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Flash Movie Review: Enola Holmes

THE FIRST TIME I SAW SHERLOCK Holmes he was sitting in a chair with a pipe in his hands. I did not know anything about him but was intrigued by that funny looking pipe that looked like a weird letter “S.” The only reason I was watching him was because I thought I was watching a movie about a hound. I was lying on the floor of our living room with an oversized pillow and a blanket, waiting for one of my favorite television shows to start. Every Saturday afternoon there was a program that had a host who would talk about a movie before playing it for the TV audience. I did my best to always be home at the time it aired since I loved watching movies. Seeing this most curious man on television talking in such precise detail, not that I understood everything he was saying, piqued my interest; I had never heard anyone talk like he did. Why was he saying “elementary” to his dear Watson; elementary was a school. Everything about him was odd to me simply because I was a little kid and had never seen anyone like him before. As the movie played, I found myself being pulled into the story; he was secretive like a spy, liked dressing up in disguises and was good at figuring out puzzles. In my mind that is how I was able to relate to him.      FROM WATCHING THAT FIRST MOVIE, I made a point to see every film about him. Both at the school and neighborhood libraries, I started checking out the books the movies were based on; I could not get enough of Sherlock Holmes. And it is funny, with every book I read all I could see was Basil Rathbone as Sherlock. Don’t get me started on the trauma I went through when I realized Basil was simply an actor portraying the detective. Due to having been exposed to his exploits, I fell in love with reading all kinds of mystery detective stories. I flew through each Hardy Boys book I could get a hold of, along with some Nancy Drew books I found at a relative’s house. There was a short period of time where I was carrying around a magnifying glass, just on the chance some mysterious event would take place and I needed to search for clues. I toyed with the idea of getting a hat like the one Sherlock wore in the movies; but the first time I tried it on, I looked silly as it was bigger than my head, coming down to cover part of my ears. From all of Sherlock’s books and movies I have done, I had no idea he ever had a sister. What a surprise it was to see her in this dramatic, crime adventure.      IT MADE NO SENSE THAT HER mother would suddenly disappear from their home and leave Enola, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Stranger Things-TV) to fend for herself. Enola was determined to find a clue or something that would explain what happened to her mother before her older brother shipped her off to a finishing school. With Henry Cavill (Justice League, Night Hunter) as Sherlock Holmes, Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Adrift) as Mycroft Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella, The King’s Speech) as Eudoria Holmes and Louis Partridge (Paddington 2, Medici-TV) as Tewkesbury; this film was such a joy to experience. The characters were perfectly cast with Millie Bobby Brown as the standout. This was my first-time seeing Millie and I found her fresh with a good sense of comedic timing. Being a tad too long, the script had its flaws; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of mystery and politics to make the story relevant. This is despite being set in England during the 1880s. It would be a complete mystery to me if the movie studio does not produce a sequel to this fun and exciting film.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: See You Yesterday

I WAS GETTING TIRED AS I was going through a bin of paperwork. For the past hour, I was sorting, shredding and filing papers, cards and clippings. Grabbing a handful of stacked papers, I started to lift it up out of the bin when a letter slipped out onto the floor. I picked it up and turned it over to see a name I had not thought about for some time. It was a friend who moved to California, who would communicate with me via hand-written letters. It was such a retro thing to do; yet, it was fun to get a letter from him in the mail. Lifting the letter out of the envelope, I gently unfolded the pages and smoothed them onto my lap. I chuckled because I had forgotten he always used yellow legal-size paper to write his letters. Starting with page one, the handwriting quickly became familiar to me once again. He was starting vacation when writing this letter because he talked about the hikes he wanted to do and the chance to go rafting for the first time. This was one of the things I admired about him; his freedom to try almost anything once with no hesitation. I, on the other hand, had to mull things over for days on end before agreeing to try something new. For him, it was as easy as taking a breath.      WHEN I REACHED PAGE 4 OF his letter, things took a darker turn. Not on his part per se, but because I knew what the outcome was going to be with these first symptoms he was talking about. Since he moved to California, he was prone to getting sinus infections. At first, he thought it was allergy based and was treating it as such on his own. But after some time, he would decide to go see a doctor about the infections. The letter only talked about how he had to back out of a couple of engagements due to his sinuses acting up. I knew this was just the beginning to a challenging year ahead of him. Over the course of his treatments he went from only taking prescribed medications to trying alternative methods such as meditation and visualizations. He changed his diet, thinking that it would make a difference, but he would find out it did nothing for him. Finally, he agreed with a specialist to have an operation on his sinuses. The relief it provided him lasted a couple of months, but then his health rapidly deteriorated. This letter in my hands was written in 1998; a year later he was gone. The letters I kept were the only way I could go back in time and visit with him.      WORKING ON THEIR SCIENCE PROJECT for time traveling, two science whiz kids are put to the test when a relative is killed. With Eden Duncan-Smith (Annie, Meadowland) as C.J. Walker, relative newcomer Dante Crichlow as Sebastian Thomas, Astro (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Earth to Echo) as Calvin Walker, Marsha Stephanie Blake (The Laundromat, The Blacklist-TV) as Phaedra and Johnathan Nieves (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels-TV, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Eduardo; this film festival winner had a deep message wrapped in a goofy package. With limited special effects and a plot that stumbled a few times, this crime action adventure took an important matter and fed it to the viewer in a new type of way. Eden was impressive as C.J. and it was a treat to see Michael J. Fox in a small role. There were predictable moments but having started out at what I thought was going to be a comedy, turned into something much different. By the end, I found myself having enjoyed sitting through this picture and wishing I had the ability to travel through time.

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Frozen Ground

WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN FOR a flashlight; it was dumb of me not to think of one. I was visiting a friend out of state, who thought it would be a cool idea to climb a mountain. It was nothing like the Rockies, but it was high enough. We were able to drive up part of it, park, then follow on foot a trail to get to higher ground. Up until that point everything was going fine. The vegetation was thick all around us which made our surroundings cooler in temperature and darker. I was okay since the day had been hot and sunny. Because we were making our way in subdued light, we kept assuming it was still bright outside, and this was our first mistake. As we were ducking under branches and constantly checking the ground for solid footing, we did not realize our ascent was going slower than anticipated. Neither of us thought about the challenges we would face by trying to crawl down in the darkness of night.      I THINK IT WAS ME WHO was getting cold first and hungry. We had reached a substantial height where we could see the city glowing in the distance. All we had with us was water; I had wished I had brought a piece of fruit or a granola bar. We decided to turn back by retracing our steps to get back to a trail and then to our car. It did not take long for me to realize we were in trouble. It was nighttime and neither of us could see the ground clearly enough. There were multiple times where one of us thought we had solid footing but then the ground/rock gave away and we would stumble or fall. I fell and scraped the palms of my hands. With no sense of direction, only knowing we had to go down, we were lost. The area was not known for wildlife; however, that did not stop my brain from imagining a multitude of scary creature encounters. The longer we remained stuck on the mountain, the more we were freaking out. After multiple tries and retreats, we finally found a trail. By the time we returned to the car, we had logged nearly 10 hours in total crawling on the mountain. Ever since then, I have always felt an uneasiness whenever I find myself in a remote area. Whether it is in rugged terrain or wide-open spaces, my imagination kicks into high gear on what things could happen to me. This will explain my anxiousness as I watched this dramatic, crime thriller.      WITH YOUNG WOMEN GOING MISSING in an area of Alaska, the only lead Jack Holcombe, played by Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off), had was a junkie named Cindy Paulson, played by Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Dog Days) and she did not want to be involved with any part of his investigation. With John Cusack (High Fidelity, Love & Mercy) as Robert Hansen, Dean Norris (Total Recall, The Book of Henry) as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven and Gia Mantegna (The Prince, Criminal Minds-TV) as Debbie Peters; this film festival nominee’s story was based on actual events. For that reason, I found this movie creepier than usual. The main leads were quite convincing in the story; in fact, I was impressed with Vanessa’s work in particular. The filming of this picture made the feelings of isolation and despair more prominent throughout the scenes. It almost felt like it was hanging in the air. The story basically was a good guy vs bad guy set-up; I only wished the writers had delved deeper into the characters. It would have made for a more intense viewing, in my opinion. I was already uneasy about remote areas and this movie has now solidified my feelings about them. 

2 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: John Q

HE WAS THE LAST DOCTOR I knew who made house calls and he decided to retire from practice. You could tell there was something different about him as soon as you walked into his waiting room.  Where every office waiting room (at least where I have been) had that standard office type furniture and generic posters or health notices hanging on the walls, his waiting area had a variety of wooden chairs that recalled different eras from the past. Hanging on the walls were woodworkers’ tools, crocheted art pieces and photographs of landscapes and waterfalls. One of the things I admired about him was his ability to talk to his patients in simple words to explain difficult issues. I cannot confirm all the reasons he decided to retire; but I had heard he was dissatisfied with the way insurance companies were treating the patients. The story I had heard was about a patient who had a test done that showed elevated figures. The doctor wanted to proceed with another preventative test for confirmation; but the insurance denied the procedure, saying they could only pay for it if the patient had already been diagnosed with having the disease the test was to confirm. This made no sense to me; why would the insurance company deny paying the claim that might provide an opportunity to start preventative treatment on the patient before they got to the point of getting the full-blown disease?      THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME I heard about a situation in the medical field that did not make sense to me. I knew a woman who received mixed results on her mammogram. Her doctor wanted to do a procedure that could eliminate the problem and save the breast. When the insurance company was contacted for approval, they denied the procedure. I had heard it was due to the expense; the insurance company suggested the doctor proceed with a full removal of the breast because it would be cheaper in the long run. I cannot begin to tell you how outraged I felt with this information, if it was indeed true. I do not wish to badmouth insurance companies in this review; I am simply retelling the stories that were expressed to me. When I go to the doctor, before they do any type of procedure, I ask them if my insurance plan will cover it. I started doing this after I had been to the skin doctor several years ago and a procedure was done where my insurance would not cover it; the charges had to be fully paid by me. Gratefully I had put money aside and was able to cover the bill in one payment. After seeing this film festival winner, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in the family’s predicament.     WHEN TOLD THE COST OF A MEDICAL procedure, a father must find a way to pay for it if he wants to keep a family member alive. With Denzel Washington (The Equalizer franchise, Fences) as John Quincy Archibald, Kimberly Elise (For Colored Girls, Death Wish) as Denise Archibald, Daniel E. Smith (The Bold and The Beautiful-TV, NCIS-TV) as Michael “Mike” Archibald, James Woods (Straw Dogs, White House Down) as Dr. Raymond Turner and Robert Duvall (The Judge, Wild Horses) as Lt. Frank Grimes; this dramatic crime thriller was full of fine acting performances. The script unfortunately was manipulative and obvious; it did not have the creativity to elevate this story to a higher level of freshness and drama. If it was not for the acting skills of the main characters, I might have gotten bored halfway through the movie. The topic is certainly a hot button issue and I feel many individuals could relate to it on some level. This is probably why I remained interested in finding out what was going to happen to the family members in this picture.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: 1922

ONE THING I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND puzzling is the wide range of guiltiness that resides in each human. I am talking from one extreme to the other; where one person shows no guilt for doing something that is morally wrong, to someone else who feels guilty over something that has nothing to do with them. There was a period, earlier in the year, where it seemed as if every time I watched the news a domestic crime took place. A father and son were arguing and the father stabbed his son with a knife, two cousins were at a family dinner where they got into a fight and one of the cousins shot the other, and a son killed and chopped up his mother because she would not give him money for cigarettes; these were some of incidents the news was reporting. In all cases I could not see the slightest inclination of a sense of guilt from any of the perpetrators. I was dumbfounded; where in the world did these individuals think their behavior was acceptable? When I see or read about such things, it makes me wonder if the ability to feel guilt is a learned thing or part of a human’s genetic makeup; I find it baffling.     TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THE differences, I now will question someone when they apologize for something where they had no part in the cause and reaction. A friend of mine was always saying he was sorry whenever I was talking about something that happened to me. We could be walking side by side and I suddenly dropped something I was carrying in my hands. He would apologize to me. I asked him why he was saying he was sorry; did he slap the item out of my hands? Each time he apologized for something unrelated to himself, I would question him on it. It took some time before he broke the habit and as a result, I found out why he was doing it. He told me when he was younger, he felt there was nothing he could do that would win his father’s approval; it caused him to constantly feel bad about himself. We talked about this for some time as I tried to help him see the goodness inside of himself. Unless he did something that caused a person distress, he had nothing to feel sorry or guilty about. I explained it was one thing to feel empathy for a person, it was another to say you are sorry. If you are curious about the levels of guilt then you might be interested in watching this film festival winning, dramatic crime movie.      EARNING A LIVING WAS GETTING HARDER for Wilfred James, played by Thomas Jane (The Thin Red Line, The Mist). There was a way he could solve his problems; however, his wife was standing in the way. With Molly Parker (The Wicker Man, Deadwood-TV) as Arlette James, Dylan Schmid (Horns, Once Upon a Time-TV) as Henry James, Kaitlyn Bernard (The Professor, The Healer) as Shannon Cotterie and Neal McDonough (Timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Harlan Cotterie; this horror film based on a Stephen King story provided a steady pace of gloom and doom. I thought Thomas did an excellent job of acting as his story unfolded. There was more suspense than horror in my opinion, though there were a couple of icky scenes. What I enjoyed about this picture was the avoidance of the usual scare tactics; the script and direction really focused on the main character’s decline. Also, the sets and location shots helped in creating a sense of isolation for the viewer. Guilt is certainly something that can have an affect on the human mind and body; this movie proves it.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Project Power

DESPITE BEING TOLD NO TWO WERE alike, I wanted to see for myself. During the next snowfall, I tried to catch and see if each snowflake was truly different. My experiment was not really thought out completely; but in my defense, I was a little kid who wanted to see if the teacher was right. The snowflakes that landed on my gloved hand all looked similar to me; I just wished I had a magnifying glass to see up close the flakes. In our schoolbook, the pictures of the flakes were finely detailed and each one was unique. I remembered at the end of our lesson that day, the teacher had us take out a sheet of paper, fold it up and use a scissors to cut out different shapes along the edges. Once we were done, she told us to unfold the paper to see the snowflake we created. It was a fun trick that we enjoyed, as each of us compared our paper snowflake to the ones being held up around us. Though several flakes looked similar, none of us could find two snowflakes that looked identical; the teacher was correct. I liked the idea of each flake being different; my adult mind would say being unique.      I FOUND MYSELF RELATING TO THE snowflake because I felt I was different from my classmates. Overall, most looked and dressed in typical school wear, some even shared similar likes and dislikes; but there was no mistaking I was the only one like me. I say this because I felt my differences were something that no other student in my classroom had ever displayed in the slightest way; I felt completely alone in this regard. Growing up in a time where everyone looked like they were trying to match each other, both in fashion and thought, I found myself out of synch with the majority. As I grew older that chasm between me and other students grew wider. Some classmates started to ignore me while others started acting out with hostility towards me. I did not understand; I was just being me. There was nothing different I was doing in my daily routines at school; but for some reason, several students picked on me. If I had my grown adult mind at that time, I would have realized they were acting out with their own insecurities, wanting to be part of the herd and not stand out. That was not me; I started to embrace my differences once I was old enough to understand them. The idea of people reacting and being different in this dramatic, crime action story is what attracted me to watch this film.      A NEW DRUG WAS BEING PUSHED out by the drug dealers in New Orleans. Its claim was it could give you a superpower for 5 minutes; what you did with it was up to you. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Art, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, Don Jon) as Frank, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Night Comes On) as Robin, Rodrigo Santoro (The 33, Ben-Hur) as Biggie and Courtney B. Vance (Office Christmas Party, The Hunt for Red October) as Captain Craine; this science fiction film’s story had a great premise to build on. Casting Jamie, Joseph and Dominique increased the chances for this pseudo superhero movie to succeed; however, the script did not provide enough power to catapult this picture into the top tier of this type of genre. The story had a level of predictability as it incorporated several themes that have been done better before. I still enjoyed watching this movie, mainly because of the acting and comic book flavor of the scenes. There were some scenes that were too dark visually for me. I wished the writers had dug deeper into the dark side of the characters, along with expanding on the uniqueness each of us possess inside.

 

2 stars     

Flash Movie Review: Phantom Boy

IT LOOKED LIKE AN ANT COLONY in human form to me. There was so much activity taking place around me, I did not know where to look first. It was my first time visiting a hospital because a relative of mine was brought there by an ambulance. The lobby had a long desk with 2 women sitting behind it who were passing out visitor passes to the people who kept coming in. I was confused why I wasn’t handed a pass when we walked in and when I asked, I was told I was too young. It turned out I was not allowed to go up and see my relative; I was upset but knew better than to make a scene. Relatives took turns going up the elevator to see our ill family member, so someone was always sitting with me on one of the long black leather sofas that had small cracks on the seat portion. Except for the short table in front of me with its pile of magazines, there was nothing for me to do. I made a game of counting how many people came through the lobby. There were some individuals who looked fine, striding in as if they were walking into a store; others did not look so good, needing help to walk into the lobby. They scared me because they looked old and frail, as if they were about to break apart like crackers being crumbled into a bowl of soup.      IT DID NOT TAKE LONG FOR me to get bored with my counting game. From the variety of people, I saw walk through the lobby, I tried to imagine what the patient rooms must look like. Did the rooms for children have any games or toys in them? Was there chairs and a sofa for patients to sit in when they did not want to be in bed? These were some of the things I thought about as I sat and let my imagination take hold. I wondered if the nurses and doctors could tell when a patient was taking their last breaths. Having seen cartoons and movies where the character dies and a ghostly image of themselves rises out of their body to take one last look at their body before flying away, I wondered if those ghostly shadows were floating through the hospital’s hallways. Would they talk to each other or even see each other? This film festival winner might contain the answers.      IN THE HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENTS TO combat a deadly disease Alex, voiced by Edouard Baer (Moliere, Alias Betty), discovers his superpower. He is now ready to help another patient who was in the hospital. With Jean-Pierre Marielle (The Da Vinci Code, Micmacs) voicing L’homme au visage casse, Audrey Tautou (A Very Long Engagement, Dirty Pretty Things) voicing Mary, Jackie Berroyer (Love is in the Air, Three Dancing Slaves) voicing La Taupe and Patrick Descamps (One, Beyond the Horizon) as Le geant; this animated, action adventure was an interesting mix of fun and metaphysics. I found the hand drawn scenes refreshing and exciting. With a slice of humor, the script was well done in presenting death and near-death situations in a favorable light for young viewers. My only issue with the script was the 2 distinct story lines; at a certain point, I felt the story shifted into a cops and robbers situation, that seemed far removed from the possibilities presented in the early part of the movie. I imagine this was done to entertain viewers not interested in watching an entire animated picture with deep thoughts. Nonetheless, I enjoyed following Alex’ journey through the film as part of me was wishing I had been allowed to see my relative in the hospital when I was a small boy.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Motherless Brooklyn

I NEVER CONSIDERED IT A UNIQUE ability; in fact, I actually did not give it any thought. It wasn’t until a couple of friends asked me how I could recall what everyone at a party was wearing, that I had to stop and think about it. You see I was not alone in having this ability; there were at least a couple of my relatives who could do the same thing. Each of us could walk into a room and immediately see and commit to memory every detail of our surroundings. When my friends tested me after we had gone to a get together at a friend’s house, I not only told them what everyone was wearing but also details of the room we hung out in; such as a small crack in one of the windows, not the one with the broken window shade, and a stain on the carpeting near the front leg of the sofa. They could not believe how much I remembered, telling me in a teasing way that I was a freak. From my perspective, I felt they were just not paying close enough attention to everything around them. I never considered it as a flaw or deficiency; if anything, I felt they simply chose not to devote energy into taking in the details.      MAYBE ONE OF THE REASONS I HAVE this ability is because I have always been more of a visual learner than an auditory one. Not that I understood this back when I was a young student; I always was attracted to things that visually stimulated me. I remember this one time where my friends and I were having a discussion on the ramifications of losing or not having one of our senses. We queried each other on what modifications could one do to compensate for the loss. I brought up the point how I noticed when one sense is missing, the others tend to compensate for it. In my experiences, I have witnessed individuals who were blind having a more acute sense of hearing. It was as if the body had compensated for the loss to keep the individual closer to being in balance. Not that I have had any personal experiences with people on the spectrum, but I have seen a non-verbal person with autism play piano like a concert pianist without any formal training. The news reported a few months ago about a young boy who did not express himself emotionally until he saw a famous animated movie. Suddenly, he started to express himself and increased his vocabulary by seeing other movies from the same film studio. The mind is extraordinary as you can see when watching the main character in this dramatic, crime mystery.     AFTER WITNESSING THE MURDER OF HIS friend Lionel Essrog, played by Edward Norton (Primal Fear, Keeping the Faith), was determined to find out who killed him. With so few clues no one would be able to do what Lionel had the ability to do. With Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Fast Colour, Beyond the Lights) as Laura Rose, Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated, Blue Jasmine) as Moses Randolph, Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Bad Country) as Paul Randolph and Cherry Jones (The Perfect Storm, Ocean’s Twelve) as Gabby Horowitz; this film festival winner based on the novel of the same name was written and directed by Edward Norton. Set in New York City during the 1950s, I found the story dragged for the first half of the film. Though I thought the acting and filming were excellent, it just seemed as if the story was going nowhere. However, by the second half of the picture, I found myself more engaged and enjoying the snowballing mystery aspect of the story. There was a part of the story that was just as relevant now as it was back then. If the script had been not as long, I think this movie would have been more powerful. Despite this I at least enjoyed watching the stylish scenes and incredible acting skills of Edward.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Hard Eight

IT WAS THE 2ND WEEK OF high school when I first heard the guitar music filtering into the hallway. I was a freshman and still getting the lay of the land in the large school building, compared to my small elementary school. Making a mental note of my surroundings, I promised myself I would find where the music was coming from. The following week during my study period, I asked for a hall pass and made my way through the school hallways listening for the music. It was faint and unrecognizable, lingering just enough in the air like morning mist to lead me towards it. I soon found myself in an unfamiliar part of the school, in front of a slightly ajar door without a room number. As I slowly pushed the door open the guitar playing stopped. I froze for a moment but decided I could not run away now. Stepping into the room I saw a blonde-haired guy sitting on a desk with one leg crossed over the other and a guitar resting in his lap. He was the first to speak by saying hello to me. I said hi back and told him I had heard the music playing and wanted to find out where it was coming from. He asked if I played an instrument and I told him yes, the piano. From there we started talking all things music, from classical to pop music.      HE WAS A SENIOR WHICH TOOK me by surprise because I had heard seniors would not be caught dead talking to lowly freshmen. Music was our connection and I found myself hanging out with him playing music every week, since they did not take attendance in study hall. Having a senior as a friend was fortuitous because it gave me inside access on how to maneuver through the school year. He gave me a rundown of which teachers were cool, what foods to avoid in the lunchroom, what bathrooms were safe to use, among a variety of other tips and warnings. I did not have to go through a typical trial and error period of discovery that was filled with risk, especially for freshman. Little did I know how valuable his info would be for me. My years in high school were traumatic, filled with bullying and abuse; I could only imagine how worse it would have been if I did not know what I already knew due to him. Though we only had one year together in school before he went out of state for college; for all intents and purposes he was a mentor to me, just like the main character in this dramatic crime film.      HAVING LOST ALL HIS MONEY, NOT able to even buy a meal John, played by John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie, The Sisters Brothers), was leery of the stranger who suddenly appeared and offered to buy him a cup of coffee. No one does something for free without wanting something; what did this finely dressed man want with John? With Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights, The Last Word) as Sydney, Gwyneth Paltrow (The Avengers franchise, Thanks for Sharing) as Clementine, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, The Hateful Eight) as Jimmy and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Hunger Games franchise, The Master) as a young craps player; this film festival winner was filled with a tour de force of acting. The cast was outstanding as they slowly made their way through the script. Seeped in mystery and emotions, I enjoyed the unintentional retro vibe coming off this over 20-year-old film. Due to the authenticity of the dialog, I stayed engaged with the story; a story that seemed familiar to me from other gambling films, yet still had some surprise to it. I can see where young writers would use this film as a teaching tool on how to write real characters.

 

3 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Evil Under the Sun

IF I DO NOT KNOW AT LEAST several guests at a social function, I feel like I am walking into uncharted territory filled with landmines. It is best to keep one’s guard up when attending such affairs, I have found. The reason I feel this way did not suddenly happen after attending one party; it took my going to several parties and experiencing the full force of passive aggressive guests before I came to this conclusion. Please hear me out before you reach a conclusion. When I do not know people at a party, I tend to be more reserved. I will circulate through the guests before I find a spot that I can claim for myself. As the evening progresses I will either strike up a conversation or a guest will come up to me. During our conversation, the person I am talking to will make an offhanded comment about another guest they tell me they know, maybe about something they are wearing or their physical features. I have learned when someone is expressing a negative comment about someone who is a stranger to you, they are trying to lay some type of groundwork to win you over to their “side.” Do not ask me why this happens but some people feel the need to win over total strangers as some kind of support while they are holding a grudge or feud with the individual. Maybe it is something about “strength in numbers;” I just don’t know.     IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS THESE encounters at parties are not a big deal to me because more than likely I will never see these individuals again. However, it is a whole different ballgame when situations like this take place at one’s new place of business. Yuck, it is challenging to walk into a work environment where employees have chosen sides and you are the new neutral country in the middle of their war. The more vigilant employees will use every opportunity to tear down the employee they do not like, by making little comments to you about them. I used to sit next to someone at a job where every day I would have to listen to them make a snide remark about a fellow employee’s work or hygiene or mannerisms or some other such thing; it was exhausting for me. I had no opinion one way or the other; so, my defense was to simply respond with one-word exclamations, like “oh” or “really.” My philosophy was to let their talking go in one ear and out the other; I would form my own opinions. This is something I was trying to do while listening to all the hotel guests in this dramatic, crime mystery.      HIRED TO FIND OUT HOW A millionaire received a fake jewel Detective Hercule Poiret, played by Peter Ustinov (Death on the Nile, Logan’s Run), found himself on a small island where a dead body showed up. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Daphne Castle, James Mason (A Star is Born, North by Northwest) as Odell Gardener, Nicholas Clay (Excalibur, Zulu Dawn) as Patrick Redfern and Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones-TV, The Painted Veil) as Arlena Stuart Marshall; this film festival nominee’s story was based on Agatha Christie’s novel. Just knowing that will tell you what you are in store for when watching this movie. The cast was eclectic and fun to watch; I enjoyed all the characters, especially the ones of Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg. With such a large cast there were several story lines to follow, but it was easy to do so. Out of the different movies made from Agatha Christie’s novels, I found this screenplay slightly tamer with several bland scenes. The setting was great, the actors were well versed; I only wished there was more suspense and dramatic flair. Still, I enjoyed trying to figure out who committed the crime.

 

3 stars   

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