Search Results for slumdog

Flash Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Along the same lines in my belief that there are no accidents, my thoughts on one’s destiny are evolving. For example, when you go to a different grocery store than the usual one and meet someone that becomes the love of your life; is it simply by accident? A friend of mine vacationing in Florida called me from a restaurant. A man at the next table was leaning back in his chair laughing. He kept tilting back until he toppled over onto the floor; he had died from a massive heart attack. Asking her for a description of the man; it  turned out the man was my uncle. This was how my mother and sisters found out about their baby brother. Coincidences or occurrences have always fascinated me. The magic in this Oscar winning movie came from a series of events that lead the characters on a path to their destiny. Dev Patel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Last Airbender) played a poor orphan from Mumbai named Jamal Malik. The fact he was a contestant on a game show was amazing enough; however, when it appeared he might actually win, the producers had him arrested for cheating. They could not believe a poor uneducated boy could know the correct answers to the game’s questions. It was during Jamal’s interrogation that we learn how occurrences in his life led him up to this point in time. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 127 Hours) did a brilliant job keeping the story interesting by using flashbacks. It was easy to follow the unfolding connections between the characters, though the scene with the boy’s eyes made me look away. Freida Pinto (Immortals, Trishna) was wonderful playing Latika, the little girl who Jamal never forgot. Besides feeding my belief of there being no accidents in life, I understood the message about not judging a book by its cover. A beautiful film that I was meant to see with a universal story that was no accident. Some scenes were spoken in Hindi with English subtitles.

 

3 2/3 stars — DVD 

Flash Movie Review: Lion

I have seen examples that both agree and disagree with the proverb, “blood is thicker than water.” Using the common definition that family relationships are more important than other types of relationships, I know a family with adult children who focus solely on each other; they hardly have any social activities that involve friendships. Everything they do they do together whether it is going to the health club, the movies, shopping or even carpooling; they only carpool with each other siblings’ children. It is obvious to me that friendships/relationships with people outside of their family are not important to them.   AS another example, I know a couple who each came from a dysfunctional family. For them their friends became their family, becoming careful with the time they spent with any of their blood family members. I see them as 2 individuals who became family to each other, creating a safe and protected environment. Where their focus has been on each other, I have seen couples where one person still has as their main priority a family member such as a mother or brother, instead of their partner. I have always been fascinated with the dynamics between family members by blood or love. Two brothers who look nothing alike, who people think are so different from each other, still have a bond that allows them to communicate without talking out loud. Or how about twins who live far away from each other yet when one feels sick the other can sense it; can anyone explain this phenomenon? I recall an article in the newspaper about an elderly gentleman who traveled overseas for vacation. While leisurely strolling through a town he stopped at a café to order a drink and rest. He happened to be facing the doorway while seated and when a customer walked in a few minutes later, the man was stunned; the customer who walked in looked identical to himself. It turned out they were twins separated at birth. Each one expressed the sense of unexplained loss they had been carrying all these years. There is such a strong bond that remains with some family members.   SEPARATED from his brother 5 year old Saroo, played by newcomer Sunny Pawar, traveled further than the boundaries of India; he wound up in Australia when husband and wife John and Sue Brierley, played by David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Van Helsing) and Nicole Kidman (Secret in their Eyes, Paddington) adopted the young boy. As he grew up he began to understand certain feelings he had inside. This film festival winning movie based on a true story was a wonderful picture watching experience. Along with Dev Patel (The Last Airbender, Slumdog Millionaire) as Saroo Brierley and Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Lucy; the acting in this picture was outstanding. This was Dev’s best performance in my opinion. The story was simply incredible and more amazing because it really happened. I found the 1st half of the film with the young Saroo, beautifully acted by Sunny, more intense due to the young child’s plight; the direction of the scenes kept me totally engrossed in the events. Because of that intensity the 2nd half of the movie felt a bit less so, but it still came across with subtle power. This could easily be an Oscar contender that showed the type of bonds we form for a family.

3 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

She had seen the advertisement on a social networking site so she felt it must have been true. All she needed to do was pay for shipping charges and she would get a free trial container of wrinkle remover for her face. The lotion arrived on time but a week afterwards another container arrived, followed by yet a 3rd one the next week. Checking her charge card statement when it arrived, she saw she was charged $70.00 for each additional product. With emailing the only option to communicate with the company, she was told everything was correct about the special advertised deal and it was stated as such in the fine print in the advertisement. I only knew about this person’s plight because it was recently on the news after she contacted a television station’s consumer hotline. I can see where things like this can happen because I tried retrieving a coupon for a free meal once that was posted online; all that I got was a bunch of junk emails for weeks. From that experience I never trust any offers online unless I have signed up to a well-known company; I am now prejudiced towards that form of advertising. Due to this it occurs to me that there are other ways we are taught not to believe something we see or hear. I have not only seen but have been the victim of someone’s disbelief in my answer solely based on external factors; in other words my physical appearance. I guess the person could not trust my answer because I did not look like I knew what I was talking about. There was someone I knew who kept having the same thing happen to them all the time because they did not dress in a fashionable way or because their clothing looked too worn. You know what they say about judging a book by its cover, don’t you?   DESPITE what his colleagues at Cambridge thought mathematician G.H. Hardy, played by Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures, Margin Call), felt there was something special about S. Ramanujan, played by Dev Patel (Chappie, Slumdog Millionaire). It did not matter to Professor Hardy that the poor young man was from India. Based on a true story this biographical drama was ripe for an incredible telling of it. With part of the cast including Tobey Jones (Captain America franchise, Infamous) as Littlewood and Malcolm Sinclair (Casino Royale, V for Vendetta) as Professor Cartwright, I thought the acting was extremely good especially from Dev and Jeremy. The story is so amazing I only wished the script would have followed suit by being more precise and intense. I felt there were some characters that needed more screen time to let their story develop properly. Maybe the script was a bit too formulaic and the director did not utilize the actors fully, but my interest in the story was kept for the majority of the time. This movie offered proof that there was good reason to look beyond the surface.

 

2 2/3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Steve Jobs

Ugh not again; there they go repeating the same story for everyone. I do not know if this has happened to you but I know a couple of people who can take an entertaining story and pummel it down to the point where most people would have lost interest midway through the tale. One of these individuals will tell me a story, move on to something else for a moment and then come back to the original story to add some unnecessary element. I say “unnecessary” because once you give out the punchline the story is done. If you go back to add something else it never adds extra oomph if someone already knows the ending to the joke or story. At a party this person will go from group to group telling each one a particular story, dragging it out longer and longer as they make their way among the assembled people. It is easy to tell when a captive guest loses interest; their eyes keep darting from side to side after each blink as they are looking to lock in on someone to come save them from the storyteller’s discombobulated oratory. I may not be a great verbal communicator but I do know that a good story or joke needs to be quick and to the point. It is like a speech; there is only a finite amount of time one can hold onto an audience’s attention span before they drift off to someplace else. So here is today’s movie and it is the third film about Steve Jobs I have seen in a short amount of time. How many times do we need to hear about Steve and Apple Computer? Luckily they say the 3rd time is the charm because it was for this dramatic movie.    COME backstage during the launch of 3 major products during Steve’s tenure at Apple Computer. Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV), this film was intelligent, smart and most importantly acted out brilliantly. The casting could not have been better with the likes of Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Shame) as Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet (Titanic, Divergent franchise) as Joanna Hoffman and Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as John Sculley; they were amazing in their roles. Michael completely obliterated any trace memory I had left of Ashton Kutcher’s poor performance as Steve in the film Jobs; there is a good chance Michael will be nominated for best actor this Oscar season. The script was so well done I can only imagine the actors must have really enjoyed digging deep into their characters. I enjoyed the mix of dramatic intensity and humor Aaron brought into the script. The fact the story only focused on three specific time frames I believe made this a stronger picture. Truthfully, I could easily see this film again and not get bored.

 

3 1/2 stars 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Chappie

Two unrelated occurrences recently happened and were on my mind prior to walking into the movie theater. I had stopped in the men’s department of a retail establishment, store coupon in hand. There were 2 women shopping with their young sons; the boys looked like they were 6 or 7 years old. One boy was walking underneath the clothes racks, playing hide and seek. If he happened to knock a piece of clothing onto the floor he would pick it up and return it to the rack. The other boy was running around; if he stopped at the shelves of folded shirts, he would leave one crumpled on the floor. As he darted under the clothes racks, he left a trail of items strewn everywhere. His mother either did not see or care about what he was doing; I could not tell. I started to wonder what were the 2 boys taught that led them to two different reactions regarding respecting someone else’s property. The other incident that was on my mind had to do with a small news item I had read in the newspaper. An elementary school had a costume day where the students dressed up as their favorite literary character. One eleven year old boy was sent home because he came dressed like Christian Grey from the novel, 50 Shades of Grey. The article made me curious to know how this elementary school student even knew how to dress up like the character. From the time of birth to various stages in their lives children are impressionable.    CREATED by Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel (The Last Airbender, Slumdog Millionaire), the security robots of the police force were a big success as they kept crime down in the city. However when Deon gave one robot a conscience, Deon’s rival Vincent Moore, played by Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine, The Prestige), decided to take steps to protect his life’s work. This action, science fiction thriller had a thought provoking story. The idea of uploading a program to give a robot the freedom to think for itself was fascinating to me; especially because the transformed robot named Chappie, played by Sharito Copley (District 9, Maleficent), was essentially an impressionable infant. Unfortunately the idea for this story was poorly executed. Except for the wonderful visuals, the story was far-fetched and unbelievable in places. The acting was nothing special but the script did not do it any favors. For such an intriguing concept I was disappointed in this predictable story that felt shallow and boring at times. Along with the memories from the 2 earlier events before seeing Chappie, I still spent time afterwards thinking not only about the possibilities of having a conscious robot but the responsibilities. There were a few brief scenes that showed blood.

 

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: PK

A majority of the residents from the neighborhood I grew up in practiced the same religion. In some ways it was easier because we all celebrated the same holidays and knew what foods to expect for the meals. Notice even at a young age it was all about the food. As I grew up the neighborhood was transformed and became more diversified. Except for one particular gang of kids from the neighborhood, I cannot recall a time where religion was used as an excuse for a particular action. Everyone was treated the same no matter what religion they practiced at home. It was not until I was an adult and out on my own where I saw how some people used religion as a means to manipulate other people. Where I consider religion to be a personal and private matter, I have a hard time understanding someone who uses their religion to explain their actions; but to me some of their actions are questionable. There have been enough examples made public where I do not feel the need to mention them here. In fact, I am a little uncomfortable even talking about this now. However, it is worth it so I can review today’s movie.    STRANDED on our planet P.K., played by Aamir Khan (Like Stars on Earth, Rang De Basanti), asked the most innocent of questions that produced some profound results. It took me a short time to get my bearings with the story in this satirical fantasy about organized religion. There were multiple story lines that eventually began to merge together. I am familiar with Aamir’s work and this role was different for him. Despite not being a fan of slapstick humor, I did appreciate the character he was portraying. Included in the cast was Anushka Sharma (Wedding Planners, Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl) as Jagat Janani a/k/a/ Jaggu, Sanjay Dutt (Mission Kashmir, Lage Raho Munna) as Bhairon Singh and Saurabh Shukla (Slumdog Millionaire, Barfi!) as Tapasvi Maharaj. If one is not familiar with Bollywood films, it is important to pay attention to the songs being sung because they play a part in moving the story forward. An interesting side note, this film’s running time was 2 1/2 hours; halfway through the movie the screen went dark and up popped the word “intermission.” It lasted a few seconds then the picture continued on. Back to the slapstick comedy, I think it colored my feelings towards everyone’s acting abilities. However the strength of the story, with its proposals and variables, carried me through the entire movie. Add in a couple of twists and I felt this film did a wonderful job in taking the subject of religion and presenting a non-offensive, thought provoking, solid piece of work. Hindi and Bhojpuri language was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Miral

For some people the loud sirens entice them like the same named creatures from Greek mythology. Drivers slow down in anticipation of witnessing a car crash. I honestly do not know what attracts them; is it the contorted metal of the vehicles, the sight of injured bodies sobbing in pain or maybe the splattering of blood at the scene reminds them of the crime show they follow on television. Whether it is on the road or a city sidewalk, I find it upsetting to see individuals gawking and milling about at an accident. And to those bystanders straining to snap pictures, they disgust me. Not often enough but I have witnessed a ray of shining light in the middle of an accident and it is that individual who is not thinking about themselves. They run up to see if there is anything they can do to help; wow, what a concept. I remember when I was assigned to drive the visiting owner of a health and fitness company from her hotel to our fitness convention. On our way we came upon a car accident that had just happened. As I pulled over to the side of the road, she jumped out and ran to a man who was sitting in the middle of the road, leaning on his van with the crumpled front end. It was obvious to us he was in shock. I called 911 while she gently wrapped her jacket around him. Once we continued on our way she asked me not to mention the accident to anyone. I remember thinking at the time she was a wonderful example of selflessness.    HIND Husseini, played by Hiam Abbass (The Visitor, Munich), quickly realized there was no place to protect the poor orphaned children who were victims of the Middle Eastern conflict. She did not care about their background; she only wanted to protect and teach them so they could continue to have a life. Unfortunately when divisions form sides become drawn. Directed by Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly), this film festival winning drama had an interesting story to tell. Based on the book by Rula Jebreal, the acting had a true emotional ring to it. Besides Hiam the cast included Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Trishna) as Miral, Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnace, John Wick) as Eddie and Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End, Deep Impact) as Bertha Spafford. Sadly the script tried to do too much with the story lines. I felt the characters never had a chance to develop; remaining in predictable situations. Granted this did not stop me from watching this DVD; however, for a timely story that could easily be in the news today, I wished there had been more substance.

 

2 1/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Million Dollar Arm

Maybe I should have listened better when I was being told I was good with numbers. I say this because I have been seeing more examples of things being reduced to a number. There is the weekly box office results that list the top 5 grossing movies for the weekend. Reaching this list contributes to whether a film can be considered a success. However, I have seen numerous pictures that were excellent and they never made the list. Think about all the different food items that have been introduced only to be pushed off the grocery shelf for something bigger or better, at least according to the manufacturers. One of the more troubling aspects to this numbers game is when human beings are reduced to a number, a commodity. It is safe to say all of us have either experienced or known someone who has gone through staff reductions at their place of employment. It is hard for me to think of something worse at the workplace than having one’s dignity taken away by becoming a statistic in a company’s formula on how to save money. Knowledge and experience used to mean something but I fear numbers have beaten them down. In turn, don’t you find people who base decisions on how the numbers benefit them as being less humane? I do and this movie based on a true story shows what happens when numbers are considered the most important thing. Jon Hamm (The Town, Mad Men-TV) played sports agent JB. When he lost out on his last chance to sign up a sports celebrity, JB came up with an idea to hold a contest to look for potential baseball pitchers. His idea would take him all the way to an unlikely place. The story in this dramatic sports film certainly had potential. Jon played a believable character and had the good fortune to have Lake Bell (In a World, Black Rock) play his tenant Brenda. She was such a likable and convincing character. Sadly I could not say the same for Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) as Rinku and Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire, One 2 Ka 4) as Ninesh. The script reduced them to cartoon characters; I never felt a sense of who or what they were in this biographical picture. This contributed to the whole film being too sanitized and generic; there was no emotional depth that would allow me to care about any of them. At the beginning of this review I said you could see an example when numbers are a factor; let me clarify, the example was the studio playing it safe by sticking to the numbers instead of letting the story come to life. Added photos and videos of the actual people were shown during the ending credits.

 

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Trance

The corridor led to a dead end; I had to retrace my steps. Amid the muffled sounds were large popping sounds followed by squeals of laughter. I would see the image of another human for a second before it disappeared back into a kaleidoscope of twinkling lights. As I turned a corner a blast of cool air hit me in the face, momentarily forcing me to close my eyes. When they opened a silhouette of a person came at me from the side. A beam of light pierced the darkness revealing the person was a clown. I laughed as the colorful costumed character pointed to the glowing exit sign down the hallway. If they are not too crowded I get a kick out of going through amusement park fun houses. Usually covered in a fog of darkness, I enjoy how the houses are set up to manipulate the visitors with creative elements of surprise. It was the same way in this thrilling mystery of a movie. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) created a taut sense of urgency with the more than capable actors. James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class, Wanted) played art auctioneer Simon. He became embroiled in a tussle with a gang of criminals led by Franck, played by Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Irreversible), while trying to protect a valuable painting. Due to a blow to the head, Simon needed the assistance of hypnotherapist Elizabeth, played by Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds, Sin City); in trying to retrieve the parts of his memory he had lost. This drama had just as many twists and turns as a fun house maze. I had to work at paying attention to see if there were any clues being revealed in the simmering story. The acting was intense and tight; with the actors totally submerged into their characters. I have no complaints with Danny’s directing; but I did not get totally immersed into this story like I have done with his other films. The issue for me became apparent as the movie moved closer to the ending. There were a few too many surprises that left me confused. Like a carnival fun house, this is the type of movie I need to see again…just not right away. There were a couple of scenes with blood.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Last Airbender

All I could think about while watching this movie was that James Taylor song with the lyrics “I see fire and I see rain.” With the past week being extra hectic, I wanted to chill out with a fantasy film that had loads of special effects. It is the easiest way for me to calm down and space out. When I saw the trailer for this movie I thought it would be the perfect choice for my state of mind. The story was set in a world divided into kingdoms: Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Peace between the kingdoms was kept with the aid of an Avator, a person who was able to control all four elements. But there was a time when the young Avator disappeared and the peace was shattered, allowing the Fire Nation to pursue dominance over the other kingdoms. I want to start out with a positive statement, so let me say the special effects were good. In addition the film had some beautiful shots of scenery. Unfortunately that is the only good thing I can say about this boring mess. Director, writer and producer M. Night Shyamalan (The Village, The Sixth Sense) was the reason this movie was so bad. The writing was dull with cheesy lines one would expect from a 10 year old. His directing was utterly lifeless. The poor younger cast members like Noah Ringer (Cowboys & Aliens) as Aang and Nicola Peltz (Deck the Halls, Harold) as Katara appeared as if they were unsupervised, leaving them bland and emotionless. Even Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as Prince Zuko could not help this bad movie. I have not read the comic books this film was based on, but I have heard they were good. One could only assume the comic book writers cringed when they saw this clunker. Let us look on the bright side; with a sequel in the works, the bar has been set so low that the next movie has to be better.

 

1 2/3 stars — DVD

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