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Flash Movie Review: Searching

AS A RULE OF THUMB, whenever I am having a discussion with someone who has an opposing view, I like to ask them what they heard me say. It is amazing how I may feel I explained something perfectly, but the person heard it differently. This is the beauty of having a face to face conversation; you can hear the inflection in their voice and get visual clues to the intent of their words. With more people communicating via electronic devices I feel I may miss what a person is trying to tell me. I wound up in a conversation with a relative that was done completely on a social media platform. Both of us wound up misunderstanding each other where I was left feeling hurt. On top of it, I was concerned other people would gain access to our conversation since it was all done electronically. Two things that come to mind: embarrassing and nobody’s business. Since that time, I promised myself I would not get into a war of words with anyone unless I could see their face. There is too much that can be misconstrued or lost in translation through the internet.      I WAS RECENTLY CONTACTED BY ONE of my social media accounts and had to prove to them I was me. Considering the variety of unusual names I have seen on accounts, I had no idea why after several years they suddenly wanted confirmation from my account. Maybe I am incorrect in my thinking, but I figured they have the capability to see ever keystroke on my account and the ones that I comment on; why did they suddenly feel I was an imposter? Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind a company verifying their users. With so much fraud and fake individuals I have little trust with most things I see on the internet. I am sure there is even more underhanded things taking place that I am unaware of; I find it scary. From the little exposure I have had with friends of mine who are in IT, I really do not know if there truly is a website that is 100% safe and secure. It seems as if anything can be manipulated online to appear a certain way. I know at work we were taught to closely check the spelling in an email sent from an unfamiliar site. Evidently scammers from other countries may not fully grasp the nuances of another language and misspell a word or use an idiom incorrectly.  Doesn’t it seem like it all comes down to communication and this dramatic, mystery thriller will show you a variety of ways.      WHEN HIS DAUGHTER MARGOT, PLAYED by relative newcomer Michelle La, was not returning any of his calls; David Kim, played by John Cho (Star Trek franchise, Harold & Kumar franchise), filed a missing person’s report. The first thing the detective told him was to check Margot’s computer. David could not believe what he had found. With Debra Messing (The Women, Will & Grace-TV) as Detective Vick, Joseph Lee (Lion, Nerve) as Peter and Sara Sohn (Furious 7, Sense8-TV) as Pamela Nam Kim; this film festival winner told its entire story through social media sites and texts. I honestly thought I would dislike this way of telling a story; but I must tell you, it worked to the story’s advantage. Going from texts to FaceTime to YouTube to email became seamless for me. I found the script riveting and thoroughly enjoyed the acting from everyone. The story could easily be in today’s headlines which only made it more gripping to watch in my opinion. This was a novel and fresh way to do a movie and of all people, look who enjoyed watching it; me, the man who still has a landline in his house.

 

3 ¼ stars

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Flash Movie Review: Sherlock Gnomes

NOT ONLY HAD I NEVER seen one, I never even heard about them. Walking into their house for the first time, I was introduced to a pleasant couple who were friends with my friend. They were hosting a get together and my friend brought me along. After the introductions they led us into their living room. It took me a moment to take it all in but across most of the flat surfaces in the room, such as shelves and tables, there were these ceramic gnomes everywhere. It was so utterly odd to me and there were so many of them; all different kinds from wizen elderly males to young teenagers to busy looking females. Evidently the expression on my face telegraphed my surprise for the hosts took the liberty of telling me the history of several of their gnomes. I found out the artist who created them always placed some type of object on the piece as a surprise. Oh and I almost forgot, each gnome had a name and a history about their life.     SEVERAL YEARS LATER I WAS killing time in a resale shop. As I made my way through the aisles I came to a section that held house wares. There was an entire shelving unit filled with the same type of gnomes I remembered from that dinner party back then. All of them were lined up into rows as if they were all sitting in a theater to watch a movie. I never knew how much were the original prices for these gnomes, but I could not resist checking what they were being priced at in this resale store. A majority of the larger ones were priced at $5.00 and the smaller ones at $3.00. I had to assume this was a major bargain. What is that saying, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure? Based on the traces of dust covering some of the gnomes I assumed they had been sitting there a long time; I guess there is not a need for people to have gnomes in their house or garden currently. It is funny because I wound up feeling the same regarding this animated, adventure comedy sequel.     AFTER SETTLING INTO THEIR NEW home Gnomeo and Juliet, voiced by James McAvoy (Split, The Last King of Scotland) and Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train, Into the Woods), expected with a little work to have the perfect garden. However when their fellow gnomes went missing the only one who could hopefully solve the mystery was the top detective Sherlock Gnomes, voiced by Johnny Depp (Black Mass, The Long Ranger) and his companion Dr. Watson, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, 2012). The idea for this story was cute in this film. With decent animation and a soundtrack provided by Elton John’s songs I thought this would have been a fun film. Just as I was stunned seeing all those gnomes in that couple’s house, I was dumbfounded by how poorly written was the script. This picture was boring to me; there was nothing funny or cute about it. Maybe a narrow group of children would like this film; but where I expected a theater with children to be noisy, in my viewing there were barely any sounds coming from the audience. I had to fight to stay attentive to what was going on in the story. For the most part I felt myself wanting to doze off, but forced myself to stay awake. It was a late viewing for me, but that was not the reason. Like the fate of Beanie Babies and pet rocks, this movie will probably make it to the discount bin in quick time.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Jigsaw

WHERE THEY CAME FROM no one took part or even mentioned anything about Sweetest Day. Looking at the rack with cards on display, they were shocked that this holiday was “a thing.” Not only did they not know anything about this special day, they did not recall it ever being talked about when they were children. They joked that this had to be a manufactured holiday; maybe it was created by the card companies to increase their sales. To tell you the truth when I was growing up I had never heard anything about Sweetest Day. For this review I wanted to see if I could find out the history behind it; so my searching discovered this holiday was first celebrated in 1921 in Cleveland Ohio, planned by a committee of 12 confectioners to a candy company. Isn’t that an interesting tidbit? It appears to be a bit self-serving; create a holiday that would entice people to buy sweets for their sweet.     THE CREATION OF FALSEHOODS for personal gain has been going on for centuries; it still does not make it right. I worked at a place that had a salesperson that constantly turned in fake orders. When I say fake I mean the salesperson might have discussed the product with the customer, but had not gotten the approval to go ahead and place the order. The company would process the order and pay commission to the salesperson, unaware the order was not completely legit at that point in time. If luck was on the salesperson’s side by the time the order was received and ready to ship out the approval came through for it; no one was the wiser. However, there were times where the okay was delayed or never given. In those cases the salesperson already received their commission but our company did not get payment for months or not at all. For the orders that were never approved we would get stuck with the product and scramble to find someone else to buy it from us. I found the salesperson’s behavior appalling; without thought about the company they worked for, they were only interested in their own personal gain. I felt this same behavior was the motivation for this horror, crime mystery film.     TEN YEARS HAD PASSED since serial killer Jigsaw’s death. However the recent cases Detective Halloran, played by Callum Keith Rennie (Born to be Blue, Memento), was solving had all the markings of being the work of Jigsaw. And like Jigsaw, there were more cases to come. With Matt Passmore (Satisfaction-TV, McLeod’s Daughters-TV) as Logan Nelson, Tobin Bell (Mississippi Burning, Manson Family Vacation) as John Kramer, Hannah Emily Anderson (Lizzie Borden Took an Ax-TV movie, Shoot the Messenger-TV) as Eleanor Bonneville and Cle Bennett (Barney’s Version, Urban Legend) as Detective Keith Hunt; there were many gruesome scenes the cast experienced. Fans of the Saw films will probably get on board with this latest installment; but I have to tell you, I found the script to be bland. I can appreciate the one story line concerning administering justice on the guilty; but it made me uncomfortable, as if the writers were sending a positive message that it is okay to take justice into your own hands. As I was sitting and watching this picture I felt it was created simply to reboot the franchise; there was nothing new or special except for a plot twist at the end. I have to tell you I do not know who had it worse, the victims in this movie or me sitting and watching it.

 

1 ¾ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Exposed

“Use it or lose it” is one of my favorite things to say to people. In my fitness classes the members have been listening to me say this for years. If we stop working on ourselves how will we continue to move and grow, both physically and mentally? From my experiences I know some individuals have an easier time training their body instead of their mind and visa versa. I actually find it is easier to train my body, which is why I work extra hard on using my mind. To me the mind is like any other muscle in the body and it needs to be stimulated so it can continue to thrive and expand. Without going into too much detail my mind was tested at a very young age; you could say trial by fire. Growing up and being overweight, I heard the “F” word a lot to describe my size. I do not remember when it actually started to work but there came a point where I stopped listening to the taunts. Yes, I still would hear it but my mind would not register it. This explains why today I am skilled in being able to shut out different noises and sounds. Where a co-worker may get distracted with an annoying repetitive sound coming out from the warehouse, my mind only hears white noise, if even that. This ability is not limited to just sounds; if the mind is strong enough it can shield a person from certain parts of reality. It has served me well. I see I am not the only one now that I have seen this dramatic movie.    WHEN his partner was found dead Detective Galban, played by Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix franchise), was determined to find the killer. With the trail of clues not adding up and no one claiming to have seen anything, Detective Galban was positive there had to be someone out in the city who could provide him with the answers. This film which also had Mira Sorvino (The Replacement Killers, Mimic) as Janine Cullen and Ana de Armas (Sex, Party and Lies; The Boarding School-TV) as Isabel de la Cruz had a film noir flavor to it at first. I thought Ana was a compelling actress and found her role the most interesting. In a short amount of time the story broke down and became a jumble of sub-stories. From its film noir look it started to become a surreal fantasy type of story before trying to be more like a true detective story. I kept waiting for something to happen as the script randomly offered these little pieces of information that were not tying up the scenes; I started to wonder what was the point the writers were trying  to convey to the viewers. Also, I have to say Keanu was more stiff than usual in this role. One could blame it all on the editing, the writing, the direction or all of the above; it does not matter. As I type the last word to my review I will forget about this discombobulated piece of work.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Killer Joe

Though Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike, Bernie) bares his posterior again with this movie, he is not accepting your dollar bills. Oh no, he is taking much more here. As Killer Joe Cooper, Matthew was this creepy, menacing character who was a police detective with a little business on the side. He was a hired killer. It was one of the best performances I have seen out of him. Right now thinking about some of his scenes sent a shudder of dread through me. Hired by deeply in debt Chris Smith, played by Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk), to kill his mother for the life insurance money; Joe Cooper extracted much more than what this trailer trash dysfunctional family had planned. As you just read the previous sentences, I am certain you will be stunned to  learn as I was, that this film was part comedy. The utterly outrageous predicaments filmed in a raw yet beautiful way by director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) gave this movie a film noir look and feel to it. The entire cast was excellent, particularly Gina Gershon (P.S. I Love You, Bond) as Chris’ stepmother Sheila Smith; who was okay with the murder plot against her husband’s first wife. Adapted from his own play, Tracy Letts (August: Osage County, Bug) wrote the screenplay. This crime thriller’s NC-17 rating was well deserved with its brutal bloody violence, nudity and foul language. In other words, this is one of those movies you will either love or hate. In one moment I would cringe at a scene, to immediately burst out in laughter in the following; this was one intense wild movie. If you have the stomach for this type of film, you may very well be a witness to future Oscar nominees Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch.

 

3 stars

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