Flash Movie Review: The Silent Twins
THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT spoken was in elementary school, by two older boys. One of them said, “iyay illway eetmay ouyay atyay ott’sscay ousehay.” My interest was piqued by the strange words. I could not tell if the boys were related or from a different country. Since they were in an upper grade, I did not venture closer to ask them what they were speaking. For the next few days, I would think about that encounter and imagine they were spies or at least the sons of spies; my imagination was already active from a very early age. As luck would have it, I happened to be in the school library when the two boys were there, sitting together at a table. I pretended to look for a book at a bookcase that was nearest to them. After pulling out, looking at then pushing a couple of books back onto the shelf, one of the boys said something in that unusual language. I noticed every word ended in the “ay’ sound; there had to be some type of code going on. Suddenly an idea popped into my head. I grabbed one of the books I had looked at and brought it to the librarian who was sitting nearby. Leaning over, so I could whisper, I asked her if she knew what language the two boys had been speaking. Being kind, she in turn leaned closer to me and said they were speaking Pig Latin. She then pointed at the set of encyclopedias lined up along the window sill and told me to look it up, if I was interested. MY IMAGINATION CAUGHT FIRE AS I read about this code language of Pig Latin. I thought it would be so cool to teach my friends so we could talk freely without anyone knowing what we were talking about. The thought of passing notes in class, written in Pig Latin, would allow us to speak freely without anyone understanding what we were talking about if they grabbed the note away from one of us. I began practicing at home by translating books into Pig Latin. Once I felt confident I could easily hold a conversation in the language, I taught a couple of my friends. It did not take long before we started conversing in this new, secret code. The first time I spoke it to a friend in class, the student sitting in front of me turned around and answered the question I was asking my friend. I was devastated. How in the world did she know what I was saying? It never occurred to me that other students would be just as interested as me. The only way I could get around from letting students know what I was thinking and saying, would be to do what the set of twins did in this biographical drama. IDENTICAL TWINS WITH VIVID IMAGINATIONS CREATE an alternative world where they are the only residents. There was no longer a need to speak to anyone in the real world. With Letitia Wright (Black Panther franchise, Death on the Nile) as June Gibbons, Tamara Lawrence (Boxing Day, Kindred) as Jennifer Gibbons, Nadine Marshall (Paddington 2, The Smoking Room-TV) as Gloria, Treva Etienne (Black Hawk Down, Acts of Desperation) as Aubrey and Michael Smiley (Free Fire, Kill List) as Tim Thomas; this film based on a true story was fascinating to watch at first. However, while the story unfolded I had this gnawing feeling that something was missing—the backstory. I think the script would have been powerful if the writers had spent time showing the history prior to the girls’ introduction to the movie viewers. I thought the acting was excellent from the two leads and the story was certainly attention grabbing; but I always had the question in my mind, “How did this happen?” I felt like an outsider and speaking of being an outsider, for those of you who do not know Pig Latin, the older boy I heard in school was saying, “I will meet you at Scott’s house.”
2 ½ stars
Posted in Drama
Tags: 2 1/2 stars, author, biography, drama, letitia wright, michael smiley, nadine marshall, tamara lawrence, treva etienne, true story, twins
Flash Movie Review: Julia
IT WAS NOT LIKE I WAS seeking her out; she just appeared, sounding out of breath. I was flipping through the television channels, stopping at anything that would keep my attention. As the television screen went from frame to frame like a slideshow, this large woman appeared on the screen with a modulated voice that spiraled and swooped in tones. She was behind a cooking island that was covered with different kitchen utensils and food items. I was curious because of the food, keeping in mind that my only interest in food was the eating of it. Her theatrics were something I had only seen on a comedy show. Here she was holding up a cooking chicken by its wings as if teaching it to stand for the very first time. Cooking was never part of my thought process, yet I was curious to see what she would do with that chicken after she was done playing with it. I used to watch my relatives cooking in the kitchen, but none of them acted like this woman on television. There was joyfulness, a happiness to her preparations of the food. Some of the kitchen utensils she was using, I had never seen before. I was being drawn into her world. FROM THAT FIRST VIEWING, I BEGAN watching her on TV consistently. Ironically, I still had no interest in cooking a meal; but I was fascinated with the whole process of it. What looked like these random dissimilar food items, that then got thrown together to be stirred, beaten, folded, whisked, mixed, poured, blended or pureed; that then got dumped into some type of vessel to bake, freeze, grill, boil, chill, fry or cook that turned it into a scrumptious looking plate of delicious food amazed me, each and every time I watched her. It was rare for her to make something that I was familiar with which you would think is odd, but it was not. If anything, it showed me a new world of possibilities. I cannot remember how many of her shows I watched but her flair for presentation has always stewed in the back of my mind. Fast forward a few decades and I am finally delving into the world of cooking. I have been active for years with baking but ventured very little into creating a meal that required more than a microwave oven. There is a new sense of satisfaction I have been experiencing when I see what I was able to do from start to finish with foods. I owe this to the first superstar of cooking I accidently found on television years ago. I had such a sense of joy as I got to visit with her again in this beautiful documentary. JULIA CHILD DID NOT SET OUT to change the world per se; she just wanted people to enjoy their food as much as she did. Directed by Julie Cohen (RBG, My Name is Pauli Murray) and Betsy West (RBG, My Name is Pauli Murray), what I loved about this movie was the fact that it presented multiple sides of Julia. Using archival footage and pieces of her and her husband’s correspondences, a charming and sweet story was presented to the viewer. When I thought about the variety of cooking shows and celebrity chef run restaurants we have presently, it amazed me how Julia for her times was a trendsetter, if not the very first celebrity chef. The layout of the scenes was done in such an easy thoughtful way that I felt were unbiased and direct, touching on many aspects of Julia’s life. Through the years, I have gleaned a variety of tidbits about Julia’s life to the point I felt I knew her quite well. Gratefully, this documentary provided me new insights and turned into a rich viewing experience without the calories.
3 ½ stars
Posted in Documentary
Tags: 3 1/2 stars, author, betsy west, cookbook, cooking, documentary, food, julia child, julie cohen
Flash Movie Review: The Tale
Posted in Uncategorized
Tags: 3 1/4 stars, author, common, drama, ellen burstyn, film festival winner, jason ritter, laura dern, mystery, thriller
Flash Movie Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
WE WERE SITTING IN A CIRCLE with each of us prepared to read what we had wrote the past week. There was one student in the writing group who consistently wrote violent action into his stories. If he mentioned a car crash he could not just leave it at that, letting the listener use their imagination. He had to describe in detail every broken bone, laceration or bloody death associated with the crash, fight, murder or accident. The rest of us in class had a difficult time paying attention to his stories because the scenes he created were uncomfortable to hear spoken. There was another student who already had a book published about his time in the military during a major conflict. His stories continued the same theme; there was always a military presence in his stories. When it was my turn to read, I had my typed pages neatly stacked on my lap; so, it was easy for me to handle the length of time we were allowed to talk. After reading my story out loud a fellow student said my writing style was similar to Vladimir Nabokov. I was stunned; mainly because he was one of my top favorite writers, along with Charles Dickens, Yukio Mishima and Herman Melville. WHAT AN HONOR FOR A PEER to say such a thing to me. I would never compare myself to Nabokov, but I must tell you I was flying high the rest of the day. It started me thinking about the times I compared someone I knew to a famous or well-known celebrity. To the best of my recollection I only did it when it would be compliment. I mean really, how rude would it be to tell a friend they are acting just like so and so, who did a similar thing that got them arrested. Think about all the times sportscasters compare an athlete to a former one; it really must be an honor for an athlete to hear such a thing I would imagine. There is that proverb that states: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” For the most part I would agree with this, but I do have an issue with it when someone is doing it without putting in any effort or thought. There was an employee I taught with who never took the time to learn the reasons and mechanics behind weight training. All they wanted to do was go to other instructors’ classes and see what exercises they were doing. Once memorized this person would do the same ones in their classes. I did not think that was right, just as I thought the author in this film festival nominated biography was not right for what she did. WHEN HER CELEBRITY BIOGRAPHIES FELL OUT of favor the only way author Lee Israel, played by Melissa McCarty (Life of the Party, The Boss) thought she could earn money was to add her words to the letters of famous deceased celebrities. It turned into a lucrative business. With Richard E. Grant (Penelope, Gosford Park) as Jack Hock, Dolly Wells (45 Years, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Anna and Jane Curtin (I Love You, Man; Third Rock from the Sun-TV) as Marjorie; this comedic crime film was based on Lee Israel’s memoir. The story came alive due to Melissa and Richard; they were so good together and I must say this was a smart move for Melissa after her recent dreadful movie, The Happytime Murders. She was wonderful in this role, assisted by the beautiful direction and script. The story slowly unfolded as Lee sinks to a desperate state and yet, she remains a somewhat sympathetic character. I really enjoyed watching this unbelievable story and might not be far out on a limb to say Melissa may earn a nomination this award season.
3 ½ stars
Posted in Comedy
Tags: 3 1/2 stars, author, ben falcone, biography, comedy, crime, dolly wells, film festival nominee, jane curtin, melissa mccarthy, richard e grant, true story
Flash Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals
THE talk I was hearing from people was this place had things “to die for” throughout the store. I decided I would check it out since the place covered one of my favorite food categories: desserts. Walking into the bakery with its fancy, carved wooden doors with stained glass panes; I immediately fell into a swoon from the overwhelming smell of baked goods. From a piping hot smell as if the ovens were exhaling cinnamon breaths to the aroma of roasted nuts wafting in the air like a low morning fog; there was too much for my eyes and nostrils to take in with one pass. The prospects looked mighty good that I had entered into a little slice of heaven. To my left was a glass case with three shelves filled with loaves of bread. Not your standard fare, these loaves had a variety of different looks to them. Some were a rich dark brown with shiny crusts while others had various seeds, nuts and fruit pieces covering their tops looking like those photos of rough terrain one would see in a friend’s photos from a national park. AS for the cakes they literally looked like works of art. There was a cocoa frosted cake that had an abstract design made out of candy coated chocolate pieces across each side. On the top were white and chocolate ribbons that had depth to them so they looked like knotted twine. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement, especially when I came upon an entire case filled with cookies; the perfect food item in my opinion. No mess, no crumbs, no evidence of them ever being missed. After 30 minutes I made my selections and walked out of the bakery, laden with packages. Once home everything was set for me to experience these exquisite morsels of bliss. The first cookie I tried had an interesting taste; the 2nd one I tried had an unexpected flavor I did not find enjoyable. Moving on to a mini-cake I took a slice and bit into it. It was good but nothing special. My heart was sinking as my disappointment was rising. LONG divorced from her husband Susan Morrow, played by Amy Adams (Arrival, Big Eyes), was surprised to receive a copy of his new book that was dedicated to her. The story would turn into a disturbing read for Susan. This film festival winning dramatic thriller also starred Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Southpaw) as Tony Hastings/Edward Sheffield and Michael Shannon (Elvis & Nixon, Midnight Special) as Bobby Andes. The three of them were perfect in their roles. Written and directed by designer and creative director Tom Ford (A Single Man), the look of this film was picture perfect. Everything was in its place and each scene looked complete with style. The script was a story within a story where I found myself more attracted to the book’s story. There was more strength in it compared to Susan’s current life; In other words I felt more life coming out of them. This film was certainly a polished piece of work that just needed a little more work below the surface.
2 ¾ stars
Posted in Thriller
Tags: 2 3/4 stars, amy adams, Armie Hammer, author, drama, film festival winner, jake gyllenhaal, michael shannon, thriller, tom ford
Flash Movie Review: The City of Your Final Destination
If Omar Razaghi, played by Omar Metwally (Rendition, Munich), rang my doorbell; I would not answer the door. To tell you the truth, unless I am expecting someone, I never answer the front door. In this intriguing movie, Mr Razaghi traveled all the way to Uruguay without giving any prior notice. Having received a grant to write an autobiography of Latin American author Jules Gund, doctoral student Omar was hoping to get approval from the deceased author’s family. Showing up unannounced at the author’s estate, Omar was met by the resistant widow Caroline, played by Laura Linney (The Savages, Mystic River). Besides her, living at the house was what Omar believed was Jules’ mistress Arden Langdon, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia, I’m Not There). The third person Omar had to convince was the author’s gay brother Adam, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Hannibal). But as the student, Omar learned more than what he expected. The cast played well off of each other, each putting in a strong performance. Laura Linney stood out for me playing the bitter wife. Her steely stare could easily send a shiver down one’s spine. Beautifully filmed, this drama played out like a slow steamy day, perfect for one’s emotions to brew and steep.
2 2/3 stars — DVD
Posted in Drama
Tags: 2 2/3 stars, author, biograhy, drama, hopkins, latin, omar, uruguay