boring. The animation was okay but I did not find anything funny, besides I thought the message of the film was not appropriate for young children. What I did find interesting was the audience. For an animated children’s film there were more adults without children than usual, though it still was a small amount; but, it was something that stuck out enough for me to realize. I cannot say I was angry for sitting through this movie; I just did not care about it. Extra scene during the ending credits.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Pele: Birth of a Legend

I wonder if the playground half covered with gravel had anything to do with it. Growing up not only did I never think about soccer, it was never part of anyone’s conversation. Now granted I attended a small elementary and high school, but even if someone wanted to play soccer it would have been challenging. The public schools I attended were in the city; they were plopped down in the middle of a city block with houses all around. There were no grassy fields, no baseball diamonds; heck, we were lucky if had a few bushes pushed up to the side of the building. As I mentioned before my elementary school’s playground was part blacktop and part gravel. There were no team sports and the majority of our physical activity was done in the gymnasium with its over excessive, varnished wood floor. The floor would creak so much when we were playing any type of game that it sounded like a backyard of chirping crickets. I think we may have played some kind of indoor version of soccer that we called Dodgeball, but the rules were different and I tried to avoid playing it because of the bullies in class. They used the opportunity to pretend they were kicking at the ball but really were going for someone’s leg, causing usually a bruise to form later in the day. So you see I never thought or cared about soccer all the way through into my adult life. If the games in this dramatic biography are typical of the average soccer game then sign me up for season tickets.   FROM an earlier review this week where I talked about not needing money to being a success, if ever an example was needed to show this was true then this film about soccer legend Pele, played by newcomer Kevin de Paula, would have been the perfect choice. His story totally surprised me as this film covered his years growing up in the poor slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil; where he did not even play with a real soccer ball. I had never heard of the style of soccer associated with Pele. It was amazing to see; I felt like I was watching a performance artist up on the screen. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World, Full Metal Jacket) as Feola, Diego Boneta (Scream Queens-TV, Summer Camp) as Jose and Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen, Stand Off) as George Raynor; the acting was almost secondary in my opinion. I do not think this sport film covered anything new; so if one is already familiar with Pele they may become bored with this story. Since I had no knowledge of the man or his sport, I was fascinated watching everything. I will say there were scenes that I thought were poorly filmed making the action look cartoonish and the dramatic ones seemed typical and predictable. So here is my bottom line: I do not think this was a well-made film; but here is the thing, the story kept me engrossed and provided entertainment for me. Isn’t that what a soccer match is supposed to do?

 

2 ¾ stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: A Bigger Splash

The landscape of one’s life may be properly maintained, with a meticulous eye to detail to make everything look ideal. Each component made to fit together so no one would see a gap or break across the land. It pretty much has everyone fooled. The reason I say this is because if someone from your past, who parted not being in synch with your feelings, suddenly showed up in your life the blurred lines around you both could cause a ripple effect that tills the soil around your present life. I have seen this for myself and to be honest have experienced it too. There was a couple I knew where I was originally friends with one of them before they were in the relationship; so I knew much of their history. The two of them lived together and anyone who met them thought they made the perfect couple. However when a person my friend had lived with previously came back into their life, the foundation for the present relationship started to crumble. Maybe there had not been much communication or the expression of feelings before but it was obvious there still was a connection with their former lover. I remember being at a small dinner party where the past and present relationships were together and it was obvious there was a murky tension between all of them. It was a tough situation and in fact I may experience something similar in the near future because I have heard talk about someone from my past is planning a visit to come here and meet up with friends. And this trip would include the new person in their life. I know I do not want to experience any of the drama that I saw playing out in this dramatic movie.   ENJOYING a peaceful, quiet time off the coast of Italy rock star Marianne Lane and her boyfriend Paul De Smedt, played by Tilda Swinton (Trainwreck, Only Lovers Left Alive) and Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop, Rust and Bone), suddenly had their trip disrupted by the appearance of record producer Harry Hawkes and his daughter Penelope Lannier, played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, Spectre) and Dakota Johnson (How to be Single, Fifty Shades of Grey). Their visit would stir up things that were better left alone. This film festival winner had some beautiful outdoor film shots; besides the acting it was a highlight for me. As for the cast I thought they all were wonderful and because of them I was able to still stay somewhat interested in what was otherwise a dysfunctional story. I thought the script was a mess; the story morphed from a drama to a mystery and changed the entire tone. A shame because I could not stay engaged with the characters despite the good acting. If the script had stuck with one story line I think it would have made for a better movie experience. The idea behind this story was something I could follow; I just wished it had been cleaner in its execution. Several scenes were spoken in Italian with English subtitles.

 

2 1/4 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Dark Horse

To physically excel at something does not always mean money is required for success. I do not know when it was decided that someone of wealth is better than someone else. There was a fitness club I used to work at that had a wide range of members coming from different economic backgrounds. They would judge each other based on what town they lived in. You see, some suburbs had higher property taxes and wealthier residents than others next to them; so based on where a person resided was how they were classified into certain groups at the club. This had nothing to do with management or employees; this was a bizarre phenomenon that the members did amongst themselves. It took me a while before I could even pick out the towns members lived in based on their appearances. Trust me, I am not one to judge anyone based on their looks, but it was so strange to see how the people from wealthier places looked down at the members who were not as “rich.” Those who walked into the club with full makeup, designer workout clothes or excess jewelry were most likely from the higher economic status neighborhoods. As an instructor I could not care less about any of this and I have to tell you a secret: when I was teaching a format that included partnering up, I always chose people from different backgrounds to match up for the routine. To do yoga poses or strength training exercises did not take a large wallet; anyone could do it. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I always root for the underdog and enjoy hearing a good story about them, like the one in this true story.   PEOPLE in the horsing world scoffed at the idea that the working class residents of a small village could breed and train a racehorse for competition. It could be the reason why the horse was named Dream Alliance. This film festival winning documentary was such a good story to watch on film. I should first tell you I am fond of horses; I think they are beautiful creatures. Now with that being said, I enjoyed learning about the different residents who made up this group that dreamed of having a racehorse. The director Louise Osmond (Deep Water, The Blitz: London’s Longest Night-TV) did an admirable job in showing the camaraderie among the townsfolk who all had a single goal in mind. On the other hand I thought the amount of race footage being shown was excessive. With those film clips there were a couple of scenes that could upset viewers, especially animal lovers. Because of the story this movie could be considered more like a drama than a documentary. There were parts in it however that I felt were going slow. I would have preferred to have heard more about how the idea came about instead of seeing multiple group scenes at the pub or restaurant. Overall I am glad I saw this film; however, if one doesn’t want to spend the money then it would be perfectly fine to wait and see it on DVD or online.

 

2 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Darkness

My feet could not completely fit on the stairs; I felt like I was walking on tiptoe as I made my way up the spiral staircases. The echoes from my steps reverberated off the stone walls so it sounded like I was climbing with a crowd of people around me. I had left the outside of the centuries old structure with its marble panels of white, green and red; to slowly make my way up the inside of its dome. The fact that this building was completed in 1436 did not escape me; I could not stop taking photographs of everything that came into my sight. It was almost hard to process that I was making my way through a building that had been standing already for over 500 years; if it was not one of the oldest things I had seen, it had to be pretty close then. My goal was to reach the top and venture outside to look over the city of Florence, Italy. This building is known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers aka il Duomo di Firenze and to this day its dome is the largest brick structure in the world. As I finally reached the top and ventured out into the daylight, the sun flashed into my face. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the brightness and when they did, I was horrified to see the walls of the observation balcony had spray painted graffiti all over them. I felt it was incredibly disrespectful and plain old ignorant; why would someone do such a thing? Just watch this horror thriller and see what could happen when someone is disrespectful towards ancient objects.   AFTER returning from vacation the Taylor family began to experience odd occurrences around their house. Husband and wife Peter and Bronny, played by Kevin Bacon (Cop Car, Black Mass) and Radha Mitchell (Finding Neverland, Man of Fire); noticed their son Michael’s, played by David Mazouz (The Games Maker, Touch-TV), behavior was being affected. What I liked about this horror film was the use of suspense instead of using graphic and bloody props to scare the audience. It also helped that the characters were placed in a typical setting and reacted in a way that was easily relatable. However, the script did not do anything new or different from the multitude of horror films I had seen before. I did not mind the acting but I felt there could have been more opportunities to increase the tension level or even scare factor if the writing was better. This production came across with a connect the dots story line that incorporated bits and pieces of stuff that had been done before; sort of like the writers were following a recipe where you add a little of this and a little of that, if you know what I mean. Even the briefest of an extra scene at the end of the credits essentially provided nothing for the viewers, so why did the writers add it? They should have left well enough alone in more ways than one.

 

1 ¾ stars       

 

 

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