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Flash Movie Review: The Oath

LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT CLASS could have been a valuable asset if I had enrolled. Maybe your school environment was different; but the perception at my school about members of the debate team were mostly on the negative side. Being on a sports team was more prestigious and let us face it, there never was a pep rally held for a debate team; at least I have never seen one. I imagine if I had paid more attention to the skills needed to have a debate instead of the participants I would have been a better communicator. Looking at the disagreements I have had with individuals over the years, I can see why many of my disagreements turned into arguments. Not that I associate an argument with being a negative experience, but I could have avoided sinking into a name calling match with people. It was not until later in life that I learned how to have a disagreement/argument/debate. Having spent so much energy on making statements that started with the word “You,” I was finally taught to start my thoughts with the word “I.” It truly makes a world of difference when you go from saying, “You did this or that,” to “ I feel that option would be harmful because…”; do you see the difference?      DURING THE POLITICALLY DIVIDED TIMES WE live in now; I believe every politician, employee, student and resident would benefit by taking a class in the art of debating. It seems to me as if name calling and belittling are becoming the new standard for making a point. I have mentioned before how I do not allow the subject of politics and religion to be discussed in my classes. These are two topics that I have seen become volatile when discussed. One of the reasons I see politics and religion being hot button topics is because most people let their ego do the talking. There seems to be such a need for every person to be right that they are not listening to anyone else’s point of view. I ask you, what is so terrible about admitting you are wrong? Isn’t part of living being able to learn something new? I know a few couples where one person is conservative and the other is liberal. They have had their share of heated discussions. Each though can maintain respect for their significant other while discussing opposite views; unlike the family in this dark satirical, comedic drama.      THANKSGIVING WAS NOT ONLY A TIME to spend with family, but it was the deadline for signing a controversial oath issued by the government. With family members on opposite sides of the issue, was there any chance they would be able to make it through to dessert? This movie starred Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad, The Mindy Project-TV) as Chris, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew) as Kai, Billy Magnussen (The Big Short, Into the Woods) as Mason, John Cho (Searching, Star Trek franchise) as Peter and Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty, Southland Tales) as Eleanor. Written and directed by Ike, I thought the idea for the story was relevant and would easily provide enough fodder for the script. My biggest surprise was seeing Tiffany do a different variation of her usual movie roles; it was not a strictly outrageous comedic character for a change. Unfortunately, I thought the execution of the story was inadequate to the point where I was tired of listening to all the yelling and name calling. I give Ike props for undertaking such heavy demands; but I wished there would have been more levels to the story, instead of essentially what came across as 2 extreme point of views. All I have to say about this film is a course in the art of debating would have been beneficial for this family.

 

2 stars     

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Flash Movie Review: Game Night

I DO NOT THINK I would ever be accused of being a game snob; at least I don’t think so. Games provide two important functions in my opinion: they activate the brain and instill a sense of pleasure and fun in the individual. When one can assemble a group of willing participants into playing a game, they should consider it an achievement. I say this because I have been a part of several game nights where there were players who made sure everyone knew they were not having fun. Or worse yet I knew this man (a friend was dating him) who was one of the worst game players I have ever encountered in my entire life. He would yell, scream and belittle any of his teammates if they were not doing what HE thought they should be doing to win the game. It was so awful to sit there and have this guy dramatically, yes dramatically, talk down to someone for making a move that did not help their team’s score. I finally told my friend I would never play with them again; gratefully she stopped dating him soon after.     ON THE OTHER HAND I have played with some people who were so disinterested that you had to literally tell them what to do throughout the whole game. They would not pay attention to when it was their turn, the rules or what their teammates were doing when it was their turns; it made one wonder why they agreed to play a game in the first place. Now I do not have an issue with anyone saying they are not interested in playing something; if they want to sit it out I am fine with it. But if you agree to play a game I feel one should at least show an effort and if need be become a team player. When you have several people on one team with one person who is not engaged with everyone else, it does throw the game off. I remember when I was participating on a bowling team and one of the players made no effort in playing; I mean they would just pick up a bowling ball and throw it down the alley without any concern if they hit a pin or not. The rest of the team you could tell was not happy they had this person as a teammate. It just made for an uncomfortable time and that is not something I want to be a part of; the same could be said for either of the teams in this mystery crime comedy.     THE GAME NIGHT HOSTED BY Annie and Max, played by Rachel McAdams (Spotlight, The Notebook) and Jason Bateman (Bad Words, The Family Fang), was in for a surprise when Max’ super competitive brother Brooks, played by Kyle Chandler (Manchester by the Sea, Friday Night Lights-TV), showed up and decided to take the competition up a notch with a murder mystery game. Even when there was an actual kidnapping the players continued on with the game. With Sharon Horgan (Imagine Me & You, Man Up) as Sarah and Billy Magnussen (The Big Short, Into the Woods) as Ryan, this cast was exceptionally well suited for the script. I particularly thought Jason and Rachel were perfect playing off of each other. The story seemed familiar to me, but at least there were a few good laughs in the movie. I actually liked seeing Kyle in a different type of role for himself and thought he handled it well; his fight scenes were really good. There are some twists to the plot and those who have a sibling might relate to the sibling rivalry angle. The odds are tipped in favor of having an easy, fun time watching this film.

 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Ingrid Goes West

THEY WERE STANDING by the fountain in the middle of the block long park. If anyone noticed who they were they did not show it. I was sitting at a park bench and spotted them immediately as they came into view. It was a celebrity couple with their young child; both of them were actors, one in movies and the other did movies and television. My first feeling was surprise, surprise they were by themselves without an entourage. Despite their celebrity status they were walking around like your average parents taking their kid to the park. My curiosity about them was limited to finding out if they were pleasant, stuck up, funny or if they could form a complete sentence and carry on a conversation. I was not interested to hear if they had an opinion on world affairs or product endorsements. In fact, it offends me when celebrities use their status to share their thoughts and opinions on subjects far removed from their daily lives.     THERE IS A FINE line that separates admiration and obsession. It used to be getting a celebrity’s autograph was the ultimate prize. These days it seems as if people want so much more out of their celebrities. Look at the plethora of commercial products being promoted by celebrities. Better yet look at the effect social media has had on the relationship between fans and stars; one comment by a screen actor can send an army of fans on the warpath. It borders on the bizarre for me. I am not interested in knowing where a celebrity shops or eats; it does not interest me to know where they have been or who they are dating. Now I will admit regarding the celebrity couple I mentioned earlier, I did ask my 5 year old relative to go over and try to play with the couple’s child so I could mosey on over; but, all I wanted to do was strike up a casual conversation and perhaps mention I have reviewed their movies. I guess that sounds self-serving doesn’t it? Oh no, am I turning into a celebrity stalker?     FEELING LIKE AN outcast Ingrid Thorburn, played by Aubrey Plaza (Safety not Guaranteed, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), found the life she was meant to lead. To get it she just had to become friends with a social media celebrity. This film festival winning, comedic drama also starred Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, In Secret) as Taylor Sloane, O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton) as Dan Pinto, Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Ezra O’Keefe and Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Bridge of Spies) as Nicky Sloane. I found the script for this story to be smart and heavy on the satire. Aubrey was perfect for the role; though I have to say from the few things I have seen her in, she appears to stay in the same comedic lane with her style. The rest of the cast did a great job as well and helped gave this story some biting depth. There were times when I noticed my mind started to wander away from the story, but I believe it was due to me not being able to relate to any of the characters. When I left the theater I needed to give more thought to the movie as a whole and realized it really provided a scathing take on society’s obsession with social media and celebrity status.

 

3 stars

 

 

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