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Flash Movie Review: Highway

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

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Mean Dreams

FEW OF MY FRIENDS LIKED THE candy pellets that came out of the candy dispenser I carried around in my pocket. I had a couple of different kinds; one had Popeye’s head on the top and the other had the head of a dog. When you tilted the head back the mouth would open to reveal a candy pellet, for you to slide out and pop into your mouth. Whenever I went to the candy store I always picked up a couple of packs of pellets to reload my dispensers. As time went on and my tastes changed, I stopped carrying around my candy dispensers; I placed them in a desk drawer and soon forgot about them. Fast forward to years later and on one of my social media sites I have a follower who is a big fan/collector of the same kind of candy dispensers I used to have when I was younger. From seeing the things this follower has been posting, I discovered there is a world of people who enjoy these candy dispensers.  And here I thought when I was younger I was the only one who liked them. I will say from the time I had them they certainly have increased the amount of different heads on them.      THOUGH I KNOW NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE in my follower’s posts, I felt some kind of connection. It is the type of connection one feels when they discover someone they do not know has the same like/dislike of a particular thing. It immediately forms a connection between the 2 individuals because they have something in common that they can now use to build on a relationship. The best example I can show is my movie review site. The people who comment on my reviews were unknown to me for the most part. All of a sudden we started a dialog that was born in our mutual love of movies and in turn a comfort formed that allowed an easy sharing of each other’s life stories. Growing up, I had a variety of interests that were not shared by those around me. I can remember during the 7th or 8th grades meeting a couple of new students who had similar interests. It was not only an immediate connection, but it was the start of a deep friendship. In a way it was like finding someone who spoke the same language as you after being misunderstood by your peers for years. From the beginning of this film festival winning, dramatic thriller I found myself connected to the main characters.      BEING NEW TO THE AREA DID NOT make a difference to the connection that quickly formed between Casey Caraway and her neighbor Jonas Ford, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) and Josh Wiggins (Max, Walking Out). Their connection would be tested beyond anything they imagined. With Joe Cobden (Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow) as Elbert Ford, Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Wayne Caraway and Colm Feore (Chicago, The Chronicles of Riddick) as The Chief; this story drew me in due to the connection I mentioned previously. The acting came across truthfully and at times powerfully. I felt Bill’s performance was authentic and intense, especially because I was getting a physical reaction from his character. The story line had a similar flavor to past movies of the same genre; however, I was surprised with the twists in this one. The filming style added to the despair felt in the story; there was a simple and direct style that made the characters come across in a raw, sometimes desperate, way. The story may cause uneasiness with viewers in the beginning, but it would be worth staying to see what happens and you never know, there may be a connection that forms with you.

 

2 ½ stars — DVD      

Flash Movie Review: Emma

IT WAS AT A FAMILY (NOT MINE) GATHERING where I first saw how people judge others based on the work they do. Maybe this happens more than I am aware of because the individuals I was in contact with were not so blatant about it. With this family, they had no problem showing their disapproval; I could see and hear it. We were mingling together in the living/dining area of my friend’s parents’ house. I knew the family well, so I was included on the guest list. My friend’s parents were throwing a graduation party for their youngest child. It was a casual affair where most of the food items were finger foods. Everyone my friend introduced me to was pleasant. I do not want this to come out as judgmental; but let me just say some of the guests were impeccably dressed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as I could tell. At some point one of my friend’s sisters walked into the house with her boyfriend. They had only been dating a few months and this was I found out, the first time the family was meeting this new man. I thought all was going well until one of the relatives asked the boyfriend what he did for a living. When he told them he was an electrician, you could see everyone’s smiling veneer melt away. The tone of voice the relatives were now using were filled with disdain; I was stunned.      WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH BEING an electrician, I wondered? You would have thought the boyfriend said he was a mass murderer; it was the oddest thing to see. As if on cue, the relatives nearby him slowly moved further away. I swear it looked as if the relatives had just come upon a grizzly bear in the forest and were quietly and slowly backing away, so as not to disturb it. I was not the only one to have witnessed this; my friend saw what was going on and decided to, at that moment, introduce me to the sister and boyfriend. He was a nice guy as far as I could tell, and it seemed as if he had a good sense of humor. Personally, I never care who my friends and family are dating; all that matters to me is that the person is good to them and loves them. Whether they are a stock trader, a sanitation worker or a zookeeper; none of that matters to me. If my friend or relative loves them and feels good about it, then I will support them always. I think that is one of the reasons I found it challenging to connect to the characters in this dramatic, comedy satire. BORN INTO WEALTH AND BELIEVING SHE was better than most Emma Woodhouse, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), felt she could not find her equal in love. At least, not in her small town. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Beast) as George Knightley, Bill Nighy (Sometimes Always Never, About Time) as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Everest) as Harriet Smith and Myra McFadyen (Mamma Mia! franchise, Rob Roy) as Mrs. Bates; this movie based on Jane Austen’s novel was hard for me to get into in the beginning. The costumes and scenery were immaculate which helped me pass the time. I also thought Bill Nighy was perfect in his role. Set in England during the 1800’s, it was not until the 2ndhalf of the film where I felt things were better connected. My guess is fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this picture immensely. I on the other hand felt it really had nowhere to go; it was somewhat predictable. And for some reason, I could not connect at all with the main actress’ character; what a surprise based on what I mentioned earlier in this review.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog

THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING ON THE radio as we sang along to it. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other’s life; it had been a few months since we last got together. Driving on the way back to her apartment, my friend wanted to show me the house she was thinking of buying. I was fine with checking out the place, so my friend decided to take surface streets to the house to show me what type of neighborhood she would be living in. On one picturesque street, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the houses were being maintained. My friend slowed and came to a stop near the end of the block; I thought we had arrived at the house she was interested in. Suddenly, she started backing up; I asked her what she was doing. Before she could answer me, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to talk to a man who was standing in front of a car that had its hood up. Before I knew it, she popped her hood and the man was attaching jumper cables to her battery. I sat there in disbelief; I did not even see this guy as we were driving down the street. Within a couple of minutes, the man’s car was running, and we continued on our way.      IT WAS SOME TIME LATER AFTER I had left my friend and was home, that I replayed that whole helpful scene in my head. I was struck with the fact that my friend was willing to help a stranger with no hesitation. When I had asked her why she stopped, she said she figured something was wrong by the way the man was looking at his car’s engine. Was I so fearful and mistrustful that I would have continued driving by without stopping I wondered? The next question I had was why was I mistrustful and fearful? In my past, I had been taken advantage of by strangers. Things like being asked for spare change or sign up for a promotion that later turned out to be fake; after several bogus incidents, I stopped offering any help. I guess you could say I became hardened towards those asking for help. Yet, I have always been willing to help friends and family. But as I am writing this, I am recalling times where I did help strangers; the shopper who could not reach the top shelf or the train passenger who was lost would be my examples. Seeing the help the main character offered in this action, adventure film has made me reassess my feelings about helping a stranger.      DESPITE HAVING NEVER SEEN SUCH A being did not stop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), from agreeing to help the being called Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (This is Where I Leave You, Parks and Recreation-TV) get to San Francisco. Their trip was the last thing Dr. Ivo Robitnik, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Mr. Popper’s Penguins), wanted to see succeed. With Tika Sumpter (Ride Along franchise, The Old Man & the Gun) as Maddie Wachowski and Natasha Rothwell (A Year and Change, Insecure-TV) as Rachel; this family fantasy based on the video game was a fun movie watching experience. The message was sweet about friendship and friends in need; the humor was cute and pleasant. There was nothing extreme or harsh in any of the scenes. And the big surprise was seeing Jim excelling at the physical comedy; I felt I was watching a much younger Jim Carrey because he was so into his role. This picture was easy to watch and if nothing else I appreciated the way it made me look at my feelings about helping strangers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.

 

2 ½ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Birds of Prey

AS I PULLED UP TO HER HOUSE, I saw that her trash containers were overflowing. I am not talking piles of garbage bags; there was clothing, sports equipment and stuff that looked like it was originally part of something else. When my friend asked me to come over, I could tell she was upset. Seeing the stuff in the trash told me she must have broken up with her boyfriend. When she opened the door, I knew my assumption was correct; they had a huge argument and decided to end their relationship. She was still in the angry phase of her breakup and as a friend, I sat and listened to her vent and complain. There was something though that struck my ear. There was a phrase she would say that did not originate in her thought process; it was a saying her now former boyfriend used to say all the time. I wondered if she was aware of it, but I decided not to say anything. Here she had thrown out everything that was associated with her ex; but she was using one of his catchphrases. Wouldn’t that be a reminder to her, I wondered. On the other hand, I am not one to talk based on my history.      WHEN I HAVE EXPERIENCED A HEARTBREAKING separation, I withdraw into myself. The stuff that was theirs I usually leave alone for the most part; though, I usually will start using their toothbrush to clean the crevices of the bathroom sink and tub. The most important thing I do to begin my healing process is to quickly change my daily routine. When two people live together, they fall into a pattern that compliments, compensates and co-exists with their significant other. Working around each other’s schedule, filling in places when the other is traveling; essentially working to find a solution to what daily life puts in your path, so the two of you get some quality time together. This is where I have suffered the most; after adjusting to a new schedule to accommodate both people and then suddenly, I am left by myself to come up with a new daily routine. The material things are not my focus during my grieving time. I do know every person handles the grieving process of a breakup differently; some go on a binge and abuse themselves with food, alcohol or non-stop shopping, while others get lost into their books or hobbies. I will say out of all the people I have known who have gone through a breakup, I have never seen one of them do what the main character chose to do in this action, adventure crime film.      ON HER OWN NOW AND WITHOUT the protection of her former boyfriend, the city of Gotham suddenly becomes a more dangerous place. But for who; the citizens, the gangsters, the police or for Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Mary Queen of Scots), herself? With Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump, Won’t Back Down) as Renee Montoya, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Gemini Man) as Helena Bertinelli, Jurnee Smollett-Bell (The Great Debaters, True Blood-TV) as Dinah Lance and Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep, Christopher Robin) as Roman Sionis; this comic book feature film’s best asset was Margot Robbie. She was the main character, the narrator and the glue that tried to keep all the different pieces of the story together. I thought the cast was fun; however, the script was such a jumble of different story lines that I found myself getting bored at times. There are only so many fight scenes one can sit through in a day. Margot handled the majority of anything that appeared to interject humor into the scattered script. The story and script both needed to pare the scattered craziness down and increase the excitement and drama. Based on Margot’s performance, I would be sad if I did not see Harley in any future movies; but if they remain at this level of inconsistencies, I could easily live without her.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Last Full Measure

WHO WILL REMEMBER THE MEMORIES WHEN the keepers of the memories are gone? I think about this from time to time. At a recent get together I started thinking about it again as the people in attendance were going over old, family photographs. There were several photos of people whose identities were unknown to the people at the party. These strangers, one had to assume, were related somehow to the family; but there was no one left from the previous generation who could help identify these strangers. I sat and wondered how many generations would have to pass before all the people in the photographs turned into unknown beings. As the gathering continued, I recalled from when I was little a neighbor who had lost many relatives due to war. She was a survivor herself. In fact, the first time I ever saw a tattoo was the one on her arm. It was a series of numbers and I remember asking her what the numbers meant. Looking back, she explained as best she could without frightening me how she was given the tattoo when she was in a concentration camp. Being so young I had not reached an age where I could comprehend the words, she was telling me; yet, though she is long gone I have not forgotten what she had said to me.      NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE I wished I was privy to a person’s memories, especially when they have a historic factor. I knew several Viet Nam veterans, but that is all I knew about them. They never talked about their time away, what they did or what they saw; it was a subject one realized quickly they never wanted to talk about to anyone. I remember a friend’s family where one of the siblings was a soldier in Viet Nam. The family’s mailbox became their only connection to their son and brother. I was over at their house when a letter had arrived from overseas. The family huddled close together as a parent carefully opened the envelope and took out the onion skin piece of paper. Seeing the joy in their faces is something I have never forgotten. Being curious all these years, I had the privilege of talking to a Viet Nam veteran recently and asked him if the norm was not to talk about one’s experiences during the war. He explained the possible reasons for someone not wanting to talk about it, then generously shared his story. I carry his memory with me as I do now of the heroic act that took place in this dramatic, war film.      THOUGH WILLIAM PITSENBARGER, PLAYED BY JEREMY Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man), had the opportunity to save himself from the heat of a battle, he chose to remain behind and help save his fellow soldiers. Those who were saved wanted to make sure William was never forgotten. This film’s story was inspired by true events and I must tell you I was surprised with some of the things I saw in this picture. With Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Jackie Brown) as Takoda, Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise; I, Tonya) as Scott Huffman, Diane Ladd (Joy, Chinatown) as Alice Pitsenberger and Christopher Plummer (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Knives Out) as Frank Pitsenberger; I thought the cast was excellent. Seeing the older actors display their gift of acting made the characters come alive for me. I found the story unbelievable to the point it started playing out like a mystery. The issue I had, however, was with the directing and the script. Instead of coming across like one continuous emotional journey, the scenes felt like snippets of events which damaged the build up of emotional depth. I would start to connect to a character but then the scene would jump and sever that feeling. The story I felt was important enough that it needed more time to blend scenes together and tighten up the script. Essentially, this film lacked drama for me. Now maybe those who have gone through the war will have a different feeling, which I would certainly understand. Still, I am glad this story came to light and now I know and remember it.

 

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Trailer: The Gentlemen

I THOUGHT I KNEW BETTER BUT all I accomplished was the wasting of time. Plans were in place for all of us to meet at the theater to see the performance followed by a question and answer session. The theater was in a part of the city that was unfamiliar to me. Because I was going to be driving near a couple of places I had wanted to get to, I figured this would be the perfect time to get everything accomplished at once before showtime. Going to my first stop was an easy experience; there were only a couple of short traffic delays and I found a parking space close by the store that had an item on hold for me. Once I was done there and back in my car, I headed out to the next destination. Unfortunately, I did not make the same good travel time because I got stopped by a slow-moving freight train at a crossing gate. Have you ever noticed when you are in a hurry, delays always seem to last longer? Well, that is how I felt waiting for that train. When the crossing gate finally rose up, I tore across the tracks and raced to my next stop, where I only needed to drop off my donation. In hindsight, this was not my best decision.      FINALLY REACHING MY DESTINATION TO DROP off my donation and there was not one available parking spot anywhere. I could not believe it. For a second, I thought about double parking but luckily, I spotted a police car slowly coming down the street to check the parking meters. I decided to drive around the block to see if a parking space would open. Gratefully, as I was about to skip the donation place, I saw a car parked ahead of the place with its reverse lights on. I pulled up behind it and waited for the driver to pull out of the space. My turn signal was on, I was ready to take the spot; but the driver wasn’t moving. I felt like I was waiting for an eternity; I tapped on my horn and must have woken up the driver because their car finally exited the spot. In less than a minute I was in the spot and running into the donation place. I just had to place my package in the donation bin, run back to the car and get to the theater. There was no way I could stay at the speed limit and get to the theater before the start of the show. When I finally got there, I wound up having a miserable time; I missed the opening and spent the rest of the time replaying my route in my head, to see what I could have done differently. I experienced the same type of feeling sitting through the replayed scenes in this action crime film.      ONCE WORD WAS OUT THAT DRUG dealer Mickey Pearson, played by Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, The Beach Bum), wanted to sell his operations; a cast of unscrupulous characters decided to take advantage of the opportunity. With Charles Hunnam (Crimson Peak, The Lost City of Z) as Ray, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, Downton Abbey-TV) as Rosalind Pearson, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Robot & Frank) as Matthew and Colin Farrell (Dumbo, The Lobster) as Coach; this movie’s story was too cluttered for me. I did however enjoy several scenes for their inventiveness and dark humor as well as enjoying most of the cast’s performances. However, not being a fan of tweaking and replaying events over, I was getting bored with the possibilities being shown. It diffused and made the drama less strong in my opinion. I was able to handle the violence on display; but, the constant, repetitive foul language quickly got old for me. The idea behind this story could have been communicated in a better way; instead, as scenes were being replayed, I sat and wondered what would have happened if I had gone to a different movie.

 

2 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Bad Boys for Life

AS THE LIGHTS WENT DOWN MY irritation subsided only to be replaced with brimming excitement. The first note struck on the electric guitar echoed through the stadium and the crowd started to cheer wildly. The stage was flooded in dazzling lights of several colors as the members of the rock band rose up from underneath the stage. I was in my happy place as the band tore into their first song of the night. All the hassle it took to drive to the stadium while fighting traffic every step of the way, parking in the outrageously expensive parking lot, then pushing through the mass of people to get to our seats was all worth it to hear our favorite band. My buddy and I endured all this work to get to a concert, sometimes on a weekly basis; because there was no greater feeling than sitting with 20,000 fans who were all experiencing the same feelings. It was a rush for me. We had been doing it for several years; so, we had our routine down solid on how to navigate each venue. Rarely did we get disappointed by a group or musician. My proof would be all the T-shirts I acquired throughout the years.      AS PRICES ESCALATED FOR THE PARKING, ticket fees and the price of admission; my passion for seeing concerts started to wane. Some popular musical artists were charging prices that were easily 50 to 100% higher than other acts; I found it offensive. Just because they had the #1 hit in the country and were wildly popular did not, I felt, give them the right to gouge their adoring fans. My buddy still wanted to see every musical artist and group, no matter the cost. I started becoming more selective. We had a good run of concerts I felt; but the hassle and cost were chipping into the enjoyment factor. The concerts that took place during the weekdays were the toughest for me. Getting home late and trying to get to sleep while in the euphoric afterglow of a concert was getting harder and harder for me to do. I felt bad for my friend; we were both tight into our concert routine for years and now it was changing because of me. I tried being as supportive as I could; however, I just could not keep it up. There were times my friend would go by himself to see a concert; it used to make me feel bad. With the passing of time, we started settling into our new roles. I saw the same thing playing out in this latest installment of the action, comedic crime franchise.      AFTER NEARLY BEING KILLED BY A drive-by shooter; Mike Lowrey, played by Will Smith (Men in Black franchise, I Am Legend) and his partner Marcus Burnett, played by Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House, National Security), team up with a newly created team from the Miami police department to try and track down the source of the shooter. With Joe Pantoliana (The Matrix, Wedding Daze) as Captain Howard, Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games) as Dorn and Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Kelly; there were no surprises in this movie. If you are a fan of the series, then you will enjoy this latest one; it is pretty much more of the same. Not that this is a criticism; for the script had the same type of quick bantering jokes and humor while Will and Martin delivered their brand of chemistry to the big screen. Granted, part of the humor was now being based on their advanced ages. The action scenes were exciting and some of them were even fun to watch. I believe this is a film one must be in the mood for to watch. If one delays it for a bargain price, there would be nothing wrong in doing that.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Spies in Disguise

HE MAY HAVE THOUGHT WE WERE friends but that was not really the case. I felt I had to for my own self-preservation. We hung around the same group of people. If I remember correctly, he was a friend of a friend who started including him in our get togethers. He had a loud and boisterous personality that was quick with sarcasm; that was the part of him that was fun to be around. However, he also had a quick temper that was the first thing to flare up in any kind of confrontational circumstances. His “go-to” comment was “Do you want to take this outside?” This is the reason why I stayed on good terms with him; I did not want to get pulled into his negative drama. Whenever we would all go out to a club, the chances were better than 50% he would get into some type of altercation with one of the patrons of the place. I found it maddening and ridiculous because before you knew it, he would be asking the person to join him outside. Now granted he made an imposing figure; but still, there was no reason he needed the theatrics. The way I used to deal with him was simply to agree to his extreme pontifications on life and living, by nodding my head or grunting a sound that he could interpret as an affirmative answer.      THOUGH IT HAS BEEN YEARS SINCE I have seen him, he is the first person I think of whenever I hear someone saying, “Do you want to take this outside?” Even if I hear it in a movie, he comes to mind. I was never the type of person who willingly confronted someone. Growing up people fell into two categories, aggressive or passive. I was in the passive group during my childhood years. It was not until I was in college before I found my voice. After what I went through during high school, I worked on myself to get to a point where no one would take advantage of me. It was not an easy process by any means; but I acquired the tools necessary to have an argument without including negative or demeaning comments. What I learned that was valuable to me was to remove the emotions from the equation and talk about my feelings instead. There are some people who think if they talk loudly enough, they will win the fight; as you know that does not work in the real world. As I was watching this animated, action adventure I identified more with one of the characters than the other; you probably could guess which one.      AFTER INGESTING AN EXPERIMENTAL CONCOCTION WITHOUT it being tested, the only thing super spy Lance, voiced by Will Smith (I Am Legend, Men in Black franchise) had to rely on was his wits and new-found avian abilities to bring down an evil genius bent on destroying the agency. With Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, In the Heart of the Sea) voicing Walter, Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Robin Hood) voicing Killian, Reba McEntire (The Little Rascals, One Night at McCool’s) voicing Joyless and Rachel Brosnahan (The Finest Hours, Patriots Day) voicing Wendy; this film festival nominee had wonderful animation work. Including the cast of actors; overall, this was a pleasant, family friendly film to watch. There was nothing extreme about it; I felt it fell in the middle of other animated films. There was more of a focus on fun instead of a series of humorous jokes and pranks. The message however was what grabbed me the most. I connected more with the last half of the film, finding it to be a touching statement. If you choose to see this film, you would easily see why I felt a strong affinity to one of the characters.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Uncut Gems

I WANT TO BELIEVE CORPORATIONS ARE NOT intentionally taking advantage of me along with other consumers; but I cannot help feeling they are whenever I make a change to my account with them. For several years, I had an account with a cable company. When I called to cancel my subscription, they asked me why I was cancelling my account. After I explained my reason, they told me they needed to switch me to an account representative to complete the process; I did not think anything of it. The rep came on the line and asked me a couple of questions. After explaining myself again, the rep asked if I would keep the service if the monthly price was lower. This is where I got annoyed because it was not like they were looking at ways to lower my bill; they were simply willing to reduce the monthly charges to keep me as a customer. Hearing this made me feel like they had been gouging me the whole time. Suddenly when they feared they were losing me as a customer, they miraculously can lower the price now? Why couldn’t they start me out at the lowest price when I signed up in the first place? And the thing is, I know they are not the only company that carries out this type of practice; my friends and family members have told me similar stories about their experiences when they went to cancel their accounts.      MY EXPERIENCES WITH THAT COMPANY LEFT a bad taste in my mouth. I have never felt comfortable with companies and individuals who I would classify as schemers; someone or something that makes secret plans to benefit themselves, even if it means taking advantage of or deceiving someone else. I had an acquaintance who I classified as a schemer. Whenever a group of us would get together for a meal at a restaurant, he would always order an expensive item off the menu. He knew we would split the bill, so he always came out ahead in how much he owed. Even when he was the only one who ordered an alcoholic drink, he expected the price of it would be part of the split. I do not mind when one goes out with the same group for a meal and splits the bill each time; sometimes you pay more sometimes less than the cost of what you ordered, it evens out over time. However, this person was always coming out cheaper because the rest of the group was picking up more of his tab. It came to a point where we started asking the wait staff for separate checks and suddenly, he started ordering less expensive food. I did not care to be around him anymore; I had the same feeling about the schemer in this film festival winning dramatic, crime mystery.      OVEREXTENDED WITH HIS CUSTOMERS’ MONEY jeweler Howard Ratner, played by Adam Sandler (Blended, The Wedding Singer), was trying to complete a major score before the consequences would have a major affect on his business and family. With newcomer Julia Fox as Julia, Idina Menzel (Rent, Glee-TV) as Dinah, LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12) as Demany and Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio, Cadillac Records) as Arno; this film festival winning feature provided Adam with the perfect role. He was excellent as Howard. For the first part of the movie I thought the script was repetitive; it pretty much was Howard yelling and swearing at everyone. It came to a point where I got tired and bored with it. I enjoyed the 2ndhalf more because there was at least a better sense of emotional depth on display among the characters. I have to say I prefer seeing Adam in these serious roles instead of comedic ones like he has done in the past. Despite not being comfortable around schemers, I did not find the watching of this film to be an entertaining experience.

 

2 ½ stars       

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