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Flash Movie Review: Toy Story 4

THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them.      IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise.      WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars        

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Flash Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY WE HAVE BEEN introduced to couples, both real and imaginary, who have a special relationship. Each couple had a bond that formed a unique and solid connection between the two. There was Bonnie and Clyde, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Thelma and Louise and Batman & Robin to name a few. I remember when I was first introduced to these, dare I say, iconic couples. There was something about them that intrigued me because I could relate in a way. I had a best friend; the two of us were nearly inseparable. Our backgrounds were different; for example, his parents were divorced, and he had not grown up in the neighborhood. Despite the differences, we first connected with our love of books. From there we discovered a variety of similarities that formed the bonding agent to our connection. What helped cement our relationship were those times where we were both discovering something new for the very first time. Having that shared experience, looking back now, really provided the stepping stones to our growth path. It came to a point where we could tell how the other was feeling just by looking at them. We spoke in a shorthand that others tended to find confusing. Our relationship provided each of us a new level of confidence in dealing with the world around us.      CONFIDENCE, IT IS SUCH AN ESSENTIAL element to one’s life. I know my journey becoming a confident adult would have taken longer if I did not have someone close with a like mind, my best friend. For the couples I mentioned above, it would have been a different world if they had not found their “soulmate.” Would Clyde have been so successful if he had not met Bonnie? Would Batman have solved all those crimes if he did not have Robin by his side? I do not know the answer. However, I know how it feels to have a special friend, soulmate or whatever name you want to call it; I believe it provides one with strength in every aspect of a person’s life. Having someone who is supportive, who watches your back allows one to take more chances on their ideas. I know what it feels like to think you are the only one in the world. When you discover someone, who understands you or just gets you, there is no greater feeling. If you want to see how well a couple works together when they have history, then see what happens with the couple in this action, crime thriller.      HAVING BROKEN THE RULES BY KILLING a fellow assassin on company property John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves (Replicas, Point Break), turned himself from being a hunter to becoming the hunted. The fact there was a $14 million price upon his head did not help matters. This 3rdinstallment started right up where the previous film ended. With Halle Berry (Die Another Day, Monster’s Ball) as Sofia, Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Deadwood-TV) as Winston, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Bowery King and Asia Kate Dillon (Billons-TV) as the Adjudicator; this movie was all about the fight scenes. And let me tell you these scenes were insanely violent and bloody. But here is the thing, they were so expertly choregraphed and staged that I felt the fighting on a visceral level. There were times I was both cringing and laughing at what I was seeing on the big screen. I thought the fight scenes were one of the best I have seen all year. The story was absurd and over the top which is exactly what these movies provide the viewer. The creativity involved in creating this story and beingable to carry it out was excellent. I am not into violence and blood, but I could not turn away from watching this outrageous picture. If there was an election for picking this year’s iconic couple, I would vote for John Wick and Sofia. They were that good together.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Shazam

IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film.      THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness.      I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel.      AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.

 

3 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Roma

THOUGH HER EYES WERE COVERED WITH OVERSIZED sunglasses, the sun was reflected in each lens to make it look like she had stars in her eyes. I stared at the photograph for some time, wondering if the photographer realized that when they captured the image. Hanging next to this photograph was one that depicted something completely different. It was done in black and white and at first glance I thought it was a photo of a closed toilet seat. The camera had shot it from the front at eye level to the seat. I assumed the photographer was attracted to the dark splotches on the seat’s rims; personally, I thought it looked nasty. As I read the information card next to the photograph it turned out the subject of the photo was actually a small bunch of ripe bananas, done in closeup. I was surprised and had to look back at the photo hanging on the wall. Now that I knew what it was I could make out the three bananas stacked on each other; what a hoot! In photography I have always gotten a kick out of taking photos of ordinary things in such a way as to play with the viewer’s perceptions of it, turning the subject into something extraordinary.     AS I WALKED AROUND THE GALLERY I saw some gorgeous photographs. When the subject was human, I spent more time in front of it wondering why the person was photographed; what was their back story? One photo had an elderly woman sitting on a park bench. She was knitting a scarf while wearing it. The finished end was draped around her neck then rolled down her chest to her hands that held two large knitting needles. The needles looked like they were pointing to one spot. I wondered why the woman was sitting outside with her knitting; was she waiting for someone, did she like sitting outdoors because of the lighting and temperature? Did the photographer even know her, I wondered? Usually I have seen people knitting in waiting rooms; this photo piqued my curiosity. There were other photographs that showed individuals in a variety of emotional states. Coming out of one of the photos was an anguished looking woman who looked like her skin was melting; she looked deflated and sad. I came up with a few scenarios that all ended in some type of tragedy. But isn’t that what art is supposed to do; make one think and react to its content? That is exactly what was taking place in this film festival winning drama; the subject’s story came to life right before my eyes.      CLEO, PLAYED BY NEWCOMER YALTA APARICIO, was the maid for a middle-class family that had some issues behind its façade. Set in Mexico City during the 1970s, this movie also starred Marina de Tavira (The Skies-TV; Love, Pain and Vice Versa) as Sra. Sofia, newcomer Diego Cortina Autrey as Tono, newcomer Carlos Peralta as Paco and newcomer Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermin. Directed and written by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men), this film was visually stunning. Shot in black and white, Alfonso took his time with each scene. There was always something else going on besides the main subject in the scenes, filling up each frame with feelings and emotions. The story essentially was basic; there was very little action to speak of until the last half of the film. In fact, I found the script somewhat slow at times and felt Alfonso was spending too much time on some shots. For newcomers I was surprised to see how well the cast did with the script.  I only wished there was more to the story. This was one of the most beautifully filmed pictures I have ever seen; however, I found out the back story of some subjects may not always be so exciting.

 

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Stan & Ollie

I DID NOT CRINGE UNTIL SHE attempted to speak. She had assistance walking across the stage of the awards show; it was expected considering her frailty and advanced age. In her day, decades ago, she was a top billing major star. Now as I watched her trying to talk, it was obvious to me she was quite confused. I had no idea if the producers of the show requested her or her management team offered her; either way, I felt uncomfortable and sad. Growing old is harder when it is done in the public eye; I think about myself with the classes I teach. Will I know when it is the time to hang up my cycling and yoga apparel? Will I graciously retire when I realize, if I even realize, I am not teaching class at the same level as I have in the past? These are things I have given thought to as I have grown older. I look at some people who have obviously had extensive plastic surgery and wonder why they did it. There has never been a time I have seen an older celebrity and not known they had altered themselves simply by looking at their semi-paralyzed face or their skin stretched tightly like plastic wrap sealing a bowl of leftovers. What is it they are trying to do?      ONE OF THE ANSWERS I CAN come up with is they do it because they still need to get adulation and compliments from people. I would like to know how having a wrinkled face would stop someone from admiring you. I went to a concert that was being held in a small movie theater; the headliner was a celebrity who was past his prime. What I mean is their voice could no longer handle their song catalog and their dance moves were reduced to a simple swaying side to side. He was only one of the musical acts; so, there were some people in the audience who had no idea who this man was and what songs he had sung that brought him fame. If it were me I could not get on stage and perform unless I categorically knew it would be at the same caliber as before. As I write this I am reminded about former celebrities who either do advertisements or shall we say low-brow projects. I always wonder if they need the money or they are so starved for attention. Regarding this film festival winning biography, I haven’t yet decided which one the comedy duo needed.      AFTER THEIR FAME AND FORTUNE HAD dimmed in the world Laurel and Hardy, played by Steve Coogan (Philomela, The Dinner) and John C. Reilly (Holmes & Watson, The Sisters Brothers), decided they would re-capture it by doing a live tour. It didn’t matter to them that they were older and maybe not as wise. This comedic drama’s story was based on actual events. Without a doubt this picture’s fate was dependent on Steve and John. Gratefully, the two of them were stupendous. I might have to tip the scales more to John’s Oliver Hardy being more authentic, but it still would be a tight race between the two of them. With them front and center the other actors like Shirley Henderson (Transporting franchise, Bridget Jones franchise) as Lucille Hardy and Nina Arianda (Midnight in Paris, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Ida Kitaeva Laurel; though good, were more in the background for me. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this picture. Seeing some of the original comedy acts Laurel and Hardy used to perform and getting the back story on them was a treat. I thought the script and direction worked hand in hand to produce a well-rounded bit of comedic history. Make sure you stay through the credits to see actual clips of the two the producers reproduced in this wonderful film.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Boy Erased

THE YOUNG MAN WAS SHARING HIS STORY with the audience on national television. In his words he was expressing how hard it was for him to get to this point, where he made it onto the dance show. He grew up in a tough neighborhood that had its share of crimes. Many of his classmates were already dealing drugs or doing other illegal activities; all he wanted to do was dance. He said he had been picked on and beaten up because of it. When the host asked what his parents thought about his dancing the young man said his Dad wanted a son who liked playing sports. I felt sad for this talented guy who struggled to do what he loved to do. His story reminded me of this couple I knew who had a little girl. The girl preferred playing with trucks and cars instead of her dolls. The parents were not exactly distraught, but you could tell they were concerned their daughter preferred “boy toys” instead of “girl toys.” Oh, and they were upset that the little girl hated wearing dresses. She would cry every time her parents would try to get her to wear a dress.     FROM THE TWO STORIES I JUST SHARED with you, can you find a common theme between the two? I will give you a minute to think about it. Ok time is up; let me tell you what I see. The young man and little girl did not have any issue with what they liked; the man loved to dance, and the girl preferred playing with trucks. The people around each of them had an issue with it. Hearing the man talk about his father wishing he was into sports bothered me. I feel a parent’s job is to love their child unconditionally; to nurture them to grow into kind, respectable, responsible adults. The father, I believe, is taking his prejudices and applying them to his son. Maybe I am assuming, but what I took away from the young man’s story was his Dad and neighborhood kids thought less of him, or maybe thought he was not masculine enough, because he was a dancer. The same can be applied to the parents of the little girl. They had a problem with their daughter not playing with toys associated in the past with a girl and not dressing the part. What a child is or chooses to do is not necessarily a reflection on their parents. It is similar to the parents in this heartbreaking, dramatic movie.      WHEN NANCY AND MARSHALL EAMONS, played by Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled, Lion) and Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys, The Water Diviner) discover their son is gay, the only thing they feel will solve the “problem” is to enroll their son Jared, played by Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird), into a program that will convert him to a heterosexual. Jared agreed to participate; he wanted to please his parents. Based on a true story, this film was written and directed by Joel Edgerton (Loving, It Comes at Night) who also starred as Victor Sykes. Most of you know I find Nicole to be a gifted actress and for the time she was on screen, she was dynamite. For the small body of work Lucas has done already, he too is a gifted actor. The script based on the biography was well written, despite a couple of areas that could have used more explanation. As for the topic, I looked on in disbelief that anyone would even consider such a preposterous idea about conversion therapy. But looking underneath the surface, the lack of acceptance upon finding out about their son was sad to see. This was a powerful and thought provoking picture.

 

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

WE WERE SITTING IN A CIRCLE with each of us prepared to read what we had wrote the past week. There was one student in the writing group who consistently wrote violent action into his stories. If he mentioned a car crash he could not just leave it at that, letting the listener use their imagination. He had to describe in detail every broken bone, laceration or bloody death associated with the crash, fight, murder or accident. The rest of us in class had a difficult time paying attention to his stories because the scenes he created were uncomfortable to hear spoken. There was another student who already had a book published about his time in the military during a major conflict. His stories continued the same theme; there was always a military presence in his stories. When it was my turn to read, I had my typed pages neatly stacked on my lap; so, it was easy for me to handle the length of time we were allowed to talk. After reading my story out loud a fellow student said my writing style was similar to Vladimir Nabokov. I was stunned; mainly because he was one of my top favorite writers, along with Charles Dickens, Yukio Mishima and Herman Melville.      WHAT AN HONOR FOR A PEER to say such a thing to me. I would never compare myself to Nabokov, but I must tell you I was flying high the rest of the day. It started me thinking about the times I compared someone I knew to a famous or well-known celebrity. To the best of my recollection I only did it when it would be compliment. I mean really, how rude would it be to tell a friend they are acting just like so and so, who did a similar thing that got them arrested. Think about all the times sportscasters compare an athlete to a former one; it really must be an honor for an athlete to hear such a thing I would imagine. There is that proverb that states: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” For the most part I would agree with this, but I do have an issue with it when someone is doing it without putting in any effort or thought. There was an employee I taught with who never took the time to learn the reasons and mechanics behind weight training. All they wanted to do was go to other instructors’ classes and see what exercises they were doing. Once memorized this person would do the same ones in their classes. I did not think that was right, just as I thought the author in this film festival nominated biography was not right for what she did.      WHEN HER CELEBRITY BIOGRAPHIES FELL OUT of favor the only way author Lee Israel, played by Melissa McCarty (Life of the Party, The Boss) thought she could earn money was to add her words to the letters of famous deceased celebrities. It turned into a lucrative business. With Richard E. Grant (Penelope, Gosford Park) as Jack Hock, Dolly Wells (45 Years, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Anna and Jane Curtin (I Love You, Man; Third Rock from the Sun-TV) as Marjorie; this comedic crime film was based on Lee Israel’s memoir. The story came alive due to Melissa and Richard; they were so good together and I must say this was a smart move for Melissa after her recent dreadful movie, The Happytime Murders. She was wonderful in this role, assisted by the beautiful direction and script. The story slowly unfolded as Lee sinks to a desperate state and yet, she remains a somewhat sympathetic character. I really enjoyed watching this unbelievable story and might not be far out on a limb to say Melissa may earn a nomination this award season.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: First Man

DURING MY SPACE EXPLORATIONS I DISCOVERED planets far from earth that were inhabited by peaceful beings. The inhabitants of one planet did not walk; they were able to float above the ground effortlessly. Everyone was dressed in a similar fashion with a long, flowing robe-like outer coating that refracted light to form a non-stop palette of colors. I considered their heads to be egg shaped with large dark eyes and no hair. Because they were a peaceful race, there were a couple of other species from other planets that wanted to conquer them. Due to this threat the peaceful ones, as I called them, had to build up their defenses. I was in charge of the space ships that in actuality were different writing pens I collected; however, they were able to shoot out death rays from the tips. The pocket clip part of the pen is where the captain and their crew flew the ship, so I addressed my warnings to that part of the pen. I could spend hours flying my pens through the house as they took on evil forces, defending their home planet. Sometimes I had to fly through space dust or debris which was the mist from a can of air freshener.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL MY HIGHER LEARNING days that I paid more attention to space. Oh and of course Star Trek and Star Wars pushed me into that direction. To this day I enjoy science fiction/fantasy movies and books. I feel a certain connection to them because they have always presented a different reality to the dark one I was experiencing at times. Within science fiction stories it seemed as if a planet was being threatened, all the inhabitants would come together to defeat the threat. There was something about having diverse beings coming together that I found attractive. At the time, I did not realize it was what I was wishing for in my reality. Feeling like an outsider or just different growing up, the idea of an all accepting society fascinated me. I think that is why when I was a kid fantasizing about space I always had planets filled with peaceful beings. Add in the story lines from Star Trek and I was sure there was a safe haven somewhere in space. It is funny that a few of my friends to this day can tell when I am spacing out and the reasons for it. None of my fantasies however had the type of intensity that I saw in this dramatic, biographical space film.      IN A RACE WITH THE SOVIET Union to achieve glory in space, the United States embarked on a radical idea that had never been done before. It would take a certain type of person to be a part of what could become an event of historical proportions. This film festival nominated movie starred Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, La La Land) as Neil Armstrong, Claire Foy (Breathe, Unsane) as Janet Armstrong, Jason Clarke (Everest, The Man with the Iron Heart) as Edward Higgins White, Kyle Chandler (Manchester by the Sea, Argo) as Deke Slayton and Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Den of Thieves) as Jim Lovell. The beauty of this film was the way the director allowed scenes to tell the story without dialog; some of the film shots were beautiful. Now add in the acting skills, especially form Ryan and Claire, and I for the most part was taken away by the story. There have been a variety of space films but for some reason I found the intensity of this one to be tangible. Everything felt authentic and real. Though my imagination made traveling to space an easy process, I got on board for this historical event, space story.

 

3 1/2 stars       

 

Flash Movie Review: Monsters and Men

THIS HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO, but I had a relative who was caught in the middle of a riot. He was a hands-on business owner, working at his store nearly seven days a week. I cannot remember the details if he knew there was going to be some type of trouble in the neighborhood or he simply got caught in the middle of the protesters, but he was working at the time the riots broke out. The protesters were throwing debris at storefront windows, overturning vehicles and setting fire to trash piles. He was afraid his store was going to get looted or worse, destroyed because he stocked alcoholic products. The store meant everything to him since it was his livelihood and the only thing he knew how to do. He made up his mind he would lock and barricade the doors, staying in the place until things calmed down. His family was distraught with the news when he called them; pleading with him to get out, but he refused. As far as he could see there was no one coming to calm the crowds down and he could not ask any of his employees to put themselves in danger by staying with him. He did not leave the store for three days.      ALL DURING THAT TIME THE ENTIRE family feared for his life. As far as any of us were concerned the people rioting were all bad and our relative was an innocent victim. I was too young to understand the reasons behind the crowds taking to the streets and damaging property. Looking back at that incident I realize two things: there had to be some legitimate reasons why people were angry and secondly, there were some individuals who saw an opportunity to wreak havoc in the neighborhood. When a violent act or tragedy takes place, people witnessing it may only see things at face value. They may not be interested with someone else’s concerns. Maybe that is part of the problem; it certainly seems more so these days from what I have seen and heard on the news. This may sound trite, but I find it so true; “You don’t know someone until you walk in their shoes.” Or what is that other saying that goes, “There are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.” With more and more people responding to disagreements/conflicts with anger, thinking the louder they shout the more they will be heard, it is no wonder the world seems more like a scary place. This dramatic, film festival winner reminded me there is more to a story than what one sees for themselves.      THE KILLING OF A BLACK MAN by a Brooklyn police officer affected more than those who knew the two men. Starring Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, White Girl) as Manny, John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Love Beats Rhymes) as Dennis, Kelvin Harrison Jr (The Birth of a Nation, It Comes at Night) as Zyric, Jasmine Cephas Jones (Blindspotting, Mistress America) as Marisol and Giuseppe Ardizzone (Boardwalk Empire-TV, Gotham-TV) as Officer Jim Gambini; I found the story gripping throughout the movie. This was writer and director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s first full length feature film and I found his script and direction new and fresh, considering the subject matter has been done before and is a current issue in society. I found the acting to be this raw realness that added to the tension I felt throughout the picture. This movie has the ability to allow the viewer to look at the bigger picture, pushing the boundaries beyond face value. Living near a city where violence occurs on a weekly basis, this story could have easily taken place here.

 

3 ½ stars

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