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Flash Movie Review: First Reformed

EVERY TIME I BUY A newspaper I believe I am doing my part in preventing the publisher from shutting down. I know it is a fallacy, but I have to believe it is true. The convenience store used to have their racks full of newspapers; now if I do not get there early enough the few papers they do get are already gone. It makes me sad because I prefer reading a newspaper instead of looking at an electronic screen. So, I want to believe my little contribution will help sustain newspapers through my lifetime. I have a similar belief when it comes to my personal banking. There is no way I want a debit card; it is that simple. Yet anytime I need to use a teller the first thing they ask me is to swipe my debit card. When I say I do not have one they give me this look as if I am a much older version of a Rip Van Winkle character. I want to believe that I am not alone, that there are others like me who prefer doing their banking the old-fashioned way and by that, I mean the banks still need to keep their branches open with tellers.      WHEN IT COMES TO BELIEFS I believe I am not alone; each of us has a set of beliefs. The ones I just mentioned are not based on any facts which fits into the definition of belief. It is a state of mind where a person thinks something is true despite having evidence to prove it. For me my beliefs are based in feelings, not facts. An example would be the route I take to work. I believe it is the fastest way to get to my office; however, if someone shows me a different way that is faster, then I will no longer believe my route is the fastest. Remember there was a time where people believed the earth was flat; it took science to show them that was not the case. I consider beliefs to be multifaceted; some people refer to them as opinions, others define them as faith. It seems to me beliefs assist us in finding order in the world or put another way, they help explain the world around us. This does not mean I expect others to have the same beliefs; in fact, I would be offended if someone tried to foist their beliefs onto me. They are a personal matter as far as I am concerned. To see how beliefs can affect a person, feel free to watch this film festival winning, dramatic thriller.      IN THE MIDDLE OF PREPARATIONS for his church’s celebration Reverend Ernst Toller, played by Ethan Hawke (Born to Be Alive, The Magnificent Seven), experiences a crisis of faith. With Amanda Seyfried (The Big Wedding, Dear John) as Mary, Cedric the Entertainer (Larry Crowne, Barbershop franchise) as Reverend Joel Jeffers and Victoria Hill (December Boys, Macbeth) as Esther; this thought provoking movie posed a variety of topical issues. Written and directed by Paul Schrader (Raging Bull, The Walker), I found the acting to be excellent. Not in a flowery or over the top type of way, but simply an adult driven script that infused the characters with realness. I felt the way the picture was filmed complimented the script, set in upstate New York, beautifully. My major complaint about this movie concerned the lead up to the ending. I did not like the element of fantasy that was introduced nor the way the story ended. It was a letdown for me because I believed the script was going to maintain a consistent flow to its conclusion. You might think differently because you have a different set of beliefs and that is okay.

 

3 stars       

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Flash Movie Review: Barbershop: The Next Cut

When we get together we not only come up with solutions to each of our problems, but we can provide the same for most of the world’s issues. There is something about getting together with friends on a regular basis to hash out anything that is troubling one of us at the time. I am part of a small group who has gotten together every three months for many years now. It is a time for us to take a break from the daily treadmill of our lives to catch up with each other and share a meal. I wish I could say I can solve any problem I am experiencing; but the fact remains, extra opinions can provide different pathways to a solution that I am not wired to come up with on my own. Because I feel every single person has a unique set of skills (doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a Liam Neeson movie?), there is always an opportunity to learn something new from other people. Another great aspect of getting together with friends is the sense of community and support. I am a person who needs down time, where I remove myself from the outside world. Having a re-occurring date to mingle with friends energizes, enlightens and relaxes me among other things. There is someone I know who leads a support group for like-minded individuals; they meet once every 4 to 8 weeks with the purpose to share their experiences on that night’s topic. I know what I am about to say is a cliché, but there is some truth in the phrase, “strength in numbers.” The people at this barbershop are the proof.   WITH the neighborhood changing business partners Calvin and Angie, played by Ice Cube (Ride Along franchise, 21 Jump Street franchise) and Regina Hall (Scary Movie franchise, Think Like a Man), came up with an idea they hoped would start a change in the residents. This dramatic comedy sequel took me by surprise. It is difficult to blend comedy and drama in a story, yet I felt the writers did a real good job with this script. The movie was relevant as it tackled the issue of violence in a major metropolitan city. A tough topic to be sure; but the actors such as Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man-TV, A Haunted House franchise) as Eddie, Common (Selma, Now You See Me) as Rashad and Nicki Minaj (The Other Woman) as Draya provided a balanced mixture of humor and seriousness. All the actors I found created a believable sense of community. I know I saw the previous films but honestly I do not remember them; it was not an issue in viewing this picture. Where Spike Lee’s film Chi-Raq tackled the same topic, I liked seeing the contrast in the way this movie handled it. Who knew one could learn so much from one small barbershop in the city of Chicago.

 

3 stars  

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Top Five

Some people’s costumes are more surprising than other ones. With my philosophy about our bodies being rented, add on the things we wear and sometimes we can transform ourselves into a different type of individual. What one person wears for work may change the way they look to someone else. After all these years I still am fascinated when I come across a member from one of my classes outside and away from the health club. Having seen them only in workout wear, it can be a real contrast to see someone dressed up in their work costume such as a power suit or uniform. In fact, the same thing happens to me all the time when a member sees me somewhere other than class. For myself I may form an impression about the person based on our interactions in class; but then when I see them in a different setting, my impression may be out of synch. We all form impressions of people; I refer to it as taking an imaginary photo of a person with our mind and placing it in our back pocket to check on later after spending more time with them. Sometimes the two impressions will match but other times it may be hard to believe what is right in front of our eyes.    FROM playing a talking bear comedic actor Andre Allen, played by Chris Rock (Head of State, Grown Ups franchise), wanted to be taken seriously. With his upcoming wedding to television reality star Erica Long, played by Gabrielle Union (Good Deeds, Cadillac Records); Andre hoped his choice to take on a serious role to play a slave in a dramatic serious film would change people’s minds about him. Written and directed by Chris, this film festival winning comedy was a smart vehicle for Chris to really shine in the public’s eye. One could say parts of the film seemed to mirror Chris’ life, but there was more to this movie. The script had elements of satire, parody, humor, surprise and vulnerability; though, the straightforward story arc was a bit predictable. I thought the chemistry worked well between the actors which also included Rosario Dawson (Sin City franchise, Cesar Chavez) as Chelsea Brown and Cedric the Entertainer (A Haunted House franchise, Larry Crowne) as Jazzy Dee. I enjoyed watching this picture and especially got a kick out of the cameo performances. There was enough bite in this comedy to chew on without choking. Chris left me with a wider impression than I had when I first walked into the theater. There was an extra short scene at the beginning of the credits.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: A Haunted House

Laughter is an oil change for a person’s mind and body. There is nothing like laughter to blow away any clouds that have formed in the mind or to release the tightened tissues of the body. Every day I try to find humor in my daily life. Whether it comes out of a profound or ridiculous situation, there usually is a laugh or two to be found. In this movie the humor was expected by spoofing horror films, such as Paranormal Activity. There is nothing wrong to laugh at something silly; I laughed at a couple of scenes in this comedy. Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie franchise, White Chicks) played the boyfriend Malcolm. A big moment was taking place in his life when his girlfriend Kisha, played by Essence Atkins (Dysfunctional Friends, Are We There Yet?), decided to move in with him. Once she arrived things started happening that Malcolm was not expecting. Setting up a house security camera system, the couple hoped to get to the bottom of the unexpected occurrences. This witless movie was mindless. I can appreciate a bawdy (who says that these days?) or body function joke; but after one of them, they lose their shock value for me. As soon as a scene was set, it was obvious where the gag was about to happen. Even casting Cedric the Entertainer (Larry Crowne, Cadillac Records) as Father Williams was mild relief to the monotony. There was nothing original written into the screenplay. Haven’t we already been exposed to most jokes about flatulence or copulation? I am not this curmudgeon sitting in his theater seat, with a flashlight and billy club, ready to pounce on any offenders who are not following my movie theater rules of etiquette. However, this film was rated R and I want to know what the parents in the theater were thinking by bringing their young children to this movie. I just want to scream, “If you cannot afford a babysitter then stay home and read a book to your kids.”  The biggest joke to be found is buying a ticket to see this stale movie.

 

1 2/3 stars

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