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Flash Movie Review: Shadow Dancer

It takes but a single second where all senses vault into a heightened state. At the moment you would do anything to protect your loved ones. Too young to go alone, I had taken my niece and nephew to a rock concert. The band was playing in a small venue, where the main floor was one large open space without seats. I directed the two of them to the balcony which formed a narrow lip around the perimeter of the room, where it would be easier to keep an eye on them. During the show my nephew wanted to go downstairs to get closer to the stage. Reluctantly I agreed as long as he was able to remain visible to me. My niece and I saw him wade into the pulsating group of fans. As the music pounded off the walls, a swell of people appeared to swallow him up. Every cell in my body sparked with fear. I had no sense of time passing but suddenly my niece pointed to a spot in the crowd. There was my pale-complected nephew, slowly floating across outstretched hands like a water lilly on a dark rustling pond. When he finally made his way back up to us I could see how much he loved being in the middle of the crowd, making the concert a memorable one for him. Gratefully I did not have to leap off the balcony but I certainly had a taste of what it felt like to have my adrenaline fueled senses ready to do whatever had to be done, to protect my niece and nephew. It was that same type of feeling that made Collette, played by Andrea Roseborough (Disconnect, W. E.), become an informant in this tense drama. During the 1980’s in Northern Ireland; Collette agreed to spy on the IRA for British MI5 agent Mac, played by Clive Owens (Inside Man, Children of Men), for the sake of her child. It was quick to connect to Andrea’s character due to her excellent acting. However, I was disappointed with Clive’s performance; it lacked intensity. Combine that with the dull directing and I was left wishing there had been more scenes filled with tense emotions. There was at least a sense of dread and fear as the story continued to build. By the time things got exciting I realized that is exactly what the movie needed, more thrills. It would have been a better suspense movie about a mother protecting her young.

 

2 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Made in Dagenham

I learned a lot about people by standing behind a a cash register. When a new store opened in the city’s shopping district, I applied for a part-time position to see what it would be like to work in retail. It turned out to be an interesting experience for me. I discovered practically every customer showed some sign of being prejudiced towards the employees, however subtle it may have been. If a person came up to the counter to ask for directions they always asked me instead of any female employee. When it came to questioning the sizes of clothing or if items matched, I was always ignored. Both men and women consistently asked only the female workers. I found the whole thing amusing; curious how people’s perceptions were formed. Since we were all on the same pay scale it did not matter to any of us. In the scheme of things what I have just described was rather minor. If I had told you the female employees were hired at a lower pay scale then the men, I am sure you would have had a stronger reaction. Sadly that still happens in today’s world. Here is a perfect example of a movie being both informative and entertaining. This dramatization of a true story was set in England during the late 1960’s, at one of the country’s biggest employers of British workers, the Ford auto plant in the city of Dagenham. Sally Hawkins (Happy-G-Lucky, Never Let Me Go) played Rita O’Grady, one of the women machinists who worked on the cars’ interiors. Besides the poor conditions and hard work, Rita discovered the company was being discriminatory towards the women. She was pushed into taking some kind of action. Except for the hard time I had with the heavy British accents, I was fully drawn into the story of the women’s plight. The costumes and sets were perfect in depicting the era. I found the high level of consistent acting made for a cohesive storytelling experience. Bob Hoskins (Hook, Snow White and the Huntsman) as union representative Albert Passingham, Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria, Sleepy Hollow) as Secretary of State for Employment Barbara Castle and Daniel Mays (Atonement, The Bank Job) as Rita’s husband Eddie were some of the actors that stood out for me. This was a story of historical significance that could be seen equally by women and men.

 

3 1/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Disconnect

I feel like I am walking around with a jukebox in my pocket thanks to the internet. Finding a nearby movie theater’s showtimes, while driving home after class, is an easy task for my smartphone. Even being able to notify a friend exactly where I am stuck in traffic has been a benefit due to the internet. I think about that person who seeks out like minded people with similar interests or the individual who wants to try a new recipe for a dinner party; all benefiting from the internet. Since I believe we are born with both good and evil inside of us, unfortunately there is a darkness attached to the internet by people who have chosen to follow their evil side. The stories in this film were a real statement for the times we live in today. It was uncomfortable watching portions of this movie that had three separate story lines in it. A common thread going through each story had to do with people searching for an emotional connection in their lives. Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Arrested Development-TV) was corporate lawyer Rich Boyd, a workaholic who was detached from his children and wife Lydia, played by Hope Davis (Real Steel, The Weather Man). Alexander Skarsgard (Melancholia, True Blood-TV) and Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Precious) played married couple Derek and Cindy Hull, still reeling from the death of their young baby. Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham, W.E.) was news correspondent Nina, who saw the potential for a news story when she found Kyle, played by Max Thieriot (Jumper, Chole), in an internet chat room. The ensemble cast worked well together in this dramatic movie as their characters were exposed to cyber-bullying, identity theft and exploitation to name a few. As the stories unfolded, I definitely felt the creepiness coming out of them. After the climatic intersection of stories took place, I was let down by the film’s ending. I know one aspect of the internet has allowed people to take a courageous step in making connections. Sadly it pertains to both good and bad people. One brief scene with blood.

 

3 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: W./E.

Forgive me Madonna fans; I really wanted to like this film. The score was a wonderful accompaniment to this stylish film and the costumes were perfect. In fact, you had Madonna singing during the closing credits. She was the director and co-writer of this schizophrenic film. There were two stories being played out in this movie. The better of the two was about King Edward VIII, played by James D’Arcy (An American Haunting, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), who abdicated the throne for the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson played by Andrea Riseborough (Happy-Go-Lucky, Never Let Me Go). The other story was about Wally Winthrop, played by Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Sucker Punch), who became inspired by Mrs. Simpson’s life to find happiness in her own life. I have seen Abbie act and know she can be rather good; however, under this tedious and boring script, along with utterly lifeless direction from Madonna, Ms. Cornish was dreadful. Some of her scenes were ridiculous; I would have thought Madonna would have studied up on camera angles and how to set up a scene. Andrea’s performance as Wallis was the most real for me. Also, I found her looks to be quite interesting. With the curious idea of having two stories, one in the past and one in the present; it was a shame Madonna did not deliver a more fitting film. I stood on a folding chair in cowboy boots for 3 hours during a Madonna concert. ¬†Gratefully, I did not have to spend the money nor wait in line to see this messed up movie.

 

1 2/3 stars — DVD

 

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