Monthly Archives: May 2020

Flash Movie Review: The Others

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN’T HURT YOU is an idiom I totally understand. Being uninformed or ignorant of something means you do not have to worry or fret about it and I am all for that! For example, if I am feeling poorly I only want to hear someone’s advice if I ask them. I do not want someone to tell me I could have this or I might be suffering with that, because my mind will latch on to their comments and I will start wondering if I am indeed suffering from that infliction. There are already so many things in the world that are scary; why would I want to purposely add something more? What makes this more relevant is what the world is experiencing currently with the COVID 19 pandemic. Listening and reading all the stories that have been coming out has been overwhelming to say the least. I cannot remember what year in school we were taught about germs, bacteria and viruses; the unseen things that could harm us.  As adults we understand the risks involved when trying to live our daily lives, but what about babies and young children? I cannot imagine how hard it must be especially now for a parent to explain to their young child why they cannot go outside to the park or go get ice cream. How do you tell them they cannot see what could harm them?      EVER SINCE I SAW THE NEWS FOOTAGE of the water buffalo trying to save her baby from a crocodile, it has never left my memory. A baby water buffalo was at the edge of a river, sipping a drink of water. All of a sudden a crocodile popped up from underneath and clamped its jaws around the calf’s leg. Without hesitation the mother water buffalo charged the predator repeatedly until the crocodile let go of the calf. It was incredible to watch. That instinct to protect is something I have seen across the whole animal kingdom. Most humans have the same instinct; however, I have seen incidents where the adult did not have that drive or let me say the awareness of the situation. For the ones that acted on instinct, I was amazed as I saw an adult beat off a coyote that was attacking the family pet. In fact, recently the news showed a mother clinging onto the side of her car as a man was trying to carjack it with her baby still in the back seat. There are so many things we do not see coming but our instincts take over to save our loved ones. The mother in this mystery horror thriller is a prime example.     WAITING FOR HER HUSBAND TO RETURN FROM the war Grace, played by Nicole Kidman (Bombshell, The Goldfinch), needed help with the raising of her children and the upkeep of the house. The servants she hired could not understand the special rules she insisted they follow because they did not see anything unusual about the place. With Fionnula Flanagan (Four Brothers, The Guard) as Mrs. Mills, Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World, 28 Days Later) as Charles, Alakina Mann (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Fungus the Bogeyman-TV) as Anne and James Bentley (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Nero-TV movie) as Nicholas; this film festival winner was the perfect spooky story to take my mind off the scary stuff going on around me. Nicole was such a strong force throughout the story; I was quickly pulled into their plight. I thought the directing and acting was a perfect combination in creating a tense story without any hi-tech special effects, creating an old-fashioned horror film. For me, watching this movie was a needed respite from the scary stuff that is currently going on around the world.

 

3 stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Wood

THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls.      THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy.      ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Black and Blue

SO ANNOYING, FOR THE PAST TWO weeks I have been trying to stop receiving a company’s daily email advertisements. I receive several every day and it is getting on my nerves. At first, I thought it would be an easy thing to do by going online to unsubscribe via the link they listed on their emails. Going through several steps before finally receiving a confirmation of the stoppage, I thought I was done. Sadly that was not the case because sure enough the very next day I got the same amount of email advertisements in my inbox. Once again, I went through the same steps online to put a stop to them, receiving another confirmation of my success. I was not buying it until I had seen proof; it never came since there was not even a slowdown in the amount of emails coming to me. My next step was to call them on the phone, easier said than done. I had to search multiple pages online before I found a phone number. When I called, the phone rang and rang without anyone ever picking up.  Jumping back online, I looked for another phone number and when I dialed it I was greeted with a message that told me to dial the number I had previously dialed. This just ticked me off further; so, I set up my computer to block this company’s emails.      THE LESSON I LEARNED FROM THIS WAS believing that the larger a company was, the more chances their employees would be apathetic towards their customers’ experiences and needs. I know this is a broad generalization, but I have experienced this in other situations. I was with a friend when they tried returning a couple of items they bought online from a store’s website. Figuring it would be easier and faster to stop at the store to return them, my friend was met with an unpleasant store employee behind the customer service counter. One thing I cannot stand is when a store employee does not even look up when addressing you and this is exactly what the employee did to my friend. Explaining the situation that the items were the wrong size, the employee said they could not help because the items were bought online. My friend agreed they were ordered online, pointing out to the employee it was from their store’s website. The customer service rep then did something that if I was returning the items I would have taken the discussion up a notch or two. They rolled their eyes at my friend. It was obvious they were not going to budge so I told my friend to dispute the purchase on their charge card. Just because the company was large it was apparent its employees were not interested in bucking the system to do what was right. In a way, it was similar to what the main character was experiencing in this action, crime drama.      INVESTIGATING THE SOUND OF GUNSHOTS COMING FROM a deserted factory police officer Alicia, played by Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall), discovered something that she should not have seen, according to the people on the scene. She saw it differently and because of that there was a chance she might get killed for it. This film festival winner also starred Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and Furious franchise, Transformers franchise) as Mouse, Frank Grillo (Captain America franchise, The Grey) as Terry Malone, Mike Colter (Men in Black 3, Luke Cage-TV) as Darius and Reid Scott (Dean, Veep-TV) as Kevin. The best part of this movie was Naomie. Not only was her acting excellent, but also having her as the main character gave this story a different twist to the usual cat and mouse game. This picture was pretty much all about the action and despite it being easy to figure out, I still felt I was being entertained. The script needed some finesse to make the moral messages less heavy-handed and soften the bluntness in its delivery, especially in the latter half of the story. Despite these issues, I did feel the movie studio was not lax in trying to provide a worthwhile product for the viewing audience.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Bulletproof Monk

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SOME PASSENGER side auto mirrors have the warning “OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” written on them? I always appreciated the warning and wish that warning would be written on many consumer products. I recently bought skin cream that looked like it was large enough to warrant the higher price. When I got home and opened it, I discovered half of the box size was added packaging. The bottle I took out, I kid you not, was the size of a kiwi; its box was the size of an energy drink can. I was not happy because first, the product was so small for the price and second, the packaging was wasteful and unnecessary; not all of it was even recyclable. This is why I wish that warning would be placed on stuff like this. How many times have you bought a packaged food item like a frozen meal or box of cookies, and when you opened it the stuff inside did not look like the picture on the front of the package? Don’t you find it annoying? And it is funny, when I bought the skin cream, on a friend’s recommendation; I thought the box was too light when I lifted it off the rack. I should have gone with my gut feeling that something was not right, that things did not appear, as they seemed.      HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I GONE AHEAD and done something even though my gut feeling was warning me? The only thing I can say about it is I am grateful I pay more attention to it now than when I was younger. It comes down to trust I believe; one needs to have the confidence to trust their instincts/feelings and act upon them. I remember a friend of mine who introduced me to their new boyfriend and I immediately got a negative vibe from him. As it turned out, my friend soon discovered what I had felt about the guy a few months prior wound up being accurate. The relationship soon ended after the boyfriend’s true self came out. We talked about the boyfriend afterwards and I found out my friend had gotten a weird vibe when they first met, but did not act upon it. My friend thought they had to be mistaken and did not trust their instincts. See? What did I tell you; it comes down to having confidence and that is something not everyone gets automatically. As an example, today’s film had such an interesting title and description that I decided to take a chance by watching it.      FOR DECADES THE TIBETAN MONK WITH NO NAME, played by Yun-Fat Chow (The Replacement Killers; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has been protecting the sacred scroll. Seeking out someone worthy enough to replace him, the monk had a feeling about the man who picked his pocket. This film festival nominated action comedy also starred Sean William Scott (American Pie franchise, Role Models) as Kar, Jaime King (Sin City franchise, White Chicks) as Jade, Karel Roden (The Bourne Supremacy, Orphan) as Strucker and Victoria Smurfit (The Beach, About a Boy) as Nina. This fantasy film had an interesting title and premise. I enjoyed Yun-Fat Chow’s role the most but overall I felt this picture was a fantasy wannabe. The humor stayed mostly on the low end of the spectrum, as the special effects were dated. On the other hand this story came across as a hodgepodge of snippets from other movies; so, in a way the story was silly enough that made watching it easier for me. If we did not have a stay at home order in place, I do not know if I would have even reviewed this film. But I will tell you, I had nothing else going on so sitting and watching it was not the worse thing I had done all week. My gut feeling was correct about this fantasy film.

 

1 ¾ stars — DVD     

Flash Movie Review: The Half of It

AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED the best way to learn about someone is to talk to her or him face to face. Words are important, but seeing a person’s eyes and hearing the inflection in their voice are just as valuable. Before dating incorporated online activity, one had the choice to call the person on the telephone or arrange to meet somewhere. Don’t laugh but earlier times involved writing a letter. I enjoyed talking on the phone to someone I was interested in initially, because I felt it allowed both people to feel more comfortable. There wasn’t the added pressure of deciding what to wear or making sure the breath was good or the hair was not sticking out or checking to make sure there was no food stuck between any teeth; for some people these were important details. In my younger days when I went out on a date it usually involved sharing a meal to start off the conversation. Restaurants provided extra subject matter to a conversation, especially if the conversation had lulls in it. On a first date I tried to avoid doing an activity with a set time like a movie or concert. The reason being it did not provide a space to continue any type of meaningful conversation, not to say there always needed to be; but to sit in a dark theater for a couple of hours with someone I barely knew seemed weird to me.      HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THOSE in the dating world now. And I cannot even imagine how dating will look once states begin to open up. Let me start prior to the pandemic; there are more options now for those who want to meet someone than when I was starting out in the dating world. With online dating services and apps a person can see whom they would like to meet. I remember talking with a friend about an online dating service and telling him a good bio is the catalyst to get someone to click on your profile. Some people prefer using the apps where they simply swipe to the left of right to show interest in another person. The thing I wonder about is what is going to happen now once the stay at home orders are lifted; how will an individual be able to meet someone? Looking at the children of my peers, I cannot imagine what a person would have to go through to date someone. Would the two individuals have to take their temperatures or answer a series of questions? It is going to be a whole different world and that is why I enjoyed watching this film festival winner’s take on the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac.     KNOWN FOR WRITING GRADE A SCHOOL PAPERS for a fee, high school football player Paul Musky, played by Daniel Diemer (Family Pictures-TV Movie, Sacred Lies-TV), was willing to pay anything to have fellow student Ellie Chu, played by Leah Lewis (Station 19-TV, Nancy Drew-TV), write a love letter to a girl he was interested in. Writing about love was not Ellie’s forte. With Collin Chou (The Matrix franchise, The Forbidden Kingdom) as Edwin Chu, Alexis Lemire (The Art of Murder-TV Movie, Truth or Dare-TV Movie) as Aster Flores and Wolfgang Novogratz (Assassination Nation, Sierra Burgess is a Loser) as Trig Carson; this romantic comedy spun a fresh take on the old story. I though the cast was excellent, especially Leah and Daniel. Despite having a few misfires in several scenes, there was a certain charm and sweetness to this picture. Also, I enjoyed the humor that was infused into the story. This film can stand proudly in the way it delivered a solid movie watching experience and who knows, someone may learn the importance of the written word.

 

3 stars     

Flash Movie Review: James vs His Future Self

AT PRESENT MY SUPERPOWER IS THE ability to withstand high heat.  However, when I was a little kid I wanted to be able to fly like a bird. A lot has happened between those two superpowers. I would consider myself an introspective person, maybe more so as an adult than my younger self. Though I would have to say, I tend to look more at the negative aspects of my life than the positive. Not to say I am a “doom and gloom” type of person, but I used to spend the earlier part of my life wondering how things would have turned out if I did such and such differently. You may be familiar with the phrase, “What would have happened if I had only…” This phrase really is two-faced. On the one hand, it gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate a past event and learn from your mistakes; however, it can also be a baseball bat to whack across your head as you beat yourself up for doing something that you later had misgivings on. There are still a couple of events that happened decades ago that I dwell on from time to time, wishing I had acted a different way in the situation. I guess some demons remain to remind me on how not to react a certain way.      THROUGH MY CHILDHOOD I DO NOT recall a superhero who had the ability to travel in time except for Superman when he flew around the earth at high speed, to reverse its rotation and turn back time. At the time I simply thought it was a cool trick, never delving into the true implications of such a feat. Imagine though if you had the ability to travel in time. You could go to the future to see how a decision you made turned out or you could travel back in time to correct something you thought you could have done better. I know one of the things I would enjoy doing is going back in time to see the older generations of my family in their younger days. Wouldn’t it be wild to see how one’s great or great, great grandparents met? I also wonder if the future would look similar to what I used to see on the Saturday morning cartoon show about the Jetsons. Having seen what could happen from that Star Trek episode about going back in time and how one moment of interference would change the world completely (I certainly am watching a lot of television during this stay at home order), I have to say the ability to time travel really is an incredible superpower. If you don’t believe me you might want to check out this comedic, science fiction film.      JUST AS HE WAS GETTING CLOSE TO figuring out the science behind time traveling young scientist James, played by Jonas Chernick (Blood Pressure, The Border-TV), was visited by his older self from the future with a message for him. The message was to stop what he was doing. This film festival winning movie also starred Daniel Stern (Home Alone franchise, City Slickers) as Jimmy, Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Hover) as Courtney, Frances Conroy (Joker, Six Feet Under-TV) as Dr. Rowley and Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Listener-TV, Corner Gas-TV) as Officer Walker. This story appeared as one of those typical time traveling adventures; however, there was a bit of fresh air in the script. First of all, it was great to see Daniel Stern in top form with his character as well as Frances Conroy adding another memorable character to her stable. There were some slow moments in this movie and a few predictable scenes. But you know, it did not bother me too much because I was enjoying the performances and the humor. I especially liked the way the story ended. If nothing else, this film provided me with some entertainment during this time and time really is something I am more aware of presently.

 

2 1/3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Inkheart

THE ABUNDANCE OF LIGHTBULBS CREATED A continuous glow of light around the carnival. The Ferris wheel was the only attraction that almost reached the edge of darkness waiting above the glow. I could see the Ferris wheel was stopped and there was a man screaming he wanted to get out from the upper most car. He had broken through the car’s safely bar somehow and was hanging off the side, with one arm stretched out towards the closest metal beam. Barely visible to me were two small girls who were trying to pull the man back into the car. I had to close the book right at this point because the phone rang; however, the scary image of the man dangling out of the Ferris wheel car kept floating in my head. And that is the beauty of reading a book. Most of you know me as a person who watches multiple movies every week, but may not know I can escape into a book’s story the same way as when I am watching a film. The difference for me is when I am watching a good movie; I am falling into the visuals that are being presented to me. When reading a book, I am creating the scene based on the writer’s words; I am using my imagination to see what the author is describing to me. Both mediums are equally as powerful to me.      THE EXPERIENCE OF WATCHING A FILM (prior to our current stay at home orders) is more of a physical experience for me. Keeping in mind I do not watch movies on my phone, tablet or computer; I either have to go to the movie theater or to my living room television if I want to see a film. When I travel, the options are similar with going to a theater or using the hotel’s cable options. With a book, the story’s characters almost always can surround me anywhere in the world; all I need to do is carry the book or tablet with me. I could be riding a bus, eating at a restaurant, waiting at the airport gate for my flight or (please excuse me) sitting in the bathroom; the possibilities are endless. It is such a wonderful feeling to disappear from my surroundings, by using my imagination as I read the author’s words, to recreate their vision all in my mind. Some of you may already know when a movie is based on a book; I prefer to see the film first before reading the book. One of the reasons is because I have all the characters’ voices in my head already when I open the book. In regards to today’s review, I have the book this film was based on sitting up on a shelf waiting for me.      FOR YEARS BOOKBINDER MO, PLAYED BY Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy franchise), has been searching for a particular book. If he could just read its story he was certain he could find his wife. This film festival winning movie also starred Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Long Shot) as Capricorn, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Elinor, Paul Bettany (Avengers franchise, Journey’s End) as Dustfinger and Eliza Bennett (Nanny McPhee, From Time to Time) as Meggie. This family, adventure fantasy movie had all the right elements to be a fun old-fashioned thriller. Over the top characters, magical characters, big sets, everything was here except for the wandering script. The pacing was uneven as some scenes were great to watch while others were listless. I was disappointed overall with this picture; however, I was okay watching the film all the way through due to the heart and imagination at the base of the plot. Though this viewing did not pan out the way I would have liked, I am certainly looking forward to taking the book this film was based on off of my shelf to read.

 

2 stars — DVD            

Flash Movie Review: The Indian Runner

I WAS FRIENDS WITH ONE OF THE two brothers. Though I did not know much about the older brother, it was apparent the two brothers were quite different. My friend had an idea what he wanted to do when he grew up. Maybe the brother did too; but I was not aware of it. I do remember whenever the brother would mention a career path he was interested in doing, his parents would usually nod their heads and mention something else they thought was better suited for him. Now granted, a lot of the times I would hear these conversations taking place from a different room while my friend and I were doing something in an adjoining space; so I could not see the physical reactions that I am sure were accompanying the dialog. If someone were to ask me how I thought the conversations were going, I would say they sounded more combative than a calm discussion. Whether these talks had an affect on the brother, I do not know. The only thing that was quite apparent to me was how dark the older brother seemed compared to his younger brother. By dark, I mean he was more of a moody soul that rarely cracked a smile; heck, he barely said hello to me whenever I came over to their place.      ONE OF THE REASONS I REMEMBER THESE two brothers is because they were the first set of brothers I knew who were so different in almost every aspect of their lives. I always assumed my friend was much smarter, though he was not athletic like his brother. The younger one never got into a fight with his parents (at least while I was around) like the older one. There were a couple of times I was over at their house when the older son and his parents would get into a screaming match that nearly made the walls shake. The yelling would end with the son either slamming the door as he went into his bedroom or slamming the front door as he ran out of the house; it was always an awkward moment for me. I would look over at my friend and all he could do was shrug his shoulders with a sheepish grin on his face; I felt bad for him. As long as I knew them, nothing ever changed in that family. The last I heard about them was that the older son had moved out during high school and hasn’t talked to his parents since. I wondered if the family in this film festival winning drama had a similar dynamic that made their sons so different.      RETURNING TO THE SMALL TOWN HE GREW up in, a Vietnam vet’s brother hopes he can convince his brother to settle down and enjoy what life has to offer both of them. The returning brother did not see it quite the same. Written and directed by Sean Penn (Gangster Squad, Milk), this movie starred David Morse (The Hurt Locker, The Green Mile) as Joe Roberts, Viggo Mortensen (Green Book, Captain Fantastic) as Frank Roberts, Valeria Golino (Hot Shots franchise) as Maria, Patricia Arquette (Boyhood, Medium-TV) as Dorothy and Charles Bronson (Death Wish franchise, The Magnificent Seven) as Mr. Roberts. This was a slow to start story for me. It was wild to see some of the actors in their younger versions, since this film was nearly 20 years old. I thought Viggo, David and Patricia were especially strong with their acting. The script provided me a glimpse into a different world, set in a rural town at a time where things moved slower. There was a bit of repetition with the scenes dealing with the brothers; however, as bits and pieces was being revealed I found myself becoming more interested in where they were going in the story. If nothing else, it was interesting to see how 2 brothers who were raised in one house turned out in life.

 

2 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: American Woman

I AM USED TO WAITING IN LINE at the drive thru lane of a restaurant; but I was not prepared to do it at a funeral home. As I arrived at the funeral home, I saw there were several cars lined up as if they were preparing for the procession to the burial ground. Pulling into the lot behind the last car an employee of the funeral home, who had been standing off to the side, walked up to me to explain how to proceed through the visitation. I was to follow in single file, as one car at a time will pull underneath the porte-cochere. The occupants can then get out of their car and walk up to the locked, double glass doors of the lobby to pay their respects to the grieving family, who will be standing behind the doors with the casket. After the respects are paid, I was to return to my car and drive out of the parking lot. The last thing the man said to me was that there was not a sign in book; instead, I could go online to the funeral home’s home page and leave a comment for the family. I thanked the gentleman, closed my car window and waited for my turn.      AFTER FIVE MINUTES, I WAS ABLE TO move forward one car length ahead. Outside my driver’s side window there was now a TV monitor that was set up on a stand. There was a slide show of photos rotating that showed different time periods in the life of the deceased. From birth to their first birthday part, their school years through college and family trips; I sat and watched the photos appear and disappear, providing me with a glimmer of what their life was like. I had lost track of time, as it became my turn to pull underneath and pay my respects. Getting out of the car, I walked towards the glass doors; the only thing I saw at first through the reflective glass was the open casket. It seemed to be floating in midair. As I got closer, images of the grieving family began to appear through the reflection as if they were materializing before my eyes. Out of the family members standing, the father looked the worse. I could not tell if what I was seeing was distorted by the reflective glass; but the father looked like he was in a state of shock. The solid stone expression on his face never changed. With lifeless eyes and a neck that looked like it had been replaced by a spring, he simply kept nodding his head up and down while staring directly ahead. It looked like he was missing a part of himself; similar to the way the main character did in this mystery drama.      WHEN HER DAUGHTER DID NOT COME home it was up to Debra, played by Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, American Sniper) to be in charge of raising her grandson. She only needed someone to raise her. This film festival nominated movie also starred Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver, Elvis & Nixon) as Bridget Callahan, Kentucker Audley (Funny Bunny, The Middle Distance) as Brett Tobeck, Christina Hendricks (Good Girls-TV, The Neon Demon) as Katherine and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Terry. Set in rural Pennsylvania, this acting by Sienna and Christina was outstanding. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; but with the acting and directing I fell into the events taking place while becoming emotional attached. This was a quiet film where some of the characters needed more emotional depth. However, the performances of the actors made up for any deficiencies. This was both such a heart wrenching and triumphant story that Sienna navigated with expert skill.

 

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Aspern Papers

WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, I was obsessed with pencil sharpeners. Though my obsession lasted a couple of years, I acquired a large collection of them within that time frame. I had several pencil sharpeners that were in the shape of airplanes and rocket ships; another group of them was made up of different animals. I would rotate bringing different sharpeners to school with me; as you might expect, I never had a dull pencil at my desk. There was a game I used to play with myself when sharpening a pencil. I would try to turn the pencil continuously to see if I could get one long shaving off of it. Yes, I was an intense child at times. One of my favorite pencil sharpeners was a flying saucer, the top half white and the bottom gray. The pencil hole was right in the center on the top, which allowed the pencil shavings to spin around the interior circumference of the round saucer. There was always a good chance I could get a long shaving with this pencil sharpener. At home, I would keep this sharpener in a desk drawer and whenever I needed it, I would take it out and hold it high in the air, pretending it was flying.      AS I GREW UP MY OBSESSION faded away and the pencil sharpeners were relegated to an old shoebox that resided up on a shelf in a closet. Through the years, I had other things that became my new obsession. In one of my recent reviews I talked about my thing for wristwatches; so, you see I have been visited by obsessions through my whole life. Whenever I have had conversations and talked about an obsession, I always say I prefer shaking hands with the obsession instead of trying to wrestle it. The thing I am grateful for (if there is something to be grateful about) is my obsessions never involved other people. They were always things that only had an affect on me, whether it was pencil sharpeners, wristwatches or dance music CDs. I had a friend who became obsessed with someone she met online. This altered her daily life to the point it put a strain on her friendships. She would cancel dates with friends so she could drive to finally meet this individual at a central location, only to receive a last minute text that he was called into work or some other excuse like that. Yet she would do the same thing over and over to the point some of her friends refused to make plans with her. I could see their point, but I tried to stay neutral; her obsession was preventing her from coming to terms with the reality of her situation. I could say the same thing about the main character in this dramatic movie.      WRITER AND CRITIC MORTON VINT, PLAYED by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The 12th Man, The Tudors-TV), wanted to know everything he could about the famous poet Jeffrey Aspern, played by Jon Kortajarena (The Cliff, A Single Man). He would even pretend to be someone else if it meant getting more information about his favorite poet. With Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet, Howards End) as Juliana Bordereau, Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Maggie) as Miss Tina and Lois Robbins (Girls Nite Out, One Life to Live-TV) as Mrs. Prest; the only reason to see this film would be to watch Vanessa and Joely working together. They were wonderful to watch as they powered their way through the weak script. I thought Jonathan’s character was not believable; he came across so odd to me that I found him uninteresting. The scenery and sets were pleasing but due to the direction and script I felt many opportunities were lost to add drama and back-story. It was sad to see Vanessa and Joely being wasted in this misfired picture. I only wished the writers would have been obsessed with telling a good story as much as Morton was obsessed with the poet Jeffrey Aspern.

 

1 ½ stars

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