Monthly Archives: March 2022

Flash Movie Review: The Tinder Swindler

THE STORY HAD MAGICIAL ASPECTS THE more I listened to it. A friend of mine had met someone on one of her social media sites. They started a conversation that went back and forth in an easy, rhythmic way for a short time, before they advanced to video chats. When both were comfortable, they agreed to meet at a popular park in the city. They wound up from walking around the park to sitting on a park bench for a total of 4 hours; never was there a lull in their conversation. The way she described it was saying he showed her the part of his heart that had been healing from a past hurt. She added that he was a sensitive man who teared up when they were talking about their pets, and he spoke about the pain he suffered when he had to put down one of his cats. Evidently, the four hours flew by, and they agreed to go out on a longer date for a meal. A week later they met for dinner then afterwards, walked down to a coffee shop where they sat and talked for two hours more. As I was listening to her tell it, it did cross my mind that all of it was too good to be true. I felt I needed to play the devil’s advocate to make sure she was not missing something about him. It turned out things just got better and better for the two of them, to the point where they decided to get married.      I WAS SO HAPPY FOR MY friend and that everything fell into place for her with this man she met online. This was in such sharp contrast to another friend of mine who has had no success meeting people online. Every time we get together, she always has a new story about one of her online dates. There was the one guy who was too eager to date, texting her everyday with little “inspirational” messages and quotes. Then there was this fellow who never mentioned having any friends, along with having no outside interests from his day job as some type of buyer for a company. She always carries pepper spray on her and once, she almost had to use it on a guy she had met who got aggressive with her on their 2nd date. I know how difficult it can be trying to meet someone online; one needs to go through a lot of choices before finding one that clicks and moves in synch with you. If you want to see what I am talking about then feel free to watch what happens to the women in this unbelievable documentary, when they thought they had found the perfect man.      WITH ONE SWIPE A PERSON’S LIFE can change drastically when on a dating app. Directed by 1st time director Felicity Morris, I could not look away from this film that at times played out like a crime thriller. The story was so outrageous that there were moments I thought this could not be real, yet it kept on going. I was not sure how authentic all the re-enactments were, but it did not matter to me. However, the way the scenes tightly unfolded added believability to what was taking place. Also, I enjoyed the way the director built up the story; it took me from one emotional extreme to another. I felt the story would be relatable to anyone who watched it. Maybe not on the same level, but everyone has their level of trust. It is funny; when I asked people who had seen this film what they thought, they were divided into two camps. One group sided with one side and the other group felt it was the other side. I will leave it up to you. This movie can be watched by anyone, but especially those who have used dating sites.

3 ½ stars

POST OSCAR TELECAST

IT WAS A MAD DASH TO finish up the chores I had before the telecast began. I had an appointment in the morning, food shopping in the afternoon, preparing food for the week, packing up my gym bag and laying out my work clothes before the show. I finished up 5 minutes prior and quickly nestled myself into the sofa to see the return of not one but three hosts for the Oscar telecast. The opening of the show with the Williams sisters introducing Beyonce was a well-played move by the producers of the show. Let me first say Beyonce has a wonderful voice and knows how to deliver a song. However, I feel every performance of hers recently must be a big production with a multitude of people and large settings. At a live concert, I appreciate when the musical artist mixes up the songs so that there are some intimate moments in between the bigger song productions. I wish Beyonce would just come out on stage and sing the heck out of a song.      NEXT UP WERE THE 3 HOSTS: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I respect all three and have enjoyed the performances I have seen them in. With Amy and Wanda being more of a comedienne, where they can do standup comedy, I felt the three of them were a bit awkward working with each other. There were jokes that hit the mark, but I thought Regina’s bit concerning the testing of male movie stars went on too long. Because I think the three women, especially Wanda and Amy, have great comedic timing, I would have enjoyed their opening more if they had been given leeway to adlib and perform more like it was one of their stand-up shows. As the first award category was coming up, I realized my excitement in seeing the show was not at its usual level. The main reason was the fact I had not seen all the major nominated films, like Coda. There was a layer of sadness from this but also from the fact that some categories’ nominees were given their awards prior to the show. To me, everyone who works on a film is equally as important as their fellow workers. It takes a group of people to bring a story to life on the big screen. I know the academy made this decision in the hope of keeping the telecast tight and on time. Well, I have to say it did not make a difference to me.      THE DURATION OF THE SHOW WAS something I was aware of due to it being slow in my opinion. Doing a big number of a non-nominated song from a nominated film made no sense to me, wasting more time. I am upset that I even must address this since it has already sucked all the air out of the room; but Will Smith should have been removed from the theater. Violence solves nothing and correct me if I am wrong, but when the camera cut to Will and Jada after the joke, it looked as if Will was chuckling until he saw Jada’s sour look on her face. Then suddenly in testosterone mode, Will has to get up and defend Jada’s honor? Do not get me wrong, no one and I mean no one should ever make fun of any individual who suffers from an infliction. Maybe Chris knew or maybe he forgot. A better option would have been Will making a statement after the show or confronting Chris off camera. Since he was the frontrunner for best actor, I feel the academy stood paralyzed in what actions they could have done. Since Will did win, he could have easily made a statement during his acceptance speech and turn this episode into a real learning moment. What he did instead was to ramble on without taking full responsibility for his actions and not apologizing to Chris and the public who were stuck watching his foul-mouthed tirade. Yesterday the academy said they are starting an investigation and now today, Will comes out with a prepared apology to Chris. Can we say damage control here? What upsets me is the focus is off the films and on Will’s actions. My time is valuable as well as yours, who wants to listen to this stuff.      FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TELECAST one could tell things were off kilter; though, I loved Amy’s joke about taking too long to undress from her Spiderman outfit, asking if she missed anything. I felt the choices for the winners made sense and I was fine with them. One thing I have a hard time with is when celebrities in a confused state are brought onto the stage for a tribute or to speak in front the audience. It was obvious there was some confusion going on with Liza Minnelli. However, I will give credit to Lady Gaga for handling it in such a way as to maintain Liza’s dignity. But as I was cozy on the couch, I could not help feeling like I found a precious jewel that had a flaw in it. The value of it was lessened and my enjoyment level was not at its usual peak. Having gone past its scheduled time and with the feelings I was experiencing, as soon as they said goodnight I jumped up and quickly got ready to go to bed. This telecast will always be remembered for the poor behavior and lack of respect on display. They are movies, pure entertainment and that is all I want out of them. I hope the academy can get to a place where this show once again is a celebration of movies instead of a display of egos. 

Flash Movie Trailer: The Outfit

THANKS TO MY OCD TENDENCIES, I had no idea I had a knack for making merchandise displays. I was working part time at an importer of Asian furnishings, doing deliveries and various other odd jobs. When an employee was going on vacation, the manager asked me to set up some type of display with the shipment of urns we had just received. I had no experience doing anything like this but told him I would take care of it. Well long story short, I created this stepped floor display down the middle of a wide aisle that perfectly displayed the urns. The first day after I finished it, we nearly sold out of the urns by the end of the day. The manager was stunned as well as me. That same week after the urns sold, the manager asked me to handle the uncrating and displaying of a shipment of ornamental hand fans. With newfound confidence, I thought it would be best to open a group of fans and place them around the other displays, such as having them stick out of a few potted plants around the store and displaying fans in several cabinets. The rest of them I placed on a rosewood dining table in a fan shape with each row a different color. It turned out the fans were a big hit at the cash registers.      WHEN THE EMPLOYEE CAME BACK FROM vacation, she took over doing the displays; however, the manager told her I would help her with them. I was excited by this discovered talent of mine and was eager to help her out whenever a shipment came in. I never considered how she felt about having someone suddenly working with her. However, it was made quite clear to me, that she wanted to handle everything by herself. I tried helping, but she felt her ideas were better than mine. My issue was the fact her displays did not always have a symmetrical look to them, which caused by OCD pulses to pick up. I tried showing her how the item looked if it was displayed in a different way, but I could see my advice was not being well received. I had to figure out a different way of expressing my opinions. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work with her; so, I started to do a little rearranging after she was gone for the day. Nothing too dramatic, but just enough to make the display pop out a bit. Surprisingly she only asked me a couple of times about the changes she saw in her displays. I would tell her either I had to make room for an order to go out on delivery or customers had moved things around while trying to match up items with their orders. I had to make this work because I enjoyed what I was doing there. It is quite like what the main character was doing in this crime thriller, except he had to worry about being killed.      AFTER OPENING HIS SHOP IN CHICAGO, a tailor had to figure out how to stay on the gangsters’ good side after they came calling. With Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Leonard, Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, The Professor) as Mable, Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, American Assassin) as Richie, Johnny Flynn (Emma, Clouds of Sils Maria) as Francis and Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending, The Omen) as Violet; this drama captured me quickly. Mark was the reason for me to remain focused on the story as it unfolded. I enjoyed the way the script snaked its way through the story, adding these unexpected twists and turns; it was exciting. I thought the entire look of this film was perfect as it brought back to life a period from the 1950s. This picture was a great start to the new Oscar season. My hope is that the future movies coming out this year will be just as exciting and engaging as this one.

3 ¼ stars

Oscar Predictions 2021

EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME, I have felt a sense of excitement and joy in anticipation of the Academy Awards telecast. In the past, I would have more than likely seen every movie nominated in the major categories. Various family members and friends would list their picks on who they feel deserves to receive an Academy Award, to see who had the most correct predictions. I was always invited to viewing parties but declined all of them because I did not want to have any interruptions or too much noise interfering with my enjoyment of sitting back and watching the television show. All of that changed when COVID came into our lives. It has been a long time coming but movie theaters have reopened, though not all of them and this year’s telecast will be televised live with three hosts.      DESPITE THIS GOOD NEWS, THERE IS a part of me that is sad and stressed out. I looked at the list of nominations and out of the films I was able to see this past year, there was only one I physically saw in a movie theater. For the others, I had to either stream them at home, rent them, or plead with friends to make time for me to come see a film on their streaming service; and sadly, I again this year have not been able to see all movies nominated. I also have to say, watching a picture on a small screen in the comforts of one’s own home has a different affect on the movie watching experience than sitting in a dark theater. The past year I may have given one or two films a 4-star rating; part of me thinks the lack of a big screen did not let me get fully into the story. Regardless, I do want to offer below my list of films I feel deserve to receive an Oscar award and those that I think the academy will pick.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

MY CHOICE: ACADEMY PREDICTIONS

AUNJANUE ELLIS ARIANA DEBOSE

BEST SOUND:

DUNE DUNE

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

DRIVE MY CAR THE POWER OF THE DOG

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

BELFAST BELFAST

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

KODI SMIT-McPHEE KODI SMIT-McPHEE

BEST FILM EDITING:

DUNE THE POWER OF THE DOG

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

FLEE ENCANTO

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE:

DRIVE MY CAR DRIVE MY CAR

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

DUNE DUNE

BEST ACTRESS:

JESSICA CHASTAIN JESSICA CHASTAIN

BEST ACTOR:

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH WILL SMITH

BEST DIRECTOR:

JANE CAMPION RYUSUKE HAMAGUCHI

BEST PICTURE:

THE POWER OF THE DOG THE POWER OF THE DOG

SO, THERE YOU HAVE IT; MY list of who I would recognize for an Oscar and who I think the academy will pick, all from the limited group of films I was able to see this past year. No matter how it plays out, I hope the televised show brings enjoyment, thrills and excitement to all of you and to me, too. I could use a good show to comfort and transport me to my happy place.

Flash Movie Review: Licorice Pizza

I WAS SURE I WAS ON my way to becoming a tycoon or at least thought of as being cool. There was no one I knew in my elementary school who was starting a business, but I was doing it. I do not remember how the idea came to me unless I considered the time spent selling candy and lemonade on the street corner, in front of my apartment building. My stand was a success; candy being the number one seller. What I used to do was set up the stand, a folding card table, early in the afternoon. I had two pitchers of lemonade and an assortment of candy pieces and bars. I would buy a bag of hard, fruit flavored candy that was individually wrapped, pour them into a bowl and sell each piece for a nickel. Right there, I was making a nice profit. When I was close to running out, I would have a friend of mine go to the store to buy another bag of hard candy and candy bars, which I priced a little more than the regular price. We would only buy the bars that were on sale; that is how I was able to make a profit on them.      HAVING GOTTEN A TASTE OF SUCCESS from my lemonade stand, gave me the confidence to start selling school supplies to my fellow classmates. I had a relative who was a manufacturer’s representative to a variety of companies that made school supplies. Their garage was completely shelved and fully stocked with all kinds of school items. Every new school year my cousins and I would go over and go “shopping” through the garage to get our school supplies. I must have asked my relative if I could take extra items, but I do not remember. There was no way I would have just taken them without permission; so, maybe I told him I wanted extra for friends? With my schoolbag loaded, I started asking classmates if they wanted to buy colored markers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and other assorted things. When students saw the variety of different colored markers and crayons, I sold out of everything in two days. I thought for sure I was on my way to becoming a great businessman. The added benefit to me was the fact students were now seeking me out to see what I had available. In my brain, I took this to mean I was now “popular.” Due to my history, I felt a connection at first with the main character in this dramatic, comedy romance.      HE WAS THE ULTIMATE PROMOTER OF himself. So, when student Gary Valentine, played by newcomer Cooper Hoffman, saw the school’s photographer’s helper he was convinced she would fall in love with him. With newcomer Alana Haim as Alana Kane, Sean Penn (Flag Day, Milk) as Jack Holden, Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths, Short Cuts) as Rex Blau and newcomer Will Angarola as Kirk; this film festival winner and Oscar nominee was a disappointment. I thought Alana did a decent job for a newcomer and the established actors were good; but it did not matter because I thought the script was littered with distractions. The only actor that stood out for me was Bradley Cooper. There were scenes that fell flat for me because they were hard to believe in. Despite this movie being tagged as a comedy, I did not find anything funny. Sure, there were a couple of precarious predicament scenes, but what it came down to for me was the actors seemed too young for their roles outside of the school scenes. I periodically lost interest, though I enjoyed the soundtrack. I also appreciated the story line of first love and of the would-be actor trying to get ahead; but things did not comfortably fit well for me in the end. With its Oscar nominations, I almost felt as if I was being hustled as I watched this picture.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Drive My Car

THERE IS A FINE LINE, I discovered, between sympathizing and topping. I am the first to admit that I used to not know the difference but have been working on it. It turns out, I am not the only one who was challenged in this area. There is an acquaintance of mine who consistently tries to “one up” me when it comes to issues of health. When we are talking and I mention an issue I am experiencing, such as a slight dizziness when I first get up from a reclined position, he will then proceed to tell me how he suffers from the same infliction; but invariably his condition is always worse than mine. If I said I had trouble sleeping, he would tell me how he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep because of all the times he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Or he would describe to me how horrible his mattress is, that he cannot get comfortable on it. No matter what I say, he is always quick to tell me how much worse it is for him. I must tell you this gets annoying pretty quickly; it is not a contest to see who can out complain the other.      I THINK OF THIS MAN WHEN someone is sharing their personal information/issue/concerns with me. If nothing else, I try to listen to the person to see if they are asking me for advice; sometimes, a person just wants a sympathetic ear or sounding board to help them figure out their feelings. When appropriate if I have had a similar experience, I may share that information with them. If they choose to ask me how I handled it, I will tell them. Sometimes I will tell them I had a similar experience and offer my advice on how I handled the situation, avoiding any comment with the word “should” in it. I do not know if you experience this; but when two people are sharing their issues and there is an even “give and take” of emotions and feelings, it is a beautiful feeling. There is a sense of healing taking place when I have experienced such a thing. Sometimes hearing what another person has gone through or done about their predicament has provided me with new insight and perspective. Not that I am saying it is a situation where you hear someone’s story, and you think things could have been worse for you; but I guess that can play a part in one’s perspective. Either way, it cannot hurt, and the proof is in this Oscar nominated drama from Japan.      HAVING ALREADY ACCEPTED THE POSITION OF director, there was no choice allowed when it came to providing Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima (License to Live, Tokyo Rendezvous), with a driver for his cherished red Saab automobile. The long drive could become a challenge. With Toko Miura (The Girl in the Sun, Weathering with You) as Misaki Watari, Reika Kirishima (Norwegian Wood, Godzilla: Final Wars) as Oto Kafuku, newcomer Park Yu-rim as Lee Yoon-a and newcomer Jin Dae-yeon as Kon Yoon-su; this film festival winning movie was an experience for me. I was not looking forward to its 3-hour running time, plus I experienced a bit of confusion when the opening credits took place well after the story had begun. With that being said, I was surprised how the confusion cleared up as I slowly was brought into this adult story that was based on the written short story. It was fascinating to watch adults be thoughtful and curious as the cast dealt with their various emotions. The play Uncle Vanya written by Anton Chekhov strongly influences this picture. Not having read it, I felt I was at a disadvantage. However, as the scenes progressed, I appreciated the way the director allowed the actors to explore their emotional baggage. As I said this film was made for adults and it did a wonderful job of exposing the depth of human feelings. Spoken Japanese and Korean sign language were used with English subtitles.          

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Trailer: West Side Story

WHEN I HEARD HOW HER MOTHER-IN-LAW was treating her, I was appalled. To be so blatant about a dislike for a person made me question exactly how so-called religious was she? I was told the mother-in-law never missed attending a church service, was involved by volunteering for church events, helped with fundraising; she did everything she could for her church, yet she did not like her daughter-in-law because she was raised and practiced a different religion. It did not matter that she loved her son, made him happy and in turn, he loved her. The fact her son did not push back at his mother’s behavior towards his bride, told me enough about him. I am trying not to be too judgmental here; probably not doing a good job, but here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about. The mother would ask her son to stop by after work then keep him there for dinner, without asking his wife to join. Now granted the son could/should have said something, but he did not; or he could have said he has to get home because his wife was making dinner. Another thing she would do is only give her daughter-in-law a generic birthday card, while everyone else in the family always received beautiful gifts on their birthdays. Granted this is my opinion, but this is why I found the mother-in-law’s behavior appalling.      THE THING I DO NOT UNDERSTAND is why should it matter if a person is of a different religion or for that fact, a different skin color. Human is human, how does one justify having negative feelings about someone who believes in a different religion? Or what fault can be found for someone’s ancestors coming from a different part of the world; we all still have so much in common, if one would just invest the time to find out. For myself, I do not know if it was due to my upbringing, schooling or life experiences that these two things about a person (religion & race) were unimportant to me. Putting environmental issues aside, what does the color of an individual’s skin, the shape of their eyes, their religious beliefs have to do with who they are as a good person. Sure, there are those who “practice what they preach” and there are those whose actions could be considered stereotypical; however, do these things change a person’s morals or heart or empathy? In my dating life I have dated people from all walks of life and places from earth; the only thing that mattered is if they were a good person. You can see what I am talking about if you choose to see this Oscar nominated film.      HOW DOES ONE REVIEW A REMAKE of an iconic, classic movie? I will give it a try. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List) with Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver) as Tony, newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ariana DeBose (The Prom, Hamilton) as Anita, David Alvarez (American Rust-TV) as Bernardo and Rita Moreno (Play it by Ear, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Valentina; this adaptation of the 1957 film stands on its own merits. The filming and direction were outstanding; Steven is a real storyteller. I was stunned that Ansel not only could sing but sing so well. He was a perfect match for Rachel. For me, the music and songs are the highlight. I felt the choreography was better than the original film because it seemed to have a better fit into the story. What surprised me was the script. The way it was updated, the story made more sense to me. Sadly, because the timing was not right for when this picture came out, few people got to see it. If you are a fan of musicals or even not, then you deserve to treat yourself by seeing this beautifully retooled story about two people in love.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Adam Project

IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO look back and know what you could have done instead of what you did do in that moment. Though I try to live my life without regrets, I have a history of events that I wish I could have erased or at least acted differently in. There was the odd-looking woman with the shopping cart who my friends and I would call a witch when we were little kids. In elementary school, I found a pencil sharpener shaped like an airplane on the floor. Instead of turning it into the teacher, I kept it because I had never seen one like it. During winter I cannot tell you how many times a group of us boys would be walking down the street as the local bus was making its stops. We never passed up the chance to throw snowballs at it as it drove by. I remember, though, talking a friend of mine out of wrapping snow around a rock before throwing it at the bus. The last time I participated in this activity was when the bus driver stopped the bus and got out to chase us. I never threw another snowball at a bus after that time. It is funny how some things never change because when I drive through the neighborhood in the winter months, inevitably I will spot a couple of little kids throwing a snowball at a bus or car before taking off and running away.      THEY SAY WITH AGE COMES WISDOM and I hope I continue to gain a little bit of wisdom every day. From time to time I think back to an event or a relationship and wonder what would have happened if…ahh, that word “if” can really trip a person up. In my classes I would coax members to at least try a new move because it was always easier than sitting and wondering about it for days on end. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were able to go back in time to do something differently than what we did back then. I carry a regret about a past relationship that ended in a brutally horrible way, to the point I said some awful things that I now wish I could have taken back. We learn from our mistakes, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply return to that specific time and redo our actions? I know I would be busy if I had the opportunity. Watching the main character in this action-adventure comedy, I could not help but admire his desire to try and make a change in his life.      AFTER CRASH LANDING, A TIME TRAVELING pilot finds his childhood home with his younger self living in it. With Ryan Reynolds (Red Notice, Free Guy) as Adam, newcomer Walker Scobell as young Adam, Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers franchise, Dark Waters) as Louis Reed, Jennifer Garner (Draft Day, 13 Going on 30) as Ellie Reed and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Blood Ties) as Laura; this was a fun science fiction film. Here was another role molded to Ryan, though I will say I thought Walker was almost as good as Ryan. There really was no new territory mined in the story; but the mix of childhood angst with family dynamics, rolled into a love story made this movie feel fresh. I enjoyed the whole cast as they all easily blended as a group through the script. As for the special effects they were nothing earthshattering, but they were fine for the several times they were in use. What was a surprise to me were the scenes that I found touching and sweet; they were a nice counterpoint to the other side of the story line. Overall, this was simply an easy, enjoyable movie watching experience and if you have a history of liking Ryan’s films, then you will be glad you saw this one as well.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Batman

THE HEAVINESS OF SADNESS AND GRIEF affects each of us differently. Not only am I good example of this, but I have encountered many others whose experiences went from one extreme to the other and everything in between. At an early stage of my life, I used to deal with my emotions by stuffing them inside and in turn, stuffing my mouth with food. The more upset I was the more I would consume from the pantry, refrigerator, ice cream truck, candy store and any other source that would satisfy my tastes and make me feel good. It took a long time, but I eventually learned how to better deal with the pain of grief and sadness. During my dating years, I wound up doing a heavy year long stint of volunteering after a heart wrenching breakup. A friend of mine, upon getting dumped by a boyfriend, would go through her photos and either scratch out her ex-boyfriend with a black marker or delete him completely. I have other friends who withdraw when they experience something traumatic. They prefer being by themselves, immersed in all their sadness until they get to a point where they begin to start rebuilding themselves back into the living world. I depended on this method for a long time. It was nothing for me to stay home and watch a dozen movies over a weekend, while dealing with my pain.      ONE OF THE MORE CONSTRUCTIVE REACTIONS I had due to grief was going to school to be a psychiatrist. Due to what I had suffered in my earlier years, I wanted to be in a position where I could help others who had suffered at the hands of a bully. The first couple of years of college were intense for me as I navigated the amount of course work with the amount of emotional baggage I had brought to school. Having lived through the experience, I felt I would have an advantage in assisting my future patients who had similar trauma to mine. As it turned out, I discovered I had few filters to keep me from becoming fully involved with a person who was dealing with familiar grief. Instead of helping them to discover the means to heal themselves, I found myself wanting to tell them what to do. I knew this would not be a solid fit for me; if someone was doing something that I thought was not a good move, I could see myself bluntly telling them to “knock it off” or saying something like “that makes no sense.” Looking back, I know I made the right decision and am now better equipped to handle grief or sadness. As for the main character in this action crime drama, see what he is doing to alleviate his grief.      A SERIES OF GRUESOME MURDERS OF Gotham’s political figures, forces Batman, played by Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse), into a cat and mouse game that could lead him to startling revelations. With Zoe Kravitz (Kimi, Rough Night) as Selina Kyle, Jeffrey Wright (The French Dispatch, Shaft) as Lt. James Gordon, Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oz and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Love & Mercy) as The Riddler; this film was totally dark in every aspect of the word. It is a grittier and more menacing Gotham than the versions from the past. When I left the movie theater, I felt unsatisfied; however, as I have been thinking more about this film, I have softened in my position a bit. For me, Zoe and Colin where the standout actors. Zoe can be spun off into her own movies in my opinion. Robert, for the way his character was written, was a good choice; but I did not connect to his Batman until closer to the end. And speaking of the end, this picture was way too long at 2 hours and 56 minutes. Some scenes were engaging for me, others dragged. Overall, I get the idea what the director and writers were trying to do. I only wish I did not have to sit so long in the dark and dourness of both the visuals and script.               

2 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Uncharted

THE MAP WAS DECEIVING, THAT IS all I can say. My good friend and I planned a trip to part of the country we had never seen. When we looked at the map, we decided to fly in and stay at a hotel in the city instead of finding an out of the way place closer to where we planned on exploring. Based on the map and the mileage we calculated between the 2 places, we figured we could drive back and forth each day. This way, we could check out restaurants and sights in the city while mornings and afternoons we could hike and dig into the area of the park that intrigued us the most. Everything was falling into place, and we arrived on a sunny warm day, got our rental car and made our way to the hotel. We dropped our bags into our room and got back into the car to check out the park. According to our calculations, we were approximately 90 miles away. I was driving and figured we could make it there in 1 ½-2 hours. Well, what the map did not show was the fact that the road not only wound around but was going up and down over rough terrain. There was no way I could go 60 mph; in fact, I was lucky if I could hit 35 at times, that is how convoluted the road was to drive on.      ONCE WE FINALLY GOT CLOSE TO the area, we stopped in a small town to get snacks and find a restroom. Walking into a small, independent convenience shop, we bought some food. Because the drive was way too long for us, I asked the clerk if there was a motel nearby. He said anything I could find around “these parts” had already sold-out months in advance. I explained our situation on staying too far away back in the city. From our conversation he told us to stick around while he checks with a friend of his about finding a place to stay. It turned out his friend had just gotten a cancellation on a room down the road. We spoke to the friend and agreed to take the room, travel problem solved. Sure, we were paying for 2 rooms; but we came so far, there was no way we were not going to do some exploring. And exploring we did as we spent the entire day until closing, in the park. It was a dream come true as we saw things we had only seen in print or on television. Steam bursting out of the ground, standing on top of a mountain as the setting sun turned the blue skies purple; both of us felt like explorers and finding that room made it all happen. This experience is why I appreciated what the main character in this action, adventure was trying to do.      HE AND HIS BROTHER HAD TALKED about it but how did this stranger Victor “Sully” Sullivan, played by Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Deepwater Horizon), know that they did. To find out Nathan, played by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Devil All the Time), would have to decide whether to trust him or not, if he wanted to make his and his brother’s dream come true. With Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory, The Skin I Live In) as Santiago Moncada, Sophia Ali (Truth or Dare, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Chloe Frazer and Tati Gabrielle (Freakish-TV, The 100-TV) as Braddock; this movie based on the video game series had its moments. Unfortunately, they were few and far between. I felt the script was a rehash of the Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and National Treasure films; except, this was not as good. Tom reminded me of a dressed down Spider-Man and Mark’s role was familiar. There were a few fight scenes that were fun to watch and the mystery element on what was essentially a treasure hunt kept my interest; but overall, this film was forgettable for the most part. If you have nothing to do or have never seen the 3 pictures I mentioned, you might get a little more out of this movie than I did. How adventuresome do you feel? There were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.          

2 stars 

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