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Flash Movie Review: Firestarter

THERE WERE SEVERAL MISSED NOTES, BUT I continued sitting there with a smile on my face. The little girl was playing a song on the piano; something that was unfamiliar to me. Her mother had asked me to sit down and listen to her daughter play, adding she believed her little girl had a gift for playing the piano. That is not how I would have described her piano playing, but I understood she was proud of her daughter. After the girl was done playing, I applauded and complimented her. She thanked me then headed out of the room. I turned my attention back to the little girl’s mother, who was sitting there with the biggest smile on her face and her hands clasped together by her heart. I hoped she was not about to do something that I find annoying, but my hope was quickly dashed. She said, “Isn’t her piano playing exceptional?” I ask you, how could I sit there and not say something complimentary about her daughter’s playing, even if it wasn’t true?” And that is exactly what I find annoying; parents bragging about their children and expecting guests to agree with them. Why put guests in an uncomfortable position by seeking out compliments from them? What guest would not say something favorable about a parent’s child? To me the whole thing is a setup.      EARLY ON, I REALIZED EVERY PARENT thinks their child is special and unique. There is nothing wrong with that; I only hope they create a supportive and loving environment for their children. Bragging to me shows a sign of insecurity in a person. Fishing for compliments tells me the person does not have enough confidence to believe in themselves. That is why I find bragging about children distasteful. It puts the child in a compromising position, where they are pressured to perform. I recall the years I took piano lessons, I never asked anyone to listen to me play. In fact, I avoided going to the piano recitals my teacher would hold with all his students. It is funny, I am just remembering a few scenes from the talent reality shows I have seen. Standing on stage is a 20- year-old who is singing off key. The performance was dreadful; yet he felt he did a wonderful job. His parents encouraged him to audition because they said he was such a good singer. I am all for supporting a child’s dreams; but how far does it go when there is an obvious lack of talent. As the judges critiqued the singer, I wondered if the parents had been fair towards their child. Heck, even the parents in this dramatic, horror sci-fi film did not want to brag about their child even though their child was indeed extraordinary.      AS THEIR DAUGHTER WAS HEADING TOWARD adolescence, it was only a matter of time before her special talent would get her noticed. This was something the parents were trying to avoid; no one needed to know about their daughter as far as they were concerned. With Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman, The Beach Bum) as Andy McGee, Ryan Kiera Armstrong (The Tomorrow War, Black Widow) as Charlie McGee, Sydney Lemmon (Fear the Walking Dead-TV, Helstrom-TV) as Vicky McGee, Michae Greyeyes (Kissed by Lightning, True Detective-TV) as Rainbird and Gloria Reuben (Lincoln, Who We are Now) as Captain Hollister; this updated version of the Stephen King novel started out poor and remained there. I found Zac to be an odd choice for his character. He was too young looking and his lines were dull. The script tried to freshen up the original story and truthfully there were a few scenes that worked; however, I was bored watching this picture. I liked the musical soundtrack, but obviously that was not enough to draw me into the story. With having an unusual character in the script, one would hope there would be some high exciting drama. Sadly, this flaming film shined as bright as a low ember.                   

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming

A FRIEND OF MINE ASKED ME to accompany her to a family wedding. I like dressing up from time to time, so I was happy to join her. She told me the ceremony and reception were both being held at a downtown hotel; so, this was going to be a large wedding. I had met several of her family members, but I was also familiar with others solely based on the stories she would tell me about them. We drove into the city and dropped off the car with the hotel’s parking attendant. Entering the hotel lobby, there was a pedestal signboard that listed the day’s events being held in their meeting and ballrooms. Her cousin’s name was the third one down, showing the wedding was being held in the Crystal Ballroom. I stopped to ask a hotel employee who directed us to a set of escalators that would take us up to the room. When we came to the top of the escalator, there was an open area around us that had small high-top tables with guests milling about. A bulbous older man came up to us and gave my friend a big bearhug. He then extended his hand out to me to shake. When I grasped it, I had to suppress the urge to recoil back from him because his hand was wet. He must have sensed something in me because he asked me to excuse him, he had just licked his hand clean from a messy appetizer. I was speechless for a second before he burst out laughing; he said he was just kidding and introduced himself to me. I wanted to run from him and go wash my hand.      AFTER THAT FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH HER relative, I still was not prepared for what laid ahead. We mingled among the guests, and I was enjoying meeting the faces to match the stories she had told me about them for all these years. There was the aunt who loved her drinks, who would start dancing no matter where she was standing. She also did not need any music when she danced. At some point, a cousin came up to us and her first question was asking if the two of us were dating. Answering her cousin with a no, my friend grabbed my hand, and we made our way to where the ceremony was taking place. We got through it with no more interruptions from her relatives; however, once the dinner started all chaos started to take over. I felt like I was in the middle of an avant-garde movie, where the cast was experiencing psychotic episodes. The night consisted of a fight, guest passing out, foul language, unbearable long speeches; in other words, something like what I saw in this latest installment of the movie franchise.      A COLLEGE GRADUATION PARTY BRINGS EVERYONE together at Madea’s, played by Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Alex Cross) place for a celebration. How soon before things get out of control when it comes to Madea’s family? With Cassi Davis (Daddy’s Little Girl, House of Payne-TV) as Bam, David Mann (Computer Love, Meet the Browns-TV) as Mr. Brown, Jennifer Gibney (Agnes Browne, Mrs. Brown’s Boys-TV) as Cathy and Isha Blaaker (The Flight Attendant-TV, Red Riding Hoods-TV) as Davi; this dramatic, comedy romance was consistent with all the other films before it. If you have never seen a Madea movie, then you might find something entertaining if you look for it. I did not find anything new except the characters had a larger vocabulary. There was a decent message buried in the script; but when weighed against everything one must sit through to get to it, it did not seem worth the wait. There were a few lines and a couple of scenes that were amusing; but not enough to maintain my attention. I am glad I did not have to go to the movie theater to see this picture because if I had, I might have become one of those crazy guests from the wedding I attended.                                 

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sweet Girl

AT FIRST GLANCE, I THOUGHT THERE was a miniature guillotine sitting on their kitchen counter. I was over at a friend’s house after school, and we had gone into the kitchen to get a snack. Sitting next to their toaster oven was this small, blue colored contraption that had a partially exposed razor blade attached inside of its open cover. I asked my friend about it and he said his mother used it to cut pills. This was the first time I had ever heard about someone cutting their pills. It never even occurred to me that a pill could be cut in two. When I was a little kid, if I needed to take a pill, I had to have it dissolved in water before I could swallow it. I wanted to see how this device worked but my friend said he did not want to play around with it. I suggested if he did not want to cut one of his mother’s pills, maybe a celery stalk could work. He nixed the idea, and I did not want to push it any further. However, I started wondering why a person would cut their medicine dosage. Was my friend’s family poor and could not afford their prescriptions? Did the drug make his mother sick, so she cut them to lower the side effects? So, all I did was ask him why she cuts pills; he said when she starts feeling better, she likes to take less and save a few pills in case of a relapse later.      THAT WAS MY FIRST EXPOSURE TO someone manipulating their medical advice, but it would not be the last. I knew someone who needed an organ transplant; essentially, he was told if he did not get one, he would not live beyond one more year. I cannot tell you the things he did, but he wound up getting the procedure in the nick of time. Another person I knew needed a new drug to help him with his life-threatening illness. The expense to administer the drug was in the thousands; so, they only agreed to receive half a dose. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to cut corners when it comes to one’s health. How does someone decide whether to have a roof over their head or use most of their savings to help prolong their quality of life. I am sure we can all have a lengthy conversation about the world’s health care and drug systems and I certainly hope no one ever has to go through what the family had to in this dramatic, action thriller.      WHEN A POSSIBLE LIFESAVING DRUG WAS pulled back by the drug company, there was little hope for Ray Cooper’s, played by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Dune), wife to beat her illness. Ray was determined to find the cause for the sudden removal of this miracle drug. With Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Rachel Cooper, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Amos Santos, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Amanda Cooper and Amy Brenneman (The Jane Austen Book Club, Foster Boy) as Diana Morgan, the bones of this story were solid. However, the execution of it was clumsy. I liked the idea and thought the action scenes were exciting, but there was nothing new presented in this film. Jason was okay but I felt the script did not provide more opportunity to display a larger range of emotions. The surprise twist in the story was unsatisfactory; I found it unbelievable. As I mentioned earlier, the intention to bring this story to the big screen was noble, but it arrived dead on arrival.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Trailer: Halloween Kills

WE WERE SITTING IN THE RESTAURANT that we had not been to in three years. I was the one who remembered where they were located. When we made the reservations, I asked my friend if he was going to get the same entree, he got last time; he said he could not remember what he had eaten there three years ago. Now you may be wondering what is wrong with me that I could remember what he had ordered. Here is the thing; there are certain events or things where I can remember them down to the littlest details. At this restaurant three years ago, I had ordered the Salmon Rice Bowl and my friend had ordered Egg Noodle Spaghetti with Meatballs. He could not stop raving about his meal, saying it was one of the best spaghetti and meatballs meals he had ever eaten. I thought for sure he would have remembered it since I could, and I did not even taste his meal. Because I have always had this ability to remember things in detail, my friends had to point out that I was not the “norm.” I can remember what guests wore at a party I attended 30 years ago. The mind certainly can-do extraordinary things is all I can say about it. The weird thing is there are times where I cannot remember what I did a couple of days ago, yet I can recall something from decades ago.      ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE REREADS THE same books and watches the same movies over because she cannot remember them. I find this puzzling. With all the movies I have seen in my lifetime, I may not be able to tell you every detail about it; but I can tell you whether I liked it or not and roughly what it was about. The same goes for the books I have read; I cannot understand how she cannot remember seeing or reading them. And I want to state she does not have a medical issue that would be the cause of her forgetfulness. I am not placing judgement here; I just find it a fascinating situation. For example, back in the late 70’s I saw a horror film that frightened me. I had a hard time afterwards looking at louvered closet doors without feeling a chill go up my spine. The movie was tense and scary, just what one wants in a horror film. Having that memory still of the first of what became a film franchise, I wanted to see this movie, which I am reviewing today, to experience that scare factor once again.      HAVING THOUGHT THE KILLER MICHAEL WAS dead, the childhood town of his begins to experience the same type of terror that was all too familiar. With Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, Knives Out) as Laurie Strode, Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, Ant-Man franchise) as Karen, Andi Matichak (Assimilate, Miles) as Allyson, Will Patton (No Way Out, The Postman) as Officer Hawkins and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight, Foxcatcher) as Tommy Doyle; this horror thriller made it a point to share the original story clips within its plot. As for the scare factor, I felt nothing like I did with the original movie. It seemed to me as if the writers relied on scene after scene of gruesome killings. It became quite predictable; so, there was nothing I found surprising. I disliked the ending of the film, finding it ridiculous. The only character I had interest in was the one portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis. If you have never seen a movie out of this franchise, you might find parts you like in this picture. I on the other hand was bored most of the time. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

1 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Cinderella

CLASSIC STORIES ARE SOMETHING I CAN revisit again and again. During my school years, I wound up reading Moby Dick three times. I am not sure I can even define what constitutes being a classic, but at least I know a classic story has the ability to emotionally move a person. Love plays a prominent role in many classics. For example, My Fair Lady was based on the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion and The King and I was based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which was based on the memoirs of the governess to the children of the King of Siam. One of my favorite stories is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I do not remember if I read the story or not in school; however, my most vivid memory was seeing the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It was a special showing that was being done in only one theater in the city. A friend joined me as we had to take the train down to go see the movie. To this day, I remember the theater because it was a big classic theater that had these art deco lamps hanging down from the lobby ceiling. To get to the balcony, there was a red carpeted staircase with gold-colored bannisters that curved up to the 2nd level. Because I loved the story of Romeo and Juliet, I knew I was going to equally love the movie West Side Story which was based on Shakespeare’s story.      AS YOU CAN SEE, I DO not have an issue with new movies coming out that were based on previous movies/stories. It can be fun to see a story told through a different set of eyes. In some cases, the movie gets remade because there is technology available to enhance the story that was not available when the story first came out in film. For me, some of the successful remakes have been A Star is Born, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Departed. However, as most of us know, there are also remade films that were disastrous. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Stepford Wives, House of Wax and Guess Who. I know when the original movie is idolized, it is hard to try and remake or update the story. It would be best if the movie studio doesn’t refer to the original movie at all; let their new creation come out with any false expectations. With today’s film it did not take me long to decide which category this remake falls in.      IN THIS RETELLING OF THE CLASSIC fairy tale, Cinderella has a dream to become a dressmaker. Marriage is not something she was focusing on. With musical artist Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter (Like a Boss, Pose-TV) as Fabulous Godmother, Nicholas Galitzine (High Strung, The Changeover) as Prince Robert, Idina Menzel (Uncut Gems, Glee-TV) as Vivian and Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, Mamma Mia! franchise) as King Rowan; this comedic family fantasy took the original story of Cinderella and added a layer of female empowerment to it. I would not have an issue with this update; however, the script was a big misfire that dulled the delivery of the story. Though the musical numbers by themselves were fun to watch, they seemed so out of place to me because of the modern songs. Here was the perfect case not to associate this picture with the classic Cinderella. There were cringeworthy scenes that were painful to watch. The other thing that I felt diminished the telling of this story was the lack of chemistry between the characters. The whole appearance of the cast seemed flat to me. With the music and special effects, this movie might appeal to a narrow range of viewers.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Reminiscence

I MISS DIALING A PHONE NUMBER and speaking to an actual person. The amount of time it takes these days to get a hold of someone seems as if it is getting longer and longer. Going through the different prompts feels like I am being tested to see how long it will take before my patience wears out. Not that I am totally old-fashioned; but I get frustrated when I must contact companies and offices for something, I think will have an easy answer then jump through automated verbal hoops. On the other hand, it is a breeze to check on my bank balance with the bank’s automated system without having to speak to a bank employee. I have similar feelings about the self-service checkout lanes at the grocery store. If I do not have coupons, I will use the self-service lanes. However, if I am using a coupon then I use the regular checkout lanes. The reason being at the self-service I have to wait for an employee to come over and approve my coupons then override the computer screen to allow me to scan the coupons. By the time I get through this process my ice cream usually has softened.      THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW who are emotionally locked to their past, when it comes to their love relationships. I had a friend who was living with the love of their life for several years, before their love took ill and died. My friend never got over it, mourning them for years. After what seemed a long, long time they agreed to go on a blind date; however, it went no further after the initial meeting. There were several dates to follow with various suitable individuals; but like that first blind date, all of them went no further than the one and only date. My friend kept saying none of the people they were meeting could compare to their deceased partner. I tried offering that it probably was difficult to make a comparison from only having one date. My musings fell on deaf ears. They preferred to live in the past and I say that because after a time I would have thought my friend would have started to dispose of their love’s clothes and personal items. They did no such thing; instead, they left everything the way it was when they were alive. A hairbrush remained in the medicine cabinet; their toothbrush stayed in the toothbrush holder. I felt sad for them, similar to how I felt initially about the private investigator in this romantic mystery.      WHEN HE FIRST MET HER WHEN she walked into his place, private investigator Nick Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman (Bad Education, The Front Runner), had no idea that finding her lost keys would lead him to a crime. With Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep, The Kid Who Would Be King) as Mae, Thandiwe Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, Vanishing on 7thStreet) as Emily “Watts” Sanders, Cliff Curtis (Risen, The Dark Horse) as Cyrus Boothe and Marina de Tavira (Roma, Secondary Effects) as Tamara Sylvan; this futuristic film noir production was enticing to watch. I thought the sets stood out as well as the outside Miami area. The first half of the story drew me in as the mystery was building. The pacing fit the story as the actors, who were stiff with their acting, tried to bring their characters to life. Sadly, the script did not help them. Unfortunately, the last half of the story got bogged down with twists and turns, past and present; to the point I lost interest. It bothered me because I enjoyed the visuals and the mystery portion of this picture. The other thing that absolutely annoyed me had to do with seeing a person’s memories that were being shown from an outside perspective. I can look back at a memory but if it is being pulled from my mind to relive, how could there be a different perspective that I did not see back then? This was not the way I remembered the past.                      

1 3/4 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Awake

I DID NOT BELIEVE IT WHEN I was younger, but it is true; time does go by faster as we get older. There never seems to be enough days in the week, nor minutes in the day, for me to get everything I want done. At one time, I was able to easily stay awake to 4-5:00 in the morning. Now, if I am home and the 10pm news comes on I can feel my body settle into a state of slumber. What happened?!?! In my defense I will say though I might not get home until early in the morning after being out all night; as soon as I walked through the door, I had to go straight to bed. In college, I had friends who could stay up all night studying for a test, drink something with caffeine, go straight to the classroom to take the test, then come home at some point by lunch time to crash into bed. I was never one of those students. Once I went past midnight, my eyes would slowly stop focusing on the words and numbers in a book and my mind started to turn into a helium filled balloon tied outdoors, that was about to slip free from its knot and blow away in the wind. I wanted to stay up, but my body would not let me.      SOME YEARS AFTER GRADUATING, I WOUND up working with someone who was able to survive on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep; I had no idea how they ever did it. Once in awhile they would have to “make-up” for what I considered to be the sleep loss, by sleeping 12 hours straight on a Saturday or Sunday. Still, I never knew how they could function in their job with what I considered to be so little sleep. My average sleep time has always been 7 hours; the larger the gap between my early wake up time and average, the foggier I become. Considering all the things I do; I wish I could handle from time to time less sleep, but my body is not wired for it. I am also a person who cannot easily take a nap during the day. The rare times it has happened, I usually feel groggy the rest of the day. And of course, I have a couple of friends who can settle into any piece of furniture, close their eyes and immediately go into a deep sleep. I thought of them in particular as I watched this dramatic, science fiction adventure.     AFTER A CATASTROPHIC EVENT WIPED OUT all electronic usage, people began to notice they could not fall asleep. That is except for Jill’s, played by Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV), daughter who could sleep and dream. With Ariana Greenblatt (Love and Monsters) as Matilda, Lucius Hoyos (What If, Heroes Reborn-TV) as Noah, Shamier Anderson (Race, City of Lies) as Dodge and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Good Time, Kill Your Darlings) as Dr. Murphy; this action movie had an interesting premise to build on. I thought Gina gave it a good shot with her acting; but the script never lived up to the story. Things were predictable and where I thought scenes were going to become thrilling and tense, they just petered out. There was a heaviness to the directing along with several scenes just being clunky. This could have been such a better movie if more time had been devoted to fleshing out the characters and bringing in some thrills. Overall, there was an amateur feel to the whole production that left me disengaged from time to time. One scene would be exciting, then another would be blah. Maybe the people behind this story and film’s production suffered the same loss as the people in this movie—a lack of sleep that affected their judgment.

1 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Ice Road

WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS JUST RIGHT and the packed snow begins to melt, I am left with a wading pool of water in my backyard. It is especially annoying because the melted snow pools mostly on the sidewalk because it is now lower than the grass. When it is frozen the ice can support my weight when I walk across it. However, when the temperature starts to rise, I feel like I am gambling each time I step on the ice. Sometimes I may be walking on it and all that happens is a few cracks form where I have stepped. But every now and then I may get halfway across the ice before my foot breaks through and cold melted snow fills the inside of my shoes. Ironically, I play that movie line in my head by asking myself how lucky I feel before I get on the ice. If I have the time I will use a shovel to toss some of the water back onto the lawn; however, by the time I get home afterwards the water has come back, waiting to capture and douse my shoes once again. If you are wondering why I don’t just walk on the lawn, I usually cannot because the grass is so wet that I am nearly stepping into a muddy mixture; or, there still plenty of snow that has not melted yet.      DUE TO THIS WINTER WATER TORTURE I have dealt with, I cannot believe the people who tempt fate by walking onto frozen bodies of water. I am not talking about the ice one forms in their backyard with a water hose or frozen puddles in the street; I am referring to things like ponds, lakes and rivers. Living near a large lake, when we have experienced below freezing temperatures the lake portion that is closer to the shore can freeze over. I understand the fascination with being able to “walk on water” so to speak; but unless one is certain the ice will withstand their weight, I do not understand why they venture onto it. Even if I knew the depth of the water at the edges was minute, I have no desire to go walking on top of a frozen lake. Then again, I do not even like being outside in the cold. It always surprises me to see how many people want to experience walking on ice. I have seen them standing there taking selfies of themselves and all I can wonder is what they would do if they fell through the ice. The same can be said for the main characters in this action adventure drama; I cannot believe they willingly do what they do over frozen water.      WITH MINERS TRAPPED IN A REMOTE CANADIAN mine, the only way to bring lifesaving equipment to them was by truck over a frozen body of water, just as the weather was getting warmer. With Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Run All Night) as Mike, Marcus Thomas (Kill the Irishman, Drowning Mona) as Gurty, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Goldenrod, Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion-TV) as Tantoo and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Varnay; this movie had to be made with Liam in mind. It was another typical Liam as the hero movie. Now that is fine; however, after seeing him in these same types of roles, it becomes easier to figure out how the story will play out. I will say I was surprised there were parts of this film that were thrilling to me. It overall was quite predictable and at one point it seemed to me it was getting too silly and I do not mean that in a funny way. If one is looking to find something where much thought is not needed, then this picture would be one to watch. I would say on a cold, snowy day when you do not want to leave your home. 

1 ¾ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Earwig and the Witch

THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here.      DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film.      GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Silencing

I HAD NOTHING TO OFFER FOR advice except to tell her she would have to let go. It was easy to say but I knew it was a hard thing to do because I had been in the same situation as her. My friend was upset because a close friend of hers had suddenly stopped talking to her. I asked her if they had gotten into an argument or disagreement, but she said not at all as far as she knew. One day they were talking on the phone like they normally have done and then one day her friend stopped returning those phone calls. My friend texted her and when that did not produce any results, she emailed her to ask if she had done something to hurt her feelings. Her requests were met with dead silence. Now she knew her friend had not died because her work phone was still accepting voice messages and her recorded greeting was being updated every day with the new date. My friend said she would rather have been told off or called names or given any type of acknowledgment, that it would have been better than not giving a reason for the silent treatment. I agreed with her; I had experienced it with someone I had been seeing.     WE HAD BEEN DATING FOR 3-4 months. I remember our last date was when I was invited to meet them at their place of business. They took me around to introduce me to their co-workers. A week later my calls and texts were going unanswered. I replayed in my mind the visit to their workplace, to see if there was something I said or did that triggered one of the co-workers to say something negative about me. Nothing came to mind, I thought I was cordial and pleasant. It was frustrating not to get a reason why our relationship was ending. In the past whenever I was breaking up with someone, I always made it a point to tell them face to face, or at least tell them on the telephone. To not give a reason and simply ignore the person is something I consider rude and, in some instances, cowardly. I have always told my friends I would rather have someone call me names to my face or tell me they can’t stand something I do than simply say nothing and walk away. Dealing with the unknown is harder than dealing with the reality of a situation. And I know everyone handles such a thing differently. The main character in this action, crime thriller had his own way of dealing with the unknown.      WITH HIS PROPERTY UNDER CAMERA SURVEILLANCE, a hunter spots a trespasser. Going out to check it would begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse. With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Gods of Egypt, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rayburn, Caleb Ellsworth-Clark (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, Wynonna Earp-TV) as taller brother, Josh Cruddas (Anything for Jackson, Business Ethics) as shorter brother, Annabelle Wallis (Tag, Annabelle franchise) as Gustafson and Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep, Strike One) as Blackhawk; this movie’s story started with a good idea, albeit not quite original. There were elements to this film that I liked; however, there really was nothing new presented within it. The cast was okay though Nikolaj was the only one who stood out for me. My overall impression of this picture was that it was done on the cheap. I honestly cannot imagine it ever opening at a movie theater; it came across as something I would have found on TV while channel surfing late at night. The characters were never properly developed and the intensity was not strong enough in my opinion. Chances are some viewers may get a slight thrill out of a couple of scenes; but overall, this movie will quickly fade from your thoughts afterwards.

1 ¾ stars   

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