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Flash Movie Review: Loving Pablo

IS A PERSON JUST BEING GOOD to you enough to have a relationship with them? I have always had a curiosity about the things that are important to a person seeking and being in a love relationship. One of the things that piqued my curiosity was seeing news reporters interviewing the love interest of a person who had recently committed a crime or was in an altercation. Hearing the girlfriend say her boyfriend has always been good to her after he had just been accused of bludgeoning a man to death was the oddest thing to me. Let us say it was true, that he was kind and respectful of her; is that all one needs to fall in love? There seems to be more similar examples currently than I can recall years ago. A husband is stunned when he finds out his wife has been embezzling money from her place of employment for years. Behind the husband and reporter, parked in the driveway of the couple’s house, was a brand new expensive car. I find it all bizarre; how can someone only focus on certain aspects of an individual and base their affection solely on those features? I know I cannot do it.      IN MY WORLD ACTIONS HAVE AS much importance as words; in other words, it is not just what a person says that will cement my feelings towards them. I think anyone can say anything and I have been in relationships where the person said things they knew would pull at my heart strings. And the words did; however, there were things they did that did not earn my trust. I had friends who had warned me, but you know how that goes; unless they are in your shoes, you feel your friends are not able to see the whole picture. It is funny because I have been in their place where I expressed my concerns about friends’ love interests. There was one person who was a user, who only cared about himself. Yes, he would do these sweet things for my friend that made her heart swell; but he had no empathy and was a cheapskate. If the opportunity came up where she asked me for my opinion I would tell her exactly what I thought. The one thing I would not do is tell her what she “should” do; I knew she would have to figure out what worked for her. Also, I remained respectful around him. My motto is, “I do not have to accept anything, but need to respect it.” And when it comes to this biographical crime film, no truer words have been spoken. If not, one could find themselves getting killed.      DESPITE BEING COLOMBIA’S MOST NOTORIOUS DRUG LORD there was something about Pablo Escobar, played by Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) that made journalist and anchorwoman Virginia Vallejo, played by Penelope Cruz (The Counselor, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), fall in love with him. It wasn’t long before everyone knew. This film festival winning action movie also starred Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie, The Magnificent Seven) as Shepherd, Julieth Restrepo (At the End of the Spectra, Moria) as Maria Victoria Henao and Oscar Jaenada (The Shallows, Cantinflas) as Santoro. It goes without saying that Javier and Penelope were a perfect match since they are married to each other. I enjoyed the two of them in this story and picked up a couple of things I did not know about Escobar. However, the script was too superficial; I would have preferred if the writers went deeper into the characters. Instead there were scenes of blood and violence which were expected, but I felt there had to be more to this story than what was shown.

 

2 stars

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Flash Movie Review: First Man

DURING MY SPACE EXPLORATIONS I DISCOVERED planets far from earth that were inhabited by peaceful beings. The inhabitants of one planet did not walk; they were able to float above the ground effortlessly. Everyone was dressed in a similar fashion with a long, flowing robe-like outer coating that refracted light to form a non-stop palette of colors. I considered their heads to be egg shaped with large dark eyes and no hair. Because they were a peaceful race, there were a couple of other species from other planets that wanted to conquer them. Due to this threat the peaceful ones, as I called them, had to build up their defenses. I was in charge of the space ships that in actuality were different writing pens I collected; however, they were able to shoot out death rays from the tips. The pocket clip part of the pen is where the captain and their crew flew the ship, so I addressed my warnings to that part of the pen. I could spend hours flying my pens through the house as they took on evil forces, defending their home planet. Sometimes I had to fly through space dust or debris which was the mist from a can of air freshener.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL MY HIGHER LEARNING days that I paid more attention to space. Oh and of course Star Trek and Star Wars pushed me into that direction. To this day I enjoy science fiction/fantasy movies and books. I feel a certain connection to them because they have always presented a different reality to the dark one I was experiencing at times. Within science fiction stories it seemed as if a planet was being threatened, all the inhabitants would come together to defeat the threat. There was something about having diverse beings coming together that I found attractive. At the time, I did not realize it was what I was wishing for in my reality. Feeling like an outsider or just different growing up, the idea of an all accepting society fascinated me. I think that is why when I was a kid fantasizing about space I always had planets filled with peaceful beings. Add in the story lines from Star Trek and I was sure there was a safe haven somewhere in space. It is funny that a few of my friends to this day can tell when I am spacing out and the reasons for it. None of my fantasies however had the type of intensity that I saw in this dramatic, biographical space film.      IN A RACE WITH THE SOVIET Union to achieve glory in space, the United States embarked on a radical idea that had never been done before. It would take a certain type of person to be a part of what could become an event of historical proportions. This film festival nominated movie starred Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, La La Land) as Neil Armstrong, Claire Foy (Breathe, Unsane) as Janet Armstrong, Jason Clarke (Everest, The Man with the Iron Heart) as Edward Higgins White, Kyle Chandler (Manchester by the Sea, Argo) as Deke Slayton and Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Den of Thieves) as Jim Lovell. The beauty of this film was the way the director allowed scenes to tell the story without dialog; some of the film shots were beautiful. Now add in the acting skills, especially form Ryan and Claire, and I for the most part was taken away by the story. There have been a variety of space films but for some reason I found the intensity of this one to be tangible. Everything felt authentic and real. Though my imagination made traveling to space an easy process, I got on board for this historical event, space story.

 

3 1/2 stars       

 

Flash Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

THERE WAS NOTHING THAT STOOD OUT for him that would warrant grabbing your attention. He was a polite man who bagged groceries at a store. Then one day a shopper at the store recognized him, recorded a video of him and posted it on the internet; it went viral, as they say. You see there was something unique about this man because the general public would never guess someone with his former career would be a bagger. He was an actor on a past, long time television show. I am willing to bet a majority of you are thinking right now, how does an actor wind up becoming a store bagger? The only reason I know about this individual is because it was on the news. I admit I was shocked but I had no feelings about the job this man was doing now. Sadly, there were some people who posted derogatory comments, job shaming the former actor. I found the comments to be rude and uncalled for; what did this man’s livelihood have to do with these people? Only those around the store bagger might know his story; it is no one’s business.      I DO NOT KNOW IF THIS APPLIES to the former actor, but I have watched some people who were driven to do only one thing in their life. Just take a look at those athletes that have made a name for themselves. For example, the participants at the Olympic games. When the telecast of the games does a focus segment on one athlete, more times than not, the athlete has done nothing else but train for this moment since they were a small child. I sit there and wonder what will happen to them if they do not get a medal; do they have something to fall back on to make a living? I know a man who wanted to be an opera singer. He studied hard and practiced all the time until he became one. It was not easy because after school he was on the road most of the time taking any singing job he could find. HIs jobs were with small opera companies, nothing that was famous or prestigous. After a few years of this hard schedule it started to take a toll on him; he wished he had a backup plan. Seeing the writing on the wall, he went back to school to become a music teacher. He was lucky in making this transition, unlike the war hero in this dramatic biography.      AFTER SURVIVING A CRASH AND CAPTIVITY Louis Zamperini, played by Samuel Hunt (Dead South, Chicago P.D.-TV), came back to the states to start a new life. Unfortunately he had no idea what life he would be able to live. With Merritt Patterson (Kid Cannabis, Wolves) as Cynthia Applewhite, Bobby Campo (The Maestro, The Final Destination) as Pete Zamperini, Gary Cole (One Hour Photo, The Good Wife-TV) as Dr. Bailey and David Sakurai (Iron Fist, In Order of Disappearance) as Watanabe “The Bird;” this sequel offered nothing for the viewer. I am sure the true story of former Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini had more to it then the poorly written script for this film. Following a genetic, typical, formulaic story; I was bored early into the movie. I have said this before and I will say it again, I do not have an issue with these faith based movies. However, I have not seen one yet that had good acting or a decent script. All the writers of this type of movie care about is to stress the power of faith in a heavy-handed way. It seems these type of studios only focus on one thing and have no knowledge on how to make an enjoyable picture.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Operation Finale

THERE WAS A PERIOD OF TIME long ago, when I was heavy into reading detective/crime novels, where I thought I might want to become a detective. I am certain the seed was planted in me by the Hardy Boys. There was a detective’s handbook I had gotten my hands on that I think I had read at least twice. One chapter of the book was devoted to the skills needed to be able to follow someone undetected. The following chapter talked about what steps a person should do to avoid capture. I still remember the first rule to avoid capture was to never take the same route on consecutive days. Whether by foot, public transportation or car; one should mix up their travel plans daily. After I had nearly memorized the handbook I spent one summer trailing different people in the neighborhood. It sounds silly now, but back then I thought if I could follow people and go unnoticed then it was a sign that I should pursue studies in criminology. What I discovered during that summer was people were certainly creatures of habit. The people I tailed followed the same course on a weekly basis. An elderly woman who rolled a shopping cart behind her always went to the butcher on Thursdays and the laundromat on Tuesdays.      WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT DON’T most people fall into some type of routine in their daily lives? Speaking for myself, I find comfort when I follow a routine. No joke, people at the office can set their watches based on where I am and what I am doing. It takes a certain mindset because I know some individuals who would go crazy if they had to follow a set routine. I used to work with a salesperson who could not stand coming into the office to take care of paperwork. What they enjoyed about sales was the fact that each day would be at a different location, have a different set of circumstances and be among a different group of individuals. Anytime they were in the office they would start to get antsy within a couple of hours. I am not judging but there is no way I could handle such a schedule. The closest I came to it was when I headed a crew of furniture movers; but even there, I was the one who would plan out the week’s deliveries, having a little control over my schedule. In the case of the main characters in this historical drama, routine was necessary if the mission was going to be successful.      AFTER WORLD WAR II THERE was one man that was credited with being the architect of the Holocaust and his name was Adolph Eichmann. Though there was no proof he survived the war, secret agents were determined to hunt down any clue. With Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, The Promise) as Peter Malkin, Ben Kingsley (An Ordinary Man, Security) as Adolph Eichmann, Melanie Laurent (Beginners, My Son) as Hanna Elian, Nick Kroll (Uncle Drew, Adult Beginners) as Rafi Eitan and Lior Raz (The Kindergarten Teacher, Fauda-TV) as Isser Harel; this biographical thriller’s cast was excellent. They made the story come alive, though it took some work because the script started out way too slow and needed more depth to it. I enjoyed the last half of the movie more than the first; though I was fascinated with the agents’ plot which kept me engaged all the way through the picture. Granted I do not know how much of the story in this film was factual; but with a little more intensity and drama this script would have come up to join the cast’s high level of acting and make for a thrilling movie.

 

2 ¾ stars    

Flash Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

BEING INQUISITIVE BY NATURE YOU CAN imagine how I must have felt when I saw for the first time a world globe. I spent time attempting to memorize the capital city of each country. My interest in other countries was sparked early on due to several of my friends having relatives in foreign places. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a couple of them during one of their visits to the states and was fascinated how the words they spoke had an accent. As time went on I found myself gravitating to conversations I heard when I was out and about, to guess where the person came from based on their accent. Whether it was an accent associated with a part of the US or one from a foreign land, I wanted to learn a few simple words from each place. Some of my friends tell me it is rude or demeaning to attempt to say a few words in a person’s native tongue, but I disagree. I feel not only can it be an icebreaker with a stranger, but it shows my interest in getting to know the individual. For this reason, I have learned greetings in several different languages.      NOT ONLY ARE THE WORDS IMPORTANT that we use, it is the way we say them. In my daily life I talk on the phone with many individuals from different parts of the world. I do not think I am alone when it comes to forming a picture of them in my mind based on the person’s voice. With my own experiences people have asked me if I grew up in a different part of the country based on my speaking voice. I do not hear an accent and feel like I have a newscaster’s type of speech. What I really get a kick out of is when the image I have of a person is so different from their actual appearance. I remember a customer I used to speak with on the phone, who came to my office once to deliver a payment. Based on his voice I had the image of a tall, brawny type of man. He had this baritone belly laugh that reverberated over the phone line. Though I was expecting him, when he walked into my office it took me a second to figure out who he was supposed to be. He was a short wiry man, with a receding hairline; nothing like I pictured. At least I did not share my thoughts with him, unlike the characters in this comedic film festival winner that is based on a true story.      BECOMING THE FIRST BLACK POLICE OFFICER in Colorado Springs, CO; Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington (Monster, Malcom X), wanted to prove himself to the other officers. He found a way to do it; however, he could not be seen because he was a black man. This comedic crime film also starred Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, Logan Lucky) as Flip Zimmerman, Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Last Five Years) as Patrice Dumas, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Chief Bridges and Ryan Eggold (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Blacklist-TV) as Walter Breachway. I felt this was one of director Spike Lee’s (Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever) best films. The story was outrageous, but Spike and the writers truly blended uncomfortable and humorous scenes together to form a solid piece of work; that includes the juxtaposition of movie clips chosen to accentuate the message. I found everyone gave a solid performance, especially Adam and Topher Grace. This picture demonstrated the importance of words, no matter how they were spoken.

 

3 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

EVERYTHING THAT ONE IS BORN WITH works together to achieve a harmonious state throughout the body. This is part of my belief system, that we can achieve this harmonious state when we are in balance. I know when I am stressed I usually can figure out what is causing it. With the schedule I keep there are multiple opportunities for me to get stressed out. I find myself thinking about what I need to do instead of being present in the moment. When I am in this state of mind I am much more forgetful, which in turn causes me further stress. It feels like I am jogging in one of those hamster wheels that goes around and round without going anywhere; there is no down time for me. To get back in balance I would need to stop overbooking myself and take some “me” time. The body and mind are so connected; when one is lacking something the other tries to compensate. Well known examples of this would be Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Though he lost his hearing his mind filled in the tones he was putting together for his musical pieces. Helen was blind and deaf but her mind and sense of touch for signing were extraordinary.      RECENTLY I WAS OBSERVING A martial arts class. One of the participants had underdeveloped arms; they were small for their body size and looked as if they stopped growing at the elbows. I watched this member as the class was put through a variety of exercises. It was incredible to see how the lack of arm strength was made up by the amazing leg strength they incorporated into their one on one exercises. I know it is a cliché to say “when there is a will there is a way;” but in the case of this student, their mind and body found a way for them to be an active participant in the class. I am in awe when a person is denied one sense or body part and another one fills in the gap. People who are blind tend to have exceptional hearing capabilities. Or those confined to wheelchairs usually have powerful upper body strength. In the case of the main character in this biographical dramatic comedy, I started out not being sympathetic towards him; however, as the story unfolded I found myself going with him on his journey of discovery.      A NIGHT OF PARTYING AND DRINKING led to a horrific accident that would change the life of John Callahan, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, You Were Never Really Here), in unimaginable ways. Based on a true story this movie also starred Jonah Hill (War Dogs, True Story) as Donnie, Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Annu, Jack Black (The D Train, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Dexter and newcomer Tony Greenhand as Tim. The fact that I went from being an unsympathetic viewer to admiring Joaquin’s character tells you how impressed I was with his acting skills. He has an eclectic body of work already and each character he does always leaves me amazed at his acting abilities. The rest of the actors were not slouches by any means; they were wonderful. I felt the director handled not only them gracefully but did a beautiful job with the script. Nothing came across as preachy or inspirational; the director took what was a tragic event and found a way to mine the humor and sadness in equal portions. As for the story, the theme may have a familiar feeling to the viewer; however, the execution of it makes it worthwhile to watch. If for nothing else this story will show you not to give up hope because when you lose one thing, something else will take its place.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Shock and Awe

IT IS SO INFURIATING TO ALWAYS be asked for advice that always gets dismissed. I just need to stop giving it when I am being asked, because it drives me crazy. A friend of mine will constantly ask me what I think or would do regarding an issue she is experiencing. Since she asked I am willing to help; not that I am some kind of oracle of truth who has the best advice. However, in those circumstances where I do have knowledge about the subject I will advise her. Time after time she will pick my brain to get as much information as possible before she goes and does the exact opposite of my suggestion. This is not bragging but a majority of the time my advice has been right on target. I know she hears me but from all those times she chose not to take my suggestions she wound up either losing money, wasting time or delaying her healing process. It really is maddening to see this stuff happen to her when it could have all been avoided. If she does not believe what I am saying, then what is the point of continually asking me?      THE IRONIC THING ABOUT THIS is we had a mutual friend who could never tell the truth. With anything he said the listener had to discount most of it. As an example, within a span of 3-4 months I heard him say he was a personal trainer, an accountant, a financial advisor, a banker and a chef. I know there were more but I no longer can remember, nor care about it. As I am writing this I just realized on the one hand I have a friend that doesn’t believe what I am saying and on the other there is another friend who never tells the truth. If memory serves me correctly, the friend who did not trust my advice used to accept the other friend’s stories a/k/a lies. What the heck was she thinking?!?! Truth is based on facts and reality; so, she must have been using a different reality if she was willing to believe the story telling friend. I guess this is an example of a person believing something is true, but not knowing if it indeed is true. Sadly, this is only one of many instances where I have seen someone willing to believe something without investigating the facts. I have an idea what the journalists must have been feeling in this dramatic biography based on true events.      HEARING A RUMOR ABOUT THE government wanting to invade a country journalists Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, played by Woody Harrelson (Wilson, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), set out to find the facts to such a story. Every turn they made was met with disbelief. Set before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this movie also starred Rob Reiner (The Wolf of Wall Street, All in the Family-TV) as John Walcott, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, The Fugitive) as Joe Galloway and Jessica Biel (Total Recall, The Illusionist) as Lisa Mayr. I so wished I had some knowledge about this story and the journalists from Knight Ridder newspapers; the story was made to play like a political thriller. Horribly, this movie lacked everything needed to tell a good story. I cannot put my finger on it but the script was dull; there was no excitement or thrills when there should have been. The acting was okay but if you look at the film Spotlight, this movie was a light version of this type of investigative story. Such a shame and waste of resources to produce this mess of a movie. Trust me you do not want to spend money on this picture. I would rather have seen a documentary about these 2 journalists and what they accomplished.

 

1 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Whitney

HAVING NOWHERE TO GO FOR the holiday a friend invited me to come celebrate with her and her family. Normally I decline such invites simply because I do not want to be the outsider at a family function. Some families are close-knit to the point where they have a shorthanded way of communicating with each other; sharing inside jokes, memories and/or conversing about family matters. I would feel out of place in this type of situation. Since I knew some of my friend’s relatives I agreed to go to their family dinner. I picked up a box of candy on the way to my friend’s house, so we could go together to her parents. Once we arrived I was warmly greeted by her parents and sister. I found it amusing when I was introduced to the different relatives who were present because I already knew about some of them from the stories my friend shared with me. Let me just say she has some crazy characters in her family and those are her words. In total there were approximately 20 relatives made up of aunts, uncles, cousins and some cousins with children; it was a full house. My friend’s parents had put up folding tables and chairs to accommodate everyone.      IT IS ONE THING TO HEAR stories about people; it is another thing to actually sit down with them and share a meal. We had gotten through the appetizers and soup portion of the dinner before a verbal fight broke out between a couple of relatives. An uncle remembered a past incident a certain way and an aunt remembered it a different way. They were bickering back and forth as the main course was coming out to be served. The hostess asked the 2 combatants to settle down which surprisingly they did rather quickly. However, within 5-10 minutes the two were back at it, yelling at each other. Unfortunately, more relatives got involved so there was this crescendo of angry voices trying to out shout each other. I sat quietly as I ate my meal; I was not about to let a good meal go to waste. It was a bit surreal I admit; but on the other hand, I found it interesting to see these relatives swearing and calling each other names. My hope to stay out of the melee was dashed when one of the aunts tried to get me to agree with her point of view. It was then that I became uncomfortable and wanted to leave this family dysfunction. In a way I had the same reaction while watching this film festival winning documentary.      WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), this musical biography traced the life of Whitney Houston. I thought Whitney had an incredible voice, even buying some of her music. But once she started her decline I lost all interest in her. This is just my thing; once a celebrity becomes unprofessional in some way, I have no reason to support them. It doesn’t matter if they are gifted or incredible with what they do; once they cross that line I am done with them. This is where I was with Whitney. Seeing this documentary was eye opening in some respects. The use of past TV and movie clips were entertaining as were some of the interviews. Whether the director was getting honesty out of the interviewees is questionable; but for my needs I thought the director did a beautiful job in telling a story, albeit a tragic one. From watching this biography, I felt every person involved had a hand in Whitney’s extinction. In a way this story was not so different from other sad stories of dead celebrities; the difference here was we were able to see Whitney wanting to dance with someone, but most dancers were not suitable partners.

 

2 ½ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Gotti

HER GRIEF-STRICKEN FACE APPEARED on the television screen after the commercial break. Huddled next to her was her husband, his head slowly dropping down to a certain point before being jerked back up by consciousness. They were freezing and had barely eaten anything for the past couple of days. Their car was stuck in a snow bank when it skidded off the road in a remote area; they were on their way to his mother’s house out of state. The snowstorm unexpectedly hit their area much harder than the weatherman had predicted. If they would have known they would not have taken the risk, especially since she was pregnant. I only knew about all these details from the news reporter that was interviewing the couple. The scenes in the snow were actually reenactments with 2 actors portraying the real couple. From everything I was watching and hearing, I honestly was amazed the couple survived that ordeal. They were just an average couple; they did not have any special skills or superpowers, only their wits. Being sensitive to the cold I know I would not have survived one night, yet these two lasted days before they were discovered.     AFTER WATCHING THAT TELEVISION SHOW, I was curious why the couple’s story was told via a newscast program instead of being turned into a movie for theatrical release. I have seen so many films based on true stories that have been unbelievable at times. Some were about famous people; but then there have been others who were nobody special, expect for the extraordinary occurrence that they were part of. For example, one of my recent reviews was for a movie about a couple who found themselves in the middle of a major storm while sailing across the ocean. Sure, the two had some sailing knowledge, but nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered. There was another film I just reviewed that was inspired by the true story of a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades. Both films were created to entertain an audience, so I am sure the writers took some liberties with the real story. The ones that get shown on TV are not in a movie format style; they usually have been a series of vignettes narrated by some type of reporter. Both productions have value, I understand it; however, today’s movie was not as clear for me.     HAVING WON MULTIPLE LAWSUITS BROUGHT AGAINST him John Gotti Sr., played by John Travolta (Hairspray, Life on the Line), received the moniker “Teflon Don.” Leading one of the largest crime families, the name suited him well. Based on true events this dramatic crime film also starred Kelly Preston (Battlefield Earth, What a Girl Wants) as Victoria Gotti, Stacy Keach (Nebraska, Escape from L.A.) as Neil Dellacroce, Spencer Rocco Lofranco (Unbroken, At Middleton) as John Gotti Jr. and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Constantine) as Angelo Ruggiero. John did a wonderful job of acting in this film; I found his presence on screen remained strong throughout. Kelly was also good; however, the issue I had with this movie was the script or lack of one. Most of the scenes felt like they were just copies of news segments. I was somewhat entertained simply because I was curious about John Gotti, but I did not see anything I had not already known. For listing this picture a biography, I would have preferred getting more history about the characters. Instead, there were family scenes; the only difference being the father was a major crime boss. With the addition of scenes that jumped back and forth in the story, I had a difficult time staying engaged. Maybe this picture would have been better served if it had been released on television.

 

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

THERE WAS SOMETHING SAFE, NURTURING and comfortable about growing up in an apartment building. I never felt like I was missing out on anything by not living in a single-family home. My earliest memories contain the assortment of wonderful neighbors who lived in our building. Before I could even walk I learned how to crawl down 2 flights of stairs to one neighbor who always welcomed me into their home and gave me cookies. I know, you must be thinking I was trained like Pavlov’s dog for those cookies; but honestly, I was not. When I grew older no one had to teach me to open doors for people carrying in groceries or packages; all of us in the building did it to help each other. We lived on the top floor so I got to use the landing of the wrap around staircase as my personal playroom. The same could be said for our back porch; I was always outside on it either playing or reading a book. In fact, I had a little table and chairs set out on the porch; so, you could say I had my own personal, outdoor deck.      FROM ONE NEIGHBOR OF OURS I learned important history lessons about war and concentration camps. She was a survivor who shared her story with me whenever I would ask her a question. Her son was one of the musicians in the building. While he would practice playing his accordion, there was another neighbor who played the drums; add that to my piano lessons and we covered a variety of musical genres. I would love coming home and hear the music playing as I walked up the flights of stairs, accompanied by an assortment of cooking smells that wafted through the hallway at various times. There was never a need to worry about running out of something, like a food ingredient or toilet paper, because everyone in the building was willing to borrow from each other. Something that I feel that was truly valuable for me was learning at an early age how to conduct myself in public. Everyone was polite and friendly which was a wonderful example to show me how to interact with people. It was a time before texting so we each had face to face conversations and I learned how to listen. I cannot say that is an attribute that everyone has in them these days. Living in an apartment building was wonderful training on how to deal with people. Everyone worked at finding amicable solutions to any issues that would arise. We were our own special neighborhood inside of our apartment building.      FROM OSCAR WINNING DIRECTOR Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, The Music of Strangers), this film festival winning documentary showed me a neighborhood that had similarities to my childhood home, but I did not know existed. Debuting on television in Pittsburgh 1967, it soon became a national broadcast. I have never seen the show so my enthusiasm about this film may be more than someone who was familiar with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. What struck me about Fred Rogers was his gentle kindness and progressive thinking. I was amazed at the quiet way he would make a relevant statement about an event taking place in the world. Learning about the history of the show along with the personal information about his actual and television family, it was quite apparent there was a genuine love and affection for each other. Here you have people from all walks of life who worked together in a civil and respectful way. I must tell you if Fred was alive and wanted to run for office, I would vote for him based on having seen this movie; what a wonderful picture about a beautiful human being.

 

4 stars

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