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Flash Movie Review: Long Shot

I AM NOT CLAIMING THIS IS 100% true; but if one must explain every joke to the person they are dating, I believe the relationship is not destined to last long. Humor, at least for me, is an important trait to possess. Not that I want to be with someone who likes and dislikes everything I do, but there must be some things that connect us. I used to rate food tastes as an important factor in a relationship; but because I am so picky, I have learned to adjust and be flexible about it. To give you an idea, if we were discussing a place to eat and I did not like the type of cuisine, I would refuse the restaurant outright. I soon learned that I needed to be malleable; food did not have to be so important to me. And what I discovered is I can usually find something to eat at most establishments. There still are some cuisines that I am not fond of, but I no longer put a checkmark in the “con” column when assessing a new person’s choices. Out of the variety of factors one chooses as the glue to bond with someone, food is not a deal breaker for me.     FOR MY OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS, I prefer being with someone who is not just like me. I am an intense person by nature; imagine me being with someone who matches my intensity level? It would be a volatile relationship. When two people connect yet have some differences, I consider it a plus for the relationship. I always say it gives me the opportunity to see a situation through someone else’s eyes. It is a yin and yang environment for me. Whenever I am sitting in a place long enough to observe people, I look at couples. Sometimes I see two people who appear to have nothing in common. For example, one person is dressed in an expensive flashy way, while the other one looks like they got their clothing from a thrift shop. I am curious enough to sit and just watch how the couple interact with each other. Sometimes I am even sitting close enough to hear parts of their conversation, particularly if we happen to be seated next to each other at the same flight gate in the airport. From my observations and own experiences, I feel a mixture of differences and similarities creates the strongest bond between two people. If you want to see it being tested may I suggest you watch this romantic comedy.      INVITED AS A GUEST TO A social function Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogan (This is the End, Neighbors franchise), got the oddest feeling he knew of all people the Secretary of State. If true, she was his very first crush. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Charlotte Field, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Unfinished Business) as Maggie Millikin, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Lance and Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as President Chambers; this film festival winning movie was the highlight for me this week in a sea of dreadful films. Seth and Charlize seemed such an unlikely pairing, but it worked to their advantage. I enjoyed watching them and laughed out loud a few times, due to the fun and topical script. Granted Seth was in his element, so there were times I felt he was reprising a past character; but my focus was steered more to Charlize. I thought she was a wonderful blend of seriousness and humor. Sure, one could say this story was similar to others but with a gender switch and that may be true. However, I found this to be a sharp and fresh take on the rom-com genre.

 

3 stars

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Flash Movie Review: Penguins

AT PRESENT, ONE OF THE MOVIE theaters I frequent had a portion of its entrance roped off. There was a sign hanging on the barrier that instructed visitors not to disturb or go near the nesting goose because she might attack. In the middle of this long patch of landscaped greenery was the goose sitting upon her nest. Seeing the goose sitting there looked weird to me because, except for this one patch of greenery, she was surrounded by concrete and glass. With people shopping at the outdoor mall I thought there would have been too much noise and activity for the mother goose. I knew geese were territorial and were not afraid to defend their area. When I came out from the movie theater the goose was standing out in the open near the curb. She still had an eye on her nest; but she watched me as I had to make my way around her, giving her enough space while getting to my car. Once I was safely seated I looked back at her and thought about the unsuspecting people who would not read the sign and get to close to her. I bet they got a nasty surprise.      HAVING SEEN THAT MOTHER GOOSE REAFFIRMED a memory of me being told to always respect the bond between a mother and her child; there is nothing stronger than a mother defending her baby. I do not remember if I learned it in school or from that weekly television show hosted by Marlin Perkins. All I can recall is seeing a nature film clip of a pack of wildebeests being chased by a big African cat. Maybe it was a cheetah or lion that had focused its attention on one of the babies. When the baby could not keep up and swerved away from the pack, the cat changed directions to zero in on the little wildebeest. The mother saw what was happening and made a beeline towards the cat. She headbutted the cat in its side, knocking the animal over. It was enough time for the baby wildebeest to head back to the pack. I have so many more memories of adult animals nurturing their young. Seeing a mother chimpanzee teach her baby how to use a stick to dig food out from a hole or polar bear mothers teaching their young the necessary survival skills for the first 2 years of their lives; not to be rude, but some humans could learn a thing or two by watching their animal counterparts. One group worth watching would be the incredible penguins in this documentary.      DESPITE HAVING ONE OF THE HARSHEST environments on the planet, Antarctica is the home of the Adelie penguins. They will travel miles on foot, fend off predators and be a shield against the cold to protect their young. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (Chimpanzee, Earth) and Jeff Wilson (Our Planet-TV, Great Bear Statkeout-TV), this movie was beautifully filmed. The scenes were fascinating to watch as the film studio spent something like 3 years to capture their footage of the animals. The script with Ed Helms (The Hangover franchise, Love the Coopers) as the narrator was a little too cutesy in my opinion. The focus of the story was on Steve, a young penguin coming of age. I enjoyed watching this movie but compared to the other animal documentaries I have seen from this studio, this one was not as moving and fun for me. The issue had to do with the penguins; as a whole, penguins do not have a personality like monkeys or bears. There were few antics and some of them were being generated by the way Ed narrated the script. Despite this I still enjoyed the film. After seeing what these penguins go through in life, I have to say my life is pretty good compared to these stoic animals.

 

3 stars      

Flash Movie Review: Hotel Mumbai

INTENSITY HAS BEEN A PART OF ME as long as when I became aware of my shadow. Many people have described me as being intense; or I should say, those who know me well enough know the amount of intensity I can generate in myself. I have always had a strong single mindedness that is like a starving, aggressive dog who will not let go of a found bone. There was a time where I was acutely aware of people around me feeling the heat coming off me when I am intensely, laser focused on one thing. Now you would think there must not be many things that I find intense, but you would be incorrect to assume such a thing. Driving in a violent storm is something that I find to be an intense situation. With the wind jostling the car and rain pelting the windshield relentlessly; I find myself with my shoulders stiff by my ears and my grip turning into a vise around the steering wheel. I used to react in a similar way when I used to ride roller coasters. Now I avoid most of them because I already deal with enough stress and do not want to willingly put more tension on myself.      MORE THAN LIKELY MANY OF YOU have experienced some form of tension in your life. The first thing that comes to mind is a doctor’s office or hospital. I knew a person who would get such a strong reaction every time they went to the dentist that they decided to stop going all together. I am sure this happens more now than it used to, but I quickly become uncomfortable anytime someone is heckling a performer. Sitting in the audience and suddenly some random individual talks back to the artist or yells at them and I immediately tense up. I remember sitting in a smallish type of venue, watching a comedian. At one of their jokes a drunken guy in the audience shouted out a derogatory remark to the performer; I immediately tensed up and started worrying about what would happen next. The reason being, I remembered at a rock concert where someone threw a beer bottle towards the band and they instantly stopped the show and left the stage. I held my breath to see what the comedian would do. He came back with such a classic retort that I still use it to this day; it shut the heckler up. From the experiences I listed I can add something new that made me tense and on the edge of my seat, this film festival winning movie based on a true story.      KNOWN FOR ITS ELEGANCE AND ATTENTION to its guests the Taj Hotel was the focal point for a terrorist group’s message to get out to the world. This dramatic thriller starred Dev Patel (Lion, The Man Who Knew Infinity) as Arjun, Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex, Sorry to Bother You) as David, Nazanin Boniadi (Ben-Hur, Homeland-TV) as Zahra, Tilda Cobham-Hervey (One Eyed Girl, The Kettering Incident-TV) as Sally and Alex Pinder (Ocean Girl-TV, Angel Baby) as Butler Jamon. I cannot remember the last time I sat through a movie where I was swept up into a tense state by the action on the screen. The actors were well suited for this story and they delivered in my opinion. I am telling you now this was not an easy movie to sit through because there was violence, bloodshed and terrifying scenes. Honestly, I did not care if everything I was watching was true or not; the fact that the script kept me engaged and kept my eyes riveted to the screen made the experience memorable for me. I suggest you prepare yourself before you see this film and remember to take deep breaths.

 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Captain Marvel

WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A quick and smooth trip to the movie theater, turned into a mini-obstacle course of delays for me. After checking for seat availability online, I discovered I needed to change my evening plans and go to an earlier time to see this superhero film. Racing out of work I drove to the first stoplight on my route where I saw a sea of cars across the intersection, all with their brake lights glowing steadily stretching down for almost two blocks. I could see in the distance the faint flashing of railroad crossing lights; so, I knew the gates had to be down for a freight train. My decision had to be quick; either wait in line and hope for the best or quickly come up with a different route to the theater before the stoplight changed. Just as I was about to switch on my turn signal I saw the faint glow of headlights coming towards me in the opposite lanes of traffic; the train must have passed, and the crossing gates were up. I decided to take my chances by getting in line with the rest of the cars and hope everyone would drive the speed limit…and get out of my way.      THE PUBLISHED TIME FOR THE MOVIE had passed, but I knew the theater showed a lot of film trailers. I had gotten stuck behind a driver who was trying to turn left without their turn signal on. My anxiousness was bubbling up to the point I was about to get out of my car to stop traffic. I did not, but instead finally found enough space between passing cars for me to drive around the car in front of me. Once I made it to the theater I took the first parking space I could find and ran to the box office. There was only one couple in front of me when I walked into the lobby to purchase my ticket. This couple was peering at the computer screen in front of them deciding where to sit for the same movie I was going to see. If you have never picked seats for a movie when buying your tickets, it is not rocket science. Unless you are on a 1st date, it should be an easy process. These two people were having a discussion on which would be the best seats to watch the movie. I made my presence known by clearing my throat which stimulated the couple to choose seats. If there had not been 28 minutes of previews for this film I would have missed the beginning of the movie; one cannot afford to miss it.      TROUBLED BY FLASHES OF HERSELF IN unfamiliar places from a different world, it was those images in Vers’, played by Brie Larson (Room, Free Fire), mind that were the links for her to finally understanding herself. With Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn (Robin Hood, Darkest Hour) as Keller, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Yon-Rogg and Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, Fast Girls) as Maria Rambeau; this science fiction superhero film is the first time a female is playing the lead character. I am not familiar with the Captain Marvel comic books, but I felt the script was geared towards our present time with women empowerment. Brie was a great choice for the role; however, I felt that same script restricted her character. My favorite part of the movie was when Brie’s character was on Earth. With a great soundtrack, good humor and phenomenal CGI work on Samuel; these things made up for the scenes in outer space. Those scenes looked too much like a cartoon and did not have the dazzling display of CGI work I have seen in other outer space, action adventure pictures. With the multiple story lines, the scenes seemed to quickly jump across the screen at times. I felt with a little editing and polishing up of the script I would have been taken back to the Marvel universe I have enjoyed in the past. This was a good start for this origin story, just not great. I did not have to rush like a maniac to get to this showing. From the standard extra two scenes during the middle and end of the credits I technically had all the way until the opening date of the 2nd part of the Avengers film to see this movie.

 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Arctic

THERE ARE TWO SCENARIOS WHEN I am in a car that scare me. One is driving in a desolate area and the other is driving during frigid, icy conditions. I was vacationing in both South and North Dakota one summer. The landscape was startling beautiful; I was based in Sioux Falls, SD. My plans were set to drive up and visit sites in North Dakota. Once on the road out of the city I could not get over how far I could see down the road. Literally, the road went all the way to the horizon. That was the cool part; however, what soon made me uncomfortable was the lack of civilization. I was the only car on the road; there were no buildings, gas stations or rest stops even. My mind was brewing with fear as I wondered what would happen if the car broke down and I could not get any cell phone service. All around me were these magnificent monoliths of stone and rock, looking like bulked up defenders frozen in time. The further I drove away from Sioux Falls the more anxious I became. Out of fear I drove faster, figuring the quicker I could get to ND the less chance of getting stuck somewhere. It may not make sense, but I significantly cut down my travel time by going 102 miles per hour.      AS FOR DRIVING IN WINTERY WEATHER, I actually do fine in snow; however, when I have to be out late at night when there is less activity, my fear is something could happen, and I will be stuck somewhere without any help. Because I am hyper-sensitive to the cold I worry I could freeze to death (I know, so dramatic) or lose my outer extremities to frostbite. My hands go numb when I am shoveling the sidewalk around my house; think about what if my car skids on ice and into a tree? Without help around or far away, I could get into a serious situation. This is the reason why I always keep a flashlight, a couple of blankets, a large bag of cat litter and water in the car. My body already gets a reaction whenever I first get into a car that has been sitting out in the cold; so, you can imagine what would happen to me if I was stuck for hours in a dead car. In the scheme of things, I know there are many other predicaments that are far worse; for example, the one that took place in this film festival nominated dramatic adventure.      THE CHOICES LOOKED BLEAK FOR OVERGARD, played by Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story); either stay within the confines of his crashed airplane or venture across the frozen tundra in the hopes of finding help. Neither decision would be a sure bet. With Maria Thelma Smaradottir (Black’s Game, Fangar-TV mini-series) as the young woman, this movie was tough to watch at times. Most of the story was told through visuals since there was maybe a dozen or so words spoken. However, it was those visuals that kept the viewers’ attention. Mads was quite good in the role and I must tell you, there were times where it was painful to watch him; that was the level of intensity that got generated with the directing. I will admit there were times where I felt it was enough already; I would lose interest from time to time. Then there were other times where I cringed in my seat. It took work to sit through this picture and the ending did not satisfy me as much as I would have liked, but I enjoyed this film and only hope I never find myself in the same predicament out in the cold.

 

3 stars        

Flash Movie Review: Fighting with My Family

I GRANT YOU, THEY DID LOOK somewhat odd to me. They had moved into the neighborhood during my 4th year of elementary school. The house the family had purchased was a 2-story wood frame with a large wrap around front porch. I remember when they painted that porch because some of the neighbors were put off by it; the family painted it a pine green color. I never really understood why some people were upset. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was because all the other porches on the street were either unpainted or painted in 1 of 2 colors, either white or brown. There were 7 family members: 2 parents and 5 children. All the kids looked alike and looked like their mother. They each had the same color hair; the girls had the same style of haircut just as the boys shared the same. Each child wore the same style of glasses, perched the same way on their noses. Their teeth were oversized to the point where it looked like they could not close their mouth all the way. Some of the kids in the neighborhood referred to them as Bugs Bunny. To finish up their identical look, they all wore the same style and color of clothing.      PERSONALLY, THEM NOT BEING ENROLLED IN the neighborhood school added to their perceived strangeness. But despite that, the siblings never came out to play with any of the other kids in the neighborhood. I would see them in their backyard at times when I would cut through the alley to a friend’s house. They would be huddled around some object; I could not tell if it was a toy or some type of device. Other times I would see them spread apart, each doing their own thing like reading or exercising and when I say exercising I mean jumping jacks or sit-ups, some type of calisthenic activity. Keeping to themselves and all looking the same just made people feel uncomfortable. Without getting to know them, rumors started to pop-up in the neighborhood, such as they were a medical experiment, or they were doing something illegal. And of course, the kids in the neighborhood started whispering different remarks about them being inbred and mentally challenged. It was not until I was in college that I discovered via the local newspaper that the parents were scientists and each child was excelling in their schooling, from being PhD candidates to mathematical whizzes. I was shocked; on the surface they may have been odd, but they certainly had already achieved more than many of the families in the neighborhood. The family in this biographical, comedic drama might seem odd to you but wait until you see what they do.      PASSIONATE ABOUT WRESTLING RICKY AND JULIA Knight, played by Nick Frost (The World’s End, Paul) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones-TV, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), taught their children everything they knew. However, when a once in a lifetime chance became available would their hard work pay off? This movie’s story followed a typical theme; but, the script provided some fresh takes on it. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, The Commuter) as Saraya Knight, Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk) as Zak Knight and Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) as Hutch; I thought the acting really sold the story, especially Florence’s and Jack’s. For me, Vince was the only one that I did not connect with since he was doing his same type of character that I have seen before. There were fun moments in this picture that kept the story from sputtering out. What added to my enjoyment was seeing clips of the actual Knights at the end of the film. One may think they are an odd bunch, but I salute them for finding something they can be passionate about and holding out for their dream.

 

3 stars            

Flash Movie Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

THERE WAS AN OLD SET OF blocks I found in my toy box. It must have been handed down because the color used on the wooden blocks was faded and worn out. Each block had a letter of the alphabet, but I never used the blocks to make words; instead, I used them to make more important things. Stacking the blocks one on top of another made a tall lookout post, with certain letters like “U” and “M” being hidden cannons and machine guns. I would use the blocks to build a wall that was used to surround a moat filled with alligators. One of my favorite things to build were these unusual shaped structures that I pretended were buildings used for outer space outposts. The letters carved into the blocks were windows or shades to protect the inhabitants from the effects of a sun. My imagination would be all over the place as it was being nurtured while playing with these old, wooden building blocks. Every time I would play with them I would discover new adventures and places to explore.      IT WAS SOON AFTER I STARTED playing with other toys that would feed my imagination. I remember a box that contained these miniature logs with notches carved towards the ends, like ones used to make a log cabin. However, I used mine to build bridges that would carry visitors over churning rapids or deadly volcanoes. You are probably saying a bridge would never last over an active volcano; but in my world, the logs were made of a secret element that allowed them to withstand the heat from the lava churning inside the volcano, that was preparing to spew up and out. Most of my building type toys were of a smaller scale; in other words, I could create whatever I wanted but it would not be life-sized. That all changed when I received a gift of Styrofoam blocks from a friend of mine. These blocks were bigger than anything I had in my possession. They would interlock using the three pegs sticking up from the top into the three holes that were at the bottom of each piece. The key was not using all three pegs into another piece. All I had to do was use one of the pegs at the ends and I could form a curving wall to form an igloo or fort that was big enough for me to sit in. Add a towel or bedsheet at the top and it would become an awning. There was no limit to my imagination with any of my building toys. The same could be said for the writers of this animated action sequel.      LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED THE PAST FEW years from everything being awesome to everything being destroyed. The only citizen who kept a positive attitude was Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Magnificent Seven), but that was about to change. With Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Lucy, Will Arnett (Show Dogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise) voicing Batman, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Nobody’s Fool) voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, The Light of the Moon) voicing General Mayhem; the previous cast returned with a few new additions in this adventure film. The actors were all in tune with their characters, delivering the finely tuned humor in the script. As with building blocks, the writers had free rein to go anywhere they wanted with the story. For the most part, they did a good job; however, I think they defaulted to the safe side to avoid risking damage to this burgeoning franchise. The entire family will find something to enjoy in this picture. If there is going to be a third installment, I hope the writers see it as an opportunity to build something new and fresh for these building block pieces.

 

3 stars       

Flash Movie Review: Cold War

EVERY TIME I SAW THEM I would always wonder why they wanted to be with each other. From what I saw, they were not nice to each other. Actually, I think it had more to do about respect; they did not have respect for each other. Whenever we were together in a social setting, they would inevitably get into an argument with each other. And they were nasty about it. It is one thing to argue in a rational and respectful way over an issue; but, they would call each other names and do something that is one of my pet peeves: bringing up something from the past that was never discussed at that time. You may have encountered this yourself when somebody would say, “Remember when you did such and such,” and you have no idea what they are talking about because they never brought it to your attention back then. I cannot tell you how much this annoys me. If I do something that unintentionally offends, upsets or bothers someone; I want them to tell me right then and let us talk about it. To bring it up months later, where I get blindsided, is something I find to be manipulative.     IT IS POSSIBLE THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS love each other; they just don’t like each other. Or, another possibility is they are both co-dependent with one another. I was in a relationship with someone who was manipulative and passive aggressive; two traits that are not fun to deal with, I am here to tell you. Until you catch on to them, you might find yourself doing things you normally would not have considered prior to them. Gratefully, I eventually caught on and ended the relationship; it simply was not a healthy union. However, I have seen other people in similar situations who remain in non-healthy relationships. I am not one to judge, but I do wonder what pleasure they get from their partner that keeps them locked in such a union. There was a couple I knew years ago who on the surface were toxic. They would yell, argue and manipulate each other on a constant basis; however, there were times where they were affectionate with each other. It was so weird to me. How could you have this explosive battle with someone and in the next minute be flirtatious and cutesy? I still remember hearing one of them threaten that they were going to leave the marriage all the time. Maybe this is one of the downsides to love; it can cause havoc in one’s life. It certainly influenced the couple in this dramatic, musical romance.      THERE WAS SUCH A STRONG PASSIONATE connection between Zulu and Wiktor, played by Joanna Kulig (The Innocents, The Crime-TV) and Tomasz Kot (Gods, Bikini Blue) and that was exactly the problem with their relationship. This film festival winning, and Oscar nominated movie from Poland was beautifully filmed. Shot in black and white, I felt doing it this way was more effective in presenting a precise no-frills story. Even the script did not have any excessive dialog, which ultimately kept the story going forward. Taking place during the 1950s in communist Poland, the settings and costumes were perfect for the settings. With Borys Szyc (The Mole, Symmetry) as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza (Ida, These Daughters of Mine) as Irena and Cedric Kahn (Up for Love, Miss and the Doctor) as Michel; I felt everyone was connected to the story, putting on a wonderful show of acting. Now there were times where I felt the story dragged; particularly when the scene presented a similar situation I felt I had seen previously. However, it was not enough to make me feel like I was having a love/hate relationship with this film. Polish and French were spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ben is Back

AT WHAT POINT DOES YOUR TOLERANCE for disruptive behavior end? I can go for a while depending on the situation, but then I am done. Let me give you an example: there was a friend of mine who enjoyed going to the movies with me. I thought I did as well until she started talking during the film. Once or twice I am okay with, especially if they did not hear a line of dialog; but, asking questions and talking during the show is totally unacceptable in my world. She would ask me things like, “What do you think will happen?” or “I do not think that dress looks good on her.” Really?!?! This is a reason to open your mouth and talk during a movie? I thought not responding would stop the talking, but that was not the case. She kept up the chatter even after I pointblank asked her to stop it. Because she was a good friend, I had a dilemma on my hands. Do I stop going to the movies with her or find a different option? My solution was simple (at least I thought so); I told her she was more than welcome to join me, but she could not sit next to me because of the talking. She tried by sitting a few seats away from me, but after a couple of times she lost interest in going with me and I was okay with it.      THOUGH I AM STILL FRIENDS WITH that person there is someone else whose friendship I chose to end. We knew each other for several years. Since I was the only one with a car, a lot of our time together was down in their area. In those years they only ventured up towards me a few times, using public transportation or a car share. Everything was fine between us, always having a good time together. Then one time I asked if they wanted to see a theatrical production at a theater that was located near me; they agreed to see it. I checked on ticket availability and called them back later in the week. We decided on seats and I said I would go pick them up. They asked again the name of the theater and when I told them they asked if it was located up by me. Saying yes, they said they were not going to go “all the way” up there just to see a play. I realized right then this was a friendship of convenience on their part; it was okay for me to go down to them, but to come up to me was too hard? Since this was not the 1st time, I made the hard decision. Granted, not as hard as the decisions made in this dramatic movie.      HOLLY BURNS, PLAYED BY JULIA ROBERTS (Wonder, Secret in Their Eyes), had everything set to celebrate the holidays. But then her son Ben, played by Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea), unexpectedly showed up from rehab. This film festival winner also starred Courtney B. Vance (Space Cowboys, Office Christmas Party) as Neal, Kathryn Newton (Blockers; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Ivy and Rachel Bay Jones (God Friended Me-TV) as Beth Conyers. This film stayed alive because of the wonderful acting done by Julia and Lucas. Their chemistry together blazed across the screen. There seems to have been a few recent films that have dealt with addiction, which put this story at a disadvantage. There was not something to set this script much apart from the others that were done, except for allowing the actors to wring out as much feelings and emotions as they could, and they did. Nonetheless, this picture kept me engaged with its tough choices.

 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Mary Poppins

ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PARENTS in life, for each one brings a different version of love. There are some people who have an abundance of love that they share with children, besides their own. They may not be there when you fall and scrape your knee or when you ride your bicycle for the first time without training wheels; but, they leave their handprints on your heart. I feel fortunate that I grew up with a few extra mothers in my life. You may have had one or two yourself or just as easily an extra dad since either gender provides equal amounts of love. One of my extra mothers was a neighbor who lived in our building. She lived a couple of floors below us which resulted in me learning how to get down flights of stairs earlier than other kids. Before I could walk I would crawl to the edge of the staircase, turn myself around on the edge and begin crawling down backwards. After navigating the two flights of stairs I would crawl to the door of her apartment and pat my palm on it. I never knew how she always heard me when I thought about this years later, but she would open the door every time with a big smile on her face. She always had time to play with me and for those times she didn’t, she would sing to me.      THERE WAS ANOTHER WOMAN WHO WAS like an extra mother to me. She was a friend of the family who had grown up with one of my parents. She was quick to give me a deep hug that made me feel protected and safe. Though she did not know how to bowl, she loved coming to the bowling alley, taking pleasure in simply watching us try to get a strike. Her house always had the exact types of food you craved on any particular day; for example, if you wanted something sweet she had cookies or if you wanted something salty she would have pretzels. When I was little she would always write an amusing poem inside my birthday cards. Despite decades having past I still have vivid, fond memories of these women who were prominent in my life. They each had their own families; yet, I was treated as part of the family because that was the type of love they each had inside. And to a child, having that type of extra love is like a fresh coat of paint on the walls of their heart.      WITH THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE and jobs scarce during the depression Michael Banks, played by Ben Whishaw (I’m Not Here, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), had little time to watch over his children. Though things looked bleak, there was an opportunity for someone special to step in and help; that someone was Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Into the Woods). This comedic family fantasy also starred Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Looking for Maria Sanchez) as Jack, Emily Mortimer (The Bookshop, Harry Brown) as Jane Banks and Julie Waters (Billy Elliot, Harry Potter franchise) as Ellen. Taking the original movie and moving the characters thirty years forward allowed for a whole new generation of characters to populate this theatrical musical film. I thought the acting was excellent, though Emily’s version of Mary Poppins seemed to have more of an edge to her. This picture was fun to watch but I feel those not into theater may think it is over the top. For me this updated story did not have the magic of the first movie; but part of my warm feelings came from the nostalgic aspect I have towards the original film. Besides, having another encounter with Mary Poppins is always a welcome visit.

 

3 stars      

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