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Oscar Awards Show 2021

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE SEEING A musical act performing live at a concert. This may sound corny, but the experience produces a natural high in me. Granted I always start out with a little anxiety about the commuting aspect; however, once I am safely in my seat, I am plugged in to experience everything the musical artist(s) brings to the stage. Let me see if I can describe to you the feeling of being at an arena sized concert. Imagine 15-20,000 fans converging into a stadium; every single person is there for one sole purpose, to hear and show their love/adoration for the performer(s). Everyone is in a good mood, smiling and nodding at each other as if they share a special secret. While walking the halls to find your seats, random music can be heard echoing from the arena; a constant thumping bass sound pulsates through the air. There are some fans dressed up to look like part of the band or artist’s entourage; the more flamboyant the act, the wilder are the costumes. As I walk to my seat, my only wish for the moment is that a tall person or one dressed in an elaborate outfit is not sitting in front of me, obstructing my view. As more people are settling into their seats, the feelings of anticipation are being elevated to a point where the space around everyone is buzzing with excitement. That bass sound that has been thumping is resonating in each person’s chest as if synching everyone to a common beat. And then suddenly the music stops, and the place goes dark. Everyone in unison begins to cheer loudly.      THE WEEKS AND MONTHS LEADING UP to this moment were worth the wait. I just need to hear the first couple of notes to announce the start of what I am sure will be a familiar song, one of many that I have been singing in the car since I got the tickets to this show. A set of spotlights slowly wake up to reveal a spot on the stage where 4 strangers are standing. I have never seen them before in my life! An announcer introduces them, and they start to play their instruments. They are the warm-up act. Nowhere in the advertisements or my tickets did it say anything about a warm-up act. Where is the group I paid to see? The built-up feelings that were about to burst out of my body suddenly deflated like a flat tire, after slamming into a deep pothole. It almost felt like I could not catch my breath because I was in such shock. Right at this single moment I am flooded with the feeling of disappointment and this feeling is exactly how I felt about the Oscars and the awards show this year.      THE TRANSFORMATION OF UNION STATION FOR the show was beautifully handled. I thought the place looked like an old-fashioned supper club. The outside reception area was equally beautiful in my opinion. I do have to say it was odd for me to see a gathering without masks, where people were hugging each other; it almost felt like a time pre-COVID. There was glamour but due to restrictions, the pre-show scenes seemed like individual segments that were more unconnected than usual. For the fact I could not see all the nominated films, I came into this without my usual excitement and joy. The Oscars telecast has always been my Super Bowl and High Holiday wrapped together. When presenters were talking about a film that I had not seen, it felt so foreign to me as if they were talking a different language. Right from the first acceptance speech, I so badly wished they had a live orchestra to drown out the winner who overstayed their welcome. There were some exceptions but for the most part the acceptance speeches rambled on and on; it was painful. The exception for me was Yuh-Jung Youn, best supporting actress, due to a couple of her comments. Though she was long in her speech, I appreciated her saying, “All the nominees, five nominees, we were the winner for different movies. We played different roles—so we cannot compete against each other. Tonight, I’m here, I just have a little bit more luck. I think, maybe. I’m luckier than you…”      WHEN TYLER PERRY ACCEPTED HIS HUMANITARIAN award, I especially appreciated the part of his speech when he said to “refuse blanket judgement” and “refuse hate.” I wish I could do that when it came to Questlove as the DJ; I did not care for most of his musical selections. The music did nothing to try and elevate the mood amongst the guests. Now granted I know there are way more important things to focus on than the Oscars. I simply wanted to be taken away for a couple of hours to a world of glamour and stars, checking my predictions against the winning choices, before I had to settle back down into the real world. Sadly, this show did not provide me with any of these things, except for way too many commercial breaks. I was still mad that the Academy had enough money to give swag bags worth, I heard, up to $200,000.00. Why couldn’t the Academy take all that money to pay for a weekend of nominated films to be shown free across all viewing platforms? Not everyone buys every streaming service to view the nominated films. Don’t you think it would be in the best interests for actors and the Academy if they offered something for their dedicated fans?!?!      OUT OF THE ENTIRE BROADCAST, I thought the most egregious error was the change in the order of awards for the end. Usually the last 3 awards are for actress, actor and picture as the last. The very end is seeing all the people associated with the winning picture up on stage, happy and excited for their film. But because I believe the Academy was expecting Chadwick Boseman to win best actor, they changed the order so that category would be last. Well it certainly did not work out the way they thought it would because Anthony Hopkins won, and he was not even there. So, the presenter awkwardly accepts the award in his honor and tells everyone to have a good night; that is the end of the show. What an utter mess and shame on the Academy. I read today that the broadcast this year had the fewest viewers ever and I perfectly understand why. I honestly do not know where my comfort level will be to go back to a theater; I am more in a wait and see mode. However, if Sunday’s broadcast represents the future of how the show will be done, I may have to take more of an attitude like Yuh-Jung Youn, it is just luck; so, why pay attention to what gets nominated.     

OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2021

I KNOW FOR SURE IT WAS before I started kindergarten, but I cannot remember how much younger I was when I saw my very first Oscars telecast. What I do remember was how all the women were so fancy in their long dresses. The other memory is about the Oscar statue; it looked so heavy to me, I wondered how the actors could lift it so easily. Ever since that moment in time, I have seen the Academy Awards telecast each year. Everyone who knows me knows how much I look forward to the telecast. Through the years it became a thing to see every nominated film before the show aired and then soon after the family contest started to see who was best at predicting the winners. I cannot tell you how much I looked forward to this yearly event…. up until now.      LIKE SO MANY THINGS THE PAST year, COVID has had an affect on movies. For the first time in my adult life, I have not been able to see all the films nominated in the major categories. With the onslaught of all the different streaming services, it has been a maddening situation for me. The idea of signing on to all these services just to see a few films makes no sense to me; it would cost more than my cable bill, which is already expensive. And I must tell you, I am angry at the Academy’s board of trustees. I feel if movies are such an integral part of society, they could have made the effort to arrange for all the nominated films to be shown for free. Possibly pay the streaming services and studios to air the films under their banner for free or nominal fee over a weekend; I would be happy with this arrangement. But instead for the first time since I was predicting Oscar winners, I will not be doing it this year because I have not seen all the movies in each category. Instead all I can offer is my opinion on which one out of the ones I viewed I liked the best. So, with no further ado, here are my thoughts on this year’s partial crop of Oscar nominated films.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

Amanda Seyfried, Mank

My favorite out of this group would be Glenn Close.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

This is a tough one for me because they all had a strong impact on me. I would love to see Sacha win just to hear his acceptance speech, plus he did an amazing job. I think the academy will choose Daniel.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Each of these 3 deserve the award. Carey made the biggest impact on me, so I will go with that though I think the Academy will pick Viola.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Gary Oldman, Mank

Chadwick has a lock on this category. I did think Riz did an amazing job with his role and under different circumstances I would pick him.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Another Round – Denmark

Better Days – Hong Kong

I absolutely loved Better Days and it deserves every award it can get.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Crip Camp

My Octopus Teacher

Time

Though I thoroughly engaged with Crip Camp, My Octopus Teacher is my favorite.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Judas and the Black Messiah

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

My choice goes to The Trial of the Chicago 7

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Onward

Over the Moon

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Soul

The one that took me away is Over the Moon

BEST PICTURE

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Out of the ones I was able to view, I would give it to The Trial of the Chicago 7

So, there you have it; I am sad I haven’t seen all the nominees and have not been in a movie theater for one year. However, putting things into perspective, at least I am here and able to see some films. The most important thing is that we all get through this time and get to our new normal. Be well and stay safe, that is my wish for you. Thank you. 

Flash Movie Review: Congo

DESPERATE, I TOLD MY FRIEND I did not want to stick my fingers in the bowling ball. Sure, it was dumb to say; but I did not want to go by myself to the charity event. My friend was involved with the charity and they were having an event at a bowling alley, having rented out the entire place. There was going to be food, a raffle, silent auction and some other things. The morning of the event my friend woke up sick. He called to tell me and insisted I still go though now I would not know a single person at the event. Our tickets were already paid for and he wanted me to go so I could tell him all about it, since he was on the committee for the event. I tried using a variety of excuses, even offering to drive all the way there just to scope out the place then leave; but he was not having any of it. Even the offer of bringing him dinner did not work. At some point I finally resigned to the fact that I had to go; but I told him to let me know if he started to feel better later in the day and If he wanted, I could come pick him up. Unfortunately, I wound up going to the bowling alley alone.      THE DRIVE WAS UNEVENTFUL EXCEPT FOR my build up of dread. Because I am not the best in making small talk, I prefer going with someone to these events, especially when there is an activity that I must participate in. I knew I was going to have to be on a bowling team with a bunch of strangers; my anxiety was weighing heavily on me. Walking into the bowling alley I was assaulted with loud, booming music over the loudspeakers. The check-in process was easy; I got my name tag, raffle tickets and lane assignment. I went to get bowling shoes before going to my alley. The shoes I was handed looked newer gratefully than some of the shoes I saw behind the counter. As I got to my lane, I saw my teammates were already there. There was no choice but to go up to them and introduce myself. It did not go as bad as I expected; they all seemed friendly and familiar with each other. When the MC of the event came out to welcome everyone, I was relieved for the ending of our small talk. The MC went through the list of things planned then ended by telling us to have a good time as all the lanes lit up for action. On my first throw of the ball, the wildest thing happened; I rolled a strike. My teammates yelled praises at me; I felt a slight sense of relief. It turned out for the next 4 frames I threw strikes. I could not believe it, but it was such a welcome surprise because all the players around me were being supportive and encouraging. It was crazy and only the beginning for an awesome night of fun, topped with me winning one of the raffle prizes. Here I was not looking forward to going and instead had a great time; it was such a surprise. The characters in this action, adventure mystery experienced something similar by getting surprised; but, with way different results.      AFTER HER FIANCE WENT MISSING DOCTOR Karen Ross, played by Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, The Other Man) found an expedition that would take her to the Congo to look for him. Her travels would lead her to find something more. With Dylan Walsh (The Stepfather, The Lake House) as Dr. Peter Elliot, Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters franchise, The Crow) as Captain Monroe Kelly, Tim Curry (The Hunt for Red October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Herkermer Homolka and Grant Heslov (The Ides of March, Argo) as Richard; this film festival winner was based on the thrilling novel of the same name. Because computer graphics have gotten so much better, this movie looked so out of date. With the script jam packed with action as it tried to pour in as much from the novel as possible, the result was a cheesy mess. The highlight for me was seeing Laura Linney; she was able to command the scenes better than any of the other actors. I could see where the writers wanted to take the story, but sadly they failed. For those curious to see what special effects looked like before computer graphics, they may find this picture somewhat amusing. For the rest, they may be left groaning through most of the film.

1 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: See You Yesterday

I WAS GETTING TIRED AS I was going through a bin of paperwork. For the past hour, I was sorting, shredding and filing papers, cards and clippings. Grabbing a handful of stacked papers, I started to lift it up out of the bin when a letter slipped out onto the floor. I picked it up and turned it over to see a name I had not thought about for some time. It was a friend who moved to California, who would communicate with me via hand-written letters. It was such a retro thing to do; yet, it was fun to get a letter from him in the mail. Lifting the letter out of the envelope, I gently unfolded the pages and smoothed them onto my lap. I chuckled because I had forgotten he always used yellow legal-size paper to write his letters. Starting with page one, the handwriting quickly became familiar to me once again. He was starting vacation when writing this letter because he talked about the hikes he wanted to do and the chance to go rafting for the first time. This was one of the things I admired about him; his freedom to try almost anything once with no hesitation. I, on the other hand, had to mull things over for days on end before agreeing to try something new. For him, it was as easy as taking a breath.      WHEN I REACHED PAGE 4 OF his letter, things took a darker turn. Not on his part per se, but because I knew what the outcome was going to be with these first symptoms he was talking about. Since he moved to California, he was prone to getting sinus infections. At first, he thought it was allergy based and was treating it as such on his own. But after some time, he would decide to go see a doctor about the infections. The letter only talked about how he had to back out of a couple of engagements due to his sinuses acting up. I knew this was just the beginning to a challenging year ahead of him. Over the course of his treatments he went from only taking prescribed medications to trying alternative methods such as meditation and visualizations. He changed his diet, thinking that it would make a difference, but he would find out it did nothing for him. Finally, he agreed with a specialist to have an operation on his sinuses. The relief it provided him lasted a couple of months, but then his health rapidly deteriorated. This letter in my hands was written in 1998; a year later he was gone. The letters I kept were the only way I could go back in time and visit with him.      WORKING ON THEIR SCIENCE PROJECT for time traveling, two science whiz kids are put to the test when a relative is killed. With Eden Duncan-Smith (Annie, Meadowland) as C.J. Walker, relative newcomer Dante Crichlow as Sebastian Thomas, Astro (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Earth to Echo) as Calvin Walker, Marsha Stephanie Blake (The Laundromat, The Blacklist-TV) as Phaedra and Johnathan Nieves (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels-TV, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Eduardo; this film festival winner had a deep message wrapped in a goofy package. With limited special effects and a plot that stumbled a few times, this crime action adventure took an important matter and fed it to the viewer in a new type of way. Eden was impressive as C.J. and it was a treat to see Michael J. Fox in a small role. There were predictable moments but having started out at what I thought was going to be a comedy, turned into something much different. By the end, I found myself having enjoyed sitting through this picture and wishing I had the ability to travel through time.

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Frozen Ground

WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN FOR a flashlight; it was dumb of me not to think of one. I was visiting a friend out of state, who thought it would be a cool idea to climb a mountain. It was nothing like the Rockies, but it was high enough. We were able to drive up part of it, park, then follow on foot a trail to get to higher ground. Up until that point everything was going fine. The vegetation was thick all around us which made our surroundings cooler in temperature and darker. I was okay since the day had been hot and sunny. Because we were making our way in subdued light, we kept assuming it was still bright outside, and this was our first mistake. As we were ducking under branches and constantly checking the ground for solid footing, we did not realize our ascent was going slower than anticipated. Neither of us thought about the challenges we would face by trying to crawl down in the darkness of night.      I THINK IT WAS ME WHO was getting cold first and hungry. We had reached a substantial height where we could see the city glowing in the distance. All we had with us was water; I had wished I had brought a piece of fruit or a granola bar. We decided to turn back by retracing our steps to get back to a trail and then to our car. It did not take long for me to realize we were in trouble. It was nighttime and neither of us could see the ground clearly enough. There were multiple times where one of us thought we had solid footing but then the ground/rock gave away and we would stumble or fall. I fell and scraped the palms of my hands. With no sense of direction, only knowing we had to go down, we were lost. The area was not known for wildlife; however, that did not stop my brain from imagining a multitude of scary creature encounters. The longer we remained stuck on the mountain, the more we were freaking out. After multiple tries and retreats, we finally found a trail. By the time we returned to the car, we had logged nearly 10 hours in total crawling on the mountain. Ever since then, I have always felt an uneasiness whenever I find myself in a remote area. Whether it is in rugged terrain or wide-open spaces, my imagination kicks into high gear on what things could happen to me. This will explain my anxiousness as I watched this dramatic, crime thriller.      WITH YOUNG WOMEN GOING MISSING in an area of Alaska, the only lead Jack Holcombe, played by Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off), had was a junkie named Cindy Paulson, played by Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Dog Days) and she did not want to be involved with any part of his investigation. With John Cusack (High Fidelity, Love & Mercy) as Robert Hansen, Dean Norris (Total Recall, The Book of Henry) as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven and Gia Mantegna (The Prince, Criminal Minds-TV) as Debbie Peters; this film festival nominee’s story was based on actual events. For that reason, I found this movie creepier than usual. The main leads were quite convincing in the story; in fact, I was impressed with Vanessa’s work in particular. The filming of this picture made the feelings of isolation and despair more prominent throughout the scenes. It almost felt like it was hanging in the air. The story basically was a good guy vs bad guy set-up; I only wished the writers had delved deeper into the characters. It would have made for a more intense viewing, in my opinion. I was already uneasy about remote areas and this movie has now solidified my feelings about them. 

2 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: Idiocracy

WE WERE SITTING AROUND THE DINING room table when his cell phone rang. From where I was sitting, I was able to see the display with the caller’s phone number. The young man had a quizzical look on his face as he studied the number. I took it upon myself to tell him the call was coming from Oklahoma. He looked and asked me how I knew that as he let the call go to voicemail. I told him I knew because of the area code, 405; it was the area code for the Oklahoma City area. He was so surprised by my knowing such a thing that I found it amusing. When he asked me why I knew such a thing, I explained that I have accounts in Oklahoma that I have to call on the phone; so, the area code is something that has stuck in my brain from all the times I have called them. This explanation sparked a curiosity in him that spurred him on to suddenly test me. He asked if I knew any other area codes; I told him I know some states, but not all of them. He needed proof so he unlocked his phone and started looking up area code numbers. Not to toot my own horn, but out of seven area codes he tested me on I knew six of them. He was totally amazed by this; I found the whole thing curious.      ON MY WAY HOME, I STARTED to think about the area code “game.” Was my generation the last one that dialed phone numbers instead of pressing one button on their cell phone? I looked at my ability to remember area codes/phone numbers as a positive statement on my brain’s ability to retain information. For some reason, I feel depending on a device for common functions like simple math or reminders will make my mind soft. I will never forget walking into a bank to cash a check for $19.81 and handing the teller nineteen cents to round up the change on the dollar amount. The teller was perplexed by my actions and had to pull out a calculator to figure out I wanted to get back an even $20.00. Besides thinking how they graduated out of high school, I wondered what they would do if they did not have the use of a calculator. When you think about it; don’t you think it would be a valid discussion to say the same thing about someone who only knew how to tell time in a digital format instead of a clock dial? It scares me to think how future generations will function when they do not have a device to depend on and this comedic, science fiction adventure did nothing to help alleviate my concerns.      WHAT WAS TO BE A ONE YEAR experiment for Private Joe Bauers, played by Luke Wilson (The Family Stone, Old School), turned into a decades long event that left Joe the smartest man on the planet. He did not believe it until he saw for himself. With Maya Rudolph (Sisters, Away We Go) as Rita, Dax Shephard (Employee of the Month, Chips) as Frito, Terry Crews (The Expendables franchise, John Henry) as President Camacho and Anthony “Citric” Campos (Harsh Times, Lopez-TV) as Secretary of Defense; this film festival nominated movie had a script that was filled with satirical bits and sight gags. A good portion of them hit their mark and were amusing to me. However, the script had so much going on with it that I felt at times things were just silly and dragged on too long. The cast was fun to watch, especially Maya and Dax. Ultimately, I felt the story was relevant and, in some ways, important; the writers just chose a fun way to deliver their message. I do not know what I would do if reading becomes something that we let our digital assistants do for us; you just never know.

2 1/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Boycott

I HAD NO OPINION ONE WAY or the other about the movie coming to campus until the university decided it could not be shown. All I knew about the film was that it had received a lot of notoriety due to the plot and one of the main actors and that it was coming to our campus to raise funds for some cause. Once word got out about the university’s actions, I became curious about the picture and wanted to go see it. I just did not want to get involved with the politics behind the student organization’s reasons for choosing this particular movie, nor the university’s reasons to ban it; I simply wanted to see what all the hoopla was about concerning this film. The week the university came out against the movie, students started to protest around the campus. They demonstrated in front of the Dean’s residence, holding up signs as they walked back and forth in front. At one of the college buildings, a group of students held a sit-in. Having never been involved in the middle of a protest, I found the experience not only curious, but a fascinating study in camaraderie. With my background, camaraderie appeared to be based more on like kind physically instead of being based on a common idea. Here in college, the protesters were an array of humanity coming together for a single purpose. The outcome from the demonstrations and protests was the university allowed the film to be shown at a satellite, off campus venue; both sides were happy with the results and I got to see the movie.      I KNOW I AM STATING THE OBVIOUS, but protests have taken on a wider array of actions since my college days. The news recently showed a man riding a horse down a city expressway to bring attention to a cause. I live near a city that experienced violent protesters who came out after a judge’s rule in a famous court case. A friend of mine has had to work at home because the office building where they work was damaged during the protests. A 70 year old retail shop that I used to frequent often was shown on the news, where its front windows were smashed and had over half of their inventory stolen; it was so sad to see as the owner said he may not be able to recover from the damages and close the business. I firmly believe everyone has the right to protest; but to the point where violence and damage occurs, I cannot condone such actions. There is something to be said for the “power in numbers” that to me makes a protest successful. I saw it when I was in college and now, I have seen its strength in this historical film festival winner.     SUCH A SIMPLE ACT THAT WAS defiant became the catalyst to a peaceful movement during the 1950s in Mobile, Alabama. With Jeffrey Wright (The Goldfinch, Only Lovers Left Alive) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Ralph, CCH Pounder (Home Again, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV) as Jo Ann Robinson, Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Coretta Scott King and Iris Little Thomas (Above the Rim, Malcolm X) as Rosa Parks; this drama captured me because of the way it dug into the background of the after events that surrounded Rosa’s refusal to give up her bus seat. The cast was excellent and worked well together in my opinion. As I was watching this film, I was struck by the role money played into the events; previously, I did not recall that aspect of the event playing as important of a role as it did in this picture. It made for a riveting watch at times. Not only did this movie teach history, it also provided a blueprint for creating a peaceful protest.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: The Tale

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE never experienced, and I hope you never do, such a thing; I will try to give you a glimpse of what can take place in a person’s mind when their personal space has been violated. The sense of fear and dread cover you completely with a heaviness as if you had just fallen into a huge dunk tank of water. Your hearing becomes distorted because the brain can no longer decipher the difference between a rapidly beating heart and the sounds coming from the outside of your body as it is trying to repel the onslaught of foreign forces. The muscles of your body try to stay unified as one complete repellent; but it is like holding your breath—at some point you have no choice but to let go. And then, muscle after muscle retreats and hides back inside of your body. Though the eyes may be open, what they are seeing is a colorless slow-motion slice of life. It is as if everyone around is oblivious to you; they are going through the motions but at a much slower pace. Joining the list of senses offline is the sense of taste. One’s mouth gets so dry it hampers the ability to utter any sounds. There is nothing to taste anyway when one’s teeth are clenched. The only sense that appears to be working during the time is smell. You might not be able to smell anything more than one scent; however, that one odor is intensely strong so you will never forget it.      PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED SUCH horror gain the ability to spot another like victim. There are certain mannerisms and traits that will not register with the general population; only those with a shared experience can sense the hurt and pain inside a person. I will never forget the time when two new people came into one of my classes. They were a teenaged girl and her parent. Whenever a new person comes into class, I try to talk to them before we start, to get an idea of their physical capabilities. After introducing myself, I sensed something was not right when I saw the girl was looking down at the ground when she was talking to me. Her posture and arms placement were a tipoff for me. As I began to teach class, I watched her movements. By the end of class I felt for sure the teenager was going through emotional turmoil. I did not say anything at the time as I wanted to see if there would be any changes in the following weeks. After a month of them coming to class the opportunity presented itself for me to share my feelings with the parent. I wish there would have been someone there to help the main character when she was young in this dramatic, mystery thriller.      WHEN HER MOTHER FINDS AND READS a story she wrote when she was 13 years old, the questions her mother was asking made Jennifer, played by Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Cold Pursuit), think twice about that special time in her life. With Jason Ritter (Raise Your Voice, W.) as Bill, Common (Suicide Squad, The Informer) as Martin, Elizabeth Debicki (Tenet, Widows) as Mrs. G and Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream) as Nettie; this film festival winner’s story was powerful. I thought the script was well written, even though I was uncomfortable watching this movie at times. Laura was outstanding in the role and the rest of the cast did their part to present a solid piece of work that was believable and real. My understanding about the story is that it is partially or completely autobiographical; if so, there were a couple of scenes that did not ring as true as the others. I did not find it to be such a distraction that took me away from my enjoyment of the picture. The story is intense and may make some viewers uncomfortable; but it will give you some insight into the horrors some people experience in life.                                

 3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Remember

WHITE HOT, BLINDING HATRED WAS something I rarely encountered for most of my life. The occurrence that comes to mind, where I came face to face with hatred, was when I was on vacation. Several years ago, I had traveled out of state and was exploring the main downtown area of a capital city, when I came upon a peaceful demonstration or rally. I was trying to stay on the sidewalk but there were too many people standing around, so I stepped into the street. As I made my way through, I came upon a grassy area nestled between two buildings. There was orange colored netting, the kind you would see at construction sites, strung across the front length. Behind it was a group of individuals that were holding up signs that they bobbed up and down, while they were pointing and shouting at the demonstrators walking by. I realized they would take me for a demonstrator because I was walking in the street. Normally I would not give it a second thought; however, when I started reading what their signs were saying, I contemplated moving to the other side of the street. Their signs were filled with vile rhetoric, along with some attempted colorful artwork. Someone nearby must have said something to them because suddenly, they started yelling and swearing at the crowd that was around me. The intensity of their yelling and screaming was rapid, to the point I had to go off course and find a side street to bypass the turmoil.      THE HATRED ON DISPLAY AND the horrible things that group was saying has stayed with me for all these years. On that trip I did watch the news to see if I could get an understanding of the issues involving the demonstrators and protesters. I could not understand how someone could get so angry, to the point of screaming out things like wishing a person dead or burning in hell. If the demonstrators were marching to change a perception, a law, or to gain recognition; I wanted to know how that would affect the yelling protesters. Based on the things I heard, I had a feeling the protesters would not accept whatever was taking place. I have gotten angry from time to time; but I cannot see myself ever going to such an extreme level to act upon it in such a way. Yet, I am seeing more extreme displays of hatred the past few years than ever before. Allowing hate to grow and fester will make a person act out in such an extreme way that could be harmful; see for yourself in this dramatic, mystery thriller.      BECAUSE OF HIS FORGETFULNESS ZEV Guttman, played by Christopher Plummer (The Last Station, All the Money in the World), had a list of instructions to follow once he escaped from the nursing home. Would he understand what he was supposed to do once he reached his destination? With Kim Roberts (I’m Not There, Rookie Blue-TV) as Paula, Amanda Smith (The Cradle, Hellmington) as Cele, Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Crimes and Misdemeanors) as Max Rosenbaum and Henry Czerny (Ready or Not, Clear and Present Danger) as Charles Guttman; this film festival winner avoided mediocrity due to Christopher’s performance. With such a high level of acting skill, the others in the cast did not stand out as much. I thought the story was intriguing and felt the script provided tense and dramatic moments; however, I would have appreciated the characters being provided with more depth. There were a couple of manipulative and slow scenes, I felt; however, the continual suspense buildup kept my interest up. As I stated earlier, Christopher made this a better film and I was curious to see how hatred could motivate a person to act out in such a way.

 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Fantasy Island

AFTER HAVING SEEN THE BEAUTY OF the resort town on display in the movies, I was going to see it with my own eyes. In the movies, the grandeur of its most popular hotel fascinated me because of its rich history. Built in the late 19th century, the hotel had a prominent porch where guests could sit out and relax before exploring the grounds. There is something about a front porch that has always been attractive to me. I love the idea of sitting inside a screened in porch, curled up on a couch, relaxing while watching the world go by.  Some of the prominent guests who stayed at the hotel were past US presidents, Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. The well-manicured lawns looked like green velvet as they sloped down towards the shoreline. The town, as far as I could tell from the movies, had sections where cars were not allowed. For some individuals, their main source of transportation was a horse drawn buggy. I just wanted to be there and experience all of this for myself. Also, since the movie had a love story taking place, I thought going there would add an extra boost to my relatively new relationship. We had everything packed into the car and made it onto the highway just as the sun was waking up at the horizon.      IT WAS HARD TO CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT as we drove through the hotel’s front gates and made our way up the winding road. As we reached a curve in the road, the hotel came into view; it sat at the top of a hill, glowing in the sunlight. I could not wait to park and get inside, to see for myself all the things that stood out for me when I saw them in the movie. As we came through the front doors we were greeted by a wall of heat. When we got to the front desk I inquired and was told the air conditioning was not working. I understood things happen; so, I chose not to let that bother me. After getting our room key we made our way to the elevators. I noticed there were a couple of places on the walls where the paint was chipped. Okay, this was not part of my expectations/fantasy; however, it was a well-traveled corridor, with a lot of foot traffic. We found the elevators and walked into one. The amount of noise it made as it took us up to our room was freaking me out. It sounded like metal rubbing against metal. When we made it to our room the final arrow burst my bubble of dreams; the room was so small there was hardly room to walk around the bed and everything looked tired and used. This is not what I expected which might be the same reaction the resort guests had in this action, adventure fantasy.      FOR THE SMALL GROUP OF GUESTS arriving at Fantasy Island, it was like walking into a beautiful dream. Sadly, the dream was going to turn into a nightmare. With Michael Pena (End of Watch, 12 Strong) as Mr. Roarke, Maggie Q (Divergent franchise, Young Justice-TV) as Gwen Olsen, Lucy Hale (Truth or Dare, Pretty Little Liars-TV) as Melanie Cole, Austin Stowell (Whiplash, Bridge of Spies) as Patrick Sullivan and Jimmy O. Yang (Patriots Day, Crazy Rich Asians) as Brax Weaver; the impetus for this movie was the television series from the 1970’s. The setting for this story was beautiful to see but that was the only highlight I found from sitting through this misguided story. The script was poorly done; as the story unfolded it became more ridiculous to the point of boredom. It was almost like coming up to a train wreck; my curiosity kept me seated and hoping there would be something good coming out of the wreckage. However, that was not the case with this picture. All I can say is I am so glad I did not pay to see this film at the theaters. It be best if I simply watch the TV show and try to forget having seen this disaster.

 

1 ½ stars

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