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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  

Flash Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

THE DENTIST WAS TELLING ME HOW he used to be a high school teacher, but there was always something inside of him that pushed him towards dentistry. He said it was after he had a conversation with his dad, that he started taking steps to become a dentist. His motivation was the fact he would be the 3rdgeneration in his family to be a dentist. I was surprised by that revelation for some reason; I have seen father and son dental practices, but not grandfather, father and son. The dentist said he wanted to make his grandfather and Dad proud. So, he went back to school to become a dentist and went into the family business. It was funny to hear he used to be a teacher because anytime he was performing a procedure on me, he always explained in detail what he was about to do and it always sounded like a teacher was explaining it to me; now it made sense. There was one other thing that intrigued me about his story and that was how he basically wanted to be like his father. The reason I mention this is because I am always curious about family dynamics when either a child wants to be like a parent or when they do everything possible to try and not be like their parent. What takes place in the family unit that motivates a child to choose one or the other?     I HAD A FRIEND WHO, IF you did not know better, you would have thought he did not grow up having a father; he never talked about him. It was a long time before I found out he did have a dad and he worked in the scientific community. Interestingly, his mom was quite artistic; both in her career and the things she did outside of work. My friend had nothing to do with the different limbs of science, both in school and interests. He was artistic like his mom and preferred participating in various art and writing contests. He always carried a book to read wherever he went. Though he had a high grade point average, he struggled with his math and science classes. It was in the literature and acting classes where he thrived and grew. It seemed to me as if he was doing everything possible to be like his mother. I never asked about it, but I always wondered what was taking place with him that motivated him to take a similar path to his mother’s.      WITH DREAMS OF BECOMING A TATOO ARTIST but content hanging out and smoking weed with his friends; Scott Carlin’s, played by Pete Davidson (Big Time Adolescence, Saturday Night Live-TV), world was jolted when his mother started dating. With Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out, The Diary of a Teenage Girl) as Kelsey, relative newcomer Ricky Velez as Oscar, Lou Wilson (The Guest Book-TV, American Vandal-TV) as Richie and Marisa Tomei (The First Purge, The Wrestler) as Margie Carlin; this comedic drama was the perfect vehicle for Pete’s skills. Granted he co-wrote the story, but I felt his acting was at a new level. It took a while for me to get into this movie because I felt it was a bit slow; however, as the story unfolded, I fell right into it and enjoyed how the characters grew. Marisa was wonderful in her role; I appreciated how the script dug into her and the other characters and gave their dialog an authenticity. I also appreciated the humor that was on display in this film. If Pete was motivated to show he could do something more with his acting skills, he succeeded as far I was concerned. 

3 stars          

Flash Movie Review: The Dig

IT ALL STARTED BECAUSE I LIVED close to one of 2 “hills” in the city. Since the city I grew up in was virtually flat, any rise or fall in the landscape took on added significance. The “hill” near me would probably not register as a hill to most people; but to those of us who lived near this block long incline to the top land mass, we considered it as our “hill.” There was another hill in a suburb near me, but it was originally a waste dump that the town converted into a sled run and park. They buried the trash in the dump, piling it up to a certain height, then covered it with dirt and grass. In winter we would take our sleds there to ride down what we referred to as the trash mountain. The “hill” near my home was formed by glaciers eons ago; at least, that is what I was told. Supposedly, as the planet heated up and the glaciers melted the land that had been churned up was left, settling into what we now called a “hill.” The idea that a glacier had done this was fascinating to me and began my curiosity with history.      THINKING WE WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE a baseball trading card and a couple of toy soldiers for someone in the future to find, a friend and I decided we would dig a hole near the “hill” and bury our future artifacts. We found a small park that was a city block away from the southern part of the “hill,” that had a grassy section near its playground. With our toy shovels and pails in hand, we started digging up a spot in the ground. Once we passed the grass line and got into the dirt, we found a mix of twigs, pebbles and pieces of rock. The hole did not need to be to big, only deep enough to be undisturbed for a generation or two. As I was piling the dirt up next to me, something barely caught the outside of my eyesight. I started to carefully brush aside some of the dirt with my hand, until I was able to make out the partial outline of something metal based. It looked like a piece of silver, maybe a part of an earring or a link from a chain of some kind. I showed my friend who took it out of my hand to turn it over and over before he said he thought it might have been part of a key that had rusted off. We were intrigued with the idea that it may be a clue to some kind of buried treasure. We continued our digging but eventually lost our interest once we got hungry for lunch. I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t stopped?      THE UNUSUAL GRASSY MOUNDS THAT WERE part of her land were something that Edith Pretty, played by Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, Suffragette), was convinced were not created by nature. She only needed to find someone who would believe her. With Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, The Constant Gardener) as Basil Brown, Danny Webb (Never Grow Old, Alien 3) as John Grateley, Robert Wilfort (Peterloo, Gavin & Stacey-TV) as Billy Lyons and James Dryden (Ready Player One, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) as George Spooner; this film festival nominee was a beautifully laid out story based on true events. Carey and Ralph handled their characters with deep care and thoughtfulness. I totally enjoyed the way they interacted. An added bonus for me in this dramatic biography was the historical significance of the events taking place. This was more of a slow and steady paced film that had no need for wide swings in emotion; it was simply touching and beautiful. And here all these years, I thought what I had found with my friend was something of importance.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Frequency

I NEVER JUDGED HER CHOICE IN men, but I was noticing she had a certain type she liked to date. Most of the men she dated were approximately 20-25 years her senior; though there were a few I met who were closer in age to her. But on the average, she preferred older guys. I did not notice at first nor did it matter to me when I did because I felt age was just a number, it had nothing to do with how a person feels or acts. If my friend was happy and being treated with respect, I was always thrilled for her. When I started noticing her dates were older, I started to pay more attention. I knew her Father had died at a young age, when she was around 8 or 9 years old. Maybe she was looking for a father figure, I wondered. The few times when we double dated, it seemed as if she was content in letting her date take care of everything. What I mean by that is she always deferred to him when an opinion was needed or when the conversation dealt with goals/dreams. The ones I knew she had were now replaced with the ones that her date had expressed. This is when I realized she was looking for a father figure. Again, if that is the relationship that worked for the two of them then I was fine with it. It would make sense that no one would want to live with an empty feeling.      NO MATTER WHAT AGE, IT STILL is hard to lose a loved one. Imagine how many of us wish we could have had an extra day or hour to say the things we never got to say. I had a relative who used to fight and argue with her husband constantly. I used to wonder why they remained married to each other. When he died, she carried so much guilt around that she could no longer function. She would tell people she never got to say “goodbye” or “I love you” because they were arguing all the time. I felt sad for her; here the two of them spent their time fighting over things that they never got the opportunity to express the things they had inside of each other. I could see how it was eating her up; she so wanted to talk to her husband and finally say those things she never said when he was alive. If only there was a way we could communicate like, the son did in this film festival winning mystery, crime drama.      THE TRAGIC LOSS OF HIS FATHER stayed with John Sullivan, played by Jim Caviezel (Escape Plan, The Thin Red Line), to the point he thought he could still hear his Dad talking. With Dennis Quaid (In Good Company, Far From Heaven) as Frank Sullivan, Shawn Doyle (Don’t Say a Word, Whiteout) as Jack Shepard, Elizabeth Mitchell (Running Scared, Lost-TV) as Julia Sullivan and Andre Braugher (The Mist, City of Angels) as Satch DeLeon; this film is best watched not questioning the fantasy aspect of the story. If that can be done, then I believe the movie would be easier to watch. I enjoyed the multiple story lines and thought Dennis and Jim did an excellent job in conveying their characters. There were a few disturbing scenes showing the aftermath of violence; but gratefully the cameras did not dwell long recording them. There was a bit of jumping back and forth in time; however, it was easy to follow and not distracting to me. As I said before, one needs not to think too much about what is taking place in the story; instead, just sit back and enjoy the way the stories come together.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sylvie’s Love

I KNEW HER WHEN SHE HAD dreams of being an artist. She delved into the art world with inks, paper, feathers and stamps; eager to create a line of cards filled with characters and creatures she would copyright one day. I was the recipient for several of her cards; they usually had to be delivered with 2 stamps on the envelopes. If someone were to ask me what her style of art was like, I think I would have a hard time explaining it. There were some figures that had a Victorian flair to them, but then there were others that were almost animal like. I do not mean this in a disrespectful way but for my tastes, I would say her cards were frilly. The addition of buttons or crystals or fringe for me, gave it a frilly look. I will say she was passionate about her craft, going to various workshops and conventions to practice and hone her skills. Besides getting texts with photos of her latest works, we would talk on the phone and she would tell me about her latest creations. She even looked the part, if there is such a type. With hair dyed in various vibrant colors based on the season, she wore funky jewelry; some even made by her. In other words, one could consider her a walking billboard for her products.      WHEN SHE INTRODUCED ME TO THE man she was going to marry, it never occurred to me that she would alter her game plan for her art. However, after they were married for a few months I noticed the texts became fewer and farther between, the phone calls were not as consistent as they once were; I was not hearing about her latest creations. When we talked, she still would mention something about a new stamp she bought or some fun card stock; however, I now would infrequently hear about the finished product made from these items. It was not like her husband discouraged her; it was her choice as far as I could tell. I did not hear anything negative about his feelings towards her creative side. It just seemed as if her passion for art was transferred to her passion for her new husband. It had been a long time since she had been married. And that was okay with me if that is how she truly felt; I only wanted her to be happy. I had known other people who got into a relationship and the things they were passionate about had to be curtailed because their spouse was not supportive or did not understand the importance it played in the person’s life. Having a dream and making it a reality are two different things; see how it works in this film festival nominated movie.     SYLVIA PARKER, PLAYED BY TESSA THOMPSON (Creed franchise, Men in Black: International), was obsessed with television. Her dream was to become a TV producer. While helping at her father’s record store, Sylvia met someone who also had a dream. With Nnamdi Asomugha (Crown Heights, When the Streetlights Go On-TV) as Halloway, Eva Longoria (Dog Days, Overboard) as Carmen, Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation, The Upside) as Mona and Jemima Kirke (The Little Hours, Ava’s Possessions) as The Countess; this drama was as smooth as fine satin. Set during the 1950s in Harlem, I thought the sets and costumes were spot on and I thoroughly enjoyed the musical score. Tessa and Nnamdi had a palatable chemistry that grew along with the story. The script had a game plan like other romantic films I have seen before; though, I thought the ending lost a bit of steam here. I mean this as a compliment; this was a good old-fashioned romantic drama with a good douse of jazz music thrown in. 

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Pelican Bloom

IT SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS PROUD to tell me he could eat anything; I congratulated him, telling him I had to watch what I ate. When we met in school, he told me he was diabetic. Later he told me he was surprised by my reaction when he initially told me. I said, “Oh, okay; but don’t think I am going to treat you special now.” Up until that moment most people he had told according to him started treating him differently, as if he could not make his own decisions. Please keep in mind, this happened back in time before we had the technology, we have now for tracking blood sugar levels. From that first meeting on our dorm floor, we became fast friends. We both had opted out of the meal plan offered at the school, instead fending for ourselves in the communal kitchen on our floor. Seeing what he ate on a weekly basis did make me curious how he managed to eat certain foods that I had thought would wreak havoc with his sugar levels. I remember asking him if he took the same amount of insulin each day, after seeing him inject himself in the stomach at the table before we started eating dinner one night. He said he could feel his sugar levels and adjust his insulin dosage accordingly; he would just wing the dosages each day depending on what he planned on eating. It surprised me because he would eat desserts, drink alcohol and snack between meals on an assortment of food items from natural to processed.     ONE NIGHT WE WERE HANGING OUT, watching TV. After we had sat through a couple of sit-coms, the news came on. The newscaster listed the night’s news stories that were to be covered during the telecast and one of the topics was the use of service dogs for diabetics. Of course, my friend was curious about it as well as myself; so, we decided to sit through the news until the dog story was covered. I was familiar with the use of seeing eye dogs for the blind, but I could not imagine what service dogs would do for those with diabetes. Well, it turned out to be an interesting news segment. Service dogs were being trained to alert a person when their blood sugar level was out of range. Both of us could not believe what we were seeing, but it evidently was working; the dogs could smell when a person’s levels were out of whack. Though that was such a novel idea at the time, it turns out it was only the beginning to the variety of animals that would be put into use to assist people. Some would come from unexpected places, such as the one in this drama based on a true story.     WHILE VACATIONING IN THAILAND A FAMILY experiences a horrific accident that would alter their lives. No one seemed to heal from the event until the children one day brought home an injured animal. With Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry, The Impossible) as Sam Bloom, newcomer Griffin Murray-Johnston as Noah Bloom, Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, The Walking Dead-TV) as Cameron Bloom, newcomer Felix Cameron as Rueben Bloom and Jacki Weaver (Poms, Silver Linings Playbook) as Jan; the story behind this movie was unbelievable and difficult to watch at times. Naomi transformed herself into her character, that easily pulled me into the story. The gorgeous scenery was a bonus as I enjoyed the director’s light touch to letting the story play out in a real way. I am sure there were extra parts that were inserted into the script to manipulate the viewer, but I felt they were not done in a heavy-handed way. And if that was not enough, watching the animal in this film was so amazing and done in such an endearing way that I was captivated. Also, stay for the credits to see actual photographs of the family this film was based on.                 

3 stars           

Flash Movie Review: Wildfire

I WAS INTRODUCED TO THEM AT a restaurant, while waiting to be seated. We were meeting for dinner and a friend had invited this couple to join us. They were friendly and I immediately liked the wife’s sense of humor. It wasn’t too long before the host sat us at a table; I was sitting directly across from the couple. Over the course of the evening the wife’s husband was telling us about their plans to move out of state. He said he had to first sell a boat he had in drydock. Once he could get the boat sold, he told us he needed to buy some type of machine to print up T-shirts. I thought he might be talking about screen printing T-shirts; but why was he not saying it, I wondered. Because I am naturally curious, I asked them why they needed to move to make T-shirts and he said it would lower their expenses. From there he started telling me about the other plans he was working on. Throughout our conversation or more accurately, his talking and my listening, I could not get a read on his wife. She looked like she was listening, nodding her head at some of the things he was saying; but she did not look excited or thrilled or even happy about all the plans that were in the works for them.      AFTER WE PAID THE BILL AND said our goodbyes, I asked my friend when we were alone if she was sad about her friends moving out of state. She said she was said to see the wife go but was fine with the husband leaving. I asked her why and she told me she was angry at the husband because all his plans/dreams were burning through all their money. This latest plan was taking place with the help of their 401K retirement money. She told me that is why the wife, who was her friend, was still working. It turns out the husband had all these crazy schemes cooked up to make a quick buck, but they always failed. That boat he was trying to sell was bought with the idea of him doing private boat cruises despite the fact he has never sailed in his life. She told me the boat has never been in the water. I was now getting an understanding of the wife’s actions during our dinner. Asking my friend why the wife went along with these crazy plans, she told me the husband would go and do all this stuff without asking her first. If I was in that type of situation, I would have kicked them out of the house which is why I understood what was taking place between the married couple in this film festival winning movie.      AFTER BEING LAID OFF OF WORK from the golf course, the jobs available to Jerry Brinson, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Nocturnal Animals), were slim. That is until he came up with the idea of battling the encroaching forest fire. With Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Better Watch Out) as Joe Brinson, Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go) as Jeanette Brinson, Travis W. Bruyer (The Beast, Useless) as Forester and Bill Camp (Joker, 12 Years a Slave) as Warren Miller; this drama showcased a well-blended cast of actors. Ed and Carey must be seen to be believed; that is how good their acting was in this story. I thought the directing was delicate and thoughtful because everything felt intimate to me. It took a while before the script grabbed my attention; but once everything started to fall in place, I was hooked on the story. There was nothing that seemed out of place or phony. I felt I was a witness to a family’s reality instead of their dream.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend

SOME OF YOU MAY LAUGH, BUT I learned about the reproduction process from a dog. I was at a relative’s house and was walking their dog. We had only gone to the end of the block when a dog from the corner house came up to us. My relative’s dog was backing up into me because of the neighbor’s dog’s aggressiveness. Luckily the neighbor came outside and retrieved her dog. As we started to head back home, I heard barking sounds behind me. With a look over my shoulder, I saw two dogs trotting towards me. Where were these dogs coming from, I wondered? I picked up my relative’s dog and started running back to the house. The 2 dogs behind me were in pursuit and they were faster than me. I started yelling at the dogs to get away, pushing then with my leg. My relative had heard me and came out to rescue us. Once back inside I asked why these dogs were after us. The reason given to me was their dog was in heat. I was confused by the use of the word heat, so my relative explained the dog was giving off a scent that male dogs were attracted to because she was releasing an egg. This answer only made me ask more questions. By the time we were done I promised I would never walk their dog again when she was in heat.      FROM THAT EXPERIENCE, I NEVER LOOKED at dogs the same way. All through my early years my only contact with dogs was if a relative or friend had one. Some of them were smart, others not so much; but they were all friendly dogs. The first time I saw a service dog was at a department store. I was of high school age and saw this dog leading a blind woman through the store. Up until that time I did not know dogs could do such a thing. I kept my distance, but I followed them for a short distance because I was so fascinated by it. After that meeting, I discovered a whole new level of working dogs; from guarding scrap yards to being a service dog for the elderly. A week after 9/11, I was at the airport where I saw dogs doing something I had never seen before; they were sniffing all the passengers in line for explosives. The guards who were leading them kept telling us not to pet or engage with the dogs because they were working. It was both amazing and scary watching these dogs. Now from watching this emotional documentary, I know there is another function dogs perform that could be lethal.      WHEN HANDLERS AND THEIR DOGS WORK side by side during military conflicts, it creates a unique bond that can last their entire lives. Directed by Deborah Scranton (Earth Made of Glass, The War Tapes), I feel even if one is not a dog lover, they will be moved by this movie. The story focused on a few veterans and their K9 companions. Seeing the bond between each of them was a glorious sight. I was not familiar with military dogs; I do not know anyone who worked in such a capacity. As I watched this film, it did cross my mind that some of the dogs could be the canine version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I do not want to say too much about the individual scenes; it is best if the viewer goes in and experiences the stories for themselves. From the time I was small, walking a dog that was in heat, up to my love of animals as an adult; I have never seen such a world made up of veterans and their dogs working side by side and loving each other as they are doing it.

DOG LOVERS: 3 ½ stars                                                           NON-DOG LOVERS: 3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Soul of America

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IS A SAYING I have heard many times. The idea behind it, I believe, is to be a teaching tool; where one can learn something by looking at the past. I’ve used it to see how a person acquired a behavior or trait. There was a boy in my neighborhood growing up, who was a bigot/racist/anti-Semitic; take your pick. On the inside of his notebook cover was a swastika he drew in pencil. I happened to see it because I sat next to him in class. He was not aggressive with his prejudices, but I was always curious to know what happened to him where he learned this behavior. An opportunity presented itself to me one day when I spotted him and his father in a store. I stayed out of sight as best I could; while still being near enough to hear them talk. There was little conversation between them; however, as they passed a fellow shopper their shopping carts bumped together. The shopper excused herself and continued on her way. As the father and son walked away, I heard the father say a derogatory remark in a low voice. What he said was hateful and ignorant; but I now understood why my classmate was prejudiced.      WHEN I STUDIED WORLD HISTORY, IT seemed to me every major conflict began due to religion, hope for world domination or a prejudice. The examples for this would be the crusades, World War II and the Rwandan Civil War between the Hutu and Tutsi groups. Century after century the conflicts I studied usually fell into one of these categories. If history is repeating itself, which it appears to be doing, why have we not learned something from it? I look at the struggles of disenfranchised people and more times than not they are being persecuted because some other group doesn’t like them. To this day, I do not understand how someone can form a dislike towards a person solely based on how they look. I am not talking about their hygiene or type of dress; one can form an opinion of a person if they have food stains across their clothing. More than ever, I have witnessed acts of hatred being played out on a massive scale. It seems as if some people thrive on hatred, making themselves feel better when they can dominate someone else. This is such a warped view of the world; I can barely comprehend it. If what I have said sounds confusing, let me suggest watching this documentary that does an infinitely better job of explaining the phrase history repeats itself.     EACH GENERATION MAY FEEL AS IF they are the first to experience such an event when it is presented to them. However, if one were to look back in history, they might find a similar event had taken place some time before. Directed by K.D. Davison (Ordinary People-TV), I found this film to be fascinating. Having as the central character Jon Meacham (The Front Runner, former editor of Newsweek) was a wonderful idea. He is a likeable and easy to understand historian, who was filmed at times during several discussions and lectures he held across the country. Seeing the comparisons between past and current times; I found it to be eye opening. I also enjoyed the variety of archive footage that was used in this documentary, with a wide assortment of celebrities and politicians such as George Takei (Star Trek franchise, Heroes-TV), Franklin D. Roosevelt and Edward R. Murrow. Seeing the historical challenges people have faced then comparing it to present times was an informative history lesson to me without feeling as if I were being lectured. This was a well-done picture that had a hefty amount of substance.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

IT FELT GOOD TO BE NEEDED and I felt the same about them. We had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party; by the time I had to leave, we agreed to meet for dinner later in the week. Over that first meal we discovered things we had in common, including their best friend was married to a cousin of mine. It was things like this that sparked our attraction for each other. Now here is a little secret; the entire time we were together, I felt as if I was dating out of my league. In the very beginning of our relationship I would question, or 2ndguess myself because I could not believe how well things were going. Listening to them talk about their circle of friends/business contacts used to make me feel uncomfortable because they sounded so sophisticated or important. It eventually passed because we were settling into a comfortable, loving place. Though, I never pushed to be introduced to their friends; I thought in good time they would get comfortable to bring me around them. I never questioned it because I was taking a slow pace in introducing them to my friends and family. Looking back now, I should have questioned it.      THERE WAS NO WARNING, NOT EVEN an indication, when they told me our relationship was no longer working for them. The only way I could describe how I was feeling was shellshocked. Seriously, I felt as if everything was going along wonderfully; we never even had a disagreement about anything. I tried to get more input about what was not working, but all I was getting was the same “not working” excuse. I must tell you breaking up is harder to deal with when you do not get an explanation or feedback you can process and possibly see things through the other person’s eyes. I mean, if there is something I did that caused this unfortunate turn of the relationship, I certainly would like to know about it; so, I could look and maybe grow from it. All I had to do it turned out was wait one week and I got my answer. The mutual friend we had called and told me that my ex was already dating someone else. Wow, that did not take long. I guess my feeling needed was correct; however, it was for the wrong reasons. They were using me until they found someone who better fit their needs and wants, I guess. I know some people who get into a relationship, know right from the start where they stand with the other person. I do not know if that would make me feel any better about the relationship; it seems like that could be the start of a love/hate relationship. In this musical drama, you can see what I am talking about.      BOTH THE RECORD PRODUCER AND MANAGER knew what type of record they wanted to make. What they did not know was the singer had her own ideas. With Viola Davis (Fences, Widows) as Ma Rainey, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 21 Bridges) as Levee, Colman Domingo (Lincoln, Selma) as Cutler, Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara) as Toledo and Jeremy Shamos (The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight); this film festival winner hit the right chord with Viola and Chadwick playing off of each other. They both provided powerful performances that carried this story all the way to the end. I had a hard time, at first, getting into this story. There were some flat scenes that did nothing for me. I could see where they might have been more intense on the stage; however, they did not translate well to the big screen. On the other hand, there were some intense attention-grabbing scenes that made me want to watch more. I could see Chadwick and Viola getting nominations during this year’s awards season and if that was the reason the movie studio used them to make money off this film, I am sure the actors were quite aware of it.     

3 stars    

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