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Flash Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

THERE ARE PEOPLE WE ENCOUNTER WHOSE footsteps leave an impression on our life’s path. These individuals strike us in various ways; by their energy, intellect, passion, athleticism and heart for example. The memory they leave after they are gone can be stored inside of us for years without ever being detected. Then suddenly that person reappears, possibly in a different capacity, and that memory pops into our consciousness. Our brain gets flooded with the images retained during the years; we completely understand now why they left an impression on us. This is something I have experienced through my life. I mentioned in an earlier review about a classmate of mine who wrote stories about his time in the war. Several years had passed after being in that class and there he was on the cover of a magazine for winning a prestigious literary award. There was a television interview of him and he pretty much looked the same with his large, piercing blue eyes with eyelids that looked heavy to blink. After that interview he showed up in multiple newspaper and magazine articles. I remember smiling to myself as I remembered our time in class, listening to his war stories and the toll they took on him.      THERE IS ANOTHER PERSON I SAW who immediately made a big impression on me and his name was Freddie Mercury. I cannot remember the details on how I got to the concert where this relatively new group called Queen was playing. It was after their 1st or 2nd album I think. What I still remember besides the band members was how my ears were ringing due to the loudness of the sound. Right from the opening song, Freddie had everyone’s attention. All he had to do was say either “stand up” or “clap like this…” once and the entire crowd would do as they were told. He had a magnetism that nearly forced you to keep your eyes riveted onto him. His body movements were dramatic and theatrical. Then there was his voice; he could always be heard no matter how loud the band played. John Deacon barely moved from his spot while Brian May’s guitar playing was featured from time to time throughout the performance. I remember the sounds he would make with his guitar were notes I could not recall hearing before. I knew right then that they were a unique band and Freddie was someone I had never seen before or would see again. You can imagine how curious I was to see this biographical, dramatic movie.      CREATING A SOUND LIKE NONE OTHER before them, the four guys who made up the band Queen would leave a lasting impression on the musical scene; both for their skills and personal lives. With Rami Malek (Short Term 12, Mr. Robot-TV) as Freddie Mercury, Gwilym Lee (The Tourist, Midsomer Murders-TV) as Brian May, Ben Hardy (Only the Brave, X-Men: Apocalypse) as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network, The Cure) as John Deacon; this musical film focused mostly on the life story of Freddie. If you never had the chance to see Queen perform then you will enjoy this picture more than those of you who were fortunate enough to see them. I thought the script was too sanitized; offering only a taste of what the band members, I believe, went through in their time together. Rami did a decent job, but the fake teeth looked odd on him. The lip synching was okay, but I just felt the script and direction needed more punch because I found myself getting slightly bored. Again, I must state those who never saw Queen perform might enjoy this movie more, though we were only given a brief taste of their songs.

 

2 1/2 stars    

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Flash Movie Review: Smallfoot

IT WAS GOING TO BE A LONG flight for her, but that was not the part that worried her family. It was her decision to travel to a country that had internal strife, in addition to areas of extreme poverty. She was a seasoned traveler, having visited multiple continents numerous times. Her relatives were more concerned about this trip because her appearance would make her stand out in an unfavorable way; at least, that is what they were led to believe. Their fear was based on what they heard as opposed to what they had experienced. There were news reports about pockets of conflict which easily could justify the family’s concerns. But their fear had been fueled for several years from other sources, some of them more opinions than facts. Because of these fears the family insisted the traveler contact them at specific times throughout her trip. She agreed to it just to calm everyone down. When she landed at her destination she messaged everyone back home, telling them the flight was fine and she was okay. Her trip wound up being quite memorable in a positive way. She was glad she did not fall into her family’s fears; for if she had, she would have denied herself the warm and gracious kindness she experienced from so many different people.      FEAR IS ONE OF THOSE EMOTIONS that can both protect and prevent us from new experiences, positive and negative. In the neighborhood I grew up in, there were students from a particular parochial school that my friends and I were fearful of. We heard about them from our older brothers and sisters. Since most of the things I heard had to do with bodily harm and abuse, I did my best never to get on those kids’ radar. I went through elementary school never having an encounter with any student from that school. In fact, none of my friends had an altercation or run-in either with any of these students we grew up fearing. Maybe there was an incident that took place years ago between a parochial school student and a public school one. If there was, no one currently had any knowledge of it. Instead they were hearing hand me down information that continued to feed our fears. All of us were reacting from our fear without taking the time to investigate and see if there was any truth behind the stories we had heard. A similar situation using fear was the basis for this animated, adventure comedy film.      RAISED BELIEVING THE “SMALLFOOT” WAS AN evil monster, no one wanted to encounter one except Migo, voiced by Channing Tatum (Logan Lucky, Kingsman: The Golden Circle). He was convinced they did exist and wanted to prove everyone wrong. With James Corden (Into the Woods, Ocean’s Eleven) voicing Percy, Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man: Homecoming) voicing Meechee, Common (Selma, Suicide Squad) voicing Stonekeeper and LeBron James (Trainwreck, The LeBrons-TV) as Gwangi; this film had all the trappings of being an old fashioned, fun romp. The musical numbers were cute; the action was well orchestrated, and the actors did a fine job with their characters. I enjoyed the humor that had a twinge of sarcasm in it. One of the things I admired about this script was the fact they did not use one specific character to play the evil one. Instead the story used perceived fears as the antagonist and played that out to form a positive life lesson. Now, will little children get the point of the story? I am not sure, but I feel they will at least be entertained. And truthfully, I feel it wouldn’t hurt for adults to hear the message coming across in this movie.

 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Fahrenheit 11/9

MOST OF YOU MUST KNOW BY NOW I am a sucker for a good story. Whether it is in print, film or spoken to me; I enjoy almost all of them. But despite my fondness I do know every story has another side. I know that is such a cliché; but it is true, a story can easily be manipulated by the change of a few words or the inflection of one’s voice. As a young boy I had a family member who told the best ghost stories out of the entire family. The way they used their voice for various characters and the different sounds they would utter scared me and my cousins, to our delight. It just occurred to me I believe those ghost stories being told to us is where I grew to love the spoken word. However, as I have grown up I see more and more examples of individuals who twist their words to suit their purposes. I knew a married couple where I was friends with both the wife and husband before they had married each other. After several years they divorced; the husband made it sound like it was all his wife’s fault and she did the same against him. Were they each telling the truth or was one lying?      ANOTHER SIDE TO STORIES THAT I believe takes place is the omission of words. I am guilty of this myself and realize it is a form of manipulation. This is one of the reasons why I wonder what I am not being told regarding news stories. What I mean is I think there is more to a story that has not been mentioned or released. So, if there is a news story with negative implications I think it is worse than any of us knows; I guess this would mean I am a pessimist. I believe in being an informed listener, which would entail researching a topic before forming an opinion. For example, let me use a nuclear plant story. When stories are reported about a leak or some form of a mishap at a nuclear plant, I immediately think things there are worse then what the news services are reporting to us. It may easily be explained that the plant’s owner only gave out certain details about the danger as to not to scare the public. I am sure I am no different than anyone else when I say I want to hear the full story, no sugar coating of it. If you feel the same way then you may find yourself surprised by some of the scenes in this latest documentary by Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Sicko).      OF THE MOVIES I HAVE SEEN from Michael this one was not my favorite. I am strictly speaking about the entertainment value. Unlike his previous films this one did not stay focused on one single topic. I believe I understood why because the underlying message I received concerned our duty to vote. There were some scenes that stunned me, such as the city of Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, because of the scenes and interviews given. It was a crime for what took place there. With Michael writing, directing and producing this film; he did not hold back his feelings in the way he portrayed the issues. There was a variety of cameo scenes with celebrities such as George Clooney, Roseanne Barr, John Boehner and Donald J. Trump. The news clips, interviews and stunts shown all contributed to painting a bleak picture of our current times. I did not have an issue with what Michael was doing, but I felt some scenes were a hit or miss. Not wishing to have any political dialog here, I will say there is worth in watching this picture.

 

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Alpha

IT STARTED WITH A DISCUSSION ABOUT whales. She had seen a documentary about the plight of killer whales and we were in agreement about the harm being caused to them in captivity. I suggested another film about dolphins, but said it was tough to watch in parts. Our conversation took us onto the topic of zoos and their purpose. A foe of hunting for sport, she was not a fan of capturing wild animals and sticking them in cages to display to a paying public. I also am against hunting for sport and expressed my opinion, stating there is a place in society for zoos. If it helps to heal or populate the species I am all for capturing animals and having them live in a space similar to their natural habitat. There have been zoos I visited that were utterly depressing; the animals were lethargic, bored to the point of being almost comatose. At least they looked comatose to me. On the other hand, I have visited a few zoos that were making progress in perpetuating certain breeds of animals. My city’s zoo has been quite successful in breeding gorillas that are at risk of extinction. A zoo in the Midwest has the largest colony of penguins in the country. The work they have been doing with the animals has been extraordinary.      EVERY ANIMAL WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM or not has a purpose on this planet; I firmly believe it. I better since I originally started out my schooling in veterinarian sciences. The only thing though is some people have a different idea of what an animal’s purpose should be. Recently in the news there was talk about what type of service animals would be allowed on airplanes. The list wasn’t very long but the part I found interesting was the list of animals that would not be allowed. A service animal is individually trained to do work for the benefit of an individual who is disabled in some way. Because I do not know anyone with a service animal I was startled to see that miniature ponies and pigs were on the list. Now just because I have not seen it with my own eyes does not mean I do not believe these are some individuals’ service animals. I have seen where animals outside of the home pet realm have bonded with humans. And when it happens it turns into a special relationship; you could see for yourself in this adventure drama.      ON HIS FIRST HUNTING TRIP KEDA, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In), was mauled by a buffalo and left for dead. The wild animals around took him to be their next meal. With Natassia Malthe (Lake Placid, DOA: Dead or Alive) as Rho, Leonor Varela (Odd Thomas, Blade II) as Shaman, Johannes Haukur Johannesson (Atomic Blonde, I Remember You) as Tau and Jens Hulten (Skyfall, Wallander-TV) as Xi, this story set in prehistoric times had some beautiful scenes. I admired the acting of Kodi, but I especially of all the characters enjoyed the wolf the most. The script had no spoken English, so it was all subtitled; it was not a distraction since dialog was kept to a minimum. However, I felt the story dragged. Plus, some of the special effects were noticeable in the wrong way. Instead of enhancing a scene they came across as fake. I thought the idea for the story was wonderful and as I said previously I loved the wolf. The different reactions coming from the wolf made it hard to believe that the animal was trained to do such a thing. I am a sucker for a good animal movie and this one had good intensions; however, it needed some more training before allowing it out to the public.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Spy Who Dumped Me

FRIENDS HAVE TOLD ME I should write a book about all the excuses I have heard to end a relationship. You might think I am making them up but that is not the case; some of the ones I will list here were given to me. One of my favorites is the one where our relationship had to end because I lived in the suburbs. It wasn’t as if I resided in the farthest suburb that was miles away, where one needed to pack a lunch before heading out. My house was literally 5 blocks from the city limits; from my place to theirs was a total of six miles that was easily accessible by car, bus or train. From someone else their reason to me why they were ending the relationship was because I walked too fast. My response was to ask if it had ever occurred to them to ask me to slow down. How was I supposed to know otherwise? I have long legs; so, I guess I cover more ground quicker than someone with shorter legs? Several of the other excuses that people have told me they heard were: you are too intense, we have different interests and you are not an animal lover.      AN IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNED ABOUT break-ups is to not take them personally. I know, it can be hard not to take them personally; but in my experiences a majority of the time I had not caused the separation between us. There were times where I later found out they were going through personal issues that had nothing to do with me. I will say I have gained something from every person I have ever dated. At the time I may not have understood what insight I had received; but eventually, it would reveal itself to me so that I could get a better understanding about myself. Sound too deep? Yea, I agree; I do not want to turn this review into a session of therapy. One more thing and then I will move on; I was not always an understanding individual who would take the ending of a relationship in stride. Oh no, I could easily turn it back on them and get real ugly. There were a few where I not only gave them a piece of my mind but gave them an encyclopedia of derogatory adjectives to describe what I saw as their failings. And I never did it in a text message; unlike what happened to the poor woman in this action comedy.      NOT ONLY DID AUDREY, PLAYED BY Mila Kunis (Black Swan, Bad Moms franchise), not know why her boyfriend Drew, played by Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, American Psycho), broke up with her; but now she was wanted by people from all over the world and not in a good way. With Kate McKinnon (Rough Night, Office Christmas Party) as Morgan, Sam Heughan (Heart of Lightness, Outlander-TV) as Sebastian and Hasan Minaj (Most Likely to Murder, The Daily Show-TV) as Duffer; if for nothing else, the only reason one needs to go see this movie is for Kate McKinnon. She is truly gifted; watching her, I had to wonder if she was ad libbing half the script. Her timing and delivery was wonderful. Mila was good; but Kate is in a different category. As for the film the script could have used a couple of rewrites. I found the story going from one outrageous caper to another, some bordering on silly. At least I did get some laughs from time to time; but these 2 actresses easily could have taken on a better developed story and script. I think with a little tweaking and work Kate and Mila could be a long-term, fun relationship.

 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Christopher Robin

THOSE WHO YOU HAVE BEEN FRIENDS with you for a long time hold an extra special place inside of you. I believe this whole heartily because these individuals are the safe keepers of your history. Think about it, your relatives may be familiar with you; but their version is in a different context, based more on family rankings. Your friends may know you in a different light. All of this falls into the analogy I use to describe friendships. Drop a pebble into a still pool of water and look at the rippled rings that spread out from the drop point. The closest and smallest ring represents your inner circle, your closest friends. Each ring moving away from the center point is wider and bigger, encompassing those friends that know you but not in as intimate details as the inner circle friends. At some point the rings of water switch to represent your acquaintances and so on and so on. Your close friends, at least for me, are the ones who can verify your history because they have lived it with you. They also can be reminders of your past.      ONE OF THE MANY GIFTS FRIENDS have is the ability to remind us to have fun. I look at my life and notice as I have gotten older it has been a challenge at times to experience fun times. When I was a kid much of my time was devoted to having fun; but as I entered the adult world (at least I believe I am in the adult world) I had to take on more responsibilities. I look at the people around me and realize I am not alone in this situation. It seems as if our responsibilities can consume us if we do not schedule time to have fun. Maybe you have experienced this predicament where you feel like all you do is sleep, eat and work; I have numerous times. With my day job, teaching classes, writing reviews, maintaining the house along with the rest of life’s “chores;” I can get lost in them. This is why I make plans to meet up with my friends from time to time. Granted with all the things I need to handle during the week, I pretty much have to use weekends to meet up with friends; which means I might have to set a date to get together several weeks out. I know it might seem odd to call a friend to make a date 2 months ahead, but it is important that fun remains a part of my life. If you watch this adventure comedy you will understand why.      CONSUMED WITH WORK DURING A critical time at his company Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor (Jane Got A Gun, The Impossible), could not take time for himself. That is until an old friend appeared one day. With Hayley Atwell (Captain America franchise, Ant-Man) as Evelyn Robin, Bronte Carmichael (Darkest Hour, On Chesil Beach) as Madeline Robin, Mark Gatiss (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who-TV) as Giles Winslow and Oliver Ford (Star Wars franchise, Johnny English) as Old Man Winslow; this movie was ripe to be sweet and charming. I thought the special effects were beautiful of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. A mixture of the script and directing of the cast caused me to lose interest during the first half of the film. It was a surprise to me because based on the trailers I thought I would have fun throughout the picture. It turns out it was not until the second half that I enjoyed watching this story. It is all about fun and at least I got to experience it partially during this viewing; I guess it is better than not having fun at all. Wouldn’t you agree? There was an extra fun scene during the credits.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Equalizer 2

SIR ISAAC NEWTON’S THIRD LAW states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I would add: And some of the reactions come with consequences. As I thought about the next sentence I was going to write, I want to preface it by saying I am embarrassed. However, upon further consideration I decided I am not going to be embarrassed; I am simply stating how I feel about certain things. So here goes; I take pleasure in seeing someone getting their just dues. For example, a driver who cuts me off and speeds away, getting stopped by a police officer who gives the driver a speeding ticket. Or I love at the supermarket when a shopper starts walking faster to get ahead of me in line to check out and winds up getting stuck by the shopper in front of them who needs a price check on an item. Because they ran ahead of me I went to a different line and wound up getting checked out before them. It is little things like this that makes me believe in karma. My only hope is that those selfish individuals learn from their actions; but from how many times I still witness such behavior, I do not think the lesson gets taught.      ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE stories is about a friend of mine who took such rude behavior to the next level. He was a big, brawny guy who could appear imposing to people. In a parking lot if a driver sneaked into a parking spot he was waiting for, he would pull right up behind the driver and park his car to block them into the spot. The driver would jump out to yell until they got a look at him. He on the other hand would calmly stare and tell them because they took the spot he was obviously waiting for, they could now sit and wait for him to finish his shopping. Or they could apologize, get back into their car, and he would move to let them out to go find a different parking place. Every person my friend did this to always chose the apology option. I wish I had the guts to do such a thing; but since I do not come across as a “tough” guy, I must take satisfaction in believing a rude person will get their “just desserts.” In the meantime, I at least can take pleasure in seeing justice being done in this action, crime thriller.      WHEN A TRAGEDY STRIKES CLOSE to home Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington (Fences, The Magnificent Seven), comes out of his quiet existence to contact his old partner Dave York, played by Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, The Adjustment Bureau). Problem is, Dave thought Robert was dead. This film festival nominee also starred Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, Straight Outta Compton) as Miles Whittaker, Bill Pullman (Lake Placid, Independence Day franchise) as Brian Plummer and Orson Bean (Being John Malkovich, Innerspace) as Sam Rubinstein. As far as I was concerned this movie did exactly what I expected it to do; it was a good people vs bad people story. Denzel was excellent as Robert which was the first time he ever reprised a character. If you have not seen the previous film or television show this picture is based on, it is okay. The story was simple and to the point. I thought the action scenes were terrific, especially one that took place in a car sharing ride. Though the script was predictable, I was surprised by the twist in it. If you are so inclined in watching justice being served, this is the film to watch as Denzel delivers it.

 

2 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again

PLAY DAYS ARE NOT JUST FOR children. I am giving each of you permission to schedule yourselves a day to have fun. Remember when we were little we could find enjoyment from the most innocuous things? There was a phase my friends and I went through where our bicycles had to have playing cards clipped to our back wheels, so the spokes would make the cards clap. To us this made the sound of a car engine. I recall taking a fallen tree branch, stripping off all the leaves and little offshoots from it, to make a magic staff or if smaller, a wand. With that branch I would become a wizard or a king. I cannot tell you how much fun I had when I discovered putting a small paperclip on the front of my paper airplane would make it soar further through the air, when I released it from our 3rd floor apartment’s back porch. Another fun thing to do was to skim pebbles across the surface of water to see if we could make them skip. It served no real purpose except to amuse us as we tried to make the thrown pebbles travel as far as possible.      I FIRMLY BELIEVE TAKING TIME OFF from one’s daily life to do something mindless and fun is a great way to recharge the mind and body. For me, going to the movies is one of the fastest ways to put myself in a relaxed state; I can totally forget about the outside world and any of the issues that come along with it. Obviously, I have a purpose in seeing movies; I get to review them. But, there are other things I do that could be considered completely mindless that are just as much fun. It is not necessary to have a purpose or financial gain to experience something joyful. Watching the tide roll in or seeing the sun set does not provide something tangible that you could put in your pocket or bank account. Instead, it may provide you with peacefulness or calmness. It is a feeling you experience that allows you to forget what you were doing. Now I do not know about you, but there are times I want to escape from my daily routines and not have to think about anything. If you would like to try and experience this then I would recommend you go and see this musical comedy, because there is nothing you will have to do except sit and watch it.      HOPING TO FULFILL HER MOTHER’S dreams Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried (First Reformed, The Last Word), was almost ready to open a hotel in paradise. She only wished her fathers could see what she had done. This sequel or should I say prequel also starred Lily James (Baby Driver, Darkest Hour) as the young Donna, Meryl Streep (The Post, Out of Africa) as Donna, Cher (Moonstruck, Mermaids) as Ruby Sheridan and Andy Garcia (Book Club, Geostorm) as Fernando. If you have not seen the first film, it would not hurt for you to watch it before seeing this picture. The writers did their best to bring the new viewers up to speed with the story, but there still was a learning curve involved. I found the jumping back and forth in time a little annoying but ultimately, I did not care since there were so many songs packed into the story. There was only a bare minimum of a script and for the most part it  did not do anything but steer the characters to the next song. If you are not an Abba or musicals fan you will not enjoy this movie. Everyone else will enjoy themselves with this mindless fluff piece and that is exactly what it was meant to do. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.

 

2 ½ stars       

Flash Movie Review: Sorry to Bother You

THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO thrive on experiencing things that are fresh and new. It can be anything across the board from electronic devices to food. I, myself, enjoy trying new food items; though I must preface it by saying as long as the food falls into one of my acceptable categories. I have mentioned before I am a marketer’s dream because I am willing to try a new type of potato chip or ice cream. On the other hand, I could not care less if my car has the newest hi-tech gadgets; I tend to drive my cars until they die, hopefully after a long life of mileage. There was a relative of mine who had to have a new and fully loaded car every year; that was their thing. A friend of mine, on a yearly basis, would clean out their closet and replace it with that year’s latest fashions. The amount of clothes they donated to charity was astronomical. My final example is a couple of friends that absolutely amaze me. They are willing to try any food and food combination; the more exotic the better. Where I find something I like at a restaurant and order it each time, they will constantly order something different each time. You would not believe what has gone into their mouths.      WHEN IT COMES TO MOVIES, I enjoy seeing something that has not been told before. Now granted there are a lot of films that have similar themes; but the writers added a twist to them that I appreciated. As you know as long as the picture entertains me I am cool with it. You probably have noticed many of my reviews will mention how the story is predictable; it is something I have seen before. If the writers did nothing new to it I wind up getting bored. I cannot tell you how often this happens to me; in fact, a member in one of my classes asked me why I just don’t leave the theater before the movie ends. This is something I never do or could ever do. If I am going to review a film then I need to see it from beginning to end. Where I have friends who only want to see a certain genre of films; I see pretty much anything, more so now that I review them. Also, I will travel far distances if there is a movie I want to experience that is not playing anywhere near me and that is exactly what I did to see this fantasy comedy.      DISCOVERING A NEW-FOUND SUCCESS by changing the sound of his voice Cassius Green, played by Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Short Term 12), started his climb up the corporate ladder as a telemarketer, to the dismay of his friends. Set in an alternative time in Oakland this film festival nominee also starred Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Detroit, Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts-TV, Friends of the People-TV) as Salvador, Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, Free Fire) as Steve Lift and Omari Hardwick (For Colored Girls, The A-Team) as Mr __. Let me tell you I was impressed by first time writer and feature film director Boots Riley. This story was different and twisted in a satirical way. I enjoyed the irony and fantasy for the most part until the last portion of the movie. There were some “far out” scenes and towards the end they became lost on me. The message as far as I could tell I got, but the execution of it I found silly. If nothing else credit must be given to Boots Riley for doing something new; it worked for a majority of the story and I am all for individuals who are willing to take a risk on something new.

 

2 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Whitney

HAVING NOWHERE TO GO FOR the holiday a friend invited me to come celebrate with her and her family. Normally I decline such invites simply because I do not want to be the outsider at a family function. Some families are close-knit to the point where they have a shorthanded way of communicating with each other; sharing inside jokes, memories and/or conversing about family matters. I would feel out of place in this type of situation. Since I knew some of my friend’s relatives I agreed to go to their family dinner. I picked up a box of candy on the way to my friend’s house, so we could go together to her parents. Once we arrived I was warmly greeted by her parents and sister. I found it amusing when I was introduced to the different relatives who were present because I already knew about some of them from the stories my friend shared with me. Let me just say she has some crazy characters in her family and those are her words. In total there were approximately 20 relatives made up of aunts, uncles, cousins and some cousins with children; it was a full house. My friend’s parents had put up folding tables and chairs to accommodate everyone.      IT IS ONE THING TO HEAR stories about people; it is another thing to actually sit down with them and share a meal. We had gotten through the appetizers and soup portion of the dinner before a verbal fight broke out between a couple of relatives. An uncle remembered a past incident a certain way and an aunt remembered it a different way. They were bickering back and forth as the main course was coming out to be served. The hostess asked the 2 combatants to settle down which surprisingly they did rather quickly. However, within 5-10 minutes the two were back at it, yelling at each other. Unfortunately, more relatives got involved so there was this crescendo of angry voices trying to out shout each other. I sat quietly as I ate my meal; I was not about to let a good meal go to waste. It was a bit surreal I admit; but on the other hand, I found it interesting to see these relatives swearing and calling each other names. My hope to stay out of the melee was dashed when one of the aunts tried to get me to agree with her point of view. It was then that I became uncomfortable and wanted to leave this family dysfunction. In a way I had the same reaction while watching this film festival winning documentary.      WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), this musical biography traced the life of Whitney Houston. I thought Whitney had an incredible voice, even buying some of her music. But once she started her decline I lost all interest in her. This is just my thing; once a celebrity becomes unprofessional in some way, I have no reason to support them. It doesn’t matter if they are gifted or incredible with what they do; once they cross that line I am done with them. This is where I was with Whitney. Seeing this documentary was eye opening in some respects. The use of past TV and movie clips were entertaining as were some of the interviews. Whether the director was getting honesty out of the interviewees is questionable; but for my needs I thought the director did a beautiful job in telling a story, albeit a tragic one. From watching this biography, I felt every person involved had a hand in Whitney’s extinction. In a way this story was not so different from other sad stories of dead celebrities; the difference here was we were able to see Whitney wanting to dance with someone, but most dancers were not suitable partners.

 

2 ½ stars      

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