Category Archives: Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Flash Movie Review: Tenet

WHEN I REALIZED IT HAD BEEN six months since I was in a movie theater, I was stunned. Honestly, it felt longer but I did not realize it had been half of the year already and let me tell you I’ve been missing it greatly. Before I was going to venture out to see this movie, I ran it passed those close to me to make sure they were comfortable with me going to a theater. If they were not, I would have been willing to quarantine myself away from them for 2 weeks. Since they were concerned but okay with my precautions, I went online to buy a ticket. I did this because I wanted to see ahead of time how many people were going to be sitting in the theater with me. As luck would have it, I was going to be the only person sitting in the theater presently. I picked a seat in the last row near an exit. This way I could avoid having people (I know, I am being optimistic here) walking by me before and during the movie. When I talked to a friend and told them what I was doing, she asked if I was concerned about coming into contact with the virus by sitting in a seat. I told her no; it is not like I have ever put my head on the headrest or touched the armrests with my bare skin, since I always wear a jacket in the theater.      ON OPENING DAY, I DROVE TO the movie complex, a little apprehensive but excited. The parking lot was my first clue that there were not going to be a lot of people in the theater. Normally, I must park a couple of aisles away from the entrance; this time, I found a parking space right near the front door. Walking into the lobby, I looked to see if there were any changes made to accommodate the current environment. There were stickers on the floor to show patrons where to stand and the candy counter had a couple of queues setup far apart, also with the floor marked. At the entrance to each hallway there was a stand in the center with a container of sanitizer wipes for patrons to use. By choosing an earlier time to watch the movie, I only had 2 other people in my theater. They were sitting on the opposite side and the three of us kept our masks on the entire time. After the film was over ushers wheeled in carts filled with cleaning products to clean down the theater. I honestly felt comfortable the entire time I was there, and I am thrilled I can review a new film for today’s review.      A RACE AGAINST TIME TAKES ON a whole new meaning when one can replay the past as the protagonist, played by John David Washington (Monsters and Men, BlacKkKlansman) discovered in this action, science fiction story. With Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, The Lost City of Z) as Neil, Elizabeth Debicki (Widows, The Great Gatsby) as Kat, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (The Wall, Nocturnal Animals) as Ives and Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, My Week with Marilyn) as Andrei Sator; watching this movie was like being on a thrill ride. There was excitement, tension, fear and things to make one’s head spin. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Inception), I thought the acting was solid as the story went through spins and turns faster than a pinball. Even the music was exciting; however, I found myself more confused than not through this picture. With little emotional depth and drama, the film relies on the action in the story to carry the viewer. Don’t get me wrong, it does a good part of the time but having to sit and figure out what was going on became tiresome. Nonetheless, it felt good to be at the theater and more importantly, I felt comfortable. Please be aware I am not advocating or suggesting one go to the movies; one must decide for themselves. I am simply talking about my experience at my theater. Stay safe and be well.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: I Am Mother

SINCE THE MAJORITY OF MY FRIENDS started driving before I did, I discovered something interesting about parents. I had one friend whose father would always give a list of warnings before handing over the car keys to his son. Some of the things said by the father were, “don’t play the radio while driving,” don’t blast the air conditioning on high” and “don’t eat anything in the car.” Once we were able to get into the car and drive away, I asked my friend what was up with all the warnings from his dad. He told me his dad said the same thing every time he asked for the car, because his dad was always afraid the battery would die if the radio was on or if the fan was on high. I had no experience with cars, so I did not know whether his dad’s concerns were accurate or not. More importantly, I began to realize something else when the car did not die because we were blasting the a/c or the radio; parents may not know all the answers. At a younger age, I had no reason to question the things a parent would say; however, as I got older there were some things I would question. To me, this was all part of the learning process. How would I learn if I did not question things?      RECENTLY THERE WAS A NEWS REPORT about a father and his son who were accused of a hate crime. Besides it being a vile act, I had to wonder what was going on inside that family structure that allowed a child to act in such a way. I always thought the idea of raising a child was to help them grow up to think for themselves. Obviously, the son who participated in the crime had the same mindset as his dad. I understand children are like sponges when they are small, but I try to believe that getting an education and socialization provides the tools for the grown-up child to make hopefully responsible and rational decisions. I am reminded of someone I worked with who was a liar just like his dad. Anything either of them would say, I never trusted. Anytime I questioned them they would just make up some story to appease me, hoping I would go away. Because of my experiences growing up, I find nothing wrong with a child questioning a parent. Granted there is no rule book to child rearing, and as a friend of mine says, “Raising a child to grow up and be a decent human being is a crapshoot.” You just never know; which is what the writers of this dramatic, mystery science fiction movie wanted viewers to think about.      WITH HUMANITY EXTINCT IT WAS UP to one robot to care for the frozen, stored human embryos. For the robot to be successful it would have to teach the developing human how to be human, according to the robot. With Rose Byrne (Peter Rabbit, Spy) voicing Mother, newcomer Talilia Sturzaker as the child, Clara Rugaard (Teen Spirit, Good Favour) as Daughter, Luke Hawker (Blackspot, The Devil’s Rock) as Mother and Hilary Swank (The Hunt, The Resident) as woman; this film festival winning movie had a thought provoking script. As the picture continued the small twists and turns kept me wondering about certain scenes. Adding in Clara’s performance and I found this movie captivating. It was refreshing to have a science fiction film play out as a dramatic story without the battles and overwhelming special effects. I also enjoyed Hilary’s performance because the introduction of her character changed the flavor of the story for me. Since this film was never on my radar, I consider it a sleeper movie; one that packs more punch than what it appears to be. Even after watching this picture I kept thinking about it which is always a good sign for me.

 

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME EVER getting such an answer to my question. All I could do was laugh and ask her why she wanted to be a mermaid. The little girl was my friend’s daughter, who said mermaid when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be one so she could swim faster and stay underwater for a long time. I wasn’t sure how to answer her because I did not want to be the one to tell her she could never be a mermaid. So instead, I asked her if I remembered correctly that mermaids had a large fin instead of feet; she said yes, I was right. Scratching my chin as I tried to put a pensive look on my face, I told the little girl that when she gets older she might be able to buy fins a/k/a flippers for her feet that would make her swim faster in water. She seemed pleased with the answer, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. My conversation with her reminded me of myself when I was her age because back then when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them I wanted to fly like a bird and be a window washer.      THROUGH ALL MY SCHOOLINGS IF I did not know what I wanted to do after school for a living, I at least had some general idea of what field I could see myself in. There was one relative who always told me I should be an accountant because I was so good with numbers. Another relative said I should work in the arts because I had such an imaginative mind. I wanted to do something with animals because of my love for them. As I started the educational process towards that goal, there was a part of me that also wanted to start my own travel business because of my love for travel. I wanted to provide private tours for people, where they would be ushered through the city in a limousine. While driving them I would be explaining the different sights along with offering them restaurant choices for their meals. Though I always loved these 2 career options they never came to pass. Does that make me a failure? I never felt so; if anything, I felt there was something waiting for me to discover. The journey of discovery sometimes can even be magical as you can see with the main character in this animated, film festival nominated movie.      LIVING OUT IN THE COUNTRY WITHOUT any friends made the days boring for Mary, voiced by Ruby Barnhill (The BFG, 4 O’Clock Club-TV). However, the discovery of a rare plant in the forest was about to change all of that for Mary. With Kate Winslet (The Mountain Between Us, The Dressmaker) voicing Madam Mumblechook, Jim Broadbent (Dolittle, Paddington franchise) voicing Doctor Dee, Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting franchise) voicing Flanagan and Louis Ashbourne Serkis (The Kid Who Would be King, Alice Through the Looking Glass) voicing Peter; this family adventure story was based on the book, The Little Broomstick. The animation was beautiful and creative; I felt it blended well with the story as the cast did an excellent job with their characters. It was so enjoyable to watch the hand drawn animation for a change instead of the computer driven kind. There was a sense of familiarity as I was viewing this picture; as if bits and pieces of other stories were being incorporated into this one. However, the sweetness, fun and excitement overcame any predictability I was feeling from several scenes. In addition, I thought the message in the story was simple enough for youngsters to appreciate. Seeing a picture like this one makes me glad I write film reviews.

 

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Project Power

DESPITE BEING TOLD NO TWO WERE alike, I wanted to see for myself. During the next snowfall, I tried to catch and see if each snowflake was truly different. My experiment was not really thought out completely; but in my defense, I was a little kid who wanted to see if the teacher was right. The snowflakes that landed on my gloved hand all looked similar to me; I just wished I had a magnifying glass to see up close the flakes. In our schoolbook, the pictures of the flakes were finely detailed and each one was unique. I remembered at the end of our lesson that day, the teacher had us take out a sheet of paper, fold it up and use a scissors to cut out different shapes along the edges. Once we were done, she told us to unfold the paper to see the snowflake we created. It was a fun trick that we enjoyed, as each of us compared our paper snowflake to the ones being held up around us. Though several flakes looked similar, none of us could find two snowflakes that looked identical; the teacher was correct. I liked the idea of each flake being different; my adult mind would say being unique.      I FOUND MYSELF RELATING TO THE snowflake because I felt I was different from my classmates. Overall, most looked and dressed in typical school wear, some even shared similar likes and dislikes; but there was no mistaking I was the only one like me. I say this because I felt my differences were something that no other student in my classroom had ever displayed in the slightest way; I felt completely alone in this regard. Growing up in a time where everyone looked like they were trying to match each other, both in fashion and thought, I found myself out of synch with the majority. As I grew older that chasm between me and other students grew wider. Some classmates started to ignore me while others started acting out with hostility towards me. I did not understand; I was just being me. There was nothing different I was doing in my daily routines at school; but for some reason, several students picked on me. If I had my grown adult mind at that time, I would have realized they were acting out with their own insecurities, wanting to be part of the herd and not stand out. That was not me; I started to embrace my differences once I was old enough to understand them. The idea of people reacting and being different in this dramatic, crime action story is what attracted me to watch this film.      A NEW DRUG WAS BEING PUSHED out by the drug dealers in New Orleans. Its claim was it could give you a superpower for 5 minutes; what you did with it was up to you. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Art, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, Don Jon) as Frank, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Night Comes On) as Robin, Rodrigo Santoro (The 33, Ben-Hur) as Biggie and Courtney B. Vance (Office Christmas Party, The Hunt for Red October) as Captain Craine; this science fiction film’s story had a great premise to build on. Casting Jamie, Joseph and Dominique increased the chances for this pseudo superhero movie to succeed; however, the script did not provide enough power to catapult this picture into the top tier of this type of genre. The story had a level of predictability as it incorporated several themes that have been done better before. I still enjoyed watching this movie, mainly because of the acting and comic book flavor of the scenes. There were some scenes that were too dark visually for me. I wished the writers had dug deeper into the dark side of the characters, along with expanding on the uniqueness each of us possess inside.

 

2 stars     

Flash Movie Review: Phantom Boy

IT LOOKED LIKE AN ANT COLONY in human form to me. There was so much activity taking place around me, I did not know where to look first. It was my first time visiting a hospital because a relative of mine was brought there by an ambulance. The lobby had a long desk with 2 women sitting behind it who were passing out visitor passes to the people who kept coming in. I was confused why I wasn’t handed a pass when we walked in and when I asked, I was told I was too young. It turned out I was not allowed to go up and see my relative; I was upset but knew better than to make a scene. Relatives took turns going up the elevator to see our ill family member, so someone was always sitting with me on one of the long black leather sofas that had small cracks on the seat portion. Except for the short table in front of me with its pile of magazines, there was nothing for me to do. I made a game of counting how many people came through the lobby. There were some individuals who looked fine, striding in as if they were walking into a store; others did not look so good, needing help to walk into the lobby. They scared me because they looked old and frail, as if they were about to break apart like crackers being crumbled into a bowl of soup.      IT DID NOT TAKE LONG FOR me to get bored with my counting game. From the variety of people, I saw walk through the lobby, I tried to imagine what the patient rooms must look like. Did the rooms for children have any games or toys in them? Was there chairs and a sofa for patients to sit in when they did not want to be in bed? These were some of the things I thought about as I sat and let my imagination take hold. I wondered if the nurses and doctors could tell when a patient was taking their last breaths. Having seen cartoons and movies where the character dies and a ghostly image of themselves rises out of their body to take one last look at their body before flying away, I wondered if those ghostly shadows were floating through the hospital’s hallways. Would they talk to each other or even see each other? This film festival winner might contain the answers.      IN THE HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENTS TO combat a deadly disease Alex, voiced by Edouard Baer (Moliere, Alias Betty), discovers his superpower. He is now ready to help another patient who was in the hospital. With Jean-Pierre Marielle (The Da Vinci Code, Micmacs) voicing L’homme au visage casse, Audrey Tautou (A Very Long Engagement, Dirty Pretty Things) voicing Mary, Jackie Berroyer (Love is in the Air, Three Dancing Slaves) voicing La Taupe and Patrick Descamps (One, Beyond the Horizon) as Le geant; this animated, action adventure was an interesting mix of fun and metaphysics. I found the hand drawn scenes refreshing and exciting. With a slice of humor, the script was well done in presenting death and near-death situations in a favorable light for young viewers. My only issue with the script was the 2 distinct story lines; at a certain point, I felt the story shifted into a cops and robbers situation, that seemed far removed from the possibilities presented in the early part of the movie. I imagine this was done to entertain viewers not interested in watching an entire animated picture with deep thoughts. Nonetheless, I enjoyed following Alex’ journey through the film as part of me was wishing I had been allowed to see my relative in the hospital when I was a small boy.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Old Guard

I REMEMBER BEING TOLD IT WAS a difficult delivery. Who told me I cannot say; but I can recall hearing about the length of the delivery and the loss of blood involved with it. Despite the difficulties, a baby boy was born who was the couple’s first child. The infant boy had the best of care since both of his parents were doctors. As a result, rarely did the couple ever have to second guess their decisions; any health issue that cropped up and they immediately knew what needed to be done. In other words, there was never any lag time between symptoms and remedies. Not that the child had a sickly constitution; he simply had his share of coughs and colds, along with the other kinds of kids’ ailments. Through his school years, the boy never missed more than 2-3 days of school at one time. Every assignment was turned in on time; each getting a high grade. One could say the boy’s good grades were a direct result of having 2 doctors for parents; however, that would be an erroneous statement. The boy was naturally smart, besides being a good learner who studied hard. What did not surprise me was hearing about the doctors’ son going into the scientific field.      AFTER HE HAD FINISHED HIS SCHOOLING, the now grown man had taken a job with a company involved with auditory systems. He did research, studies and experiments that earned him respect from his colleagues and superiors. He was awarded by being named the project lead for a new division in the company. His major responsibility was figuring out how to mimic the sense of hearing for those who could not hear. He was excited with the opportunity to make a difference for those who were either severely hard of hearing or completely deaf. It took a few years before he created a prototype that might work in providing sound to the deaf; he referred to it as an artificial ear. His parents were beyond excited and proud of their son; their boy was making his mark in the world. Though his project never created a workable artificial ear for the average consumer, his work did play an important part in many other areas of scientific research around the world. Imagine back years ago, at the time of this man’s challenging birth, if things had taken a different turn that resulted in him not being born? The world would have missed out on his important contribution. I have thought about this for many years, though not as long as the main character in this action, adventure fantasy.      DURING A RESCUE OPERATION THAT WENT bad, the operatives’ special abilities were revealed. It was only a matter of time before people would take advantage of them, unless they could find the culprit and destroy the evidence. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Bombshell) as Andy, KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son) as Nile, Matthias Schoenaerts (The Mustang, Red Sparrow) as Booker, Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Triple 9) as Copley and Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden, Rainbow: A Private Affair) as Nicky, this film’s strong suit was the action scenes. Well-choreographed with both women and men on equal footing; I was impressed with the cast, especially Charlize and KiKi. The story was not unusual for this genre and the script was predictable; but the fact that the action was not the prime focus made this picture an enjoyable viewing experience for me. I loved the historical aspect to the story; it played right into my thinking about differences caused when a person’s life is cut short or becomes non-existent. I understand this movie was based on a graphic novel. Whether there are sequels to the book I do not know; but I certainly hope this movie gets a sequel, because I think there would be a lot of ways the writers could take this story.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Cargo

I WAS FORCED TO LISTEN TO a parent and son negotiate over a candy bar. This is one of the downsides of waiting in line at the grocery store. The son had been whining and crying over something as they lined up behind me. I did my best to ignore what the two of them were saying to each other; however, when the young child said he would behave if he could get a candy bar, my ears perked up. Right at that point, I decided the child was being manipulative. And to my surprise, the parent agreed and let the son pick out a candy bar. Who was the adult, I wondered? This would never have worked when I was growing up. I was surprised the parent agreed; but then again, there is little that surprises me these days. Having seen and read stories about the parent/child connection, I have gone from being in awe to being horrified based on a parent’s actions. There was the case of the parents giving their younger son for Christmas, the shotgun their oldest son used to kill himself. What kind of message are the parents giving their child? I know I have mentioned this before, but there was that trial where the parent was being accused of hanging their 2-year-old child out on the fire escape of their apartment building. Unconditional love evidently is not always a given when one brings a child into the world.      NO MATTER HOW MANY NEGATIVE STORIES may be told; gratefully, there are just as many positive stories that come out. I remember reading about a family swimming in the ocean where their young child was attacked by a shark. The father did not hesitate as he went up to the shark and started punching it in the head until its mouth opened enough to get the child out, while still alive. Another story was reported of a mother who saved their child from drowning by keeping them afloat long enough to get them back safely onboard their pleasure boat that had drifted far away from them. I have always been puzzled with the way some parents are willing to sacrifice their lives for their children, while others are at the opposite end of the spectrum; in other words, they take away the lives of their children. Is it something a person is born with or is it something a person learns upon the birth of their child? I do not know but either way, what I saw in this dramatic, horror story moved me.      SEEING WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE SPREAD of an epidemic, a father desperately seeks out a safe place for his infant baby daughter. This film festival winning movie starred Martin Freeman (The Hobbit franchise, Black Panther) as Andy, Simone Landers (Grace Beside Me-TV) as Thoomi, Susie Porter (The Monkey’s Mask, East West 101-TV) as Kay, Bruce R. Carter (Here I Am, Last Cab to Darwin) as Willie and Kris McQuade (Ned Kelly, Strictly Ballroom) as Etta. For this genre of story, this script was such a different take that pleasantly surprised me. I thought Martin’s and Simone’s acting were outstanding. Typically, this type of story is filled with blood and gore; however, that was not the case with this picture; it was thoughtful and moving, allowing the drama to flourish with a brewing layer of tension. I am not sure the writer’s intended this, but I found parallels between parts of this story with current events. The extra bonus to this film was the outdoor scenes of the Australian countryside; there were some beautiful shots done by the camera people. For those of you who are into this genre of movies, you might be disappointed. However, I would ask that you give this film a chance if for nothing else to see a parent’s love for their child.

 

3 stars         

Flash Movie Review: Mirai

THE TWO OF US SAT QUIETLY playing checkers while people in the room were arguing back and forth between themselves. I had joined my elderly relative for the game after we had eaten dinner. I always enjoyed playing checkers with this relative despite him leading in the amount of games won. It was during our 2ndgame when a couple of the relatives, who were still sitting at the dining room table, started raising their voices towards each other. I had no idea what they were saying, so I started to turn around to look at them. My elderly relative patted his hand on my arm to stop me as he told me not to mind those fighting relatives. I asked him if they would start hurting each other; he said no, they both like being right and will continue yelling at each other until they get tired then they will each get up and walk away. He told me they always argue about unimportant things just so they can say they were right about something. “Pay them no mind,” he said. He also told me to learn from them which I thought was odd to say. When I questioned him, he said he wanted me to learn how to be respectful, that I can disagree with someone but respect that person’s feelings. We went back to playing our game of checkers.      THE THINGS THAT ELDERLY RELATIVE SAID to me during our checker games were invaluable to me. I have never forgotten our conversations and his thoughts about the things he saw going around him. To the other relatives, we looked like we were simply playing a game; but if they had paid attention to us, they would have realized this patriarch was teaching me important lessons that carried me through many situations. When I was that little boy, he was the oldest relative I knew. Those born before him, I only got to see in a photo album. The photos were old and faded. He would tell me who each person was and how they were related to me. I would ask questions about them and he would do his best to answer me in a way I would understand. There was one relative I was intrigued with because of a shiny pin he was wearing on his suit lapel in one of the photos. My relative told me it was a diamond and ruby pin shaped like a piece of candy because the man was a candy maker; how I had wished he was still alive. The little boy in this animated film sure was lucky to have his relatives.      FEELING NEGLECTED AFTER HIS BABY SISTER was born Yukio, voiced by Crispin Freeman (Young Justice-TV, Hellsing Ultimate-TV) found others who cared more about him. They were out in his yard. With Rebecca Hall (The Awakening, The Town) voicing the Mother, John Cho (Star Trek franchise, Searching) voicing the Father, Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent, Lost-TV) voicing the young great grandfather and Victoria Grace (47 Ronin, Tokyo Grandfathers) as Mirai; this film festival winning adventure drama had some beautiful visuals throughout it. I loved the whole idea behind the story, finding things that were touching and sweet. The one thing I had an issue with however, was the main character Yukko. I felt there was too much yelling and bratty behavior coming out of him; it was hard to sympathize with him after a short time. Also, I would have liked the yard scenes to have been drawn with more magic and fantasy to them, to make them stand out more. Despite these issues, I still enjoyed the story immensely. Because I did not realize I could have changed the language, I saw this film with subtitles; they were hard to read in many scenes. I still was able to understand what was going on while Japanese was being spoken by the characters.

 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Excalibur

WHILE WAITING IN THE CHECKOUT LINE, there was a floor show taking place two aisles over from me. There was no way getting away from it, so I along with the other shoppers stood quietly amused while the child performer was in the middle of his soliloquy. I am sure all of us have experienced such a performance within our families and friends; but the one taking place at the grocery store was over the top melodrama. The little boy was pulling out all the stops, being a true “drama queen.” He was carrying on about a box of cereal and a candy bar. I assumed his mother denied his request to buy him one or both items. Weeping with tears rolling down his face I was able to make out part of what he was saying between his sobs. He was telling his mother that he never gets anything and all he is asking for is one candy bar. I had to chuckle when he told his mother he would share the cereal with her if she bought it. When she still declined, he wailed out “Noooooo” and fell to the floor. She told him to get up then turned to the shoppers around her and apologized. Each person gave a slight smile with a nod of their head; there was nothing to be done. You had to feel for the mother because a performance like that, I am sure, was not going to be a one-time event in her life.     I USED THE TERM “DRAMA QUEEN” to describe that little boy because I use that term for both male and female, since I have experienced my share of adult drama queens. If you have never experienced one just stand near a customer service counter and you are bound to see one in action at some point. When I took a part time job for the holidays, part of my responsibilities was working the customer service desk. Most of the customers were polite and understanding, but there were a few who would carry on how their event was ruined or they looked like a fool or my favorite, when I would tell them the delivery date of their order and they would go into this operatic aria how that was not acceptable ending with, “I was ruining everything!” It always astounded me how they would make a scene and blame me for something out of my control. I always wanted to tell them this was not a life or death situation, but instead kept calm and quiet. The reason I mention all of this is because I felt I was experiencing another melodramatic opera by watching this dramatic, adventure fantasy.      WHOEVER COULD PULL THE SWORD EXCALIBUR out of the stone would become king of the land. Though almost every knight wanted to try, there were some who had other ideas on how to rule. With Nigel Terry (The Lion in Winter, The Emperor’s New Clothes) as King Arthur, Helen Mirren (Collateral Beauty, The Good Liar) as Morgana, Nicholas Clay (Sleeping Beauty, Evil Under the Sun) as Lancelot, Nicol Williamson (Robin and Marian, Spawn) as Merlin and Paul Geoffrey (The Thomas Crown Affair, Wuthering Heights) as Perceval; this film festival winner was such an over the top production to watch, that I felt like I was living in a different time. Dated by today’s standards, I still was enthralled with the size of the cast, the melodramatic classical musical score and the overall cheesiness of the script. The story is a familiar one that has been done before, but this production felt like an opera to me. And the extra kick of it all besides seeing a young Helen Mirren was to see an equally young Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson, before they became who we know them to be now. It was such a trip down memory lane to see the big production values of movies from the 1980s; I had to wonder if people were more inclined to be over the top dramatic back then as well.

 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Paradise Hills

I DID NOT SEE THEM UNTIL AFTER we were seated for dinner. They caught my eye because of what they were wearing, identical matching outfits. We were guests at a wedding, and I knew the two of them were not related to me. I had to assume they were a mother and daughter; the little girl looked like she was 5 to 7 years old. They were seated at a table nearby, in seats that were directly in line with my field of vision. Their dresses were made of a soft fabric like crepe or chiffon, with a pattern of autumn colored leaves all over it. With capped sleeves and a rounded neck, they each had a gold necklace around their neck that had a single dropped pearl dangling from it; in their pierced ears there were matching pearl earrings. I tried not to stare but the more I caught glimpses of them the more I found them fascinating in a creepy sort of way. Now I do not want to come off as disrespectful but seeing them dressed and acting the same made me uncomfortable. I have never been one to fall in line to fit in with the majority; I prefer people expressing their individuality and being different without feeling like they must conform to a certain set of “rules.” Watching these two with they identical hair styles and makeup just seemed so weird to me.      AFTER THE WEDDING EVENT ON MY DRIVE home, I spent some time thinking about that mother and daughter and my uneasiness with them dressing up to match each other. Having had some friends whose parents tried to raise them to be the same as their parents, I have always questioned the motivation behind it. Why did a mother or father want to have their child be just like them? Was it because that is how they were raised or maybe they wanted their child to be perfect, at least whatever they considered to be perfect? What I believe is children should be raised to be self-thinking, independent beings. Having spent many years feeling like an outsider, one could argue that has contributed to me wanting everyone to freely express their individuality. It is funny; I am remembering an incident with a friend who refused to go out to dinner with me until I had changed my clothes. He did not like what I was wearing, thinking it looked ridiculous on me. Because I did not want to argue I went ahead and put on a different shirt and pair of pants. I needed some of the gumption and fight the main character had in this film festival winner.      WAKING UP TO FIND OUT SHE was sent to a place that was going to change and mold her to fit into a certain society, there was only one person Uma, played by Emma Roberts (The Art of Getting By, We’re the Millers), knew who could do such a thing; it was her mother. With Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Chloe, Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Yu, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Bloodshot) as Amarna and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil franchise, Shock and Awe) as The Duchess; this fantasy, sci fi thriller had some lofty goals. Visually, I enjoyed watching this picture; the sets and costumes, especially Milla’s, were wonderful. The cast was well-suited for the roles and worked well together. Unfortunately, I was able to figure out what was going to happen due to the script; it was a mashup of a few previous films in the same genre. There were some scenes that worked, but then others lacked focus. If this had been released (or maybe it was) at the theaters I cannot imagine it doing very well. However, seeing it at home made it more palatable for me. If nothing else, I certainly understood the message that was trying to be conveyed and commend the writers and director for trying to create something original. It was a shame it did not quite get to its high aspirations.

 

2 1/3 stars

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