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Flash Movie Review: The United States vs. Billie Holiday

IF I HAD LIVED FURTHER DOWN the hallway of my college residence, I would have certainly failed all my classes. At the opposite end of the hallway lived a student who played loud, heavy metal music when he had to study. He did listen to it other times; but during the week, he would play it at the same specific time which I found out was when he had to study. There would be no way I could study, let alone read a book, with such a distraction. When I studied, I had to have it quiet; the same goes for when I read a book for pleasure. I had a friend who could read while the television was on. If that was me, my ears would be picking up snippets of conversations while I was trying to read, causing a distraction for me. I admire people who are not bothered by such distractions. There were some students who liked to study together in small groups. They would congregate in the building’s lounge, fitting themselves around one of the tables or plopping themselves down in a corner filled with beanbag chairs and throw pillows. I would see them huddled together passing around bags of chips and pretzels along with a couple of thermoses filled with what I suspected to be something stronger than a soft drink or coffee. There would be no way I could be part of their study group because I would be constantly distracted.      THE WEIRD THING IS WHEN I AM cooking or baking, I like to have some sound playing in the background. Either music or anything on the TV, I like it playing in the background because for some reason it keeps me calm. I always wondered if it is a creative thing, where people who are “making” something like to have a multiple of their senses getting stimulated at the same time. I cannot remember the artist’s name, but there was one I read about who loved to have music playing anytime they were painting. On the other hand, only based on the movie I saw, I believe Vincent Van Gogh preferred silence while painting so he could feel everything around him. It comes down to different creative people experience distractions in different ways. I cannot imagine what it would be like for, let us say, a sculptor trying to create something while having a distraction nearby. There used to be an artist who lived on my block who would always wear noise cancelling headphones whenever they were outside working on a project. With me speaking of distractions, after seeing this Oscar nominated and film festival winning movie, I cannot believe what the main character went through while selling out concert halls.      THE PERFORMANCE OF ONE SONG WAS all that it took for the United States government to hopefully find a way to stop the singer Billie Holiday, played by Andra Day (Marshall), from ever singing again. With Leslie Jordan (The Help, Will & Grace-TV) as Reginald Lord Devine, Miss Lawrence (Star-TV, Empire-TV) as Miss Freddy, Natasha Lyonne (Honey Boy, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tallulah Bankhead and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, The Predator) as Jimmy Fletcher; this dramatic music biography must be watched simply because of Andra’s performance. Known more as a singer, this starring role of hers made me think I was truly watching Billie Holiday. Overall, I enjoyed watching this film, though it needed a tightening up on the direction and another rewrite of the script. The reason I say this is because there were such a variety of characters that at times the intensity in Andra’s performance waned. Other than that, I cannot get over the life Billie was living through while trying to simply sing for a living. A deservedly Oscar nominated performance that needs to be seen to be believed.                    

3 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Nomadland

MAYBE BEING BORN IN AN APARTMENT building is the reason why I acknowledge neighbors when I see them. I have lived in buildings and houses; each offers a different living experience. With a house, I always made sure that any loud music/noise ended by 9 pm. There were times I would get home late on a winter night and I would not use the snowblower to shovel the sidewalks, because I did not want to disturb any neighbors. It was important to me to be a good neighbor, so I never complained about a dog barking non-stop in the neighbor’s backyard or my neighbor’s child shooting baskets at 6:30 in the morning. Honestly, I was fortunate to have reasonable and good neighbors. It was not unusual for a neighbor to come over and help when they saw me attempting to do a home repair outside. Likewise, I would help a neighbor carry groceries or heavy objects from their vehicle whenever I saw them. When I moved from an apartment to a house, I made it a point to maintain friendly, or at least cordial, relations with my neighbors. We were going to be living next door to each other, so why would I want to cause something that would turn the relationship acrimonious.      LIVING IN A CONDO BUILDING, I have found I have more frequent contact with neighbors than when living in a house. Having several apartments on one floor, one is bound to bump into a neighbor in the hallway. Add in an elevator and there rarely is a day I would not see anyone. Now here is the funny thing; when someone would get on the elevator I always either say hello or acknowledge them with a nod of my head. We live in the same building and though they may be a stranger to me, I feel it is the kind thing to do. It always surprises me when I meet a neighbor who either does not make eye contact or says nothing in return when I acknowledge them. It is not like I get offended by it; I just find it odd. There are some neighbors who will make small talk and there are others who just say a quick hi and go about their business. This may sound weird, but I sometimes wonder what a neighbor would do if they came upon me in some kind of physical distress. Would they quickly walk away because they do not want to be involved or would they try to help? I would rather they be like the neighbors in this dramatic, Academy Award winning movie.      EXPERIENCING MULTIPLE LOSSES AFTER THE GREAT recession, the only thing Fern, played by Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom, Burn After Reading), had available was her phone and a van. Between the two she would find a place unlike the place she had come from. With newcomer Gay DeForest as Gay, newcomer Patricia Grier as Patty, newcomer Linda May as Linda and David Strathairn (Fast Color, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Dave, this film festival winner was a gentle piece of work. The direction was excellent though I have to say the pacing bordered close to being too slow for me. The acting from Francis was a study on how one could convey emotions without talking and she was powerful in the role. One of the big surprises for me were the newcomers who were not actors but the actual people portraying their lives. The story was a curious one and I appreciated the way it was filmed; the scenery was beautiful. I do have to say if I had seen this before I did my Oscar favorites, I honestly would not have picked Frances as best actress, not that she was bad by any means. My focus is first and foremost the entertainment value and I think the slowness and quiet dragged me down a bit. However, I still feel this rightfully deserved to be included with the nominees this past year.

3 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Trailer: Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

AS WE WERE COMING IN FOR a landing at the airport, the passenger in the next seat reminded me to make sure I don’t put my wallet in my pants pocket. I thanked him as I wondered what kind of city I would find in this foreign land. The flight was several hours and this passenger, upon hearing this was my first trip to the city, had updated me on a variety of places where I had to be careful because of pickpockets and con artists. I had heard similar stuff from friends back home who had visited this place before. My plan once we landed was to get my luggage then find the transportation terminal to take a bus to my hotel. The walk from luggage claim to transportation was short; once there, I stopped to put my luggage down to double check my paperwork on which bus I needed. About 25 feet away from me was a woman standing and talking to 2 guys. At first, I thought they were a group; but soon realized the two guys were native as they were talking about their cab that was parked outside. The way they stood next to the woman; she could not see that one of the guys was trying to slip his hand into her purse, that was hanging down from her shoulder. Before I had time to think, I yelled out, “HEY!” It was enough for the guy to move his hand away as the woman turned to look at me. The 2 men quickly walked away. What kind of city was I getting into?      GRATEFULLY, DESPITE THAT INTRODUCTION TO A new city, I fell in love with the place. My time there reminded me of another trip I took to an international city. On that trip, I had planned to incorporate a lot of walking into my daily sightseeing attractions. Of course, I had to try their public transportation at least once, which was surreal for me because I was able to imagine what it must have been like to be underground decades ago, while bombs were exploding above. On one of my daily excursions, I wound up getting lost and could not figure out how to get to my intended destination. With the tourist map in hand, I glanced at the pedestrians who were coming and going and chose a middle-aged looking man to stop and ask for help. He was friendly and unbelievably helpful to the point where he insisted walking with me, to make sure I got to the correct train stop. That chance encounter only enhanced the great time I had visiting that city. A moment of kindness can make all the difference; you can see it for yourself in this animated adventure comedy.      THE SIGHTING OF A UFO NEARBY makes the Farmer, voiced by John Sparkes (Calendar Girls, Peppa Pig-TV), see a new source of income; while Shaun the sheep, voiced by Justin Fletcher (Chicken Run, Justin’s House-TV), makes a new friend. With Amalia Vitale (Making It, Christmas Eve) voicing Lu-La/Me-Ma, Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder-TV, Timmy Time-TV) voicing Agent Red/Timmy’s Mum and David Holt (Angry Kid-TV, The Jungle Book-TV) voicing Mugg-1NS; this Oscar nominated and film festival winner was a joy to watch. Besides enjoying the style of animation in this film, I loved the fact there was no discernible dialog. Emotions and intentions were all conveyed with the face and body; it was incredible. The story was simple and there were no surprises per se; however, there was such a charm and fun element to this film that I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The humor/sight gags were sly and amusing on multiple levels; some geared to younger kids and others to more mature, including adults. If this sequel is any indication of what to expect going forward, I will always enjoy visiting this farm where Shaun lives. Extra scene during the credits.

3 ¼ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Pieces of a Woman

THOUGH OUR CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE YEARS ago, I still carry the elderly man’s words with me. The details surrounding our talk are faded and fuzzy after all these years; however, I know we were talking about the death of a mutual friend. It was a sudden death and we were saying how hard a sudden death is for those left behind. The man said something that was profound to me; he said the longer a person suffers towards their end, the easier it is for the living at the time of death. These are words that have been tested for me and it is true. I never want to see someone suffering before their time is done here. The first time I saw where these words were tested was at a nursing home. Seeing the person wilt away in an antiseptic environment, losing their awareness of everything around them; it was heartbreaking. Though they were not suffering in the traditional sense, for it appeared they had no pains or aches, those of us around them felt defeated and beaten because there was nothing, we could do to change things. This was not living, and they were not the person I knew in my younger days. The life in them was draining out to the point where no one would argue with you if you thought they looked like a breathing carcass.      THE ELDERLY MAN MENTIONED THAT THE time of his death would be part of the natural order most people have come to expect. He liked to refer to death as a walk into the sunset. What he was saying made sense to me because the grief I was experiencing concerning our mutual friend was different than what I feel towards someone who had lived a long time. When one is living in their younger years, death usually doesn’t have a seat at their table. But, when someone is living in their twilight years, death not only has a seat but eventually becomes an active participant in your mind’s tabletop discussions. When the man was telling me about order, he said in the natural order of things a parent never wants to see their child die and a child always expects their parent to die before them. I thought about that and it made perfect sense to me. From our conversation, I realized grief is not a simple, clear cut function; grief is multifaceted, there are many shades to it and every single person handles grief in their own way. I hope my talking about this subject is not upsetting you; I am simply preparing you in case you choose to watch the incredible performance in this dramatic, film festival winner.      A TRAGIC EVENT SENDS A COUPLE into a world of grief that each one handles differently. Will their paths meet during their grieving process? With Vanessa Kirby (Kill Command, The Crown-TV) as Martha, Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Sean, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, American Woman) as Elizabeth, Iliza Shlesinger (Instant Family, Spenser Confidential) as Anita and Benny Safdie (Good Time, Person to Person) as Chris; the beginning of this movie was one of the toughest things I have had to sit through and watch. Right from the start, I felt engaged with Vanessa and Shia; they were tremendous in their acting abilities. The story may not be original, but the way it was acted out and directed gave it a fresh perspective. Now there were times where I felt the story drifting, particularly more so in the last half; but Vanessa was a force in this picture, she carried the bulk of the work needed to keep the viewers interested in what was taking place. This was not what I would call an “up” type of film, but it was a good example of seeing someone go through the grieving process.

3 ¼ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Cold Mountain

AFTER LISTENING TO THEM WHINE ABOUT how hard it is to be separated so long from their significant other, I had to remind them I had been in a long-distance relationship for a couple of years. They were complaining about the 6 months out of state assignment their partner was on for work. I wanted to be supportive, I truly did; but all I was hearing was a list of complaints about their needs not being met. It was only 6 months and I knew the high costs made it prohibitive to travel often; but they were in a committed relationship. Shouldn’t those in such a relationship be able to “weather the storm” of being apart I wondered? In my past relationship we were only able to be together once a month after they were promoted to a position at their corporate headquarters, that was out of state. They could not turn down the offer and I would not have wanted them to do it; we chose to be together while we were figuring out what made the most sense. My friend knew their partner traveled for work. Granted it usually involved being away 3 to 5 days at a time, nothing more until this current work detail. Tell me if I am wrong, but I had to wonder just how committed were they to their love relationship?      COMMITMENT TAKES WORK AND IT TAKES strength; don’t kid yourself if you do not think so. I knew a married couple who spent more time apart than together because one of them took a teaching job in a foreign country. They realized for the short term it would be challenging, but they had a goal; with this job they would be able to retire years earlier than expected. The money from the teaching job would allow them to both retire young enough to enjoy sharing their lives together. I am not saying this would work for everyone; but I will say it shows a strong commitment to each other. This couple was able to see each other 3 times a year. Their children were grown and out of the house, which I assume made this arrangement easier for them. Within my circle of friends and acquaintances, I have seen individuals who cannot handle adversity in their relationships. If something tough happens they are too quick to end everything and move on. I try not to judge them; I understand everyone handles things differently. Now that I have watched this Oscar winner, I should just suggest they watch this movie to see how some people deal with commitment.      HAVING RECENTLY MET, THERE WAS LITTLE time for Inman, played by Jude Law (The Nest, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Ada Monroe, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, Bombshell), to get to know each other because the country was falling into a civil war. With Renee Zellweger (Judy, My One and Only) as Ruby Thewes, Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, Gosford Park) as Maddy and Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, Calvary) as Stobrod Thewes; this film festival winning adventure drama was beautifully filmed and exquisitely acted. The outdoor scenes were wonderful to look at. Renee was amazing in her role and for me, she was the most believable. Much of the film consisted of a slower pace; sometimes more than I thought necessary. However, I did not lose interest as the script provided enough change in emotions to keep things moving. I can only assume the book must be powerful as this film had a variety of ways to look at the story. Also, I never gave enough thought to those left behind during wartime and I felt the writers did an especially good job in showing viewers the reality of the times. With a running time of 2 ½ hours, it does take one to commit to watching this film; but I feel it would be worth it.

3 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Mustang

SHE SPOTTED ME AS I CAME through the door and did not take her eyes off me all the way down the staircase, until I finally took a seat. In that short amount of time she had already figured me out. The trainer came over to introduce herself to me and explain what was expected of me. I was prepared but still had some trepidation. You see, I had never done this before and did not want to embarrass myself right at the start. After going through the instructions, the trainer took me over to meet her. She was taller and much bigger than me, with a long mane of auburn hair. I was told to extend my hand slowly with the palm facing up, so as not to startle her. She started to pull back, but the trainer told her in a quiet, soothing voice that everything was ok and that I was nice. I felt weird standing there with my arm stretched out waiting for her, I guess, to see if she would begin to trust me. It seemed like a long time but evidentially she took a step forward and lowered her head down to sniff my hand. I remained still for a moment before I began scratching her under the chin and softly tell her she was a good girl. That was the extent of our interaction for the day; I was to return tomorrow for our second session.      AFTER MY INITIAL INTRODUCTION I THOUGHT I would have been more relaxed but that was not the case. When I returned the next day, she was walking in a large circle until she spotted me and came to a stop; her gaze locked onto me as I walked down the stairs. The trainer was standing near her and motioned me to come over. I took it as a good sign that she did not back away as I joined them. Today’s lesson was to teach me how to clean her feet and if time permitted, I would get a riding lesson. The trainer handed me some type of brush with what looked like a metal claw sticking out of it; I was to use this to clean her feet after the trainer demonstrated it for me. The process was easy, and I got the hang of it rather quickly. Afterwards there was enough time, so the trainer instructed me on how to mount her and get in the saddle. Having never done this before, it took a couple of times before I could do it. I am sure that was enough for my horse to know I was a novice. And sure enough, once I got settled into the saddle, she took off in a trot with me bouncing up and down atop her back. No matter what the trainer told me to do, the horse was not buying it and did what she wanted to do. I was just grateful she did not try to knock me off her. Through my lessons I gained a deeper appreciation for horses, which explains why I enjoyed this dramatic, award winning film.      CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED FOR A VIOLENT crime Roman, played by Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow, Rust and Bone), was enrolled into a prison program that involved the training of wild mustangs. Roman would soon discover he met his match. With Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Henry, Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The ’Burbs) as Myles, Gideon Adlon (Blockers, American Crime-TV) as Martha and Connie Britton (American Ultra, Nashville-TV) as psychologist; this film based on true events told a straight forward story in a simple and surprisingly beautiful way. The filming was eye catching and Matthias’ acting was incredibly intense to the point one could not take their eyes off him. There was a smoldering intensity that boiled and simmered throughout the story. I thought the script was well written as it carried the story between periods of silence and action. This was a quiet and thoughtful movie filled with majestic animals and touching moments.

3 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Life Ahead

I KNEW HIM TO BE A mean and argumentative individual. He really was worse than that, but I was afraid I would get censored for what I really wanted to say about him. It was not unusual to see him in a fight with another student, whether it was verbal or physical. I never liked him and did my best to stay away from him. After we graduated and moved up to the regional school, I thought for sure I would not have any contact with him; it turns out I was wrong. We both had the same music class. When I walked into the classroom and saw him sitting in one of the seats, I wanted to turn around and go to the counselor’s office, to see if I could change out of the class. Because I did not want to start moving classes around, I decided to stick it out and just make a point to never sit near him. Hopefully, he would not see me or if he did, would not realize we had gone to the same lower school. This was not the way I wanted to start out in this new school; but at least the teacher seemed nice.      THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER, MY PLAN TO go unnoticed by him worked. He hadn’t changed since the teacher had to break up a couple of fights that he was involved in with other students. Also, whenever we had an open discussion in class, he was his typical abusive self with his yelling and name calling. A funny thing, however, started to take place I noticed after many weeks. His methods of discussion took on a less combative mode and I honestly could not recall when was the last fight he participated in. At least for me, I felt relief since his ways were a distraction; I wanted to hear more from the instructor because she seemed so knowledgeable. A student sitting next to me who had struck up an acquaintance with me, surprised me when he commented on our classmate. He had noticed the change like I had; but it turns out he had a theory. I was curious to hear, so he shared his thoughts with me. It turns out the teacher had spent several sessions one on one with our classmate after his first outburst in class. I knew her to be a gentle and kind, based on the way she conducted class. The way she dealt with us as a class was something new to me. She tended to ignore the boastful or negative comments as she encouraged us to be more open and honest. I know I do not have enough space here to share the details; but if you are curious, this dramatic film can show you a way on how people can change.      WITH THE RETURN OF HER STOLEN purse Madame Rosa, played by Sophia Loren (A Special Day, Marriage Italian Style), was put in the uncomfortable position to board the person who stole it in the first place. It was an outrageous request. With Renato Carpentieri (Open Doors, Tenderness) , Francesco Cassano (The Tracker, Anche Senza di te) as Carabiniere, newcomer Ibrahima Gueye as Momo and Abril Zamora (Three Days with the Family, Vis a Vis) as Lola; this Italian film was proof that when you are a star, you can remain a star. Sophia was outstanding in this role; so much so, that if it had been someone else, I do not think the movie would have been as engaging for me. The story had a familiar ring to it, but the chemistry between Ibrahima and Sophia was solid. Since the movie I saw was dubbed in English, I felt it made it harder for me to connect at first; but that soon passed. This was a classic performance from a classic actress, and I was glad I was able to watch it.

3 ¼ stars     

Flash Movie Review: A Simple Plan

THE FIRST THING THAT CAME TO mind when I saw him at a party, was remembering how greedy he was when he was a little kid. Now before you say a lot of small children did greedy things, let me tell you what I thought about this one. When I was small there was not one candy dish, I passed up without taking a piece or two of candy. This kid was different. He would take a piece of candy; but when no one was looking, he would go back and load up his pockets with several pieces. Have I convinced you about him yet? I remember there was a dinner and we were all sitting around the dining room table. There was one roll left in a basket on the table; an adult was reaching for the basket when this greedy kid quickly made a grab for the bread. It did not matter that he had not finished the roll on his plate; he had to make sure he could get another one. He got scolded for being so rude, but he did not care because when he grabbed the roll, he made sure to take a bite out of it before putting it down on his plate, next to his other half eaten roll. I am telling you; he was not a nice little boy.      NOW YEARS LATER HERE I WAS having a meal with him being present. We were all eating at a restaurant and it was determined that we would be splitting the bill. It was easier to divide it by the amount of people instead of breaking down what each person ordered. As the waitress took our orders, I noticed pretty much everyone was ordering similar things. When it came time for him to tell the waitress what he wanted, he ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. I was still looking at the menu at the time, so I saw the price. He also ordered an alcoholic drink. Because people were talking no one noticed or if they did, it probably did not register with them that he was ordering an expensive dish. Part of me wanted to say something, but I decided to keep my mouth shut. And if I needed any more proof to validate my belief about him, when the breadbasket on the table had only one item left in it, he grabbed the last piece despite not finishing the bread he still had on his dinner plate. Some people, like him, are born greedy; others learn it. Feel free to see what you think about the main characters in this dramatic, crime thriller.      WHEN THREE MEN DISCOVERED A CRASHED plane in the woods, they found two things inside: a dead pilot and millions in cash. Each of them had an idea on what to do next. With Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Hank, Bridget Fonda (Single White Female, Lake Placid) as Sarah, Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa franchise, The Man Who Wasn’t There) as Jacob, Brent Briscoe (The Green Mile, Sling Blade) as Lou and Chelcie Ross (Basic Instinct, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Carl; this film festival winning, Oscar nominated movie was a solid production. It was refreshing to watch a character driven story that was well acted and direct. I found myself getting hooked into the plot early and enjoyed all the twists and turns along the way. The cast truly looked connected and in rhythm with each other as their emotions went on full display. Being an “older” film, I enjoyed seeing the sets and outdoor scenes that depicted a different period of time. Lastly, it always amazes me what greed can do to a person and because of that, I was especially curious watching how it would play a part in this thought-provoking drama.

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Tale

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE never experienced, and I hope you never do, such a thing; I will try to give you a glimpse of what can take place in a person’s mind when their personal space has been violated. The sense of fear and dread cover you completely with a heaviness as if you had just fallen into a huge dunk tank of water. Your hearing becomes distorted because the brain can no longer decipher the difference between a rapidly beating heart and the sounds coming from the outside of your body as it is trying to repel the onslaught of foreign forces. The muscles of your body try to stay unified as one complete repellent; but it is like holding your breath—at some point you have no choice but to let go. And then, muscle after muscle retreats and hides back inside of your body. Though the eyes may be open, what they are seeing is a colorless slow-motion slice of life. It is as if everyone around is oblivious to you; they are going through the motions but at a much slower pace. Joining the list of senses offline is the sense of taste. One’s mouth gets so dry it hampers the ability to utter any sounds. There is nothing to taste anyway when one’s teeth are clenched. The only sense that appears to be working during the time is smell. You might not be able to smell anything more than one scent; however, that one odor is intensely strong so you will never forget it.      PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED SUCH horror gain the ability to spot another like victim. There are certain mannerisms and traits that will not register with the general population; only those with a shared experience can sense the hurt and pain inside a person. I will never forget the time when two new people came into one of my classes. They were a teenaged girl and her parent. Whenever a new person comes into class, I try to talk to them before we start, to get an idea of their physical capabilities. After introducing myself, I sensed something was not right when I saw the girl was looking down at the ground when she was talking to me. Her posture and arms placement were a tipoff for me. As I began to teach class, I watched her movements. By the end of class I felt for sure the teenager was going through emotional turmoil. I did not say anything at the time as I wanted to see if there would be any changes in the following weeks. After a month of them coming to class the opportunity presented itself for me to share my feelings with the parent. I wish there would have been someone there to help the main character when she was young in this dramatic, mystery thriller.      WHEN HER MOTHER FINDS AND READS a story she wrote when she was 13 years old, the questions her mother was asking made Jennifer, played by Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Cold Pursuit), think twice about that special time in her life. With Jason Ritter (Raise Your Voice, W.) as Bill, Common (Suicide Squad, The Informer) as Martin, Elizabeth Debicki (Tenet, Widows) as Mrs. G and Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream) as Nettie; this film festival winner’s story was powerful. I thought the script was well written, even though I was uncomfortable watching this movie at times. Laura was outstanding in the role and the rest of the cast did their part to present a solid piece of work that was believable and real. My understanding about the story is that it is partially or completely autobiographical; if so, there were a couple of scenes that did not ring as true as the others. I did not find it to be such a distraction that took me away from my enjoyment of the picture. The story is intense and may make some viewers uncomfortable; but it will give you some insight into the horrors some people experience in life.                                

 3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: IP Man

HE WAS SUCH AN UNASSUMING INDIVIDUAL that I did not know he was the owner of the company. A fellow employee pointed him out to me one day; I thought they were playing a joke on me because I did not believe it. The owner was casually dressed in nondescript clothing. In other words, there were no fancy labels or names on anything, nor did he wear anything around his neck or wrist like a gold chain or expensive watch. Basically, there was nothing about this man’s appearance that defined his achievements. The product the company was selling was something he had invented. I thought that alone would have been enough reason for him to put on airs or display a sense of importance around the offices, but it was not. He acted like one of the employees of the company. When I think about it, the only time one would wonder what his position was in the company was during the holidays. He would receive a variety of thank you gifts from vendors; things like boxes of fruit, assorted cookies or other food-based products. Instead of keeping them for himself he was always opening the packages and placing them in the company kitchen for people to take for themselves.     AS MUCH AS THE OWNER WAS humble, there was one company salesman who had ego for days. Every day he was dressed in a suit, whether he had customer appointments of not. That alone would not have been a big deal; but he wore quite a few expensive accessories. I had counted at least 6 expensive watches he switched up every day, besides thick gold jewelry pieces on his other wrist. Whether you asked him for his opinion or not, he was the type of person who would always tell you what you should do. Even things that were just common sense, he had to make a point of telling you what was the “right” way to do it; at least right according to him. If a customer came into the offices, they usually assumed he was the owner based on his mannerisms and speech. He was full of himself as they say; I did my best to have only minimal interaction with him. From that job to all the others I have had I have learned those who “crow” the loudest usually know the least. Those who do not brag, or showoff tend to be the most knowledgeable. This certainly applies to the main character in this biographical film festival winning movie.      HAVING PRACTICED A LIFESTYLE OF NON-CONFRONTATION became a conflict for Ip Man, played by Donnie Yen (Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, Seven Swords) when Japanese forces invaded and took over his town. With resources scarce, he would have to find a way to survive. With Simon Yam (Election, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) as Quan, Lynn Xiong (Hotel Deluxe, My Sassy Girl 2) as Cheung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (The Handsome Suit, Railroad Tigers) as Miura and Siu-Wong Fan (Future X-Cops, Flying Swords of Dragon) as Jin; this action drama surprised me. For the genre it is in, this film’s focus was on the story and I found it interesting. It felt to me like a partial history lesson with its inclusion of the Japanese invasion of China back in the 1930s. The action scenes were beautifully choreographed, even when a bit of humor was interjected in some of them. It was unexpected to see a martial arts movie that was so story driven; I was drawn into the plight of Ip Man and his family. Also, the fact that this character was based on a true person (who in real life had Bruce Lee as a student) made this picture that more enjoyable. Seeing photos of the actual man at the end was an added treat. Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ¼ stars       

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