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Flash Movie Review: Pain and Glory

I CRINGED WHEN I SAW WHAT I pulled out of the dresser drawer. It was a pair of compression shorts that I used to wear years ago for teaching aerobics. Holding them up arm’s length away, I could not believe there was a time, I not only wore them, but would willingly wear them in public. They were made of a Lycra spandex blend and were black with a pinstripe of red that went down the outer thighs. How did I ever think they were good looking, especially on me I wondered? At the time, it seemed like everyone was wearing these types of shorts; I just wanted to fit in with the crowd. It is funny how over time my original memory of me teaching in those shorts morphed from a happy memory to an uncomfortable one. That is the thing about memories, though the event itself doesn’t change our perceptions do. I can still see my younger self standing on stage in the aerobic studio in those shorts, leading the class through the different movements. During that time, I had the ability to eat whatever I wanted without worrying about gaining weight; how I miss those times! Teaching multiple classes, being on a strict regimen of weightlifting; it was a dream come true not having to worry about the consequences for eating a bowl of ice cream or several cookies at once.      MANY OF MY MEMORIES USED TO haunt me. The ones pertaining to my high school years really had a control over me that I could not shake. For years the weight of them prevented me from reaching out and exploring my potential. I do not really look at memories in terms of good or bad; they each are a part of me, but I now choose how to react to them. From the dark times in high school I changed those memories from being demons to motivational spokespeople. I can honestly say part of the reason I lost weight was due to those past high school memories. No more being the victim, I worked to recreate and embrace myself. For those of you who have been long time readers of my reviews, you can see I have an abundance of memories that well up when I am watching a movie. What may have started out as a bad memory is now only a cracked brick among the many that are part of the life path I am walking on. Memories provide us the opportunity to be inspired or creative or reflective; they do not have to weigh us down for an eternity. See for yourself by watching this dramatic, film festival winner.      IN FAILING HEALTH WITH TALK OF a retrospective on his previous film work; writer and director Salvador Mallo, played by Antonio Banderas (Dolittle, The Laundromat), looks back on the life that led him to the place he was at presently. With Asier Etxeandia (The Bridge, Velvet-TV) as Alberto Crespo, Leonardo Sbaraglia (The Silence of the Sky, Wasp Network) as Federico Delgado, Nora Navas (Black Bread, We All Want What’s Best for Her) as Mercedes and Penelope Cruz (Loving Pablo, The Counselor) as Jacinta; this was a beautifully filmed movie. The acting was excellent with Antonio doing some of his best work. The story jumps back and forth in time; at first it threw me, but I quickly found the rhythm of it. It was refreshing to experience a thoughtful and well-written script; the issues that came up were handled with a direct, clear vision. I have to say the scenes with Penelope were some of the most gorgeous pieces of story telling I have seen in a long time. This was the type of film viewing experience where one is given the opportunity to reflect on their own life. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 ½ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Doolittle

THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF THE apartment building offered me ideal cover. I was leading the group on a treasure hunt. Our course was going to take us through hostile territories; I was prepared for the known hazards, but not for the unknown ones. Sneaking out of the bushes, we made our way south by staying off the main thoroughfares. The path I took was uneven, filled with potholes and covered with a mix of unkempt grass and gravel. As we came up to a large building, I had everyone cling to the side of the road where at least there was sporadic cover in case we were walking into a trap. It was the right call because 3 trap doors in the building sprung open and a series of time bombs were being hurled at us. My monkey who was 2ndin command leaped to a nearby tree and scurried up into the branches for cover. From my vantage point I could see him navigating the branches as he made his way to the one branch that was leaning over to the structure. I saw him take a few sticks of dynamite and tape them together. He then lit them and tossed it onto the roof of the building. I only had to wait a few seconds before there was a big explosion that caused the roof to cave in and bury our enemies.      WHAT YOU JUST READ WAS ONE of many escapades I had with my entourage of imaginary animals. Besides my trusted monkey, I had a tiger, hawk, panther, wolf and chipmunk as part of my group. All these characters came to the forefront of my imagination after I started reading the books about Doctor Doolittle. The stories about the good doctor were some of my favorite ones when I was growing up. I identified with him because I felt I too could talk to animals; though, I was a novice at understanding them. But that did not stop me from talking to my pet parakeet and the animals several of my relatives had as pets. My conversations were not just exclusive to live animals, it also incorporated the stuffed animals I had gotten through my infant years as gifts. Animals were so easy to talk to and they provided me with hours of comfort. Due to this history when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately knew I had to see it. Seeing one of my favorite book characters come to life was going to be a big thrill for me.      THOUGH DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, PLAYED BY ROBERT Downey Jr. (Avengers franchise, The Judge), had not ventured outside of his home for several years, when the Queen of England summoned him to the palace he could not refuse. His visit would be the start of an incredible adventure. With Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory) as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Queen) as Dr. Blair Mudfly, Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York) as Lord Thomas Badgley and Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Casualty-TV) as Tommy Stubbins; this adventure, family comedy belonged in a litter box. I know I may have been more invested in this film than others; however, nothing was right about this picture except the animals. I had a hard time understanding Robert’s character due to his quiet mumbling of the words with an odd accent. The script had nothing fun or exciting in it. I felt the writers just threw a bunch of animals into the script to add some slapstick to the dull story. Maybe young viewers will enjoy this movie; but for the young of heart, there would be better enjoyment found if one read the books instead. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.

 

1 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Life Itself

EVERY STEP A DECEASED FAMILY MEMBER has taken during their lifetime has led to you. I have thought about this from time to time, usually when I learned something new about a relative. When I found out a portion of my family members decided to immigrate to Canada during the war instead of the United States, I wondered what my life would have been like if I had grown up in Canada. Growing up I might have seen a few of the Canadian relatives when I was very young, but I do not have any memories of them. If they were still alive, I would ask them why they chose to go north instead of following the rest of the relatives who came to America. Was there a disagreement or dislike that pushed them to break away, is something I always wanted to know? Or better yet, what would my life have been like if my relatives had never moved from their home? I think about the number of labels one can gain in one’s lifetime; from daughter or son to brother or sister to husband or wife to cousin to aunt or uncle to grandparent and so on. Each of us has a role in the family tree.      IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS, I do not think my family tree is much different from anyone else’s family. As far as I know there is nothing too dramatic or outrageous like other families I have heard about. There is a friend of mine who had never met an uncle because the man, in his late 20’s, fell to his death. At that point this uncle’s portion of the family tree ceased to grow. I have another friend who in high school found out she had 2 step brothers living in another state. It turns out her father had a 2nd family no one knew about; including my friend’s mother, the wife. It wasn’t until college that my friend had her first contact with these 2 boys and was stunned to see how much they looked like her (their) Dad. Because of those 2 boys she became a sister, a cousin, a niece and eventually an aunt; all of that simply from this occurrence, though however tragic it was for her and her mother. Newton’s laws of motion could be used to let every family member know, for every action there is an equal reaction; the examples of this can be found in this dramatic romance movie.      COLLEGE SWEETHEARTS ABBY AND WILL, played by Olivia Wilde (The Words, The Lazarus Effect) and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, Annihilation), find themselves on a path that has lasting effects on those before and after them. Written and directed by Dan Fogelman (This is Us-TV, Danny Collins), this multigenerational story had a fine cast such as Mandy Patinkin (Wonder, Homeland-TV) as Irwin, Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Signal) as Dylan and Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, The Mask of Zorro) as Mr. Saccione. Where the episodic telling of a story works in Dan’s television show, I found it annoying for this film. There was a heavy-handedness that made for many syrupy actions and scenes; I felt like I was being told how to feel, very manipulative. It was as if scenes were purposely done to get the audience to tear up. Boredom set in quickly for me and it was not until the last third of the film where my interest finally piqued. I liked the idea of the story and had to wonder how things would have played out if there was a different writer. As I left the theater I thought how much my life would change by me having sat in the theater at this particular time and day.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: The 33

In a way you can call it a controlled scare. When one goes to see a horror film it is a given that they could get scared but nothing will happen to them. I enjoy going to see a suspenseful horror film if it is done well. The type that puts the viewers on the edge of their seat, holding their breath, waiting to see what will happen next. Just as I believe we should choose food from every color group, I feel the same way about experiencing all emotions. I believe it is healthy for the body to feel happiness just as well as sadness; it provides definition in living one’s life. Another thing, I find reality to be scarier than anything in a movie. There was a film I recently reviewed about Mt. Everest; it was thrilling and scary to see what the climbers endured because there is no way you would find me anywhere near the place. Instead I get to live it vicariously through film. These true scary stories we hear about, that actually happened to someone, can make for a powerful film watching experience. This is why I particularly look forward to seeing movies that were based on true events. Some of them have historical value while others can tell the story about the obstacles one individual had to overcome in their life. I appreciate all of them and that is why I could not wait to see this biographical drama.    THIRTY-THREE miners made their way down the only path into the mine that most of them have taken many times before. Except this time their path was changing to a one way road. This film festival winning movie had a story familiar to me; I had seen and read about it on the news. Based on true events the large cast involved in this story included Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, The Big Bang) as Mario Sepulveda, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla, Clouds of Sils Maria) as Maria Segovia and Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns, Courage Under Fire) as Don Lucho. I did not mind the acting however what they had to say was pretty corny. The script was riddled with this rah, rah courage that did not seem real to me. It was a shame because the story was truly unbelievable. I assume everyone must know about it but just in case I will refrain from divulging much about the story. To think the actors were portraying actual people who lived this experience, it really was a miracle. I found the special effects effective because they looked so believable to me. Part of the issue with this picture may have to do with the writers having to include so many characters; I never got a true sense of what each of the individuals was experiencing through this event. Seeing pictures of the actual miners at the end of the movie really drove home how lucky and amazing they were to be alive to see their story now made into a film.

 

2 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The weekends not only meant there was no school, they also represented Saturday morning cartoons. I always looked forward to spending Saturday mornings in front of the television to watch my cartoons. With a snack tray placed in front of me for my bowl of breakfast cereal drenched in milk and a glass of grape juice, I would sit through several shows in a row. Little did I know at the time that some of the cartoons were doing parodies of famous operas or satires on public issues; I just enjoyed being entertained by a slew of fanciful characters like a ghost, a rabbit, a young explorer and a duck. No matter what happened to the characters they would always bounce back; ultimately good always won over evil. You can only imagine how excited I must have been when I found my cartoon friends starring in a movie. Currently from time to time I have been able to catch a cartoon show here and there on television. The first thing I usually notice is the way the animated characters move; it seems as if they are stiffer in their movements today than I remember when I was a child. The other thing I noticed about today’s cartoons was the lack of creativity but that may be due to them being shorter in duration than the old classics.    WHEN the Krabby Patty secret recipe was discovered stolen, SpongeBob and his friends would have to go topside to pursue the thief who took their beloved Krabby Patty recipe. Not at all familiar with the SpongeBob cartoons, this animated adventure film was a hybrid of throwback animation and modern special effects. It had that high energy zaniness that I remembered enjoying as a kid. Even the animation looked as if it were hand drawn like they used to be. I can see where children would be enthralled with SpongeBob and his fellow cast mates because there was always things happening around them. The use of humor was abundant and quick, with some of it geared to the parents in a lighthearted way. I thought Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) did a wonderful job playing Burger Beard. When the action came up on land, the retro animation turned into CGI effects that only accentuated the fun craziness to the story. I really was surprised I enjoyed this movie as much as I did, but I think part of it was due to nostalgia. Not to take away from the effort put into this film, but I wondered if the movie studio had the writers and animators study some of the ageless cartoons from the past before they created this enjoyable adventure film.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Expendables 3

The elderly couple swirled around the dance floor as the bottom of the woman’s dress trailed behind her like a settling morning mist. They dipped, spun and veered from side to side in synch to the beat of the music calling out to them from the tall black speakers that stood like sentries around the dance floor. There was an elegant grace to their movements that did not betray their actual ages. Speaking with them after the dance I discovered they were in their upper 70s and had been dancing together since their wedding day over 50 years ago. When I complimented them on their beautiful movements they thanked me, telling me I should have seen them when they were younger. The couple took turns explaining their moves that involved lifts, fast spins and quick footwork in unison across an entire dance floor. Due to their ages they could no longer do such things and be graceful about it or at least without throwing out either of their backs and falling to the ground. Here was a couple who did not look their age but knew their body’s limitations as it aged; I admired their practicality and honest spirit.    AGING gracefully was not an option in the latest for this movie franchise. As the third installment this action film treaded on familiar ground. Sylvester Stallone (Grudge Match, Bullet to the Head) returned as Barney Ross, the head of an elite covert fighting force. After a mission had failed, Barney decided it was time to form a team of younger players who would have to go up against the man who brought Barney’s original team down; revenge had no age limit. Along with the cast from the previous films; this movie had Harrison Ford (Ender’s Game, Cowboys & Aliens) as Drummer, Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Desperado) as Galgo and Wesley Snipes (Blade franchise, Demolition Man) as Doc. I can just hear you wondering what happened to the younger team members. They were in this adventure thriller; I just wondered if they were happy about it. This could have been a fun somewhat campy film, especially with its great opening scene, if the script had been better. Unfortunately the story was poorly executed. The only older actor that looked like he did some of his own stunts was Jason Statham (Snatch, Homefront) as Lee Christmas. I think the most physical thing Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand, The Terminator franchise) as Trench did was walk across a hallway. There was violence and blood as a multitude of stunt doubles did the physical work. I am afraid this third film was aged and tired; it needed to be retired.

 

1 3/4 stars

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