Flash Movie Review: House of Gucci
MY FRIEND WAS SO EXCITED TO show me her new designer purse. It was a good thing she told me ahead of time because when I saw it, I thought it looked like a premium gift one would have received for opening a new bank account. The purse looked ugly to me, with the designer’s initials being repeated row after row all around the bag. But then again, I was never fond of having “name/designer brands” or logos on clothing. When I was a little kid, I had a couple of pullover shirts that had a little crocodile patch attached to them. I never liked crocodiles, so I could not understand why I had to wear a shirt with one on it. All I said to my friend was how happy I was for her to get something she had been wanting for a long time. Little did I know I would see the same design on so many purses women were carrying all around the city. It was not too long before other designers were putting their initials on their clothing items. I thought for sure the people who could not afford these designer brands would be judged by their “ordinary” purses. To me, it looked like a caste system was being formed based on the brand of purse or clothing one was wearing. MAYBE IT WAS A REACTION TO that idea, that drove me to look for fitness wear that was not simply an advertisement for the manufacturer. I started buying novelty T-shirts that were funny or quirky. Gaining the opportunity to be able to travel, I started buying a T-shirt and hat from every state I visited. Soon two dozen shirts and hats blossomed into 50, then 100; until I wound up with over 300 T-shirts, none advertising a logo or brand name. Sure, I was stuck with workout shoes that had the company’s logo on them, but I always looked first for a nondescript article. I continued to keep my principles even after the imitation/fake items doused the consumer. My lesson in fake items took place at a flea market, where a booth was selling what I thought were expensive watches. It turned out the items piled on the table were fake but looked so close to the originals that I do not think many people would know the difference. However, underneath the tables unbeknownst to me were watches that were made at the same factories as the name brand ones. They were tweaked a bit in cost cutting moves but essentially, they were coming from the same watch company but for more than ½ the price. I thought it was crazy but then I watched this Oscar nominated film. FROM A SIMPLE LIFE PATRIZIA REGGIANI, PLAYED by Lady Gaga (A Star is Born, Sin City: A Dame to Kill), had no idea who she was looking at when she saw the awkward man behind the bar. If she knew who she was looking at, she certainly did not know what went with the man’s name. With Adam Driver (The Last Dual, Marriage Story) as Maurizio Gucci, Al Pacino (The Irishman, Dick Tracy) as Aldo Gucci, Jeremy Irons (Margin Call, Assassin’s Creed) as Rodolfo Gucci and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Requiem for a Dream) as Paolo Gucci; what saved this movie inspired by a true story was Lady Gaga. She was totally committed to the character to the point I forgot it was her. Because of her performance, Adam Driver was pushed into the background; granted the fact he could not hold onto an Italian accent did not help his cause. As for Jared, I had not idea it was him until I saw the ending credits. The script and direction were weak in my opinion. It was nearly halfway before things started to gel better together and the story finally kept my interest. The story was unbelievable if any of it was true in this picture. And looking up a photo afterwards of Patrizia Reggiani, the producers did perfect casting with choosing Lady Gaga.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: The Irishman
HAVING A STRONG INTEREST IN HISTORY, I have always had an awareness about being a part of it. Now, I know each of us has a history and a place in other people’s history; however, there is a part of me that wants to be associated with something that makes history for being the first. For example, like the person who created post-it notes or the one who came up with that new shade of blue. I prefer to be known for something positive. Years ago, I was a participant in a charity’s inaugural fundraising event that took place on a cruise boat. I was with a group of bachelors that were to be auctioned off. Each of us had our own dinner package included; mine was a dinner at an Italian restaurant followed with a concert at an outdoor venue. We did promotions for the event, such as holding meet and greets at different locations in the city and being on a float in a parade. The press was kind to us, though I have to say I was surprised when I saw a picture of myself in one of the local newspapers. It was a fun time and we raised a substantial amount of money for the charity. LOOKING AT OTHER THINGS I HAVE DONE, something that never occurred to me was the historical significance of my movie review site. I did not realize that these reviews will be available for my family’s future generations. All I have that connects me to past generations are photographs and old silent film clips. The idea that some relative of mine in the year 2099 can learn about me from reading my reviews blows my mind. I think about this more as I am growing older. I would think the same for the passengers, I recently saw on the news, who took part in the longest non-stop plane ride; imagine what they will be telling their descendants. Or sadly, the tourists involved with the volcano eruption in New Zealand; that now becomes a part of their history. I think about the members I have had in my classes who have come up to me to express the difference I have made in their lives. Here I thought I was doing a job; but it turns out I was doing something more. Seeing the change that takes place in the members’ lives is one of my biggest pleasures when it comes to teaching class. As I said earlier, we all have a history that affects others; that is certainly the case with the main character in this biographical, crime drama. AT THE TIME HE WAS FOLLOWING orders; but Mafia hitman Frank Sheehan’s, played by Robert De Niro (Mean Streets, Joker), dependability and loyalty made him a part of this country’s history. With Al Pacino (The Godfather franchise, Dick Tracy) as Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Pesci (Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny) as Russell Bufalino, Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Angelo Bruno and Ray Romano (The Big Sick, Everybody Loves Raymond-TV) as Bill Bufalino; no one could ask for a better cast when it came to acting out these characters. The story was fascinating to me; especially because, I was familiar with some of the names that were being mentioned in the movie. The directing and filming of this picture was beautifully done; however, I felt there were parts that dragged on too long. The script caused these slow spots in places where I had to wait for the actors to move on. And truthfully, I felt there was a difference in watching this movie on a small screen instead of at the theater. Overall, I still enjoyed the film; but I wonder how much of it was based on truth. Because if it was indeed true, then Frank Sheeran definitely has a place in history.
3 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS SUGGESTING SOME new concept to me, but I knew better. I was sure if I had been in the room before her she would have turned around and walked out after seeing me. She had done it before. I never said a word to anyone, but I felt she was rejecting me because to her I was old. When I walked into the classroom I saw some familiar faces who were participants in my yoga class; but then, I saw this one member was already seated on the floor on her yoga mat. I announced I was subbing for their instructor. This woman said nothing until after I went over what we would be doing in class that day. As I started to sit on the floor to begin our warmup poses, the woman asked if I could shut the lights off because the other instructor does it. This other instructor, by the way, was much younger than me; she only recently started teaching yoga. And in her class, she would shut the lights off, turn on a couple of battery-operated votive candles and play chimes periodically. When I told her, I would do it towards the end after observing how everyone was moving in class, she made one of those sounds associated with disgust, picked up her mat and walked out. TECHNICALLY, THIS MEMBER NEVER SAW ME teach class; she had to be rejecting me based on my appearance, it seemed to me. Though I can understand someone having reservations about trying a different instructor, I would not use appearance as a reason to reject a person. I have taught with other instructors who do not stereotypically look like a fitness person. They were not buff and had extra weight on their body; however, they taught a tough class. From my years of teaching fitness, I can put people into two separate groups: those that work out to look good and those who work out to feel good. Some members are predominately focused on their appearance; they are not interested in understanding how exercise is to be used for one’s quality of life. They think the more they sweat the better they will be and that is rarely the case. This group of people would be more likely to reject me simply because I have gray hair. I guess it goes with the territory, where people get judged either all or partially on their looks. Some lines of work can be tougher than others; that is why I understood what the main character was going through in this comedic drama. DURING THE LATE 60’S, HOLLYWOOD WAS going through changes: changes that would have a deep affect on actor Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, Titanic) and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt (Fury, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). It did not help that a new, young actress was living next door. With Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Legend of Tarzan) as Sharon Tate, Austin Butler (The Dead Don’t Die, The Carrie Diaries-TV) as Tex and Al Pacino (Danny Collins, Dick Tracy) as Marvin Schwarzs; this film took a while to kick in for me. Clocking in at 2 hours and 39 minutes, there was nothing one could say negative about the acting. Leonardo, Brad and Margot were wonderful through the entire story. I enjoyed seeing the movie making scenes as they were only one aspect of the story. The script had a couple of main stories that slowly blended in together. With multiple cameo roles and a great soundtrack; I loved watching this film and felt time went by quickly once I got into the story. There were a couple of violent bloody scenes and there was a quick extra scene during the credits.
Flash Movie Review: Manglehorn
If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. But what happens if they do not come back? Let me tell you what happens; the vacated space in your heart will become listless for a time. Your memories go through a transformation that softens the hard edges, like water continuously running through a forming canyon. There may be times where a particular memory morphs with fantasy to create a totally new experience. You believe what you are recalling even though it never really happened. Remember that time where the two of you were supposed to celebrate your anniversary but they could not get away from work? Though at the time you were upset, you now look back at it with fondness because they made it up to you with a spectacular day. Never mind they were never really at work but out with friends and just did not want to tell you. Now you can say what you want, but unless you work really hard on confronting, dealing and expunging your anger over your breakup; your anger will always find a way to come out. And it may happen in the most inappropriate of ways. I know about these things because anger used to be a close friend of mine. One time my bathtub got stopped up and for some reason I bought this plastic pump contraption. I tried putting it together to make it work, but it only frustrated me and I exploded with anger, taking a hammer to it until it was in a million pieces. Just like the character in this dramatic film. LOCKSMITH A. J. Manglehorn, played by Al Pacino (Danny Collins, The Godfather franchise), lived a quiet life with his cat. Well, quiet only when he was not breaking his furniture. What made this film festival nominee attractive to me was seeing Al Pacino teamed up with Holly Hunter (The Piano, Raising Arizona) playing bank teller Dawn. The two of them were wonderful and I wished they had more screen time together. This was the issue I had with this film; the story needed to spend more time on them, instead of spending time with A. J.’s son Jacob, played by Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Argo). His scenes seemed to be filler for the story; though I knew they were trying to make a point about Manglehorn. It all came down to the script in my opinion. The directing was fine but without a strong script I was never fully invested in the story. To me it seemed like it was never really going anywhere until the very end. Who knows maybe down the road I will look back at this film and like it more than I really did.
2 1/4 stars
Flash Movie Review: Danny Collins
When one does not have the opportunity to form memories of someone, made-up ones have to suffice. The make-believe memories can be a kinder, gentler, more loving version of the real person. I have heard individuals carry on about someone they barely knew, painting the person in sweet coats of affection; whereas, my memories recall that person being somewhat mean and angry. Growing up there were some relatives I never got the chance to meet; I only had old photographs and other people’s stories to form any connection to the unknown family members. Whenever the mood struck, I would pull out these old photos and study the features and outfits of my relatives. There was one photograph where a bespectacled man dressed in a suit was standing with one foot up on what I thought was a big wooden block. He was holding up a violin as if he was giving it the once over before placing it on his shoulder to play. I would imagine he was practicing for a recital. He would perform in a garden, where the relatives would be seated all around as they listened to the rich deep notes of a concerto. Besides my imagination, any hearsay or tidbits about a relative I would incorporate into elaborate stories; turning some of them into heroes, gangsters, spies, or some other fanciful characters. Where my fake memories were about deceased people, there is a world of difference when the memories are based on someone who is still alive. INSPIRED by a true story, a letter written by John Lennon arrived 40 years late to singer/songwriter Danny Collins, played by Al Pacino (Righteous Kill, Scarface). Seeing the letter sparked Danny into seeking out Tom Donnelly, played by Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine, Chef), the son he never knew. This comedic drama was driven by its outstanding cast. Al was perfect for this role; he not only looked the part but I was convinced he was this aging singer who was well past his glory days. Besides him and Bobby there was Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind) as Frank Grubman and Annette Bening (Ruby Sparks, American Beauty) as Mary Sinclair. I thoroughly enjoyed the acting in this movie; it was believable and filled with great depth. Now I admit the script was somewhat predictable, besides being manipulative; but I did not care because I liked the way the story carried me throughout the film. There were even a couple of surprises along my journey. The dynamics between the characters were engaging; I was intrigued with their perceptions and memories. And after you see this picture I hope you too will have developed fond memories.
Flash Movie Review: Stand Up Guys
True friends are the bright lighthouses that help illuminate your life’s path. There to offer support, concern and love; friends are the safe keepers of one’s history. Part of my inner circle is made up of friends from my childhood. We may not see each other often; but when we do, our conversations do not miss a beat from our previous time together. With one friend, we leave each other daily voice messages on each other’s phones. Just to say hi and stay updated on daily events; this is how we keep track of each other. Like those friends you can have non-verbal conversations with, the relationship between friends Val and Doc was the highlight of this movie. Al Pacino (Scarface, The Merchant of Venice) and Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths, Hairspray) did a masterful job playing long time con men Val and Doc. Their looks, their pauses all contributed to a wonderful and believable performance. Being released after 28 years in prison, Val and Doc set off for one last night out on the town before Doc had to complete the job he was hired to do–kill Val. The two men spring their good friend Hirsch, played by Alan Arkin (Argo, Get Smart), from his retirement home and head out to adventure in a stolen car. The three actors made this crime film. I appreciated that the script was tailored to their ages instead of trying to portray them as younger action heroes, like some recent movies have done with their movie stars. The actors did their best with the script which I found muddled and loose. The story went with an easy sentimental value instead of tighter excitement; it took some time for the pace to pick up. Part crime and part comedy, the movie had an identity crises that could have been solved if the writers had given more to these aged to perfection actors.
2 1/2 stars