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Flash Movie Review: The Pale Blue Eye

VISITING A TOWN OUT OF STATE, I was walking down a cobblestone road while gazing into various shop windows. I was surprised by the number of shops devoted to witches. Granted most of them appeared to be geared towards tourists, with trinkets and baubles filling up their display windows. There was one store that was devoted to magic wands, nothing else. How were they making a living, I thought. I could not help wondering what the residents thought of all, what I considered to be, this gimmickry. What I really would have loved to have known was what the former residents from the late 1600s would have thought if they could have seen all the establishments, signs and statues devoted to witches and witchcraft. The reason being back in the late 1600s people were burned at the stake for being considered witches in this area. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Maybe I am a bit nerdy to think of these things, but I have always been fascinated with the wide changes that occur in perceptions/reality. Whether it an inanimate object or human being, it does not matter to me. And honestly, I think many of you would be surprised to learn about some of them.      NEAR WHERE I GREW UP AS A kid, there used to be a garbage dump. Pretty much it was a non-descript place with tall fences around it. The village leaders decided to create a hill from the trash. Now the place is a destination stop for anyone who wants to go sledding or tobogganing. Except for the older residents no one would have a clue that underneath the grassy turf the entire hill was made from garbage. I get the same kick out of discovering what some celebrities did for a living before they were discovered. For example, James Bond’s Pierce Brosnan was a professional fire eater at a circus. Christopher Lee the actor worked for the intelligence service. And Danny DeVito was a hairdresser for corpses. I am sure some people would think my career path has some extremes in it and maybe it does, but nothing that would match the few examples I listed here. Another aspect I enjoy about the wide differences found in life is when a movie uses an historical figure in the early stages of their life. For example, the writer Herman Melville was a harpooner on a whaling ship, then in his last decades he was a customs inspector. My curiosity in this subject of contrasts/differences led me to view this crime, horror mystery film.      AFTER A CADET WAS FOUND DEAD, West Point Academy hired a detective to solve the mystery quickly in order to protect the image of the academy. Appearances were quite important. With Christian Bale (The Fighter, American Hustle) as Augustus Landor, Harry Melling (Harry Potter franchise, The Old Guard) as Cadet Edgar Allan Poe, Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Captain Hitchcock, Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Superintendent Thayer and Fred Hechinger (News of the World, The Woman in the Window) as Cadet Randolph Ballinger; this picture had a wonderful atmospheric look to it. With Christian and Harry blending perfectly with their characters, I was drawn into the story that was a slow burn. Everything was well placed and thought out; however, things took a turn that threw me for a loop. I did not care for how the story finished up. It seemed rushed and not as believable as the rest of the movie. Luckily, the cast kept me engaged through this rough spot; but I still found the ending odd. However, I still got a kick out of watching Edgar Allan Poe before he became famous. There were several scenes that had blood on display.

2 ½ stars 

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Flash Movie Review: Slumberland

I HAVE BEEN MANY THINGS IN my lifetime. I was a music DJ, packing the clubs where I played to capacity. My favorite places were the ones that had the best light shows. One club had lasers and mirrors placed around the dance floor in such a way that when the fog machine was in use, it looked like there were waves at high tide above the patrons’ heads. Another time I was a double agent, following suspects and keeping track of their whereabouts. There were times when I would get into an altercation with a foreign agent, where I had to rely on my incredible martial arts skills to subdue them. My time as an agent did not last long because I wanted to be an actor. My talent was having a face that could show intense emotions, from piercing hot anger to heartbreaking sadness; I was positive I would get an Academy Award one day, for one of my performances. One of my earliest careers was being a religious singer, which I was going to take up after I retired from being a window washer. All these jobs were things I used to daydream about when I was quite young. Though I never pursued them in real life, in my daydreams I was the best at each one of them.      MY YEARS OF DAYDREAMING DURING MY YOUTH (and presently from time to time), led me to explore the science of dreams when I was attending college. A couple of things I still remember from those years is that the main character in our dreams is usually us and when you wake up in the middle of a dream, if you ponder what the outcome would have been, you will be less tired through the day. There was a short period of time where I was experiencing the same type of dream over and over. I was being chased by an entity that was determined to kill me. I would wake up with a start each time, not sure if the dream was real and if there was someone in my house; it was awful. Because I never could see who was chasing me in the dream, I had a difficult time trying to make sense of the images. However, once I came to an understanding of what the dream might have meant, it stopped replaying during my sleep. To this day, I am still fascinated with dreams, both mine and the ones that are told to me. So, when I heard about this movie, I wanted to view it and see what kind of dreams other people experience.      A YOUNG GIRL, WHO RECENTLY LOST her father, finds a hidden treasure map. It was not your typical map; it was a map to one’s dreams. With Jason Momoa (Dune, Aquaman) as Flip, Marlow Barkley (Spirited, Single Parents-TV) as Nemo, Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, The Program) as Philip, Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Manchester by the Sea) as Peter, and Weruche Opia (When Love Happens Again, The Bad Education Movie) as Agent Green; this adventure comedy, family fantasy was a visual treat; it was very creative and colorful. Add in Jason tackling an out of character role from his previous stints and doing it quite well, this was a fun film to watch. The script was on the light side for the most part, but the idea for it was solid. I would have preferred more depth for the characters and bigger surprises, along with a stronger buildup of tension; however, within all the themes, there were a few things that kept me interested. All in all, this was an easy film to sit back and watch; plus, the most important part I am guessing was the fact it did not put me to sleep.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

I CANNOT RECALL WHAT AGE I WAS except I remember I was not old enough to cross the street without holding someone’s hand. We had gone downtown to one of the old, regal movie palaces to see the animated movie, Pinocchio. It was my first time going to a movie theater and I was beyond excited. Having taken the subway, we entered out onto a busy intersection. The theater was one block away, but I could easily see it with all the flashing bulbs in its marquee. It was a Saturday afternoon matinee we were going to, and I did not expect to see a line of people waiting for the theater doors to open. I became anxious that there would be no seats left for us to see the film. After many assurances, we got into line and waited. To me, it seemed like it was forever before the doors opened and the line started moving forward. The lobby inside had tall arched ceilings. Figurines like angels and nymphs were hanging on the walls with some being part of the lights. Once we had our tickets, we entered the auditorium, and it was massive; I had never seen such a large room with three sections of seating. The wall at the far end from where we entered was covered by a thick, red curtain. We took seats in the middle of a row, halfway back from the curtained wall. It was not too long before the lights dimmed, and the curtain parted to reveal a movie screen. Gratefully, I sat on top of the coats that got piled onto my seat, so I could see the screen clearly.      ALL I CAN SAY IS I WAS mesmerized by the movie. I laughed at parts of it and had to be consoled when Pinocchio and his father were swallowed by the whale. I had no sense of time or how long things were taking; all I was focused on was the movie and the box of chocolate candy I was holding tightly in my hand. At the end of the movie, I started clapping with the other kids in the theater. I wanted to stay and watch it again but was told we had to give up our seats so people for the next showing could sit down and see the picture. I was hesitant but the promise of pizza for dinner finally got me out of my seat. That very first movie theater experience to this day is still one of my fondest memories. And since that time, there has been over 50 films made about the little wooden boy, Pinocchio. From the ones I have seen, none compared to the original one I saw when I was a little boy. So, I must tell you I went into watching this newest one by Guillermo del Toro with little expectations.      MASTER WOODCRAFTER GEPPETTO, VOICED BY DAVID Bradley (Harry Potter franchise, Catherine Called Birdy), was never the same after witnessing his young son’s death. His sorrow eventually motivated him to create a little wooden boy to honor his late son. There would be something more besides an honor for the father after he completed his work. With Ewan McGregor (Birds of Prey, Doctor Sleep) voicing Cricket, relative newcomer Gregory Mann voicing Pinocchio, Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes, Pacific Rim: Uprising) voicing Priest and Ron Perlman (Hellboy franchise, Nightmare Alley) voicing Podesta; this animated family drama was weird to me. I thought the stop-action photography was inventive and fun, but the script lacked joy and humor. The idea of setting such a beloved character in the middle of wartime Italy was so odd; it made viewing this film an unpleasant experience. If Guillermo wanted to make a statement about fascist Italy during WWII, then he should have devoted an entire movie to it instead of trying to combine childlike goofiness and death and destruction into one story line. I did not care for this film and would have preferred watching the original Disney one that I saw when I was a little boy.

                                    2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Independent

EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF PRIMARIES while I was away for college, I have voted for every election. It certainly is easier now with the early voting opportunities and mail in options. I remember back earlier finishing work at the office and racing to get to the polling place before it closed, sometimes showing up just minutes before. So yes, the system to me is much better today. However, in my opinion, I would make election day a national holiday. For something so important as elections, I think all citizens should have the day off to make sure they can exercise their right to vote. The things I have seen taking place in other states troubles me because it appears as if the new state laws being put in place are geared to make it harder for an individual to vote. The news on this last election was showing lines of people, blocks long, waiting to vote. If I am not mistaken, one place did not allow voters to have any food or liquids with them while they were waiting in line for hours. It saddens me to see how such an institution and cornerstone of our government is being tarnished and abused the past several years.      THERE IS ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE voting process that I find scary. It is the ability for a candidate to receive massive amounts of money from a single donor. Maybe it does not come directly from one individual, but their money can easily be divvied up among different political action committees for the candidate. There was a billionaire who lived in our state who donated millions of dollars to a governor candidate who had a hateful agenda. The amount of money given was obscene and all because the billionaire disliked the current governor’s policies which did not offer extra favor to the billionaire’s company. I think about the amount of money that goes into today’s campaigns and it could be put to better use in feeding the world or educating every single citizen or even funding new scientific research. But now it seems like only millionaires and billionaires run for political gains and positions. I know not every politician fits this description; but I would like to see a time where there are less political ads and mailers and more time for the candidates to go door to door or hold more campaign town hall meetings. Gratefully in my state the billionaire’s candidate lost significantly to the incumbent, so money did not make such a difference; but who knows what money can do. It may play a factor in this thriller for all you know.      A YOUNG JOURNALIST MAKES A DISCOVERY that could have a major impact on an upcoming election. With Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim, The Last Ship-TV) as Elisha, Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV, Glass) as Lucas Nicoll, Ali Marsh (Queens of Daytime, In Plain Sight-TV) as Sharon Romney, Julianne Arrieta (High Resolution, Del Playa) as Rachel Atkins and John Cena (Vacation Friends, The Suicide Squad) as Nate Sterling; this political film was lucky to cast Jodie Turner-Smith. For me, she is the reason I was able to get through the story. The script needed to find a new angle or a flair of surprising twists because the story played out like something I had seen before. I liked the idea, but the directing along with the script did not take advantage of the acting skills of its cast. There certainly were good scenes throughout the movie, but as a whole it felt more like a wannabe picture instead of something new and fresh. It was too bad because Jodie and Ann Dowd had wonderful screen presence that grabbed my attention. The idea for the story was both good and scary, making me more anxious about today’s political scene.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Ticket to Paradise

NOW IT JUST AMUSES ME WHEN people have a perplexed look on their faces, after I tell them she is his ex-wife. From that one look, I have been able to ascertain which individuals maintain a negative view or outlook when it comes to divorce. The former couple and I are all good friends. We socialize together as well as celebrate holidays and birthdays. To me, it all seems perfectly fine; but then again, I have maintained friendships with many of the people I have dated. You see, I look at love as being one of the facets that contributes to a complete and solid relationship. If the love aspect has run its course and the couple decide to end their relationship, that does not necessarily mean they no longer care for one another. The individual could still be a kind-hearted, good person that one would like to continue being with for a friendship. I have friends who were originally in a romantic relationship with me; it did not work out, but we still enjoy each other’s company as friends. Granted if the relationship had negative elements such as abuse or dominance, then it is understandable why the individual or individuals would not want to interact with one another.      SO, WHEN I SEE A CONFUSED or negative look on someone’s face when they hear about the “ex,” I have noticed they look at divorce as a finality to the relationship. There is a couple I know where for them, this would be absolutely true. During their marriage they grew to hate each other, and I mean hate each other. They could not be in the same room which made things hard for those of us who were still friends with both. We had to choose which one to invite to which event. I must tell you, that was such a challenge and awful to do. In the beginning each of them would try to tell their side of the story, but it always quickly dissolved into a stream of hateful statements about the other one. I was the first to tell each of them that I was there for support but would not listen to any type of “bad mouthing” about their former spouse. It was not easy to maintain, but I constantly reminded them of it. With individuals who do not react negatively to hearing or seeing an ex, my experiences show they see the person in more of a full-rounded way. I am not saying this in a judgmental way; I just find it an interesting part of human nature. That is the reason I was intrigued with the story line of this romantic comedy.      A DIVORCED COUPLE HAVE TO MUSTER the strength to be together to persuade their daughter to avoid making the same mistakes they made when married. With George Clooney (The Midnight Sky, The Monuments Men) as David Cotton, Julia Roberts (Ben is Back, Mother’s Day) as Georgia Cotton, Sean Lynch (Hacksaw Ridge, Bloody Hell) as Rob, Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, We Don’t Belong Here) as Lily Cotton and Billie Lourd (Star Wars franchise, Booksmart) as Wren Butler; this film had a predictable script. I liked the idea behind the story, but for the most part the script provided a generic blueprint of how everything was going to play out. Despite this issue, it was still worth seeing because of Julia’s and George’s chemistry and acting skills. I felt like I was seeing two old friends; there was an ease and comfort about them being together in character. The comedy bits were so-so with a couple being groan worthy. But again, I continued because I just wanted to watch George and Julia. In fact, it would have been interesting if more of the film focused on their two characters. This picture will be a forgettable one, except for the acting aspect. There were several outtake scenes in the beginning of the ending credits.

 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Black Adam

I WAS APPREHENSIVE GOING TO THE wedding, but I knew it was the right thing to do. My friend was getting married, and I wanted to be there to share in the festivities. It was not like he asked me to participate in the ceremony or keep an eye on and help an elderly relative; I was one of the wedding guests. The thing that I was concerned about was the fact that except for my friend and his fiancé, I did not know another soul who would be in attendance. I have gone to movies, plays, restaurants and even traveled by myself with no problems. The difference is I am not required to carry on a conversation except for asking someone for directions or a cursory comment or two with the theater patron sitting next to me before the curtain goes up. At a wedding reception, it is a different setting and environment. If it is a sit down, plated event then the guests would be seated at tables. I realize I cannot be the only stranger at the affair, but it is not easy for me to continue a conversation with a table full of strangers. Part of the reason is because there is a hint of high school dynamics involved that reminds me of finding a seat in the school’s cafeteria for lunch. You never know who you might be stuck sitting next to at the table.      THE VENUE WHERE THE RECEPTION WAS being held was beautifully decorated. Place cards were set up on a table close to the entryway. With the table number listed on my card, I walked into the ballroom to find where I was going to sit. Table 11 was situated by the windows; I at least would be able to look out them during the meal for something to do if there was no conversation taking place. Sitting down, I made myself as comfortable as possible while wearing a suit and waited for other guests to join me. It was not too long before a married couple came and sat down across from me. We nodded to each other and said a few pleasantries before a couple of single people walked up to our table. As each person arrived and introduced themselves, I made a mental note to help me try and remember their name easier. Once all the guests had been seated at the table and after we exchanged stories of how each of us knew the wedding couple, I was the only one who did not know any of the invited guests. During the meal I did more observing than talking and I was fine with it. I felt the same way while watching this movie; I did not know any of the characters.      HAVING BEEN ENTOMBED FOR NEARLY 5,000 years, a desperate mother releases him into a world that is no longer familiar to him. It would not take long for him to attract interest from various groups due to his unique abilities. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Red Notice) as Black Adam, Aldis Hodge (One Night in Miani, Hidden Figures) as Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, The King’s Daughter) as Dr. Fate, Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Charlie’s Angels) as Atom Smasher and Sarah Shahi (Bed Therapy, Bullet to the Head) as Adrianna Tomaz; this action, adventure fantasy started out slow for me. Once Dwayne’s character appeared then things picked up for me. My issue with this film is because I have zero knowledge about these superheroes, I felt the writers did not provide enough back story and emotion for each character, so I could find a way to connect with them. They were lifeless except for the occasional joke or gag. The thing I found most annoying was the use of slow motion during the fight scenes. For me, it disrupts the scene and looks cheesy. For the most part, this film felt like an assortment of scenarios just to introduce each superhero. And because there is an important extra scene during the ending credits, the movie studio is hoping they can turn Black Adam into a film franchise.                                       

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The School for Good and Evil

UNLESS I HAVE BEEN A WITNESS, I take the comment, “they are a good person,” with a grain of salt. You see, I believe everyone comes into this world with the capacity for being both good and evil. It all depends on what the individual choses to act upon. This is why, one of my favorite sayings is, “Actions have consequences.” I know for myself I am a combination of the two; when I was younger, I relied more on evil than good. For example, when at a party and I felt someone had slighted me, I would make them uncomfortable by my actions until they would leave. Nothing I am proud of I have to say; but I was an angry individual then. These days, I feel I am more of a good person and am always amazed how much easier it is to act that way. Being bad took a lot of energy. I know this one person who makes a point of always telling people about the good things they do for others. I am not denying they do it, but I always find it weird when a person must announce it instead of just letting it be. It comes off as bragging to me. And though this person claims to be good, they are the first to talk and say negative things about someone behind their back. They make fun of a person’s looks and/or clothing; I do not find that being a good individual.      IN PAST REVIEWS, I HAVE TALKED about those individuals who have done evil things; so, today I want to focus on a person I know who, for the circumstances they found themselves in, still chose to act in a decent, good way instead of being a mean vindictive being. When you meet this person the first thing you would notice is the lightness in their eyes and their smile. There is a warm inviting energy they exude that lets a person know they are in a safe environment. It is rare one must ask them for help because they are perceptive enough to understand and offer their help freely. Having been in this person’s presence, I can solidly state they are a good individual. There is zero trace of them acting in a competitive or sneaky way. To be honest with you, whenever I have been around them, I leave with the thought I wish there were more people like them in the world. I am so sure of it that I believe they could easily fill in for the head of the school for good in this fantasy comedic drama.      TWO BEST FRIENDS, WHO HAVE DONE everything together, suddenly find themselves at opposite ends when one is accidently picked for a different school. The separation will have a lasting effect on them as well as the schools. With Kit Young (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Origin) as Rafal, Sophie Anne Caruso (37, Crash & Burn-TV movie) as Sophie, Sofia Wylie (Back of the Net, High School Musical: The Musical-TV) as Agatha, Rob Delaney (Deadpool 2, Catastrophe-TV) as Stefan and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Lady Lesso; there were several aspects of this movie that I enjoyed. The visuals and special effects were stunning and fun. I always enjoy watching Charlize in character and I thought she was a great counterbalance to Kerry Washington’s character. The message regarding good and evil was something I especially enjoyed and thought the writers did a decent job conveying it. However, there were other storylines that cluttered the message and made this film longer than it needed to be. The other issue for me was what I perceived to be the similarity to the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson stories. With some editing and a little more character development, I think this could have been a better picture. It was obvious the studio is hoping for a sequel, but I am not sure that would be a good idea if they are going to stick with the same writing team.                                                    

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Bros

FOR THOSE WHO KNOW ME, THEY know how much I like to try a new product or be the first to experience something new. I cannot tell you how many world premieres I attended because I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. There is something about seeing, let us say, a new theater production that I especially enjoy because if it goes to Broadway and becomes a success, I can say I saw it first. When it comes to food products, if they fit into my daily dietary intake then I will always try them at least once. Recently there was introduced a flavored drink at the grocery store that had a mix of cola and coffee. I am not a coffee drinker; but I must tell you I enjoyed the drink so much, that I later bought more of them to serve at a dinner party. Friends of mine are never surprised when I bring out some new item that I picked up at the store, so we can all do a taste test. My classes were always appreciative when I would update and critique the latest food products. Maybe it is part of my nature, to offer my opinion/view on something, that motivates me to experience something before others spend their time and money on it.      WITH TODAY’S MOVIE CHOICE, THERE HAS been plenty of “buzz” about this film. It is the first gay, romantic comedy that was made by a large, mainstream movie studio. I think that is great, but there is a part of me that wishes we, as a society, can get past having to use labels as adjectives. It is like when someone is talking about a friend and says “my gay friend” or “my straight friend;” what difference does it make? The same holds true for those who say my Asian or Black friend; I feel all one needs to say is, “friend.” There was a couple I knew who when they married caused controversy in their families because they were different faiths. My feelings boil down to this simple saying I try to live by: Love is love. If someone can, at some point in their life, express their love for someone, then I feel they have achieved one of the highest honors for being a human being. I do not care if the person you love is gay, straight, trans, Spanish, Muslim, atheist, native American and so on as long as there is love and respect then I am happy for you. With this in mind, I was curious to see what would take place in this film directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors franchise).      IT WAS TOUGH ENOUGH TO MEET people who had commitment issues; but what were the chances if they were out of your league? With Billy Eichner (Noelle, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) as Bobby, Luke Macfarlane (The Night Shift-TV, Brothers & Sisters-TV) as Aaron, Guy Branum (The Mindy Project-TV, Black Box-TV) as Henry, Miss Lawrence (The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Star-TV) as Wanda and Dot-Marie Jones (Glee-TV, Greener Grass) as Cherry; I appreciated the amount of effort that went into this production. The cultural references, the spot-on predicaments and the cameos were great; however, I thought the script lacked depth. The only character I found with any emotional depth was Aaron. The Billy character was bland and if he was not that then he was annoying. I have heard news that straight people are staying away from this film because the focus is about gay people. Maybe that is true; however, if a film is funny and relatable then I do not think it should make a difference. This picture had its moments, but I did not find it that funny or fresh.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: See How They Run

I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT playing mystery games like Clue. Of all the times I played it, I only won the game once. The same holds true for those immersive, staged mystery house events. Though they are exciting and fun, I do not focus on seeking out who is the killer; I am having such a fun time with the experience, along with the visuals and acting, that I get lost into it. In other words, I immerse myself, hence an immersive production. LOL There is something about seeing, what I would consider, average/innocuous events that later turn out to be vital clues to the identity of the murderer. This also applies to mystery books and movies; the way they can pull one into their story and take them on this wild trail of events has always impressed me. As I have been working on this review it has occurred to me, I was a guest at a dinner party where all the guests had to assume the identity of a famous individual. Throughout the meal there were six of us seated around the dining room table; some were talking with an accent and others were conversing with a different sounding voice. I was a well-known television star, so I periodically dropped clues about the type of shirt I was wearing and the landscape of the area I lived in on the TV series. It was not until we were eating dessert before someone correctly guessed my character.      WITH MY LOVE OF MYSTERIES, THE one and only time I was in London, England I wanted to see the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I remember how excited I was to see it, both because it was a murder mystery, and it was being staged in London’s famous West End district. The production checked off all my expectations. And the “piece de resistance” occurred at the end of the show when a cast member came out on stage to ask everyone in the audience to keep secret who was the killer. I thought this was so cool because I felt like I was suddenly part of the production, and my job was not to reveal the murderer. I want you to know I never did reveal the identity of the killer. I find it fascinating that after all these years I am now reviewing a dramatic comedy murder that incorporates The Mousetrap into its story.      PLANS WERE IN PLACE TO BRING the play The Mousetrap to the big screen. However, when a cast member was found dead, things had to be placed on hold as an investigation was to take place. The inspector would soon discover it was not easy dealing with theater people. With Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch, American Heist) as Leo Kopernick, David Oyelowo (The Water Man, A United Kingdom) as Mervyn Cocker-Norris, Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Little Women) as Constable Stalker, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Best of Enemies) as Inspector Stoppard and Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Beach Rats) as Richard Attenborough; this story based in the 1950s London had all the markings of being a classic “whodunit” type of thriller. The cast filled with well rounded, capable actors were well matched with their characters. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on, giving a perfect retro feel to the story. Sadly, it did not take much detective work to discover the script was a big letdown as was the directing. Things seemed to drag for the first half of the film. Where I normally admire Sam Rockwell’s acting skills, here he seemed to have gotten lost. There was no emotional variance to the scenes which I found boring. Weirdly, I thought Wes Anderson was directing because it certainly was his type of style; but it was not the case. I almost feel like I need to do some detective work to discover who allowed this production to go forward because it really is a mystery to me.     

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Samaritan

WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments.      AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy.      THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.

 

2 ½ stars 

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