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Flash Movie Review: A Thousand and One

WHEN YOU ARE A SMALL CHILD, all parents seem bigger and more powerful. So, when the mother showed up to confront the bullies who were picking on her son, I could tell those boys were scared. I tried to avoid those kids because I knew they picked on other students; it seemed to me it was whoever was in their sights when they were all together, which usually was before school started, gym class or recess time. If it was only one of them by himself, then they did not always start trouble. I guess they needed an audience of their friends around to make it worthwhile to tease or abuse someone. When the mother walked up to them, the bullies moved closer to each other. She yelled at them as she jabbed her finger close to each one’s face. I did not hear everything being said but did catch the phrase, “How would you like it if I did to you what you are doing to my son?” By this time, the bullies could only look down and stay silent, but she was not having it; she demanded they look at her when she was talking to them. After a few more words, which she ended by saying, “Next time I will bring the police with me,” she made her way to the open school entrance. All of us knew she was going to seek out the principal. I never saw them pick on her son again.      ANOTHER MOTHER WHO STOOD OUT TO me was one I met in high school. She was a real character. The first time I saw her she was wearing hot pink colored short shorts, a white tank top and sparkling rings on both hands. The word that best describes her would be, “jolly.” She was always joking with her daughter’s friends, saying things that were on the verge of embarrassing; well, at least to her daughter who would just sit there and shake her head. But her mother volunteered for everything; it could be a field trip, a bake sale, a chaperone, whatever the school needed. I learned to respect and admire her because she was unapologetic. She was overweight and short, never letting it bother her. I was her daughter’s friend, so I probably had more interaction with her than other students. The thing I learned about her was though she had this fun cheerful side, she was very protective of her daughter. No one could even suggest something negative about the daughter without the mother confronting the person. She had no problem standing up for what she believed was best for her daughter and pity the person who was on the receiving end. Even having known these and many other mothers, I have to say I could not believe the perseverance and determination the mother displayed in this dramatic crime movie.      REFUSING TO WATCH HER SON LANGUISH in the foster care system, a mother decides to kidnap him and find themselves a better life. With Teyana Taylor (White Men Can’t Jump, Miracles Across 125th Street) as Inez de la Paz, Aaron Kingsley Adetola (Rise, Superblocked) as Terry 6 years old, Aven Courtney (Strive, Aviva) as Terry 13 years old, Josiah Cross (King Richard) as Terry 17 years old and William Catlett (The Devil You Know, Charm City Kings) as Lucky; this story based in New York City was unbelievable. I was surprised how quickly I was captivated by Inez; the acting was close to perfection. I will say this was not an easy film to watch, simply because of the tough, emotionally intense scenes; but believe me, it is worth it to see such a well-done movie. The acting was superb by everyone because I had to keep reminding myself this was a made-up story not a documentary; that is how real it came across to me. I will say the ending was a bit of a letdown for me; it seemed to have lost some of its intensity. Despite that, I have a new appreciation for a mother’s strength.                                              

3 ½ stars 


Flash Movie Review: Fast X

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, BIG FAMILY dinners were exciting for me. It was there where I had my first taste of coffee; granted, it was a couple of drops in a coffee cup with milk filling up the rest. However, I felt like such a grownup sitting there sipping on my coffee like the adults around me. The family dinner was also the setting where I tasted wine for the first time and made everyone laugh by the sour look on my face after tasting it. The food was always plentiful because relatives would always contribute a side dish or dessert. I along with my cousins would always sit together. We started out at the “kid’s table” which was a separate folding table, usually covered with some type of water-resistant tablecloth. One adult would oversee us, placing plates of food in front of us and periodically checking to see if we were goofing off. It was not until we reached the middle school years before we would be allowed to sit at the “big” table with the rest of the adults. It was there where the conversations would cover a variety of topics that could cause almost anything from laughter to arguments. It did not matter to me because it was a great learning ground to see how one tells a story, a joke, has a debate or disagreement.      AS WE WERE GETTING OLDER, THERE came a time when family members were getting engaged and married. For me, it added a new element into the mix of these family dinners. Suddenly this stranger entered our domain, as the boy or girlfriend of one of my relatives. Having them enter the mix immediately changed the dynamics of the get together. Suddenly individuals were on their best behavior. The language was toned down; in other words, less salty shall we say. Sometimes the person would fit in easily, but other times they would be the only one not laughing at something the rest of us found funny. Of course, some of these boys and girlfriends never lasted; however, if one turned into a fiancée or fiancé then that meant our family dinner would expand to include the future in-laws. There were times where the kid’s table had to be used for adults because there were so many people invited. I found the experience odd. Here were strangers I had never met, sitting and eating with us; it was always a crapshoot. Some could handle our noise level, while others sat there quietly throughout the meal. The more in-laws joining us eventually caused our big family meals to break apart where one sibling and all her offspring would hold their own holiday meal. With all the family connections in this action-packed sequel, I do not know how they could still sit around a dining room table.      A SON WHO LOST HIS DRUG LORD father during one of Dominic Toretto’s, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), jobs is hellbent on seeking revenge against Dom and his family. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) as Letty, Jason Statham (The Meg, Spy) as Shaw, Jordana Brewster (Hooking Up, Who Invited Charlie?) as Mia and Tyrese Gibson (Dangerous, Black and Blue) as Roman; this crime adventure film was a mixed bag for me. The movie had all the elements that go into this franchise: fast cars, unbelievable stunts, intense fighting, explosions, scantily dressed women, dancing and speeches. It was too much for me. I felt the script was designed to incorporate everything that had been used before in the previous sequels. This does not mean there were not times where it was exciting to watch the action; but I was starting to feel that this franchise had run its course. This picture was only the first half of the story; there will be another film coming out which explains the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. If you like cars and car chases and are invested in the characters, then you will have an easier time watching this movie. There were many scenes with blood and violence.                              

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Lou

AT A COMPANY I USED TO work for, there was an employee who retired after being there for forty years. He died six months after he left the company. We were all shocked and saddened by the news. The man had worked there his entire life and after all those years, he finally got the opportunity to go out and enjoy life to the fullest and his life was cut short. It just seemed so wrong. I remember asking him what he was going to do in his retirement, and he said he had no idea; he did not have a plan. For some reason, I wondered if not having a plan contributed to his death. There is one school of thought where people say one must have a plan in place before retiring. The other says do not have a plan, to just go and enjoy whatever you do. I have no idea if one way is better than the other. And based on the people I have known who retired, I cannot say if there was any difference in their level of happiness. They all seemed happy to me. And I love this line that several of them have mentioned, “Every day is Saturday.”      NOW THERE IS ONE INDIVIDUAL I know, who has maintained a steady schedule after their retirement. They signed up for a class at the local community college, they have a standing weekly sports outing with friends, and they usually have one to two lunch dates a week. In other words, they are keeping themselves busy, but not hectic. I know another individual who is at the opposite end of the spectrum who wakes up every day to possibilities. Nothing is generally planned but they do keep in hand a couple of options of things to do. I don’t know if I could be that spontaneous; I believe I would like to have some structure in my retirement years. However, I might not know until the time comes. What I do know is I could not live a retirement like the main character did in this action, crime drama.      HER LIFE OF LIVING IN A quiet retirement radically changed when her neighbor burst into her house to say her daughter was kidnapped. With Allison Janney (Bombshell, Mom-TV) as Lou, Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey, The Great Debaters) as Hannah, Logan Marshall-Green (The Invitation, Prometheus) as Philip, Ridley Asha Bateman (Shattered, Shelter in Place) as Vee and Matt Craven (Crimson Tide, Resurrection-TV) as Sheriff Rankin; I was impressed and surprised by Allison’s performance. The idea of her being in an action star role, like let us say Liam Neeson, was a brilliant idea. She was terrific in the role, which was a demanding one. I thought everyone in the cast did a great job as the script kept them moving. This was a necessary qualification since the script was partially predictable. For the most part, the action was kept at a certain level that kept me interested but did not wow me in any way, except for a couple of good fight scenes. I honestly do not know if I would have been as interested in the story if Allison was not part of the cast. There was however a twist in the story that totally took me by surprise. This was one of those movies that I refer to as a “popcorn film.” It is one that the viewer should not take too seriously, but it does provide a decent level of entertainment. There were several scenes of blood and violence.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Boston Strangler

IT WAS EARLY IN THE MORNING on a Sunday, before the city came to life. We were eating breakfast; or I should say, I was eating breakfast. My friend was too busy fielding all the work texts and emails that were blowing up on his phone. I sat there, thinking to myself, what kind of environment must his company have where so many people were up and working before the sun came out. I mean, it was not an international company with offices all over the world. It crossed my mind that maybe my friend was a “workaholic.” The other option could be he was just a devoted employee; however, that did not explain the senders necessarily. Could they all be true company employees? I have had jobs where I had to put in overtime once in a while, but it never was a consistent requirement. Now that does not mean I have not thought about work over the weekend. I have written memos, reviews and such on my own time, to help me handle an extra busy workload. However, my company encourages its employees to unplug and take time to relax and re-energize themselves. To me, this is a healthy attitude to have in the work world.      AMONG THE VARIOUS COMPANIES WHERE I have been employed, there has always been at least one individual I knew who was “married” to their work. I use the word “married” because it was a strong relationship, where the person had elevated their position into a pseudo relationship. Think about it; they spend more time with their company than any individual outside of the workplace. The reasons are not all the same, but I have seen where the employee’s actions could almost be considered loving. Whether it is for recognition or prestige or power or for the greater good, their job is their number one priority/relationship. This reminds me of a person I met who was a doctor from New York City. It was during the AIDS crisis, where he explained the demands put on him that caused him many times to sleep at the hospital instead of taking time to drive home to go to sleep. He said he was barely able to keep up between the treatment of patients, press conferences and the consultations between medical staff and outside resources. I had to admire his willingness and dedication; it sounded like a brutal and draining routine. I knew it took a certain kind of person to be willing to make such a sacrifice for the “greater good.” In my work situations I have seen a few individuals who came close but nothing on that type of scale. Though, the female reporters in this historical crime drama certainly give their all to make their world a better place.      NOTICING A CONNECTION, A BOSTON REPORTER starts to piece together random killings of women in the Boston area. Her work spawns the name that would captivate a city in fear, the Boston Strangler. With Keira Knightley (The Aftermath, Silent Night) as Loretta McLaughlin, Carrie Coon (The Post, The Gilded Age) as Jean Cole, Chris Cooper (Little Women, August: Osage County) as Jack Maclaine, Alessandra Nivola (American Hustle, The Many Saints of Newark) as Detective Conley and Rory Cochrane (Antlers, White Boy Rick) as Detective DeLine; this movie based on a true story succeeded because of the work and chemistry between Keira and Carrie. I thought they did an outstanding job of acting that overcame the deficiencies in the script. There were places in the script that needed more emotional heft and intensity, which would have turned this story into a gripping tale. For example, Loretta’s home life needed more drama in my opinion. I still enjoyed watching this picture because of the acting and the look of it. I can only imagine what life must have been like for women back in 1960s Boston during the time of this tragic killing spree.                                                

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 4

THE RESTAURANT WAS CHOSEN BECAUSE OF one dessert. It is not just any kind of dessert; it is one of the best examples of a chocolate flavored dessert in my opinion. I did not tell the others about the dessert, simply offered the restaurant as a suggestion when we were deciding where to meet for dinner and the majority voted for it. At the designated time we all met at the restaurant and were quickly seated. The meal was tasty, and the conversation was fun. When it came to dessert, everyone was undecided except for me on what to order. I shared my opinion about the chocolate dessert. Evidently, I must be a good sales rep because everyone decided to order it. The look on their faces when the waiter brought us our desserts was priceless. I told them it was a large serving, but it must have not prepared them for the reality of what was sitting on their plate. So you have a clearer picture, let me describe this amazing dessert. It is a moist, chocolate layered cake with dark chocolate chips through it. The layers and frosting consists of this smooth chocolate fudge crème that I actually eat, since I normally do not like any type of frostings. On the outer edge of the cake (the widest part) is a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips and sprinkles. As they say, it is heaven on earth. As the others tried their cake, I watched for their reactions. There was silence, no indication of whether they liked or disliked it. After a second or third bite most of them said it tasted great but was too much.      TOO MUCH?! I WAS NOT SURE what they meant, so asked for clarification. The consensus was the cake was too rich and too chocolatey. I was taken aback because that certainly was not my perception. Asking them to elaborate, I listened to them tell me the portion was massive and the chocolate was over the top. They felt the extra chocolate chips on the edge was overkill and the fudge crème frosting was so rich that they felt they needed a shot of insulin to compensate for the spike in what they believed their sugar level was doing. It was a joke about the insulin but still, I could not believe it. Ultimately, I had to respect their feelings and opinions. For me, the cake was the perfect chocolate dessert; for them, it was too over-indulgent and decadent. To each their own, as they say; it was not my place to sway or woo them over to liking the dessert. When I thought about it, it was no different than people’s feelings about Las Vegas. One either loved the city or did not; again all one can do is respect their opinion. This type of dilemma is what I am experiencing with this latest installment of the action, crime thriller film franchise.      WITH THE BOUNTY CONTINUING TO GO up on his head, there was only one thing left for John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves (Destination Wedding, Speed), to do. He would have to kill every one of the Elders of the crime organization that turned its back on him, to get his life back. With Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Mystic River) as Bowery King, Ian McShane (Bolden, American Gods-TV) as Winston, Bill Skarsgard (It franchise, Barbarian) as Marquis and Donnie Yen (IP Man franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Caine; I was looking forward to seeing this movie. However, that did not mean I wanted to sit in my seat for two hours and forty-nine minutes. The script was excessive and bloated. Having said that, I thought the fight sequences were outrageous and supremely choreographed. The only thing was, I did not have to see the fight scenes go on for so long, besides having so many going through the story. At one point, I felt I was watching a video game due to the intensity of the fight scenes. Now there were some cool fight scenes and I would love to know how many minutes in those scenes were actually Keanu doing the fighting. It truly was crazy and that is what these films are known for, not the acting or the believability of the story. I am torn on how many stars to rate this picture. Part of me felt there were too many repetitive scenes of violence and blood fighting; but on the other hand, they were so well done, and some were even humorous, that I was enjoying myself. If one is a fan of John Wick already, they may enjoy watching this more than someone who is unfamiliar with the story line. There was an extra scene after the ending credits.

2 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

BACK IN SCHOOL WE TALKED ABOUT hitchhiking our way to the coast. Since we lived in the Midwest, it would require a lot of hitchhiking to get to the Pacific Ocean. We would sit and conjure up scenarios about the kinds of food and clothing we would need for the trip, including a discussion on what would be the best type of shoe or boot to wear. It all sounded like a solid plan, but never left the talking stage. I loved traveling by almost any means, whether it was by car, train, bus or plane. Each mode of transportation provided me the opportunity to see the country from a different vantage point. One trip by train showed me a mountainous landscape where the icicles were as sharp as daggers. A trip by helicopter was magical because as we rose towards the top of the volcano, we passed through multiple rainbows due to the moisture hanging in the air. When I think back about our idea of hitchhiking, I believe there was a part of me that was hesitant about sitting with a stranger, feeling forced to carry on a conversation. Sometimes, I do not have an issue talking to a fellow passenger on a plane or train; but other times, I just want to chill out with my own thoughts. There have been times where I purposely have kept a magazine open on my lap, hoping the person next to me backs off from attempting to make small talk.      THE OTHER THING THAT HELD ME back from moving forward with our plans was the fact that I had already seen enough movies where the innocent character was picked up by a stranger and killed at some point. Or the other scenario would involve being dropped off at the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I do not mind hiking a few miles but not hours and hours without finding water or food. When I was a kid, I do not recall hearing any negative news about hitchhiking. To tell you the truth, I cannot remember even hearing or seeing hitchhikers; maybe it was not a thing back then. However, at some point when I completed my schooling, I recall becoming aware of hitchhikers; maybe because instead of being on a campus I was traveling now down into the city, seeing more of the landscape. As I am writing this review, I am trying to remember when the last time was, I recently saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road. And you know something; I cannot recall when the last time was, I saw someone hitchhiking. After seeing this unreal documentary, why would anyone want to hitchhike?      WHEN A LONE HITCHHIKER GETS CAUGHT on video saving a woman’s life, he becomes an instant viral sensation. Not to soon after, he becomes a different type of sensation, a sinister one. Written and directed by Colette Camden (The Rise of the Anti-Vaxx Movement, America on a Plate: The Story of the Diner) this crime story about Kai Lawrence, the hitchhiker, was unbelievable. I was fascinated watching the trajectory of his quick fame as everyone was jumping on the bandwagon, to shower Kai with praise and gifts. The story came about with the help of KMPH news anchor Jessob Reisbeck and cameraperson, Terry Woods. Not being someone who does much online, I was fascinated at the quickness and intensity in Kai’s fame. What stayed as an unknown to me in this movie was the fact that there was never any discussion about Kai’s circumstances. Was there a mental health issue or childhood trauma that led him to the path he was on? I felt there could have been more investigative work into the back story. The story in this documentary will grab the viewer; but, I do not know if it will keep hold of their attention for the duration.

2 ½ stars 

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  

Flash Movie Review: Ambulance

I KNEW AS I WAS SWALOWING the ibuprofen that I had just taken my last ride on a roller coaster. It was a wild ride, I have to admit; there were loop and corkscrew turns, besides a death drop into a short tunnel that looked like it was too small for us to enter. The funny thing is out of the entire ride the worst part for me was the initial climb up. There is something about the roller coaster cars chugging up the incline while my back is pinned to the back of the seat that makes me uncomfortable. I think part of the reason is due to the height of the climb. At some point there is no visible structure around the cars, so it looks like we are balancing on a single set of tracks or a single track that makes me uncomfortable. I do not know if I am afraid of a strong wind pushing us over or that the passengers’ weight distribution is lopsided in one of the cars that makes it topple over, taking the rest of the cars with it. I just know I have never liked that part of the ride since I was a little kid. As we climbed out of the car, I had to hold onto the banister to steady myself as I noticed I had just gotten a headache. Also, my stomach was queasy. Hence, the drug and the realization my days of riding were over.      I THOUGHT I WOULD MISS THE excitement and thrill of riding a roller coaster; but to tell you the truth, I actually do not feel any sense of loss or feelings of being left out while hanging out at the base of the attraction while my friends and family are enjoying the ride. I still marvel at the engineering technology of a roller coaster and enjoy hearing the screams from passengers who whiz by me as I am safe and comfortable on a nearby bench. I have a relative who is a senior citizen who still rides roller coasters. In fact, they have performed a couple of wedding ceremonies while on a roller coaster; it is true! They made arrangements with the park to have the entire wedding party ride the attraction. When they reached the pinnacle after the beginning climb, the park stopped the ride and my relative performed the service. Right after they pronounced them man and wife, the park started the ride back up and the wedding party completed the course. I appreciated the party’s excitement at the unusual venue; I find my thrills and excitement in different ways as well and one of them is watching a film like this action, crime drama.      IN DESPARATE NEED OF MONEY, A husband turns to his adoptive brother for help. To get the funds, he would only have to be a participant in a bank robbery. With Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty, Stronger) as Danny Sharp, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Candyman, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Will Sharp, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Godzilla vs. Kong) as Cam Thompson, Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave, No Country for Old Men) as Captain Monroe and Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers, American Sniper) as FBI Agent; this film directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Transformers franchise) was small on talk and character development but big on thrills and crazy excitement. I was in the right mood to see this film because I only wanted to experience it, not think about it. The acting was terrific from the three main characters and though there was a repetitive quality to the script, the stunt driving and fights were wild. Essentially, the story was a series of intense events that followed one after another. As long as one is looking for a visceral experience, then this movie will provide the correct nutrients for excitement. And you might not have to take Ibuprofen, but I cannot guarantee one might need motion sickness medication. 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Pale Blue Eye

VISITING A TOWN OUT OF STATE, I was walking down a cobblestone road while gazing into various shop windows. I was surprised by the number of shops devoted to witches. Granted most of them appeared to be geared towards tourists, with trinkets and baubles filling up their display windows. There was one store that was devoted to magic wands, nothing else. How were they making a living, I thought. I could not help wondering what the residents thought of all, what I considered to be, this gimmickry. What I really would have loved to have known was what the former residents from the late 1600s would have thought if they could have seen all the establishments, signs and statues devoted to witches and witchcraft. The reason being back in the late 1600s people were burned at the stake for being considered witches in this area. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Maybe I am a bit nerdy to think of these things, but I have always been fascinated with the wide changes that occur in perceptions/reality. Whether it an inanimate object or human being, it does not matter to me. And honestly, I think many of you would be surprised to learn about some of them.      NEAR WHERE I GREW UP AS A kid, there used to be a garbage dump. Pretty much it was a non-descript place with tall fences around it. The village leaders decided to create a hill from the trash. Now the place is a destination stop for anyone who wants to go sledding or tobogganing. Except for the older residents no one would have a clue that underneath the grassy turf the entire hill was made from garbage. I get the same kick out of discovering what some celebrities did for a living before they were discovered. For example, James Bond’s Pierce Brosnan was a professional fire eater at a circus. Christopher Lee the actor worked for the intelligence service. And Danny DeVito was a hairdresser for corpses. I am sure some people would think my career path has some extremes in it and maybe it does, but nothing that would match the few examples I listed here. Another aspect I enjoy about the wide differences found in life is when a movie uses an historical figure in the early stages of their life. For example, the writer Herman Melville was a harpooner on a whaling ship, then in his last decades he was a customs inspector. My curiosity in this subject of contrasts/differences led me to view this crime, horror mystery film.      AFTER A CADET WAS FOUND DEAD, West Point Academy hired a detective to solve the mystery quickly in order to protect the image of the academy. Appearances were quite important. With Christian Bale (The Fighter, American Hustle) as Augustus Landor, Harry Melling (Harry Potter franchise, The Old Guard) as Cadet Edgar Allan Poe, Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Captain Hitchcock, Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Superintendent Thayer and Fred Hechinger (News of the World, The Woman in the Window) as Cadet Randolph Ballinger; this picture had a wonderful atmospheric look to it. With Christian and Harry blending perfectly with their characters, I was drawn into the story that was a slow burn. Everything was well placed and thought out; however, things took a turn that threw me for a loop. I did not care for how the story finished up. It seemed rushed and not as believable as the rest of the movie. Luckily, the cast kept me engaged through this rough spot; but I still found the ending odd. However, I still got a kick out of watching Edgar Allan Poe before he became famous. There were several scenes that had blood on display.

2 ½ 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

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