Flash Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

FROM MY EXPERIENCES IN SCHOOL, BOYS were more likely to retaliate against someone who did them wrong than the girls. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “I will be waiting for you outside after school,” which meant two students would be having a fight after school hours. Sadly, that phrase was directed at me a couple of times. With different grades entering and leaving from specific doors, it was easy to figure out where a person would be leaving the school building. I remember bolting out of class when the ending bell rang and running down the hallway to a different exit door. Once outside, I immediately ran across the street and made my way between two apartment buildings; so, I could cut into the alley behind them and make my way home unseen from the streets. The rest of the school week, I kept an eye out for the student who threatened me. Other students were not as lucky as me. I remember two fights that took place in front of the school; one was fought by two boys until a schoolteacher ran over to break it up and drag them both back to the principal’s office. The other fight had 2 girls whose viciousness surprised me as they slapped, scratched, punched and kicked each other until one of them ran off after her blouse was torn open.      THERE WAS ONLY TWO TIMES I can recall, where a female student plotted retribution against a fellow student. The one girl may have been short, but she was tough. She never backed down from anyone, whether it was a girl or a boy. I did not actually see the encounter but was told she cornered a female student in the girl’s bathroom and threatened her with a pocketknife. She felt the girl was flirting with her boyfriend. The other incident happened in my classroom. A female classmate wanted to get back at a boy who called her names. When the male student was not looking, she placed a pack of cigarettes next to the schoolbooks he had piled under his chair. When the teacher was walking in front of her desk, she noticed the cigarette pack on the floor under the student and sent him down to the principal’s office, despite his pleas that the cigarettes were not his. The female student remained silent, looking innocent in her seat. These were the only incidents I could remember from my days back in school. You will see they pale in comparison to what took place in this dramatic Oscar nominated crime thriller.      APPEARING TO LACK MOTIVATION AND DESIRE, there was only one thing Cassandra, played by Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, The Dig), had on her mind. It was something she had been thinking about for a long time. With Bo Burnham (The Big Sick, Rough Night) as Ryan, Alison Brie (Sleeping with Other People, The Post) as Madison, Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, Like a Boss) as Susan and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Stanley; this film festival winner grabbed my attention early on because of Carey’s performance. She gave life to the character and was riveting in the process. The directing and story were both in synch to deliver a perfectly paced story that took me on a hesitant journey into Cassandra’s world. I will say I felt let down from the ending, finding it a bit too convenient. The idea behind the story was sound and relevant, especially for the times we are presently living in. After watching this movie, I have been sitting and wondering if several or so of the scenes shown in this picture have been happening for a long time or not. This film really makes one think and that is a good thing.

3 ½ 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 Review: Space Sweepers

EVERYONE, I BELIEVE, HAS AT LEAST two families; the family they were born into and the family they formed through life experiences. There are other types of families, for example a foster family. I have a friend who grew up with several foster children because her parents believed in helping innocent children out of bad situations. She had biological siblings but had more foster ones in the household through her years living at home. I was fascinated with her stories about all her siblings. It seemed like every meal was a party, even when her parents did not have much money to buy food. When I was little, I had no idea the friendships I was forming would turn into future members of my chosen family. The term “chosen family” was something I was not aware of when growing up; yet, there are individuals in my chosen family that I have known since elementary school. One is a girl I dated from 7thgrade. When we get together there is a long history of shared events, we can recall for each other. Whenever one of us introduces the other to new people, the new people are always amazed at the longevity of our relationship. There is a comfort and an easiness within our bond of friendship because we do not need to be anything but our real selves to each other.     FROM AN OPEN SWIM NIGHT, AT a local community center in the neighborhood I grew up in, I formed a friendship with a boy from a different elementary school district. He was the first friend I made who did not go to my school. I was at the pool with my friends and he was there with a relative. We had been taking turns diving into the deep end and were congregated by the edge of the pool. He had been swimming the width of the pool a few times when he took a break by the edge near us. One of my friends struck up a conversation and he soon joined our little circle. By the end of the open swim time we all made plans to meet again the following week. Soon after that 2ndswim night, I found out he and I had a lot in common. Though we did not go to the same school we made plans to get together either after school or on a Saturday. After we all graduated elementary school, we found out he would be joining us at the same high school. Since then and after all these years, he has been one of my closest chosen family members. Because of my family of birth and chosen family, I felt a connection to the crew in this action, adventure, science fiction film.      WHILE PICKING THROUGH A CONTAINER OF junk in outer space, a ship’s crew discovers a little girl who was still alive. If that wasn’t surprise enough, the crew would soon find a bigger surprise was in store for them. With Song Joong Ki (A Werewolf Boy, Doraemon-TV) as Tae-ho, Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden, Little Forest) as Captain Jang, Seon-kyu Jin (The Outlaws, Extreme Job) as Tiger Park, Hae-jin yoo (The King and the Clown, The Pirates) as Robot and Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Sullivan; this dramatic space odyssey had sound elements for creating an exciting story. For example, I connected with the chosen family element and appreciated the set-up for the class conflict situation. However, the script needed a good rewrite, I found it too long and the use of flashbacks got to be a little too much for me. The special effects were not spectacular, but they were good. Honestly, this movie came across like a poor cousin to a Marvel superhero film; still, there was enough in it that kept my interest going. 

2 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I WAS SHOCKED WHEN I WAS told their daughter was going to join us for our lunch date. Normally, I would not be bothered by this type of news; but this was only our 3rddate. I barely knew them and now I was being introduced to their daughter? It seemed weird to me and I was feeling uncomfortable about it. I chose to keep an open mind and try to “go with the flow” as they say. Maybe they felt they were a bad judge of character and wanted their daughter there to see if there were any red flags associated with me, I wondered. After only having two dates, I thought they were nice; but I hadn’t really formed a firm opinion about them. It was a bit ironic because I took the fact, they were so quick to introduce me to their daughter, as a red flag. We had agreed to meet at a Chinese restaurant after I was told their daughter was a vegetarian. When I arrived at the chosen time, they were already there and seated at a table. The daughter looked like she was in high school which for some reason made me a little more nervous. Once the introductions were done and I was seated, the daughter was quick with the questions for me. I felt like I was on an interview. By the time our meal was over, I felt this was our last date; with the line of questions and her dominating the conversations, I knew this was not a good match.      FROM MY DATING EXPERIENCES, I HAVE met a variety of my dates’ family members, but most of them were not introduced to me until after we had been dating for a few months. Mothers and grandmothers were especially fond of me for the most part. Luckily, I only had a couple of experiences which involved going to see their family members out of state. In those cases, I would only agree to the visit if we could stay in a hotel. I did not want to get into the position of not only meeting the relatives for the first time but having them put me up for the night. It was important to me to have a place where we could have downtime and relax without having to be on our best behavior or worse, they reverting to being a child in the presence of their parents, in their childhood home. That is why I still cannot understand why the main character agreed to see the parents in this dramatic thriller.      BARELY KNOWING HER BOYFRIEND, A YOUNG woman, played by Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy), agrees to travel with him to visit his parents who live on a remote farm out in the country. Her only requirement was to make sure she got back home in time before she had to get to work. With Jesse Piemons (Judas and the Black Messiah, The Irishman) as Jake, Toni Collette (Hereditary, Knives Out) as Mother, David Thewlis (Harry Potter franchise, Wonder Woman) as Father and Guy Boyd (Body Double, Foxcatcher) as the janitor; this film festival winning movie’s saving grace was the cast. I thought the acting was terrific and that is despite the engorged script. For me, the first part of the film was boring what with all the talking between the two main characters. The story did not pick up for me until the parents’ scenes began. Now I will say I thought the build up of tension in the script was good; however, it dissipated at times when I was sitting and trying to figure out what was going on in the story. Maybe the book this picture is based on is better; but you might want to reconsider spending time with this family.

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

THE DENTIST WAS TELLING ME HOW he used to be a high school teacher, but there was always something inside of him that pushed him towards dentistry. He said it was after he had a conversation with his dad, that he started taking steps to become a dentist. His motivation was the fact he would be the 3rdgeneration in his family to be a dentist. I was surprised by that revelation for some reason; I have seen father and son dental practices, but not grandfather, father and son. The dentist said he wanted to make his grandfather and Dad proud. So, he went back to school to become a dentist and went into the family business. It was funny to hear he used to be a teacher because anytime he was performing a procedure on me, he always explained in detail what he was about to do and it always sounded like a teacher was explaining it to me; now it made sense. There was one other thing that intrigued me about his story and that was how he basically wanted to be like his father. The reason I mention this is because I am always curious about family dynamics when either a child wants to be like a parent or when they do everything possible to try and not be like their parent. What takes place in the family unit that motivates a child to choose one or the other?     I HAD A FRIEND WHO, IF you did not know better, you would have thought he did not grow up having a father; he never talked about him. It was a long time before I found out he did have a dad and he worked in the scientific community. Interestingly, his mom was quite artistic; both in her career and the things she did outside of work. My friend had nothing to do with the different limbs of science, both in school and interests. He was artistic like his mom and preferred participating in various art and writing contests. He always carried a book to read wherever he went. Though he had a high grade point average, he struggled with his math and science classes. It was in the literature and acting classes where he thrived and grew. It seemed to me as if he was doing everything possible to be like his mother. I never asked about it, but I always wondered what was taking place with him that motivated him to take a similar path to his mother’s.      WITH DREAMS OF BECOMING A TATOO ARTIST but content hanging out and smoking weed with his friends; Scott Carlin’s, played by Pete Davidson (Big Time Adolescence, Saturday Night Live-TV), world was jolted when his mother started dating. With Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out, The Diary of a Teenage Girl) as Kelsey, relative newcomer Ricky Velez as Oscar, Lou Wilson (The Guest Book-TV, American Vandal-TV) as Richie and Marisa Tomei (The First Purge, The Wrestler) as Margie Carlin; this comedic drama was the perfect vehicle for Pete’s skills. Granted he co-wrote the story, but I felt his acting was at a new level. It took a while for me to get into this movie because I felt it was a bit slow; however, as the story unfolded, I fell right into it and enjoyed how the characters grew. Marisa was wonderful in her role; I appreciated how the script dug into her and the other characters and gave their dialog an authenticity. I also appreciated the humor that was on display in this film. If Pete was motivated to show he could do something more with his acting skills, he succeeded as far I was concerned. 

3 stars          

Flash Movie Review: Tom & Jerry

THOUGH I WOULD TRY TO OUTRUN HIM, he would catch me often. When he did, I always tried to wrap my arms around his big arm because he would lift me off the floor with that one arm. There I was dangling in midair and I loved it. He was an older relative who was one of the tallest in the family. Big in stature, he would wait for me or a cousin to dare him to catch us. We would run out of the dining room into a hallway, to a bedroom that had a 2nddoor that led to another short hallway that took us back to the dining room; in essence, our path was a big circle. Sometimes he would push me down to the floor and tickle me after catching me. For a little kid it was a fun activity to try and outrun him; though, I am sure the other relatives quickly tired of me running inside the house. Eventually he grew tired of the game and tell us we tired him out. That seemed like a victory for my cousins and me for some reason; however, the relatives sitting around the dining room table usually told us to sit down and cool off because we were sweaty from our game.      THE GAME OF BEING CHASED ALWAYS reminded me of 2 of my favorite cartoon shows, the Road Runner and Tom & Jerry. I used to watch them on TV every week, even if they were repeats. I was especially fond of the contraptions Wile E. Coyote would build to try and catch the Road Runner. Many of the items he used always came from the Acme company, I believe. With Tom & Jerry there was a rivalry between the two that drove each one to top the other. However, I recall a couple of times where they saved each other from real danger or worked together for a common goal. As a kid I loved these shows, but now as an adult, I cannot get over the amount of violence these cartoons displayed for their time. There was The Three Stooges who used to beat on each other, but I do not recall them using guns or axes to attack one another. I would be curious to see how these programs would play out for young children currently. Well look here, Tom & Jerry have their own movie now; I had to check it out and see if it reminded me of those old cartoons of theirs, I used to watch while sitting in front of the television.     AFTER JERRY TAKES UP RESIDENCE IN an exclusive hotel, Tom is hired to remove Jerry permanently from the property. The key was to do this quietly so as not to alert the guests to a mouse living amongst them. With Chloe Grace Moretz (The 5thWave, Let Me In) as Kayla, Michael Pena (Dora and the Lost City of Gold, 12 Strong) as Terence, Jordan Bolger (Don’t Knock Twice, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Cameron, Patsy Ferran (Darkest Hour, Jamestown-TV) as Joy the Bell Girl and Pallavi Sharda (Lion, Begum Jaan) as Preeta; this animated/live action family comedy had a script with a serious flaw in it. The opening scenes were okay but when the writers introduced the 2ndstory line about the wedding taking place in the hotel, all the fun and humor ran dry. I had a hard time with the amount of violence and did not care for any of the characters except Joy the Bell Girl. There was a decent message within the story but there was nothing creative about the scenes and the humor was predictable. Maybe young children would still enjoy it; but, unless animated characters are given overexaggerated reactions during the fights, I found the violence uncomfortable. Now that is just me, but this film was not of the same caliber as those old cartoons they used to show on television.

1 7/8 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Locked Down

THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future.      THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year.      FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.                                 

1 7/8 stars 

Flash Movie Review: My Octopus Teacher

I CAN APPRECIATE AND RESPECT ALL animals, but the one I like the least is an octopus. Seriously, I do not know why I have had this attitude since I was a little boy. Whether an octopus or squid and I immediately get a feeling of disgust and dread. Whenever I had a school field trip to the aquarium, I would always quickly walk past the exhibit that had live octopi. Back then I would tell people the creatures were gross. I do not know, but there is something alien about them; as if they were dropped down from outer space to lurk down at the bottom of the seas, being sneaky and sinister. Even when they were depicted in movies in a friendly way, I did not care. There were enough films already where they were mean man eaters, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Though I loved the movie The Little Mermaid, I did not care for the character Ursula with her long tentacle legs. And do not get me started about calamari, UGH! I cannot sit with anyone who would order that dish; it just sounds and looks nauseating to me. My apologies to you foodies who love the “delicacy.”     BY NOW YOU MUST BE WONDERING why, with my strong dislike of squids and octopi, would I ever sit and watch a film that has the word octopus right there in the title. It is a very good question; one I myself do not have a good answer for. I was between chores over the weekend and wanted to take a break. My time was limited, so I did not want to sit through a long movie. Going through the search function, the streaming service had a list of recommendations for me based on the things I had already seen with them. There was a sci-fi picture that looked okay, but it was over two hours long. When I moved the cursor off that selection, the next one was for this film. Before I realized what the title was, my eye was attracted to the blues in the trailer. The narrator was calm as he spoke with the slightest of accents. I saw that this picture was just shy of an hour and a half which was a plus; maybe, most of the story was done on land, I hoped. Another plus was the fact it was a documentary, set in a different part of the world. I hit play on the remote and settled into what would become a revelation for me.      WHILE SWIMMING IN THE WATERS OFF the coast of South Africa, cinematographer and director Craig Foster (My Hunter’s Heart, Into the Dragon’s Lair), discovered the oddest thing sitting at the bottom of a kelp forest. It looked like a ball of seashells until it moved. Written and directed by James Reed (Rise of the Warrior Apes, Jago: A Life Underwater) and newcomer Pippa Ehrlich, this film festival winning documentary provided me with the biggest surprise this past year. Here I was ambivalent towards this picture and after several early scenes I was pulled into another world beneath the ocean. Because Craig came across as vulnerable and looked like just an average guy, he was perfect to spearhead this production. The cinematography was gorgeous, both in vast wide angle shots as well as the intimate ones. There was very little dialogue that could be considered cutesy or pandering to the viewer; the entire time I felt I was privileged for being allowed to watch Craig’s life as he encountered this amazing creature. Yes, I said amazing because I now have such a new appreciation for an octopus. I can go on and on praising this unbelievable, wonderful movie; however, all that needs to be said is the number of stars I am giving it. When was the last time you saw me give this rating to a film; it has been such a long time, but with this documentary it has been worth the wait, in my opinion.

4 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Casino

HERE IT WAS NIGHTTIME AND I was sitting in a bus in the middle of a traffic jam. Normally, I would be aggravated but since I was on vacation, I was enjoying looking out the bus window at the sights.  In the short distance we had traveled, I had already seen an erupting volcano and a sinking pirate ship. It was my first-time visiting Las Vegas and everything I had heard about it was true. There were throngs of people from all walks of life, neon lights and light bulbs everywhere and the constant noise of bells and tumbling change in every hotel. I could not get over the amount of people out and about along the strip. There were hawkers lined up on every block; each trying to shove their pamphlets into tourists’ hands. I got a kick out of each hotel taking on a theme of some kind. Besides the volcano and pirate ship, there was one hotel that had an Arabian theme and another a Roman one. I had never seen anything like it before and wanted to take in as much as I could for the short time I was visiting. That is why I decided to take a bus ride; I figured it was the best way to see everything on the strip while traveling to the downtown area.      WHERE THE BUS ENDED ITS ROUTE was in an old type of garage; I could not call it a bus terminal. It was inside what looked like an office building. The garage had a circular drive so the buses could easily enter and exit the place. As I left through the exit doors, I noticed there were no lights or neon anywhere. I was on a dark street with a couple of lone streetlamps that looked tired. No sign of any hotels or attractions, just non-descript store fronts. There was a pawn shop that had a faded wooden sign above its door. Next to it was a gun shop that had metal bars across its windows. This was not exactly the experience I envisioned when I decided to visit Las Vegas. There was something gritty and dirty about the area I was walking in. As far as I could tell this area looked a lot older than the hotels that were on the strip. It looked like a lost version of Las Vegas without the flash and pizzazz. I had heard and read a few things about how Las Vegas came to be, and it looked like I had stumbled into that rough and tumble time as the city was dealing with an influx of celebrities and criminals. What I envisioned was similar to what I saw in this Golden Globe and film festival winning crime drama.      SAM “ACE” ROTHSTEIN, PLAYED BY ROBERT De Niro (The Irishman, Cape Fear), was sent to make sure the hotel’s operations in Las Vegas were running quietly and smoothly. He should not have brought his close friend Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci (Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny) with him then. With Sharon Stone (Fading Gigolo, Basic Instinct) as Ginger McKenna, James Wood (The Virgin Suicides, Any Given Sunday) as Lester Diamond and Don Rickles (Kelly’s Heroes, CPO Sharkey-TV) as Billy Sherbert; this Academy Award nominated film was bursting with amazing performances. There was not one actor who was pushed into the shadows of another; everyone grabbed the viewer’s attention. I thought the sets and costumes were perfect as the story traveled across its timeline. There were violent bloody scenes that came close to overpowering the rest of the story, where I started to expect them in almost every scene. Though the film is long, I did not find my mind wandering; however, I did feel there was the lack of depth in multiple scenes. Overall, this was a good old fashioned “gangster” picture depicting a past era.

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Judas and the Black Messiah

IT IS ALL IN THE DELIVERY I discovered. There is something about a dynamic speaker delivering a message to a group. I saw proof of it when I was a reader at a wedding ceremony. Not that I want to brag, but there was a person before me who did a reading that had no feeling to it. More importantly, I did not feel any connection to what the person was saying regarding the couple being married. I looked around the church and saw some of the guests were looking down or whispering to each other. This made me more nervous than I already was since I was to be the next reader to go up to the altar to read a passage. Despite having practiced reading my passage for a couple of weeks, when it was my turn and I stood up, my stomach still trembled with nerves as I made my way to the alter. Once in position at the podium, I looked out at all the guests before taking a deep breath and began to read. I made a point to read slowly and look up at the audience from time to time. My biggest fear was put to rest when I did not fumble mispronouncing any of the words. After the ceremony, people stopped to tell me what a wonderful job I had done. In fact, one guest asked if I would be interested in becoming a reader at her church. The spoken word was alive and well and I felt good about my “performance.”      SINCE THAT WEDDING, I HAVE PAID closer attention to speakers I encounter. Whether they are in person or televised, I notice the things they do or not do to engage with their audience. At a convention there was a seller in front of his booth who was talking about the products his company had developed. I happened to be familiar with the products; however, if I hadn’t been, I would not have stopped to listen to this presenter. He was monotone in his delivery, just standing still in one spot. It was a shame because the products were quite good. To make matters worse, this booth was next to another one that had a spokesperson who was dynamic and funny. Too bad their product was limited in its abilities; but you would not know based on all the attendees who were congregated around this booth to listen to the presenter. I could only imagine how the dry speaker next door was feeling with no one paying attention to him. Let us face it, having a spirited person as a spokesperson/leader is what can motivate people to want to be part of the experience they are talking about. There is a clear example of this in this Golden Globe winning, intense biographical drama.      AS MORE INDIVIDUALS BECAME ATTRACTED TO what Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Black Panther, Queen & Slim) was telling them; the more concerned was the FBI. They needed to find someone to get close to Fred and his organization; but who would want to do such a thing? With LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You) as Bill O’Neal, Jesse Plemons (The Master, Game Night) as Roy Mitchell, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, The Deuce-TV) as Deborah Johnson and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Jimmy Palmer; this film festival winner grabbed my attention from the beginning and never let go. The entire cast of actors were remarkable in acting out their characters; however, Daniel and LaKeith were the big standouts for me. The script was both powerful and scary at the same time, to the point there were parts of this film that came across as a thriller. Taking the story as it was presented in this film, I could not believe what was being done to Fred Hampton. Not only was this an historical period of time being depicted in this picture; it was being told in a powerful and engaging way that I would soon not forget.   

3 2/3 stars    

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