Search Results for 12 years

Flash Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

I first learned about prejudice in elementary school, but it was not from school books. My first exposure had to do with religious differences. After answering a classmate’s question on what was my religion, he told me I was dirty. At the time I was confused by his comment, remembering I looked down at my hands to see if they were unclean. Shortly after I discovered other classmates were treated to the same encounter. If you were not the same religion as this boy, he believed something was wrong with you. The next form of prejudice I witnessed occurred later when a new student was enrolled into my class who was African American. There was no overt actions taken against her; however, she was shunned by several students. I did not understand why classmates would react in such a way, let alone try to figure out the reasoning  behind it. My elementary school years were only a prelude to the horrors I would encounter when I entered into high school. One of the reasons I started this review by writing about the prejudices and discriminations I saw at such a young age was to prepare you for what were the most realistic depictions of them that I have ever seen in a movie. Based on Solomon Northup’s memoir, this movie should be required viewing in every school. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men, American Gangster) was unbelievable playing Solomon; a free black man with a wife and two children, living in upper state New York who was kidnapped, shipped to Louisiana and sold into slavery. Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger), I have never experienced the range of intensity and hatred portrayed in a film about slavery like it was done in this film festival winner. Relative newcomer Lupita Nyong’o was outstanding in her role as Patsey, the slave of cotton plantation owner Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Prometheus). The story was amazing to watch on film; I can only imagine what Solomon Northup’s book must be like to read. Even with some actors such as Paul Dano (Prisoners, Ruby Sparks) as Tibeats and Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement,War Horse) as Ford having brief screen time, they still made every minute count with their characters. This is a movie that needs to be seen by everyone. Now I certainly would not be considered an optimist, but forgive me if my hope is the human race would be better by witnessing the ugliness of prejudice and slavery shown in this magnificent film. There were several scenes that showed blood and violence.

 

4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Passing

I HAD A FAVORITE BOOKSTORE THAT I enjoyed hanging out in. There was something so inviting and comfortable about the place, with oversized upholstered chairs throughout and small nooks among its aisles. One day I saw on their message board they were hosting a book club meeting. The book listed sounded interesting to me, so I searched for it in the store. Luckily there was one copy I found and after reading the writeup of it, I decided to join the book club. There was plenty of time before we were to meet, and the fantasy book was a great read. The day arrived and I headed to the bookstore with my copy of the book nestled in my messenger bag. Once directed by a store employee on where we were meeting, I walked into an alcove in the back of the store; a circle of folding chairs surrounded a low, large coffee table. I counted the chairs as I made my way to an empty seat. A few other people were already seated, some looked like they knew each other. I nodded my head towards the general group and said “Hi” to no one in particular as I sat down. A store employee who was seated across from me offered me coffee or water that was set up on a table in the corner. I thanked her as I slid my bag under my seat.      AS THE POSTED START TIME ARRIVED, the employee across from me stood up to introduce herself and thank all of us for coming. She was going to be the facilitator, starting out by asking us how we liked the book. Most attendees enjoyed the book, though there were a couple of people who disagreed. At one point we each were asked to express what we liked or disliked about the story. When it came to me, I expressed how I appreciated the author’s descriptive details of each character’s surroundings; I felt as if I was in the place with the character. The conversation turned at some point to a more in depth look at what the author was trying to say. Here is where I started to get lost because I rarely delve into the topic about what I think the author was trying to say. Who knows what they were saying? I listened to the people around me talk about all these detailed musings of projecting, mirroring, being an allegory and so on to the point where I felt I did not belong. I read for enjoyment, not to figure out hidden meanings in the author’s words. Knowing how I felt, I can not imagine what one of the main characters in this dramatic film was feeling while trying to fit in.      AFTER GETTING OVER THE SHOCK OF seeing her old dear friend after so many years, a reserved New York City woman now must deal with the fact that her friend is pretending to be a white person. With Tessa Thompson (Creed franchise, Thor: Ragnarok) as Irene, Ruth Negga (Loving, Preacher-TV) as Clare, Andre Holland (Moonlight, A Wrinkle in Time) as Brian, Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave, Joker) as Hugh and Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Savages, The Taking of Pelham 123) as Dave; this sincere, emotional movie filmed in black and white was beautiful to watch. I thought the acting was excellent, the sets, soundtrack and costumes were perfect. Overall, this picture comes across like a “slice of life,” a look at the daily lives of individuals. I appreciated the direction, where enough time was given to each character as the viewer watched their growth. The idea of the story is a fascinating one and the production of it comes through clearly. This is the type of film where I label it as a story for adults to appreciate.

 

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Infinite

THE SILENCE WAS BROKEN BY A cough. I kept talking as I was taking the yoga class into a guided meditation. Another cough pierced the room and then another one. Though I had turned the lights off in the room, I turned towards where I had heard the coughing. There was enough moonlight shining through the windows, so I could see one of the class participant’s stomach bounce from the exertion to cough. Usually a member coughing during this portion of the class would sit up from their reclined position and get a drink of water; but this member remained on her back while coughing. I could tell the class had lost its way towards relaxation and I needed to find out what was going on with the member. As I walked over, the person lying next to her rolled closer towards the coughing person and asked what was wrong. The person replied she did not feel well and as if on cue, began making noises as if she was about to vomit. Before I could tell someone to go get help, the person who had rolled over, took their towel and placed it under the coughing person’s mouth as she rolled to her side and emitted a chocking sound. I could not see what came out of their mouth but as they sat up, I heard them say they felt better. When I said I would call for help, the helpful person said not to bother; everything should be ok now. I asked why and she said her mother ate a cheeseburger right before coming to yoga class.     IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS, BUT I cannot get that memory out of my head. When the daughter told me about the cheeseburger, I wanted to ask the mother what she was thinking!?!? However, I had to maintain my composure and only say it appears that was not a good choice to make. I do my best not to dwell on the “bad” memories because honestly, there are so many “good” memories I have acquired through the years of teaching yoga. There was the elderly woman with amazing flexibility, who came up to thank me after class and tell me she was celebrating her 85thbirthday. Another good memory was the man who came to class with these negative preconceived notions of what takes place in a yoga class, only to discover he was not only far off base, but he loved it and became a regular participant. The way my brain is wired, I not only can remember what took place in class, I can tell you where the individual was standing in the room and what they were wearing. The mind is such an amazing organ. If you are interested, you can see what the mind can do in this action thriller.      FOR YEARS EVAN McMAULEY, PLAYED BY Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Instant Family), thought something was wrong with him because of all the crazy thoughts he would get. That thinking started to change for him when he met someone who had their own “crazy” thoughts. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Bathurst 2020, Sophie Cookson (Kingsman franchise, Red Joan) as Nora Brightman, Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, Love and Monsters) as Treadway and Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator, They Came Together) as Artisan; this science fiction film had an interesting premise for the story line. Unfortunately, that idea never expanded out to create a worthwhile picture. The script was confusing, the acting was stiff, and the action scenes were uneven. Mark played one of his typical characters; I never felt like I connected to it. The oddest part of this movie was the evil character’s motivation. I found it made little sense which added to the lackluster performances. It also seemed as if the writers left room to create a sequel. My suggestion would be to take a pass on this movie because I do not think my memories of it will go away easily.                           

1 2/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Fatherhood

MOTHERHOOD AND FATHERHOOD COME WITH EQUAL responsibilities, at least that is how I feel about it. The way I see it, both are equal partners in the raising of their children. Now some of you already know I feel adults should be required to get a license to have a child; it is much harder to raise a child than to drive a car which requires a license. I have seen good and bad examples of parenting. Actually, it would be more like outstanding and horrific examples. One person I know has done a beautiful job in raising their child. The way they explained things to their child provided them with ample information to let the child express their feelings in a healthy way. Let me also add the child’s vocabulary increased greatly to the point their reading level reached far beyond their grade level. Another parent I know has taken their life experiences and used them as examples of what not to do to their child. I could appreciate their method because a good part of their upbringing involved guilt and manipulation. They vowed they would never treat their child the way they were growing up. There are several parents I know who are not trying to be their child’s best friend; they are just being the parents.      SADLY, ON THE FLIP SIDE, I have seen too many examples of parenting from poor to horrible. A father who wanted to get revenge on his child’s mother decided to call family services and tell them his daughter is being abused by the mother’s new boyfriend. What transpired next is too much to talk about just in the space of this review; let me just say there were no winners in this struggle. Another parent I know did not recognize the emotional eating their child was doing to themselves. Not that I expect every adult to recognize emotional eating; but don’t you think anything done to an extreme would be a red flag? I also have a hard time with parents who instill their prejudices into their children. Back in elementary school, there was a boy in my class who was anti-Semitic. He not only would verbally abuse students in the class, he would pick on them either by throwing something like paper clips and rubber bands or he would sock them as he passed them in the hallway. I happened to see him at a store with his father, who displayed the same behavior. As I said before, I have seen a wide variety of parenting techniques which is why I could appreciate what the father was going through in this comedic drama.      WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS wife after giving birth to their child, a father must figure out what would be the best option for raising his child. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Jumanji franchise) as Matt Logelin, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Burning Sands) as Marion, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Bad Trip) as Jordan, DeWanda Wise (The Weekend, She’s Gotta have It-TV) as Swan and Melody Hurd (Trick, Them-TV) as Maddy Logelin; this was a surprisingly different role for Kevin to take on and I liked him in it. Not the usual loud, fast talking character in the movie, he showed more dimension than I have seen before. The story is pretty much predictable and could have used more in-depth scenes and character development. With that being said, the script was created with the viewer in mind because it was obvious the writers wanted to pull on the viewers’ heartstrings. This picture may not have been high art, but I did appreciate the way they depicted the trials and tribulations of a single parent. Overall, I did not mind this film at all. Hopefully, Kevin will take on more similar roles that test his acting abilities.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Locked Down

THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future.      THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year.      FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.                                 

1 7/8 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Critical Thinking

IT LOOKED TO ME LIKE A GLASS lighthouse, shining bright in the darkness. The space it was in seemed cavernous to me; there was one complete wall that bowed out of the house to accommodate a baby grand piano. I could be sitting in the dining room yet be able to see the brightly lit curio cabinet in the living room. Whether people were visiting or not, the its light was always on. The cabinet was made of glass and wood that had been washed in a gold paint. The top of it came to a point like a domed roof, with a gold ball that sat right at the pinnacle. There were four glass shelves evenly spaced apart that had a curious mix of things that all fascinated me. However, on the bottom shelf there was a chess set that grabbed my attention the most. Sitting on the thick chessboard were these intricate sculpted ivory pieces my relative called netsukes. I had never seen anything like it. Half the pieces sat on black colored bases and the rest on light colored ones. I would stand at the curio cabinet, its light the only one on in the room, wanting to take the chess pieces out and play with them; but I knew my relative would not approve. The only time I could hold one of the pieces is when my relative took one out and placed it in my hands for only a short moment. Otherwise, they were off limits to everyone.      THAT CHESS SET PLANTED A SEED in me because my infatuation with it caused me to learn how to play the game. I received a gift of a travel sized chess set that looked like a large wallet. When I would unzip the sides of the red vinyl rectangular wallet and fold the sides down, it would reveal a square red and white checkerboard. The chess pieces were magnetic dots with each of their tops embossed with the outline of either a white or black chess piece. Except for my relatives with the curio cabinet, I did not know anyone who played chess; so, I would play against myself. I would try different first moves, wanting to give each magnetic chess piece a turn. Luckily, I was finally able to convince a friend to let me teach him and we started playing a few times a month. It was good practice for me I thought; I just did not know practice for what? I was able to plan a few moves out but not anywhere near what the students in this dramatic movie were capable of doing.      SOME FROM BROKEN HOMES AND OTHERS FROM different backgrounds, a group of inner-city students found one thing in common; they liked being treated equal in Mr. Martinez’, played by John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge, Spawn), high school classroom. With Rachel Bay Jones (Ben is Back, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Principal Kestel, Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Assassin’s Creed) as Mr. Roundtree, Corwin C. Tuggles (Detachment, Orange is the New Black-TV) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Bumblebee; Love, Simon) as Oelmy “Ito” Paniagua; this film that was based on a true story provided a feel good experience for me. I thought John was exceptional in his role; he reminded me of a teacher I had back in school. The story did not provide much surprise to it; it followed a typical story line that I have seen before. Set in Miami during the late 90s, I liked the throwback feel of the film. Despite having nothing that stood out as special for me, I thought the story was still moving. And if you decide to see this movie please stay for the credits to see the extra scenes.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Wildfire

I WAS INTRODUCED TO THEM AT a restaurant, while waiting to be seated. We were meeting for dinner and a friend had invited this couple to join us. They were friendly and I immediately liked the wife’s sense of humor. It wasn’t too long before the host sat us at a table; I was sitting directly across from the couple. Over the course of the evening the wife’s husband was telling us about their plans to move out of state. He said he had to first sell a boat he had in drydock. Once he could get the boat sold, he told us he needed to buy some type of machine to print up T-shirts. I thought he might be talking about screen printing T-shirts; but why was he not saying it, I wondered. Because I am naturally curious, I asked them why they needed to move to make T-shirts and he said it would lower their expenses. From there he started telling me about the other plans he was working on. Throughout our conversation or more accurately, his talking and my listening, I could not get a read on his wife. She looked like she was listening, nodding her head at some of the things he was saying; but she did not look excited or thrilled or even happy about all the plans that were in the works for them.      AFTER WE PAID THE BILL AND said our goodbyes, I asked my friend when we were alone if she was sad about her friends moving out of state. She said she was said to see the wife go but was fine with the husband leaving. I asked her why and she told me she was angry at the husband because all his plans/dreams were burning through all their money. This latest plan was taking place with the help of their 401K retirement money. She told me that is why the wife, who was her friend, was still working. It turns out the husband had all these crazy schemes cooked up to make a quick buck, but they always failed. That boat he was trying to sell was bought with the idea of him doing private boat cruises despite the fact he has never sailed in his life. She told me the boat has never been in the water. I was now getting an understanding of the wife’s actions during our dinner. Asking my friend why the wife went along with these crazy plans, she told me the husband would go and do all this stuff without asking her first. If I was in that type of situation, I would have kicked them out of the house which is why I understood what was taking place between the married couple in this film festival winning movie.      AFTER BEING LAID OFF OF WORK from the golf course, the jobs available to Jerry Brinson, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Nocturnal Animals), were slim. That is until he came up with the idea of battling the encroaching forest fire. With Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Better Watch Out) as Joe Brinson, Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go) as Jeanette Brinson, Travis W. Bruyer (The Beast, Useless) as Forester and Bill Camp (Joker, 12 Years a Slave) as Warren Miller; this drama showcased a well-blended cast of actors. Ed and Carey must be seen to be believed; that is how good their acting was in this story. I thought the directing was delicate and thoughtful because everything felt intimate to me. It took a while before the script grabbed my attention; but once everything started to fall in place, I was hooked on the story. There was nothing that seemed out of place or phony. I felt I was a witness to a family’s reality instead of their dream.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Burning Sands

NO MATTER WHAT TOOK PLACE, THE one thing you could not do was cry. At least that is what was instilled into every boy in school. Not that I remember someone ever telling me that exactly, but I learned right away after one tear broke free from my eye and slid down my face. The teasing and name calling started immediately before I could get up from the ground. I was not sure if I was purposely tripped while running in the schoolyard; but I fell face forward onto the asphalt, ripping my pants and scraping off the skin of my knees and the palms of my hands. If someone asked if I was okay, I did not hear them through the laughter. I did not take it personally since the same thing happened to anyone who fell. Though if you were a girl you did not get teased about crying. How or why that distinction took place, I had no idea; it was just acceptable or maybe it was tolerated better if a girl was crying instead of a boy. One of the worst labels a student could get was being called a “crybaby.” Getting that label would put you on a quick path to being known as a sissy, at least amongst the boys.      FROM THE EARLY TRAINING THAT TOOK place in elementary school, many boys grew a veneer of toughness. Some of the male students tried out for a sports team, figuring what they lacked in striking an opposing stature would be filled in with their athleticism. For those of us who wouldn’t or couldn’t compete in sports, we were left to fend for ourselves. A disconnect grew between those boys who were successful in portraying a tough exterior and those who chose not to or could not display toughness which by the way translated into manliness. Growing up in that kind of environment made me feel like something was wrong with me. By the time I made it to college, I found myself feeling more comfortable around female students than male. What drove this home for me was when I went to a fraternity’s open house during orientation week. Their house was this old Georgian style home with two white pillars that framed the front doorway. Going on a tour of the house, I heard about the history of the fraternity and its illustrious achievements in sports and community outreach. I do not know how to say this, but all the talking points I was hearing had competitive undertones that turned me off quickly. It seemed to me they were only interested in accepting those students who could display a “macho” exterior; something I sorely lacked. After watching this film festival nominated drama, I am so glad I never tried to be a pledge.      HOPING TO SUCCEED WHERE HIS FATHER failed, college freshman Zurich, played by Trevor Jackson (Superfly, Eureka-TV), was determined to survive his chosen fraternity’s hell week, no matter what he was expected to do. With Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Unlocked) as Frank, DeRon Horton (Dirt, Dear White People-TV) as Square, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Annabelle) as Professor Hughes and Steve Harris (The Rock, The Practice-TV) as Dean Richardson; there were times when I felt I was actually watching pledges during hell week. The acting was cohesive among the cast which made there trials more realistic. I thought the script was decent; however, I wished the writers would have dug deeper into the students’ mentality and backgrounds. There was a level of predictability to the story; yet, I had to wonder how true the hazing incidents were being inflicted on the pledges. Maybe because I do not define masculinity in the same way as these fraternity brothers did; but they certainly proved I made the right decision when I chose not to pledge a fraternity when I was back in college.

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS SNOW FLOATING in the summer air was explained to me to be cottonwood seeds. It did not really matter because what attracted me to watch them was the way they randomly moved on the currents of air, slow motion fluffiness with no sense of direction. I was fascinated with flying; it did not matter if I was imagining doing it alone like a superhero or sitting in a plane, peering out the window at the moving landscape below. Looking at the cottonwood seeds, I wanted their ability to be lighter than air and let the currents carry me wherever they wanted to take me. Living on the 3rdfloor of an apartment building provided me with a unique view of air’s power. Seeing the tops of trees swaying and bending in the wind as if they were bowing and curtsying allowed me to visualize the wind’s path coming through my neighborhood. I can still remember being taught how to make a paper airplane then going out on our back porch; so, I could throw it into the air and watch it twist and turn, as it sailed towards the ground. Of course, I would then have to run down 3 flights of stairs to retrieve it then walk back up so I could fling the paper plane over the porch bannister again, out into the wind.      FROM PAPER AIRPLANES, I GRADUATED TO flying kites. My first kite was made of a tissue type paper in a light red color. I loved holding it up behind me while running, waiting for it to catch enough wind to rise into the air. One of my favorite places to do this was at the beach, despite the peril of the kite possibly catching a “bad” wind that would force it to spiral down into the lake. However, seeing my kite extend out over the lake always made me happy. Once I had mastered the art of flying a kite, I started to add homemade tails of cloth to the bottoms of my collection of kites. The tails made it easier for me to keep track of my flying kite when there were other kites nearby in the air. And in case you were wondering, it did cross my mind once to tie a key to the kite to see if I could get lightning to strike it. I wonder if this could be one of the reasons why I have always enjoyed sitting and watching a thunderstorm? The wind has provided me with an endless source of enjoyment, both in reality and my imagination; but I do not hold a candle to what the young boy did in this drama.      WITH THE VILLAGERS STARVING FOR FOOD during a bad drought, one boy was dreaming of a way he could help. Based on a true story, this film starred Chiwetel Ejiofer (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange) as Trywell Kamkwamba, newcomer Maxwell Simba as William Kamkwamba, Lily Banda (Deep State-TV) as Annie Kamkwamba, Aissa Maiga (Black and White, Anything for Alice) as Agnes Kamkwamba and Raymond Ofula (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Jacob’s Cross-TV) as Mister Ofesi. This movie was a film festival winner and it deserved it because Chiwetel not only starred in it, he wrote and directed the movie. The story was incredible, and I thought as a newcomer Maxwell was a veteran of acting, he was that good. Now I will say the story is predictable, but I did not care; everything I was seeing seemed authentic and real. It also did not go unnoticed by me how one could see parallels between then and now with governments and science. The script was spoken mostly in English but there were several scenes where Arabic and Nyanja were spoken with English subtitles. This picture reinforced my fondness and appreciation for the wind.

 

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Skin

THE ONLY WAY I COULD TELL the twins apart was one of them was heavyset. They wore their hair the same way and personally, I think they dressed the same at times just to throw their teachers off. The heavier twin was not a nice (I wanted to use a slang word here) person; essentially, he was a bully. His twin brother was the opposite; he always had a smile on his face, and he was friendly to everyone. I had classes with both. It seemed like every other week the mean twin would cause a disruption in the classroom. To complete the picture for you, the nice twin had more friends than his brother. After a couple of years, the heavy twin started to lose weight. It took almost one year for him to get down to the same weight as his brother; now, it was nearly impossible to tell the two brothers apart—at least on the outside. I had wondered if his losing weight would have made the heavier twin a nicer person but that was not the case. He was still ugly on the inside. Not knowing what the motivation was for him to go on a diet, I did not know if he had any expectations about how different his life would be being skinnier. I so badly wanted to tell him a cosmetic change was not enough to really make a change in his life.      WHERE THE HEAVIER TWIN ONLY CHANGED his appearance, there was another boy at school who changed on the inside. He and I had gone to the same elementary school. Periodically we would be on the same team in gym class; plus, I would see him after school in the neighborhood from time to time. He was not a troublemaker in class; but if some prank or disruption did take place in the classroom, he would be part of the group of kids who were laughing about it. Outside of that, there was nothing else noteworthy about him; he pretty much just blended in with his surroundings. When we graduated into high school, a big transformation took place within him. He started hanging out with a group of students who were on the fringe. At the time I did not know what the bond was between them. However, it first became clearer to me when he changed his style of dress. It was confirmed when I saw him participate in a fight with a group of minority students; he was a white supremist. I was stunned when I saw him and had to wonder if he always had those feelings inside of him. I had the same question when I started watching this dramatic, crime film based on true events.      THOUGH HIS CHOSEN FAMILY RAISED AND NURTURED him to be a top leader of their white supremacist group, his love for a woman was making him question his actions. This film festival winning biography starred Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bryon Widner, Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Julie Price, Daniel Henshall (Ghost in the Shell, The Snowtown Murders) as Slayer, Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave, Love & Mercy) as Fred “Hammer” Krager and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Captive State) as Shareen. This film started out on a high level of disturbing intensity. It was almost to the point of me being uncomfortable as I felt I was sitting in the middle of the action. Jamie Bell was incredible in this role; the best I had ever seen him. My major complaint was the script; I never understood the character’s motivations, the how and why. Despite this flaw, I was kept engaged in the story by the top acting performances and the incredibleness of the story itself. I did have a question near the end of the film; can a leopard really change its spots?

 

3 stars

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