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Flash Movie Review: Tommy’s Honour

MINIATURE golf covers my experience with playing the game of golf. For those of you who know my love of travel, you will especially appreciate when I tell you about a miniature golf course I used to play at when I was a small boy. The majority of the holes each had a replica of a national or world landmark that you would have to negotiate, to get your colored golf ball to the cup. For a kid who had not yet seen the actual structures, this was a big deal. I remember one hole that had a tall skyscraper which would light up at night. The goal was to hit your ball between the elevator doors so you could watch your ball rise up to the top of the building where it would be dropped off and disappear for a moment. By the time you ran to the back of the skyscraper you would just see the ball coming out of an exit door right by the cup. My favorite was a reproduction of a famous amusement park roller coaster. If you could get the ball up the entrance ramp, you could watch your ball take a ride on the coaster before it was dropped off at the cup. This was the extent of my golfing prowess.     FROM the different comments I have heard about the game of golf, there are a lot of people who consider it a rich man’s sport or a gentleman’s game. Whether it is or not does not make a difference to me. I can appreciate the dedication, raw talent and competitiveness on display; but because I have a hard time justifying the amount of money given to professional athletes compared to school teachers, I find the large sums going into prize money, advertising and betting very odd, troubling. I know this is not exclusive to golfing by any means; at almost any given time I will hear about someone betting on such and such game or being a part of an office pool. Little did I know that this practice has been going on for a long time.     SCOTSMAN Tom Morris, played by Peter Mullan (War Horse, Tyrannosaur), had been the groundskeeper and golf club maker of the St. Andrews golf course for many years. The club members assumed his son Tommy, played by Jack Lowden (A United Kingdom, Denial), would take over the family business; however, Tommy had something different in mind. This film festival winning drama based on a true story also starred Sam Neill (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jurassic Park franchise) as Alexander Boothby and Ophelia Lovibond (Guardians of the Galaxy, No Strings Attached) as Meg Drinnen. The story was the fascinating part for me in this biography; watching how the game of golf was originally played truly was a trip back in time. Unfortunately the script caused this movie to be a bogey instead of a hole in one. For such a game changing story, this script really needed to get gritty and make the characters more than one dimensional. The thing that kept me interested was the historical value the events had in this picture. I may not have any interest in playing golf, but at least I now know how it came to be.

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious

SITTING on the sofa after a satisfying meal I was waiting for the punch line to the story that was being told to us. It was not because the story was exciting, though it was the 1st time I heard it some years ago, or that the storyteller always had an animated way of telling a tale; I actually had heard this story enough to be able to retell it without any coaching. The reason I was waiting for the ending of the story was so I could get up and go to the bathroom without appearing rude to the story teller or the other people sitting around. The first time I heard the story I remember how all of us were laughing hysterically; it really was a funny set of circumstances that happened to the story teller. However after hearing the same story again and again, it had lost its surprise and funniness. For my way of thinking once a funny story has been told it needs to go into retirement, put away on a shelf only to come out on special occasions as a reminder about a particular person or period of time.      THE retelling of jokes or stories only robs them of their uniqueness. After a time the listener you are trying to entertain is simply lulled into boredom. This reminds me of a person I know who does not fully grasp the art of joke telling. Every time they tell a joke they have to explain the portion of it that they find particularly amusing. This is never a good idea; if you have to explain a joke then it is not a joke. There have been times where I find myself sitting and listening to them and I immediately know anything I might find funny will be weighed down with this explaining thing that will make me cringe into wishing they would stop talking. Telling something over and over again is not exclusive to parties and family gatherings; it can be found in movie franchises.      FAMILY was the most important thing to Dom, played by Vin Diesel (The Pacifier, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk). Then why did he turn his back on them? Starring Jason Statham (The Expendables franchise, The Mechanic franchise) as Deckard, Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas, Hercules) as Hobbs and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Cipher; the script for this action crime thriller was the weak link. The action scenes kept coming over and over, most connected by cheesy dialog. I will say the action was outrageous as the stunts were things the viewer has come to expect from this franchise. Another positive point about this movie was Charlize Theron; I found her acting to be above everyone else in the cast. After so many years with this franchise the writers needed to do something different in my opinion. I found some of the characters’ conversations were so typical of past films that I found myself becoming dazed and tired. Good thing there was always some over the top action scene ready to unfold right afterwards. This film franchise has had a long run but based on this installment it might be time for this group to take the exit ramp and take a rest. It might do wonders for them.

 

2 ½ stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell

WHEN I saw Rosie helping the Jetson family and Data assisting the crew of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, I believed an opportunity was being created for mankind to better itself. Removing some of the unimportant necessities of the day would allow man to study and learn more about life; in other words humans could reach a higher level of consciousness. Witnessing the blending of mechanical objects with people really has been an extraordinary event. Just think about individuals who received mechanical hearts and valves or athletes getting artificial arms and legs; it has changed people’s perceptions about what it means to be physically challenged. Just in the past several months the news reported on an artificial hand that a person could control with their mind; did you ever imagine this becoming reality during your lifetime? I vaguely remember an advertisement tagline that said something like, “better living through science.” This idea certainly has validity; however, I have a growing concern that science, depending on who is calling the shots, could dominate mankind.     ONE of my concerns for some time has been the manipulations taking place in our food chain. I am not comfortable ingesting a food item that has been genetically modified. The idea of animals being injected with growth hormones to create supersized creatures to yield more meat or milk frightens me. This was one of the reasons I gave up red meat years ago. Another area that concerns me is the “beauty” industry. With the amount of chemicals people apply to themselves on a daily basis with their soaps, dyes and makeup; I just wonder what the body does with it when the products get absorbed into the skin. Even seeing people who have gone through extensive plastic surgery to maintain their youthful appearance troubles me. I remember standing next to a television celebrity who was talking to their aide. Their face barely budged as the lips were forming words; their facial expression was totally void of any emotion. The title of this futuristic action film could easily apply to this celebrity.     MAJOR, played by Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Lost in Translation), was the first of her kind; she was the ultimate blend of human and machine. At least she thought so until she started experiencing flashbacks. Watching this dramatic crime movie was a wild visual ride. All I could think about was it looked like a cross between the films Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Based on the graphic novel this movie also starred Pilou Asbaek (Lucy, A Hijacking) as Batou, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla, The 33) as Dr. Ouelet and Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths, The Dreamers) as Kuze. I am not familiar with the story; however, the first half of this picture had me totally into it. Scarlett was good with the physical demands of the role, but I thought the acting part was one dimensional; unless that was how the character was written in the book. The last half of the film for me turned into a typical action movie; in fact, I am concerned Scarlett is being typecast since her character shared similarities with her Lucy and Avengers characters. I would have preferred if the script had stayed focused on the storyline regarding the flashbacks. The title of this movie remained with me afterwards as I wondered if this is where science will be going in the future.

 

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Personal Shopper

DEATH for some people is not always a permanent state. These individuals maintain their bond to the deceased, though it is not necessarily reciprocal. They may talk to their loved one every day, bringing them up on current events or asking advice on an upcoming decision. I had a relative who went to see her mother every single day, having on hand her mother’s favorite coffee and sweet roll. She would park on the side of the road and walk over to a congested area of headstones. With her folding stool, thermos and the plastic bag that carried the sweet roll and napkins; she would sit by the side of her mother’s grave and pour each of them a cup of coffee. Setting the cup down on the headstone, she let her mother know she brought her favorite sweet roll; she placed the item on a small paper plate to then join the perched cup of coffee. This ritual took place every day and after she had spent an hour or two, she would drink up the coffee from her mother’s cup and ask her if she was done with her sweet roll. She would tear the sweet roll into pieces and once she was outside of the cemetery would scatter the pieces by a tree for the birds.     I am a firm believer whatever means a person needs to do to deal with death is fine with me; I do not judge or question. Everyone deals with death in their own way. Also, I feel anything is possible. Recently a friend of mine had died after a year long illness. After notifications went out to family and friends, a few days later out of the blue my friend’s cell phone rang with an unknown phone number. There was no one on the line when the call was answered. You want to talk about an eerie moment? Well someone close to the deceased who is in mourning could see the call as a sign. I could easily understand their thought process with this incident. If you choose to watch this mystery thriller, be prepared to experience something unearthly. Or is it really?     WORKING as a personal shopper Maureen Cartwright, played by Kristen Stewart (Certain Women, The Twilight Saga franchise), was convinced her deceased brother was trying to contact her. This film festival winning drama also starred Lars Eidinger (Everyone Else, Clouds of Sils Maria) as Ingo, Sigrid Bouaziz (Portrait of the Artist, The Tunnel-TV) as Lara and Anders Danielsen Lie (Reprise, Herman) as Erwin. I have not always been a fan of Kristen Stewart, but I have to say this was one of her best roles. She pretty much carries the interesting story. Watching this movie was like riding an amusement park’s roller coaster; not the big major ones, but the ones that give you a thrill but do not let your stomach move up into your throat. At first I was not getting settled into the story since the script kept things somewhat sparse. But then layer by layer I found myself drawn into the surreal story. I enjoyed the directing in this picture; but at times the script became muddled and fell apart. The concept of the story interested me overall, because as I said you just never know.

 

2 ½ stars    

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Day Night Day Night

DRAWN eyes come to life with a spot of white properly placed close to the center of the eyeball. I learned this in an art class years ago. It worked for the eyes in the portrait I had drawn because they became vibrant with vitality. That one little artistic, creative trick spurred me to always look into a person’s eyes to see if they were really alive inside. I could give you a multitude of examples about how a person conveys much about themselves through their eyes but I do not want to bore you all day. Let me just say I have seen enough confirmations to trust what I see in a person’s eyes. From the hard times I had during my school years I still can remember some of my attackers’ eyes. This may sound like a cliché but each one had darkness in their eyes mixed, with what may surprise you, fear. There may have been other emotions but they paled in comparison to these two even when they were laughing or sneering at me.   THOUGH it is harder to see, if you look carefully into people’s eyes in photographs, social media postings or on news channels you sometimes can still get a sense of that person from their eyes. Even individuals arrested and broadcasted on the news for a hideous crime usually have something in common regarding the look of their eyes; there is a certain dullness that blurs the line between the pupil and iris. I am sure you have heard the saying “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” To me this is certainly true and I would even extend it to one’s pets. I knew a dog that had some of the most expressive eyes I had ever seen; it felt as if they were actually talking to you. Eyes are truly a wonder but I have to ask you, do you think you can figure out the terrorist in this crime thriller?   TIMES Square was the target for this young, female suicide bomber, played by Luisa Williams (To Each his Own Cinema). All she had to do was get prepared for it. This film festival winning dramatic thriller written and directed by Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet, Moment of Impact) was interesting because a majority of the scenes were focused on the bomber’s face. Without saying too much, I found this technique fascinating because the viewer was not able to figure out the bomber’s motivation. In essence it made the movie more intense for me. With Josh Philip Weinstein (One Life to Live-TV, Mars Attacks!) as the commander, Gareth Saxe (Public Enemies) as the organizer and Annemarie Lawless (Hackers, We are What we are) as the bomb maker’s assistant; at times I caught myself wondering if this picture was a documentary. The area where this film became a letdown was towards the end; I would have appreciated more explanation or better yet just closure. I felt the story was cut off. As for the script there was some filler used because several scenes seemed redundant which led to boredom for me. I may have had a hard time reading the young woman’s eyes but I can tell you it did not distract from the chilling authenticity of the movie.

 

2 ½ stars — DVD      

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Miss Sloane

THERE was a parked delivery truck in the middle of the street blocking my way. By backing up I was able to turn into an alley that would take me behind the block so I could continue on my way. As I carefully drove down the alley, dodging garbage bins and bushes, I came up to a garage that had a swastika spray painted across its door. Here I was driving through what looked like a pleasant, well maintained neighborhood and came up to a sign of hatred behind what appeared to be to me the street side facade of peacefulness. I looked at the garage door and did not want to believe someone filled with hate or anger took the time to come out and spray the door as an expression of their feelings.   THERE have been so many things I have come across where I did not want to believe they were real. Seeing a mass shooting at a school, an oil spill, toxic drinking water or a hotel bombing; the world is filled with awful events and it seems like there are only more taking place. Maybe I live too much time in my fantasy and film fantasy world, but the fact that I can still be surprised by a variety of dastardly deeds/actions tells me I still have my humanity. When friends or colleagues tell me the true story behind certain events, both personal and international, I am reminded that I may be too naïve because I tend to take everything at face value; trusting or hoping people would lean towards goodness instead of badness. So we now come to today’s movie and if any of it was based on true events I am more afraid of the world than I was before.   KNOWN for her killer instincts lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, played by Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, The Martian), pitted herself against a tough opponent. It was one that happened to know her. The cat and mouse game that ensued could easily destroy one of them. This dramatic thriller soared on Jessica’s acting skills. She was the main character and she was incredible. All the actors, such as Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby, Before I Go to Sleep) as Rodolfo Schmidt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones, Beyond the Lights) as Esme Manucharian and John Lithgow (Interstellar, Love is Strange) as Congressman Ron M. Sperling; were excellent, but the women ruled this picture. The world of lobbyists is unknown to me so I enjoyed the story, finding myself periodically surprised with several scenes dealing with the methods used in lobbying influential figures. As for the script I thought the first and last parts of the film were the strongest; the middle of the movie lost me a bit because I felt too much time was being used to remind us of Miss Sloane’s intensity. Personally I would have enjoyed the writers digging deeper into her actions and motivations as well as some of the other characters. With that being said I will tell you I loved the twists in this story. If this movie was based on any truth regarding lobbyists, the world really is a scarier place.

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Rules Don’t Apply

MY enjoyment in learning something about a celebrity’s life predominantly comes from only one source. Actually hearing about an individual’s personal experience or shall we say exposure to a celebrity piques my interest. Sure there maybe something reported in the news or entertainment shows; however, I never pay attention to the gossip magazines. Let me show you what I mean without sharing the celebrity’s name just so I do not get sued or something.   THERE is a friend of mine who was an extra on a popular television show. He had direct contact with one actor in a scene that had a few extra tapings with different camera angles, over a couple of days. It took place mid morning and my friend told me the actor smelled of alcohol each day before they even started to film. In fact, when my friend was pouring fake drinks for the scene, this actor insisted his drink has real liquor. Now gaining this little insight doesn’t change my opinion of the person unless he does something stupid, like driving, while under the influence. However, if I discover a celebrity is prejudiced against any type of minority I discard them totally. Some of you may already know there are a couple of actors whose films never get reviewed by me because I will not support them in any way, especially by giving them money to see their pictures. Putting that aside, one other thing I get a kick out of are the movies that have for at least part of their story a portrayal of an actual famous person. The fun factor in this comedic drama for me was seeing the “life” of Howard Hughes.   RECENTLY transplanted to Hollywood, California Marla Mabrey and Frank Forbes, played by Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Mirror Mirror) and Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Beautiful Creatures), wound up working for the same employer; the famous Howard Hughes, played by Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde, Dick Tracy). Working for the billionaire meant they would have to follow certain rules. This film festival winning romance written and directed by Warren had a great cast of actors such as Matthew Broderick (Glory, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Levar Mathis and Candice Bergen (Miss Congeniality, Murphy Brown-TV) as Nadine Henly. I thought the sets and costumes were accurate and visually pleasing. As for the story there were parts of it that captured the essence of those madcap comedy films from the 1940s; however, there were times where the script got bogged down. It felt like there was so much going on that the viewer was only getting the highlights of the characters’ lives. I found the story line involving Howard to be more entertaining; in turn, a stronger presence on screen in my opinion. Maybe because of my interest in real life individuals I was more interested in Warren’s scenes, though I thought he did a good job of acting. Just now it occurred to me that Warren’s kinetic performance partially mirrored the pacing at times during this film. Overall I enjoyed watching this movie, wondering if any of the scenes involving Howard Hughes were based on any real life events besides the obvious ones shown.

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Allied

AFTER seeing and experiencing it with my own eyes, I understand the reasons why one should not make any major changes in one’s life during an upheaval. The big life changers one could experience are divorce/breakup, relocation or job loss. I had a job for some years at a company that went through a downsizing and my position was eliminated. One of the first things I thought I needed to do was put my house up for sale. Luckily a friend talked me out of it. Eventually I did find a new job and was grateful I had listened to my friend.   THERE is a friend of mine who tended to make rash decisions in her life. After being with her boyfriend for several years they broke up; she took it very hard. I made myself available, being her support during the difficult time. Well imagine my shock when she told me in a relative short time she had met someone. I thought maybe this would be a distraction for her to pick herself up and move on; however, within several weeks she comes to tell me she is getting married. Carefully I chose my words to her and asked a few questions about her reasons and such, but nothing deterred her pending nuptials. You might have figured out by now where this story is going. The wedding was lovely, small and intimate with lots of flowers everywhere. But just as flowers have a short lifespan so did this marriage. After 3 or 4 years they got divorced and from the stories she told me I was surprised the relationship did not end sooner. So you see when it comes to big lifetime events, I feel they need to sit out and ripen like a beautiful piece of fruit to yield the strongest taste.   ASSIGNED to a secret mission in North Africa intelligence officer Max Vatan and French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour, played by Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, World War Z) and Marion Cotilard (The Immigrant, Inception), had to pose as a married couple for the plan to succeed. They did not realize emotions could rise during wartime. This action drama drew me early into its story. With Jared Harris (Lincoln, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Frank Heslop, I thought the acting was good; though it became obvious Marion was the best out of the group. The buildup of action was well done by director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future franchise, Flight). As for the sets, scenery and costumes; they were picture perfect, adding a beautiful style to the romantic aspects of the film. Unfortunately by the midway point the story started to fizzle out. I felt the picture needed more intense drama. Part of this I believe fell on Brad and Marion; there was some chemistry between them but I felt for this story they needed to smolder and burn brightly. Together they were more like two candles instead of a blazing fire. As the last half of the movie played out I found my mind started to wander which is never a good sign. I had to think about the rating I would give to this film since I liked the first part better than the second and I never want to make a rash decision.

 

2 ½ stars    

 

 

Flash Movie Review: American Pastoral

ONE could not help thinking that they were the ideal family living the American dream. They lived in the suburbs in a well maintained house that was surrounded by a perfectly manicured lawn. The husband owned a company; the mother did volunteer work and twice a year they and their children would go on a vacation; never to the same place twice. I was friends with their youngest child. As we all grew old they still looked like one big happy family; I knew better. On the outside nothing had changed except for one detail. If you were to meet them now there would be one less child.   INSIDE their house the only signs that there was another child could be found in a few photo albums that were stuffed in some drawers. I never knew what happened but their child was not missing; he did not want to have anything to do with his family. The parents and their other children did not know if he was dead or alive, where he lived or what he did to make a living. It really was heartbreaking to see this though as I said the family always kept up a strong face. My friend had told me a few things that had taken place inside the household. From this I learned never to judge someone based on appearances. As they say you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I have witnessed other incidents with other people where a similar situation took place; things much worse than what I just told you. It truly baffles me on what could have happened to have resulted in such extreme measures. This dramatic crime film is an example of what I mean.   LIFE was going so well for Swede Levov, played by Ewan McGregor (The Impossible, Star Wars franchise); which only made it harder when his daughter Merry, played by Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, I Am Sam), started acting differently around the house. Based on Philip Roth’s (The Human Stain, Portnoy’s Complaint) novel, this film festival nominated movie also had as part of the cast Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Blood Diamond) as Dawn and Peter Riegert (Local Hero, Animal House) as Lou. Set in the 1960s I liked the look of this picture. The film shots were well thought out; this may sound odd, but everything in the scene was well placed. I felt the acting was this film’s strongest suit. I have not enjoyed Dakota’s acting in recent films but I thought she was excellent in this role. If I am not mistaken this was Ewan’s directorial debut and sadly this was the problem I had with the movie. I thought his directing was unpolished; there were times I was bored with the story. It just seemed as if the action was being sucked out of several scenes. The story was interesting but I do not think it translated well into this script because I found parts of it dull and wasteful. Here is the thing though; based on the trailer I thought this was going to be a better film. I need to remind myself not to go into the theater with expectations that are solely based on a movie’s trailer; looks can be deceiving.

 

2 ½ stars      

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Goat

I would like someone to show me where it is written the characteristics on being masculine. This whole concept of what it means to be masculine is something that has always puzzled me. Who decided these rules on how a man should act? Can anyone tell me? I want to know why showing sensitivity is a bad thing. Better yet, who decided crying was wrong? There were so many years growing up where the only mantra I had was, “don’t let them see you cry, don’t let them see you cry;” over and over I would say this to myself. Also, I am afraid I never understood the whole camaraderie thing guys have over drinking alcohol because I was never a part of it, not a fan of alcohol. I have gone to many parties where people are drinking and carrying on and I grant you I feel like the odd man out because some of the things that drunken people laugh at are not funny to me. There was a time where it was okay for a man to be drunk, but if a woman got drunk she would be thought of in a negative way. In a similar vein I recall a conversation I heard where the parents were upset that their son was attracted to the colors pink and purple. The parents were asked why this upset them and they said they did not want their son to be considered a sissy. So tell me who decided which colors were approved for males? The whole concept of this masculine versus feminine thing is so ridiculous to me; I have more important things to think about then worrying if I cry in a movie or do not have a drink I will be considered less masculine. This is why you would never catch me participating in the things these college students were doing in this film festival nominated drama.   AFTER surviving a brutal mugging Brad Land, played by Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief, Pride), decided to go to the college where his brother was a student and join the same fraternity to prove a point. This movie was difficult for me to watch and easily could be for many other viewers. There were many scenes that were horrific in their intensity and realness; I am still in shock that people would do the things that were shown in this film. And this story was based on true events. With musical artist Nick Jonas (Kingdom-TV, Scream Queens-TV) as Brett Land, Gus Halper (Ricki and the Flash, Public Morals-TV) as Chance and Danny Flaherty (Hope Springs, The Wolf of Wall Street) as Will; I thought the acting was good under the extreme conditions. I felt the script was going in the right direction but I would have liked more information about the characters. There were times where I thought I would understand a scene better if I understood more of the students’ motivations. As I mentioned earlier this was a rough picture to watch with graphic scenes. I would just like to know why anyone would willingly subject themselves to such things. Is this really what it means to be a man?

 

2 ½ stars  

 

 

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