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Flash Movie Review: Kate

THE PHOTO WAS FORWARDED TO ME and I immediately had memories flood my brain as soon as I saw it. I had not thought about that trip in years; no, actually decades, but remembered the who, what and where of the trip. I am always amazed at the workings of the mind. How these stored memories suddenly appear in full force, like a spotlight, into one’s consciousness; it is fascinating. From that one photo, I was able to remember the place I stayed at, the time of year and the various sights I visited while there. Truthfully, if I had not seen that one photo I do not know if I would have ever recalled that vacation. And that is the other aspect of stirred memories I enjoy experiencing; that random trigger that sets off the memory like a firecracker. For example, just recently I had a lunch date with a few family members. I had found this new food item at the store and thought the relatives would enjoy trying them. Buying a few different flavors, I put them out on the dining room table when the meal was ready. As the group of people inspected the items, I brought out drinking glasses for them to give the products a try. One family member kept taking a taste from their drink. When I asked what they thought of it, they said the taste is reminding them of a different time when they were back in college drinking a mixed alcoholic beverage out of a plastic cup. How random it was; I enjoyed hearing how a past memory got ignited from a new type of drink.      JUST AS I AM FASCINATED WITH the way memories suddenly appear from random stimuli, I am also curious how some memories always stay close to the surface to steer the actions of an individual.  Many of us might have experienced buying a car that turned out to be a complete lemon. I know I did. There was a car I had that would periodically just shut off while I was driving it. I remember one time it decided to turn off in the middle of a busy intersection. There was nothing I could do because the car would not turn over. I go so fed up, I grabbed my stuff, got out, locked the car doors and walked over to the curb to call a tow service. For the next few weeks while I looked for a car, I rode a bicycle wherever I had to go. From that time, I have never bothered looking at that car manufacturer’s products when I needed to buy a car. Some memories just never fade away, like the one the main character kept having in this action, crime adventure.      AFTER AN ASSIGNMENT GETS BOTCHED UP, a well-honed assassin discovers she has a short time to live before she dies. She only has one thing on her mind. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Birds of Prey, 10 Cloverfield Lane) as Kate, Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games franchise, Out of the Furnace) as Varrick, relative newcomer Miku Patricia Martineau as Ani, Tadanobu Asano (Thor franchise, Battleship) as Renji and Jun Kunimura (Kill Bill franchise, The Naked Director-TV) as Kijima; this story was a mix of previous film stories I have seen. There seems to be a recent smattering of movies with female killers. I have enjoyed seeing them and in fact, this film reminded me of a cross between John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Crank. Kate did an admirable job of acting and fighting in this role; however, the script was generic, without much depth and character development. There was a stylized flair in the look of this picture, but it did not have that extra punch, so to speak, to make this a great movie. The bottom line here is I might remember Mary Elizabeth’s performance, but I doubt I will remember this movie after a short time.

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: No Sudden Move

I TRIED MY HARDEST, BUT I could not figure out what the couple next to me was seeing. The man was telling the woman to look at the paint strokes in the painting and notice how they are pointing up to the god figure. I did not want them to know I was listening in to their conversation; but I honestly was trying to figure out what the guy was seeing because I could not find any type of god figure in the artwork. I had to wonder if the woman was able to make out what the man was talking about because most of the time, she simply nodded her head and said, “uh-huh” or “ah.” The painting was an abstract with bold sweeps of color all over the canvas. The man continued with his explanation of the painting, saying the artist was making some type of statement against the elitists. I had no idea what he was talking about and got bored with listening to him carry on about the art. I happened to be roaming through the art museum after seeing their new exhibit and stopped at this painting because I liked the way the colors blended into each other.     WHEN I AM LOOKING AT AN art piece, I am not trying to figure out what the artist was trying to do or say with it. I am simply enjoying the feelings that the piece evokes in me. It may be the landscape in a painting or a chiseled arm in a sculpture or the subject’s face in a photograph; I stop to look at the art piece that moves me in some way. Maybe it is due to my brain’s wiring, but I have never been one to try and figure out creative things. Mechanical things are a different story; I like to know how a device or machine works. But books and art are a whole different thing for me. They are more personal. I feel everyone can have a different reaction to a piece of art or a book. It goes along with what I have always said; no one has the right to tell another person how to feel. I may be fond of a particular symphony, but my friend may hate it and that is perfectly fine. The reason I like science fiction films is because they are pure escapism for me; yet, I have a friend who asks me (in his words) why I watch that crap. He doesn’t like it, I am okay with it; but, when I try to tell him why I like them, he cannot understand it. I felt like him after I watched this well received motion picture.      WHEN AN EASY JOB GOES WRONG, a group of criminals must figure out what happened and who caused the situation they were in. With Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead, Hotel Rwanda) as Curt Goynes, Benicio Del Toro (A Perfect Day, The Usual Suspects) as Ronald Russo, David Harbour (Black Widow, Hellboy) as Matt Wertz, Jon Hamm (Richard Jewel, Lucy in the Sky) as Joe Finney and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Gimme Shelter) as Doug Jones; this dramatic crime mystery was great to look at. The sets and costumes were spot on while the cast did an amazing job with their roles. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), the story was interesting, but I thought the script was poorly written. I became confused several times and by the last part of the movie, I felt like I was missing, or something was missing in the movie for me. An uneven feeling was what remained for me after watching this picture. There were times I enjoyed watching it, but other times I was sort of blah about it. I am just telling you how I felt about it; maybe there is something more in it for you.

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: I Am All Girls

I WAS MEETING THEIR BEST FRIEND for the first time after hearing so much about her. They had known each other since high school and by the time they finished college, they decided to move in together. With that much history between them, I knew I was going to be judged since I was the new person entering their inner circle. For my first impressions, I found her sweet with a good sense of humor. Friends for a long time tend to have a shorthand to their conversations and these two were no exception. It was not like inside jokes; instead, I think it was the fact they had so many shared memories. As for myself, I think I gave her a good impression. We both had a love for animals; she had 2 cats, showing me several photos of them. Music was another common denominator; however, her knowledge of music trivia was off the charts. I paled in comparison. In fact, I discovered the two of them frequently went to several local food/drinking establishments to participate in their music trivia nights. The two of them evidently had a reputation in the area for being music geniuses. From our first meeting, I knew I would be seeing her quite often. It was not until we soon went out to dinner where I saw something that made me uncomfortable.      WE DECIDED TO GO OUT FOR Chinese food; they wanted to take me to one of their favorite restaurants. Throughout the course of the meal, I realized she had passive aggressive tendencies. She told us a story or to be more precise, she directed her comments to her friend, about one of her cat’s health issues. The doctor had given her a couple of options for treatment; one would cost less but take more time, the other would be more money with a quicker recovery time. She expressed concerns about how her current financial situation would barely cover the cheaper treatment. With her upcoming trip, she was afraid to leave her cat if he was not fully recovered. I sat there and listened to the things she said, I did not have any solutions. However, my friend offered to lend her the money needed for the quicker treatment. It dawned on me she was being manipulative. The more I was around her, the more I saw passive aggressive ways. She could not just come out and ask for a favor; she resorted to manipulating everyone. My opinion of her dropped significantly. As time went on, I tried to enlighten my friend, but they were not quite believing me. It is frustrating to know something is true, but a person is not convinced of it. That frustration is like the one the detective was experiencing in this dramatic, crime thriller.      WHAT LOOKED LIKE A STRING OF prominent killings turned out to be a set of clues to a horrific crime taking place. With Erica Wessels (Primeval, The Harvesters) as Jodie Snyman, Hlubi Mboya (Dora’s Peace, Hector and the Search for Happiness) as Ntombizonke Bapai, newcomer Leshego Molokwane as young Ntombi, Deon Lotz (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Beauty) as FJ Nolte and Mothusi Magano (Hotel Rwanda, The Lab-TV) as Captain George Mululeki; the story in this mystery was inspired by true events. The reality that such a thing still is taking place in the world, gave this movie added importance. I thought the acting was good, but the script was average. Though there were intense moments, I felt the story could have gone deeper into the characters. The jumping between time periods took away from the film’s flow; but at least they provided important, relevant information. Despite the flaws in this movie, the story was gripping enough to fully keep my attention. 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: The Silencing

I HAD NOTHING TO OFFER FOR advice except to tell her she would have to let go. It was easy to say but I knew it was a hard thing to do because I had been in the same situation as her. My friend was upset because a close friend of hers had suddenly stopped talking to her. I asked her if they had gotten into an argument or disagreement, but she said not at all as far as she knew. One day they were talking on the phone like they normally have done and then one day her friend stopped returning those phone calls. My friend texted her and when that did not produce any results, she emailed her to ask if she had done something to hurt her feelings. Her requests were met with dead silence. Now she knew her friend had not died because her work phone was still accepting voice messages and her recorded greeting was being updated every day with the new date. My friend said she would rather have been told off or called names or given any type of acknowledgment, that it would have been better than not giving a reason for the silent treatment. I agreed with her; I had experienced it with someone I had been seeing.     WE HAD BEEN DATING FOR 3-4 months. I remember our last date was when I was invited to meet them at their place of business. They took me around to introduce me to their co-workers. A week later my calls and texts were going unanswered. I replayed in my mind the visit to their workplace, to see if there was something I said or did that triggered one of the co-workers to say something negative about me. Nothing came to mind, I thought I was cordial and pleasant. It was frustrating not to get a reason why our relationship was ending. In the past whenever I was breaking up with someone, I always made it a point to tell them face to face, or at least tell them on the telephone. To not give a reason and simply ignore the person is something I consider rude and, in some instances, cowardly. I have always told my friends I would rather have someone call me names to my face or tell me they can’t stand something I do than simply say nothing and walk away. Dealing with the unknown is harder than dealing with the reality of a situation. And I know everyone handles such a thing differently. The main character in this action, crime thriller had his own way of dealing with the unknown.      WITH HIS PROPERTY UNDER CAMERA SURVEILLANCE, a hunter spots a trespasser. Going out to check it would begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse. With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Gods of Egypt, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rayburn, Caleb Ellsworth-Clark (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, Wynonna Earp-TV) as taller brother, Josh Cruddas (Anything for Jackson, Business Ethics) as shorter brother, Annabelle Wallis (Tag, Annabelle franchise) as Gustafson and Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep, Strike One) as Blackhawk; this movie’s story started with a good idea, albeit not quite original. There were elements to this film that I liked; however, there really was nothing new presented within it. The cast was okay though Nikolaj was the only one who stood out for me. My overall impression of this picture was that it was done on the cheap. I honestly cannot imagine it ever opening at a movie theater; it came across as something I would have found on TV while channel surfing late at night. The characters were never properly developed and the intensity was not strong enough in my opinion. Chances are some viewers may get a slight thrill out of a couple of scenes; but overall, this movie will quickly fade from your thoughts afterwards.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Woman in the Window

OUTSIDE OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW, I was able to see buildings from four blocks away. We lived on a high third floor of an apartment building. The reason I say “high” was due to the first-floor entrance and lobby was not considered a separate floor. You would have to walk up a full flight of stairs from the lobby to reach what was considered the first floor of apartments. We were the only apartment building on our side of the block; there were however 2 others that were on the opposite side of our square city block. I had an unobstructed view, starting with a row of residential houses and their backyards. During the warmer months, I considered myself the silent guest who watched birthday parties and barbeques that took place in the neighbors’ backyards. As a little boy, I made a mental note on the different games party guests played at birthday parties. Part of the reason was me trying to figure out what were the popular games and how to play them, then figure out what were the best ways to try and win at them. During the winter months, only when the backyards were empty; I would see how far I could throw snowballs from out back porch.      AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OR SO A developer bought up the row of houses from their owners and built a large four storied apartment building. I was crushed as I watched the building being built, even though I was fascinated by the workmen mixing cement and laying brick. My view was going to be obstructed by a big white rectangular building. After construction was done and landscaping put in, the apartments were quickly rented out. With rows of new windows facing our apartment, I quickly got over my sadness for my lost view. Suddenly, I had multiple people living next door to me, living their daily lives. I felt I was getting a glimpse into a person’s life when I saw one apartment dweller exercising in their living room. Another neighbor cooked volumes of food everyday for her family. I could not get over the amount of pots and pans she used in her meal preparations. Before you get to thinking that I was getting obsessed with watching my neighbors, I have to explain there was little chance to avoid them because the apartments were in clear view whenever I was sitting at the dining room table or when I was watching television. Our TV set had a bank of windows behind it; so, while watching TV, I would see movement taking place in my field of vision. Yes, it was a distraction. I am just grateful I never saw the things the main character saw in this dramatic, crime mystery.      HAVING NUMBED HERSELF THE PAST SEVERAL months with pills and alcohol; the reclusive homeowner Anna Fox, played by Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy, Nocturnal Animals), saw something outside of her window that forced her to take some kind of action. With Fred Hechinger (Eighth Grade, News of the World) as Ethan Russell, Gary Oldman (Mank, Darkest Hour) as Alistar Russell, Julianne Moore (After the Wedding, Still Alice) as Jane Russell and Wyatt Russell (Overlord, 22 Jump Street) as David; this movie was a poor tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Rear Window; if indeed that is what it was trying to do. I thought the acting was admirable, but the script and direction turned this picture into a messy pile of scenes. There were times I thought the film was going to be a psychological drama, only for it to change direction and become a scary thriller. The injection of the same repetitive snowy scene over and over was a complete distraction for me. I am sure the novel this movie was based on is much better. The only thing I can say about this misfire it that I am glad I am not a neighbor of these people. There were scenes with blood and violence.                    

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Four Brothers

 I LIVE IN A CITY WHERE there has been an increase in the number of shootings. It is hard to listen to the newscasters’ reports on these incidents, especially when it involves innocent bystanders. I hope this does not come out badly; but my thinking lies more along the lines of, if it is two criminals shooting at each other, I am not as concerned as when it is with innocent people. Recently, we have had a rash of drive by shootings that involved children. Several of the altercations had children either sitting in the back seat of a car or playing on the front steps of their home. Maybe I am wrong; but when I hear the stories about a child sitting in the back of the car, I do not believe they are the intended target. A car pulls up to another vehicle and starts firing weapons all over the other, then speeds away; tells me the real target is someone related to the child a/k/a the driver. I find it horrific and sad that young life gets extinguished so easily. Whether it is revenge, or some initiation thing doesn’t matter; the point being, too many people are being killed. It is like they are collateral damage. What I find viler is if the shooters know there are children around and simply do not care. What does that say about our humanity?      THE OTHER PART OF THIS DRAMA that I find disgusting, is when these shootings take place in broad daylight. I have seen the news reports where they show a house lined street or a busy intersection that was the scene of the crime. The police are canvassing the area, asking everyone if they happened to see anything regarding the killing. Every report that I unfortunately have come across states there were no witnesses. All I want to say is, “really?” It is as if there is a code of silence through the neighborhood; none of the citizens can offer up any tips or advice. I do not get it; but I can assume there has to be some type of fear that was pressed into anyone who might have witnessed something. For all I know it may be gang related or retaliation for some past transgression. If that is the case and to my earlier point; let the two find an empty spot that is void of life and they can blow each other’s brains out. I have always said children are born innocent; it is adults who teach them to hate and be prejudiced. The four brothers in this action, crime drama had a mother who taught them well.      WHEN A CRIME WAS COMMITED AT the neighborhood store, four brothers decide to take matters into their own hands to solve the mystery. With Mark Wahlberg (Patriots Day, Instant Family) as Bobby Mercer, Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and Furious franchise, Black and Blue) as Angel Mercer, Andre 3000 (Semi-Pro, The Shield-TV) as Jeremiah Mercer, Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound, On the Road) as Jack Mercer and Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Lt. Green; this film festival winner was an old fashioned thriller. I enjoyed the whole cast, especially seeing younger versions of actors I have gotten to know on the big screen. The idea of the story was good; however, I felt the script could have used another rewrite. Though it had some good quips in it, the focus was in this case too narrow. There were some scenes that were steamrolled quickly to get to another scene. I also must tell you there was a lot of violence in this picture and I in no way am promoting or condoning this type of action. With that being said, I thought this film was an easy watch and distraction, filled with some excitement.

2 2/3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Better Days

WE HAD A LONG LIST OF items we needed for the beginning of the school year; but they really needed to give us instead, a list of things we should not do. For some of you, what I will be saying will make little sense to you and that is okay. It tells me your school years were good. The rest of you though, will know exactly what I am talking about. When I started school, unbeknownst to me, there was this preordained invisible list of what not to wear to avoid getting bullied. For example, never wear something that was homemade or even looked like it had been otherwise, it could set you up for a whole slew of name calling. Boys had a smaller pallet of colors to choose from for their clothing; so, wearing a shirt that was anything but a primary color could lead one to be cornered in a school hallway or worse, the boys’ bathroom. Glasses only got one so far from becoming a target unless the lens thickness was noticeable enough to earn the moniker “pop bottle eyes.” If a girl was going to wear a dress it had to be the length that fashion was dictating that season. Caught in a long dress that was out of fashion, would earn a girl the nickname of “Granny.” And pity the student who has acne or whose size stands out from the norm; they would be shunned by many of their fellow students.     THOSE THINGS VISIBLE TO THE HUMAN eye were not the only triggers that would get one bullied. There were many actions that would earn a snide remark or an unflattering nickname. It was ok to have a hobby, just don’t have it be a collection of weird stuff. Stamps and coins were on the border of being considered nerdy; however, if one collected old radios or postcards, they could be considered a loser. Any of these examples could warrant a slap in the head, a punch to the stomach, a shove, a hit with a projectile; and these were the milder reactions. A student who for some unknown reason elicits a stronger reaction could find themselves in the gymnasium’s locker room with a group of boys punching and slamming him into the lockers. The victim’s only hope is if a teacher might hear something and come investigate it. However, once the student leaves the school grounds, a whole new set of circumstances comes into play and it could feel like a life or death situation. This Oscar nominated film can show you what life can be like for some students.      PREPARING FOR THE NATIONAL TESTS WAS pressure enough for student Chen Nian, played by Dongyu Zhou (Us and Them, Soulmate), but being the target for a small group of bullying girls was making things worse. There had to be a way to make it better. With Jackson Yee (A Little Red Flower, Song of the Phoenix-TV) as Xiao Bei, Fang Yin (Walking Past the Future, Coffee or Tea?) as Zheng Yi, Ye Zhou (Word of Honor-TV) as Wei Lai and Jue Huang (Fallen City, Long Day’s Journey into Night) as Lao Yang; this film festival winning drama was one of the best movies I have seen the past year. Mixing a family drama with a crime romance made this an all engulfing experience for me. For personal reasons, it was also hard for me to see certain scenes. The directing and filming of this picture blended in a seamless, beautiful way. I was fascinated with the cultural aspect of the testing system depicted; it was intense. The 2 lead actors did an outstanding job with their characters because I felt they were the people they were portraying in the story. Nominated for best foreign film by the Academy Awards committee, I hope it wins. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.

4 stars           

Flash Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

FROM MY EXPERIENCES IN SCHOOL, BOYS were more likely to retaliate against someone who did them wrong than the girls. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “I will be waiting for you outside after school,” which meant two students would be having a fight after school hours. Sadly, that phrase was directed at me a couple of times. With different grades entering and leaving from specific doors, it was easy to figure out where a person would be leaving the school building. I remember bolting out of class when the ending bell rang and running down the hallway to a different exit door. Once outside, I immediately ran across the street and made my way between two apartment buildings; so, I could cut into the alley behind them and make my way home unseen from the streets. The rest of the school week, I kept an eye out for the student who threatened me. Other students were not as lucky as me. I remember two fights that took place in front of the school; one was fought by two boys until a schoolteacher ran over to break it up and drag them both back to the principal’s office. The other fight had 2 girls whose viciousness surprised me as they slapped, scratched, punched and kicked each other until one of them ran off after her blouse was torn open.      THERE WAS ONLY TWO TIMES I can recall, where a female student plotted retribution against a fellow student. The one girl may have been short, but she was tough. She never backed down from anyone, whether it was a girl or a boy. I did not actually see the encounter but was told she cornered a female student in the girl’s bathroom and threatened her with a pocketknife. She felt the girl was flirting with her boyfriend. The other incident happened in my classroom. A female classmate wanted to get back at a boy who called her names. When the male student was not looking, she placed a pack of cigarettes next to the schoolbooks he had piled under his chair. When the teacher was walking in front of her desk, she noticed the cigarette pack on the floor under the student and sent him down to the principal’s office, despite his pleas that the cigarettes were not his. The female student remained silent, looking innocent in her seat. These were the only incidents I could remember from my days back in school. You will see they pale in comparison to what took place in this dramatic Oscar nominated crime thriller.      APPEARING TO LACK MOTIVATION AND DESIRE, there was only one thing Cassandra, played by Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, The Dig), had on her mind. It was something she had been thinking about for a long time. With Bo Burnham (The Big Sick, Rough Night) as Ryan, Alison Brie (Sleeping with Other People, The Post) as Madison, Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, Like a Boss) as Susan and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Stanley; this film festival winner grabbed my attention early on because of Carey’s performance. She gave life to the character and was riveting in the process. The directing and story were both in synch to deliver a perfectly paced story that took me on a hesitant journey into Cassandra’s world. I will say I felt let down from the ending, finding it a bit too convenient. The idea behind the story was sound and relevant, especially for the times we are presently living in. After watching this movie, I have been sitting and wondering if several or so of the scenes shown in this picture have been happening for a long time or not. This film really makes one think and that is a good thing.

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Locked Down

THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future.      THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year.      FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.                                 

1 7/8 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Casino

HERE IT WAS NIGHTTIME AND I was sitting in a bus in the middle of a traffic jam. Normally, I would be aggravated but since I was on vacation, I was enjoying looking out the bus window at the sights.  In the short distance we had traveled, I had already seen an erupting volcano and a sinking pirate ship. It was my first-time visiting Las Vegas and everything I had heard about it was true. There were throngs of people from all walks of life, neon lights and light bulbs everywhere and the constant noise of bells and tumbling change in every hotel. I could not get over the amount of people out and about along the strip. There were hawkers lined up on every block; each trying to shove their pamphlets into tourists’ hands. I got a kick out of each hotel taking on a theme of some kind. Besides the volcano and pirate ship, there was one hotel that had an Arabian theme and another a Roman one. I had never seen anything like it before and wanted to take in as much as I could for the short time I was visiting. That is why I decided to take a bus ride; I figured it was the best way to see everything on the strip while traveling to the downtown area.      WHERE THE BUS ENDED ITS ROUTE was in an old type of garage; I could not call it a bus terminal. It was inside what looked like an office building. The garage had a circular drive so the buses could easily enter and exit the place. As I left through the exit doors, I noticed there were no lights or neon anywhere. I was on a dark street with a couple of lone streetlamps that looked tired. No sign of any hotels or attractions, just non-descript store fronts. There was a pawn shop that had a faded wooden sign above its door. Next to it was a gun shop that had metal bars across its windows. This was not exactly the experience I envisioned when I decided to visit Las Vegas. There was something gritty and dirty about the area I was walking in. As far as I could tell this area looked a lot older than the hotels that were on the strip. It looked like a lost version of Las Vegas without the flash and pizzazz. I had heard and read a few things about how Las Vegas came to be, and it looked like I had stumbled into that rough and tumble time as the city was dealing with an influx of celebrities and criminals. What I envisioned was similar to what I saw in this Golden Globe and film festival winning crime drama.      SAM “ACE” ROTHSTEIN, PLAYED BY ROBERT De Niro (The Irishman, Cape Fear), was sent to make sure the hotel’s operations in Las Vegas were running quietly and smoothly. He should not have brought his close friend Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci (Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny) with him then. With Sharon Stone (Fading Gigolo, Basic Instinct) as Ginger McKenna, James Wood (The Virgin Suicides, Any Given Sunday) as Lester Diamond and Don Rickles (Kelly’s Heroes, CPO Sharkey-TV) as Billy Sherbert; this Academy Award nominated film was bursting with amazing performances. There was not one actor who was pushed into the shadows of another; everyone grabbed the viewer’s attention. I thought the sets and costumes were perfect as the story traveled across its timeline. There were violent bloody scenes that came close to overpowering the rest of the story, where I started to expect them in almost every scene. Though the film is long, I did not find my mind wandering; however, I did feel there was the lack of depth in multiple scenes. Overall, this was a good old fashioned “gangster” picture depicting a past era.

3 ½ stars

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