Category Archives: Drama

Drama

Flash Movie Review: Orphan: First Kill

FOR SEVERAL YEARS ALL I HEARD her talk about was her “dream” car. She did talk about other topics, but if we were walking down the street and her “dream” car was driving by, she had to stop walking and watch the car as it passed her by. Yea, it was a bit obsessive, but who was I to judge; I had my own fixations. The car, I must admit, was sharp looking. It had sleek lines with a large distinctive grill that had the automaker’s logo smack in the middle of it. I particularly liked the colors I had seen it in; each one appeared to alter slightly, depending on how the light was hitting it. After hearing my friend talk so long about this car, she finally had saved up enough money to put a large down payment down for it. I was thrilled for her. Lucky for her, she found an auto dealer who had the exact car she wanted, both in color and features. She was approved for the loan and with all the paperwork signed, she had a short wait before she could pick up her new vehicle. I looked forward to getting a ride in it and see things for myself.      THE CAR WAS EVERYTHING SHE IMAGINED; I could not be happier for her. She picked me up and we went tooling around the neighborhood before heading out on the highway. I must admit, the car was impressive. It was not until after the first time she had to drive in the rain, when I got the call. She was besides herself, sobbing into the phone. When she went to turn the windshield wipers on, the radio came on instead. Without the wipers working, she had pulled off to the side of the road to ride out the showers.  I offered to come keep her company, but she declined. Instead, she planned on driving straight to the dealer once the weather lightened up. Later in the day after the storm had passed us, she called to tell me the wiper malfunction was fixed, she was going back home. Over the span of the next few months, she had other issues with the car. There was a recall concerning possible brake failure, the door locks did not always lock, and her sunroof had a leak. She was horribly upset, and I could tell her dream of owning this car was deflating. It was when she received the second recall notice that she had had enough and decided to get rid of the “lemon” car. I was sad for her because I knew how much the car meant to her, but the reality did not match up with her dream. It was a similar situation for some of the main characters in this dramatic, crime horror movie.      A MOTHER AND FATHER COULD NOT believe it when they received the phone call that their missing daughter had been found. Upon rushing to meet her, it did not trouble them that their daughter was now talking with a heavy accent. With Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games, The Novice) as Esther, Julie Stiles (Save the Last Dance, Silver Linings Playbook) as Tricia Albright, Rossie Sutherland (Hyena Road, The Expanse-TV) as Allen Albright, Hiro Kanagawa (The Age of Adaline, The Man in the High Castle-TV) as Detective Donnan and Matthew Finlan (My Fake Boyfriend, Jingle Bell Princess-TV movie) as Gunnar Albright; this prequel surprised me. I could not remember much from the previous film, but it turned out it did not matter. As long as one suspends belief, the story was suspenseful and tense. It was so good to see Julie Stiles and to see her in this role. I felt Julie and Isabelle made this film exciting to watch and that is despite the scenes of violence and blood. From the slight memories I have of the original film, I believe I enjoyed this one more.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Emily the Criminal

WHAT IS THAT BREAKING POINT THAT pushes a person to partake in illegal activities? I have been curious about it for a long time due to two experiences I witnessed. Many years ago, I worked at a retail business that was privately owned. The president was the son of the owner, who had died a few years before I was hired for the shipping and receiving department. The vice-president was the president’s brother-in-law. From what I saw, they seemed to be good friends who worked well together. Each one could easily fill in for the other, anytime one was out of the office; they both knew all aspects of the business. Or at least I thought so. After working there for a couple of years and getting promoted, I became more involved in the mechanics of the business. I would work a couple of Saturdays a month and it was not unusual for either of the men to stop by the store. One Saturday the president came in and asked me to join him in his office. I was perplexed, wondering if I had done something wrong. Once in his office he told me he fired his brother-in-law for stealing. I was completely in shock. How in the world could a relative, who had been working there for years, steal from his sister’s husband?!?! I wondered if that is how he was able to pay for his expensive clothing and cars?      I STILL THINK ABOUT THAT VICE-PRESIDENT from time to time, curious whatever happened to him. It was never shared with us at the store whether the president took the vice-president to court or if there was any jail time involved. Since I had never encountered anything like it before, my mind swirled with scenarios that were originally created on television shows. Did the vice-president have to give everything back? Did he steal because of some drug habit? Did one of them plot to kill the other? It was hard for me to make any sense out of it. I wanted to know, when was that moment when the vice president decided, he was going to steal merchandise or cash from the business and his relative. I remember back in school we had a transfer student who was friendly, who never got in trouble at first. Fast forward two years, and he turned into this student who would steal cigarettes and smoke them behind the school. It was not long before he got caught stealing clothes. Once again what was going on in his environment that made him steal. Though I am not condoning it, I at least got a glimpse of the process in this dramatic, crime thriller.      WITH THE AMOUNT OF DEBT WEIGHING her down, a caterer was offered a business proposal that sounded too good to be true, to make decent money. All she would have to do is go shopping. With Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, Happiest Season) as Emily, Theo Rossi (Army of the Dead, Sons of Anarchy-TV) as Youcef, Bernardo Badillo (Sully, Revival) as Javier, Jonathan Avigdori (Snowfall-TV, Fauda-TV) as Khalil and Gina Gershon (Cagefighter, American Dresser) as Alice; I cannot remember being more impressed than I was watching Aubrey in this role. She was incredible with acting, going through a variety of emotions and actions. There were times I could feel what she was feeling in the scene; that is how good she performed.  The script was original and current; I did not find any unnecessary dialog. Plus, I enjoyed the way the separate story lines were able to intermingle without missing a beat. After the movie was done and I was driving home, I kept thinking about Emily’s story and wondered what I would have done in a similar situation. There were a couple of scenes with blood and violence.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Beast

IT WAS DIFFICULT NOT TO SEE the news reports concerning a youth and the police. Like most others, I saw the video clips of the police officers subduing the young man. He was running away from them after the vehicle he was in was stopped by the officers. I am not familiar with the tactics police personnel use to restrain/apprehend an individual. One officer was punching the outer thigh of the young man who was on the ground, another kneeled on his chest, and a third one was trying to restrain the fists that were trying to land on anyone of them. I am going to do my best not to get into a discussion on whether it was right or wrong; I was not there and am not familiar with all the circumstances. As can be expected the family was outraged and the mother was interviewed multiple times by various news sources. She wanted the officers fired for the “abuse” they inflicted on her boy. Now let me give you one more detail about this story; the boy was 17 years old, riding with a friend at 2 in the morning (on a weeknight) and in his knapsack, after the police restrained him, they found a loaded handgun. My question to the outraged and distraught parents is, why was their underage son out past curfew, carrying a gun?      THROUGHOUT THE COVERAGE OF THIS INCIDENT, where protesters joined the parents in demanding justice for their son, the news people always mentioned the loaded gun and the police officers’ concerns. I do not deny the scenario is troubling all the way around, but I am troubled about an underage person having a gun. Does blame fall on the parents? It reminded me of the parents who took their children to the zoo. One of the parents climbed over the barrier to a gorilla’s pen for a photo opportunity. Who would think of such a thing and what are they teaching their children? As you would imagine, the gorilla attacked the parent and had to be darted with a tranquilizing drug. When it comes to parenting, I am nowhere near an expert; but I do know there is no handbook that prepares a parent for what will be in store for them with the birth of a child. However, I have said this for years: We need a license to drive a car; I feel a person should be licensed to have a baby. It is such a crucial factor in life, and I have seen many events of extraordinary parenting as well as poor. In this dramatic, horror adventure film, I am not yet sure how I feel about the main character’s parenting skills.      HOPING THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE POSITIVE and memorable, a father takes his daughters on a trip to visit their deceased mother’s childhood village in Africa. It would be memorable but not for the reasons the father was hoping for. With Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, No Good Deed) as Dr. Nate Samuels, Martin Munro (Moffie, Warrior-TV) as Kees, Leah Jeffries (Empire-TV, Rel-TV) as Norah Samuels, Iyana Halley (Licorice Pizza, This is Us-TV) as Meredith Samuels and Thapelo Sebogodi (The River-TV, Our Girl-TV) as Camo; this thriller was lucky to have Idris Elba lead the cast. He was good, but the script did not provide anyone with a decent story to tell. The script was not believable; there were scenes that I found to be ridiculous in their phoniness. There were times I was sitting in my seat staring in disbelief due to the characters’ actions. The other issue I had was the fact that I was able to easily figure out how the story was playing out. It was not like there was an original thought used to create this story in the first place. Besides Elba, I also enjoyed the special effects used to create his wild adversary. There were several scenes with blood and violence. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Persuasion

I FELT SAD FOR MY FRIEND and his girlfriend; I liked her. He liked her a real lot, having dated her for nearly a year. They looked happy together, laughing at the same things and stealing glances at each other during parties. My friend broke the news to me that he was going to break up with her. I asked him why, did something happen? His answer made this situation worse in my opinion. He did not have any reason to break up with her, but his family had insisted. My first question was asking him what in the world did she do that made his family make such a demand? The reason came down to one thing; she was of a different faith. Before I could filter my mouth, I blurted out, “That is the only reason, what is wrong with them?!?!” He got this sheepish look on his face, and I started to feel bad for what I had said to him. I tempered myself; in a calmer voice, I asked him if her religion bothered him. He said he did not have an issue with it, but his parents did. Without trying to add any further embarrassment, all I could offer was my condolences. I knew his family was wealthy and thought to myself, maybe that is playing a part in this recent development.      MANY YEARS AGO, I DATED SOMEONE twice. We dated for 9-10 months, broke up for half a year then reconnected and dated for a few months before we broke up again. Our backgrounds were completely different, but that was not the reason for our breakup. Without going into the sordid details, let me narrow it down to this: there were trust issues. Several friends, I could see, were perplexed that we were a couple. I was always grateful to listen to their concerns and comments. Not that I would necessarily act according to what they said, but I would store it in one of my memory banks, like a reference. Rarely have I ever acted on a relationship based on information that I have not personally experienced. There was a couple I was close friends with who literally hated the person I was dating. They made no bones about their feelings which caused me to have a face-to-face talk, explaining they have the right to feel that way, but they do not have the right to tell me who I can date. So, if they want to be included in events, they needed to be respectful. It turns out, I could have helped the main character in this dramatic adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel.      AFTER BEING CONVINCED TO END HER relationship with a modest man several years ago, the two meet again under different circumstances. Who will she listen to this time? With Richard E. Grant (Palm Beach, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Sir Walter Elliot, Dakota Johnson (The Lost Daughter, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Anne Elliot, Henry Golding (Snake Eyes, Last Christmas) as Mr. Elliot, Ben Bailey (Level Up, Strange Hill High-TV) as Charles Musgrove and Yolanda Kettle (Made in Italy, The Crown-TV) as Elizabeth Elliot; this romantic story left me conflicted. On the one hand, I thought Dakota gave one of the best performances I have seen come out of her; yet the script was a bit schizophrenic. I am not a fan of characters shifting gears to directly face the camera and explain what is going on with the scene. Add in the odd mix of dramatic and tongue-in-cheek scenes and I was left feeling disconnected. There were beautifully done emotional scenes that I enjoyed, but then it was followed by a jarring change of emotions that left me confused. Too bad, because there were other characters, I enjoyed besides being interested in the story. If you are a huge fan of Jane Austen, then you might enjoy this movie more than I did. I wish the producers would have asked me for my advice prior to committing to this picture.                                                              

2 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Old

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I THOUGHT FIFTY was an old age. Now, I think fifty is the new forty. I do not know if it is because the way we live is evolving or something in our genes has changed; but when I look at old photos of family members and realize I am the same age as the relative in the photo, I do not understand why they look so much older than me. Did they think they were old; I have wondered? Age, to me, is a state of mind. As long as I can remember, I have heard people say, “Act your age.” I have always wondered what that has exactly meant. Is there a set of rules handed out at each birthday to tell us how we need to be acting at the new age? Sure, an adult making silly noises during a business meeting would be suspect; but would an elderly person flying a kite or playing with a squirt gun be considered childish? I used to work with a woman who always talked in a baby’s voice. Since she was from a different department, I never said anything to her because I did not know if it was a medical condition. I did find it odd, but figured it was providing her some type of satisfaction. Besides, who was I to judge her?      ONCE I FINISHED MY SCHOOLING AND had settled into the business world, I soon picked up this habit of wishing the time away. I am sure I am not alone in this. During work, I was constantly wishing the day would go by faster. If I were saving money to make a large purchase, I would constantly focus on the future, me with a new car or TV, imagining me using and enjoying the item. Even if it was going to take me over a year or two to save up funds, my attention was devoted to the future. I am not sure when I came to the realization that I was no longer living in the moment, but it took me a long time to figure it out. Even today, my tendencies are to dwell on the future while not paying attention to the things currently happening around me. Maybe because as I am aging, I feel time is moving faster. In my mind, I see the younger version of me still doing these strenuous activities that will tax my body; but in reality, I do not have the same level of strength as I did back then. I find it weird how my perceptions can be so different to my reality. However, it is not as odd as what the main characters were experiencing in this dramatic, horror mystery.      A FAMILY ON VACATION FIND THEMSELVES on a deserted beach that was beautiful and peaceful. What they could not understand was the fact they were getting older. With Gael Garcia Bernal (Wasp Network, The Kindergarten Teacher) as Guy, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, The Survivor) as Prisca, Rufus Sewell (Judy, The Father) as Charles, Alex Wolff (Pig, Human Capital) as 15-year-old Trent and Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit) as 16 year old Maddox; this film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Glass, The Last Airbender), had an intriguing premise. I was curious about the story, but I thought the delivery of it was uneven. The movie dragged at first before I started to become fully engaged. Except for the gorgeous landscapes, there was nothing that went beyond being average. I thought Gael and Vicky had the most potential out of the cast; however, the script did not give them the opportunity to really explore their characters. This annoyed me because of the way the film ended; I did not care for it much. Now, I do not want to say I wasted my time by watching this picture, but there were times I had wished the film would have ended.

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Hustle

MOST PEOPLE THINK I WATCH AWARD shows to see the stars; and though that is part of the reason, I also enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes award winners. The main reason is because these individuals tend to talk more about reaching their dreams. When a movie/television star or musical artist walks up to accept their award on those telecasts, they more so now talk about a cause or belief of theirs during their acceptance speech. I am not saying these are not valid causes; however, I must wonder what the motivation is behind them sharing these views at that moment. Is it because it would be good PR for the celebrity? It is one thing to stand up there and talk about a cause; it is another thing to do something for the cause, either monetarily or physically. In other words, “put your money where your mouth is” is my feeling about the situation. So, that is why I prefer listening to the writers, directors, costume designers and others. Chances are their speeches will include their childhood dream that led them to their current position. A writer may talk about their childhood, where they drafted stories or comics to share with their classmates and friends. Or the costume designer might share their childhood dream of dressing up as a high fashion designer, creating outfits that would be seen one day on the runway. I love hearing about people’s dreams.      DREAMS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF our life, I believe. They provide us an avenue of growth; we simply need to pay attention to them. Despite having flunked physical education class twice and being told I was not athletic, I continued to believe I could teach fitness. During those first initial classes I taught, I was so nervous that I thought for sure members would yell me out of the fitness studio. I was listening to those past negative voices in my head who said I could never do it; instead of believing in my training and abilities. It was my dream to create an inviting and accepting environment for anyone who walked in to take my class and I did it. It was the type of class I wished I had available to me when I was younger. It was my dream that pushed me to what I believed was a healthier lifestyle. I honestly could not imagine a life without having a desire, a dream for something more. Dreams are great motivators; it is what makes the main character in this comedic sports drama to keep pushing on.      NEEDING A BREAK TO REACH HIS dream, a basketball scout thinks he might have found it with a street player in Spain. The problem would be convincing his bosses. With Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems, That’s My Boy) as Stanley Sugarman, Queen Latifah (Girls Trip, The Trap) as Teresa Sugarman, professional basketball player Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz, Ben Foster  (The Survivor, Leave No Trace) as Vince Merrick and Kenny Smith (Just Wright, Young Rock-TV) as Leon; this movie is proof Adam Sandler is a gifted actor when he takes on a serious role. I thought he was excellent with his character. Now keep in mind, I am not big into team sports; however, I thought this story was executed beautifully, in such a way that would resonate with both sporting and non-sporting viewers. The story itself is nothing new per se; however, there were enough subtle changes and nuances that made this film seem fresh and new. I found myself fully engaged throughout the picture; it was also quite entertaining, in my opinion. The message in the story came out like a blooming flower, slow anticipation into a rich colorful hue. By the end of this movie, I was solidly ensconced into my dream filled memories.

 

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Elvis

THE COUPLE SITTING NEXT TO ME were being rude. We were sitting inside the city’s stadium for a music concert and the opening act was performing. This couple did not pay any attention to the act as they continued with their conversation. I had no idea who the artist was; but I still wanted to listen to them perform. Even if I did not care for their style of music, I would have been considerate of the people sitting around me and not carried on a conversation. From a long time ago, I learned to pay attention to the opening acts because you never knew if they would become a success one day. My favorite example is Tina Turner. I had tickets to a concert where she was listed as the opening act for the star attraction. Her work with Ike was well known but that had happened a long time ago. None of us knew what she would be doing by herself. Well, you can see what she did based on how quickly she returned to being the headliner. As a warm-up act, she was utterly amazing. By the end of her set, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth; she was as they say, a superstar. Because of that concert, I always pay attention to the opening acts at concerts. There was a singer songwriter I got to see early in their career as the opening act; they went on to have a #1 song on the charts.      EXPERIENCING A MUSICAL ARTIST AT THE beginning of their career journey and following them to the top of the charts is an awesome feeling. I remember seeing this one musical artist who came out on stage with her hair bound up in a scarf, dressed in old fashioned clothes, with a couple of backup singers and a small band; yet it was an incredible show due to the singer. Her personality and voice were both amazing. From that first time seeing her, I have followed her career as it ventured into movies and Broadway stages, not once being disappointed by her performances. She had something different I had never seen and with her talent, I was sure she was going to be a star. I even have photos of her in the early days of her career because in the initial stages of a musical artist’s career, I believe, they can be the most exciting times. If you do not believe me, feel free to take a look at this dramatic biography to see what it is like.      SOME MUSICAL ARTISTS CAN REACH THE top of the charts, but only a few can usher in a whole new movement. One of those artists is the subject of this musical movie. With Tom Hanks (News of the World, The Post) as Colonel Tom Parker, Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die) as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Sisterhood of Night) as Priscilla, Helen Thomson (A Man’s Gotta Do, Getting’ Square) as Gladys and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge) as Vernon; this film was very lucky to have Austin as Elvis. If he had not been in the starring role, the first 1 ½ hours would have been more painful than they already were for me. I thought the quick cutting from scene to scene and the over-the-top dramatics took away from the performances. It almost appeared cartoonish. The last hour was the part that engaged and kept my interest. I say that because we finally got to see a more vulnerable Elvis as the scenes were given emotional depth. Up until this point I found Tom’s performance erratic; at times, his acting was excellent, other times it was off the mark. If for nothing else, it was worth it to me to see Austin’s singing performances. I felt like I was at a concert seeing someone who would be going far in their career.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Northman

I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them.      UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film.      A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.                                                         

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Downton Abbey: A New Era

EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling.      THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama.      ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Black Crab

IT WAS A TERRIBLE STORM WITH high winds and snow piling up quickly. I remember I stayed home because there was no way I wanted to venture out into the cold, let alone with a blizzard taking place. A friend of mine who I had talked with earlier in the day was driving out to visit his son who was in college, out of state. I mentioned how the weather was not going to let up according to the latest news reports, but he insisted he had to see his son who was performing in the school’s play. Asking if there were multiple performances, my friend said this was the only performance and he had to be there for it. I asked him why; what would be the harm if he missed this one performance; his son would surely understand based on the horrible weather, I added. My friend said he had never missed one of his son’s performances and he was not going to let that happen now, especially since his son was getting close to graduating. He told me how important it was to him, to be there and support his son who was working on attaining his dream. I could not fault him on being such a loving and supportive parent; that he was willing to take such a risk in this awful storm just to be there for his child. It was quite admirable.      A SHORT TIME LATER, AN ACQUAITANCE of mine was telling me what she was planning for her son’s high school graduation. Because the school wanted to maintain their safety precautions, it decided it would hold the big celebratory senior dance at the school. According to her, many of the students were disappointed they were not going to a “fancy” location. The mother felt sad for her son so decided to get herself on the decorations committee. I was stunned when she told me about her ideas for the dance; she was going to decorate/build a setting that would look like the courtyard of a Spanish or Mexican house. She wanted some type of fountain in the center, even if it turned out to be the punchbowl, with Spanish moss and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling and walls. Using large picture frames, she thought about inserting class photos or scenic ones depicting exotic locations. Listening to her descriptions, I could see it in my head. When I asked her if she had enough free time, she said because of her job she would have to do the bulk of the work at night and weekends. I found it touching that she was willing to sacrifice most of her free time to provide a special setting for her son and his graduating class. Here are two parents who would do anything for their child and now I find the mother in this action, adventure drama doing everything she can for her child.      HOPING TO SEE HER MISSING DAUGHTER, a soldier agreed to participate in a life-threatening mission. All she would need to do is skate across a frozen lake. With Noomi Rapace (The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine) as Caroline Edh, Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki, Agent Hamilton-TV) as Nylund, Dar Salim (The Devil’s Double, Game of Thrones-TV) as Malik and Aliette Opheim (The Deposit, Alone in Space) as Forsberg; I found the story curiously intriguing. Noomi was excellent and I think that was a large part why I stayed engaged with this movie. The idea behind the story was new and different, which grabbed me quickly. On the other hand, the execution of it was typical. There was a bit unevenness in the directing, along with some predictability; however, I stayed interested in the story because of the acting and variety of tense scenes. If nothing else, this movie is watchable just to see what a mother would do for her child.

2 ¼ stars 

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