Category Archives: Foreign

Foreign

Flash Movie Review: Mosul

AS THE ICONIC BUILDING FLASHED ACROSS my television screen, I was saddened to see the damage. Its beautiful white terra-cotta tiles at street level had been broken or spray painted with graffiti. The glass in the entrance doors had been smashed to pieces. All I could do was sit there and stew in my feelings of anger that was bubbling up. This is something I do not understand; why some protesters feel the need to destroy random pieces of property. Before you tell me, they are making a point, I want to be clear that I believe they have the right to protest; whether it is a peaceful march or a sit-in, they have every right to protest. The thing I do not understand is the correlation between a person’s cause and the destruction of an object. Sure, if one felt let us say that voice enabled smart speakers were evil, then I can understand why a person is making a public statement by breaking the devices with a sledgehammer in the middle of the street. But to attack public property or burn down stores, I do not see that act as a productive use of one’s time in getting their message across. Staging a protest at the corporate headquarters of a company that is contributing to the deforestation of the rainforest is totally understandable and valid, in my opinion. But setting fire to the public train station that is underneath the company is not productive and does more harm I feel.      MY DESIRE TO PROTECT PUBLIC PROPERTY is born in the love I have for the city of my birth. I have lived in my city all of my life and I am proud of it. Like any city in the world it has its flaws; however, it has things that are unique to it. I mentioned in an older movie review that when I was growing up, I came up with an idea to run a sightseeing company that used limousines instead of buses to transport small groups of people around the city. One of my favorite things to do is take out of town visitors on a tour of the city and its surrounding areas. There is so much to explore and discover just within the city limits that I could spend days dragging visitors to every corner of my city. Besides loving my tour guide responsibilities, I absolutely enjoy when I visit an out of town friend/relative who does the same thing by showing me all the sights in their city. I do not know what to call my strong feelings about my city; pride, love, protective or a combination of them? I just know I do not what anyone tearing down what has been created for its inhabitants. This is the reason I was impressed with the work that was being done by the main characters in this dramatic war drama.      REFUSING TO END THE MISSION THEY started, an elite group of officers continue to face death as they try to rid their city from forces who have been tearing it down. With Waleed Elgadi (Four Lions, A Hologram for the King) as Colonel Kaveh Afsahani, Hayat Kamille (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile) as Hayat, Thaer Al-Shayei (Fears, The Antwerp Dolls) as Hooka, Suhail Dabbach (The Hurt Locker, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as Jasem and Adam Bessa (The Blessed, Extraction) as Kawa; this film based on a true story was filled with gripping intensity. Set in what was Iraq’s 2ndlargest city, the non-stop actions of this elite squad were incredible to watch. I thought the direction was in synch with the script and appreciated the moments that were given for emotional release. Despite the violent scenes with blood, I could not stop watching what was taking place in the story and truly, what a story. Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Life Ahead

I KNEW HIM TO BE A mean and argumentative individual. He really was worse than that, but I was afraid I would get censored for what I really wanted to say about him. It was not unusual to see him in a fight with another student, whether it was verbal or physical. I never liked him and did my best to stay away from him. After we graduated and moved up to the regional school, I thought for sure I would not have any contact with him; it turns out I was wrong. We both had the same music class. When I walked into the classroom and saw him sitting in one of the seats, I wanted to turn around and go to the counselor’s office, to see if I could change out of the class. Because I did not want to start moving classes around, I decided to stick it out and just make a point to never sit near him. Hopefully, he would not see me or if he did, would not realize we had gone to the same lower school. This was not the way I wanted to start out in this new school; but at least the teacher seemed nice.      THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER, MY PLAN TO go unnoticed by him worked. He hadn’t changed since the teacher had to break up a couple of fights that he was involved in with other students. Also, whenever we had an open discussion in class, he was his typical abusive self with his yelling and name calling. A funny thing, however, started to take place I noticed after many weeks. His methods of discussion took on a less combative mode and I honestly could not recall when was the last fight he participated in. At least for me, I felt relief since his ways were a distraction; I wanted to hear more from the instructor because she seemed so knowledgeable. A student sitting next to me who had struck up an acquaintance with me, surprised me when he commented on our classmate. He had noticed the change like I had; but it turns out he had a theory. I was curious to hear, so he shared his thoughts with me. It turns out the teacher had spent several sessions one on one with our classmate after his first outburst in class. I knew her to be a gentle and kind, based on the way she conducted class. The way she dealt with us as a class was something new to me. She tended to ignore the boastful or negative comments as she encouraged us to be more open and honest. I know I do not have enough space here to share the details; but if you are curious, this dramatic film can show you a way on how people can change.      WITH THE RETURN OF HER STOLEN purse Madame Rosa, played by Sophia Loren (A Special Day, Marriage Italian Style), was put in the uncomfortable position to board the person who stole it in the first place. It was an outrageous request. With Renato Carpentieri (Open Doors, Tenderness) , Francesco Cassano (The Tracker, Anche Senza di te) as Carabiniere, newcomer Ibrahima Gueye as Momo and Abril Zamora (Three Days with the Family, Vis a Vis) as Lola; this Italian film was proof that when you are a star, you can remain a star. Sophia was outstanding in this role; so much so, that if it had been someone else, I do not think the movie would have been as engaging for me. The story had a familiar ring to it, but the chemistry between Ibrahima and Sophia was solid. Since the movie I saw was dubbed in English, I felt it made it harder for me to connect at first; but that soon passed. This was a classic performance from a classic actress, and I was glad I was able to watch it.

3 ¼ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Highway

WE WERE SITTING AND ENJOYING OUR menu choices that we carried out from a local restaurant. At some point the conversation turned to traveling and we started asking each other what places we have gone to in the states. I think I was the most interested in the answers because I was the only one at the table who had been to all 50 states. Listening to the places people were mentioning brought back my memories of those times when I was there. I remembered one city where I got there the day they opened a new people mover to connect their airport to the downtown area. As I was sitting in one of the train cars, I noticed an elderly couple staring at the automatic doors. From the conversations I had with them during the ride, it turned out they had never seen automatic doors before. I know, hard to believe right? They lived in a tiny town out in the country. I will always have this memory as part of my memories of the city. Now some of the stories being told around the table dealt with areas in a state that I did not have time to visit. Many of my state visits dealt with flying into a city and exploring it and its surrounding area; usually there was not time for me to explore further out unless the destination was a national park or something else significant.      MORE THAN SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE EVENING, someone would mention staying at a local area of an out of state city where I also had stayed during my trip. When this would come up we then would compare our notes on our time there. I found it curious when someone, who stayed in the same area as me, saw nothing of what I had seen. Though they could recall the street where their hotel was located, they had no idea what I was talking about as I mentioned the different tourist and local attractions/places I went to see when I was there. I would mention a famous museum, garden or mansion and they would shrug and tell me they had no clue such and such was there. I do not mean this to sound judgmental or condescending; I was simply perplexed by the things they chose to experience. Going out of state and visiting the same places one has back home has never been my thing. For example, going to a national pizza chain or clothing store or breakfast restaurant are places I do not care to visit when I am out of state. I know some people find comfort by choosing places that are familiar but then I would ask why spend the money to experience them out of state. Also, I am guessing some people may not even know there are other choices; like the main character in this film festival winning movie.      KIDNAPPED AT GUNPOINT, THE DAUGHTER OF A wealthy businessman discovers a completely different world than the one she grew up in. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a scary or beautiful world. This romantic crime drama starred Alia Bhatt (Gully Boy, Dear Zindagi) as Veera Tripathi, Randeep Hooda (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Beeba Boys) as Mahabir Bhati, Durgesh Kumar (Dhadak, Paharganj) as Aadoo, newcomer Pradeep Nagar as Tonk and Saharsh Kumar Shukla (Ugly, Raees) as Goru; I initially thought this was going to be a standard Bollywood picture. Surprisingly, the script started out that way but eventually took a different trajectory. There were times the story wavered and turned to typical relief tricks; but I liked the ride this film provided me. I thought the acting was decent and I enjoyed the variety of outdoor shots the story provided. To call this movie a coming of age story would not necessarily convey its true story, I believe; it is more of a coming into awareness story. Hindi was spoken with English subtitles.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Train to Busan

I SAW THE REQUEST POSTED ON ONE of my social media sites. The person was asking for suggestions and recommendations on food delivery services. They wanted to place an order for food to be delivered to an elderly couple, who did not have the ability to leave their home during the state’s shelter in order. Besides the generosity of this person’s request, the other thing that impressed me was the immediate response they were getting from so many people. As I read through the comments, I discovered this request started because the person’s first choice of a delivery service cancelled the order because they could not fulfill it due to several items being out of stock. What struck me about this was the fact the response was coming from a major grocery store chain. I soon discovered, based on the posted conversations going back and forth, that the items out of stock were some basic household items, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables. This struck me as odd since those items, at least in my experiences, have never been out of stock; especially, the household items which are produced by several different manufacturers. I wondered how long it was going to take this person to find all the items they needed to send to the elderly couple; I hoped it was not going to turn into the type of scenario where they were trying to beat the clock before the elderly couple went hungry.      LITTLE DID I KNOW READINGTHOSE comments were only going to be a prelude to what I would encounter when I went to buy groceries. The first thing I noticed when I was walking inside the grocery store was the amount of people who had scared looks on their faces. They were walking up and down the aisles staring forlornly at the empty spaces that popped up periodically along the shelves. The magnitude of the situation did not hit me until I discovered there were no bananas or sweet potatoes to be found anywhere; I could not process this fact. Later on I found out the reason for the absence of these two items was because parents were buying them up to mash into food to feed to their babies. Continuing on my way through the store, I saw polar opposite examples of people’s compassion during a crisis.  In one aisle I saw a shopper with a cart brimming over with items. Each item was in multiple amounts, for example 5 bottles of salad dressing. Unless they were buying for multiple families, I felt they were being greedy during these scary times. Soon after I saw a shopper in the checkout line who had 4 loaves of bread in their cart. They were talking to the person behind them and whatever was said, I saw this shopper take one of the loaves out of their cart and hand it to the person behind them. Wow, it looked like an act of kindness. Similar examples to the ones I just mentioned can be found in this film festival-winning movie from South Korea.      PASSENGERS ON A BULLET TRAIN BOUND FOR a resort town are confronted with the fact they may not make it due to the zombies that got on board. With Yoo Gong (Finding Mr. Destiny, A Man and a Woman) as Seok-woo, Yu-mi Jung (A Bittersweet Life, Psychokinesis) as Seong-kyeong, Dong-seok Ma (The Outlaws; The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) as Sang-hwa, Su-an Kim (The Battleship Island, Memories of the Sword) as Soo-an and Eui-sung Kim (Wiretap, Six Flying Dragons-TV) as Yon-suk; this action horror thriller was a complete surprise to me because of its heart. With any zombie movie, one gets the idea of what is going to happen; however, with this story, I found the script added depth to its characters. The different side stories of individual people allowed me to become more engaged with their plight. Add in the skillful action and this picture turned out to be a mirror to the times we are living in presently. There were scenes that showed blood and violence; but I did not find them to be the usual gory type one finds in horror films. Whether it is unseen viruses or zombies, both bring out people’s true natures. Korean was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ¼ stars — DVD           

Flash Movie Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I WISH I COULD REMEMBER HOW OLD I was when I was able to stay home alone without a babysitter. The funny thing is, I absolutely remember the day when it happened. It was a clear but windy Saturday night. My food treats for the evening were a freshly popped bowl of popcorn, a box of chocolate chip cookies and a cup of chocolate pudding that was covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. I was so excited to have the run of the house all to myself. No fighting over who would get to watch their TV show on the large television in the living room and no waiting to use the bathroom; I was all set for the evening. The first television show I planned on watching was a comedy. All settled on the couch with my bowl of popcorn and a bolster to recline on, I began watching my TV show. It was only 10 or 15 minutes into the program when I heard a sound coming from the back door. I was afraid to walk into the kitchen to see what it was; so, instead I creeped along the living room wall until I was able to sneak a peak out the window that was closest to the back porch. I did not see anyone there; but I was scared enough to run into the kitchen and wedge one of the kitchen chairs under the doorknob of the back door. I also took out a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and kept it by my side the rest of the night.      THOUGH THAT WAS MY INITIAL INTRODUCTION into becoming a responsible “older” boy, I began to relish my new status within the family. There was a sense of freedom, if you will. I do not mean to infer I was a prisoner or something like that; it was having the option of choice that gave me this feeling of freedom. A small child is told what to do or not do. For example, I remember when I was not allowed to touch the knifes that everyone else was using at the dining room table; my food was cut up for me because I was too young to do if for myself. At some point as I got older, I was able to use a knife to cut my own food. Stuff like this may sound trivial but being able to take actions and make decisions for oneself is a powerful force. This is something I do not take lightly because I know there are places in the world where people do not have the ability to make their own choices. Imagine what life would be like for you if you did not have the freedom of choice. If you wish to see examples, this exquisite, dramatic film festival winner will show you.      AFTER HER SISTER’S DEATH HELOISE’s, PLAYED BY Adele Haenel (The Unknown Girl, Love at First Fight), mother pulled her out of the convent to take her sister’s place hopefully in an arranged marriage. With Noemie Merlant (Paper Flags, Heaven Will Wait) as Marianne, Luana Bajrami (School’s Out, Happy Birthday) as Sophie, Valeria Golind (Hot Shots franchise, Escape From L.A.) as La Comtesse and Armande Boulanger (Conviction, Silence du leopard) as L’eleve atelier; this romantic movie was filmed in such a beautiful way that I felt I had been transported back to the 18thcentury on the Island of Brittany. The acting was mesmerizing as Noemie and Adele used their acting skills to tell the story. I especially enjoyed the way the script slowly heated up, giving enough time for each scene to fully set in. The dialog was spoken in French and Italian with English subtitles; I had no difficulty following the story while reading the subtitles. This was a fascinating movie watching experience that depicted a time when women particularly had less freedom to choose. At least, I hope they had less back then, than they do now.

 

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Pain and Glory

I CRINGED WHEN I SAW WHAT I pulled out of the dresser drawer. It was a pair of compression shorts that I used to wear years ago for teaching aerobics. Holding them up arm’s length away, I could not believe there was a time, I not only wore them, but would willingly wear them in public. They were made of a Lycra spandex blend and were black with a pinstripe of red that went down the outer thighs. How did I ever think they were good looking, especially on me I wondered? At the time, it seemed like everyone was wearing these types of shorts; I just wanted to fit in with the crowd. It is funny how over time my original memory of me teaching in those shorts morphed from a happy memory to an uncomfortable one. That is the thing about memories, though the event itself doesn’t change our perceptions do. I can still see my younger self standing on stage in the aerobic studio in those shorts, leading the class through the different movements. During that time, I had the ability to eat whatever I wanted without worrying about gaining weight; how I miss those times! Teaching multiple classes, being on a strict regimen of weightlifting; it was a dream come true not having to worry about the consequences for eating a bowl of ice cream or several cookies at once.      MANY OF MY MEMORIES USED TO haunt me. The ones pertaining to my high school years really had a control over me that I could not shake. For years the weight of them prevented me from reaching out and exploring my potential. I do not really look at memories in terms of good or bad; they each are a part of me, but I now choose how to react to them. From the dark times in high school I changed those memories from being demons to motivational spokespeople. I can honestly say part of the reason I lost weight was due to those past high school memories. No more being the victim, I worked to recreate and embrace myself. For those of you who have been long time readers of my reviews, you can see I have an abundance of memories that well up when I am watching a movie. What may have started out as a bad memory is now only a cracked brick among the many that are part of the life path I am walking on. Memories provide us the opportunity to be inspired or creative or reflective; they do not have to weigh us down for an eternity. See for yourself by watching this dramatic, film festival winner.      IN FAILING HEALTH WITH TALK OF a retrospective on his previous film work; writer and director Salvador Mallo, played by Antonio Banderas (Dolittle, The Laundromat), looks back on the life that led him to the place he was at presently. With Asier Etxeandia (The Bridge, Velvet-TV) as Alberto Crespo, Leonardo Sbaraglia (The Silence of the Sky, Wasp Network) as Federico Delgado, Nora Navas (Black Bread, We All Want What’s Best for Her) as Mercedes and Penelope Cruz (Loving Pablo, The Counselor) as Jacinta; this was a beautifully filmed movie. The acting was excellent with Antonio doing some of his best work. The story jumps back and forth in time; at first it threw me, but I quickly found the rhythm of it. It was refreshing to experience a thoughtful and well-written script; the issues that came up were handled with a direct, clear vision. I have to say the scenes with Penelope were some of the most gorgeous pieces of story telling I have seen in a long time. This was the type of film viewing experience where one is given the opportunity to reflect on their own life. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Parasite

ON A RECOMMENDATION, I LOOKED UP a couple of the resorts suggested to me. She was right, they were nothing short of spectacular. One of the resorts had several rooms that had a live tree as the bed’s headboard. From the bedroom one could walk through the adjoining sitting room, with its plush low-backed chairs, then pass through two sliding glass doors out onto a veranda, where one could dine on a specially prepared meal. What was there not to like, I ask you. I scrolled down through photos of the resort’s grounds until I reached the page that listed the prices. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. The pricing started in the low four figures and that was per day. I had to wonder if the person who recommended the resort thought I was rich. Obviously, they were in a different class than me and had enough funds to bankroll several trips to the resorts that they suggested to me. All I could do was just laugh about it. I continued by looking at a couple more of the suggested resorts; they all had similar price ranges. At least I got to see some gorgeous places where the rich hang out, evidently.      I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE TYPE to get jealous or envious of another person’s wealth. As long as they acquired their wealth by honest means, it does not matter to me if a person is considered lower, middle or upper class. In my mind everyone is still human. Wealth is not something I list as an attribute when I am “judging” a person. Kind, generous, loving and sweet are some of the things that are important to me. I know not everyone thinks like me because I have encountered individuals who form a dislike towards a person just because they have more money. There was one person I remember who felt because someone was richer than him, they should always offer to pick up the check at a restaurant when they dined out together. I am sorry, but I found that logic ridiculous. What if the two of them went shopping for clothing? Would the person of less wealth expect the other to pay for his purchases? One of my newspaper subscriptions once a week lists houses for sale that exceed one million dollars. Seeing the opulence of these properties is fun for me, since I never will have such a place. That is as far as my interest goes which is something, I cannot say for one of the families in this comedic, crime drama.      STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET, THE Kim family finds good fortune when their son Kim Ki-woo, played by Woo-sik Choi (Set Me Free, Train to Busan) becomes the tutor to a wealthy family’s daughter. His position would present opportunities for the Kim family to benefit. With Kang-ho Song (The Host, Snowpiercer) as Kim Ki-taek, Sun-kyun Lee (A Hard Day, The King’s Case Note) as Park Dong-ik, Yeo-jeong Jo (The Servant, Obsessed) as Park Yeon-kyo and So-dam Park (The Priests, The Silenced) as Kim ki-jung; this film festival winner out of South Korea was a wicked satire, filled with memorable moments. I thought the directing and filming of the story was top-notch. Everyone in the cast did a wonderful job of acting; I never once thought the characters were anything but themselves. Because it is a culture I have not had much exposure to, I was fascinated with the outdoor scenes. I never once felt the reading of the subtitles interfered with my fascination or viewing of this film; this truly was a wonderful and enjoyable viewing experience and that is something one cannot put a price on. Korean dialog was spoken with English subtitles.

 

4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Everybody Knows

THERE ARE SOME FAMILY GATHERINGS THAT require a program to keep the cast of characters clear in one’s mind. I will avoid talking about my own since it would be easy for the family members to identify themselves in my stories. There have been many occasions where I have been included in another family’s event. From somber to joyful I have discovered each family has their own “baggage” whether they acknowledge it or not. Also, it has reaffirmed in me the belief that there is no such thing as a “normal” family. I was included in a friend’s family dinner where two sisters did not speak to each other because they had an argument months (yes, that is right months) ago. Do you have any idea how challenging it is to carry on a conversation where you have to address each person separately on the same topic? They never made eye contact nor referred to the other in any way; it was uncomfortable for me and yet the parents sat at the dining room table as if nothing in the world was wrong. The wildest part of it was when food was being passed around the table. Neither sister would hand the other any food going around; instead, would put it on the table to make the other sibling stand up and reach for it. Crazy, isn’t it?      AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM, I have been at family functions where nothing was held back; family members were sharing the most intimate details about their personal lives. In other words, WTMI (way too much information). There would be no need for me to hear what type of physical characteristics a relative is looking for in a mate. Or how about sitting around the living room as 3 relatives get into a heated argument, calling each other names and swearing at the top of their lungs. I remember looking around to get a cue on how to react, but the other relatives were just sitting there sipping their cups of coffee and nibbling on their snacks as if nothing was taking place. At one point I thought I was entering a boxing match as the yelling relatives were getting up into each other’s faces. Now I come from a point of view where everyone has the right to express their feelings; but not during a heated argument. It should be a calm setting with no fear of retaliation. If you are curious to see an example of a family with issues, then feel free to observe what takes place with the family in this dramatic crime mystery.      RETURNING TO HER SMALL HOME TOWN for her sister’s wedding was to be a happy occasion for Laura, played by Penelope Cruz (The Counsellor, Broken Embraces). But when a tragic event took place, the cracks beneath the family’s surface spread further apart. This film festival winning movie also starred Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, No Country for Old Men) as Paco, Ricardo Darin (The Secret in Their Eyes, Wild Tales) as Alejandro, Edward Fernandez (Biutiful, The Man with Thousand Faces) as Fernando and Barbara Lennie (Magical Girl, El Nino) as Bea. The acting in this film was excellent; whether it was joyful or heart wrenching, I was feeling the characters’ emotional states. With the acting so strong, this picture needed a tightly written script to keep the actors aloft. At times I felt some scenes went flat; luckily, there were not many of them. The other criticism I have has to do with the ending. It seemed to tidy as if it wanted to wrap up the story quickly. Otherwise, this picture still kept my interest as I wondered what other things this family had hidden below the surface. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles.

 

2 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Cold War

EVERY TIME I SAW THEM I would always wonder why they wanted to be with each other. From what I saw, they were not nice to each other. Actually, I think it had more to do about respect; they did not have respect for each other. Whenever we were together in a social setting, they would inevitably get into an argument with each other. And they were nasty about it. It is one thing to argue in a rational and respectful way over an issue; but, they would call each other names and do something that is one of my pet peeves: bringing up something from the past that was never discussed at that time. You may have encountered this yourself when somebody would say, “Remember when you did such and such,” and you have no idea what they are talking about because they never brought it to your attention back then. I cannot tell you how much this annoys me. If I do something that unintentionally offends, upsets or bothers someone; I want them to tell me right then and let us talk about it. To bring it up months later, where I get blindsided, is something I find to be manipulative.     IT IS POSSIBLE THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS love each other; they just don’t like each other. Or, another possibility is they are both co-dependent with one another. I was in a relationship with someone who was manipulative and passive aggressive; two traits that are not fun to deal with, I am here to tell you. Until you catch on to them, you might find yourself doing things you normally would not have considered prior to them. Gratefully, I eventually caught on and ended the relationship; it simply was not a healthy union. However, I have seen other people in similar situations who remain in non-healthy relationships. I am not one to judge, but I do wonder what pleasure they get from their partner that keeps them locked in such a union. There was a couple I knew years ago who on the surface were toxic. They would yell, argue and manipulate each other on a constant basis; however, there were times where they were affectionate with each other. It was so weird to me. How could you have this explosive battle with someone and in the next minute be flirtatious and cutesy? I still remember hearing one of them threaten that they were going to leave the marriage all the time. Maybe this is one of the downsides to love; it can cause havoc in one’s life. It certainly influenced the couple in this dramatic, musical romance.      THERE WAS SUCH A STRONG PASSIONATE connection between Zulu and Wiktor, played by Joanna Kulig (The Innocents, The Crime-TV) and Tomasz Kot (Gods, Bikini Blue) and that was exactly the problem with their relationship. This film festival winning, and Oscar nominated movie from Poland was beautifully filmed. Shot in black and white, I felt doing it this way was more effective in presenting a precise no-frills story. Even the script did not have any excessive dialog, which ultimately kept the story going forward. Taking place during the 1950s in communist Poland, the settings and costumes were perfect for the settings. With Borys Szyc (The Mole, Symmetry) as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza (Ida, These Daughters of Mine) as Irena and Cedric Kahn (Up for Love, Miss and the Doctor) as Michel; I felt everyone was connected to the story, putting on a wonderful show of acting. Now there were times where I felt the story dragged; particularly when the scene presented a similar situation I felt I had seen previously. However, it was not enough to make me feel like I was having a love/hate relationship with this film. Polish and French were spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Roma

THOUGH HER EYES WERE COVERED WITH OVERSIZED sunglasses, the sun was reflected in each lens to make it look like she had stars in her eyes. I stared at the photograph for some time, wondering if the photographer realized that when they captured the image. Hanging next to this photograph was one that depicted something completely different. It was done in black and white and at first glance I thought it was a photo of a closed toilet seat. The camera had shot it from the front at eye level to the seat. I assumed the photographer was attracted to the dark splotches on the seat’s rims; personally, I thought it looked nasty. As I read the information card next to the photograph it turned out the subject of the photo was actually a small bunch of ripe bananas, done in closeup. I was surprised and had to look back at the photo hanging on the wall. Now that I knew what it was I could make out the three bananas stacked on each other; what a hoot! In photography I have always gotten a kick out of taking photos of ordinary things in such a way as to play with the viewer’s perceptions of it, turning the subject into something extraordinary.     AS I WALKED AROUND THE GALLERY I saw some gorgeous photographs. When the subject was human, I spent more time in front of it wondering why the person was photographed; what was their back story? One photo had an elderly woman sitting on a park bench. She was knitting a scarf while wearing it. The finished end was draped around her neck then rolled down her chest to her hands that held two large knitting needles. The needles looked like they were pointing to one spot. I wondered why the woman was sitting outside with her knitting; was she waiting for someone, did she like sitting outdoors because of the lighting and temperature? Did the photographer even know her, I wondered? Usually I have seen people knitting in waiting rooms; this photo piqued my curiosity. There were other photographs that showed individuals in a variety of emotional states. Coming out of one of the photos was an anguished looking woman who looked like her skin was melting; she looked deflated and sad. I came up with a few scenarios that all ended in some type of tragedy. But isn’t that what art is supposed to do; make one think and react to its content? That is exactly what was taking place in this film festival winning drama; the subject’s story came to life right before my eyes.      CLEO, PLAYED BY NEWCOMER YALTA APARICIO, was the maid for a middle-class family that had some issues behind its façade. Set in Mexico City during the 1970s, this movie also starred Marina de Tavira (The Skies-TV; Love, Pain and Vice Versa) as Sra. Sofia, newcomer Diego Cortina Autrey as Tono, newcomer Carlos Peralta as Paco and newcomer Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermin. Directed and written by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men), this film was visually stunning. Shot in black and white, Alfonso took his time with each scene. There was always something else going on besides the main subject in the scenes, filling up each frame with feelings and emotions. The story essentially was basic; there was very little action to speak of until the last half of the film. In fact, I found the script somewhat slow at times and felt Alfonso was spending too much time on some shots. For newcomers I was surprised to see how well the cast did with the script.  I only wished there was more to the story. This was one of the most beautifully filmed pictures I have ever seen; however, I found out the back story of some subjects may not always be so exciting.

 

3 ½ stars  

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