Monthly Archives: February 2020

Flash Movie Review: The Two Popes

THE ACT OF HAVING A DISCUSSION seems to have become a lost art. So much of the news I have seen contains arguments and violence instead of rational and calm discussions of one’s differences. A recent news report covered a fight that happened in a subway between a passenger and street musician. The details of their argument were not listed; however, whatever it was I cannot believe it was something so intense that it caused the two people to resort to physically fighting each other; one using a pocketknife and the other their guitar. The fight took place on a train platform in the middle of the day with passengers walking right by them. I cannot even imagine something like that taking place, but it did. The news reports I find the most tragic are the ones where an argument took place between family members, where one member out of anger kills the other family member. Without being too graphic, in the past few months I have read reports about a son stabbing his mother to death, a father shooting his son and a brother running over his older brother with the family car, just to name a few. The world is becoming scarier and scarier.      IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO learn how to have an argument without attaching emotions to it. For years I thought the way to win an argument was to have a louder voice than your opponent. If you added profanity to the conversation it would help your cause. For years, I would take anyone’s disagreement with me as a personal affront and immediately go on the attack against them. I did not hold anything back except one thing; I never turned the fight into a physical altercation. My evolution into staying calm and respectful started with a close friend who was a facilitator of a “self-help” organization. She taught me how to keep the negativity out of a discussion by using the word “I” instead of “you.” This may sound trite, but it made a world of difference for me. That change allowed me to stop coming across as the accuser; instead, I started talking about how I felt based on the actions of my opponent. There was no need for name calling or raising my voice any longer; I simply expressed how I was feeling, and it caused the other person to lose their defenses because they were no longer under attack by me. I now can appreciate a “good” argument which explains why I enjoyed watching the two main characters in this biographical, comedic drama.      DESPITE THEIR POSITIONS WITHIN THE CATHOLIC church, the differences between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor franchise, Hitchcock) and Jonathan Pryce (The Wife, G. I. Joe franchise), could have a monumental effect on the direction of the church and its followers. The two men would struggle as they had to confront their pasts. With Juan Minujin (Focus, An Unexpected Love-TV movie) as a younger Jorge Bergoglio, Cristina Banegas (Clandestine Childhood, Killer Women-TV) as Lisabetta and Sidney Cole (Felicia’s Journey, Common People) as Cardinal Turkson; this film festival winner succeeded due to the acting skills of Anthony and Jonathan. They were so convincing to me that I started to forget they were actors. I know the movie was inspired by true events, but I wondered how much of what I was watching was true. Though, since this event happened in my lifetime there was the curiosity factor that played to this film’s advantage. The jumping back and forth in time was disruptive and may have contributed to the slowness I experienced at times. Still, I found the subject interesting and I appreciated watching two people having a discussion.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Rhythm Section

REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy.      NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie.      LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.

 

1 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Gretel & Hansel

WHENEVER ANY OF US WOULD SPOT the old woman, we would purposely cross the street to avoid getting close to her. I do not know what led us to do this; I only knew she meant to do us harm. The stories I had heard about her on the school’s playground dealt with her kidnapping elementary school kids, selling kids for money, performing experiments on us and other such horrific actions. Whether it was true or not I cannot tell you; however, all the school kids I knew were afraid of her. She lived in the neighborhood but none of us knew where. We always saw her walking down the street with her shopping cart trailing behind her. One story going around said she used the cart to haul off children after she knocked them out with hypnosis or some type of poison. I do not judge people based on their looks; however, back when I was a little kid in grade school, certain facial features would have a negative impact on me. This woman had a large nose that sloped sharply at the end with a large dark brown mole nestled on the outside of her nostril. Her hair was a sea of grey and white waves; sometimes covered with a gauze like headscarf that made it look like fog. Some boys had the courage to get close enough to her to call her names. I kept my distance.      WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE OLD neighborhood where I grew up, I can still remember those individuals that were singled out as “scary.” It is weird how these people wound up in such a position. I can only attribute it to us little kids reacting to the looks of the individual or the places they lived in. There was an eerie looking house in the neighborhood that was scary to my friends and me. Besides needing a new coat of paint and some repairs, it was considered a “bad” place because the couple who lived there had no children. I cannot tell you why that made us more afraid of the house; it just did back then. Every Halloween I would skip that house because I was scared something bad would happen to me. What stood out for me was the fence around the house. Though it was made of brick, the top of it had these metal, decorative spikes sticking out that I was sure was used to impale innocent children on who ventured past the gate. These memories of mine, how did they come to be? I think it started when I read the story of Hansel and Gretel when I was little.      LOST AND HUNGRY IN THE WOODS, the sight of a house was a welcome relief for brother and sister Gretel and Hansel, played by Sophia Lillis (It franchise, Sharp Objects-TV mini-series) and newcomer Samuel Leakey. When they peered into a window, what they saw made them want to stay. With Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Silent Hill) as Holda, Jessica De Gouw (Dracula-TV, Underground-TV) as young Holda and Charles Babalola (The Legend of Tarzan, Black Mirror-TV) as the hunter; this fantasy, horror thriller was nothing more than a fantasy. The sets and filming of the story were intriguing to me; but the script was a waste of words. I could not believe how the story dragged to the point I was checking my watch several times. Every scene seemed slow as if they were supposed to build up suspense, but nothing ever materialized. There were a couple of scenes that were meant to be disgusting I believe; but outside of that, I thought most of the major decisions made to create this film were a poor choice. To tell you the truth, I was more scared retelling my childhood fears above instead of sitting through this poor excuse for a filmed fairy tale.

 

1 ½ stars

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