Monthly Archives: August 2022

Flash Movie Review: Bullet Train

IT IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION FOR me whenever I am attending a dinner party, where I am not familiar to the host. It occurs when I am going as someone’s guest or attending a family function, where different people are contributing to the meal. I admit I am a fussy eater; add to that, I also am a visual and texture eater. If something does not look appealing to me then I am not interested in tasting it. I know these are my quirks; I do not pretend to hide or be embarrassed by them. However, I do not expect anyone to conform to my eating habits. This is why I get uncomfortable when going to dinner at someone’s house who is not familiar with me. My friends are thoughtful and usually will tell the host I do not eat onions or red meat; and I am appreciative of their actions. Many a times, the host will adjust their menu for to accommodate me; but this is the part that makes me uncomfortable. I do not want them to change what they planned; I can eat around anything placed on a dinner table. There has been get togethers where the host has made two of the same dishes, one with onions and the other without. I do not want them to do such a thing; I can pick out the onions or just not put any of it on my dish, no big deal.      MY NOT WISHING TO CHANGE SOMEONE to fit my needs is a belief that I had to grow into; it was not something that came organically. I used to be one of those individuals who readily told people what they should do. I would see or listen to a person dealing with a problem and I would immediately tell them what they needed to do, whether they asked for my advice or not, it did not matter. Through a time of self-discovery and awareness, I realized it was part of my control issues. If someone asked me for my advice, it was okay to offer it; but not to swoop in and take on their issues. My eyes were opened to the point I could recognize when others were trying to “take charge” or convince someone to do something differently. I know this is my opinion, but I find those individuals who preach and try to convert people are no different than me trying to change a friend’s mind to do something I like to do. Just because, let us say, I like to skydive does not mean you have to do it now. However, in this action, comedy thriller it was amusing to see how the main character tried convincing people to his way of thinking.      HOPING THE JOB WOULD BE EASY and peaceful, an assassin has a tough time staying calm when he is stuck on a high-speed passenger train in Japan with other assassins. With Brad Pitt (The Lost City, By the Sea) as Ladybug, Joey King (The Conjuring, The In Between) as Prince, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals, Kick-Ass franchise) as Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Hotel Artemis) as Lemon and Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes, Warrior-TV) as Kimura; I felt the movie was made more for the cast than the viewer. It was obvious the cast was having fun with their characters. Joey stood out for me with her acting ability. There was a lot of violence and blood throughout the film; but at least the fight scenes were well done, and I enjoyed the witty dialog. The script was uneven, eventually losing steam as it headed towards the end, which was a jumble. There was no character development; and, in this case, I was okay with it. I felt the whole story was put together like a board game and the characters were just game pieces. Pretty much, this type of story has been done before and done better; however, it was still fun to watch the craziness that all took place on a bullet train.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Sea Beast

I WAS TOLD TO BE WARY of one of the guests that was attending the gathering, by a friend of mine. He said this guest was going to seek me out to ask about the training I went through to be a fitness/yoga instructor. I was confused, not understanding why my friend thought this could become an issue. The gist of the story is my friend warned me that this guest was going to try and use me to learn as much as he could without actually doing the training and certification process. It turned out my friend was 100% correct. This guest came off as a caring person who wanted to help people reach their fitness goals; but all they were interested in was to set up a fitness studio and make a lot of money. I would have figured it out even if my friend had not tipped me off, but it was good to get a snapshot of this individual. I use the term “snapshot” because that is how I take in other people’s opinions. You know the term, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, I try not to do it when meeting someone. If someone tells me about someone before I meet them, I consider their views are an imaginary snapshot that I put in my back pocket. It is only information from a different point of view that I may compare to the opinion I form after being with that person.      THERE ARE PEOPLE, I KNOW, WHO do not go with their own opinion. Instead, they are easily swayed by other individuals’ opinions. Granted, if a friend tells me awful things about someone, I probably will be more cautious around that person if I see them; however, I understand there are at least two sides to every story. I have seen in recent years, more examples of people taking things at face value, believing whatever a person says without checking it our for themselves. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand it. During my school years is when I experienced this phenomenon the most. It would take one person to assign a derogatory label to another student before others would immediately shun them because they did not want to be considered like the victim of said vitriol. All it would take is for someone to say, “You smell funny,” before others would take that as true and act accordingly without every going near the person. Maybe it is easier to believe someone else’s opinion instead of investigating it for oneself? This animated, adventure comedy may have the key towards an answer.      DURING A TIME WHEN THE OCEANS were filled with beasts, a little orphan girl wants to escape her orphanage and join the crew to one of the best hunting ships in the land. She just needs to convince them how serious she is about it. With Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Star Trek franchise) voicing Jacob Holland, Zaris-Angel Hator (Morbius, The Midnight Gang) voicing Maisie, Jared Harris (The Crown-TV, Morbius) voicing Captain Crow, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies, Without a Trace-TV) voicing Sarah Sharpe and Xana Tang (Mulan, Filthy Rich-TV) voicing Lea the Lookout; this film was gorgeous to watch. The details in the animation made it hard for me sometimes to figure out if the scene was real or animated; that is how good the animation was in this picture. The story was filled with heart and sure, it was not hard to figure out what was going to happen; however, the story was so beautifully written that I honestly was enchanted by everything. The message was wonderful and relevant, in my opinion. I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did; this easily ranks up there with some of the recent terrific, animated pictures that have come out the past years. Here, I myself was passing judgement before watching the film. I need to work on that.                                                      

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Jerry & Margo Go Large

IN A PREVIOUS REVIEW, I MENTIONED I would do more traveling if I were to win a lottery game. For me, traveling makes me feel like an explorer. I get a thrill arriving in a new place and delving into the history of the area, while also participating in all the kitschy, touristy things. Walking through the only royal residence on US soil, learning it was the first building to get electric lights, even before the White House, was a historical tidbit that gave me a shot of adrenaline. Or, walking through the belly of the USS Midwest aircraft carrier, ducking my head at every doorway, learning at the time of World War II it was the largest warship in the world, sparked my childhood fantasies about being a military general. As you can see, I am not the type who likes to sit at a beach for a vacation. And though I have not won a lottery game with a life-changing jackpot, I am grateful that I can still do some traveling. The only difference between traveling now and if I were a lottery winner or retired is that I would not have a time restriction on the trip if I were not working.      THOUGH I LOVE TRAVELING AND SEEING various places, there is something to be said about the feeling I get when I come home. Presently, I can manage being away from home around 10 days at most before I get tired of living out of suitcases and eating every meal out. I can only do so many breakfast buffets and restaurant food, before I want the comforts of my own cooking with my food items. I do not think I am unusual in this regard. Even if I were to become a lottery winner, I would still live where I am living. Sure, I mentioned I wanted to buy a home in a warmer climate in my previous review; but I would only consider it a winter residence to get out of the cold, snowy days of winter that occur here. I love the area I live in, having grown up in it with family; there are friends who live nearby who I have known since elementary school. Now I do not want you to get the wrong impression; when I play a lottery game, I am only purchasing one or two tickets. I am not the type to walk into a place and buy $50.00 worth of tickets. However, if I would have discovered what the main character did in this comedic drama, I might buy a few more tickets.      RECENTLY RETIRED, A LOCAL RESIDENT DISCOVERS a flaw in the state’s lottery game. The flaw could lead him to a whole, new career. With Bryan Cranston (The Upside, Get a Job) as Jerry, Annette Bening (The Report, Death on the Nile) as Marge, Rainn Wilson (Blackbird, Don’t Tell a Soul) as Bill, Larry Wilmore (Date and Switch, Vamps) as Steve and Michael McKean (A Mighty Wind, This is Spinal Tap) as Howard; this film based on a true story was pure delight. Let me start with Bryan and Annette; they were wonderful to watch as a married couple, using their ample acting skills to their advantage. The story was unbelievable, but with the straight-forward, simple writing style of the script, I found myself totally engaged. Sure, there were several holes in the script, but it did not bother me. Just the fact there was a good, old fashioned type of story told with no CGI effects or wide dramatic flair; I found this such an easy film to watch. If nothing else, the story provided me with fuel to sit and fantasize about what my retirement years could look like.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Black Phone

LIKE MANY OTHERS, I TOO SUCCUMBED to the allure of the recent lottery buzz. I find it one of the cheapest fantasies, simply with a two-dollar purchase price. There was so much coverage in the newspapers, television broadcasts and online news sources about it being one of the largest pots in lottery history, that I wanted to be part of the craze. After I made my purchase, I kept fantasizing about what I would do with the winnings. Surprisingly for that much money I did not have that much on my wealthy life to do list. The first thing I decided I would do is to buy a car, despite financial columnists saying now is not a good time. Next, I would buy a home in a warm climate; a place I could go to during the winter months. There is not that much I want or desire after that except to travel. So, with my $2.00 lottery ticket in hand, I joined everyone else who was hoping their ticket would be the winner. The suspense, and it was a good suspense, was building up as the drawing neared; I was all into my fantasies. By the time of the drawing, the suspense was overwhelming because of my mind being filled with imaginary houses on the market for me to peruse.      SADLY, THE NUMBERS I WAS READING from the lottery site were not on my ticket. My dreams shattered, just like that. There would be no new car or new home, oh well. As far as I was concerned it was still a wonderful week of suspenseful fun. There are different forms of suspense, and I would partake with this kind any day. It certainly is better than the suspense one experiences before going under for surgery or the kind associated with what one hopes will be the delivery of a healthy baby. I believe each of us has experienced a form of suspense. The suspenseful anticipation of waiting for a loved one to come out on stage for a performance or the suspense one endures during a live auction; I feel they all are valid forms. As most of you know, horror films are not the first on my list to attend. I prefer the kind of horror that has suspense and is psychological. When I first saw the movie poster for this film, I was curious because the face reminded me of an old film that I enjoyed, where the main character had a similar mask. Deciding to see it, hoping it was not going to be gruesome, I cannot tell you how surprised I was watching it.      YOUNG CHILDREN ARE GOING MISSING AND the police have very few leads. The latest victim wakes up in an empty room with a disconnected phone that still rings. Should he answer it? With Mason Thames (Walker-TV, For All Mankind-TV) as Finney, Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Outcast-TV) as Gwen, Ethan Hawke (The Northman, The Kid) as the Grabber, Jeremy Davies (Twister, Saving Private Ryan) as Terrence and E. Roger Mitchell (Favorite Son, The 5th Wave) as Detective Wright; this film checked off all my boxes for pure entertainment. I thought Mason and Madeleine were wonderful. Part horror, part mystery and part fantasy; the suspense level was steady and consistent due to a smart script. Aiding the suspense level was this constant sense of dread that the director expertly managed. Ethan was as good as the other cast members, but I felt his character could have been darker. I was relieved there were only a couple of short, bloody scenes with violence. During the ending credits, I sat in my chair and thought if there was any other movie this year that moved me as much as this one. None came to mind, but I certainly will not forget how much I enjoyed watching this one.

3 1/3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Bob’s Burgers Movie

I WAS SHOCKED BY HER ANSWER, but I was not entirely surprised either. We were guests at a party that was recently held at a Chinese restaurant. She was sitting across from me at a long, dining room table. When the waitstaff came out and placed appetizers on the table, she looked at them and asked what were they? I was the first to answer, naming each item. I could tell by the confused look on her face that she probably did not know the difference between an egg and a spring roll, so I asked her if she had ever eaten Chinese food. She said she had never eaten it. I was so surprised to hear an adult say they never had Chinese food, that I had to pause for a moment and let that digest (no pun intended). Going down a mental list of everyone I knew, there was not one person I could think of who had not at least tried Chinese food. My curiosity came to the forefront; I asked her what were her favorite “go to” foods for a meal. Her answer surprised me; but I could relate to it. She said hamburger was her favorite. Of all the possible choices, I was not expecting to hear that for an answer.      I THINK MY SHOCK WAS HEARING this from an adult. Sure, I knew many people who love a good burger; but it usually was not their “go to” meal. Now it is funny, when I was much younger, I loved hamburgers; I mean, I really loved burgers. Anytime I was given a choice of what to eat, I would always have a hamburger. In fact, on a cross country trip, I ate a hamburger for lunch and dinner every single day of the entire trip. Ironically, even at a Chinese restaurant I ate a burger. Besides the taste, there was something so complete about them. With ketchup, lettuce, pickles, on a sesame bun; it did not require any utensils and you tasted everything with each bite. In fact, I can remember to this day the first time I had a hamburger from a major fast food chain restaurant. Watching the employees at their stations, as part of this assembly line type of set-up; I was amazed with the efficient and quick way food was being assembled and wrapped. I went 20 years eating ground beef until I had three burgers in a row that had cartilage in them. It so turned me off that I stopped eating burgers and all other red meat. I do not miss it at all after all these past decades; however, I can understand and relate to the attraction, which is what drew me to this animated, adventure comedy.      UNDER HEAVY DEBT BOB’S BURGERS NEEDED to sell every burger they could make during the popular season. Having a sinkhole open in front of their shop complicated things; more so when a discovery was made in the hole. With H. Jon Benjamin (Temptation, Next Stop Wonderland) voicing Bob Belcher, Kristen Schaal (The Muppets, Sleepwalk with Me) voicing Louise Belcher, Dan Mintz (Veep-TV, The Goldbergs-TV) voicing Tina Belcher, John Roberts (Fire Island, Gravity Falls-TV) voicing Linda Belcher and Eugene Mirman (Archer-TV, Aqua Teen Hunger Force-TV) voicing Gene Belcher; this was my first exposure to the Belcher family. The first thing that struck me about this picture was the dialog in the script. With the well-versed cast, I felt the main characters had more of an authentic voice. The humorous lines and jokes were quick, plentiful and had a satirical undertone to them. The animation was fine, nothing elaborate or fancy. Where I found this movie enjoyable, I think fans of the show will love seeing it on the big screen. And if the movie theater serves a decent burger, all the better.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Gray Man

THOUGH I HAD MISGIVINGS, I AGREED to join my friend for dinner at a recently new, popular restaurant in the city. I wanted to visit with him but was hoping we could just hang out at a local place that I knew had good food. He considered himself a “foodie” who enjoys trying the newest trendy restaurants; I on the other hand think of myself as a low rent eater who enjoys eating at diners and independent, family-owned places. There is a place near my home where the same family has owned and ran this restaurant since the 1960s. They serve simple entrees like turkey club sandwiches, tuna melts and burgers, each served with great French fries. And what I like about this place is the fact they serve generous portions, and the food is fresh and good. I am quite certain my friend would turn his nose up at the place just by its looks. The name of the place is written in red block letters on a square, plastic sign that hangs above the front door. Because decades have passed, the décor now is considered “kitschy” or retro. Realizing I could not dress in my usual relaxed weekend outfit, I asked if we could meet for an early dinner. I was hoping we could beat the crowds and if I were still hungry after eating, I could stop for something on the way home.      AS I WALKED IN THE RESTAURANT, I was met by an employee dressed in black slacks and a white, long-sleeved shirt. Asked for the name of the reservations, I gave my friend’s name. The employee confirmed the name on her tablet then directed me to my friend who was already seated. The place was done in calm, subdued colors of blues and greens with a hint of gold. On the table was a small plate that had 2 square dinner rolls with a ribbon of oil circling them. A small pile of grated cheese was directly in the center; it looked like the white ashes from a funeral pyre. Throughout the evening while we conversed, several plates of varying sizes were brought and taken from our table. The salad took all of 4-5 bites to complete with some special dressing that had a lemon undertone to it. I missed having a good-sized salad. The main course for me was a boneless chicken breast; I had to ask them to omit the bacon, the sauce, the onions, and the peppercorn. Everything was ala carte, so I ordered crispy fingerling potatoes. I had never seen such a small chicken breast. When the bill came, I was stunned. We agreed to split the bill; it cost us $100.00 each. All this money which I would normally never spend at a restaurant, and I was still hungry. I felt the same way about this film; all the money the studio must have spent, and I was still wanting more by the end.      A SKILLED CIA OPERATIVE UNCOVERS DAMAGING information on a job which sets in motion a manhunt to apprehend him, no matter the price. With Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2046, The Nice Guys) as Six, Chris Evans (Gifted, Avengers franchise) as Lloyd Hansen, Ana de Armas (Knives Out, No Time to Die) as Dani Miranda, Billy Bob Thornton (A Million Little Pieces, Bad Santa franchise) as Fitzroy and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Underwater) as Suzanne Brewer; this action thriller overflowed with fight and action scenes. It turns out they were necessary to cover up the poorly written script. With such a capable cast, this movie could have been terrific; but it never reached that level. I will say it was mindless fun, if one is in the mood for people being beaten up and things blowing apart. The fight scenes were well orchestrated, and I liked the various settings. By the end of the picture, I felt I had seen a compilation of scenes from previously, better done, spy action films. It just goes to show you spending a lot of money does not mean you will get a great, satisfying product.  

2 ½ stars  

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