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Flash Movie Review: Bullet Train

IT IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION FOR me whenever I am attending a dinner party, where I am not familiar to the host. It occurs when I am going as someone’s guest or attending a family function, where different people are contributing to the meal. I admit I am a fussy eater; add to that, I also am a visual and texture eater. If something does not look appealing to me then I am not interested in tasting it. I know these are my quirks; I do not pretend to hide or be embarrassed by them. However, I do not expect anyone to conform to my eating habits. This is why I get uncomfortable when going to dinner at someone’s house who is not familiar with me. My friends are thoughtful and usually will tell the host I do not eat onions or red meat; and I am appreciative of their actions. Many a times, the host will adjust their menu to accommodate me; but this is the part that makes me uncomfortable. I do not want them to change what they planned; I can eat around anything placed on a dinner table. There have been get togethers where the host has made two of the same dishes, one with onions and the other without. I do not want them to do such a thing; I can pick out the onions or just not put any of it on my dish, no big deal.      MY NOT WISHING TO CHANGE SOMEONE to fit my needs is a belief that I had to grow into; it was not something that came organically. I used to be one of those individuals who readily told people what they should do. I would see or listen to a person dealing with a problem and I would immediately tell them what they needed to do, whether they asked for my advice or not, it did not matter. Through a time of self-discovery and awareness, I realized it was part of my control issues. If someone asked me for my advice, it was okay to offer it; but not to swoop in and take on their issues. My eyes were opened to the point I could recognize when others were trying to “take charge” or convince someone to do something differently. I know this is my opinion, but I find those individuals who preach and try to convert people are no different than me trying to change a friend’s mind to do something I like to do. Just because, let us say, I like to skydive does not mean you have to do it now. However, in this action, comedy thriller it was amusing to see how the main character tried convincing people to his way of thinking.      HOPING THE JOB WOULD BE EASY and peaceful, an assassin has a tough time staying calm when he is stuck on a high-speed passenger train in Japan with other assassins. With Brad Pitt (The Lost City, By the Sea) as Ladybug, Joey King (The Conjuring, The In Between) as Prince, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals, Kick-Ass franchise) as Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Hotel Artemis) as Lemon and Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes, Warrior-TV) as Kimura; I felt the movie was made more for the cast than the viewer. It was obvious the cast was having fun with their characters. Joey stood out for me with her acting ability. There was a lot of violence and blood throughout the film; but at least the fight scenes were well done, and I enjoyed the witty dialog. The script was uneven, eventually losing steam as it headed towards the end, which was a jumble. There was no character development; and, in this case, I was okay with it. I felt the whole story was put together like a board game and the characters were just game pieces. Pretty much, this type of story has been done before and done better; however, it was still fun to watch the craziness that all took place on a bullet train.

2 ½ stars 

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Flash Movie Review: Godzilla vs. Kong

HAVING ONLY SEEN GOOD FORCES BATTLING bad forces, I was not familiar with the concept of rivalry. The closest thing I can think of is when my friends and I would play “King of the Hill,” but that really was not a rivalry. My first encounter was in school when 2 boys in my class had to race each other to see who would be the fastest. They already had the reputation of being fast runners, but our PE teacher thought it would be fun to pit the two of them against each other. I was friends with both, so I was in a quandary. The gym class was devoted to racing, where the teacher would randomly choose 2 students to race the length, up and back, of the gymnasium. He would mark down each student’s time. I hated racing competitions, especially the relay races; because, I was not a fast runner. The pressure to do good in a relay race made me ill; the boys on the team would always call the slowest runner names. When the PE teacher paired the 2 fastest runners, the rest of the students formed a team behind each runner. They cheered and hollered encouragement throughout the race. From that first pairing of these two boys, the teacher always made sure to reprise the pairing in every race through the school year. Suddenly, one had to declare which runner they were supporting in the race. I could not do that because of my friendship with both, so I got teased for it.      THE NEXT RIVALRY I BECAME FAMILIAR with was watching the ice-skating competition during the Olympic Games. The television commercials, the ads in magazines and TV announcers all mentioned the rivalry between an American ice skater and a European one. During the different television broadcasts, covering the various Olympic competitions, the commentators would bring up this rivalry. It was as if they were teasing the viewing audience, mentioning each skater’s strengths and flaws. I would later experience this same type of coverage during aired tennis matches. As an adult, I was fascinated with the importance the media placed on having or creating a rivalry. I found myself buying into it. If there were 2 tennis players “battling” each other, I would root for the left-handed player if it was an option. The most random things, such as liking the city where the player or team was from, would sway my decisions. And here now there is this film with its mega- monster rivalry that I did not know existed and I do not know which monster I want to see win. Maybe you will have more luck deciding than me.     FOR SOME UNEXPLAINED REASON GODZILLA HAS become destructive, attacking a location in the United States. Some scientists believe the monster is agitated, sensing the movement of King Kong who had been secretly kept hidden. If the two monsters were to meet, there would be no telling if mankind would survive. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, True Blood-TV) as Nathan Lind, Millie Bobby Brown (Enola Holmes, Stranger Things-TV) as Madison Russell, Rebecca Hall (The Town, Holmes & Watson) as Ilene Andrews, Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Bernie Hayes and Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life) as Walter Simmons; this action, science fiction thriller was all about the fight scenes and special effects. The script defies any logic; one needs to turn off their brain before viewing this battle spectacular. I did not feel any of the acting was notable, though I did enjoy watching Millie Bobby Brown. A must in my book is if there is going to be a villain, then they need to be a strong character; the “bad guy” in this movie was nearly nondescript. Without character development and unexplained scenes, this was simply a visual experience, nothing cerebral.           

2 stars             

Flash Movie Review: Child’s Play

THE KIDS IN THE CLASSROOM SETTLED down when the teacher came in with a new student. He was thin with long legs under a shorter torso. With all of us looking at him the teacher introduced him; his name was nearly identical to mine except for the first letter. He was directed to an empty seat. When he came up to his seat he dropped his notebook and pencil box on the top of the desk, making a loud smacking sound. The way he sat in his chair was weird looking to me. He was slouched down, with his legs sprawled out and one arm propped up on the back of the seat. No other student in class ever sat that way as far as I could remember. The teacher noticed and asked him to sit properly in his seat. I thought there was a slight pause before he acquiesced. During the rest of the day there were other peculiar things he did. Like at recess, he had no interest in joining any of the games the students were playing on the playground. Instead, he leaned back on the fence and stared at the school building, only shifting his gaze at times to the students around him.      HE BECAME WHAT ONE COULD REFER to as a “bad influence” on some of the students. There were already a few students in class who were not nice to the other students. With the addition of this new student, they got bolder with their actions and looked to him as their leader. For example, with the girl who sat in front of him he smeared petroleum jelly on her long pigtails. She was not aware until later when she was playing with one of the pigtails and her hand felt the greasy mess on her hair. The look on her face was one of horror. When she told the teacher, the new student denied it. Without proof, since he had hidden the jar of jelly in another desk, nothing happened to him. But the teacher started to keep her eye on him. I was sure she knew he was the culprit. Except for the small band of boys who hung around him, he never fit in with the rest of the class. It was such an odd thing to me because I had to work extra hard to just fit in, so as not to stand out among the students. I know it can be hard to be the new kid; you can see for yourself in this updated version of a past, horror movie.      NOT HAVING BEEN ABLE TO MAKE friends yet in his new neighborhood Andy, played by Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, Outcast-TV), received a special gift from his mother. It was the most popular toy on the market and Andy’s mother Karen Barclay, played by Aubrey Plaza (Dirty Grandpa, Ingrid Goes West) was sure the doll would become Andy’s first friend. She should have asked the doll first. With Mark Hamill (Star Wars franchise, Airborne) voicing Chucky, Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis, Widows) as Detective Mike Norris and Tim Matheson (Redline, The West Wing-TV) as Henry Kaslan; this latest version of the Chucky saga was already at a disadvantage for me. Remembering the older films, this one did not have the tense shock value needed to bring the story to life. Chucky’s antics were easy to figure out and that is even with holes in the script. There were different avenues available to make this story compelling if only the writers would have worked harder in giving deeper emotions to the characters. There were a couple of amusing lines, but, I could not tell if the script was trying to be sinister or campy. Compared to other film choices out there presently, this picture does not have the chance of fitting in. There were several bloody, violent scenes.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Family

I REMEMBER A DATE I WENT ON years ago, where at the end of it I asked how they felt about our time together. The answer I got was a complete shock to me. I was told that I was standoffish and appeared unemotional. Not that I was fishing for a compliment, but this was not the type of answer I ever expected. I thought I came across as relaxed and easy going, with a touch of self-deprecating humor. It seemed as if we were on two different dates. Inside my mind I quickly did a replay of our conversation and the topics we discussed. I was able to get a couple of laughs out of some of the things I said, and I know I was paying attention because I did ask questions to further explain things or get a better sense how they felt about the subject we were discussing. Usually at the end of a date I would ask the person if they would be interested in getting together again; regarding this date, I knew there would be no point to ask such a question. My feelings had gotten bruised a bit; I wasn’t going to take a chance of them getting hurt more. I did, however, thank them for their honesty even though I just felt confused about the whole evening.      ON THE WAY HOME AND FOR the rest of the weekend I mulled over that date. Calling friends for feedback and input, I really wanted to see if I was missing something. It turned into a thought-provoking time for me. After all the discussions and going through memories, I realized that I did indeed keep a tough façade around me. My friends pointed out that when I am around unfamiliar people I become more reserved, observing everyone with little talking. Once I get comfortable then I begin to relax around strangers and can start to joke and carry on a conversation. I wondered why I was cautious around strangers, but I soon found my answer after delving deeper inside of myself. Having always felt like an outsider, never fitting into a specific group, I was perceived as being odd or just different. As some of you may know, being different in school can be a disadvantage and at my school I was definitely at a disadvantage. When I got teased and picked on for being different, I started to learn to put up a hard front. I was going to show “them” that they could not get the best of me; so, I shut down. I buried my feelings to show I could not get hurt. The main character in this dramatic comedy would certainly understand.      NOTHING WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO KATE, played by Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), than her job. Even when her brother desperately needed her to watch her niece Maddie, played by Bryn Vale (Red Band Society-TV), for one night. With Kate McKinnon (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Rough Night) as Jill, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Pete and Matt Walsh (Into the Storm, Veep-TV) as Dan; this film festival nominated movie’s story was one that had been done before. However, I will say the script offered an edgier version of that story. The cast worked well together, and I was impressed with the performances from Taylor and Bryn. The idea of not fitting in really stood out for me and I had to give credit to the writers for carrying that message through the story. Though I could tell how the story would play out, it did not take away my focus from watching this humorous picture. Also, it felt good to sit in a theater with other viewers who felt the same way as we all chuckled at the same things.

 

2 ½ stars     

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