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Flash Movie Trailer: The Janes

SITTING ON THE BENCH FOR THE entire basketball game was not my version of fitness. Nor was it sitting on the sidelines of a football game. My gym classes prior to college were for the most part a series of competitions which I detested. If you were a mediocre or poor player, you suffered. Because football had the most physical contact, I did everything I could to hide instead of playing it. The gym classes for the school semester were made up of a series of sports games. Unless you were picked to play on a team, most of the class period was sitting on the bleachers. I never wanted to participate in any of the sports activities because they were essentially too violent. The gym teacher spent a good amount of time in his office during the class, after throwing out to us a couple of basketballs or footballs; he was never around when the aggressive students would take advantage of the weaker ones. An illegal block, a smack on the back of the head, a strong shove; they were just a few of the tactics used to intimidate the average or less players. There was nothing to gain by me staying in the gym; in fact, every minute I stayed offered a bigger opportunity for me to be attacked or abused. Gym class was detrimental to my health.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL MY COLLEGE years before I began to understand how to achieve and maintain a healthy body. Granted back then, the dominant focus was on the outer physical part of the body. At least, it was a start and I started paying attention to the things around me in class. I noticed the students that solely worked with barbells and weights, could not do much aerobically. In other words, they would tire out quickly during a jog. In the swimming pool, they had little flexibility which caused them to be slow swimmers. My own health plan did not fully solidify during those years; it really took off several years after I graduated, and it was due to a relative’s medical heart scare. It was then that I took health and fitness seriously and started participating in aerobic classes. Seeing that most people attending class looked like they were fit already, an idea formed in my head based on my experiences. I wanted to create a class not only for those who were already fit, but for those who did not feel comfortable doing exercise in a group setting. It was part luck and part determination, but I found my niche and had people attending from all different fitness backgrounds. There was a need that I tapped into and discovered how good it felt to help people reach their health goals. It was that type of similar mindset which I saw in this amazing documentary that resonated with me.      IN CHICAGO, A GROUP OF WOMEN formed a network made up of code names and secret drop off locations to work together and offer a healthier option for women in need. Directed by Tia Lessin (Trouble the Water, Citizen Koch) and first-time director Emma Pildes, I searched for this film due to having seen and reviewed Call Jane with Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver. Discovering Elizabeth’s film was based on a true event spurred me to investigate the topic further and this film was one of the things I found in it. The mix of old footage with the surviving women of the group doing the narrations was the perfect mix to entice viewers. When thinking about that period of time and what women had to go through, I found it more shocking on how the Janes did as much as they did. Also, it was not lost on me how this picture is just as relevant today as it was back then. This engrossing film was a true find that made me feel privileged to have seen it.

3 ½ stars 


Flash Movie Review: Sisu

I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT REVENGE UNTIL I was in elementary school and saw it for myself. At the time, I did not know any details, only saw the results. We had come back from recess and were going to our seats. A boy sat down at his desk and let out a yelp as he sprung back up from the seat. He was one row over and a few seats ahead of me. I looked up as everyone else did to see him move his hands over his backside. He was pulling something away from his pants, but they were too small for me to see. After he brought it up to his face to inspect it, he looked around the room and demanded to know who did this to him. None of us knew what he was talking about, so we sat there in silence, staring at him. That was not good enough for him; he said he would find out who did it and smash them into little pieces. After that statement, if someone in class had done it, there was no way they would admit it now. As he was pulling out the others that were stuck to him, the teacher walked back into the classroom. She asked him what he was doing, and he replied, “Nothing.” For the rest of the day, I could not stop thinking about what happened to him.      IT WAS A FEW DAYS LATER before I found out what happened to that boy in my class. A friend of mine said he had heard the boy was picking on someone from a different class or grade; the person telling him the story was not sure. That boy decided to get back at the boy in my class; so, when we were all outside for recess, he snuck into our room and placed a few colored thumbtacks on that boy’s seat. I asked what would have happened if the boy had sat down and started to bleed (I was naïve)? After this incident, I never heard anything else about it; but I continued to be curious about the actions that took place. The sneakiness of it intrigued me since I was reading a lot of detective stories. The other thing that interested me the most was the fact that the boy who sat on the thumbtacks was a bully in my opinion; I always tried to stay clear of him. The idea that someone would willingly provoke him was a foreign concept to me. As I went from grade to grade, I soon understood the motivation; but I never had the courage to do something so blatant. And believe me, from what I experienced through my school years, there were times I wished I had courage like the main character in this action war film.      TOWARDS THE END OF THE WAR, A band of retreating Nazis come upon a prospector who had just struck gold. Seeing the gold as an opportunity for them to safely get out, they felt it would be simple to take the prospector’s gold. They had no idea what they were about to start. With Jorma Tommila (Priest of Evil, Big Game) as Aatami, Aksel Hennie (The Martian, The Cloverfield Paradox) as Bruno, Jack Doolan (The Hatton Garden Job, Marcella-TV) as Wolf, Mimosa Willamo (Finders of the Lost Yacht, Deadwind-TV) as Aino and Onni Tommila (Big Game, Rare Exports) as Schute; this film festival English speaking winner from Finland was a steely intense experience. There were brutal, bloody violent scenes throughout the movie. As some of you know, I am not one for brutal violence; however, the way the story unfolded kept me glued to the big screen. The script was no-nonsense and direct, letting the action do all the talking. There was a Quentin Tarantino vibe through the whole picture, particularly because there was a splash of humor mixed into the violence. Jorma was a solid force throughout the story, despite him barely speaking a word. This was an over-the-top script that had one objective, to get revenge and it does that multiple times.

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Somewhere in Queens

I WAS SITTING AROUND A TABLE with eighteen other people, just the way I like it. My friend invited me to her family’s holiday dinner. The table butted up to a metal banquet table that extended from the dining room into the living room. Ornate tablecloths covered both, but it was hard to see the pattern with all the plates and bottles sitting on top. I prefer going to dinners like this, where there are multiple people included instead of sitting at a table with only the parents and/or grandparents of a friend. When I am the only guest invited, I feel there is too much attention devoted towards me and that makes me a bit uncomfortable. When there are multiple relatives/friends in attendance, I feel more relaxed simply blending in with the group. Also, as they say, “The more the merrier.” There is a fun factor when I am sitting in the middle of a group of family members because I get to see a different slice of life. Or, maybe it is more of a confirmation that my family isn’t the only one that is crazy, lol. But I will tell you this, one certainly can learn a lot about your friends or relatives when you get together for a meal.      I WAS INVITED TO A FRIEND’S house for dinner; a friend who is soft spoken, I might add. After everyone showed up at my friend’s parents’ house, I quickly understood why my friend was quiet most of the time. His relatives were loud, many talking with their mouths full of food; it was a wonder if he ever got a word in edgewise. After acknowledging me, most of the family members ignored my presence except for the ones seated close to me. Through the meal relatives caused such a ruckus; one person would swear at another, someone else would tell a relative they were stupid and so on. There was such a commotion that I almost felt a headache coming on. When I was at another friend’s holiday dinner, her relatives were curious about me but not to the point where I felt as if they were intruding. Observing and being around them showed me they were a loving family who enjoyed each other’s company. I felt my friend was fortunate to be raised in such an environment. Now, I know family can be challenging at times; there are some you enjoy being around and there are others who annoy you. My own memories of big family meals are some of my fondest memories which is why I felt connected to this comedic drama film.      WANTING MORE FOR HIS SON than he had, a father goes to extreme lengths to give his son a shot at an incredible opportunity. With Ray Romano (The Big Sick, Everybody Loves Raymond-TV) as Leo, Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird, The Conners-TV) as Angela, Sadie Stanley (Let Us In, The Goldbergs-TV) as Dani Brooks, Sebastian Maniscalco (Green Book, The Irishman) as Frank Russo and newcomer Jacob Ward as Matthew ‘Sticks’ Russo; this movie written and directed by Ray showed a wonderful slice of life’s cherished and heartbreaking moments. I thought the dialog matched the characters perfectly and the humor from Ray’s writing was both funny and heartwarming. The chemistry between Ray and Laurie was literally a match made in heaven; they were 100% believable. Their and the other actors’ acting skills made the multiple story lines weave together seamlessly. I think it might be due to the era this film portrays; but there was a nostalgic feeling about it, that I could relate to easily. The only way I could compliment this picture is to say it was a good old-fashioned story that was seeped in family life.

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Air

I ADMIRE ANYONE WHO SUCCEEDS AT their profession, but I especially enjoy hearing about those who wound up in their position from a random act. A celebrity, for example, who has wanted to be an actor or singer or writer since they were a small child makes for a good story. However, a person who did not have plans to be the person they became is something I find to be a better story. Let me give you a couple of examples. From what I have read, Harrison Ford did not have much success from his first acting gigs; so, he kept to his day job as a carpenter. He was installing a door at the home of Francis Ford Coppola when George Lucas came over for a visit. From the short interaction the two had, George cast him as Hans Solo in Star Wars. Can you believe it? What would have happened to Harrison if George had not walked in on him that day?!?! A story I read that I find unbelievable, based on her acting skills, is the one about Jennifer Lawrence. She and her mother were visiting New York City when a man came up to her at a train station, asking if she had ever done modeling. I know that sounds creepy, but it was true. From that encounter doing some modeling work, she caught Hollywood’s eye. And she never had an acting class or a film role up until that time when she was discovered. It is crazy!      I HAVE THE SAME FEELING ABOUT the contestants on the couple of reality competition shows I follow. Hearing how they arrived at a place to put themselves into a talent competition can sometimes be a fascinating story. When I hear about the difficult time a singer had through their childhood, where the only comfort they had was listening and singing to music, my heart goes out to them. I am sure the television producers might add a little spin to their stories, but at their core there is a level of pain that is undeniable. To see them take the stage, overcoming their past hardships, fills me with a sense of joy. It ties into my belief system of one should always hang onto one’s dreams. I guess it begins with one believing in themselves. Due to my belief system, I fell in love with this sport drama movie. And that includes not being an avid follower of basketball.      ALMOST EVERYONE IN THE WORLD IS familiar with Air Jordan shoes. The reason they came into being was because of a small group of determined individuals who refused to stop believing. With Matt Damon (The Last Dual, Stillwater) as Sonny Vaccaro, Jason Bateman (Thunder Force, Ozark-TV) as Rob Strasser, Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar, The Accountant) as Phil Knight, Chris Messina (Ruby Sparks, Argo) as David Falk and Chris Tucker (Silver Linings Playbook, Rush Hour franchise) as Howard White; this story based on true events was directed by Ben Affleck and he did a superb job of it. The pacing and great casting gave this story its extra punch. Everyone from Matt to Viola Davis was so good and believable that I found myself enthralled with the story line. In fact, there were several scenes filled with a tense thrilling sensation that made this an exciting movie watching experience. The story was amazing to me, and I especially loved the randomness of it in a way. When the film ended, I had to sit there and imagine what would have happened if one little piece of the story had a different outcome; how would that have changed the trajectory of what became a billion-dollar business? One does not need to be a sports fan to appreciate the work that went into creating this picture with its amazing story.

3 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Navalny

IT DOES NOT MATTER TO ME what a person is passionate about, it is the fact they are truly passionate about it that makes me admire them. I knew someone who collected porcelain dolls. In their house, they had display cases of them in the living room and den, along with a smattering of them perched on various shelves throughout the house. It was a little too eerie for me, but listening to her describe the craftsmanship and history of the dolls was interesting enough for me to appreciate her passion. I had never seen such a variety of dolls; some dressed in elaborate Victorian style garb, others in clothing native to their heritage. I wondered at some point how it was walking into the house at nighttime and seeing a sea of reflective eyes peering out from the darkness. Her enthusiasm reminded me of the time I was into votive candle holders. It was after I moved into a single-family home and received a housewarming gift of one that spurred me on to start collecting various holders that would play with the reflective light coming from the flame. My point about all of this is to commend a person’s energy, drive and commitment to submerge themselves into something meaningful to them.      THIS BRINGS TO MIND AN ACQUAINTANCE of mine. We became friendly when our paths kept crossing at various events around the city, besides having mutual friends. He worked for an organization that promoted equal rights, starting out as an office manager. From there, he became a spokesman for them and that is where he found his true passion. He threw himself into election campaigns, trying to get candidates in office whose values aligned with his organization. I remember at one debate he was involved in where the opposition was using a passage of the bible to make a point. You should have seen him when he went on the attack over that comment. He informed the opposing person that he originally was in the priesthood, and he knew for a fact what the person recited was not exactly how it was written in the bible. The crowd went wild with cheers as my friend tore through the other guy’s platform he was running on, pointing out examples of narrow-mindedness and prejudices. I was in awe of his debating skills and knowledge. Just as I admired the spokesman, I quickly grew to appreciate the man’s passion in this Oscar winning documentary.      DESPITE KNOWING HOW DANGEROUS IT WAS to take on the country’s leader, Alexi Navalny refused to stay silent about his beliefs. Doing so would make him an easy target in the government’s eyes. Directed by Daniel Roher (Once Were Brothers, Ghosts of our Forest), this Academy Award winner for Best Documentary was part thriller, part comedy and part tragedy. There were a few scenes that had to be seen to be believed, as they say. I could see why Alexi has the followers he has because of his charismatic wit and passion. This documentary follows Alexi and his family in a straightforward manner, almost as a bystander, which I felt allowed the family space to maintain some sense of normalcy in their unreal world. Going into this film, all I knew about Alexi was the fact he was a Russian opposition leader and that was because of the event he was involved in that made worldwide news. Knowing that made certain scenes in this movie stand out in a spectacular way. Also, I believe there is an aspect of this film that makes it relevant and relatable for various world citizens. Though I did not see the other Oscar nominated documentaries, I can understand why this one received the award.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

AMONG MY FAVORITE CARTOON CHARACTERS WHEN I was a little boy was Bugs Bunny, the Roadrunner and Daffy Duck. Saturday morning was the day I could see all three of them on television. If by some chance I would wake up late, I had a snack tray I could set up to eat my breakfast while watching them. It would be a very rare occasion for me to miss my cartoon shows. I enjoyed the circumstances they would get into, along with the visuals and antics; but what grabbed me the most was the humor. Based on the situations they would find themselves in, I loved the crazy and unpredictable solutions each character came up with to get out of trouble or some such scenario. I still can remember how Elmer Fudd and Marvin the Martian would try to “get” Bugs Bunny and each time they would be outsmarted by the “wascawwy” (rascally) wabbit, quoting Elmer Fudd. The same situation would play out between the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote; anything Wile would attempt would back or misfire on him, letting Roadrunner escape without injury. Thinking back, I believe part of the reason I enjoyed these characters so much was because they always escaped harm; something I wish I could have done.      THE OTHER ASPECT OF THOSE CARTOON characters that fascinated me was the fact they never died. Not that I actually thought about that, but I just knew they would always be there. I was perceiving them as being invincible and everlasting. It is funny, when I think about those cartoons and the others I used to watch back then, there were many scenarios set up with the intention of killing off the main character. However, none of them ever died. Obviously, death was not something the TV and movie studios wanted to portray; I totally understand it. I am not saying there is a wrong or right way to interpret, but I am aware there could have been the possibility I was envisioning myself being just as invincible as the cartoon characters I was watching on television. There were no examples of anyone dying except for the fanciful episodes where a ghostly image would come out of a character after they were knocked unconscious or a scene showing an animal’s spirit materializing after a crash of some type. When I think about it, some of the cartoons back when I was a little kid were quite violent. None of them thought about their own mortality. Well, that is about to change I believe due to this Oscar nominated, animated movie.      ALL THE ADVENTURE AND EXCITEMENT PUSS in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory), experienced in his life took a toll on his allotment of lives. With only one life left, he would have to stay ahead of everyone else who was looking for the legendary Wishing Star in the hopes of having his wish granted. With Salma Hayek (House of Gucci, Eternals) voicing Kitty Softpaws, Harvey Guillen (The Internship, I’m Totally Fine) voicing Perrito, Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling, Lady MacBeth) voicing Goldilocks and Olivia Coleman (Empire of Light, The Lost Daughter) voicing Mama Bear; this animated adventure comedy was a beautiful, creative piece of film. I thought the story and the script were perfectly in synch, creating a thrilling, fun and thoughtful movie watching experience. The actors were wonderful with the execution of their characters. I particularly enjoyed the mix of high drama with the quiet reflective scenes that established a well rounded balance. The message was clear to me, and I felt it was written in a way where younger viewers would understand what was being said. Honestly, I was taken by surprise on how well everything was handled in this wonderful picture. 

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Women Talking

I WENT FOR A HAIRCUT AND left with a lesson on world religion. It was time to get a haircut and when I walked into the establishment, I noticed my usual stylist was not there. Since I was in desperate need of a haircut, I remained and sat with this new person. When I explained I was getting my hair cut for a special occasion, it led to a discussion about each of our heritages. She spoke of the hardship she had leaving the country of her birth for her daughters’ sakes. There was no opportunity for them to grow and become self-sufficient if she had remained there. Instead, she emigrated to the United States and worked hard to provide for her daughters; one became a doctor and the other a lawyer. Everyday, she said, she was grateful for having the strength to have made that hard decision to leave her country. From the things she spoke about, I could tell she had had issues with people in her country who were in positions of power, who were extremists. I shared with her a family member’s story about their childhood, where they would be hidden in a forest anytime military guards came around the town. The guards were sent out periodically to hunt for male children of a different religion, to kill them. It was up to the parents to not only get their children well hidden in the woods, but to then remember where they hid them after the guards left.      AS OUR CONVERSATION CONTINUED, I TOLD her of my uncomfortableness with anyone who was extreme. Whether they were religious, political, conservative or liberal; I was never comfortable around individuals who had such extreme mindsets. She made an interesting observation about the atmosphere presently around our country; that it felt like to her as if a faction of citizens were trying to create a fascist state. And it bothered her when people in government made decisions based on their religion instead of thinking about the country filled with people of many faiths. I thought that was both a powerful and insightful statement on her part. We discussed how religion played a part in past world events. I mentioned how turned off I get when a person talks and acts as if their religion was the only true/right one. That is why I get offended when someone tries to convert me to a different religion. In my opinion, all religions have a place at the table; who is anyone to judge someone’s religious beliefs? Keep in mind all of this is taking place over the sound of her electric clippers going around my head. The interesting part to all of this is the fact that after my haircut, I went and saw this engrossing, Oscar nominated drama.      A GROUP OF WOMEN LIVING IN a small religious community come together to decide if they should stay or leave after they find out how they received the marks on their bodies and their miraculous births. With Rooney Mara (Nightmare Alley, A Ghost Story) as Ona, Claire Foy (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Crown-TV) as Salome, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Lost Daughter) as Mariche, Frances McDormand (The French Dispatch, Nomadland) as Scarface Janz and Judith Ivey (A Life Less Ordinary, Flags of Our Father) as Agata; this powerful story had the perfect cast to tell it. The whole cast was magnificent; they were like a dream team for actors. The story posed many questions and opinions on current topics, but in a non-confrontational way. I would have appreciated seeing more development in how the characters got to their current place; but in the scheme of things, their performances and discussions were riveting enough to keep me engaged. It almost felt as if the writers wanted to make sure they got their points across first before working on each character. This is the type of movie that generates curiosity in the viewer and stays in their mind for a time afterwards.                                    

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Living

MY NEWEST CATCHPHRASE IS, “IT IS better to meet here (or almost anyplace such as a restaurant, park, theater, ballpark or store) than at the cemetery.” What I mean by this catchphrase is it is better to get together for a happy/good occasion instead of a sad one at a funeral. When talking to a friend or family member, where they are not sure they want to travel to visit their friends or family, I ask them if they would go if the person, they were thinking of visiting was dying. They almost always reply in the affirmative; they would not hesitate for a moment. That is when I then ask wouldn’t they rather visit and do stuff with their friend/family member instead of mourning them. This may sound harsh to some of you, but I am just being honest and unfiltered. Also, I practice what I preach. I was recently talking to a friend about attending a wedding. They were questioning the time they would have to be away from their pets and the cost of traveling out of state to attend the wedding. I asked what they would do if it was their friend’s funeral. There was no pause, they said they would plan to get to the funeral. I told them they now have their answer on what they should do about the wedding. They could not help but agree with me.      BACK WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I never thought about people dying or getting gravely ill. Maybe I had that mindset that many people in their youth have: being invincible. My actions back then were not decided with life and death being in the equation. Interestingly, I wished I had a little of that awareness about getting the most one can out of the day; in other words, live life to the fullest. To get enjoyment, satisfaction and pleasure out of each moment. There were times when I felt I was only existing instead of living. Going to work, getting home, making dinner, cleaning up, sleeping, then waking up to an alarm the next morning to start it all over again was my basic pattern of existing. I was too tired to do anything during the weekday; so, the weekend consisted of catching up on stuff and maybe I would meet up with a friend or relative for a dinner. I am not sure what triggered a mental reset, maybe maturity or the death of a close one; but I started to appreciate the things around me and make a point of staying in touch with friends and family. It comes down to this, one never knows what tomorrow will bring; so, it is better to get as much as you can out of today. I loved how this dramatic film presented this idea.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT worker received the diagnosis from his recent tests, that he learned how to live again. With Bill Nighy (About Time, Emma) as Williams, Aimee Lou Wood (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, Uncle Vanya) as Margaret Harris, Alex Sharp (The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Hustle) as Peter Wakeling, Adrian Rawlins (Harry Potter franchise, Breaking the Waves) as Middleton and Oliver Chris (Miss Marx, Motherland-TV) as Hart; this Oscar nominated film was an absolute joy to watch. Bill Nighy, who is nominated for best actor, was utterly fantastic; it was an honor to watch him display his skills. Set in 1950s London, the film production was perfect. From the way the story was filmed to the sets and costumes; everything fell into place to make this a complete picture. The story took a little time to fully grab me; but once it did, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And the message I took from the story confirmed one of my beliefs. I am glad I took the time to seek out and view this Oscar worthy movie.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Whale

I DO NOT REMEMBER WHY I enjoyed eating an entire loaf of bread before dinner; I just knew it felt good. Even if I could bring details back from when I was doing it, I was too young to understand why I was doing it. The only thing I can remember is the comforting feeling that came over me while eating the bread; though, bread was not the only food I would excessively indulge in. Sometimes I would stop at one of the ice cream trucks that were always driving through my neighborhood with their tinkling bells and recorded music, like mobile pied pipers enticing every child within earshot. I would always order the largest chocolate ice cream cone and be able to finish it all during my short walk home from school. It is odd to me now how I could eat an entire meal despite having stuffed myself with these added carb and sugar laden foods. It was not until my later years in elementary school that I made the connection between my feelings and food. Whenever I was made fun of or picked on, I would immediately after school focus on what I could eat that would make me feel better. If I could not find something to eat once outside the school building, I would go home and if there was not much bread available, I would look for cookies in the pantry; and if there were none, I always knew my last resort would be to eat breakfast cereal right out of the box.      DURING HIGH SCHOOL I BEGAN TO delve deeper into my eating habits. I was determined to change my appearance. I was able to do it despite having two major setbacks. Then in college, where I had several courses in psychology, I learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. To maintain my appearance, I cut out snacking between meals. With just that change along with my rule of no eating five hours before going to bed, I was able to keep weight off. Granted, I was no longer stuffing my feelings down by stuffing my face. One of the most important words I incorporated into my life was “balance.” During the weekdays I remained strict with my diet; however, on the weekends I was free to indulge in comfort food as long as it was not too excessive. I have a friend who understands my philosophy, but they are not there yet; they have not controlled the act of rewarding themselves with decadent type foods. For the main character in this drama, I understood what he was doing and deep down I think he understood as well.      WITH HIS PROSPECTS DIMMING FOR A long life, a father wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter, who he has not seen in several years. With Brendan Fraser (The Poison Rose, Doom Patrol-TV) as Charlie, Sadie Sink (Eli, Stranger Things-TV) as Ellie, Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Insidious franchise) as Thomas, Hong Chau (Downsizing, The Menu) as Liz and Samantha Morton (The Messenger, Miss Julie) as Mary; this movie provided me with something I have not seen in a while; an immediate realization I was watching an Oscar worthy acting performance. Brendan was absolutely spectacular. I felt his acting gave the cast an extra boost because they were all excellent. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), I thought this was one of his better films. The script was slow and steady, taking place mostly in one spot; but the emotions tied up with the story and Brendan’s performance nearly took me into his world. Despite some predictability and the slow trickle of back story, I was fully engaged with the characters and understood what they were going through for the most part. I left the movie theater on a high for seeing such a well-done film that deserves to be recognized this awards season.                                    

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: She Said

TO MY HORROR, THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL told his secretary to go pull the students out of class and bring them down to the office. I had just finished telling him about the abuse I was experiencing from these students and now he wanted his secretary to bring them in while I was still sitting in his office; I wanted to run and hide somewhere. If the assistant principal thought he was making me feel better, when he said he would make them stop attacking me, it was not working because I knew it would only anger the students. They would only intensify their efforts in getting me. I stared at the wall clock wishing school was over for the day and I was safely back at home; my anxiety was increasing with each passing second. It was a five-minute wait until the office door opened with the secretary leading the students into the room. The assistant principal did not offer any of them a seat; he immediately went into his speech about respecting fellow students and their type of behavior was not acceptable. I could not even look at any of them; instead, I kept my gaze directed at the floor. Other things were mentioned but I did not pay any attention to them since I was suddenly feeling nauseous and just wanted to get out of there. I realized the assistant principal was finishing up when he told the students he did not want to catch them bothering me ever again. Yea, right.      IT WAS A COUPLE OF WEEKS of “peacefulness” before I was pushed down a flight of stairs in school. I never saw who did it and luckily, I was able to grab a hold of the banister from tumbling all the way down the stairs. A few days later I was eating lunch in the lunchroom when a partially eaten apple hit me in the face. It came from somewhere across the room, but I had no idea who threw it. Well, let me say I did not see who threw it, but I knew who it had to be; one of the students who was called into the assistant principal’s office. Other incidents took place to the point I started skipping classes from time to time and always changing the way I went from class to class. Besides enduring the abuse, the hardest part was explaining the bruises that were visible on me or the stains on my clothing or the dirt covered books. I just had to find a way to get through the time until graduation and go far away to college. Me saying something did not bring me any relief which is one of the reasons why I could sympathize with the victims in this historical drama.      FEELING LIKE THERE WAS A POSSIBLE story behind the little news they had heard about a big, powerful Hollywood producer; two reporters agree to work together to see if they could get to the truth. Their challenge would be to find a witness. With Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Promising Young Woman) as Megan Twohey, Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, The Big Sick) as Jodi Kantor, Patricia Clarkson (Out of Blue, The Bookshop) as Rebecca Corbett, Andre Braugher (The Baytown Outlaws, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Dean Baquet and Jennifer Ehle (A Quiet Passion, Zero Dark Thirty) as Laura Madden; this movie based on true story was riveting at times. Carey and Zoe were outstanding together, which added to the movie watching experience. I thought the pacing was better in the beginning and end than during the middle parts; however, because of the familiarity I had with the story, I stayed focused on the events. The story is frightening, horrific, and a variety of other emotions; even if you are not familiar with the news of this event, it is well worth watching this taut, suspenseful film.

3 ½ stars 

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