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Flash Movie Review: The Promise

LOOKING at him there was nothing that distinguished him differently from anyone else. The only thing one could say about him was his height; he was one of the tallest boys in the neighborhood. He was a friend of mine who lived across the street from me. What did make him stand out from everyone else in the neighborhood was his name. No one had a name even remotely close to his or anyone else in his family. Their last name as well as some of his siblings’ first names had so many syllables. As far as I knew no one really cared that they had unusual names compared to the rest of us in school. I remember at some point being told by him that his family was Armenian. It sounded so exotic and far away compared to the rest of the families on the block. This bit of information was treated more like a footnote; all it meant to our circle of friends was his family had traveled halfway across the world from a place none of us had ever heard about before.     THROUGHOUT my schooling; I am talking elementary, high school and college; I cannot recall ever hearing or having a discussion about the historical events that were depicted in this dramatic movie. I do remember the events that led up to World War I started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. With World War II a prominent part of its history was the systematic extermination of people based on their faith, heritage, sexual orientation, among other distinctions. Regarding the First World War, I cannot recall part of its story involving a particular group of people targeted for elimination. Sitting through this film a part of me was shocked by the action taking place in several scenes. Not because it was especially graphic, gratefully it was not, but due to the historical significance that somehow was missing from my education. The story in this picture was something larger than what I had imagined.     MEDICAL student Mikael Boghosian, played by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), always wanted to be a doctor. The Ottoman Empire had other plans for the Armenian man. This film festival winning movie also starred Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk, The Hundred-Foot Journey) as Ana Khesarian, Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Big Short) as Chris Myers, Shohreh Aghdashloo (Rosewater, The Story of Soraya M.) as Marta Boghosian and Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur, Loft) as Emre Ogan. Oscar who I think is a gifted actor did not disappoint in this movie; however, Christian Bale was miscast. His role not only did not offer him much to work with, but was more involved with the 2nd story line that I found did not belong in this film. The culprit for this film not reaching full potential was the script. I get the idea studios believe a story needs a love interest, but the whole love triangle scenario in this story was a distraction. There were so many opportunities to mine dramatic intensity that instead was passed over to focus back on the relationship between the three main stars. It was sad because based on what I saw this picture really could have been memorable. After the film was over I had to stay seated and think about how extraordinary it was for my friend and his family to have been living across the street from me.

 

2 1/3 stars     

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Alone with Her

THE first time I saw a closed circuit security camera (are they even called that anymore?) was at a local currency exchange in my neighborhood. It was this imposing metal contraption that hung down from the corner of the ceiling, looking like a dragonfly created by Picasso. I was too young to have a checking account, so I was at the exchange to get a money order for a purchase. While the man behind the thick paned window at the counter was typing up my money order, I was constantly glancing at the security camera. I knew it had to be something visual because of the lens in front; but with those wires attached to the sides, I had to wonder who was watching me. When the man returned to the window he must have noticed my curiosity because he started to tell me all about it in this ever so proud way.     TIMES have certainly changed, haven’t they? Except for restrooms and locker rooms, I think security cameras are everywhere, in all kinds of different places. I am all for cameras being at public transportation locales, from airports to neighborhood train stations. Even covering highways or major thoroughfares, I do not have a problem with it. As I walk through a grocery store I can understand why cameras are installed all across the ceiling in those brown glass dome things; they actually look like chocolate gumdrops. Management would want to be on the lookout for any theft taking place. However, when I walk down the hallway of a movie theater I wonder if someone is actually watching me go to my seat. I guess with the tragedy that has taken place in theaters and clubs, security cameras are a must now. I would think after a while all of us will just become numb to the idea we are being watched wherever we go. However I have to tell you, watching this crime thriller was such a creepy experience for me because I am afraid this might be actually happening now.     THERE was something about Amy, played by Ana Claudia Talancon (Fast Food Nation, Tear this Heart Out); that made Doug, played by Colin Hanks (The House Bunny, Orange County), want to watch her all the time. This drama that also starred Jordana Spiro (Trespass, Must Love Dogs) as Jen and Jonathon Trent (Burlesque, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) as Matt, definitely had a way of pulling the viewer into the story. I quickly was uncomfortable by what was taking place; not because of any type of gore or torture (there wasn’t any) but because I, who am already paranoid about big brother watching me, was startled by what was taking place. I really believed stuff like this could be taking place all around us. The story was somewhat predictable; however, with Ana and Colin being convincing in their roles I did not mind this issue. I thought the way this film was shot added to the intensity level; it forced the viewer to be closer into the action. Overall, I felt the concept of the story was the main attraction for watching this DVD. The reason I say this is because there really was not anything new brought in for this type of story; however, for me sitting at home without people or security cameras all around I did shut my computer down once the film was over.

 

2 1/3 stars — DVD  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Life

YEARS of reading and watching science fiction books and movies may be the reason why I believe there could be other life forms in the universe. Even if I was not a fan of the fantasy/science fiction genre, I was always open to the possibility we humans were not alone. I could never be convinced that out of the entire universe the planet Earth was the only place that could sustain life. One of the arguments I have heard is our planet is the only one that can sustain oxygen breathing beings; but I would counter that proposal by questioning the logic of oxygen being the only element that can support life. What if an alien species’ anatomy only needed carbon monoxide to exist? Unless they come to us I understand there is no way to prove this thought, since I do not know if we will ever evolve to a point where we will have the ability to deconstruct and rematerialize on another world via a transporting device or be able to travel in a spaceship at warp speed.     DURING my studies in college I had a literature course that covered several genres of fiction, including science fiction. For my midterm project I used several rolls of infrared film along with close-up camera lenses to create a photo album that I claimed was proof of foreign existence. The things I photographed represented places we had read about in our required reading list. Our instructor had us put our projects on display around the lecture hall and each of us had to explain what we had done. After we each gave our talks, the students were allowed to walk around and study each item before voting on their favorite in a secret ballot. It turned out not only did I get an “A” on my midterm project but my alien photo album was voted the favorite. From some of the comments I received the majority of my classmates loved how I had shown both friendly and non-friendly aliens. Hopefully I am only right about the good aliens.     WORKING in precise maneuvers six astronauts must retrieve a satellite returning from Mars that might contain proof there may be life existing on another planet. This science fiction thriller had some intense, exciting scenes right from the start. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, Prisoners) as David Johnson, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) as Rory Adams, Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin, The Wolverine) as Sho Murakami and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Miranda North; this horror film had some icky scenes that were hard to watch, involving blood and violence. I thought the sets and special effects were cool, while the actors did their job well. The idea of the story was fine; however, I felt the writers needed to take a different angle because as I sat watching this film I kept thinking about the movie Alien. I did not find much different in this movie though I did enjoy the surprise twists. What I did enjoy, maybe enjoy is not the right word, was the way the writers depicted life and that is all I can say about it. If you do not believe there may be extraterrestrial life, you may not be anxious to see this film. Based on my belief system, maybe you should see it.

 

2 1/3 stars    

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It may still be evolving but at one time the word peculiar had a narrow definition. If someone did not fit in and what I mean by that is look or act the same, they were considered different. Being labeled different was like getting a life term in prison. The mentality back then was not so dissimilar to a science fiction television show where there was an alien species that tried to assimilate human beings into their world where there were no independent thoughts or actions; every being was part of a central collective and all looked the same. This is how it could feel to someone who was considered odd. There was a school near my house where all the students were issued a standard uniform; each one of them had to wear the drab colored clothing. At the time I thought it would be horrible to be told to wear the same thing every day. But I did not realize that dressing in clothes one prefers could set the person up for ridicule. I could see how everyone wearing the same outfit would eliminate a person picking on a fellow student for wearing something different. Now I grant you the issue of clothing only scratches the surface on how people react to someone who is not the same as them. I am sure we all have seen stories in the news about incidents where being different causes a conflict. What I would like to know is when and how did differences among us became a negative trait? I have always wondered if it was due to the level of education, fear or maybe something that gets taught for the wrong reasons. We hear more and more about diversity and I believe the entire planet is just one big melting pot for everything living on it. There is room for everyone.   DISCOVERING information to a mystery Jake, played by Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Hugo) is lead to a special place filled with unusual beings. Based on the bestselling book series this adventure fantasy had a wonderful look to it. Starring Eva Green (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Game) as Barron and Ella Purnell (Wildlike, Never Let Me Go) as Emma Bloom; the acting was a bit off for me. Where I thought Eva was perfect in her role with the look and movement, I thought Samuel was doing what has become his standard role now in most of his movies. Sure he does it well but how many times do we need to see the same style of character? This dramatic film started out slow for me; I found the script dull at first. Halfway through the story things starting to pick up and I began to enjoy this picture. I am guessing the book has to be better. As for the special effects, some of them were gleefully fun but others were just so-so. As a side note the majority of the audience at my viewing was young adolescents. I enjoyed the message of this story regarding our differences; I only wished it was carried through the whole film which could have been a more exciting experience for me.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Genius

I sit and wait, searching their face for any clue on which direction their reaction will go. It is a gamble; I know that going in, but I am willing to take the risk. Of course, I make sure I have plenty other choices in case any one of them goes bad. You see I love trying new products, especially in the food category. Anytime I have people over to the house I try offering something new to them and myself. It could be from any food group, I would take a chance on it. And here is the little dietary secret; if a guest enjoys the new product I make them take it home because I do not want it to stay alone with me. It would be too much temptation. This way I get to taste something new without overindulging myself. The other secret about having new food items for company is seeing the look on people’s faces at that first bite; I do not know if I can explain it but I truly love seeing someone putting on a happy face due to some new discovery I found. When I am at the grocery store I feel like a treasure hunter when shopping for an upcoming party. Now before you tell me I need to find a new life, let me tell you I feel the same way outside of my home. When I was a kid I wanted to be a tour guide for the city. I wanted to take people I knew or people they knew and show them something they had never seen before. It could be art, architecture, nature or a restaurant; it did not matter as long as the person would have a positive experience from my tours. My desire to be a discoverer played right into this biographical drama.   MAX Perkins, played by Colin Firth (The Railway Man, Before I Go to Sleep) had a special place in the literary world. He was the book editor for Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. This film festival nominee had a top notch cast of actors. Besides Colin there was Nicole Kidman (Secret in Their Eyes, Paddington) as Aline Bernstein, Jude Law (Spy, Sherlock Holmes franchise) as Thomas Wolfe and Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes, Primal Fear) as Louise Perkins. I was excited not only for the cast but the story itself, seeing these authors I was familiar with coming to life was a treat. You will understand now why my disappointment in this film was significant because the script did not live up to the characters. For such dynamic well known authors this story needed more levels of emotion, besides offering more of the artists’ motivations and feelings. Sure there were drunken and screaming scenes but I wanted to hear more about the “why.” The look of this picture was appropriate and the acting was the best the actors could do with the script; I just wished the script would have been at a higher level to match the story. Considering this film was only playing at 2 theaters in the city, I still felt like I was discovering a little piece of history.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Cemetery Junction

It must be some type of precise formula where everything has to be exact down to the tiniest millimeter. I have always wondered if there was one factor that outweighed all the others but I never could find an answer. How does one overcome the norm when there is not an example to show them the way? And when I say factors I am talking about things like support, encouragement and self-confidence. One example that comes to mind is the transformation in the work force. Years ago when a person found a job they stayed with it forever. It was almost like a badge of honor to say, “I’ve been with the company for 30 years.” Currently it is surprising for an employee to stay longer than 3-5 years at one company. I know people who think nothing of living in a place for a while then picking up and moving across country; I am not wired to do such a thing. Granted I admire individuals who blaze a new path, so to speak; however, my mind is not wired to handle dramatic changes in my life, at least well. I know it is easier when someone has an example they can use as a blueprint; but it occurs to me, the examples I had in my life were of the negative type. I have learned things by witnessing how not to do them. How crazy is that? At a company I worked at years ago I had to open up the mail every day. The owner used the business address for his personal mail. I remember one day opening up an envelope that contained a $25,000.00 dividend check for stock he owned in a public company. I was stunned since I had no knowledge about stocks and bonds back then. All I could think about was how cool it must have been to get that size check quarterly; it was enough to retire on. That one example pushed me to learn more about stocks and make a difference in my savings plan. Though I was not confident or encouraged to move into stocks, there was something inside of me that pushed me to take a leap of faith. Not even a leap of faith would have helped me in this movie.   GROWING up in the small town of Century Junction Freddie Taylor, played by Christian Cooke (Romeo & Juliet, Where the Heart Is-TV), did not want to wind up like everyone else. He wanted something more. This film festival nominated comedic drama had a competent cast that included Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Mr. Kendrick, Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying, Ghost Town) as Mr. Taylor and Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Like Crazy) as Julie. Set during the 1970s in England, I thought this film depicted the era perfectly. With this being a coming of age story I did not find anything different to surprise me. There were some scenes that went well and one could tell Ricky Gervais was one of the writers. What kept my interest actually were the actors and their characters. All I can say is I took a risk with getting this DVD and it did not completely pan out.

 

2 1/3 stars — DVD

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Neighbors 2

As I walked into the backyard I could see him out the corner of my eye, crouched down and staring intently at me. He did not move until I called out his name. Immediately after hearing me he sprung up and bounded over to the fence that separated our two yards. He was the youngest of my neighbors’ three dogs and knew he would be getting a back rub once I called out his name. I have even seen him get down on all fours as soon as he hears me pull my car into the garage, for he knows I will be coming out the side door and giving him a back rub. While I was massaging him the neighbor happened to come outside to do some yard work. We talked briefly; he caught me up on the latest news around our neighborhood. He also told me they were thinking of putting up a privacy fence around their yard but they wanted to check with me first and see what I thought about it. I told him I did not have a problem but their dog might get upset; we both had a good laugh over my comment. I have to say I have been very fortunate with the neighbors who live around me. We are respectful and mindful of each other; asking each others’ opinions before undertaking a major project or at least letting others know about repairs that could be intrusive for a short time. I have been lucky that I have not experienced any drama, violence or even out of control loud parties when it comes to my neighbors. There is no way I could live in the type of neighborhood that was in this movie.   WITH their house on the verge of being sold Mac and Kelly Radner, played by Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, The Interview) and Rose Byrne (Spy, The Meddler), only needed 30 more days before the sale would finally close. Unfortunately a lot can happen when a sorority moves in next door to you. This comedic sequel followed a similar game plan to the first film which involved a fraternity instead. I liked what the writers were trying to do here and credit them for allowing Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment, Dirty Grandpa) as Teddy Sanders to shine with his comedic timing. He surprised me with how well he did in this picture. The trailers unfortunately showed several of the highlights in this film so my reactions to the scenes were somewhat subdued. Most of the humor was made up of sight gags; however, I felt the writers could have gotten more punch out of the story if they would have given more focus to Teddy’s household skills. It seems like Zac’s recent film roles make sure he is in some form of undress during them; maybe the movie studios are hoping it will give them better reviews. Fans into that will not be disappointed with this film. My disappointment was due to the story being pretty predictable and similar to the previous film.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It is one of the hardest situations to navigate I have found, when two people you are fond of do not like each other. Friends, family, significant others, neighbors; I have seen and been a part of all types of uncomfortable situations. There was a dinner party where 2 of my friends attended and spent the evening staying on opposite sides of me. Mingling among the guests or sitting at the table, the 2 friends kept their distance from each other; however, they each wanted equal time with me throughout the night. It was such a challenge to try and keep a mental log of how much time I was spending with each of them, that I found myself not having a very good time at the party. Now I know I have the choice of stepping away from 2 combative friends and letting them deal with their issues, not altering how I interact with them; but I have to tell you, it is harder when someone you are in love with is disliked by someone else you care about. In this scenario there could be times where you choose not to attend an event because you know your significant other will be uncomfortable. I do not know how you would handle it but I dread finding myself in such a scenario. There standing before you are 2 people you care about and they cannot get along; in some circumstances I just want to say, “Be adults and just be cordial to each other whenever the occasion comes up.” Knowing what you do about me now, you can only imagine how I felt seeing 2 of my favorite comic book heroes battling each other in this action adventure film.    THE seeds of hatred were planted in Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, The Town), when he witnessed the people he cared about perishing in a catastrophe due to the actions of Superman, played by Henry Cavill (Immortals, The Cold Light of Day). As the hatred continued to grow inside of Bruce, it would not be too long before his alter ego Batman would take matters into his own hands. This fantasy had a dark brooding look that I enjoyed at first, but as the movie continued to its 2 hour and 31 minutes running time I found myself wishing scenes were brighter and clearer. Where I was concerned about Ben taking over the iconic role, it turned out my fears were unfounded; he was a strong, emotional Batman. With a strong cast of supporting actors, intense fight scenes and fun special effects; all that was missing was a great script. The story was dull and slow for the first half of the film before things started to kick into high gear. Part of the reason for this I believe was the movie studio’s intentions to make this film a vehicle for future multiple stories and spinoff characters; it was that apparent. When I left the theater I not only felt bad these 2 superheroes fought but they had to in this film.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

A switch gets turned on and the lights go on. A simple procedure that requires little movement and truthfully not much thought. The only time I think about it is when a lightbulb burns out. This action of little effort disguises the massive coordination needed to get the power to my home, through the house to the lamp. Fortunately I live in a place that has been reliable for the most part, except for when we have had violent storms. Every month I send a payment to the energy company for the use of their electricity, but I do not have much awareness on where or how the company acquires their energy for sale. I imagine the amount of people involved is staggering; whether it involves coal miners, nuclear technicians or service personnel who maintain solar panels and windmills, the mechanics of it all have to be precise and efficient. As I said, luckily for the most part things work smoothly here for me. Can you imagine if things did not? The chaos that would ensue would be monumental, effecting thousands or millions of people. Presently a city in Michigan is going through a crisis regarding their water system. For the little I know about it, the situation was caused by various agencies within Michigan; it was not like some outside force attacked their water supply. In other words it could have been prevented if everyone had worked together. Now when a breakdown occurs due to outside elements, things can go haywire.    ARMED citizens in Benghazi Libya overpower a compound where the U.S. Ambassador has chosen to reside. Thirty miles away a small band of CIA contractors are witnessing the evolving destruction. Based on a true story this action thriller directed by Michael Bay (Transformers franchise, Armageddon) had intense, bloody fight scenes throughout the story. With John Krasinski (Leatherheads, The Office-TV) as Jack Silva, James Badge Dale (World War Z, Shame) as Tyrone “Rone” Woods and Pablo Schreiber (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Manchurian Candidate) as Kris “Tonto” Paronto as part of the cast; I was stunned by this film. Remove all the politics that have formed around this story; it truly was astounding to witness the amount of craziness that was billowing all around the characters. Let me see if I can explain the feeling. I went through drivers education class to get my license. Going through all the simulations and supervised driving lessons in the school’s parking lot did not prepare me to that adrenaline rush the first time my car slid across ice covering a busy intersection. The same can be said here; no one was prepared for the escalation of violence. Too bad the script was filled with cliches and simplistic dialog; how many times does one need to hear someone being called “brother?” The action was typical for Michael, fast action mixed with slow motion movements. Not to take anything away from these heroic people but their story needed a better script.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Joy

We had worked at the same company for several years, just in different departments. They did not see their position as a long-term career because they had something else in mind. Being quite creative, away from the office they went to classes to learn a particular craft that was needed if they wanted to keep their dream moving towards reality. I saw pictures of their work; they showed beautiful images of objects and places that were familiar and easily recognizable. The difference was they created them for consumption by making them with food ingredients. Their dream was to open up a business where they could sell their creations. It took them a few years to master the art of designing everyday objects into edible sweet treats. There were baked chocolate top hats with white chocolate bands and red cherry buttons on the sides besides vanilla cupcakes that looked like a set of major league baseballs. They were as tasty as they looked. After selling these types of baked goods by word of mouth, they took a big step and found an empty storefront to rent. Here they would build shelves, buy coolers and baking equipment so they could open up and sell their wares to the general public. This was their dream; they did not want to grow old and wonder how their life would have turned out if they at least had not followed through on their dream. I believe some people call it, “having no regrets.” This is something I believe in too. I do not want to grow old with wishes I had done things differently. What one needs to achieve this is perseverance.    NOT wanting to wind up like the rest of her family Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise, X-Men franchise), had an idea. The problem would be getting people to believe in her. This film festival nominated, dramatic comedy was based on a true story. With some of the actors like Robert De Niro (The Intern, The Deer Hunter) as Rudy and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, Silver LInings Playbook) as Neil Walker having worked together previously, there was an easy flow between the characters. Jennifer was outstanding in the role; actually, I found her to be the number one reason to see this film. Who else I found exceptional was Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her) as Trudy. Sadly the script did not elevate the story or the characters. There were parts of this film that stood out for me, where the acting and action were well done. But then there were segments that dragged down the story. If it was not for Jennifer I would have had a hard time staying with this film. The story was amazing if what was on screen was actually true; Joy was one driven character. For such a person who did what she did, this movie did not sell her story in the best way.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

 

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