Category Archives: Foreign

Foreign

Flash Movie Review: Drive My Car

THERE IS A FINE LINE, I discovered, between sympathizing and topping. I am the first to admit that I used to not know the difference but have been working on it. It turns out, I am not the only one who was challenged in this area. There is an acquaintance of mine who consistently tries to “one up” me when it comes to issues of health. When we are talking and I mention an issue I am experiencing, such as a slight dizziness when I first get up from a reclined position, he will then proceed to tell me how he suffers from the same infliction; but invariably his condition is always worse than mine. If I said I had trouble sleeping, he would tell me how he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep because of all the times he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Or he would describe to me how horrible his mattress is, that he cannot get comfortable on it. No matter what I say, he is always quick to tell me how much worse it is for him. I must tell you this gets annoying pretty quickly; it is not a contest to see who can out complain the other.      I THINK OF THIS MAN WHEN someone is sharing their personal information/issue/concerns with me. If nothing else, I try to listen to the person to see if they are asking me for advice; sometimes, a person just wants a sympathetic ear or sounding board to help them figure out their feelings. When appropriate if I have had a similar experience, I may share that information with them. If they choose to ask me how I handled it, I will tell them. Sometimes I will tell them I had a similar experience and offer my advice on how I handled the situation, avoiding any comment with the word “should” in it. I do not know if you experience this; but when two people are sharing their issues and there is an even “give and take” of emotions and feelings, it is a beautiful feeling. There is a sense of healing taking place when I have experienced such a thing. Sometimes hearing what another person has gone through or done about their predicament has provided me with new insight and perspective. Not that I am saying it is a situation where you hear someone’s story, and you think things could have been worse for you; but I guess that can play a part in one’s perspective. Either way, it cannot hurt, and the proof is in this Oscar nominated drama from Japan.      HAVING ALREADY ACCEPTED THE POSITION OF director, there was no choice allowed when it came to providing Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima (License to Live, Tokyo Rendezvous), with a driver for his cherished red Saab automobile. The long drive could become a challenge. With Toko Miura (The Girl in the Sun, Weathering with You) as Misaki Watari, Reika Kirishima (Norwegian Wood, Godzilla: Final Wars) as Oto Kafuku, newcomer Park Yu-rim as Lee Yoon-a and newcomer Jin Dae-yeon as Kon Yoon-su; this film festival winning movie was an experience for me. I was not looking forward to its 3-hour running time, plus I experienced a bit of confusion when the opening credits took place well after the story had begun. With that being said, I was surprised how the confusion cleared up as I slowly was brought into this adult story that was based on the written short story. It was fascinating to watch adults be thoughtful and curious as the cast dealt with their various emotions. The play Uncle Vanya written by Anton Chekhov strongly influences this picture. Not having read it, I felt I was at a disadvantage. However, as the scenes progressed, I appreciated the way the director allowed the actors to explore their emotional baggage. As I said this film was made for adults and it did a wonderful job of exposing the depth of human feelings. Spoken Japanese and Korean sign language were used with English subtitles.          

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Flee

AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, I believe each of us has planned an escape. From something as small as an uncomfortable conversation to leaving one’s home. When I was sending applications out to colleges, I felt I was working on an escape out of the hard times I was experiencing in high school. I purposely chose schools out of state, to get as far away as I could and reinvent myself to no longer be the victim. It was a hard adjustment at first because it was the first time I was ever away from my home. What I learned in my new environment helped me immensely. The knowledge I gained helped when two of my friends wanted to leave their husbands. One friend who I will refer to as Carol, had been married for nearly 20 years and grew tired of the mental and physical abuse inflicted on her by her husband. His physical abuse was confined to pushing and squeezing, at least that is what she told me. I did wonder though when I would catch a glimpse of her arms and see a bruise or two. It came to a point where she needed to get away from him; I did my best to provide her with emotional and mental support through the process of leaving him. The difference in her once the divorce was final was amazing; she was filled with joy and happiness.      MY FRIEND, LET ME CALL HER, Mary was married for years also. She had a low level of confidence in herself, so the relationship was one-sided in my opinion. She let her husband make all decisions and believed whatever he said was true. Through the years she started working on herself through therapy and personal growth avenues, to the point she started feeling confident. As you might imagine, it caused conflict between them because she was for the first time voicing her opinion and discovering not everything her husband said was right. It came to a point where she wound up staying with me until she could figure out her next steps. In this case, they both started couples therapy and are still married to this day in a healthier place. Of course, there are other reasons a person feels they must leave a situation. I met a man who left his family and home because the religion he was born into did not accept him. There is more to it, but I want to respect his privacy. The main character in this Oscar nominated, Sundance winning film had a good reason to find an escape; you might want to see it for yourself.      WITH HIS COUNTRY BEING TORN APART, the family of Amin, voiced by newcomer Daniel Karimyar, had to find a way to get to a safe place. The effects of their plan would have a lasting effect. With Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal, Encounter) voicing the adult Amin, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (The Silencing, Game of Thrones-TV) voicing Rasmussen, newcomer Milad Eskandari voicing 8-year-old Saif and Belal Faiz (Rita-TV) voicing 13-year-old Saif; this animated dramatic documentary based on a true story was extraordinary. This was a new fresh way of telling a story via animation and live footage. The story was incredible and the way it was told fascinated me. Scenes of present times were separated by memories of the past; it really brought me into the story. When an animated film is nominated for an Oscar like this one, I assumed the animation would wow me. That was not my reaction at first because the animation was kept simple; however, its simplicity made the story more vivid for me. Also, I saw the English version of this film; in the original Danish, Dari, Russian and Swedish were spoken with English subtitles. With its other nomination for best international film, this picture is a strong contender in getting the Oscar award. This movie might just be one you do not want to escape you. This is not a film for children.                                        

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: A Hero

I USUALLY AM NOT THE TYPE to 2nd guess myself; but when it comes to losing a good friend, I do wonder about the circumstances that led up to the break. We had been friends for a few years, who never had a disagreement about anything. He was a teacher who had a more flexible schedule than me. Let me also add, he did not have a car because he lived in a congested part of the city and found it easier to take public transportation to get to his college classes. Our friendship essentially ended due to illness; let me explain. It took place pre-pandemic. We had plans to get together over a weekend; I was going to drive down to the city and park in his building because he bought a weekend parking pass for me. The week leading up to our get together, my friend started to come down with something. At first, we thought it was just a cold; however, his symptoms were more varied and intense. I suggested we postpone our get together, but if he needed something like groceries, I was available to go and pick them up for him. With the weekend nearly upon us, his symptoms had not lessened. He needed someone to get him a few things at the grocery store. I volunteered, explaining I could leave them at his front door. He got offended by my suggestion. I reminded him I was a germaphobe; but he would not acknowledge it.      ON SATURDAY, I CALLED TO SEE if he still needed anything. He told me a friend had gotten groceries and brought them over to him. He also added, “And he came into my place to put the groceries on the kitchen counter.” By the tone of his voice, I knew this was a dig at me, but I did not react to it. I expressed my happiness that he was easily able to get food delivered from another friend. Here is where things got ugly. He emphasized that the friend who brought him food was a “real” friend. I asked what he meant by “real.” He said his friend had no problem walking into his place. I reminded him that I was a germaphobe and I had offered to bring groceries to his front door; I was just not going to stay and visit with him for a while. He refused to acknowledge my concerns and my willingness to work around them. Neither of us knew exactly what he contracted; I was not going to take a chance of catching it. Ever since then he stopped talking to me, which is why I go over in mind if I could do things over, would I do the same thing. I bet the main star in this drama was thinking the same thing.      ALLOWED A 2 DAY LEAVE FROM prison, a prisoner decided to find the man who put him in jail, to make an offer. His plans did not go exactly as planned. With Amir Jadidi (Cold Sweat, Zero Day) as Rahim Soltani, Mohsen Tanabandeh (Seven Minutes to Fall, 3 Puffs) as Bahram, newcomer Sahar Goldust as Farkhondeh, Ehsan Goodarzi (A Bigger Game, A Dragon Arrives!) as Nadeali and Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy (Border Café, The Circle) as Mrs. Radmehr; this official Oscar entry for 2022 was beautifully done. I fell in rhythm with the pacing of the story, which was told in a simple way without trying to influence the viewer. Add in the authentic acting skills of the cast and I was totally invested in this movie. It felt as if I was right there with the family as the story unfolded, a fascinating slice of life. This film is the official Oscar entry for 2022 and I am 100% in agreement with it being the choice. Maybe other viewers will have a different opinion and that is perfectly okay. It is funny, it sort of goes along with what the story in this picture was trying to show. Persian was spoken with English subtitles.

4 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

I TOLD HIM I THOUGHT IT was a wonderful wish, but it would never fly in his crazy family. My friend was telling me about his recently deceased grandfather’s final wish; he wanted his children to stop fighting and remain friends with each other. I knew my friend’s family well for many years and they were certainly an argumentative bunch. They also were a fun group of people to be around. The best way to describe them would be to say they were unfiltered; whatever came to their minds was immediately spoken out loud. I asked my friend how the family reacted to their patriarch’s last wish and he said they were all on their best behavior, for the moment. He really did not think the current peacefulness would last long, since all he remembers from growing up is how the family could be laughing together at one moment and then arguing with each other in the next. I remembered my friend’s grandparents; they were short and quiet. They loved being around their children and grandchildren; however, if an argument started to take place between a couple of their kids, they would ask for silence and want to hear what the two siblings were fighting about. Usually this was enough to get the children to calm down or at least to stop arguing and walk away from one another.      LATER ON, WHEN I WAS ALONE, I sat and wondered about the grandfather’s wish. As far as I knew, there was no one in my family who had a final wish request. Though, I guess if someone states how they want their death to be handled, that could be considered a final wish. I know amongst my close friends and family members I joke about not wanting to suffer with sadness over their deaths; so, I would need to go first. However, I then tell them I hope to live a long life, so they need to take care of themselves and be around until my time is close to being done here. The other thing I thought about is what would happen if the person who is listening to someone’s final wish just flat out says they cannot fulfill it. I am so used to seeing people in movies agreeing to someone’s final wish that I just assumed everyone would be agreeable. But what if they have no plans to agree to someone’s final wish, but simply nod in agreement knowing full well once the person is dead, they will not do whatever was asked of them. I honestly do not know what I would do in such a situation. I cannot say the same thing for the main character in this action drama fantasy.      TAKING HIS MASTER’S LAST WISH TO heart Qing Ming, played by Mark Chao (Caught in the Web, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe), makes his way to the city where he will find himself in a game of cat and mouse that will determine the fate of the world. With Allen Deng (Great Escape-TV, Ashes of Love-TV) as Bo Ya, Ziwen Wang (Enter the Forbidden City, Ode to Joy-TV) as the Princess, Jessie Li (Port of Call, Our Time Will Come) as Long Ye and Duo Wang (Bloody Romance-TV, Inference Notes) as Zhong Xing/He Shouyue; this film festival nominee was a weird mix of genres for me. It was part folklore, part X-Men, part video game and part martial arts film. I enjoyed the special effects even if they were a bit cheesy at times. The fight scenes were well choreographed and to tell you the truth, I enjoyed the imagination that went into them. The way the story played out, I do not know if this film was based on a book, comic book or video game. Of course, there was a moral message placed in the story; however, I found this movie to be one of those that will be easily forgotten. Chinese was spoken with English subtitles.

2 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Better Days

WE HAD A LONG LIST OF items we needed for the beginning of the school year; but they really needed to give us instead, a list of things we should not do. For some of you, what I will be saying will make little sense to you and that is okay. It tells me your school years were good. The rest of you though, will know exactly what I am talking about. When I started school, unbeknownst to me, there was this preordained invisible list of what not to wear to avoid getting bullied. For example, never wear something that was homemade or even looked like it had been otherwise, it could set you up for a whole slew of name calling. Boys had a smaller pallet of colors to choose from for their clothing; so, wearing a shirt that was anything but a primary color could lead one to be cornered in a school hallway or worse, the boys’ bathroom. Glasses only got one so far from becoming a target unless the lens thickness was noticeable enough to earn the moniker “pop bottle eyes.” If a girl was going to wear a dress it had to be the length that fashion was dictating that season. Caught in a long dress that was out of fashion, would earn a girl the nickname of “Granny.” And pity the student who has acne or whose size stands out from the norm; they would be shunned by many of their fellow students.     THOSE THINGS VISIBLE TO THE HUMAN eye were not the only triggers that would get one bullied. There were many actions that would earn a snide remark or an unflattering nickname. It was ok to have a hobby, just don’t have it be a collection of weird stuff. Stamps and coins were on the border of being considered nerdy; however, if one collected old radios or postcards, they could be considered a loser. Any of these examples could warrant a slap in the head, a punch to the stomach, a shove, a hit with a projectile; and these were the milder reactions. A student who for some unknown reason elicits a stronger reaction could find themselves in the gymnasium’s locker room with a group of boys punching and slamming him into the lockers. The victim’s only hope is if a teacher might hear something and come investigate it. However, once the student leaves the school grounds, a whole new set of circumstances comes into play and it could feel like a life or death situation. This Oscar nominated film can show you what life can be like for some students.      PREPARING FOR THE NATIONAL TESTS WAS pressure enough for student Chen Nian, played by Dongyu Zhou (Us and Them, Soulmate), but being the target for a small group of bullying girls was making things worse. There had to be a way to make it better. With Jackson Yee (A Little Red Flower, Song of the Phoenix-TV) as Xiao Bei, Fang Yin (Walking Past the Future, Coffee or Tea?) as Zheng Yi, Ye Zhou (Word of Honor-TV) as Wei Lai and Jue Huang (Fallen City, Long Day’s Journey into Night) as Lao Yang; this film festival winning drama was one of the best movies I have seen the past year. Mixing a family drama with a crime romance made this an all engulfing experience for me. For personal reasons, it was also hard for me to see certain scenes. The directing and filming of this picture blended in a seamless, beautiful way. I was fascinated with the cultural aspect of the testing system depicted; it was intense. The 2 lead actors did an outstanding job with their characters because I felt they were the people they were portraying in the story. Nominated for best foreign film by the Academy Awards committee, I hope it wins. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.

4 stars           

Flash Movie Review: Another Round

THERE WAS NO WAY YOU WOULD not notice him if he was within your eyesight. Even if you were in a crowded store, you still would have picked him out in the crowd. I know because I used to work with him. We worked at the same company; he and I both had desks set up in the back of the warehouse. I did customer service and he was involved with shipping and receiving. My first day on the job, I remember it clearly, he was sitting at his desk wearing black and white patterned slacks with a matching vest. Not to be judgmental, but I did think the attire was a bit much; if nothing else, I knew wearing white in a warehouse setting was never a good idea. Everyday he wore what I considered to be elaborate outfits; I had never seen such clothing hanging on a rack at any store. It turned out he wanted to be a fashion designer. At least that explained the clothing he wore; all his outfits were made by him. After a while, there was nothing that he wore that surprised me. Sometimes he included a big hat with his outfits; the hats would have either big feathers or different charms sticking out of the hat band. The one thing I did not know until much later was the fact he was a functioning alcoholic.     BECAUSE I AM NOT A DRINKER, I have little experience or patience with those who drink to excess. I have only been drunk twice in my life; my first time was in college when I turned 18 years old and the other was when I was 24 years old on a date that lasted late into the night. After that, I vowed I would never drink again except for the occasional toast or the tasting of a drink. With my decision, I also took on the role of being everyone’s designated driver whenever I was out with friends. It was amusing to sit back and take in the changes people would go through after they had started drinking alcohol. There were some folk who felt it was their job to make me take a drink. They had decided I could not have a good time unless I had a few drinks inside of me. Others would find or think they found some hidden new courage inside of themselves, where they would act out by performing different stunts that I thought were not safe. One person I remember broke a bathroom urinal off the wall. I never understood the connection between creativity and courage with the amount of alcohol consumed; this is why I found the story in this Oscar nominated film captivating.      FOUR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS DECIDE TO experiment with the consumption of alcohol to see how it expands their teaching abilities. Evidently, they did not realize how it would affect their lives outside of the school as well. With Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange, At Eternity’s Gate) as Martin, Thomas Bo Larsen (The Hunt, The Celebration) as Tommy, Magnus Millang (Heavy Load, The Command) as Nikolaj, Lars Ranthe (The Hunt, Adam’s Apples) as Peter and Maria Bonnevie (The 13thWarrior, Insomnia) as Anika; this comedic, film festival winning drama provided an interesting premise in its story. I appreciated the way the writers presented a midlife crisis scenario without making a judgment. The acting was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way Mads disappeared into his role. He was the main focus for me. And without giving away anything, I loved the ending to this movie. As for the topic of alcohol consumption based on the study they talked about in the story, I do not know if it is a real study or not. If not, then it was a brilliant way to introduce the story to the viewers. Danish and Swedish was spoken through the film with English subtitles. 

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Trailer: Hero

ONE YEAR I HAD TO TAKE two history classes back to back, one was US and the other was European. The instructor for the US history class was an older man who, you will not believe, looked like Benjamin Franklin, but with shorter hair. He was balding on top with a ring of hair around the sides. When he wore glasses, they were small frameless lens that kept sliding down to the tip of his nose. When I first met him, I thought of Benjamin Franklin immediately; all he needed was a kite with a key tied to its tail. For some reason I equated his appearance with being a good teacher. From the class syllabus, I knew we had a lot of ground to cover regarding US history. The first class is usually devoted more to introductions and expectations; his was no exception. He went over what was expected of us, the testing he would be administering and his grading system. Nothing he said was out of the norm; though and this is just me, I thought his delivery was a bit dry. The 2ndclass I had with him laid the groundwork for what was going to be a grueling year; he was boring. Most of our time was taken up by him reading to us from a book. I could have done that on my own. There were no historical insights offered by him, very little debate initiated; the time always dragged slowly with this professor.      THE FIRST DAY WALKING INTO MY European history class, the instructor who was standing near the door, bellowed, “Who might you be and where did your family originate from?” I was startled; but did not show it, telling him my name and where my ancestors came from. After attending my US history class, then walking into this one; wow, there was a stark difference right from the start for me. This instructor turned out to be a character. There were times he came into the classroom dressed up in clothing that was fashionable for the period we were studying. He regaled us with colorful, historical stories that mirrored what we were presently learning. I looked forward to coming to this class for the simple reason it was informative in a fun way. Compared to my other history class, you could not have asked for two totally opposite ways of teaching a class. I could see with my classmates’ interactions with the instructors that this European history instructor was teaching us to think and learn, not just memorize what was being told to us. This was such a preferable way of learning; almost as good for me as this historical, action adventure film.      WITH ANCIENT CHINA BROKEN UP INTO several different kingdoms, a lone man arrives to give the king of the Qin empire the weapons from his dead assassins. It would take a special man to come anywhere near the king in his palace. With Jet Li (The Warlords, Fearless) as nameless, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Internal Affairs, The Grandmaster) as Broken Sword, Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love, Days of Being Wild) as Flying Snow, Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, House of Flying Daggers) as Moon and Daoming Chen (My 1919, Internal Affairs III) as the King; this film festival winning and Oscar nominated movie was gorgeous.  One should not think of this picture as a typical “kung fu” or “marital arts” film; the fight sequences were so creative and visually stimulating that they looked like a choreographed ballet. The sheer size of the sets and cast was astounding; and yet, at the heart of the story there was a strong element of love. I believe the script was created from an element of historical truth; but I do not know by how much. Regardless, if the intention of the producers was to teach the viewers some history while entertaining them, then sign me up for next semester’s class.                                    

 3 ½ stars 

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

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