Monthly Archives: April 2021

Flash Movie Review: Seaspiracy

THERE WAS VERY LITTLE I LIKED about day camp and absolutely nothing I liked about overnight camp, except for toasted marshmallows and s’mores. My one and only time going to an overnight camp was during the summer months one year. I remember I had little to pack because it was going to be just a couple of days; there was no way I would have agreed to anything that would have kept me away any longer. The bus ride up was spent singing songs and looking out the window at the changing landscape. The campgrounds were in a wooded area that had a lake. I remember the main building was made to look like a log cabin, except it was 2 stories high and extremely long. The rooms took up half the length of the structure on both floors, with 4 kids assigned to each room. I was curious about the bunkbeds in the room because I had never slept in one. After we unpacked our bags we were to meet outside by the flagpole, where the camp director would highlight the activities that were available to us. My biggest fear was that most of the activities were going to be sports related. As luck would have it, each of the activities had a sign-up sheet; so, it wasn’t going to be something that I would be forced to do. When I was finally able to pick our activities, most of the ones I wanted were already full in several time slots. I wound up putting my name down for fishing; something I had never done before.      I HAD TO GET UP EARLY the next day; so, I would be ready to be taken down to the lake for, what I guessed, would be a fishing lesson. The lake was still except for the occasional shudder due from the cool, morning breeze. The small group of us congregated around the counselor who was handing out fishing poles, after he explained the parts to us. I was assigned to a spot at the end of the dock. Sitting down on the wooden boards with my feet hanging off the side, I cast the fishing line into the water with a plopping sound. With both hands clutching the rod in anticipation of having to battle an aggressive fish, I sat and waited and waited and waited. At one point, I looked down the length of the dock to see if anyone had caught something; it did not appear so since I would have thought I would have heard some commotion or excitement about catching a fish. After watching this emotional documentary, I am so glad I never caught a fish that day.     FROM HIS LIFELONG LOVE OF OCEANS and sea life, director and cinematographer Ali Tabriz decided to document how humans were affecting the oceans and its inhabitants. He would discover something more in the process. With Richard O’Barry (Founder of the Dolphin Project), Lori Marino (Founder of the Whale Sanctuary Project), Tamara Arenovich (The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) and Gary Stokes (Co-Founder Oceans Asia); this adventure film stunned me in so many ways. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; I was sensing some manipulation taking place. However, as the story began to unfold, I found myself being swept in both literally and figuratively. There was a range of emotions I was feeling as scene after scene presented more and more incredulous depictions. At times, it felt I was watching a mystery, other times an action adventure. I must tell you this might not be an easy watch, but it will be worth it. By the time I got through the entire movie, my outlook on marine life had changed as well as my eating habits.

3 ½ stars         

Oscar Awards Show 2021

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE SEEING A musical act performing live at a concert. This may sound corny, but the experience produces a natural high in me. Granted I always start out with a little anxiety about the commuting aspect; however, once I am safely in my seat, I am plugged in to experience everything the musical artist(s) brings to the stage. Let me see if I can describe to you the feeling of being at an arena sized concert. Imagine 15-20,000 fans converging into a stadium; every single person is there for one sole purpose, to hear and show their love/adoration for the performer(s). Everyone is in a good mood, smiling and nodding at each other as if they share a special secret. While walking the halls to find your seats, random music can be heard echoing from the arena; a constant thumping bass sound pulsates through the air. There are some fans dressed up to look like part of the band or artist’s entourage; the more flamboyant the act, the wilder are the costumes. As I walk to my seat, my only wish for the moment is that a tall person or one dressed in an elaborate outfit is not sitting in front of me, obstructing my view. As more people are settling into their seats, the feelings of anticipation are being elevated to a point where the space around everyone is buzzing with excitement. That bass sound that has been thumping is resonating in each person’s chest as if synching everyone to a common beat. And then suddenly the music stops, and the place goes dark. Everyone in unison begins to cheer loudly.      THE WEEKS AND MONTHS LEADING UP to this moment were worth the wait. I just need to hear the first couple of notes to announce the start of what I am sure will be a familiar song, one of many that I have been singing in the car since I got the tickets to this show. A set of spotlights slowly wake up to reveal a spot on the stage where 4 strangers are standing. I have never seen them before in my life! An announcer introduces them, and they start to play their instruments. They are the warm-up act. Nowhere in the advertisements or my tickets did it say anything about a warm-up act. Where is the group I paid to see? The built-up feelings that were about to burst out of my body suddenly deflated like a flat tire, after slamming into a deep pothole. It almost felt like I could not catch my breath because I was in such shock. Right at this single moment I am flooded with the feeling of disappointment and this feeling is exactly how I felt about the Oscars and the awards show this year.      THE TRANSFORMATION OF UNION STATION FOR the show was beautifully handled. I thought the place looked like an old-fashioned supper club. The outside reception area was equally beautiful in my opinion. I do have to say it was odd for me to see a gathering without masks, where people were hugging each other; it almost felt like a time pre-COVID. There was glamour but due to restrictions, the pre-show scenes seemed like individual segments that were more unconnected than usual. For the fact I could not see all the nominated films, I came into this without my usual excitement and joy. The Oscars telecast has always been my Super Bowl and High Holiday wrapped together. When presenters were talking about a film that I had not seen, it felt so foreign to me as if they were talking a different language. Right from the first acceptance speech, I so badly wished they had a live orchestra to drown out the winner who overstayed their welcome. There were some exceptions but for the most part the acceptance speeches rambled on and on; it was painful. The exception for me was Yuh-Jung Youn, best supporting actress, due to a couple of her comments. Though she was long in her speech, I appreciated her saying, “All the nominees, five nominees, we were the winner for different movies. We played different roles—so we cannot compete against each other. Tonight, I’m here, I just have a little bit more luck. I think, maybe. I’m luckier than you…”      WHEN TYLER PERRY ACCEPTED HIS HUMANITARIAN award, I especially appreciated the part of his speech when he said to “refuse blanket judgement” and “refuse hate.” I wish I could do that when it came to Questlove as the DJ; I did not care for most of his musical selections. The music did nothing to try and elevate the mood amongst the guests. Now granted I know there are way more important things to focus on than the Oscars. I simply wanted to be taken away for a couple of hours to a world of glamour and stars, checking my predictions against the winning choices, before I had to settle back down into the real world. Sadly, this show did not provide me with any of these things, except for way too many commercial breaks. I was still mad that the Academy had enough money to give swag bags worth, I heard, up to $200,000.00. Why couldn’t the Academy take all that money to pay for a weekend of nominated films to be shown free across all viewing platforms? Not everyone buys every streaming service to view the nominated films. Don’t you think it would be in the best interests for actors and the Academy if they offered something for their dedicated fans?!?!      OUT OF THE ENTIRE BROADCAST, I thought the most egregious error was the change in the order of awards for the end. Usually the last 3 awards are for actress, actor and picture as the last. The very end is seeing all the people associated with the winning picture up on stage, happy and excited for their film. But because I believe the Academy was expecting Chadwick Boseman to win best actor, they changed the order so that category would be last. Well it certainly did not work out the way they thought it would because Anthony Hopkins won, and he was not even there. So, the presenter awkwardly accepts the award in his honor and tells everyone to have a good night; that is the end of the show. What an utter mess and shame on the Academy. I read today that the broadcast this year had the fewest viewers ever and I perfectly understand why. I honestly do not know where my comfort level will be to go back to a theater; I am more in a wait and see mode. However, if Sunday’s broadcast represents the future of how the show will be done, I may have to take more of an attitude like Yuh-Jung Youn, it is just luck; so, why pay attention to what gets nominated.     

Flash Movie Review: Mortal Kombat

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS a “must do” activity for me at an amusement park or carnival was playing the arcade games. I loved the game where I had to aim the water pistol at a hole with a bullseye propped inside to make the balloon expand above it. The winner was the one who had their balloon pop first. Another of my favorite games was the ring toss where I had to toss a rubber ring and try to get it to land on the neck of a glass bottle. My friends and I could hang out inside the arcade for hours or until we had no more change in our pockets. One of my friends spent most of his money trying to either knock down stacked wooden blocks with a ball or three stuffed furry animals off a shelf with a beanbag ball. The problem with the furry animals was they were very small but with all the fur around them, they looked much bigger. When they were placed side by side across an entire shelf, it was hard to knock one of them off; but my friend did not care. He was determined to beat the game and receive his prize.      OUT OF ALL THE ARCADE GAMES, the only one I can remember that involved the shooting of a realistic looking gun was the game where one had to shoot moving animal shaped targets. I do not remember if the gun shot anything out of it; all I can recall is hearing a bell ring every time an animal was hit. It is funny how back then I never gave any thought to this game; but now as an adult, I find myself feeling uncomfortable about that game. Keep in mind, I am the person who is appalled by parents bringing their young children to R rated films or ones that are violent. Prior to the pandemic when I was going to the movie theaters, I would stop to look at their arcade room. It was not like I was expecting some of the same games from my youth, but I was stunned at the level of violence portrayed in the current ones. I could not get over the type of battles and fights taking place on the games’ video screens. What I find worse is how realistic looking some of the graphics are on these games. One game that involved fighting different characters had an exorbitant amount of blood being spilled from each vanquished character. And yet, this pales by comparison to what I witnessed in this film festival nominated movie.      AN ANCIENT PROPHECY IS ABOUT TO be fulfilled that will end mankind. A down on his luck MMA fighter doesn’t believe it until he encounters one of the contestants in this high-stake contest. With Lewis Tan (Deadpool 2, Sacrifice) as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee (Battle of the Sexes, The Vow) as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson (The Little Death, Holly Slept Over) as Kano, Joe Taslim (Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Beyond) as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero and Mehcad Brooks (True Blood-TV, Nobody’s Fool) as Jax; this action, adventure fantasy based on the popular video game was filled with blood and violence. I have never played the game, so I was not prepared for the amount of violence in this picture. The special effects were good as the story was kept at a fast pace. The dialog was cheesy to the point the film started to take on the flavor of a cartoon. The fight scenes which were well choreographed contributed to this cartoonish effect because of the fast pace and wild, graphic CGI effects. It was obvious the movie studio is hoping/planning for a sequel. Though if the level of blood and violence increases, I may prefer to play a game of Pac-Man instead.

2 stars  

OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2021

I KNOW FOR SURE IT WAS before I started kindergarten, but I cannot remember how much younger I was when I saw my very first Oscars telecast. What I do remember was how all the women were so fancy in their long dresses. The other memory is about the Oscar statue; it looked so heavy to me, I wondered how the actors could lift it so easily. Ever since that moment in time, I have seen the Academy Awards telecast each year. Everyone who knows me knows how much I look forward to the telecast. Through the years it became a thing to see every nominated film before the show aired and then soon after the family contest started to see who was best at predicting the winners. I cannot tell you how much I looked forward to this yearly event…. up until now.      LIKE SO MANY THINGS THE PAST year, COVID has had an affect on movies. For the first time in my adult life, I have not been able to see all the films nominated in the major categories. With the onslaught of all the different streaming services, it has been a maddening situation for me. The idea of signing on to all these services just to see a few films makes no sense to me; it would cost more than my cable bill, which is already expensive. And I must tell you, I am angry at the Academy’s board of trustees. I feel if movies are such an integral part of society, they could have made the effort to arrange for all the nominated films to be shown for free. Possibly pay the streaming services and studios to air the films under their banner for free or nominal fee over a weekend; I would be happy with this arrangement. But instead for the first time since I was predicting Oscar winners, I will not be doing it this year because I have not seen all the movies in each category. Instead all I can offer is my opinion on which one out of the ones I viewed I liked the best. So, with no further ado, here are my thoughts on this year’s partial crop of Oscar nominated films.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Amanda Seyfried, Mank

My favorite out of this group would be Glenn Close.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

This is a tough one for me because they all had a strong impact on me. I would love to see Sacha win just to hear his acceptance speech, plus he did an amazing job. I think the academy will choose Daniel.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Each of these 3 deserve the award. Carey made the biggest impact on me, so I will go with that though I think the Academy will pick Viola.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Gary Oldman, Mank

Chadwick has a lock on this category. I did think Riz did an amazing job with his role and under different circumstances I would pick him.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Another Round – Denmark

Better Days – Hong Kong

I absolutely loved Better Days and it deserves every award it can get.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Crip Camp

My Octopus Teacher

Time

Though I thoroughly engaged with Crip Camp, My Octopus Teacher is my favorite.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Judas and the Black Messiah

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

My choice goes to The Trial of the Chicago 7

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Onward

Over the Moon

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Soul

The one that took me away is Over the Moon

BEST PICTURE

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Out of the ones I was able to view, I would give it to The Trial of the Chicago 7

So, there you have it; I am sad I haven’t seen all the nominees and have not been in a movie theater for one year. However, putting things into perspective, at least I am here and able to see some films. The most important thing is that we all get through this time and get to our new normal. Be well and stay safe, that is my wish for you. Thank you. 

Flash Movie Review: Time

TIME IS SUCH A CONSTANT PRESENCE in our lives. We will at times have either too much of it or not enough; I do not know if a day goes by without it being thought of at some point, even when on vacation. Speaking for myself, I am always wishing I had more time. It seems to me I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do. So, what I wind up doing is spending a little time on one activity, then moving to something else for a while, followed by another thing and so on. Two things that make me forget time are movies and books. Lost in a good book or swallowed into a great movie, I will have no sense of time. You may notice in my reviews, I reveal very little about the film. This is because I myself do not want to know a thing about it when I see a movie; I prefer patiently biding my time as the story unfolds. It is funny, I have a friend who cannot stand not knowing what will take place in a movie. They will constantly ask me what I think will happen next, which drives me crazy. Sometimes it gets so bad I threaten to move my seat away from them.      I HAVE ANOTHER FRIEND WHO READS the last chapter of a book first, before starting it. They say they cannot wait to find out what happens in the story. What these two individuals have in common is a lack of patience. I have a mercurial relationship with patience. Prior to the pandemic, when a new movie would come out, I wanted to see it right away. Yet, I can spend months and months going thru photographs to see which ones I would want to enlarge and hang on a wall. Where certain things trigger impatience in me, I know some people that are always impatient. I am friends with the head of a company who wants an answer by the time they finish asking the question. They get antsy if they must wait for an employee to research the question before giving back an answer. The saying, “patience is a virtue,” comes to mind. And what is that other saying that is similar, “all good things come to those who wait?” Where I thought I knew people from all parts of the spectrum when it came to patience and impatience, none of them compare to the remarkable family in this Oscar nominated documentary.      HANDED DOWN A 60 YEAR PRISON sentence, a young wife will not give up on helping her husband, Rob Rich, get out of jail. Directed by Garrett Bradley (Below Dreams, Cover Me), this film festival winning biography’s story was incredible. The wife, Fox Rich, was fascinating to watch as a good portion of this movie had her own handheld footage. Besides the personal journey being depicted, I was also interested in the way the American Justice System was presented in this film. Now I do not want to take away from the family’s journey; but from an entertainment standpoint, I felt something was missing from the story. It seemed as if I was watching scenes replayed, which did not always keep me engaged. I will not go into the ethics of this picture, but I noticed my mind drifting at times. Granted I cannot imagine how the family in this documentary survived the years and maybe that is part of my issue. It seemed as if the family members were acting in ways that came across as unreal, based on the circumstances. If the film had been any longer, I might have gotten impatient waiting until I got to the ending.

2 ¼ stars    

Flash Movie Review: The New Mutants

IT HAS BEEN A LITTLE OVER one year when we first heard about this new virus spreading around the world. Everywhere I looked there was news about people getting sick and being hospitalized due to this unknown virus. Without the knowledge, all these recommendations were coming out on how to protect oneself: such as avoid touching the face, eyes, mouth, physical human contact and common surfaces. Up until this point, I was going to the movie theaters on a weekly basis. With all this information and warnings coming out, I started questioning whether it was safe to continue going to the movie theaters. Less and less people were there each week. Since it was the tail end of winter, I felt I could stay safe wearing a mask and my winter gloves. It certainly was weird to walk into a theater and see no one at the concession stands. The self-serve beverage machines all had big yellow X’s taped across them and there were no employees behind the candy counter. My ticket was on my phone; so, when I got near the ticket taker, I extended my arm out all the way to avoid getting any closer to him. Funny, he did the same thing with his barcode reader pointed towards me.      I WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHEN I walked into the movie auditorium. Not sure what to expect, I picked a seat on the aisle all the way back; so, I could avoid having people walking past me. It turned out, I did not have to worry because only 2 other people showed up, taking seats at the bottom row on the opposite side of the theater. I thought about removing my mask but decided to play it safe by keeping it on. There were ceiling fans slowing turning above, but I had no idea what the air quality was like in the theater. In an odd sort of way, I enjoyed having few people sitting in the theater with me. I did not have to be annoyed with the talking, texting and milling about of people that I typically experienced in the past. For two weeks I continued my schedule of going to the theater, despite the COVID news becoming more ominous. There was talk that our governor was going to order our state to be shut down. I wondered what I would do without a first run movie to review, from the theater. The last week before the shutdown was ordered, this film came out at the theaters. I debated with myself if it was a good idea to go since the news was getting worse; I decided to take a pass on this action, science fiction mystery and stayed home. It was a good call.     FINDING THEMSELVES IN A MEDICAL FACILITY, five young adults were the test subjects in a study to determine what was their special powers. The doctor running the study said it was to protect them, but something did not feel right about the place. With Maisie Williams (Then Came You, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rahne Sinclair, Anna Taylor-Joy (The Witch, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Illyana Rasputin, Charlie Heaton (Shut In, Stranger Things-TV) as Sam Guthrie, Alice Braga (Portrait of a Thief, Elysium) as Dr. Reyes and Blu Hunt (Another Life-TV, The Originals-TV) as Moonstar; this film festival nominee was the movie studio’s attempt to create an origin story about the X-Men.  This movie dragged on for a good portion of the time. Though I enjoyed seeing Maisie and Anna in a different type of role, the script was poorly written. I thought the few special effects were meager. In fact, there was blandness to this picture, both visually and mentally. I am glad I did not pay to see this, and have it become the last movie I saw in a theater before our lockdown.

1 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Concrete Cowboy

AS I WAS GETTING OUT OF my car, they appeared like three knights from a chess set. They floated out of the morning fog, three horse heads without bodies. I watched them as the fog around them swirled out of the way to reveal their bodies; two chestnut colored horses and one black one. There was a shine to their bodies as if morning dew had attached itself to them and spread out like a fine, high gloss polish. They were these beautiful, regal creatures who slowly walked towards me with ears pointed in my direction, trying to pick up a sound that could alert them to danger. I purposely drove just to see these animals after I received the invitation from a former boss’ former wife; I know, it sounded weird to me as I wrote it, but it is true. She had grown up with horses and had invited me to stop by and see her horses whenever I was in the neighborhood. Since I was going to be driving close to her town, I arranged to stop by her place; luckily, she was an early riser. The three horses remained in place while I slowly made my way to the fencing. Once there, I spoke softly to the three just so they could get used to my voice. The former wife appeared from behind the house and started walking towards me.      WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, I had to take care of a horse for a semester as part of the class curriculum. Her name was Daiquiri and she was a strong-minded horse. My first time up in the saddle, she decided she wanted to check out the upper rows of the arena we were working in. The trainer ran over to us as Daiquiri was clopping her way up the stairs. Before I could say anything, the trainer had gotten ahead of us, so she could block Daiquiri from going any further. She grabbed a hold of the reins and told me to dismount. After, she led the horse to the top walkway so she could get her to the next set of stairs and make her way back down. Despite that incident, I grew to love and respect Daiquiri. My former boss’ former wife knew about my experience with a horse, so I think that is why I was the only one to get an invitation to her horses. Though I declined riding them, I enjoyed just being and watching them. There is something calming about horses; I cannot explain it, but this film festival winner might be able to show you what I mean.     AFTER COLE, PLAYED BY CALEB McLAUGHLIN (High Flying Bird, Stranger Things-TV), got in trouble at school again, his mother decided to ship him off to stay with his estranged father. If Cole already did not want to stay with him, he certainly did not want to when he found out a horse lives with his Dad. With Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek Beyond) as Harp, Lorraine Toussaint (Fast Color, Selma) as Nessie, Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight, Mr. Mercedes-TV) as Smush and newcomer Ivannah Mercedes as Esha; this drama was inspired by true events. I have never heard of the black cowboys of Philadelphia, but their inclusion in the cast made this gentle touching story more poignant for me. The acting was authentic, led by Idris’ performance. A story concerning a son and estranged father is something most of us have seen before; however, under this setting with the horses it brought a new fresh take that I thoroughly enjoyed. Even if you have no experience or interest in horses, this movie is worth the time in seeing it. As gentle as a horse and just as powerful.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Burn Your Maps

I KNEW THEY WERE EXPECTING THEIR baby soon but did not know exactly when. As far as I heard the pregnancy had been going relatively smoothly, just the typical things like swollen ankles and nausea were being experienced. When word finally came that the baby was born, everyone was happy to get the news. Along with the baby’s name, we were told about the baby’s length, weight and their full head of hair. However, along with this news there was a request to hold off calling the family because the baby had some complications that needed to be addressed. As you can imagine, everyone wanted to know what was going on but refrained from asking, respecting the new parents’ wishes. For the next couple of weeks, all of us would ask each other if there was any news about the baby. If one person found out something, the news quickly spread amongst us. I was told the baby was still in the hospital and had gone through a couple of procedures. Upon getting such news my instinct was to reach out to the parents, but they early on reinforced their desire not to be contacted due to their hectic schedule for taking care of the baby’s needs, besides being present for their other child.      AS THE WEEKS PASSED BY WITH little news, everyone’s attention began to wane ever so slightly. Without getting any updates, it felt as if there was this big hole that was slowly getting filled back up with daily living; that is for everyone except the new parents. At some point word came out the baby was being released from the hospital and would be coming home. We were excited by the news but there was an ominous message included with it; the parents requested if everyone would not ask them how the baby was doing. The only thing they shared was that the baby had been born with a genetic defect and would not grow up in a normal way. This was hard to hear; all of us were feeling helpless. We wanted to do something, even if we could send disposable diapers or formula, anything to try and help. Without any direction we were at a loss and could only keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. I could not imagine how the parents were handling the situation without some kind of outlet to vent, talk, scream, whatever needed to be done to try and find some balance in their life. I felt the same way about the married couple in this comedic, drama adventure.     THEIR SON’S OBSESSION WITH MONGOLIA AND belief that he was a goat herder was causing a rift in the family structure. One parent appreciated the vivid imagination, while the other was afraid their son would be ostracized in school. With Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) as Alise, Marton Csokas (The Equalizer, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Connor, Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as Wes, Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi, The Million Dollar Arm) as Ismail and Virginia Madsen (Dune, Sideways) as Victoria; this movie survived on the strength of its cast. The acting was excellent, once again I am so impressed with Jacob’s abilities. He just doesn’t take on a character, he becomes them. My issue with this film was the script. I felt the story was uneven due to the swings between the dramatic and comedic scenes. It felt as if the core of the story was getting shortchanged in its development. Also, there were a couple of scenes that seemed farfetched to me. If I did not enjoy watching the cast as much as I did, I am not sure I would have finished watching this picture. On the other hand, being a strong proponent of communicating, I appreciated what the story did to advocate it.

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Thunder Force

FRIENDSHIPS FORM ON THE COMMONALITIES SHARED between two people. I also feel included in the formation is the admiration one has for an attribute they see in the other person; an attribute that the person realizes they themselves lack. One of my oldest friends, who I met in elementary school, had a peaceful and soothing way of talking that attracted me immediately. I felt I was opposite because I tended to take things to the max, always quick to respond with full force whether the situation warranted it or not. There was another friendship that formed around the same time and it was their easy-going ways that intrigued me. Where I had to sit and ponder things, they were quick to respond with a “yes” or “sure” or “okay” to pretty much any request. That was so foreign that their behavior fascinated me and from there we became lifelong friends. So, you see this is why I think it not only takes things in common that connects two people, but the differences between them. I know a couple who on the surface look like they have nothing in common, they appear to be so opposite in their ways. Yet, if you spend quality time with them you would see how each one admires the differences because it allows the to see things through the other person’s eyes.      LIFE AT TIMES WILL CREATE THESE long periods of separation between friends. There was not any type of rift or disagreement that caused it, it simply happened based on changing responsibilities and priorities. I have a friend who lives out of state; our contact is infrequent, where months could go by before we communicate with one another. Yet, when we finally get to talk to each other, there seems to be no break in our connection. We can pick up right where we left off from the previous time. Sure, some of our beliefs have evolved into different paths but at the core we remain close to each other. The key to maintaining a friendship like this or any friendship for that matter is to avoid making any judgements. I used to have a friend who constantly judged me and was always telling me what I “should” do. The final nail that split us apart was when I introduced them to the person I was dating and within 5 minutes they were treating my date rudely. I decided right then and there we had too many differences and not enough commonality to keep our friendship going. If you want to see the evolution of a friendship, you can see it play out in this action, adventure comedy.      A CLASS REUNION WAS THE IMPETUS that pushed Lydia Berman, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Kitchen, Can You Ever Forgive Me?), to reach out to a childhood friend she had not been in contact with for many years. After so many years being apart, Lydia was not sure what she would say to her friend. With Octavia Spencer (The Witches, Ma) as Emily Stanton, Jason Bateman (Bad Words, Game Night) as The Crab, Bobby Cannavale (The Irishman, Blue Jasmine) as The King and Melissa Leo (Burn Country, Prisoners) as Allie; this film festival nominee had a major flaw, Melissa’s husband as the writer and director. The script was beyond predictable and filled with lazy jokes and poor dialog. It really was annoying to have two gifted actors, Melissa and Octavia, try and squeeze out sense to the poorly done script. Melissa McCarthy in my opinion has one of the best comedic timing abilities I have seen in an actor. Pairing her with Octavia was a great idea because they appear to be so different; I thought for sure the comedy would be flowing though this story with the two of them. Sadly, there was so little taking place in this movie, both excitement and comedy, that I was not engaged with it.                

1 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Tina

WE WERE PART OF AN ELITE group, though none of us would ever admit to it. I do not know any other way to say this, but we were easy targets. We were always the last ones to be picked for a team in PE class. Because I was overweight, the athletic boys assumed I could not do any of the sports that we played in class. They were half right in some cases; but it was okay, I had no desire to be part of any team. I saw what happened to those who did not meet the jocks’ standards. One of the students in our elite group was picked on in brutal ways. In the locker room it was rare a week went by without him getting his head slammed into a locker door or being tripped in the shower room. One time a group of bullies waited for him to completely disrobe at his locker before grabbing him to hang out the window. To this day, I can still hear him screaming as they dragged him to the open window. I was frozen with fear because I had my own hell, I was going through, with some of these same bullies. Some of the less harsh treatments I endured were being shoved into lockers, punched, slapped with textbooks and stabbed.      WHEN I WENT TO SCHOOL OUT of state, I decided to reinvent myself because I never wanted to go through what I did previously in school. I got a handle on my eating habits and started exercising properly, none of the competitive crap that was offered in my past schooling. It took a long time, but I started noticing the difference in my weight loss. By the time I finished up my studies and returned home, I looked quite different. Friends and relatives would get surprised when they saw the “new” me. One Saturday night, I was at a party and bumped into a guy who was part of our elite group from school. Back then he used to get bullied because he was extremely skinny (go figure) with these super long legs and short torso. Because he had not matured the same time as most of the boys in class, he was picked on and called names. Looking at him now as an adult, I was amazed at his transformation. From that gangly, prepubescent looking boy, who always carried a baseball mitt in his backpack; I was looking at a tall handsome man with a warm smile. We were both survivors who got to the other side of what life was meant to be. Having that survivor mentality, I immediately felt a connection to him, just like I did when I saw the musical artist of this documentary perform live in concert.     ON THE OUTSIDE NO ONE COULD imagine what life was like for Anna Mae Bullock after she got off the stage. From this musical biography, this Grammy award winner will show you how to live a different life. Written and directed by Daniel Lindsay (Undefeated, LA 92) and T.J. Martin (Undefeated, LA 92), this film featured Angela Bassett (Black Panther, Contact), Oprah (The Color Purple, A Wrinkle in Time) and Kurt Loder (Get Him to the Greek, Airheads) talking about their feelings about Tina Turner. Right from the start, I was glued to this film. Granted I am probably biased, having seen her perform in concert 3 times. Out of all the musical artists’ concerts I have attended, she was the hardest working performer I had ever seen. From watching this thoroughly entertaining film, I can see where she gets her strength. It was obvious to me that this movie was made as a love letter to her fans and a goodbye; there were intimate scenes as well as tough ones. The concert footage was enough for me to want to see this film again. As far as I am concerned, she needs to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a single artist. It would be the perfect topping to an amazing life.

4 stars 

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