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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       

Flash Movie Review: Hard Eight

IT WAS THE 2ND WEEK OF high school when I first heard the guitar music filtering into the hallway. I was a freshman and still getting the lay of the land in the large school building, compared to my small elementary school. Making a mental note of my surroundings, I promised myself I would find where the music was coming from. The following week during my study period, I asked for a hall pass and made my way through the school hallways listening for the music. It was faint and unrecognizable, lingering just enough in the air like morning mist to lead me towards it. I soon found myself in an unfamiliar part of the school, in front of a slightly ajar door without a room number. As I slowly pushed the door open the guitar playing stopped. I froze for a moment but decided I could not run away now. Stepping into the room I saw a blonde-haired guy sitting on a desk with one leg crossed over the other and a guitar resting in his lap. He was the first to speak by saying hello to me. I said hi back and told him I had heard the music playing and wanted to find out where it was coming from. He asked if I played an instrument and I told him yes, the piano. From there we started talking all things music, from classical to pop music.      HE WAS A SENIOR WHICH TOOK me by surprise because I had heard seniors would not be caught dead talking to lowly freshmen. Music was our connection and I found myself hanging out with him playing music every week, since they did not take attendance in study hall. Having a senior as a friend was fortuitous because it gave me inside access on how to maneuver through the school year. He gave me a rundown of which teachers were cool, what foods to avoid in the lunchroom, what bathrooms were safe to use, among a variety of other tips and warnings. I did not have to go through a typical trial and error period of discovery that was filled with risk, especially for freshman. Little did I know how valuable his info would be for me. My years in high school were traumatic, filled with bullying and abuse; I could only imagine how worse it would have been if I did not know what I already knew due to him. Though we only had one year together in school before he went out of state for college; for all intents and purposes he was a mentor to me, just like the main character in this dramatic crime film.      HAVING LOST ALL HIS MONEY, NOT able to even buy a meal John, played by John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie, The Sisters Brothers), was leery of the stranger who suddenly appeared and offered to buy him a cup of coffee. No one does something for free without wanting something; what did this finely dressed man want with John? With Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights, The Last Word) as Sydney, Gwyneth Paltrow (The Avengers franchise, Thanks for Sharing) as Clementine, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, The Hateful Eight) as Jimmy and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Hunger Games franchise, The Master) as a young craps player; this film festival winner was filled with a tour de force of acting. The cast was outstanding as they slowly made their way through the script. Seeped in mystery and emotions, I enjoyed the unintentional retro vibe coming off this over 20-year-old film. Due to the authenticity of the dialog, I stayed engaged with the story; a story that seemed familiar to me from other gambling films, yet still had some surprise to it. I can see where young writers would use this film as a teaching tool on how to write real characters.

 

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Circus of Books

THERE WAS ONE FAMILY THAT LIVED on the block who had a Dad that was of great interest to the kids in the neighborhood. On the outside he looked like the other dads; he drove to work everyday at the same time most of the other adults were leaving their homes for work. He told corny jokes to his children’s friends and he barbequed in the backyard. But what was of most interest to us kids was this man’s profession. Rumor had it he worked for the government, some type of secret agency. I cannot recall when the rumors started but I was extremely curious about him, hoping he was some kind of spy.  Now there were other parents in the neighborhood who had jobs that sounded interesting to us kids. There was a parent who owned a restaurant somewhere down in the heart of the city; another parent was an artist who would use photographs as a base to create small and large oil paintings for customers. But there was something about this one Dad that kept most of us kids engaged in trying to figure out what he really did for a living. We would get together at times to try and piece together any clues one of us might have seen or heard throughout our day. At one point we decided he must be a double agent because someone heard him speak in a different language. After several years that father and his family sold their house and moved away; none of us ever found out if he was a spy?      HAVING A PARENT WHO HAD A COOL or interesting job was a big plus when growing up. There was one kid whose father was a city bus driver. Any time he was the driver of the bus I was taking, I felt special; as if I had something no one else on the bus could claim. I know one of the reasons I felt this way was because I did not have to worry about someone picking on me; I knew I had a protector during my trip. Out of the parents’ jobs I knew, this one meant the most to me because it was something I could see and feel he was doing something for me, namely protecting me from bullies. There were other parents who had interesting jobs and maybe their occupations meant something special to other kids, but outside of the one dad we all thought was a spy, the bus driver was my favorite. I am sure if the parents in this documentary lived in my neighborhood, all the kids would want to know what they did for a living.      WHENEVER THE CHILDREN OF KAREN AND BARRY Mason accompanied them to work, they never understood why they were told to never look up, to look straight down at the floor. Written by Kathryn Robson (Parrots Heads, Rip Rip Hooray!) and written and directed by Rachel Mason (The Lives of Hamilton Fish, Singularity Song), this film festival winner provided me with a fascinating movie watching experience. This was due to the different elements that made up the script. There were several different aspects to the story such as historical, generational and family. I immediately found Karen and Barry likeable as they talked about how they got into their line of work by happenstance. With interviews coming from a variety of sources such as Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine and former employee Alaska from RuPaul’s Drag Race, seeing the family dynamics in the mix of this was wild. I also appreciated the message about acceptance, love and providing for one’s family. All that was missing from this biographical movie was getting interviews from some of the neighbors and kids’ friends. After finishing this picture I did wonder how this family would have fared living on my block.

 

3 ¼ stars    

Flash Movie Review: American Woman

I AM USED TO WAITING IN LINE at the drive thru lane of a restaurant; but I was not prepared to do it at a funeral home. As I arrived at the funeral home, I saw there were several cars lined up as if they were preparing for the procession to the burial ground. Pulling into the lot behind the last car an employee of the funeral home, who had been standing off to the side, walked up to me to explain how to proceed through the visitation. I was to follow in single file, as one car at a time will pull underneath the porte-cochere. The occupants can then get out of their car and walk up to the locked, double glass doors of the lobby to pay their respects to the grieving family, who will be standing behind the doors with the casket. After the respects are paid, I was to return to my car and drive out of the parking lot. The last thing the man said to me was that there was not a sign in book; instead, I could go online to the funeral home’s home page and leave a comment for the family. I thanked the gentleman, closed my car window and waited for my turn.      AFTER FIVE MINUTES, I WAS ABLE TO move forward one car length ahead. Outside my driver’s side window there was now a TV monitor that was set up on a stand. There was a slide show of photos rotating that showed different time periods in the life of the deceased. From birth to their first birthday part, their school years through college and family trips; I sat and watched the photos appear and disappear, providing me with a glimmer of what their life was like. I had lost track of time, as it became my turn to pull underneath and pay my respects. Getting out of the car, I walked towards the glass doors; the only thing I saw at first through the reflective glass was the open casket. It seemed to be floating in midair. As I got closer, images of the grieving family began to appear through the reflection as if they were materializing before my eyes. Out of the family members standing, the father looked the worse. I could not tell if what I was seeing was distorted by the reflective glass; but the father looked like he was in a state of shock. The solid stone expression on his face never changed. With lifeless eyes and a neck that looked like it had been replaced by a spring, he simply kept nodding his head up and down while staring directly ahead. It looked like he was missing a part of himself; similar to the way the main character did in this mystery drama.      WHEN HER DAUGHTER DID NOT COME home it was up to Debra, played by Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, American Sniper) to be in charge of raising her grandson. She only needed someone to raise her. This film festival nominated movie also starred Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver, Elvis & Nixon) as Bridget Callahan, Kentucker Audley (Funny Bunny, The Middle Distance) as Brett Tobeck, Christina Hendricks (Good Girls-TV, The Neon Demon) as Katherine and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Terry. Set in rural Pennsylvania, this acting by Sienna and Christina was outstanding. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; but with the acting and directing I fell into the events taking place while becoming emotional attached. This was a quiet film where some of the characters needed more emotional depth. However, the performances of the actors made up for any deficiencies. This was both such a heart wrenching and triumphant story that Sienna navigated with expert skill.

 

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Lady Macbeth

EACH OF US HAS EMOTIONAL NEEDS such as love, growth and significance. If one begins to feel empty, there is usually a negative feeling ready to fill the void. During those times where I was feeling alone, as if I was the only one of my kind, I filled my emptiness with food. Coming into the house with grocery bags filled with some of my favorite foods would provide me with a short-lived euphoria of comfort. At one point I was eating frozen pizza 2 to 3 times a day; that is how intense I was reacting to the emptiness. My attempts at love kept failing because of my lack of love for myself. It took a lot of hard work and discipline to recognize what I was doing with food and deciding to make some changes. All considering, based on what I have seen regarding what people use to fill a void, I am grateful I only used food to fill the emptiness inside of me. During my period of change it always fascinated or maybe I should say troubled me that this void inside constantly needed to be filled. When I experimented with things I thought might fill it, I never found myself reaching a level of comfort. I certainly got an understanding of what it meant to be “comfortable in one’s own skin.”      WHILE I WAS ON MY JOURNEY of self-discovery, a friend of mine was being forced into one. She had been married for 20-25 years when I first met her. She had a great sense of humor and a personality to match. Yet, there was something I saw in her eyes that troubled me. It was a look that was familiar to me. During the life of our friendship I watched as her personality, humor and self-worth faded away. She would never talk about it; but I could see when she said anything about her husband, the life in her would die down like a campfire at the end of an evening. It was painful to see the life being sucked out of her and no matter what I said to her, nothing worked. It was not until a couple of years later when the door opened a crack and she revealed the pain she was in from her loveless marriage. Her outlet was to delve into the world of crafts. It was shocking to know the pain she was going through was producing some incredible pieces of art. Using arts and craft as a springboard, she found her way back to herself and became strong enough to leave her husband. It turned out her husband was abusive to her. Not feeling loved by him opened a gateway where her self-worth spilled out. Gratefully she filled her void in a healthy way, unlike the main character in this film festival winning, romantic drama.      STUCK IN A LOVELESS MARRIAGE KATHERINE, played by Florence Pugh (Little Women, Fighting with my Family), realized what she was missing when she felt an attraction to a hired hand. That discovery started Katherine on a path of filling the void inside of her with darkness. With Cosmo Jones (Hunter Killer, The Marker) as Sebastian, Paul Hilton (Doctor Faustus, Eternal Beauty) as Alexander, Naomi Ackie (The Corrupted, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as Anna and Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Boris; this film grabbed my interest from the beginning. The reason for it was Florence Pugh. She was such a presence in the story; I could not stop watching her in the role. Set in rural England during the 19th century, the story started out slow and deliberate. The scenes appeared authentic and only added to the shifting moods that took place through the script. I will say at times the script drifted off track, but for me this was not a glaring issue because of Florence’s acting. With the present situation regarding the ability to see films, this one filled a void in me for well-done movies.

 

3 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: At Eternity’s Gate

IT WAS ONLY ONE FLASH OF light that caught my attention, but it opened up my eyes to a whole world of beauty. I was walking towards the garage when a millisecond of bright light appeared between 2 ornamental bushes. I was sure I had seen it despite its brief appearance in what appeared to be midair. The plants were a recent addition to my backyard, both seemed to be taking nicely to their parcel of land. I walked over to the bushes to see if there was something I had not noticed before. As I made my way across the lawn a slight breeze of air stirred up and that speck of bright light appeared once again. I walked up and like an apparition there was a large spider web that spanned the space between the 2 plants. It faded in and out depending on the breeze being able to push it into full sunlight. It was exquisite, looking like a fine piece of lace. Not wanting to disturb anything, I carefully stepped closer to get a better look. I had to squat down so the web would be at eye level; cocking my head slightly to view the web in front of a darker background, I saw tiny drops of moisture clinging to several strands of the web. It truly looked like a piece of art or an architect’s dream.      UNNOTICED BY ME AT FIRST BECAUSE it was off to the side, closer to one of the bushes, perched a massive hairy looking spider. I stayed still as if I was playing a waiting game with it. There are friends of mine who would have freaked out upon seeing the spider; gratefully, they do not upset me. I look at spiders as the gatekeepers to my house, capturing loads of bugs to prevent them from entering my home. The spider did not move from its spot; only allowing the breezes to swing it slightly in the air, but it never once wavered from its spot. For some reason, I felt the garden had taken on a special allure. Here among the assorted plants and shrubbery there was a feat from one of Nature’s creatures, a latticework of silky luminous strands dotted with diamond chips of raindrops. If the sunlight had not hit the web at the exact time I was walking by, I might not have ever noticed I had a piece of art in my backyard. Part of me wanted to get a spray bottle of water to make more drops appear on the web; however, I decided not to and instead enjoyed the beauty that was in front of me. Part of this experience prepared me for the beauty that was found in this Oscar nominated, film festival winning biography.      TIRED OF HIS SURROUNDINGS AND THE PEOPLE around him Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, played by Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), took the advice of a friend and moved out of Paris to be closer to nature. It was the best move of his life. With Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria, Homeland-TV) as Theo, Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, A Most Violent Year) as Paul Gauguin, Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Doctor Strange) as Priest and Mathieu Amairic (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Doctor Paul Gachet; this dramatic picture contained a stellar performance by Willem. I felt I was privy to the inner workings of van Gogh’s mind. Combined with the beautiful film shots and steady directing, this film’s story unfurled like a long, colorful pennant on a windy day. The whole cast perfectly fit their roles. If there was anything to question it would be the few scenes that dragged a bit; however, the dynamic acting coming out of Willem kept me invested in the story. I almost felt as if I was a visitor at an art gallery.

 

3 ¼ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Train to Busan

I SAW THE REQUEST POSTED ON ONE of my social media sites. The person was asking for suggestions and recommendations on food delivery services. They wanted to place an order for food to be delivered to an elderly couple, who did not have the ability to leave their home during the state’s shelter in order. Besides the generosity of this person’s request, the other thing that impressed me was the immediate response they were getting from so many people. As I read through the comments, I discovered this request started because the person’s first choice of a delivery service cancelled the order because they could not fulfill it due to several items being out of stock. What struck me about this was the fact the response was coming from a major grocery store chain. I soon discovered, based on the posted conversations going back and forth, that the items out of stock were some basic household items, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables. This struck me as odd since those items, at least in my experiences, have never been out of stock; especially, the household items which are produced by several different manufacturers. I wondered how long it was going to take this person to find all the items they needed to send to the elderly couple; I hoped it was not going to turn into the type of scenario where they were trying to beat the clock before the elderly couple went hungry.      LITTLE DID I KNOW READINGTHOSE comments were only going to be a prelude to what I would encounter when I went to buy groceries. The first thing I noticed when I was walking inside the grocery store was the amount of people who had scared looks on their faces. They were walking up and down the aisles staring forlornly at the empty spaces that popped up periodically along the shelves. The magnitude of the situation did not hit me until I discovered there were no bananas or sweet potatoes to be found anywhere; I could not process this fact. Later on I found out the reason for the absence of these two items was because parents were buying them up to mash into food to feed to their babies. Continuing on my way through the store, I saw polar opposite examples of people’s compassion during a crisis.  In one aisle I saw a shopper with a cart brimming over with items. Each item was in multiple amounts, for example 5 bottles of salad dressing. Unless they were buying for multiple families, I felt they were being greedy during these scary times. Soon after I saw a shopper in the checkout line who had 4 loaves of bread in their cart. They were talking to the person behind them and whatever was said, I saw this shopper take one of the loaves out of their cart and hand it to the person behind them. Wow, it looked like an act of kindness. Similar examples to the ones I just mentioned can be found in this film festival-winning movie from South Korea.      PASSENGERS ON A BULLET TRAIN BOUND FOR a resort town are confronted with the fact they may not make it due to the zombies that got on board. With Yoo Gong (Finding Mr. Destiny, A Man and a Woman) as Seok-woo, Yu-mi Jung (A Bittersweet Life, Psychokinesis) as Seong-kyeong, Dong-seok Ma (The Outlaws; The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) as Sang-hwa, Su-an Kim (The Battleship Island, Memories of the Sword) as Soo-an and Eui-sung Kim (Wiretap, Six Flying Dragons-TV) as Yon-suk; this action horror thriller was a complete surprise to me because of its heart. With any zombie movie, one gets the idea of what is going to happen; however, with this story, I found the script added depth to its characters. The different side stories of individual people allowed me to become more engaged with their plight. Add in the skillful action and this picture turned out to be a mirror to the times we are living in presently. There were scenes that showed blood and violence; but I did not find them to be the usual gory type one finds in horror films. Whether it is unseen viruses or zombies, both bring out people’s true natures. Korean was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ¼ stars — DVD           

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