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Flash Movie Review: Tulip Fever

SHE WAITED UNTIL we were in the car before she broke the news to me. Driving out to the suburbs on a well traveled road, she informed me the person I was in love with was seeing someone else. She realized immediately what she had just said, so she quickly added she did not know if they were sleeping together; all she heard was that they had been spending time together, going out to eat and to the movies. I asked her how long had it been going on and she responded they had only been seeing each other for a few weeks. A few weeks?!?! We had separated only the week before when I was told they needed some time alone; this did not sound like they were going to be alone much. The reason my friend waited until we were in the car before telling me the news was because she knew I could not go “ballistic,” since I needed to focus on the road. In hindsight it was a smart move on her part because I would have gone through the house and destroyed anything that reminded me of us as a couple.     YOU MIGHT NOT consider what was done to me as deceitful but I did. Once trust has been established I see no reason why a person would lie in a relationship—unless they were planning a surprise party. Deceitfulness is a deal breaker for me; once a person lies to you how can you ever trust them again? I will say my feelings were badly hurt when my friend broke the news to me; I mean c’mon, how does someone go from one relationship to another in a matter of a couple of weeks? I know I could never do it. Those of my friends who are into Zodiac signs say I am the perfect definition of my sign. Once a person gains my trust they have it for a lifetime…until they do one thing that damages or breaks that trust then I am done with them. I could never trust several of the characters in this film festival nominated drama.     MARRIED TO A WEALTHY businessman for the sole purpose of producing an heir became less important for Sophia, played by Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, The Light Between Oceans), when she was introduced to Jan Van Loos, played by Dane DeHaan (Life after Beth, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets); the artist hired to paint a portrait of her and her husband. With Christoph Waltz (The Legend of Tarzan, Carnage) as Cornelis Sandvoort, Judi Dench (Philomena, My Week with Marilyn) as Abbess and Holliday Grainger (The Finest Hours, My Cousin Rachel) as Maria; the cast was well rounded, easily handling each of their roles. Set in Amsterdam during the time tulips first became an important commodity, I found that aspect of the story especially intriguing. The sets and scenes were beautiful and easily transported me back centuries to that specific time. Unfortunately I found the script lacking in originality; to me this story reminded me of a Shakespeare tragedy. In addition there was one character that acted out of character based on what had happened to them; It did not make sense to me or at least it was not fully explained why they were back. Along with many dull spots in the script this movie was a perfect example of looks being deceiving.

 

2 stars          

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: The Light Between Oceans

There are many people who use the word “love,” though looking at world affairs maybe not enough. I have experienced individuals who actually say the word too often, to the point where I feel it loses some of its importance. Now I am not referring necessarily to someone telling another person they love them; though I have to tell you, hearing someone say it constantly throughout the day makes me feel as if there is less specialness behind the meaning of the spoken word. I remember the first time I realized I was truly in love with someone was when they became ill. Being a person who avoids touching things like doorknobs, other people’s cell phones and their hands; when I sat looking at my loved one wishing I would have gotten sick instead of them, I knew I had fallen deeply in love. Wanting to take away their discomfort besides nursing them without thinking about all the germs was a transformative experience for me. So I use this as my litmus test: if I am willing to put the needs of someone ahead of my germ phobia then I know our relationship is meant to be. Sadly I have seen some people who could not take that extra step in their relationship. I knew someone who was in a relationship for a couple of years; they were quite in love. However when one came down with a life threatening illness, the other could not handle it. Though in their defense they did try, but after a time they ended the relationship. It was just a sad situation all around. One could certainly say love makes people do some crazy or should I say irrational things; the couple in this dramatic romance will show you another example.   WHEN lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne, played by Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs, X-Men franchise) spotted what looked like an abandoned rowboat, he had no idea his life was about to change because of what he found inside the boat. This film festival nominated movie based on the bestselling book was not only beautiful to watch, it also had a wonderful soundtrack. Besides Michael there was Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Jason Bourne) as Isabel Graysmark and Rachel Weisz (The Lobster, Oz the Great and Powerful) as Hannah Roennfeldt; all of them were amazing with their characters. I have not read the book but I found the story interesting. Starting out slowly the script took some time before pulling me in. I will say the chemistry between Michael and Alicia was quite strong; they kept me interested in their story. However the script had some holes in it that were a distraction for me. There were some events that did not ring true to me to the point I felt the writer was focusing more on making the audience react instead of going deeper with the characters. It just came across as heavy handed and manipulative to me. Love can make a person do some uncharacteristic things but I was not totally in love with this movie.

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Jason Bourne

It was time; the house he grew up in was standing empty. He had moved up a level and now was part of the older generation within the family. His childhood home sat on a quiet street, though back then it was not the case. The house was home base for all of his friends to come over and hang out. With a jungle gym and swings, there was always something to do on a lazy summer day. But now as he walked up the front stairs there was only the echo of memories from his youth. Once inside the house he saw some of the same furnishings that were part of his childhood. There was the old wooden rocking chair where his mother would rock him to sleep in her lap. The paintings on the wall, which were used by him to create stories to amuse his parents, now hung crookedly as if they were exhausted from all the years they had been hanging up by only nails in the wall. Anything he wanted in the house he had already received from his parents while they were alive; he was there now to make the house presentable for sale. On each visit he focused on one room and today’s visit meant he was going to work in the attic. After passing through a series of dusty cobwebs he found the light switch to add extra light to the light coming in from the muted windows. It was just before lunchtime, while going through a pile of files; he found a document he had never seen in his entire life. It was a birth certificate for a male baby born on the same date of his birth, but the baby had a different name. He sat directly down on the floor, shocked by the document in his hands; he had a twin brother. News of this kind has a way of altering one’s perceptions about their life; look what it did to the main character in this action thriller.   AFTER being off the grid for so long CIA special agent Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon (The Martian, The Departed), had to have a good reason to resurface and make his presence known. This sequel’s forte was the action scenes; they were fast and intense. With Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, Lincoln) as CIA director Robert Dewey, Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, A Royal Affair) as Heather Lee and Vince Cassel (Black Swan, Irreversible) as the Asset; the acting from Tommy and Alicia stood out for me. Credit however has to be given to an older Matt for pulling off his character again after all this time. I thought the idea for the story was interesting and would have provided suspenseful entertainment. However, the script was not strong enough to support the story. The movie was more like a series of chase scenes broken up by a series of flashbacks. In addition, I found some scenes lacked enough information to make sense out of them. Though I did not remember details about the previous films I do not think it contributed to my feelings about this picture.

 

2 ¼ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Danish Girl

At some point the two individuals decide to spend their lives with each other and the weaving begins. Like craftsmen their lives intermingle into a finely woven mesh, similar to a fishing net. The two cast their net out into the sea of hope and dreams, letting the currents spread it wide to capture good fortune. Their net will remain strong through any type of storm; the only thing that could create a hole is doubt. If either person discovers they cannot love unconditionally then the net of their life begins to unravel, parts splitting off and traveling to darker depths. I have always believed a relationship will last when both parties accept their significant other completely. There have been so many times where I have seen someone falling in love who thinks they are in love, but is more in love with the idea of falling in love. Sure they may be fond of the person they are dating, but somewhere inside of them they have this little checklist displaying the things that are “wrong.” There is this friend of mine who for some reason enjoys testing me on my definition of beauty. They will point to a stranger and ask me if I think they are beautiful. I know they want an answer based on the looks of the person, but I keep saying I cannot tell if they are beautiful until I know what is inside of them. Sure there may be surface features that are attractive but it can be so fleeting; the character, the personality, the morals, the compatibility of a person would be some of the elements that are more important to me. Maybe it is easier to simply say their soul.    FILLING in as a model for his artist wife Gerda, played by Alicia Vikander (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Ex Machina); Danish artist Einar Wegener, played by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, My Week with Marilyn), donned the clothing that was picked out and suddenly felt more like himself than he ever did before. This film festival winning biographical drama was based on a true story. It was brilliantly brought to life by Eddie and Alicia; their acting was amazing to see. The depth of their emotions was authentic and convincing to me; I easily see an Oscar nomination for both of them. Even the supporting cast, such a Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone, The Drop) as Hans Axgil and Amber Heard (Pineapple Express, Zombieland) as Ulla, was a good compliment to the two main stars. Set during the early 1920s in Copenhagen, the sets and outdoor shots were ideal. The story was captivating and interesting almost to the end; however, the last part of the film fell apart for me. I felt the script let the cast down. In addition, there were a few scenes that did not register as true compared to other ones. This incredible story explored the meaning of love and the cast delivered it.

 

3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

She could be so vindictive even while serving you buttered toast. I do not want to say she was untouchable, but she was essentially the only one who knew how to operate the outdated billing system at the company. By today’s standards she would have been written up by her manager multiple times; I was one of her victims having been on the receiving end of a spiteful attack. I had done nothing wrong in my dealings with this one customer; however, while she was on the switchboard she added some extra lines to the message the customer left for their salesperson. She made it look like I had been verbally abusive with the customer. Luckily I kept detailed notes about all my accounts, so her plan did not hit me full force. I will tell you I was furious and spent a long week dealing with my anger at her, devising imaginative plots of revenge. Each plan I came up with became more outrageous as my anger increased, even though I knew I would not act on any of them. But do you know what I did instead? I took my anger and started working harder at my job, soliciting more conversations from my contacts, to strike up a sense of familiarity between us. As time passed my efforts paid off and I was promoted to a bigger position. I became that employee’s boss. You are probably thinking I made her life a living hell, but I did not. Though I remained wary of her, I kept close tabs on her since we had to work together. Sort of the same thing the 2 agents had to do in this action adventure film.    DURING the cold war a new threat emerged that could become more powerful than the United States or Soviet Union. CIA agent Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill (Immortals, Man of Steel), and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, The Lone Ranger), would have to work together if they were to succeed in their mission. Based on the 1960s television series there were parts of this film that were fun and entertaining. With a slick stylized look to the movie I enjoyed some of the banter that took place between the two agents. However, I did not care for the story much; it seemed choppy and uneven to me. The fight scenes only seemed to enhance this point; I did not like the way they were filmed for the most part. Throughout the picture it appeared to me everything was being laid out as an overture to what would become the main movie, the possible sequel. This felt like a trial run of a story so I will try to keep an open mind if the film studio decided to do another one.

 

2 1/2 stars

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Testament of Youth

Advice given that was so simple and easy to remember; I can still hear it after all these years. I was talking to the wife of a married couple about what kept their marriage together. She said there were times you just had to keep quiet and not complain when you sometimes had to do something you really did not want to do. This was not earth shattering by any means; but it really resonated with me. I now cringe when I think about all those times where I used to complain about going to a restaurant I did not like or going out with “their” friends who I found annoying. There really was no reason I needed to let everyone know I did not want to be there. Whether it is the passage of time or maturity, I am so glad I do not act out like that anymore. I understand the importance compromises and sacrifices have in every relationship. Dating someone who enjoyed country western dancing meant even though I felt like a lopsided goofball while two-stepping, I kept doing it so I could be their dance partner. It is funny as I just wrote that I was remembering a couple I knew who got divorced because the husband did not like his wife being away from home as much as she was for her job. She was a flight attendant who was doing this even before they got married. Separation can be tough for any couple; imagine those individuals who are in a relationship with someone in the military. If you want to see an example from a long time ago you can see it in this autobiographical film.    MISTER Brittain, played by Dominic West (The Wire-TV, Pride), believed Oxford was no place for his daughter Vera, played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, A Royal Affair). Though she had dreamt of going there, Vera would find her heart being distracted by a young man and the impending war. This film festival nominee was based on Vera Brittain’s memoir; I have not read it yet. However, after seeing this beautifully filmed period piece I want to read her book now. It was interesting to see the effects of World War I through a woman’s point of view. The cast which also included Kit Harington (Game of Thrones-TV, Pompeii) as Roland Leighton and Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Smoke-TV) as Edward Brittain were all especially good in this romantic drama. I will say the story started out a bit slow and predictable for me; however, Vera’s acting skills kept me involved in her plight. The look and feel of this movie was gracefully lush and when I found out it was based on a true story, I only had more fondness for Vera’s incredible life. There were brief scenes that had blood in them.

 

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Ex Machina

It drives me crazy when a computer function does not work. On the monitor a small warning pops up and tells me the procedure failed; then has the nerve to make me press the “okay” button like I have a choice. I want to say no, it is not okay now fix it. The way I look at it I want computers to correct themselves if they are so smart. Now intelligently I understand they cannot think for themselves, but it certainly seems we are going in that direction. With the variety of electronic devices we use these days, some of our computers know more about ourselves than our family or friends. Instead of typing we can talk to our computers, use sign language and maybe soon facial recognition. Just this morning on the news I saw a report of a robot with a human face that has over 40+ pulleys underneath so the robot can provide visual facial cues besides verbal ones. I have to tell you it creeped me out a bit. Maybe it is because of all the science fiction movies I have seen; but the smarter computers are becoming the more concerned I am of their power. There is all this talk about artificial intelligence; do you ever think there will be a time where a computer will refuse one of our requests? It is a frightening thought and this dramatic science fiction film does not make me feel any better about it.    WINNING a company contest computer programmer Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken, About Time), won a week at the company CEO’s remote private residence. Upon his arrival he discovered he would be testing a new form of artificial intelligence never seen before and her name was Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (Seventh Son, A Royal Affair). This film festival winning movie quickly drew me in with its crisp sleek look. I enjoyed how the scenes blended in with the soundtrack to create a buildup of tension. The acting was excellent from everyone, particularly by Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year, Robin Hood) as Nathan. He had a commanding presence on screen. For the majority of the film the script kept my interest; there were only a few parts that seemed to deflate and slow down. For such a modern and relevant story, there was an exciting old fashioned type of cat and mouse mystery game going on which was captivating. This picture had the type of science fiction story that could be considered closer to reality than fiction, which was a scary thought to me. I kept thinking about this movie after it was over. After you see this film you may get a better understanding about my fears when it comes to smart computers. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood.

 

3 1/4 stars 

Flash Movie Review: A Royal Affair

For every person you have loved you received a gift from them. No matter if the period of time was short or long term, there was always something you gained from being in that relationship. This process is intertwined with my belief that there are no accidents in life; there is a reason for everything. It was these two trains of thought that came to mind, while watching this visual history lesson on the Danish monarchy in the 1700’s. For me, this film did a beautiful job showing the power of love. Alicia Vikander (The Crown Jewels, Beloved) played young English Princess Caroline Mathilde. By arrangement she was sent to Denmark to marry King Christian VII, played by Mikkel Boe Folsgaard (Those Who Kill-TV, Bryggerch-TV mini series). Within a short time the princess discovered her husband’s madness and lack of interest in her. Not until the king’s physician Johann Friedrich Struensee, played by Mads Mikkelsen (Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Flame and Citron), paid a call on her did the princess fully understand what she had been missing. Little did the two realize their attraction to each other would start a revolution. I do not know how accurate the story was compared to history, but I fully enjoyed this dramatic film. The way it was filmed with alternating scenes of beauty and drabness perfectly accompanied the story. Add in the wonderful acting and I could see why this movie was Denmark’s official entry into the best foreign language category for the Academy Awards. A testament to the power of love, I considered this film a gift that stayed with me as I left the theater. Danish, German and French with English subtitles.

 

3 1/2 stars

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