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Flash Movie Review: Violent Night

LATELY, I HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH several resumes, looking to fill a position at the office. The first thing that will make me discard a candidate is when there are words misspelled. I figure if they cannot take the time to proofread their work, what quality of work will they provide for the department, in turn the company. There was one resume where according to the candidate, they started at their first job before they started high school; they did not catch the error in the start dates they listed. For those that pass the first step in the interview process, I look for stability; would the candidate be a good fit into the department and would they enjoy the position/work. I firmly believe if a person doesn’t like what they are doing at work, then they need to look for a new position either at the company or at a different one. I cannot tell you how many times I am at a store and see at least one employee who looks disengaged or bored. Worse is when you have to deal with an employee who is not happy a/k/a rude. Asking a worker where an item is in the store and they just motion with a head nod and say, “over there,” is rude and shows poor customer service. They obviously do not care about the company that employs them.      I DO REALIZE THE PERSON WHO is employed could actually be a great worker; but they were not the right person for the right job. When I do a face to face interview, I want to learn if the candidate is a visual or audio learner, is a self-starter or prefers being told what to do, along with their ideal work environment. If a person is not capable of multitasking and the job requires it, they would not be a good fit. In turn, they could become frustrated or annoyed and that is not a path to becoming successful. The employees I hire I want to be the best they can be and to be happy. For many of us who work in an office or plant, we sometimes spend more time with our co-workers than with our own families. And speaking of families, I have worked at a couple of family owned businesses and in my experiences they have their own set of unique challenges. Sometimes you get next generation personnel who love their family business and want it to be the best. Other times you get individuals who feel entitled and rest on their family’s name. I think the main character in this film, Santa Claus, is at a crossroads regarding his position in this comedic, action crime movie.      A GROUP OF HIGHLY SKILLED ROBBERS descend on the estate of a wealthy family just when Santa is there to leave presents. With the thieves on Santa’s naughty list, this Santa is going to leave them something more than just a lump of coal. With David Harbour (Black Widow, No Sudden Move) as Santa, John Leguizamo (Summer of Sam, Moulin Rouge!) as Scrooge, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, American History X) as Gertrude, Alex Hassell (Suburbicon, The Tragedy of Macbeth) as Jason and Alexis Louder (Copshop, The Tomorrow War) as Linda; this was a fun, twisted spin on the Santa Claus character. David was the standout of the cast, with John Leguizamo close behind him. The story is a mix of Bad Santa, Home Alone, and Krampus in a way, but had some differences too. Several characters were close to cartoonish, with some delivering cheesy lines. I liked the sweetness factor in the script and appreciated how the writers mixed those scenes into the violent ones. Make no mistake, there is a lot of blood and violence on display in this picture; however, the craziness factor acts like a salve to smooth out the contrasts. And to tell you the truth, I think this Santa would be fun to host someday.                                                   

3 stars  

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Flash Movie Review: A Man Called Otto

EVERYONE MOURNS A LOSS IN THEIR own way, is something I learned after I became an adult. I was twelve years old when I experienced for the first time the loss of a person. When I heard the news about their death, I went over to the piano and started playing songs I thought the deceased person would like, while tears streamed down my face. It is a part of life, but the older I got the more exposed I became to experiencing the sense of loss; the loss of a loved one, a pet, a love relationship. Seeing other people’s reactions to a breakup or death, made me realize how personal these situations were for the individuals. I could not take their pain away; however, I could offer comfort in anyway that they saw fit. I just could not tell the mourning person how to feel, because I strongly believe no human has the right to tell another how to feel. There was a funeral I attended where the son was telling his mother how she should feel over the death of her brother. I was within earshot and was taken aback by the son’s “counseling.” It quickly became apparent to me the son strongly disliked his mother’s brother, his uncle. And the fact he was talking out loud like that in front of the mourners was appalling. Granted, I was not privy to the son’s relationship with the uncle; but if it was in such a poor state, the son could have chosen to not attend in my opinion.      I HOPE WHAT I AM ABOUT to say is not controversial; but from my experiences, I do not know if I would try to dissuade an individual from wanting to join their deceased person. Just last week, I was told a lovely story about a daughter who had lost their mother. The daughter told me her parents were married when they were both nineteen years old. Except for a hospital stay, they had been together every day of their lives. They loved each other deeply and loved being together. She told me when her father died ten months ago, her mother lost interest in living essentially. She was heartbroken to the point where she lost interest in many things. Having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she talked about her hopes for joining her deceased husband. As the holiday’s were looming at the end of the year, she stopped eating and drinking. The daughter knew she was hardly eating but did not know the extent. After the start of winter, the mother caught a virus and quickly died. Though the daughter was sad, she found comfort believing her mother was finally back with her father. Love is a powerful force and one can see it in this comedic drama.      WITHOUT THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE by his side Otto Anderson, played by Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan), became a grumpy old man, who wanted everyone to follow the rules. When a new family moved across the street from him, Otto’s world would be tested in more than one way. With relative newcomer Mack Bayda as Malcolm, Cameron Britton (Stitchers-TV, The Umbrella Academy-TV) as Jimmy, Mariana Trevino (Overboard, Perfect Strangers) as Marisol and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Tommy; it was intriguing to see Tom play a curmudgeon. I thought the story was well executed and told. There was a level of predictability which, in my case, may have been due to the fact I saw the original movie this film was based on. Regardless, there were both fun and sad moments in this picture helped by the wonderful pairing of actors. The character Marisol was terrific and a perfect counterpoint to Tom’s character. This was an enjoyable film that had heartwarming elements in it.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review; Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I hold teachers in high regard. What they provide is invaluable and they are not compensated enough for it. No disrespect to the professional sporting world, but the pay scale is quite lopsided when you compare a teacher’s salary to a pitcher or basketball player. A teacher is helping our children to become functioning, self-sufficient, independent adults. A sports figure is entertaining us. Despite what I just said, I know there are some teachers who graduate at the top of their class and there are some who graduate at the bottom of their class. The same with any profession; it can be anyone from a doctor to an accountant. I have had some remarkable teachers in my life; ones who pushed me harder to excel in the fields of my interest. However, I remember the instructors, who even back then, I knew were not very good. There was one teacher who taught by reading out of our textbook in a monotone voice. They did not elaborate on anything, nor did they encourage discussion of a topic. It was a boring class, with many of the students not paying attention to them. That class seemed to be the longest one of the day, though it was the same amount of time as all the other classes.      COMPARED TO THE TIME I WENT to school; I think teachers have a harder time teaching these days. I spent an evening with a teacher who shared their experiences in the classroom. At their school, all teachers must go through an active shooter training class. Most if not all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for the students because there is never enough money in the school budget to get supplies. Class sizes are larger, where children with learning disabilities are placed in the classroom with no consideration to getting help for the child; it is up to the teacher to try to teach the general student body at the same time as those with some type of disability. The teacher I was talking to told me about a student in their class who they believe is a genius. Being a 2nd grade student, the child’s test scores show they are performing at the level of a sophomore in high school. I asked if the school district is aware of the child’s abilities, and they said yes; but they have not provided any help or tools to help the child excel and adapt to their environment. Learning falls on the teacher, but how can they incorporate a super advanced student into the general mix of the classroom.? If interested, this comedic family drama will show you what I have been talking about to the extreme.      HAVING THE WORST PARENTS IN the world, a little girl is hopeful she will finally get an education when her parents decide to enroll her in a school. Her parents would start to look good right after the little girl met the headmistress. With Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home, Darklands-TV) as Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson (Cruella; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) as Agatha Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, The Woman King) as Miss Honey, Stephen Graham (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Mr. Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, W.E.) as Mrs. Wormwood; this adaptation of the staged musical production took the essence of the characters and accentuated them to become standout performers. Alisha and Emma were incredible; I could not take my eyes off them. The rest of the cast was equally as good. The direction was precise and magical at times as it worked to create the ideal version of Roald Dahl’s story. The music and songs provided comic relief at times, as well as the sharp passages of dialog. This was such a fun movie watching experience, that brought me back to a less complicated time, where I was rooting all the way for Matilda.            

3 1/4 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

THOUGH MY STUDIES DID NOT NECESSARILY cover the psychological makeup of actors, I have seen enough live theater performances to tell when the cast members are enjoying themselves. I do not know if I can explain it properly, but there is a feeling in the air that is like carbonated liquids, with a touch of electricity that sparks the performance. Recently, I was in New York City and attended a couple of Broadway shows. One of the theater productions was a big, old-fashioned musical with a large cast of actors and dancers. The curtain rose and within five minutes the actors went into a big musical number. The male lead was the last one to join in; but once they did, the rest of the performers kicked it up a notch to match the lead’s energy level. Later, the same thing happened when the female lead had her first big singing and dance number. There was so much activity taking place on stage, I did not know where to look first. But no matter who I was focusing on, everyone was vibrant, filled with high energy. I could feel that energy coming out into the auditorium. Do you know those times when you are standing somewhere and can tell when someone has come up behind you? It is in that same vein, but to the umpteenth power of intensity, where I can feel the actors’ joy.      GRANTED, A LIVE PERFORMANCE IS DIFFERENT than watching it on film; however, there are times when I am sure the actors are having a great time filming their story. An example that comes to mind are the Marvel superhero films. For me, there is an enthusiasm that comes across the screen, just like the screen presence comes across from an actor. There is a film I will be reviewing shortly, with Emma Thompson, where the energy was infectious coming off the cast. It added an extra layer of enjoyment in my viewing of the picture. Another way of looking at this is to think about a party you have attended. When everyone is experiencing the same type of fun and joy, the party is always more memorable; or at least remembered fondly. When there are guests at a party that are not experiencing the event in the same way, there is a disconnect. I have been to a couple of small events where there was a guest who was not participating in conversation and laughter. It puts a damper on everyone’s experience, in my opinion. Luckily that doesn’t happen in this dramatic crime comedy sequel.      LONG TIME FRIENDS MEET AT ONE of their friend’s estates on a Greek island for vacation. Added to the list of guests is the world’s greatest detective which was fortuitous because there was going to be a murder. With Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, No Time to Die) as Benoit Blanc, Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) as Miles Bron, Kate Hudson (Fool’s Gold, Almost Famous) as Birdie Jay, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, My Spy) as Duke Cody and Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) as Andi Brand; this movie was a fun viewing experience. The cast was well chosen and not only blended well together but were all deeply into their characters. The script was not as sharp as the first film and at times seemed to be veering off subject; however, the distinct different characters involved smoothed over the rough patches. There were places where I felt this picture was trying to be an Agatha Christie story, except going a more outrageous route. The standouts for me were Janelle and Dave; I felt they had the strongest presence on screen. Still, even with its flaws this was a decent addition to this budding film franchise.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Slumberland

I HAVE BEEN MANY THINGS IN my lifetime. I was a music DJ, packing the clubs where I played to capacity. My favorite places were the ones that had the best light shows. One club had lasers and mirrors placed around the dance floor in such a way that when the fog machine was in use, it looked like there were waves at high tide above the patrons’ heads. Another time I was a double agent, following suspects and keeping track of their whereabouts. There were times when I would get into an altercation with a foreign agent, where I had to rely on my incredible martial arts skills to subdue them. My time as an agent did not last long because I wanted to be an actor. My talent was having a face that could show intense emotions, from piercing hot anger to heartbreaking sadness; I was positive I would get an Academy Award one day, for one of my performances. One of my earliest careers was being a religious singer, which I was going to take up after I retired from being a window washer. All these jobs were things I used to daydream about when I was quite young. Though I never pursued them in real life, in my daydreams I was the best at each one of them.      MY YEARS OF DAYDREAMING DURING MY YOUTH (and presently from time to time), led me to explore the science of dreams when I was attending college. A couple of things I still remember from those years is that the main character in our dreams is usually us and when you wake up in the middle of a dream, if you ponder what the outcome would have been, you will be less tired through the day. There was a short period of time where I was experiencing the same type of dream over and over. I was being chased by an entity that was determined to kill me. I would wake up with a start each time, not sure if the dream was real and if there was someone in my house; it was awful. Because I never could see who was chasing me in the dream, I had a difficult time trying to make sense of the images. However, once I came to an understanding of what the dream might have meant, it stopped replaying during my sleep. To this day, I am still fascinated with dreams, both mine and the ones that are told to me. So, when I heard about this movie, I wanted to view it and see what kind of dreams other people experience.      A YOUNG GIRL, WHO RECENTLY LOST her father, finds a hidden treasure map. It was not your typical map; it was a map to one’s dreams. With Jason Momoa (Dune, Aquaman) as Flip, Marlow Barkley (Spirited, Single Parents-TV) as Nemo, Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, The Program) as Philip, Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Manchester by the Sea) as Peter, and Weruche Opia (When Love Happens Again, The Bad Education Movie) as Agent Green; this adventure comedy, family fantasy was a visual treat; it was very creative and colorful. Add in Jason tackling an out of character role from his previous stints and doing it quite well, this was a fun film to watch. The script was on the light side for the most part, but the idea for it was solid. I would have preferred more depth for the characters and bigger surprises, along with a stronger buildup of tension; however, within all the themes, there were a few things that kept me interested. All in all, this was an easy film to sit back and watch; plus, the most important part I am guessing was the fact it did not put me to sleep.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Menu

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I wanted to see what was so special about some of the finer restaurants in the city. One of the first places I made reservations at was the French restaurant, Maxim’s De Paris. I cannot remember anyone ever mentioning that name to me except in the movies. If memory serves me correctly, it was in the musical movie Gigi. The other reason I wanted to book this place was because periodically the city newspapers would mention a visiting celebrity who had dined at the famous restaurant. That was enough reason for me to want to go see the place myself. I remember Maxim’s was located on the lower level of a hotel. The décor was art nouveau with red velvet chairs, spiral black metal railings and curved archways. Lining the sides of the rooms were tall, curved booths of black leather that formed a scallop design down the length of the walls. I remember we had 3 people taking care of us: a waiter, a server and a busboy. The waiter unfolded our napkins and placed them on our laps; between every course he scrapped crumbs off the tablecloth with a metal looking object he kept in his pants pocket. The food was delicious, I remember; however, I did not see any celebrities that night.      MY CURIOUSITY OF FANCY RESTAURANTS DID not last long. It was depleting my funds and more times than not; I did not care for the food. The only time I felt full was when the restaurant served a basket of breads or dinner rolls. I am a visual and texture eater which means for me if a dish doesn’t look good then I will not be touching it. Also, I am not fond of things sitting in liquid or having a gelatinous texture. There were some restaurants we visited that tried to be creative with their food items. Unless it was in the dessert category, I generally did not like any of the food; if I cannot recognize it then I don’t want to stick it in my mouth. The other issue I had with some of the restaurants was the food portions; they were too damn small, in my opinion. What annoyed me during the duration of my eating at fancy restaurants was the fact I never saw a celebrity at any of the places, not even waiting outside the place for their limo. Based on my experiences at these fancy restaurants, there is no way I would want to have been a guest at the food establishment in this comedy, horror thriller.      A YOUNG COUPLE JOINED A SMALL group of dinner guests to experience everything at a renowned chef’s remote island restaurant. There were going to be plenty of surprises for the guests throughout the meal. With Ralph Fiennes (The King’s Man, The Dig) as Chef Slowik, Anya Taylor-Joy (The Northman, The New Mutants) as Margot, Nicholas Hoult (Those Who Wish Us Dead, Warm Bodies) as Tyler, Hong Chau (Downsizing, Homecoming-TV) as Elsa and Janet McTeer (Me Before You, Albert Nobbs) as Lillian; this film is a very dark comedy. Out of the cast, Anya was the standout for me. She has a way of commanding the screen that made her character the strongest. The script was interesting in the way it slowly revealed bits of the story. I will say there were a few scenes that seemed too far-fetched; however, they started to make sense when I thought of them more as a satire. I will say, I did not like the ending and felt it was too abrupt and somewhat of a cop-out. If it was not for the cast, I might have had a harder time watching this film. The food shown did not interest me; but if there was a turkey club sandwich with no mayo and burnt bacon served, that would have caught my attention.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Good House

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT DID NOT happen overnight, but it got to the point where I always checked his eyes whenever we were together. We had grown up together and were part of a group of friends who used to hang out around the neighborhood. He was funny and had a knack for doing vocal impersonations of several celebrities. I enjoyed spending time with him because he was easy going and always good for a laugh. In our group of friends there were a few who liked to drink and get high from time to time. He was one of them. I did not have an issue with any of them indulging, except if they got to the point where they were falling down drunk or high. Since I did not like the taste of alcohol nor had any interest in getting high, I was always the designated driver. It did not bother me except the one and only time when one friend could not get out of the car fast enough before “tossing his cookies.” After that episode, I made it clear to all of them if they wanted a ride home, they had to make sure nothing ever happened in the car while riding in it. If they were feeling sick, they would need to find a different mode of transportation.      MY FRIEND STARTED TO ENJOY GETTING high more often, even when he was by himself. It was weird, he was able to function most of the time; however, there were times where he would fall into a fit of laughter over the most random things. Having a fun personality to begin with, he only got more animated when high. There were times where he was highly amusing and entertaining. Yet, there were other times when he would get quiet and introverted, preferring to sit and simply stare out into “space.” As his usage increased, I began to wonder what his performance was like at work. I could not imagine that his bosses would not have known, but who knows? I was concerned that he might lose his job, then what would he do? As time went on it seemed every time I saw him, he was always stoned/high. It was becoming a challenge for me because I had no idea how much he was retaining from our conversations. I would like to say I started to pull back from our get togethers, but I do not honestly know if it was more him than me. We still have contact from time to time, usually in a group setting. Seeing the direction his life went, both career wise and personal, I must wonder how much the drugs and alcohol changed the trajectory of his life.      BEING A REALTOR IN THE AREA she grew up in had its advantages; she knew most of the properties and the people. However, in turn, the buyers knew much about her as well. Things did not always go as planned for her. With Sigourney Weaver (The Assignment, Gorillas in the Mist) as Hildy Good, Kevin Kline (Ricki and the Flash, My Old Lady) as Frank Getchell, Morena Baccarin (Deadpool franchise, Ode to Joy) as Rebecca McAllister, Rob Delaney (The School for Good and Evil, Deadpool 2) as Peter Newbold and David Rasche (United 93, Burn After Reading) as Scott Good; this comedic drama allowed the reuniting of Sigourney and Kevin and it was magic watching them play off of each other. The acting was truly wonderful. It carried the story over the clunky parts of the script. I remained engaged throughout the movie, marveling at Sigourney’s superb set of acting skills. There was a mix of amusing scenes that were appropriately placed among the more emotional ones. This was an entertaining movie watching experience that provided a slice of life from the New England area.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

I CANNOT REMEMBER HOW WE STARTED out as friends, but I knew it was prior to the third grade and we quickly became best friends. Because we always sat together at various school events, when our parents were in attendance, they became acquainted with each other and soon after were friends as well. Many a time, I would sleep over at their house on the weekends, more so than he at mine because they had more room. He had an older brother that I did not see much of, though I do not know why. What I do remember about him was that he was always getting in trouble, both at school and home. We both were into science fiction stories whether it was books, comic books or movies. Also, each of us had a large collection of plastic army men; we would have some great battles across our living room floors. I still remember I had a portable missile launcher that would take out a group of his soldiers on the carpeted battlefield. The problem was that it only had two missiles. Pretty much, we had the same interests and likes; the only difference between us was he was taller and more athletic. He wound up always being the pitcher anytime we played baseball in our gym class.      WITH HIS SUCCESSES AT DIFFERENCE SPORTS activities, he was becoming friends with a bunch of boys I had little contact with during class. He did not have the same amount of time to hang out with me and as the school year progressed, we started to drift apart. I was not athletic at all and had no interest in playing any sporting games. Looking back, I can say I felt hurt; however, I realized he was not doing it on purpose. He just did not have the same amount of time to spend with me. As we entered our final year of elementary school, I had befriended a new student and we soon became good friends. We both loved reading and could talk about books almost anytime. In fact, during the summer months when we were off from school, we would hang out at the library. With it being air conditioned and a couple of doors down from the local fast-food restaurant, we could spend most of the day at the library. As the time towards graduation approached, my previous friend and I had zero contact between us. It was not like we had a fight or something, we had simply drifted apart; nothing on the scale of what happened to the two friends in this comedic drama.      AFTER BEING FRIENDS FOR SO LONG, it was hard for Padraic Suilleabhain, played by Colin Farrell (The Batman, Seven Psychopaths), to believe his friend when he said he no longer wanted to be friends with him. It would take some extreme measures for Padraic to believe him. With Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, In Bruges) as Colm Doherty, Kerry Condon (Bad Samaritan, Better Call Saul-TV) as Siobhan Suilleabhain, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Green Knight) as Dominic Kearney and Gary Lydon (War Horse, The Clinic-TV) as Peadar Kearney; the main draw for this film was the cast, especially Colin and Brendan. The other draw was the outdoor scenes because they were stunning. Set on an island off the coast from Ireland, the movie was slow going for me. There is not much action until later; however, what kept my interest were the 2 things I mentioned before, the cast and outdoor scenery. At the last quarter of the movie, there were scenes that made me wonder if there was more of a philosophical bent to the script. If there was, it went over me since I was focused on whether the movie was entertaining enough for the general public. If one is into acting and scenery, then this would be an easy watch for them. I will say the writers did take an unusual direction on the dissolvement of a friendship. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood being shown.                               

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: A Christmas Story Christmas

EVERY YEAR AROUND THIS TIME has always been special to me. First, my favorite holiday takes place this month, Thanksgiving. The food that is served for this holiday has always been special to me. Family recipes, some tweaked a bit depending on who would be there, would be on display offering multiple options of every course. And there was something about the food that gave me a sense of comfort, safety and love. I cannot describe it exactly, but there was nothing I did not like on the table except for that icky green bean casserole a relative insisted on bringing to the dinner. The other thing that made this time special was the yearly airing of the movie, The Wizard of Oz on television. As a little kid, I loved that movie. Every year when it was going to be shown on TV, the family would get together. The kids would settle down on the living room floor; some would have blankets; others would have pillows. The adults who wanted to see the film would have brought in extra chairs with them so every aunt and uncle would have a place to sit. One of the adults would check on us kids to see if we wanted anything to eat; however, depending on whose house we were all at, some relatives would not allow any food in their living room or what we would call it, “the front room.”      JUST THINKING OF THAT TIME BACK then always puts me in a good mood. There are so many memories associated with that time we all got together to eat around the table and watch The Wizard of Oz. I remember as an adult watching the different versions/sequels that came out based on the original Oz film and I must tell you, none of them provided that warm fuzzy feeling that the first film did for me as a child. My amazement when a relative told me the reason the movie started out in black and white then went to color, when Dorothy opened the door after the tornado dropped the house down, was because color film was invented after the studio began shooting the movie. Whether that is true or not doesn’t matter to me because it is a deep-rooted memory of me being amazed at the transformation from the grey Kansas landscape to the colorful Oz. I think it is terrific when a movie can trigger a fond memory in us; I wonder how many of you will experience this when you watch this sequel to a holiday classic.      WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT HOLIDAY COMING up, an adult Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley (The Break-Up, Sherman Oaks-TV), wants his kids to experience the magic of Christmas like he did when he was a kid. It would include a road trip back to his childhood home in Indiana. With Erinn Hayes (The Goldbergs-TV, Interior Night) as Sandy Parker, River Droshce (Miracle Workers-TV, Little Heroes: Mighty Missions-TV) as Mark, relative newcomer Julianna Layne as Julie and Julie Hagerty (Instant Family, Airplane franchise) as Mrs. Parker; this family comedy blended in situations from the original film with the updated versions. I will point out that the ending credits had side by side matching scenes, which were fun to watch. Because I saw the original film once a long time ago, I felt there were some things that I was missing in this picture. The beginning started out slow for me, but then found its footing. Some of the scenes were predictable, yet others had a ring of familiarity for me. The fact that this movie was created to be a wholesome, fun family watching experience I feel those who have fond memories of the original film will enjoy this new one more. Either way, I am glad I could watch it and remember my version of a happy holiday celebration.

2 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

I AM NOT ADVOCATING TO THROW caution to the wind, but within reason to allow yourself to experience at least one indulgence. Since I was a little boy, I have loved and always wanted a particular European sports car. Now I know chances are I will never be able to afford to buy one, but I still dream about it. Maybe I can splurge at some point and rent it while on vacation. From time to time, an article of clothing or a small electronic device has caught my attention. If it grabs a strong hold on me, I will obsess over it to the point where I feel everything would work out in my life if I just had that item. There was a time, years ago, where I would act on these compulsions and immediately buy it on a charge card, whether I could afford it or not. Just having that thing brought me immense joy and it was something I did not expect anyone else to understand. For example, getting a sweater that I thought was so cool looking gave me such pleasure because, in my mind, I thought I would look great in it. Not having a substantial level of high esteem, this was my way to make myself feel better. I think that is one of the reasons it is hard for me to get rid of clothes; I do not want to throw away the magic that article of clothing provided me.      WITH MATURITY, I LEARNED TO CONTROL my habit for finding happiness in material things. Not that it was necessarily a negative thing, it needed to have a coating of reason with it. While I was still living at home, I decided I wanted to have a house I could call my own. One thing you can say about me is I have an incredibly strong sense of determination. If there is something I want, I will laser focus on it and do whatever I need to do to make it a reality. For several years, I took on extra hours, worked overtime and saved every penny I could so that I would be able to put a healthy down payment on whatever house I found. Sure, I did not accept every invite to go out to dinner or a show; but sometimes I would make alternate plans to meet for lunch or just to hang out which would cost less money. My plan worked and it was well worth doing because I was able to fulfill my dream of having my own home. This is one of the reasons why I feel indulging oneself within a reasonable limit can be a positive thing. There is a wonderful example of it you can see in this lovely comedic drama.      SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME A Christian Dior dress was all cleaning woman Ada Harris, played by Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year) needed to fall in love with it. She would find a way someday to own her very own haute couture Dior dress. With Isabelle Huppert (About Joan, Greta) as Claudine Colbert, Lambert Wilson (The Matrix franchise, Timeline) as Marquis de Chassagne, Alba Baptista (Patrick, Warrior Nun-TV) as Natasha and Lucas Bravo (Ticket to Paradise, Emily in Paris-TV) as Andre Fauvel; this movie was a treasure. Set in the city of London during the 1950s, Lesley was magnificent as Ada; she drove the story beyond the predictable. The pacing was perfect throughout every scene; I felt I was transported back in time. And the ultimate compliment belongs to the writers; their story brought me into a situation that I initially thought was impossible. Yet, with their words, I soon was rooting for everyone in the cast. If there were more films out of this caliber, I would indulge my love of movies by going to the theater more often.

3 ½ stars 

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