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Flash Movie Review: Critical Thinking

IT LOOKED TO ME LIKE A GLASS lighthouse, shining bright in the darkness. The space it was in seemed cavernous to me; there was one complete wall that bowed out of the house to accommodate a baby grand piano. I could be sitting in the dining room yet be able to see the brightly lit curio cabinet in the living room. Whether people were visiting or not, the its light was always on. The cabinet was made of glass and wood that had been washed in a gold paint. The top of it came to a point like a domed roof, with a gold ball that sat right at the pinnacle. There were four glass shelves evenly spaced apart that had a curious mix of things that all fascinated me. However, on the bottom shelf there was a chess set that grabbed my attention the most. Sitting on the thick chessboard were these intricate sculpted ivory pieces my relative called netsukes. I had never seen anything like it. Half the pieces sat on black colored bases and the rest on light colored ones. I would stand at the curio cabinet, its light the only one on in the room, wanting to take the chess pieces out and play with them; but I knew my relative would not approve. The only time I could hold one of the pieces is when my relative took one out and placed it in my hands for only a short moment. Otherwise, they were off limits to everyone.      THAT CHESS SET PLANTED A SEED in me because my infatuation with it caused me to learn how to play the game. I received a gift of a travel sized chess set that looked like a large wallet. When I would unzip the sides of the red vinyl rectangular wallet and fold the sides down, it would reveal a square red and white checkerboard. The chess pieces were magnetic dots with each of their tops embossed with the outline of either a white or black chess piece. Except for my relatives with the curio cabinet, I did not know anyone who played chess; so, I would play against myself. I would try different first moves, wanting to give each magnetic chess piece a turn. Luckily, I was finally able to convince a friend to let me teach him and we started playing a few times a month. It was good practice for me I thought; I just did not know practice for what? I was able to plan a few moves out but not anywhere near what the students in this dramatic movie were capable of doing.      SOME FROM BROKEN HOMES AND OTHERS FROM different backgrounds, a group of inner-city students found one thing in common; they liked being treated equal in Mr. Martinez’, played by John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge, Spawn), high school classroom. With Rachel Bay Jones (Ben is Back, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Principal Kestel, Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Assassin’s Creed) as Mr. Roundtree, Corwin C. Tuggles (Detachment, Orange is the New Black-TV) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Bumblebee; Love, Simon) as Oelmy “Ito” Paniagua; this film that was based on a true story provided a feel good experience for me. I thought John was exceptional in his role; he reminded me of a teacher I had back in school. The story did not provide much surprise to it; it followed a typical story line that I have seen before. Set in Miami during the late 90s, I liked the throwback feel of the film. Despite having nothing that stood out as special for me, I thought the story was still moving. And if you decide to see this movie please stay for the credits to see the extra scenes.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Death at a Funeral

PRIOR TO GOING TO THE FUNERAL, I always thought everyone in attendance was there to pay their respects. I must tell you, it startled me when I heard the man sitting next to me tell his companion he was glad the man was dead. You do not often hear those words coming out of someone’s mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, I tried to get a better look at this man’s face to see if I knew him. I was there because I was an employee of the company, doing customer service work for them. The man looked familiar to me, but I could not recall ever talking to him. He was telling the person next to him that the dead man was an awful human being. I wondered if anyone else around us was hearing what this man was saying about the deceased. It was such a weird juxtaposition with family members sniffling and crying near the casket and this man bad mouthing their relative. It was not easy to hear everything he was saying, but I was increasingly curious to hear why this man so disliked the dearly departed that he would actually verbalize his feelings without a filter.      SINCE THAT FUNERAL, I HAVE BEEN a witness to two other funerals where some of the people in attendance had other reasons for being there. This one funeral had so many mourners coming into the funeral home, that several of them had to lean up against the walls because there were no seats left. During the eulogy, something that was said triggered a couple of mourners to stand up and shout at the grieving family members. I was frozen in my seat; it was such a surreal scene playing out in front of me. One of the deceased’s daughters stood up, turned around to face the yelling mourners, and shouted, “You will burn in hell!” I have never forgotten those words and can still picture myself sitting there when they were first uttered. Talk about drama fit for the big screen. The other funeral I attended that was outside the norm was one where family members got into a physical fight that caused them to bump into the casket. There was a huge gasp from the mourners in attendance, fearful that there was a chance the casket would fall off its pedestal. With the help of the funeral home’s employees, the fighting family members were pulled apart and taken out of the room. After having experienced these unusual funeral proceedings, I thought I had seen everything; that is until I watched this film festival winning, dark comedy.      WHEN THE PATRIARCH OF THE FAMILY died, a variety of family members and friends thought the funeral service would be the perfect time to address their concerns. With Matthew Macfadyen (The Three Musketeers, Pride & Prejudice) as Daniel, Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty-TV, Upstairs Downstairs-TV) as Jane, Andy Nyman (Judy, The Commuter) as Howard, Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting franchise) as Justin and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones-TV) as Peter; this movie took some time before kicking into gear. The humor was fun and there was an abundance of jokes, but I felt the writers could have tightened up the script more. There was an overall flavor to this film that reminded me of those old British comedy films. With such a large cast, one would have thought several actors would have faded into the background; but that was not the case here. Everyone did their part to carry the story forward, with Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman as the standouts for me. All things considered, this was a fun film to watch and a better experience for me than the previous funerals I had attended.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: I’m Your Woman

MY FRIEND WAS TELLING ME HOW stunned he was when he found out what his mother had done. Through their entire lives, his parents lived frugally; he thought it was out of necessity. It turned out that was not totally correct. His mother handled all the finances, from paying bills to shopping for food. My friend told me his father was given strict instructions on how much he could spend on any replacement clothing or food when he went shopping. Some of the stories my friend would tell me about his parents seemed extreme to me. For example, his mother would continue to wear a sweater or blouse even after it was discolored from age or frayed to the point where a small hole would appear. She never went clothes shopping unless there was no way she could continue to wear an article of clothing, after all the mending she tried to do to it. The thing that surprised me was the fact, according to my friend, his father had no idea how much money he and his wife really had saved. Throughout their entire marriage, the father never once wrote a check. I found this to be the weirdest thing out of all the things my friend told me about his parents.      WHEN I THINK ABOUT OLDER GENERATIONS, I remember how the household was divided between “male” and “female” chores. It was expected the women would clean and cook while the men shoveled snow and mowed the grass. To me, it seemed like 2 separate worlds co-existing together instead of 2 people working in unison to create one world. I never understood why changing a diaper was the mother’s job or washing the car was the husband’s job. As I witnessed the growth of later generations, I noticed a refreshing change in the way married/partnered couples handled the running of their households. Males were now changing diapers or cooking while their significant other would take on the repair of a household item. There is a couple I know who have a near perfect union in the way they managed to remove “male” and “female” labels to the functions of running their home. It would not be unusual for either of them to cook dinner, clean, pay bills or grocery shop. Whoever has available time, takes on the duty and it works beautifully for them. The only area where they are not equal is with their finances. The husband does all the investing of their funds, setting them up for their retirement years. I believe this is an error in judgment because if the husband were to die first, his wife would have no idea how to manage the finances he set up for them. Imagine what kind of trauma his wife would experience. Though the circumstances are a bit different in this crime drama, one can still see the affect it has on a spouse when they are left out of the loop.      FIRST, SHE WAS HANDED A NEWBORN baby, then she was forced to go on the run; all due to her husband’s actions. All Jean, played by Rachel Brosnahan (Patriots Day, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV), wanted was to get answers from her husband. With Marsha Stephanie Blake (See You Yesterday, The Laundromat) as Teri, Arinze Kene (The Pass, Been so Long) as Cal, Frankie Faison (Do the Right Thing, White Chicks) as Art and Marceline Hugot (Working Girl, The Messenger) as Evelyn; the strength of this film was solely placed on Rachel’s performance. I thought she did an excellent job in the role. Set in the 1970s, I enjoyed the sets and costumes in this picture; however, I found the script to be lacking. The first half of the film was slow to me. It was not until the halfway point where things started to pick up and I took more of an interest in Jean’s plight. Also, I liked seeing her growth in the story. Overall, it just seemed as if the writers and director did not talk much to each other when they were creating this disjointed movie.  

2 ½ stars       

Flash Movie Review: Home for the Holidays

FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me.      HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee.      WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.                      

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Hillbilly Elegy

I WAS GREETED AT THE DOOR by 2 overly excited dogs. They were sisters who my friends adopted when they were puppies. Being familiar with me, they were happy to see me because they knew I was the one who gave them body massages; well, at least that is what I hoped they thought. Whenever I would tell the two of them it was time for a doggie massage, the chocolate colored dog would lie down on her side, in preparation for her massage; the vanilla colored dog remained standing with this quizzical look on her face as she continued to watch me. I would have to gently hold her as I brought her down onto her side and even then, she would try to get back up. It was only when I started rubbing her side that she would calm down and relax, allowing me to continue my ministrations. The other dog did nothing but wait there for me to massage her. It was quite comical. This was not the only difference between the sisters. It was easy to fake out the vanilla colored sister. I could pretend to throw one of their toys across the room and the vanilla sister would run down the length of the room looking for the toy. The other dog was too smart and would stay in place with this look of anticipation on her face, as if telling me to throw the toy already. Two dogs from the same litter, yet so different.      I REALLY WAS NOT SURPRISED BY one dog being smarter than the other. The same type of thing has happened in human families, I have noticed. I knew two brothers who had 4 years difference between their ages. The younger brother was the smarter one who got good grades and achievement awards. The older brother’s school grades were a mishmash of passing and failing grades. He also got in trouble a lot. Now you would think 2 boys being raised in the same house under the same conditions would be more similar, but it was not the case. I have always been curious about this disparity between family members. There is this family I know where the parents only had a high school education. Their focus was staying employed; they did not read anything or try to learn something new. Their only son received zero encouragement from them since his aspirations for higher education were a foreign concept. I do not know whether it was despite or because of his parents, but early on he displayed high intelligence which was quickly noted by his teachers. Where his parents could barely write a clear sentence, he became the editor of his elementary school’s newspaper, besides being a winner in state driven English contests. This type of dynamic is something I find so fascinating, which is why I was intrigued with this dramatic film.      WHILE ATTEMPTING TO GET AN INTERVIEW lined up, Yale law student J.D. Vance, played by Gabriel Basso (Super 8, The Kings of Summer), found himself being pulled into his Appalachian family’s drama back home in Ohio. With Amy Adams (Arrival, Big Eyes) as Bev, Glenn Close (The Wife, Alfred Nobbs) as Mamaw, Haley Bennett (Music and Lyrics, The Girl on the Train) as Lindsay and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Immortals) as Usha; this movie based on a true story was all about the acting. I thought the cast was outstanding and felt Glenn could get nominated for her role. The story is surprising I grant you; however, I thought the script was not as strong as it needed to be to support the story. There was an element of predictability and at times I felt there was too much melodrama inserted into the scenes; I would have preferred learning more about each character on a deeper level. Despite these misgivings, my interest did not waiver as I observed the dynamics in this generational family story.                                                   

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Walkout

WHEN MY CO-WORKER SAID HE wanted to stage a walkout, I thought it was a poor idea. Not that I had any negative thoughts about a walkout, it was my co-worker’s reason that I felt was not a cause the rest of us employees would want to participate in. He was upset that he did not get a raise in his salary and that we were not getting a holiday bonus for the year. His salary had nothing to do with me, so there would be no reason for me to join his protest. As for the holiday bonus, sure I would have liked getting one; but it was a gift from the owner, not something that was expected in my paycheck. If my co-worker had a valid reason to start a protest, I might have been a part of it; but what he presented to me was not enough for me help stage a walkout. My refusal did not stop him from trying to entice the other workers to join his protest. There were several employees who were quick to say yes to him. Personally, I felt they would have said yes to anything just to get out of doing their work. But they did not make up a large enough group of employees that could cause a work stoppage. I was glad for it.      SEVERAL YEARS LATER, I FOUND MYSELF helping a friend with her walkout. She was a newly certified schoolteacher and was looking forward to having her own class to teach. Here it was her first year at the school and the teachers’ union had set a date to hold a strike. She was upset about it because though this was her first-time teaching, there was no way she could cross the picket line. The teachers’ demands were valid, and I agreed with their cause. Besides better wages for teachers, they wanted to see an increase in school funding. However, I understood my friend’s predicament. Not wanting to sway her decision, I offered my support but did not tell her what I thought she should do. If the strike dragged on, she was afraid it would take a toll on her finances. If she chose to cross the picket line, she knew she would be labeled a “scab” and it would probably stick with her for the duration of her teaching at that school. Then there was the concern of how the striking teachers would treat her once everyone was back in school. She decided to join the other teachers and luckily the strike did not last long as both sides quickly came to terms that were satisfactory. If you are curious about the purpose and function of a walkout, this dramatic film festival winning movie has an amazing example.      HAVING EARNED TOP GRADES IN HIGH school Paula Crisostomo, played by Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids franchise, From Prada to Nada), had never cut a class. That was about to change when she saw what was taking place at the school. With Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, 12 Strong) as Sal Castro, Yancey Arias (Bella’s Story, Revenge-TV) as Panfilo Crisostomo, Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) as Francis Crisostomo and Efren Ramirez (Mad Families, Crank: High Voltage) as Bobby Verdugo; this film based on a true story was an utter surprise to me. I had never heard of this high school and its significance in history. Taking place in East Los Angeles during the 1960s, I thought the directing was well done. The script was good even if it seemed as if it was purposely keeping things simple. There was an element of predictability, but it was okay simply because I was making an assumption about the outcome of the story. This was a no-frills production, but it packed a solid wallop of history in an engaging way.

2 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Proposal

I DID NOT HAVE AN OPINION one way or the other about the groom; I just thought it was not a good idea for him to marry my friend. He seemed to be nice as far as I could tell in literally the three minutes we spoke before the wedding ceremony. My friend had been in a four-year relationship that ended with a lot of heartbreak and sadness. She was just getting her life back in order when she met this man and the next thing I heard was they were planning on getting married. As far as I knew they had only known each other for a few months before deciding to get married; I do not know which one pushed the idea first. My reason for feeling this wedding would be a bad idea was based on my observations that my friend did not complete the grieving process from her last relationship. It seemed as if this man was being used as a distraction to coverup the sadness and pain. I know everyone falls in love at a different pace and maybe I am just being a pessimist; but the whole proposal and wedding thing came up suddenly without anyone being clued into it. I had to wonder if the groom had any knowledge about my friend’s recent breakup. It would be sad if they were marrying for the wrong reasons.       THEIR WEDDING WOULD NOT BE THE first one that was based on questionable motivations that I would attend. I knew a man who had served in the military. When he returned home there was something different about him. With him being older and the two of us not having much contact, it was hard for me to pinpoint what had changed in him; I only knew he was not the same. After some time being at home, he started dating a woman. He took his time before introducing her around; but once he did, several of us questioned the relationship. It appeared as if she was making all the decisions in their relationship. He went along with everything she said. It was as if he no longer had an opinion about anything, letting her decide the where, when, what and how to every situation. Now if he was like that prior to their meeting, I would not question it; however, it was such a stark contrast to what I knew about him that I felt something was not “right.” I continued to feel that way even when she announced they were getting married. Maybe it would work out for them; if love is present one never knows what could happen. Just see for yourself in this dramatic romantic comedy.     WITH THE PROSPECT OF BEING DEPORTED looming over her head, the only thing that popped into Margaret Tate’s, played by Sandra Bullock (The Heat, Ocean’s Eight) mind was to find someone she could marry. It did not matter what they had to say about it. With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Safe House) as Andrew Paxton, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Powder) as Grace Paxton, Craig T. Nelson (The Family Stone, Book Club) as Joe Paxton and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show-TV, Golden Girls-TV) as Grandma Annie; this film festival winner survived its generic script because of the cast. The chemistry between Sandra and Ryan was not only believable, but it came with extra doses of snarkiness and pinpoint comedic timing. Add in Betty White and that was all that was necessary for me to stay interested in this film. There were a couple of times where I chuckled, and I did enjoy the outdoor scenery. Too bad the script was predictable because with this cast the writers could have included a few twists and turns to give the story a new flavor. Despite these shortcomings, it was fun to sit through and watch this movie.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Papillon

MOST PEOPLE LOOK AT ME WITH a curious eye when I tell them that I had a female friend in school who was one of my protectors. We were in the same grade, but she was older because she had flunked a grade. She was taller than the other girls in class and was further along in the maturing process. What stood out to me was the fact she was the first student I knew who smoked cigarettes and swore. Several boys in class enjoyed hanging around her because of these 2 facts, though I am sure it also had to do with her being more developed than any of the other girls. I knew for a fact that she was tough after seeing her in a fight on the school’s playground; she pummeled a girl in the face and stomach until the girl ran away crying. Though we did not have much in common, we were friends because I think she was fond of my sense of humor. I could always make her laugh. When we were together the kids who would pick on me would stay away. Not because she could beat all of them up, but because they knew she had an older boyfriend who was tough. More than likely that was the reason why I was safe with her as a friend.      THERE WAS ANOTHER STUDENT IN MY grade who had the role of being my protector, but I never knew it. I honestly cannot recall him ever getting into a fistfight. He did not have to because there wasn’t any boy who would challenge him. The reason for it was because he had the body of an elite athlete, having started young with exercising and working out with weights. Where you could see the different muscles on his body, most of the other boys could only put on display a young bicep. When it came to gym class and picking teams, he was one of the first boys to be picked for a team. There was nothing he could not do when it came to a sport or physical test. We were neighbors so we had a friendship outside of school. I did not realize it at the time that he was a protector; the two of us would just hang out together or in a larger group. The added bonus by having him as a friend was knowing his older brother who was just as physically fit; so, I was spared from most teasing or bullying from the older classmates. Since I had these protectors, I could easily identify with the main characters in this biographical, crime drama.      WRONGLY ACCUSED AND CONVICTED OF A crime resulted in Henri “Papillon” Charier, played by Charlie Hunnam (Children of Men, Pacific Rim), being sent to Devil’s Island. No one escaped from there, but Henri had an idea. With Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Master) as Louis Dega, Christopher Fairbank (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fifth Element) as Jean Castili), Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies, Robin Hood) as Nennete and Damijan Oklopdzic (Lockout, Everly) as Doorman; this adventure drama based on a true story was a remake of the original movie done in 1973. The acting is what provided me with the most interest. I thought Charlie and Rami worked well together. There were several tough scenes to watch but overall, I thought the filming and cinematography were excellent. What brought down this picture was the script; it was repetitive and did not have enough variety of emotional levels. By the end of the movie, I was left with a feeling of wanting as if I was not fully satisfied with the events. The story is incredible, and I cannot imagine what life must have really been like on that island; I had enough to deal with during my school years.

2 ½ stars          

Flash Movie Review: White Oleander

AS SOON AS I HEARD HER use that word in her statement, I knew she was repeating what someone else had already told her. There was no way she knew the meaning of that word, I was positive, having never used it before and pronouncing it incorrectly. Who told her that statement did not have all their facts straight; so, when she repeated it at the restaurant table, I felt if she had any knowledge on the subject it was minuscule. It actually confirmed my suspicions about her desire to get educated on the events the group was discussing at our meetings. Since I had met her husband, I had a feeling she was getting her news filtered through his lens; whatever he thought about on a subject, she digested it word for word then regurgitated it to whoever was listening. I had to wonder if she had been doing this her whole life; because believe me, she is not the first person I met who operates in this fashion. I know several individuals who never seek out the details to an occurrence or event. There was this one person I knew a long time ago who repeated whatever his parents would say, even with the same inflection. If I asked him to explain further, he rarely could do it.      TO SAY IT IS A PET PEEVE would be to harsh to say; maybe it would be better for me to say it is creepy. Whenever I encounter someone who clearly does not know what they are saying, I find it weird, sad, creepy, or a variety of other adjectives. I hope this does not come across as judgmental; I simply do not understand why someone would use someone else’s words without giving that person credit for it. It is like when I see parents dressing up their children in clothing that is identical to their own. For me, it seems as if the parents are denying their child’s uniqueness and individuality. And that is what triggers the creep factor in me, a person having their identity/individuality squashed or tempered. I still remember a classmate who had a mother that tried her hardest to mold her child into an image of herself; it was more than creepy. She wanted her child to follow in her footsteps career wise and in accomplishments. It was difficult for me to be around the mother. Of course, we try to teach our children to be productive and successful; but when a parent so dominates their child’s life’s course, I am never comfortable seeing it or being a part of it. This is why I was experiencing a creep factor while watching this film festival winner.      THEIR LIFE TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL AND colorful up until her mother was arrested and charged with murder. Suddenly Astrid, played by Alison Lohman (Big Fish, Drag Me to Hell), found herself in a series of foster homes. Having to grow up without her mother would be a challenge…or would it? With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, People Like Us) as Ingrid Magnussen, Renee Zellweger (Judy, Here and Now) as Claire Richards, Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, ER-TV) as Mark Richards and Robin Wright (Wonder Woman, State of Play) as Starr; this drama had a wonderful cast of actors. Michelle and Alison were believable and strong in their roles. I was curious about the story, enjoying many of the scenes; however, the script had too many predictable moments. Watching Alison’s character grow in the film was a thing of beauty. There were times I felt I was watching a cat and mouse scenario which added to my enjoyment in watching this movie. I stayed engaged throughout the picture and due to the actors, I think I enjoyed this movie more than I had expected. At least that is my opinion of it.

2 ½ stars           

Flash Movie Review: A Hidden Life

I WAS TAKEN ABACK BY HER harsh response to my comment. She said I was a horrible human being for saying such a thing. My only response was telling her time would change her mind. We were talking about an elderly relative who had to be moved into a nursing home; she was delving into Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. Part of our conversation had to do with the nursing home and some of its residents. There was always a medicinal, almost sour, odor that filled the hallways of the home. In the main dining room during a meal, there would be a mix of people eating together. For example, there was a woman who always came dressed up for dinner. Due to a stroke, she was not able to communicate verbally; she was only able to say one word which she repeated over and over. It appeared to me that she was not cognizant of her lack of verbal skills based on how often she would get angry at the residents sitting next to her, for not understanding what she was saying. There were several times where staff members had to remove her from the dining room because she was getting physically abusive. Another individual in the dining room was a man who had to be wheeled in then hand fed by an employee. As far as I could tell there was no reactions of any kind coming from this person; it seemed to me there was little brain function.      THE REASON WHY I MENTIONED A couple of the nursing home residents was my hope you would not judge me harshly when I tell you what I said to my relative that got her so angry. We were talking about the nursing home and my relative mentioned that this one was one of the better facilities she had visited before moving our relative into it. When I heard this, I told her that our relative would be better off dead then living out her life with no memories in such a place. At this point our relative did not know the people visiting her, had to wear an adult sized diaper and could not communicate. You should have seen my relative’s reaction when I made this comment; you would have thought I said I was going to break into the nursing home and suffocate our relative with a pillow. As word spread, other relatives had a similar reaction to me; but I did not retract my statement. I stuck to my belief as our relative’s well-being slowly descended into non-existence. Seeing what the main character was going through in this biographical romantic drama, reminded me how tough it is to stick to one’s beliefs when one is in the minority.      TENDING TO HIS FARM AND FAMILY was all Franz Jagmrstatter, played by August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds, Love in Thoughts), was interested in doing. His fellow townspeople did not think the same way as he did when troops began to arrive in town. With Valerie Pachner (The Ground Beneath my Feet, Bad Luck) as Fani Jagerstatter, Maria Simon (Portrait of a Married Couple, Good Bye Lenin!), as Resie Schwaninger, Karin Neuhauser (In the Fade, Emma’s Bliss) as Rosalia Jagerstatter and Tobias Moretti (The German Lesson, Brothers of the Wind) as Fr. Furthauer; this film written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World) lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes. This was way too long to sit and watch this picture, despite the beautiful and lush scenes. I have experienced the same feelings seeing Terrence’s other movies; they go on and on with random scenes of water, sky, space as a way to move the audience. The fact is I was interested in the story, enjoyed the outdoor scenes and appreciated the acting; but when things get stretched out, I lose interest in the point the writer/director was trying to make. Those who enjoy Terrence’s work will enjoy this film and if I am in the minority so be it; I needed the film to end much earlier than it did.                                            

2 ½ stars    

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