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Flash Movie Review: Freaky

I USED TO SIT QUIETLY BACK and watch his buddies try to emulate him. There were three of them who would follow him all around the school. I will admit he had a certain swagger that made the other students in the school move out of his way. To me, he was just a big bully. His friends knew better than to ever contradict anything he said or did; they went along like sheep following a shepherd. I came close to becoming one of their prime “victims” for abuse and entertainment. One of the friends for a short time did focus on me, hoping to start a fight to impress his friend. I knew better than to get involved when any of them were together; it would have been a lose situation for me all around. Until I built up the courage to fight back, I would daydream about the different ways I could hurt this one friend. I wanted to be someone else who could intimidate a person just by my looks, meaning muscular and tall. When I saw who was getting picked on from this group, I noticed it was usually a more introverted student who did not necessarily look like most of the student population. Let us face it, if someone was wearing something considered unusual, that could not be found in any current fashion magazines or commercial advertisements, they usually would become an easy target.      THERE WAS ONE STUDENT IN PARTICULAR who was this group’s favorite prey. The poor student did not have a chance; he was short with a slight build, who had unruly hair and wore what looked like hand me down clothes. The level of abuse that was inflicted on him ranged from a single shove into a locker door to punching him in the stomach followed by spitting on him. No boy ever came to his defense, only a couple of girls would try to defuse the abusive acts. One day we were sitting together in the bleachers and talked about our similar experiences with bullies. He said he wished he could have one day where he could take revenge on all those who attack him. I asked what type of revenge, curious to know if it was like my own thoughts on how I could get even. Throughout the class period we joked about the things we would do, each time getting more and more outrageous with the means we would use to get even with our abusers. I would be lying if I did not say one of us wished we could do what the high school student found herself doing in this comedic, horror thriller.      AFTER BEING THE TARGET FOR SEVERAL fellow students, a mystical dagger transforms Millie, played by Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Big Little Lies-TV), into a different person, who only has one thing on their mind. With Vince Vaughn (Fighting with My Family, Term Life) as The Butcher, Celeste O’Connor (Wetlands, Selah and the Spades) as Nyla Chones, Misha Osherovich (The Goldfinch, History-TV) as Josh Detmer and relative newcomer Emily Holder as Sandra; this movie had more entertainment value than I would have imagined. I thought Vince and Kathryn had great screen presence and really dug into their characters in a campy and fun way. Vince especially did a good job to stay on the edge of being a real character instead of a caricature of one. The script was part satire and part homage to slasher films. Now there were a few bloody scenes, but they were quick to pass. For those who wished they had fought back the bullies in their life, this film may tickle your past fantasies of fighting back in a very dark way. The one part that doesn’t seem to have been addressed in reviews is the fun way the writers showed attraction goes beyond the surface. 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Paw Patrol: The Movie

FUR, PURR, PAWS, BARK, CUDDLES; THAT is enough for me to fall in love. I am an animal lover. Whether it is a cat or dog, doesn’t make a difference to me. A friend of mine had a dog that knew to lie down anytime I said, “Do you want a doggie massage?’ Of course, I would then rub him down, including his limbs. This dog became my shadow anytime I was over at my friend’s house. I guess if someone was going to offer me a massage, I would do the same thing! The dog was a real sweetheart; he rarely barked and loved to play fetch. Another friend of mine had a dog that was also sweet but feared many things. She refused to go outside if it was raining. And if there was thunder, she spent most of the time under a bed. Where most dogs walk into a room, she would slink in by staying close to a wall. In fact, it took months before she let me even pet her. I would squat down with my hand extended out for her to sniff. My friend would even let me give the dog a treat, but the poor thing would only come near after I would place it on the floor and step several steps back. I couldn’t get upset nor would I because she was so cute.      MY LOVE OF DOGS IS MATCHED by my love of cats. A relative of mine had a gorgeous cat that loved to snuggle around my neck. If I was sitting on the sofa, the cat would jump up to the back of the couch then walk behind me before curling herself around my neck. She had one of the loudest purrs; it sounded like a low motor. On the opposite side, a friend of mine had a cat who hated people coming over to their house. I know that sounds strong, but she did not like people except for her owner. My friend told me the first time his girlfriend stayed over for the night; the cat was a terror. When the two of them were in bed, the cat would jump up and start walking on top of his girlfriend who was not amused. My friend would grab hold of the cat and put her down on the floor, but she would immediately jump up again. There was no choice after going through this a few times; my friend put the cat in the hallway and closed the bedroom door. Their night was mostly filled with the cat meowing non-stop outside the door. The girlfriend wasn’t really a cat person I was told and evidently the cat knew. My friend and I felt it was her loss. Some people prefer one animal over another and act accordingly. You can see how that plays out in this animated adventure comedy.      THE PAW PATROL WOULD HAVE THEIR work cut out for them when Adventure City elected a new mayor who loved cats. With Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Good Deeds) as Gus, Ron Pardo (Hairspray, Undercover Brother) as Cap’n Turbot, Will Brisbin (Forbidden Playground, Abducted) as Ryder, relative newcomer Kingsley Marshall as Marshall and Keegan Hedley (Never Saw it Coming, Odd Squad-TV) as Rubble; this film reminded me of my youth, sitting and watching the Saturday morning cartoons. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The visuals, the soundtrack, the mix of excitement with fear; everything blended well to the point I became vested in the characters. I especially enjoyed the inventiveness of the gadgets. With elements of charm similar to those good old-fashioned cartoons, I appreciated the message the writers were conveying. Young children will absolutely enjoy this movie and I feel their parents will as well. With so much going on in the world, I think my enthusiasm for this picture was heightened because of its simplicity and G rating.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Suicide Squad

SOME PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR soft drinks. I know several individuals who will not order a soft drink with their meal if the restaurant does not carry “their brand.” That seems a bit intense for me; I am not as picky. Regarding the top two cola brands, I prefer one over the other; however, if a food establishment does not carry the one I like, I will order the other one. Though they have a similar taste, the one I prefer is sweeter tasting and not as strong in my opinion. I feel the same way about fast food restaurants. Not that I eat at them often, but when I do, I usually seek out one in particular for their French fries. However, if they are not conveniently located to where I am traveling, I am fine going to a different fast-food chain. There are some folks who would not be as flexible going to a different place to eat from the one they like the most. To me, it is just food; I can always find something to eat, not that it will always be a healthy choice. I will say though, there are some companies I will not support due to their actions that have an effect on certain groups of people. Those types of businesses do not get any of my money.      DESPITE THERE BEING A COUPLE OF film studios that specialize in superhero movies, I have found myself to be somewhat biased when it comes to the films, they each produce. After having seen several of each studio’s films, I find myself looking forward more to one studio over another. Now, I still act the same towards both; I do not read any reviews or comments until after I have seen the movie for myself. However, the past several films from one studio have not been as captivating as the other studio’s movies. The studio I find myself being more excited about has entertained me consistently with their pictures. There is something about their scripts that feel more well rounded to me, with action, drama, humor and wittiness among other emotions. The other studio just never seems to reach such a high benchmark when compared to this studio. It is like that famous chocolate cookie with the creamy filling, where some people twist the cookie parts to eat the filling first. There is another food company that makes the same type of cookie, but I know no one who has ever bought them. Despite everything I have just said; I was pleasantly surprised by this action, adventure comedy that came from the film studio I tend to have lower expectations for their superhero movies.      AFTER A SUPER SECRET AGENCY’S MISSION fails, a group of extremely dangerous, imprisoned villains were picked for their particular skill sets, with the hope they might be able to complete the original mission. First, they would have to get along with each other. With Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots, The Legend of Tarzan) as Harley Quinn, Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Dark Tower) aa Bloodsport, John Cena (Playing with Fire, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman (The Informer, Run All Night) as colonel Rick Flag and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences) as Amanda Waller; this movie was nothing what I expected for the most part. I did expect Margot to be good and she was beyond good. The other acting surprise was John Cena; I thought he stood out as well. This is not a picture for young viewers; there was extreme violence and strong language. It was a shock to me; a superhero film that was gory and intense, despite being colorful, fun and a parody at times. I did not care much for the shifting between short time frames because it diminished the excitement factor for me. DC Comics took a drastic turn with this picture by creating a darker and crazier version of its usual movies. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.         

3 stars     

Flash Movie Review: Black Widow

I SHOULD HAVE READ THE FINE print before agreeing to participate. We were on vacation, staying at a hotel. When we checked in, we were handed an invitation to a presentation that was going to be held in one of the hotel’s conference rooms. The topic was about a new property the hotel was going to open. Refreshments would be served, and each guest would receive a gift bag worth $300.00. We agreed to participate, hoping the gift bag would at least contain food and drink coupons. On the day of the presentation, we walked into the conference room where a hotel employee greeted us with the gift bag. Finding seats, I went through the bag. There was an assortment of travel sized items like toothpaste, bagged peanuts and body lotion. Along with the stuff there was a gold cardboard envelope. I opened it and found a coupon towards a one night’s stay at their new property being built in the Bahamas; that was where the $300.00 value came in. Though I understood the whole marketing aspect of it, I was still annoyed that I agreed to sit through a 2 hour presentation; where at the end of it, the employee tried to sell us a time share unit at their new property. The way I saw this was I received a few travel sized things and a coupon, which I found out did not include air fare and was not enough for a one night stay, for using up 2 hours of my time.      I REALIZE I HAVE A CHOICE; I do not have to agree to these types of sale pitches. For me it is about my time and effort, and what I am getting in return. Here is an example; remember those old TV dinners in the metal trays with the compartments for each food group? I used to get the turkey and gravy one, despite not really liking it. The reason was I loved the dessert that came with it, a baked apple crisp type of thing. The turkey was not horrible; but I was not a gravy person and did not care for the wetness with pieces of mushy stuffing floating in it. I powered through despite it, just so I could enjoy the dessert. As a little boy, I used to go through a box of cereal I disliked just to pull out the sweetened raisins and add them to a different box of cereal that I really enjoyed. Even today, my friends and family know I rarely order something straight off the restaurant menu without making small adjustments for the things I like and dislike.  I wish I could have done that for this action, adventure film I saw at the movie theaters.      NATASHA ROMANOFF, PLAYED BY SCARLETT JOHNSON (Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story), must confront her past if she wants to overcome the sinister forces that are circling around her. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, Fighting with my Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (No Sudden Move, Suicide Squad) as Alexei, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, My Cousin Rachel) as Melina and Ray Winstone (The Departed, Cold Mountain) as Dreykov; this science fiction origin story was a mixed bag for me. There were times where the scenes were brilliant, both in content and visually; but other times I was not as impressed. I think the basic issue had to do with the script. In a Marvel film, we get overloaded with excitement, peril, humor and incredible CGI effects. This film came close at times but did not quite make it. The women were incredible together, especially Scarlett and Florence, who I think has a future in the Marvel universe based on her performance here. For the story, the evil aspect just wasn’t as diabolical as it could have been. I enjoyed watching the movie, but I did not love it. Sort of like that TV dinner I used to eat. There was an extra scene after the credits.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: P!nk: All I Know So Far

THE ELEVATOR DOORS OPENED AND I immediately knew who was walking in. I was a big fan of hers, having seen her for many years on various television programs and specials. Now, I was seeing her in person. It was funny; if one did not know who she was they would have thought she was just a regular guest at the hotel. She was dressed in dark colored slacks, blouse and a cardigan sweater. Around her neck she wore several thin gold chains and her pierced ears had diamond stud earrings. Standing in the elevator with her and the two men who had accompanied her, I did not know whether I should say hello or not. I didn’t want to come off as a typical fan who asked for a photo or autograph, even though that is exactly what I wanted to do. Instead, I stood there listening to their conversation. With the elevator not stopping on any other floor, I only had less than a minute to hear what they were talking about. Surprisingly, their conversation was an easy exchange about what each were going to do for the upcoming holidays. It sounded like the 2 men were part of her staff; yet, what impressed me the most was the fact the comedienne did not put on any “airs.” She sounded genuinely interested in what each of the men were saying. When the elevator came to a stop, she turned to nod at me before exiting the elevator. I became an even bigger fan of hers right there.      WHEN IT COMES TO CELEBRITIES, I can appreciate what they do; however, I understand just because they are gifted in one area does not mean they are an expert in another. I may think some actor does incredible work; but if they choose to stand on a soapbox and spew ignorant things, then there is no reason I should spend my time and money on them. There are a couple of long-time actors that I stopped seeing their movies years ago because of their personal beliefs. One is highly prejudiced, and the other has uttered nonsense during his interviews. This would explain why you never see me reviewing any of their films on this site. I am offended when a celebrity gets on stage to except an award, then lets their true nature come out, babbling about some cause they believe, in hopes of convincing their captive audience. Just because they have money does not give them the right to tell people how to act, in my opinion. For these reasons, I found an even higher level of admiration for the musical artist in this wonderful documentary.      THE VIEWER IS GIVEN AN INSIDE view on the delicate balancing act between business, family and performing as the musical celebrity Pink begins her world tour that will lead her up to performing at London’s Wembley Stadium for the first time. Directed by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman, Naruto), I enjoyed how the cameras followed Pink (Alecia Moore) and her family from the stage to their off-stage lives. From what I saw, I believe Pink is no different between the two environments. Her work ethic is beyond impressive. I have only seen her perform on TV shows, never in concert and I have to say, she is 100% dedicated to putting on a great show. Now granted, the writers never delved deep into her life and I get that because she would want to be cast in a favorable light; otherwise, why would she agree to such a project. If one is not a fan of Pink’s work, then I am not sure they would care to sit through this picture. I enjoy her music and after seeing the work involved and her concert performances in this film, I would love to see her one day live in concert.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Supernova

THE MEMORY IS JUST AS VIVID now as when it was created decades ago. An amusement park that was in the heart of the city. I was there with a large group of relatives. Everyone was in line to go on a water ride; where a long boat would take you through a tunnel, where at the end there was something like a big freight elevator, that lifted the boat several stories high to the top of a water slide. I was not even in school yet; but I remember I was afraid to get into the boat. At some point a relative lifted me up and placed me in a seat on the edge side of the boat; I cried because I was afraid, I thought I was going to tip the boat over. The boat rocked from side to side which only made me more terrified. By the time we got to the freight elevator contraption, I was nearly uncontrollable. There was a loud clicking sound being made while the boat was rising in the air. Through the metal bars of the scaffolding, I could see the park guests walking around, looking like worker ants to me. When the boat reached the top, it paused. The only sound was of me wailing. Slowly the front of the boat started to tip down and before I realized what was taking place, the boat rushed down the water slide, where it made a huge splash hitting the water. My cries immediately turned to gleeful laughter; I absolutely loved it and wanted to ride the boat again.      THE MEMORY OF THAT INITIAL RIDE has stayed with me all these years. I was with family, we spent the whole day at the park, I had an ice cream that had a hard chocolate coating on the outside; it was a beautiful and fun filled day. Imagine if one day I no longer could recall this memory? Would it be floating somewhere in my brain where it would randomly flash itself one day into my consciousness for a moment? I think about this from time to time and have been for many years. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I always want to document with a photograph a noteworthy activity I am participating in so that I will never forget it. When I was little, I thought our brains could only hold a finite amount of memories. I wanted to somehow purge myself of the sad ones. After many years and seeing those I know deal with forgetfulness, I am even more determined to continue to create new, happy memories. I have seen what happens when the brain becomes engulfed with the diseases of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In seeing this romantic drama, I only have admiration for what the main couple had to deal with in their lives.      AFTER RECEIVING A TROUBLING DIAGNOSIS, A long term couple embark on a road trip to visit those from their past. With Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) as Sam, Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, Spotlight) as Tusker, Pippa Haywood (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Scott & Bailey-TV) as Lilly, newcomer Nina Marlin and Ian Drysdale (Tulip Fever, Genius) as Paul, this film festival winner won me over with the acting skills of Colin and Stanley. They were able to take a script filled with simple, daily life occurrences and create a quiet powerful piece. The story was touching and for those viewers who know individuals suffering from memory loss, this picture will affect you deeper; though, those unaware will still feel the emotion rising off the script. If it was not for the powerful acting, several scenes in this movie would have gone slowly. Gratefully, I appreciated all the work the actors and crew put into this beautiful film. I believe I will remember this movie for a long time.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield

IF I HAD BEEN IN HER situation, I would have been the picture of gloom and doom. Her attitude was something that needed to be bottled and sold at a store for all of us who could not move on from “bad news.” An acquaintance of mine was a successful businesswoman. She had her own business with 8-10 employees. Her company turned a profit every year; nothing exorbitant, just small and steady. After several years, she met a man and started dating him. He was a “big” talker who had all these ideas to get rich quick. One of his ideas on making her company bigger was to buy a competitor and merge the companies. At first, she simply acknowledged his plans, telling him she would have to think about it. But as time went on and he kept providing her all these statistics on how to increase her business, she started to believe him. He promised he would look out for her as he submerged himself into the negotiations. She was falling in love with him and in turn, trusted him. During the process he updated her on the offers, telling her she would need a bigger staff to handle all the business they would be getting after the merger. You know where this story is going, don’t you? I won’t bore you with all the details; instead, I will get to the outcome. The companies merged and remained successful, except her boyfriend embezzled thousands of dollars to the point where the business failed, and she had to file bankruptcy.     IF THAT HAD BEEN ME, I would have become a wild man. She did everything she could to get the money back; but with limited resources and he had spent the money, she had to walk away from him and the business she had started years ago. She was sad about the loss of both her company and her boyfriend who turned out to be a swindler. I think it was a few weeks before her sadness began to turn to ambition and she started thinking about what she would like to do next. This is the reason I admired or maybe I should say, appreciated her gumption. If that had been me, I would have wallowed in the depths of sadness and depression for months and months. I know at some point I would have been in the throes of a massive rage that would nearly consume everything around me. Regarding the loss of her company, I do not know what things she had control over. I think I am paranoid enough to have scrutinized every document, invoice, bill and payment before approving anything. My lesson that I still need help learning is, I cannot control the things that are not in my control. The main character in this comedic drama is someone I could admire for not letting life’s challenges permanently weigh him down.      NO MATTER WHAT FATE FELL UPON him, each turn of events gave David Copperfield, played Dev Patel (Hotel Mumbai, The Wedding Guest), the ability to find a way to get his life in order and do what he was meant to do. With Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland, House-TV) as Mr. Dick, Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Snowpiercer) as Betsey Trotwood, Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars franchise, Game of Thrones-TV) as Jane Murdstone, Peter Capaldi (World War Z, Doctor Who-TV) as Mr. Micawber and Aimee Kelly (The Duke, Wolfblood-TV) as Emily; this film festival winning modern take of the Charles Dickens’ classic was warm and charming. I thought Dev and Tilda were outstanding in their roles. The way the story was filmed provided more levity than I had expected; it was such an easy and enjoyable film to watch. If you are a Dickens fan, I feel you will want to see this picture even with its updated flavor on the story. Those not familiar with the story would still enjoy the fancifulness of the production and the positive message.                 

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Last Cruise

AS MY EYES SLOWLY OPENED, I saw something large and white outside my window. Getting out of bed, I walked over to the window and saw the whiteness was part of a glacier. Overnight our cruise ship headed to Glacier Bay and now in the morning light, it looked to me like we were blocked by white cliff mountains. I quickly dressed and went out on deck to see as much as possible. The silence was noticeable; the ocean water was still except for a periodic shudder from time to time, as if the water had gotten a chill. Admittedly, the image of the Titanic crossed my mind; however, our cruise ship was sitting in place as it slowly turned like a clock dial, to give the passengers as much of a view as possible. The slow spin and silence were lulling me into a calmer state when suddenly I thought I heard a bolt of lightening crack the air apart. To my left, a portion of a glacier snapped off and was falling into the ocean. Many of the passengers on deck oohed and aahed as they watched with me this “baby” glacier slipping under the surface, only to rise back up in a horizontal position. I remember reading in one of the tourist books that this act of ice breaking away from the glacier was called calving. Just as quickly as the silence was broken by the falling ice chunk, it reverted to its peaceful quiet place.      HAVING EXPERIENCED SUCH AN EVENT SPURRED me on to plan another trip back to Alaska. For this next trip, I wanted to go to places I had not seen before; so, I researched cruise lines to see what my options would be. I found one line that incorporated a land portion that sounded intriguing to me. Because I am someone who does not take advantage of all the cruise line offers, such as eating volumes of food or participating in group activities, I see cruise ships as floating hotels. Instead of me packing and repacking from city to city, my room travels instead. After choosing the cruise line and picking out the extra excursions, my date was set to return to Alaska. I was so looking forward to my trip and the possibility of getting some incredible photo shots that I bought an extra rechargeable battery for my camera. Everything was falling into place; however, there was one thing I had not planned. As my cruise departure was looming closer, the news started reporting on a mysterious virus that was getting people sick to the point of killing them. Every week there were more and more instances of people getting sick until states and countries were telling its citizens to stay home. I spoke with the cruise line and after a time I realized I would have to put off my trip until it was safe. After watching this documentary, I am not sure I will ever see Alaska again by boat.      AS PEOPLE WERE STARTING TO GET deathly sick, an unknown virus made its way onto a cruise ship. At the time, it would turn into the largest outbreak outside of China. This film festival winner was directed by Hannah Olson (Baby God, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.-TV series documentary). Using passengers’ and crew members’ personal video clips; this simply made film packed a powerful punch. Not knowing what we know now, seeing the individuals on the Diamond Princess cruise liner struggle through the beginning stages of what was to become the COVID-19 virus was horrifying. I could not even imagine how I would have handled myself if I had been in their situation. As a movie watching experience, I cannot say this fulfilled everything I expect in a film. At times I felt I was watching people’s video clips posted online. However, I do not want to take anything away from the delivery method which was intimate and personal. Because of everything I saw in this picture, I must tell you I am hesitant to begin traveling in such a way again.                                        

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Concrete Cowboy

AS I WAS GETTING OUT OF my car, they appeared like three knights from a chess set. They floated out of the morning fog, three horse heads without bodies. I watched them as the fog around them swirled out of the way to reveal their bodies; two chestnut colored horses and one black one. There was a shine to their bodies as if morning dew had attached itself to them and spread out like a fine, high gloss polish. They were these beautiful, regal creatures who slowly walked towards me with ears pointed in my direction, trying to pick up a sound that could alert them to danger. I purposely drove just to see these animals after I received the invitation from a former boss’ former wife; I know, it sounded weird to me as I wrote it, but it is true. She had grown up with horses and had invited me to stop by and see her horses whenever I was in the neighborhood. Since I was going to be driving close to her town, I arranged to stop by her place; luckily, she was an early riser. The three horses remained in place while I slowly made my way to the fencing. Once there, I spoke softly to the three just so they could get used to my voice. The former wife appeared from behind the house and started walking towards me.      WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, I had to take care of a horse for a semester as part of the class curriculum. Her name was Daiquiri and she was a strong-minded horse. My first time up in the saddle, she decided she wanted to check out the upper rows of the arena we were working in. The trainer ran over to us as Daiquiri was clopping her way up the stairs. Before I could say anything, the trainer had gotten ahead of us, so she could block Daiquiri from going any further. She grabbed a hold of the reins and told me to dismount. After, she led the horse to the top walkway so she could get her to the next set of stairs and make her way back down. Despite that incident, I grew to love and respect Daiquiri. My former boss’ former wife knew about my experience with a horse, so I think that is why I was the only one to get an invitation to her horses. Though I declined riding them, I enjoyed just being and watching them. There is something calming about horses; I cannot explain it, but this film festival winner might be able to show you what I mean.     AFTER COLE, PLAYED BY CALEB McLAUGHLIN (High Flying Bird, Stranger Things-TV), got in trouble at school again, his mother decided to ship him off to stay with his estranged father. If Cole already did not want to stay with him, he certainly did not want to when he found out a horse lives with his Dad. With Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, Star Trek Beyond) as Harp, Lorraine Toussaint (Fast Color, Selma) as Nessie, Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight, Mr. Mercedes-TV) as Smush and newcomer Ivannah Mercedes as Esha; this drama was inspired by true events. I have never heard of the black cowboys of Philadelphia, but their inclusion in the cast made this gentle touching story more poignant for me. The acting was authentic, led by Idris’ performance. A story concerning a son and estranged father is something most of us have seen before; however, under this setting with the horses it brought a new fresh take that I thoroughly enjoyed. Even if you have no experience or interest in horses, this movie is worth the time in seeing it. As gentle as a horse and just as powerful.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Soul

THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something I thought I would never experience, as I am sure most of you have thought. When my state passed stay at home orders, I thought the only time I would be told to stay indoors was during a tornado or the threat of nuclear fallout. The only crisis I have lived through of this magnitude was during the AIDS epidemic. Though the transmission method was different, there still was a fear early on of getting to close to people. Back then the fear was unfounded; now it is real and could be the difference between life and death. I have known healthy individuals who caught this virus and succumbed to it. The suffering of being alone in a hospital bed as one’s lungs are slowly being squeezed of their last breath is a brutal experience. What makes this virus extra scary for me is how random it is in who will experience its affects. Some people don’t even know they are infected while others can get severe headaches, high fevers or death. I remember during my time at home, looking out the window and seeing the streets void of any human life. Pigeons scanning the sidewalks for a morsel of food, squirrels crisscrossing streets with less hesitancy and noticeable to me, less debris.      WITH THE LOCKDOWN IN PLACE, THAT also meant I could not go to the health club to work out, to restaurants, to theaters and so on. Suddenly Saturdays took on extra meaning because that was the day, I would order carryout, to help the nearby local restaurants. Food took on a different importance; instead of eating for sustenance, I was eating for comfort. There was a manmade lake close to my house that I had never seen. I drove to it so I could get my steps in by walking the circumference of it. Seeing the ducks take off and land on the water was something I had never seen except on television. When the weather got too cold outside, I started walking/jogging in an underground parking garage. Little did I know that the space would become by sanctuary of peaceful calm. Staying in touch with friends/relatives took on a new meaning. In the past, there usually was an activity attached to getting together; but now, just being able to open a window and talk to a friend who was outside on the front lawn was a joy. Sitting outside to watch the sun set felt more monumental than during pre-COVID. Hearing silence except for the birds in the trees was a new experience. Little did I think that living a temporary restricted lifestyle would allow me to appreciate the little things that can go unnoticed on a typical day. This Oscar nominated and film festival winner can explain things better than me.     JUST WHEN A SCHOOL BAND TEACHER feels things are looking up, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place where passion comes into question. With Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Robin Hood) voicing Joe, Tina Fey (Date Night, Sisters) voicing 22, Graham Norton (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Another Gay Movie) voicing Moonwind, Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Baby Done) voicing Terry and Phylicia Rashad (Creed franchise, This is Us-TV) voicing Libba; this animated, adventure comedy had a lot going on with it. As to be expected from a Pixar movie, the animation was inventive and fun. There were some scenes that were rich with details, but others I found to be somewhat average. The script was different to me; I found it to be esoteric in nature. Young viewers may not understand the meaning of some scenes and might ask for an explanation. From an entertainment standpoint, I did not feel the sense of joy I normally do with a Pixar film. I did however appreciate the message; I only wished there had been more musical interludes.                                   

3 stars  

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