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Flash Movie Review: Home for the Holidays

FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me.      HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee.      WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.                      

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Klaus

EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME ME and a variety of family members would make our pilgrimage to the wealthy suburb where all the fancy holiday decorations lived. We were a caravan of cars that traveled close to each other as we made our way along the city streets, always staying in the right lane. Nothing I saw compared to the decorations that were on display in this neighborhood. There was one house we drove by, where we would roll down our windows, because they had a full mechanical chorus singing on the front lawn. The house next door had life sized wooden soldiers that reminded me of the Laurel and Hardy movie, “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” The soldiers were lined up all along the walkway leading up to the house’s double front doors, besides protecting the edges of the front lawn. One of my favorite houses had a group of elf puppets dancing and twirling across the front porch while a waving Santa and his reindeer were parked on top of the roof. As a little kid it seemed as if we were riding up and down the neighborhood’s streets for hours because of so many decorated houses. Some houses displayed the same decorations year after year; but others always had something new each holiday season. Though there were not many, I always felt bad for the houses that only had a couple of decorations or a single string of lights.      AT SOME POINT AS I WAS getting older, I began to question the purpose for someone to have so many elaborate decorations; what did these items represent to the owners? Did having more decorations mean that one was more religious? I wondered if all the displays were due to that “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. For someone to celebrate the holiday, they had to have decorations? I took it a step further; how did it come to pass that putting up decorations was part of the holiday. And what about having a tree in the house; what was the reason for getting ornaments and hanging them on the tree? I started looking at everything and wanted to know where and how did all these customs come into being. Even Santa Claus, what took place centuries ago that people began to talk about a man with flying reindeer, who was able to leave a present in every single decorated house around the world? There are times when I hear someone talk about the amount of presents they have to buy and how much stress this places on them, where I wonder why do they have to buy so much stuff; what does all this stuff have to do with celebrating the holiday? Well, I finally can get some answers because of this Oscar nominated animated movie.      SENT TO A REMOTE TOWN TO open a post office, the postmaster’s son Jesper, voiced by Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom, Listen Up Philip), finds a place where all the citizens are fighting each other. The last thing they want to do is mail a letter. If he wants to get back home, he will need to find a way to get people to use the mail. With J.K. Simmons (21 Bridges, Whiplash) voicing Klaus, Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Celeste & Jesse Forever) voicing Alva, Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Southland Tales) voicing Mr. Ellingboe and Joan Cusack (In & Out, Working Girl) voicing Mrs. Krum; this film festival winning adventure comedy was a pure treat to watch. The story was laid out beautifully, which goes the same for the old-fashioned animation. It may be possible that younger viewers may not get the wonderful message embedded into the script, but it would be okay because there were so many entertaining scenes throughout the picture. I could absolutely see this film becoming a holiday classic; it was so well done on every level.                                  

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Proposal

I DID NOT HAVE AN OPINION one way or the other about the groom; I just thought it was not a good idea for him to marry my friend. He seemed to be nice as far as I could tell in literally the three minutes we spoke before the wedding ceremony. My friend had been in a four-year relationship that ended with a lot of heartbreak and sadness. She was just getting her life back in order when she met this man and the next thing I heard was they were planning on getting married. As far as I knew they had only known each other for a few months before deciding to get married; I do not know which one pushed the idea first. My reason for feeling this wedding would be a bad idea was based on my observations that my friend did not complete the grieving process from her last relationship. It seemed as if this man was being used as a distraction to coverup the sadness and pain. I know everyone falls in love at a different pace and maybe I am just being a pessimist; but the whole proposal and wedding thing came up suddenly without anyone being clued into it. I had to wonder if the groom had any knowledge about my friend’s recent breakup. It would be sad if they were marrying for the wrong reasons.       THEIR WEDDING WOULD NOT BE THE first one that was based on questionable motivations that I would attend. I knew a man who had served in the military. When he returned home there was something different about him. With him being older and the two of us not having much contact, it was hard for me to pinpoint what had changed in him; I only knew he was not the same. After some time being at home, he started dating a woman. He took his time before introducing her around; but once he did, several of us questioned the relationship. It appeared as if she was making all the decisions in their relationship. He went along with everything she said. It was as if he no longer had an opinion about anything, letting her decide the where, when, what and how to every situation. Now if he was like that prior to their meeting, I would not question it; however, it was such a stark contrast to what I knew about him that I felt something was not “right.” I continued to feel that way even when she announced they were getting married. Maybe it would work out for them; if love is present one never knows what could happen. Just see for yourself in this dramatic romantic comedy.     WITH THE PROSPECT OF BEING DEPORTED looming over her head, the only thing that popped into Margaret Tate’s, played by Sandra Bullock (The Heat, Ocean’s Eight) mind was to find someone she could marry. It did not matter what they had to say about it. With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Safe House) as Andrew Paxton, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Powder) as Grace Paxton, Craig T. Nelson (The Family Stone, Book Club) as Joe Paxton and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show-TV, Golden Girls-TV) as Grandma Annie; this film festival winner survived its generic script because of the cast. The chemistry between Sandra and Ryan was not only believable, but it came with extra doses of snarkiness and pinpoint comedic timing. Add in Betty White and that was all that was necessary for me to stay interested in this film. There were a couple of times where I chuckled, and I did enjoy the outdoor scenery. Too bad the script was predictable because with this cast the writers could have included a few twists and turns to give the story a new flavor. Despite these shortcomings, it was fun to sit through and watch this movie.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The American President

THE NARRATOR WAS STATING IT IN such a matter of fact way, yet I was highly amused. I was watching a TV special about the royals and would you believe the hard-boiled egg for a royal’s breakfast comes with its shell cracked and opened. I know, such an innocuous function that the royal cannot do themselves. There were other functions shown during the special that surprised me, but this one was the silliest in my opinion. I am all for the pomp and circumstance that comes with royalty, no matter what royal ruler. Seeing the different customs and procedures have always been something that I have been curious about, which explains why I like to read about history. Not to be too graphic here, but there was a time when a person on the royal staff had the job to clean the bottom of the royal after they had defecated. Honestly, I don’t think there could be enough money for me to take such a position. Some positions make better sense to me, like a food taster or the transporter of the royal jewels. I understand how a royal or a country’s leader gets treated with reverence; however, I cannot fathom how the general population finds amazement with their leaders’ or royals’ everyday ordinary functions. It is as if once they achieve a high position their country people turn them into a deity.      HERE IN MY OWN COUNTRY, I am constantly amazed when people focus on the president’s activities. Some time ago I remember when the news stations reported on the president stopping at a fast food restaurant to eat a burger, making sure to tell us that the president paid for it himself. Ok, so can someone tell me why this is so newsworthy? Throughout the different administrations we have elected, we have seen our leaders playing golf, fishing, playing basketball and even bowling; there were none of them that I would classify as a gifted athlete. And that is okay, whether they excel in sports or not doesn’t take away from their ability to govern; at least I hope so. Personally, I want the best person for the job. I do not care what they do in their downtime as long as it doesn’t become too much of a distraction for the job at hand. Seeing a world leader breaking down in tears tells me they are still human. If they choose to break out in song, I assume they enjoy music. As far as I am concerned every world leader has the same type of internal organs and bodily functions as every other person on the planet. Because of my feelings, I became totally enchanted with this comedic romantic drama.      ANDREW SHEPHERD, PLAYED BY MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Ant-Man franchise, Traffic), was a widower who was raising his young daughter. He also was the President of the United States. Being seen alone with a woman would immediately have people talking about and possibly using it for their own personal advantage. With Annette Bening (The Kids are all Right, American Beauty) as Sydney Ellen Wade, Martin Sheen (The Departed, The Way) as A.J. MacInerney, Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future franchise, The Frighteners) as Lewis Rothschild and Anna Deavere Smith (The Kingdom, Rachel Getting Married) as Robin McCall; this Academy Award nominee and film festival winner was charming and fun, in an old-school way. I thought the cast was excellent and loved the play between Michael and Annette, with the aid of the smart script. The other thing I liked about this movie was the political undertone. Considering when this film was made, it felt like a prelude for the things that we are experiencing now. The writers and director pulled this off in a wonderful way that was both entertaining and enjoyable. I wonder, with the recent political climate we have gone thru, how this story would have played in real time.            

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

A LONG TIME AGO THERE WAS A variety show on television that I used to watch, when I was a small child. What this TV program did for me was to reveal a world of unexpectedness and surprise. I can still remember the first time I saw a human being bend backwards. For being a little kid, I was mesmerized by this woman as she bent herself into all kinds of shapes as part of a circus act that was performing on the show. Behind her there was a man who was blowing flames out of his mouth like a dragon. I wondered if that was how he cooked his dinner. My first encounter with ventriloquism took place while watching this variety show. I could not believe what I was seeing, a talking doll. Whether these episodes sparked my imagination or not, I cannot say; however, I have always gravitated towards things that could not be believed when seen. To a little child, seeing a magnifying glass set paper on fire with the sun’s rays was pure magic. I used to carry a magnifying glass when outside that I would pretend was a ray gun, so I could try and burn holes in blades of grass, tree trunks and car doors among other things. The world was a magical place of fantasy for me.      THAT WORLD OF CHILDHOOD DISSOLVED AND evolved as I became educated during my school years. I discovered the reasons/science behind those things that I thought were magical. This did not make me sad; if anything, it fueled a stronger sense of curiosity or let me say inquisitiveness in me. Part of me thinks these feelings spurred me to study the sciences in my schoolings; however, by no means did it curtail my wonderment for the unbelievable. If you were to have asked me, when I was younger, if I thought there would come a time when things that stunned or surprised us would have become fewer and farther between, I would have had to be in agreement. It makes sense to me; as children there are more things of wonder than when we are aged and older. There are not many things that surprise me these days. Only recently have I seen things that I could not explain fully. Hearing the comments and beliefs some people have about other people is both startling and mind blowing to me; I cannot believe what I am seeing and hearing. My curiosity gets prodded into trying to understand how a person came to their conclusions, but the perplexed feelings I have make me stare in disbelief. It might be easier to explain this if you choose to watch this shocking comedy.      HOPING TO GAIN THE UNITED STATES’ favor for his country Borat Sagdiyev, played by Sacha Baron Cohen (Les Miserables, Alice Through the Looking Glass), comes up with a plan to give his daughter away to a high elected official. He would just have to get through the politician’s supporters. With Maria Bakalova (The Father, Transgression) as Tutar Sagdiyev, Tom Hanks (Cast Away, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) playing himself, relative newcomer Dani Popescu as Premier Nazarbayev and newcomer Manuel Vieru as Dr. Yamak; this film was uncomfortable to watch at times. There certainly were scenes that shocked me into disbelief, to the point I was questioning their authenticity. As I mentioned earlier, despite being uncomfortable while watching this movie, there were other times where I laughed out loud. The fact that I saw the first Borat film, there was less of a surprise factor with this picture. Also, I thought the story within story format dulled this movie’s prospects; I started to get bored with the father/daughter dynamic early on. Yet, with some scenes I still cannot get over how outrageous they were in nature and content. Just when one thinks they have seen and heard everything the past couple of years, this movie comes along and provides a surprise.                      

2 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Overnight Delivery

ANGER THAT WAS WHITE HOT CAME bursting out of my mouth. I had no filter set up to try and temper the words that were meant to strike hard and fast. The reservoir of anger stored in me was being tapped to intensify my reaction to the news that my trust had been broken. When I heard what they did, a wall of numbness briefly tried to take up residence around me; but that break in trust after our years together destroyed the numbness, which allowed my anger to come out with no restrictions. I could tell my words were striking with accuracy because the responses I was hearing from my statements were feeble and their posture was in the process of hunkering down. To give you an idea of how much force my anger had, imagine walking on a city street lined with commercial buildings on a frigid wintery day. As you turn the corner of the block, you get hit with such a force of icy wind that it makes you lose your footing on the snow-covered sidewalk; that is how strong my anger was coming out. I thought the two of us had a committed relationship; but evidently, I was wrong. There was nothing to stop me until I completely unleashed all the anger I had inside of me.      IT WAS SEVERAL HOURS LATER, AS I replayed all the events of the day, before I admitted I had said some hurtful and hateful things to them. I do not know about you; but when I am in the heat of anger, all my senses are focused on unleashing everything stored inside of me. I have very little awareness of sounds around me. All I feel is heat rising off my skin and my radar for sensing any presence around me goes offline. In my head, my words sounded evil to the point I started to cringe when I envisioned how they were reacting to my statements. It is such a primal reaction, this anger inside of me, that I tap into to enhance the energy inside of me to keep up with the intensity. When I finished taking inventory of all the things that I had said to them, I did not know if and how to either rectify or explain it. There was still the breaking of trust and the feelings of hurt and betrayal I was experiencing; I could not come up with a plan that would achieve positive results like the main character was hoping for in this romantic comedy.      AFTER SENDING OUT A HATEFUL PACKAGE TO his girlfriend who he thought was cheating on him, the regret he was experiencing forced Wyatt Trips, played by Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Role Models), to find a way he could intercept the package before it reached its destination. He would have to outsmart the delivery driver somehow. With Christine Taylor (The Craft, The Wedding Singer) as Kimberly Jasney, Reese Witherspoon (Home Again, Water for Elephants) as Ivy Miller, Sarah Silverman (Battle of the Sexes, The Book of Henry) as Turran and Richard Cody (Ivory Tower, Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire) as Raditch; this film was lucky to have Paul and Reese as main characters. Their acting skills helped the weak script limp along to its predictable conclusion. With such a competent cast, this movie would have been better if the writers had played to the actor’s strengths, besides providing scenes that would have surprised the viewer. Instead, there were many scenes that were easy to figure out before their conclusion. The only thing I can say about this picture is it probably will not produce a strong reaction, either way, for the person who is willing to watch it all the way to the end.

1 ¾ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Living in Oblivion

ONCE I WALKED INSIDE THE BUILDING, I was even less convinced I would have a good time. The building was on a commercial street, in the middle of the block. There was no signage out front except for its address and a small sign above the door that said, “THEATER ENTRANCE.” When we opened the front door, we were surprised there was a long hallway in front of us with a string of lights strung all the way down the ceiling to another door. When we got to and opened the 2nddoor, we found a rectangular shaped room with support columns going down the center of it. There was a dresser to one side with its top drawer open and filled with snack bags of pretzels, popcorn and potato chips. A young-looking man was standing behind it. He asked us if we were there to see the play and I said yes. Asking for my last name, he rifled through what looked like a recipe box to retrieve our reserved tickets. From there he directed us to walk thru a black curtain that looked like it had gone through the wash one too many times, to find seats in the theater’s auditorium.      CALLING IT AN AUDITORIUM WAS A bit of a stretch, based on what I was seeing. The area, no bigger than a neighborhood bakery shop, had black painted brick walls. Along one side was a makeshift wooden stage and by stage, I mean it was raised one foot off the floor, looking like a large box. There were metal folding chairs lined up in rows, 6 rows to be exact. I was already uncomfortable knowing I was going to be sitting on an unpadded chair for two hours approximately. Hanging from the ceiling were a row of spotlights that looked like metal cocoons that were in the middle of hatching. The only other thing in the room was another black curtain that was covering a doorway next to the stage. As we took our seats, I remembered the time I was involved in a school play. It was a barebones operation, similar to what I was presently seeing around me. I remembered an argument took place between two of the stagehands, over what color to paint a backdrop. A cast member refused to talk to another cast member, only speaking to them if it was dialog from the script. Up until our opening night, I was not sure we could pull off putting on a production. With me sitting in this odd space with my friends, I could not imagine what was in store for me and would it even be any good. It is funny, I felt the same way as I started to watch this comedic drama.      INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER NICK REVE, PLAYED BY Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman), has one day to film a powerful piece. It seemed as if everyone else around him had their own agenda. With Catherine Keener (Get Out, We Don’t Belong Here) as Nicole Springer, Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns, August: Osage County) as Wolf, Danielle von Zerneck (La Bamba, Dangerous Curves) as Wanda and James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy, Certain Women) as Chad; this film festival winner was a surprise for me. The story was a strong satire about independent filmmaking. Despite Steve’s yelling getting to me after a while, I thought the cast was fun; Catherine was exceptional with her role. The humor was sly, where one had to pay attention to the dialog closely. Now granted, some scenes seemed way over the top in craziness; however, having it all revolve around the making of a movie made it more plausible to me. All I can say about this picture is that it was quirky and funny; and maybe, that is because it reminded me of that time back in school, when we were trying to put on a play.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Idiocracy

WE WERE SITTING AROUND THE DINING room table when his cell phone rang. From where I was sitting, I was able to see the display with the caller’s phone number. The young man had a quizzical look on his face as he studied the number. I took it upon myself to tell him the call was coming from Oklahoma. He looked and asked me how I knew that as he let the call go to voicemail. I told him I knew because of the area code, 405; it was the area code for the Oklahoma City area. He was so surprised by my knowing such a thing that I found it amusing. When he asked me why I knew such a thing, I explained that I have accounts in Oklahoma that I have to call on the phone; so, the area code is something that has stuck in my brain from all the times I have called them. This explanation sparked a curiosity in him that spurred him on to suddenly test me. He asked if I knew any other area codes; I told him I know some states, but not all of them. He needed proof so he unlocked his phone and started looking up area code numbers. Not to toot my own horn, but out of seven area codes he tested me on I knew six of them. He was totally amazed by this; I found the whole thing curious.      ON MY WAY HOME, I STARTED to think about the area code “game.” Was my generation the last one that dialed phone numbers instead of pressing one button on their cell phone? I looked at my ability to remember area codes/phone numbers as a positive statement on my brain’s ability to retain information. For some reason, I feel depending on a device for common functions like simple math or reminders will make my mind soft. I will never forget walking into a bank to cash a check for $19.81 and handing the teller nineteen cents to round up the change on the dollar amount. The teller was perplexed by my actions and had to pull out a calculator to figure out I wanted to get back an even $20.00. Besides thinking how they graduated out of high school, I wondered what they would do if they did not have the use of a calculator. When you think about it; don’t you think it would be a valid discussion to say the same thing about someone who only knew how to tell time in a digital format instead of a clock dial? It scares me to think how future generations will function when they do not have a device to depend on and this comedic, science fiction adventure did nothing to help alleviate my concerns.      WHAT WAS TO BE A ONE YEAR experiment for Private Joe Bauers, played by Luke Wilson (The Family Stone, Old School), turned into a decades long event that left Joe the smartest man on the planet. He did not believe it until he saw for himself. With Maya Rudolph (Sisters, Away We Go) as Rita, Dax Shephard (Employee of the Month, Chips) as Frito, Terry Crews (The Expendables franchise, John Henry) as President Camacho and Anthony “Citric” Campos (Harsh Times, Lopez-TV) as Secretary of Defense; this film festival nominated movie had a script that was filled with satirical bits and sight gags. A good portion of them hit their mark and were amusing to me. However, the script had so much going on with it that I felt at times things were just silly and dragged on too long. The cast was fun to watch, especially Maya and Dax. Ultimately, I felt the story was relevant and, in some ways, important; the writers just chose a fun way to deliver their message. I do not know what I would do if reading becomes something that we let our digital assistants do for us; you just never know.

2 1/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Living Out Loud

THE EXPECTATION IS TO LIVE HAPPILY ever after, but sometimes it is not meant to be. With any of my past relationships, I knew that is what I had always hoped would happen. For me, it was part of my belief system that each of us was put here to find happiness; finding someone you could share your happiness with was an extra bonus. That doesn’t mean one cannot be happy without a significant other; on the contrary, I have always said no one can make you feel a certain way. Each of us control how we choose to feel. I have never been a “love at first sight” type of guy; however, there have been times where I felt an immediate connection. You know, where the conversation makes you forget the time and place, as the two of you volley and share thoughts, feelings and ideas back and forth. I remember a date where we sat in a coffeeshop for hours talking and laughing until we noticed the wait staff was starting to turn the chairs over onto the tables, on the way to closing the place up. I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating: A relationship is when 2 people are walking side by side down a long path that has hills and valleys; sometimes, one has to help pull the other along or push them up. However, no matter where they are walking, they are always side by side.      NOW THAT YOU KNOW MY PHILOSOPHY, you can see why I feel if two people in a committed relationship do not grow together their relationship will never survive. They do not have to be growing at the same rate or same level; but if they are not growing then the relationship and love will go stale and wilt away. This is something I firmly believe. I knew a couple who had been married for several years. As time went on, I became aware one of the two was venturing into new activities; the other one was content with the way things were already going. At some point only one was taking trips with their friends, instead of both going together. I knew something had to be going on with them. Well it was not soon after they wound up breaking up and going their own way. It was certainly not a surprise to those of us who were noticing the changes taking place. I felt bad for the content one because they were shocked when their partner decided to breakup with them. It was like they were lost at sea, drifting aimlessly with no where to moor. To see what I am talking about you might want to see what happens to the main character in this film festival nominee.      HAVING BEEN BLINDSIDED BY HER HUSBAND’S decision to end their marriage, a middle-aged woman would have to find a new life for herself. It would first start in the elevator of her apartment building. With Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Thirteen) as Judith Moore, Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, The War of the Roses) as Pat Francato, Queen Latifah (Hairspray, Bringing Down the House) as Liz Bailey, Martin Donovan (Tenet, Inherent Vice) as Robert Nelson and Richard Schiff (Man of Steel, The West Wing-TV) as Phil Francato; this romantic comedy drama stood out for me with the performances of Danny and Holly. It felt as if they were completely into their characters. There was an even mix of humor and sadness throughout the script, which was a big help in my opinion, because otherwise the plot would have been more generic than it was already. Having known people in the same situation as Judith, I appreciated the journey she took us on as she dealt with her emotions and newly discovered growth.

 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Broken Hearts Gallery

BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SUCH A long time, guests became familiar with the picture frame that I had turned around on my sofa table. The photo in the frame was too painful for me to see after our breakup; it showed a happy couple and it happened to be one of the few photographs where I thought I looked good. We had been a couple for several years before our relationship disintegrated in a horrible fashion. Many of my friends and family asked me why I still kept the framed photo on the table, but I was not able to provide them with a sensible answer; I could not get rid of it, but I did not want to look at it either. The funny thing is no one ever asked me about the painting I had hanging on the wall that was just as painful for me to see. The reason being this painting was bought as a prelude to the two of us moving in together. We both fell in love with the artwork and we decided we wanted it to be the first thing we would buy together for our “home.” I could not part with the painting, despite the pain, because what was depicted in the art piece was a vivid memory I had from my childhood. Luckily or gratefully, I had the painting hanging in a room that I did not go into often. As months passed the shock in seeing the painting became less and less difficult to see.     THE PHOTOGRAPH AND PAINTING WERE not the only items that remained from a past relationship. My house has a variety of things that came out of the love I had for someone. There was the small, stuffed animal I was given with the memo that it would watch over to keep me safe. I recently found a plaque that was done in needlepoint that I had stuffed in a drawer. When I saw it, I immediately was able to remember the place, the occasion and the meal (yes, the food) we ate when I was given the plaque. Ever since I can remember, I always had or designated something that represented everything I experienced with a significant other. It could be a song, something bought, or something made, and I would deem it the repository for all the memories that were created during the time the two of us were together. Imagine my surprise when I watched this romantic comedy and discovered I am not the only one.      DESPITE BEING BLINDSIDED FROM BEING DUMPED by her boyfriend Lucy, played by Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Bad Education), could not get rid of the little mementos she acquired during their time together. The problem was she was running out of room, both physically and emotionally. With Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers, Stranger Things-TV) as Nick, Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Blindspotting) as Max Vora, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Good Boys) as Amanda and Phillipa Soo (Here and Now, Hamilton) as Nadine; the thing that sets this movie apart from others in the genre was the cast and written dialog. Geraldine and Dacre stood out for me; her because of her delivery of lines and him because of his screen presence. The two of them did a wonderful job of acting that felt real to me. The story followed a generic line but there were a couple of times where I was surprised by a twist thrown into the plot. Overall, this was an easy and amusing film to see at the theater. Though if I would have known, I would have come with a variety of items to donate to the gallery or better yet, offered to open a satellite location.

 

2 ½ stars    

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