Monthly Archives: December 2021

Flash Movie Review: Being the Ricardos

I REMEMBER WATCHING IT BUT DID not actively seek it out. After school I would walk home and usually grab something for a snack before dinner. Since I was sitting and eating, I would turn on the television and channel surf the stations. What caught my eye was the fact there was a TV show filmed in black and white. As I sat there watching it, I was struck by the female lead’s physicality; she had an expressive face and she knew how to use it, besides the physical exertion she would put out in her movements. It fascinated me because I could not recall seeing a female on television who did this same type of comedy. I became enthralled by the show and began to make it a point that I got home in time to catch this show. The funny thing is, I thought I was watching a new show each week. It turned out they were repeats, that the original airing of the show was some years earlier. No matter to me, I got swept up into the lives of this couple with their neighbors and friends. I do not easily laugh out loud, but I found myself more times than not, laughing at the antics the female lead was getting herself in to every day.      IT WAS MANY YEARS LATER THAT I discovered this woman who played that lead was a very shrewd businesswoman. I had seen her for many years on her various television shows and movies, besides guest starring on other TV shows. The things I knew about her were more in line with the fodder that gossip magazines put out; however, after doing some research I discovered not only was she a smart individual, but her husband was as well. After all this time I still can see one snippet of a scene from her classic television show and immediately recall the entire episode; it is as if I was there as part of the set, the memories are so crystal clear. What a remarkable life this woman led. At one time, approximately 60 million households tuned in to watch her on television. Can you imagine that? She commanded such an audience that evidently the retail establishment made changes simply to accommodate those shoppers that were fans of the show. These facts are historic and just think, I accidently stumbled on the show when I was a little kid, who wanted to watch something while eating my afternoon snack. Because of these memories, I felt I was transported back in time as I began watching this wonderful biographical drama based on true events.      WITH ONLY ONE WEEK TO WRITE, rehearse and put on a weekly television show; there were so many things taking place that the viewing audience had no idea were happening. How the female lead not only survived each challenge but went on to become a legend in the process. With Nicole Kidman (The Goldfinch, Boy Erased) as Lucille Ball, Javier Bardem (Skyfall, The Sea Inside) as Desi Arnaz, J.K. Simmons (The Tomorrow War, Palm Springs) as William Frawley, Nina Arlanda (Richard Jewell, Stan & Ollie) as Vivian Vance and Tony Hale (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arrested Development-TV) as Jess Oppenheimer; this historical piece of Americana was brilliant in who was cast it turns out. When I heard Nicole was playing Lucy, I thought for sure she would not be able to handle such a larger-than-life character. I was wrong; I actually forgot it was her because she was so deep into character. Javier was a major surprise because he was incredible as Desi. Honestly, everyone was terrific in this film and though the dialog was tight and smart, I wished there had been a deeper delving into Lucy and Desi. At times, I felt as if the story was getting confused in what it was trying to say. Despite this I still am a fan of this film; it may partly be due to my fond memories of the show.                                                            

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Jungle Cruise

I DO NOT KNOW WHY, BUT adventure thrills are always better when they get shared with someone. Isn’t it true? There is something about experiencing a new thrill that resonates stronger when you have someone come along for the ride. I remember when a group of us went to a new amusement park that had a water ride mimicking white water rafting. We all piled into this circular, inflated yellow raft with a type of steering apparatus in the center. When the park attendant pushed us out of the holding dock, we started out on calm waters. However, it changed rather quickly when we went down an embankment and into this pool of churning water that swept us quickly down the course a/k/a churning river. All of us held onto the steering wheel as we hooted and hollered with all the jostling and bumping the raft was enduring. Sprays of water doused us periodically, keeping us cool in the hot summer sun. As we neared the end of the ride there was a steeper “waterfall” we had to endure. It was a bit tense at first as the water under the raft picked up speed then dropped us into the waterfall, which was an adrenalin rush for me. At the bottom of the falls, the raft quietly floated over to a receiving dock area where park attendants were helping people get out of their rafts. It was one of the best water rides I experienced, and I was glad I did it with my friends.      DESPITE HAVING TAKEN MANY LONG WEEKEND trips alone, when I go with friends and family members, there always seems to be an adventure we wind up sharing. Recently in San Diego a couple of us rented a pedal boat to take out into San Diego Bay. We were fine while in the marina because it was smooth and calm as we leisurely pedaled up and down rows of piers and docks. However, when we got out into the bay the water turned choppy with a stronger current underneath. We had to pedal faster as the boat bobbed up and down. Our time out there did not last long as we looked at each other at the same time and said we made it out and now it is time to go back where things are calmer. Once out of the bay we laughed about it since we had these grand plans to go down the coast to see the sights. It still was a great experience that I was glad to be sharing with someone close. I felt the main characters in this fantasy film were experiencing a similar situation to mine, which I enjoyed watching.      HER FATHER BELIEVED IT WAS TRUE; so, Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Mary Poppins Returns), was determined to find this special plant reported only to be found deep in the Amazon jungle. With Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Skyscraper) as Frank Wolff, Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Point Break) as Aguirre, Jack Whitehall (Mother’s Day, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as MacGregor Houghton and Jessie Plemons (The Irishman, The Power of the Dog) as Prince Joachim; this action, adventure comedy was saved by the performances of Dwayne and Emily. I would not put them in the same category as Abbott & Costello or Burns and Allen, but they certainly were a fun couple to watch on the big screen. The script was rather generic as it pulled in ideas from a variety of movie stories such as The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean among others. This was simply a fluffy fantasy film that was easy to view without a lot of thought to it. I am sure if the movie studio made money on this picture, they will then try to do a sequel. If they do, I just hope they get a better story line and script, besides having Emily and Dwayne starring in it.

1/2 stars

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Matrix Resurrections

I SAT THERE STARING AT THIS small electronic box in the middle of the table. Photos of the restaurant’s food options appeared and disappeared across the display screen along with the various advertisements. Besides the box in the middle of the table, there was a crystal cube sitting alongside it. Encased in the cube was a QR code that I had to point my cell phone camera at to download a copy of their menu onto my phone. Once I decided what to order, I waited for someone to come take it. While waiting I noticed across the way a bank of dispensing machines. A couple of them dealt with soft drinks that a customer could concoct various flavors into their soft drink. I tried reading the options on the lit screen, but it was too far away for me to see. I sat there, while waiting for my friend to show up, as my mind drifted to memories of other restaurants, I visited that relied solely on wait staff to hand out menus, describe the specials of the day, and bring drinks and food orders to the table. It seemed to me as if the human experience associated with dining out was being replaced by machines.      MY FRIEND FINALLY SHOWED UP, SETTLING herself across from me in the booth. I had not seen her for a long time, yet she looked the same as far as I could tell. She had no issue navigating the electronic devices as she quickly decided what she wanted for lunch. We spent all the time before our food arrived, talking about our shared history such as the company where we both first met, updating on our family members we had heard so much about when we were working together and present jobs. The food finally arrived via a non-descript waiter. It was good to catch up with her; however, I noticed as we were eating that there was not much else to talk about except for things in the past. Her interests and mine were very different; so, me talking about movies would have fallen on deaf ears. Yet, I still enjoyed spending some time with her because of all the memories it stirred up. We had a fun time together when we worked together because we had a similar humor and reaction to the antics that used to take place around us. Still, by the time it came to pay the bill, I was glad we were done because I was “pulling at straws” to find something to talk about with her. I felt sort of the same regarding this action, science fiction sequel.      NEARLY TWENTY LATER NEO, PLAYED BY Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, Destination Wedding), is a top video game creator. One game in particular resembles a part of his past life, hmmm. With Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento, Jessica Jones-TV) as Trinity, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Candyman) as Morpheus, Jonathan Groff (Hamilton, Glee-TV) as Smith and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bugs; this film’s saving grace was its humor, believe it or not. The abundance of references and video clips to the past films got to be a bit much, but at least they were entertaining at times. I found the story as murky as the visuals at time; I early on decided not to try and figure anything out, just go with the action. There were some good action scenes and visuals, but nothing that stood out to make this movie elevate itself over the previous ones. The draw for me here was the nostalgia factor and the writers certainly knew that would work. I recalled the feelings I had when I saw the first film; it was a revelation of new surprises. With this one, it was more of a “oh yeah, I remember that” type of experience. If one has not seen any of the other movies, they will probably be confused watching this one. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.                                      

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: A Boy Called Christmas

IT STARTED WHEN I MENTIONED I had not gotten many holiday cards this year. My friend thought for a moment before she told me she believed it was the same for her. It was not like I sat and counted each card received, but since I normally display them by standing each card up on a coffee table, this year only a quarter of the table had cards. One thing my friend thought could be the reason was the fewer card shops we had around these days. I could see that being one of the reasons because I know fewer pieces of mail get handled currently. Another reason I thought of was the possibility people are simply tired, frustrated or scared of the current situation with COVID and all the ramifications associated with it. Some people I know are cancelling their plans to be with friends and family for the holidays; others have either lost their job or have had their health compromised, so they can no longer do their job. I know an individual who became ill due to COVID and was in the hospital for 75 days, near death at times. It has been nearly a full year and they are still in no position to go back to their job. Another person I know was put out of work because their profession was totally upended by the pandemic and it had to be shut down. I feel these are perfect reasons why people are not feeling festive.      THERE ALSO IS SOMETHING ELSE THAT is weighing on the minds of people. The issue with the overtaxed supply chain is part of it, but I also believe the higher prices and fewer choices together can be the deciding factor for someone who decides they cannot afford to spend the extra money presently. When I mentioned this to my friend, she told me I was right because of a discussion she recently had with a family member. This relative was complaining about the amount of money they spend on people for the holiday, but they feel they never get that much in return. The look on my face must have conveyed my shock to her because she told me she was just as shocked. Even with the fact the holiday is not something I ever celebrated, I commented on how sad it was that the focus for her relative was the amount of money she spent compared to what she received; that the gifts have nothing to do with the meaning and spirit of the holiday. Next, I told my friend I wish I could meet her relative just so I could tell them they need to see this beautiful, family adventure drama to learn the real meaning of the holiday.      A SON TRIED TO WAIT FOR his father to return from a long trek, in search of a magical place; but decided to take off on his own to find his father and bring him back home. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Aunt Ruth, relative newcomer Henry Lawfull as Nikolas, Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adaline, Game of Thrones-TV) as Joel, Kristen Wiig (Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, Ghostbusters) as Aunt Carlotta and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Eternal Beauty) as Mother Vodol; this film based on the popular book was a wonderful movie watching experience for me. The cast was first rate; each actor was wonderful in their role. Despite the story being somewhat predictable, I found the mix of fantasy, thrills, magic, drama and fun to be a perfect mix—especially during this holiday season. The message in the story is something that I feel everyone could learn from. As I mentioned, Christmas was not part of the holidays I celebrated; but I must tell you, I enjoyed and appreciated this treat of a picture.

3 stars  

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible

I JUST DO NOT GET THESE extreme sports/activities that people willingly do. There is High Lining which is crossing from one cliff to another by balancing and walking on a single rope. Free solo climbing is another activity that makes no sense to me, as well as a 6-day marathon that crosses 154 miles through Morocco, I believe. Why would anyone want to do something so dangerous? There was a documentary I reviewed some time back about a man who does free solo climbing. Seeing him climb without any safety apparatus seemed crazy to me. Granted, the extent of my climbing achievements was climbing trees when I was a kid. The highest I ever went was to the level of a 2nd floor of an apartment building. I understand a person who wants to be the fastest runner in the world or hit the most home runs in baseball; but doing something just for the sake of saying you did it, is not a good enough excuse for me to risk my life. I hope this is not coming across like I am judging, because it is not my intentions. I just do not understand the appeal of such an activity and to tell you the truth I am sure those who participate in such activities do not understand why I like to sit and watch movies.      ON THE OTHER HAND, I APPRECIATE individuals who do remarkable things. For example, I enjoy more individual sports than team ones. Someone who can lift more weight or run the fastest or hold their breath underwater the longest are things that I admire because it is humans doing nearly unhuman things. Since I have been active in the fitness field for decades, I appreciate such activities because I am looking at the upper limits of what a human body can do. Seeing the body do unhuman things fascinates me; I think that is the main reason why I like that traveling circus with the different acts from around the world. The acts seem to be always pushing the limits of their bodies. I can remember a student from elementary school who was double jointed. They could bend their arms and legs in all these weird positions that no one else in class could do. So, you might be wondering why, knowing what you know about me, would I sit and watch this documentary. It was not on my radar; however, someone told me about it, and I was curious to see the scenery. And let me tell you, climbing a mountain would be the last thing I would want to do, unless they had a designated easy trail and gift shop/restaurant along the way. But I must tell you I was mesmerized by what I was watching in this thrilling adventure film.      WITH SOME OF THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN peaks in their country’s backyard, a man from Nepal feels the world does not fully recognize what role his country has played in the activity of mountain climbing. He wants to change the perception by doing the unexpected. Directed by Gabriel Clarke (Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, Finding Jack Charlton) and Torquil Jones (Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, The American Fall), this award nominee was a thrilling and awe-inspiring movie. Nirmal “Nimsdal” Purja, the mountaineer from Nepal, was something to see with his infectious personality. The filming was exquisite to the point I felt I was experiencing the location without leaving my couch. I admit the idea for this audacious project was borderline insane; but I appreciated the message Nirmal was trying to convey. And a shoutout to his wife, who at least in the film supported his plan. I know it is hard to compare any one feat from another person; but I have to say, this movie will show you something that you have never seen before and I am guessing will be glad you got to see it. Several scenes had Nepali spoken with English subtitles.

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Encounter

THE NEWS STORY REPORTED WAS HORRIFIC. I was watching the news on television as the reporter was standing across from a charred structure. The following is what she reported. A fire broke out in the apartment building and the father of one of the families living in the building was credited with saving several children. He had no training; he simply acted on instinct. First, he got his family safely out and away from the building. Knowing the other residents, he quickly ran back into the building to assist those neighbors who needed it. With smoke billowing and the fire spreading quickly, the father was grabbing any unattended children, bringing them down and out of the building despite the smoke irritating his eyes and lungs. I was wondering as the reporter was talking, how far away was the fire department from the building and how long did it take for them to eventually get there. The reporter continued the father was personally responsible for saving besides his family, five young children from the building. However, the story ended on a sad note; the father did not survive. After bringing out his 5th child, the father went back into the ravaged building to look for any other children. He never came back out.      I FOUND THE NEWS STORY INCREDIBLY sad. What a heroic feat the father had done for his family and neighbors; it was heartbreaking he had to lose his life in the process. Though I do not believe my story is anywhere on the same tragic level as what the news reported, I distinctly remembered the day I almost drowned. On a family vacation, we were staying with out of state relatives. One day it was decided we would go to a resort’s swimming pool. I was not even in kindergarten yet, so I do remember I was quite young. My swimming ability was limited to playing in the shallow end. At the end of the day, I decided to wash off my flip-flops. I walked over to the edge of the pool that was closest to me; it turned out it was the deep end. I sat down with my feet in the water and leaned over to rinse off my sandals. Before I knew it, I fell into the water. I had no time to think as I sunk below the surface. Still clutching my flip-flops, I started waving my arms up and down in the hopes I could get back to the surface of the water. The very next thing, I felt two arms hugging me from behind and up to the surface we went; it was that fast. A stranger had saved me who was nearby. It amazes me how instincts take over in times of need. If you choose to see this science fiction thriller, you won’t believe what the dad does to save his kids.      WITH THE POPULATION UNDER AN ALIEN threat, a father commits to do anything he can to save his two boys. With Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Malik Khan, Octavia Spencer (Thunder Force, The Shape of Water) as Hattie Hayes, Lucian-River Chauhan (Heartland-TV, Gabby Duran & the Unsittables-TV) as Jay Khan, newcomer Aditya Geddada as Bobby Khan and Rory Cochrane (Black Mass, Love and a .45) as Shepard West; the beginning of this film started off with a bang, it was exciting. The acting was ably handled by Riz with the surprise that the 2 young boys did such an admirable acting job as well. For me, I enjoyed the first half of the movie more than the 2nd half. It was almost as if two different stories were playing out. Unfortunately, it did not work; instead, it lost the excitement factor for me. It was sad because the acting was so good as was the idea behind the story. Too bad there was not someone through the entire making of this production available to save this movie.

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Power of the Dog

I HAVE NOT THOUGHT ABOUT HIM for decades. His hair matched his personality; it was bright, fire red. If memory serves me correctly, at one time he was the only redhead in the class. He could be so sweet in front of the teachers, flashing this smile that revealed a little space between his two front teeth that I assumed the teachers thought was adorable. Add in the two freckled fleshy cheeks with that smile and I am sure the teachers forgot what they were angry about in the first place. Little did they know; he could be equally mean. One time he was seated at his desk, quietly cutting with a pair of scissors, little bits of hair off the long-haired girl who was sitting in front of him. One of his favorite tricks to play was to break the ink cartridge inside of a pen and let the ink drop on the seat at a student’s desk; so, if the student did not notice, they would sit on the inked chair and stain their clothing. Doesn’t he sound like a real charmer? Luckily, he was not a fast runner so more times than not I was not the focus of his bullying. It was nothing for him to kick someone in the back to see them fall and that would include any animals that crossed his path.      MAYBE I AM STEREOTYPING, BUT IN my experiences most bullies were not sweet and charming. With them never being anything but mean, there was never an expectation that one would catch them at a kind moment and be given a pass. This red-haired student, in my opinion, was more lethal because his actions were intentional and thought out. He had to get some enjoyment out of inflicting harm on other people, where someone who was always mean may not be aware, they are doing anything wrong or “bad.” Take it from me, there is nothing worse than sitting in class next to a known bully or mean kid because the entire time is spent keeping one eye on them in a state of perpetual dread, that something awful was about to happen. I am remembering how uncomfortable I was sitting in the classroom, not that the classroom was the only place where harm could befall me. The locker room in the gym was always a fertile place where bullies would rule. My vivid memory of this red -haired student appeared shortly after I saw the main character in this dramatic, western romance.      TWO BROTHERS RUNNING THEIR CATTLE RANCH together face a change when one of them becomes fond of a widow. With Benedict Cumberbatch (The Courier, Doctor Strange) as Phil Burbank, Kirsten Dunst (The Beguiled, Little Women) as Rose Gordon, Jesse Plemons (The Irishman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things) as George Burbank, Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road) as Peter Gordon and Sean Keenan (Glitch-TV, Lockie Leonard-TV) as Sven; the acting in this film was spectacular to the point where I felt Oscar nominations would be in store for some of the actors. The scenery, the music and the wonderful direction of scenes made this such an entertaining movie watching experience for me. The story’s pace was done in a slow and deliberate pace, where I found myself uneasy, as if there was going to be some impending doom taking place. This reaction was almost visceral for me, due to Benedict’s character. I especially enjoyed the way the director kept things at a minimum when it came to the actors. Instead of trying to manipulate the viewers’ emotions, she let the actors show their feelings in a look or gaze; it was effective. I also was surprised on how the story turned out; but it made perfect sense to me. This was an amazing film that, as I said earlier, should be a participant in this year’s Oscars’ ceremony.

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Madame X

I KNEW GOING IN THERE WOULD be a good chance my ears would be ringing by the end of the night. It was part of the event. We would be sitting with anticipation in a cavernous stadium with 20,000 people who all came for the same reason. Sometimes there would be a wall of speakers on both sides of the stage; other times, they would be hidden behind some type of fabric or paper scenery. I knew if there were added speakers suspended from the ceiling then the sound would be massive. Either way we knew we were going to hear music; we just did not know if it would be clear based on the acoustics of the arena. I loved going to concerts so much, that at one point, I was going nearly every weekend during the summer months. The places would be either enclosed or outdoor spots, though I preferred indoor so I would not have to worry about any precipitation. Those times when we could use public transportation to get to the concert, were extra memorable because the train cars were usually full of other concertgoers. There was such a festive atmosphere on the train; some people singing, others dressed up like one of the members of the band. Going to a concert was truly an event.      WHAT DRIVES ME TO ATTEND A music concert is the theatrics of it. I expect to experience more than just the artist singing their songs. I once went to a concert where the singer either sat on a stool or stood up to the microphone stand and sang a list of their music hits, with little talking between the songs. It was like listening to their album, which I could have done at home. Though they had an abundance of top ten hits, I never went to see them again because their concert was boring. After attending concerts where I witnessed a laser light drawn eagle take flight above my head and where King Kong appeared with the singer draped over the gorilla’s hand like Fay Wray, I want to be totally entertained. For that reason, I have seen a few of Madonna’s concerts. Putting her singing abilities to the side; she is nothing but one of the best at marketing her brand. Full dance numbers, costume changes and acrobats are just a few reasons her concerts tend to be spectacular. Going to one of her concerts one never knows what to expect, except for a full theatrical production. And for that reason, I was excited to see this musical documentary.      MADAME X, PLAYED BY MADONNA (EVITA, A League of Their Own), is a secret agent who travels the world fighting for freedom. Directed by Ricardo Gomes (Union Bay, Urban Sea) and newcomer SKNX, this concert filmed in Portugal was filled with a variety of singers and dancers who joined Madonna on stage. Both the video clips and stage productions were tight and well performed; however, I found the filming of the concert annoying. It was choppy due to the quick shots jumping from front to back and side to side. The music predominately consisted of Madonna’s more current music which was not as appealing to me as her earlier stuff. In her earlier days her political statements were fresh and heartfelt; at this stage they came off a bit to theatrical and seemed as if they were on a long list that she was checking off as the show went on. I never considered her a great singer, more a great performer; but in this concert tour, I never felt the sense of excitement like I experienced in her other ones. Maybe if the editing had been less frenetic and she had included a few of her older songs, I would have enjoyed watching this film. Standing on its own, I know I would have been upset if I had paid for a ticket to go see this show in person. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Encanto

EATING ON SNACK TRAYS WAS NEVER part of any of our family meal get togethers. It was just not acceptable. Getting together with the relatives meant adding leafs to the dining room table, plus a folding buffet table and if need be a couple of folding card tables. The goal was for all the family members to sit down to eat a meal together. I can remember times where we would be so packed into a room that some of the kids would have to crawl under the table to get out from their seats. At some point during my childhood, the older relatives decided the kids should sit together at a table by themselves. Each of us felt so grown up because we had our own space to eat without the adults looking over us. I never knew what the age limit was; but at some point, a kid at a certain age would be moved out from eating at the children’s table and given a seat with the adults. It was almost like a rite of passage. Once everyone was seated the food would come out from the kitchen, almost like an assembly line. Plates, bowls and platters of food would be handed off to whoever was sitting the closest to the kitchen. Once they took what they wanted, they would hand off the dish to the person next to them and so on, all the way down and back the entire length of the tables.      I CAN LOOK BACK AT THOSE family meals with fondness and amazement; there were many times no one ever left the table. Whether it was the conversations or wanting to be one of the first to grab the desserts; everyone enjoyed sitting together and talking the entire evening. Or at least I thought so. It was later in life, after the older generation was gone and everyone moved up to the next level of their life expectancy, that I discovered how many relatives had a different perception of those times when we came together to share a meal. Within one branch of the family, the siblings were fighting amongst themselves and did not want to sit with each other. Their spin on their contribution to the evening’s conversation had a negative slant to it. That negativity would filter down into conversations where individuals would misinterpret a relative’s words and opinions. It was only recently I realized this took place because I was eating lunch with a relative and we discovered we had opposite opinions about one of our family members. Despite the different perspectives, it didn’t change the fact that we were all part of the same family, just like the family in this animated, comedy family film.      EVERY CHILD IN THE MADRIGAL FAMILY had a magical power except one named Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV). Because she did not have a special power, she found herself in a unique position when the magic around the family began to decay. With Maria Cecilia (Amas de casa desesperadas-TV, La Bruja) voicing Abuela Alma, John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) voicing Bruno, relative newcomer Mauro Castillo voicing Felix and Jessica Darrow (Feast of the Seven Fishes) voicing Luisa; visually this movie was exquisite. The variety of colors and the lush settings were the real magic of the story. The musical score was upbeat and fun which only added more to the scenes. My only complaint was the story/script. I thought the message the writers were conveying was wonderful, but I felt there needed to be more variance to the drama level. It seemed as if most scenes were on one emotional level; where I wanted to feel more excitement, more thrills and more passion. It almost felt like a lite version of the studio’s usual depth in its animated films. Despite it, the overall movie watching experience was very good.                              

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Julia

IT WAS NOT LIKE I WAS seeking her out; she just appeared, sounding out of breath. I was flipping through the television channels, stopping at anything that would keep my attention. As the television screen went from frame to frame like a slideshow, this large woman appeared on the screen with a modulated voice that spiraled and swooped in tones. She was behind a cooking island that was covered with different kitchen utensils and food items. I was curious because of the food, keeping in mind that my only interest in food was the eating of it. Her theatrics were something I had only seen on a comedy show. Here she was holding up a cooking chicken by its wings as if teaching it to stand for the very first time. Cooking was never part of my thought process, yet I was curious to see what she would do with that chicken after she was done playing with it. I used to watch my relatives cooking in the kitchen, but none of them acted like this woman on television. There was joyfulness, a happiness to her preparations of the food. Some of the kitchen utensils she was using, I had never seen before. I was being drawn into her world.      FROM THAT FIRST VIEWING, I BEGAN watching her on TV consistently. Ironically, I still had no interest in cooking a meal; but I was fascinated with the whole process of it. What looked like these random dissimilar food items, that then got thrown together to be stirred, beaten, folded, whisked, mixed, poured, blended or pureed; that then got dumped into some type of vessel to bake, freeze, grill, boil, chill, fry or cook that turned it into a scrumptious looking plate of delicious food amazed me, each and every time I watched her. It was rare for her to make something that I was familiar with which you would think is odd, but it was not. If anything, it showed me a new world of possibilities. I cannot remember how many of her shows I watched but her flair for presentation has always stewed in the back of my mind. Fast forward a few decades and I am finally delving into the world of cooking. I have been active for years with baking but ventured very little into creating a meal that required more than a microwave oven. There is a new sense of satisfaction I have been experiencing when I see what I was able to do from start to finish with foods. I owe this to the first superstar of cooking I accidently found on television years ago. I had such a sense of joy as I got to visit with her again in this beautiful documentary.      JULIA CHILD DID NOT SET OUT to change the world per se; she just wanted people to enjoy their food as much as she did. Directed by Julie Cohen (RBG, My Name is Pauli Murray) and Betsy West (RBG, My Name is Pauli Murray), what I loved about this movie was the fact that it presented multiple sides of Julia. Using archival footage and pieces of her and her husband’s correspondences, a charming and sweet story was presented to the viewer. When I thought about the variety of cooking shows and celebrity chef run restaurants we have presently, it amazed me how Julia for her times was a trendsetter, if not the very first celebrity chef. The layout of the scenes was done in such an easy thoughtful way that I felt were unbiased and direct, touching on many aspects of Julia’s life. Through the years, I have gleaned a variety of tidbits about Julia’s life to the point I felt I knew her quite well. Gratefully, this documentary provided me new insights and turned into a rich viewing experience without the calories.

3 ½ stars  

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