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Flash Movie Review: Loving Pablo

IS A PERSON JUST BEING GOOD to you enough to have a relationship with them? I have always had a curiosity about the things that are important to a person seeking and being in a love relationship. One of the things that piqued my curiosity was seeing news reporters interviewing the love interest of a person who had recently committed a crime or was in an altercation. Hearing the girlfriend say her boyfriend has always been good to her after he had just been accused of bludgeoning a man to death was the oddest thing to me. Let us say it was true, that he was kind and respectful of her; is that all one needs to fall in love? There seems to be more similar examples currently than I can recall years ago. A husband is stunned when he finds out his wife has been embezzling money from her place of employment for years. Behind the husband and reporter, parked in the driveway of the couple’s house, was a brand new expensive car. I find it all bizarre; how can someone only focus on certain aspects of an individual and base their affection solely on those features? I know I cannot do it.      IN MY WORLD ACTIONS HAVE AS much importance as words; in other words, it is not just what a person says that will cement my feelings towards them. I think anyone can say anything and I have been in relationships where the person said things they knew would pull at my heart strings. And the words did; however, there were things they did that did not earn my trust. I had friends who had warned me, but you know how that goes; unless they are in your shoes, you feel your friends are not able to see the whole picture. It is funny because I have been in their place where I expressed my concerns about friends’ love interests. There was one person who was a user, who only cared about himself. Yes, he would do these sweet things for my friend that made her heart swell; but he had no empathy and was a cheapskate. If the opportunity came up where she asked me for my opinion I would tell her exactly what I thought. The one thing I would not do is tell her what she “should” do; I knew she would have to figure out what worked for her. Also, I remained respectful around him. My motto is, “I do not have to accept anything, but need to respect it.” And when it comes to this biographical crime film, no truer words have been spoken. If not, one could find themselves getting killed.      DESPITE BEING COLOMBIA’S MOST NOTORIOUS DRUG LORD there was something about Pablo Escobar, played by Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) that made journalist and anchorwoman Virginia Vallejo, played by Penelope Cruz (The Counselor, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), fall in love with him. It wasn’t long before everyone knew. This film festival winning action movie also starred Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie, The Magnificent Seven) as Shepherd, Julieth Restrepo (At the End of the Spectra, Moria) as Maria Victoria Henao and Oscar Jaenada (The Shallows, Cantinflas) as Santoro. It goes without saying that Javier and Penelope were a perfect match since they are married to each other. I enjoyed the two of them in this story and picked up a couple of things I did not know about Escobar. However, the script was too superficial; I would have preferred if the writers went deeper into the characters. Instead there were scenes of blood and violence which were expected, but I felt there had to be more to this story than what was shown.

 

2 stars

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Flash Movie Review: The Infiltrator

I tried throwing out several different topics but they would always steer the conversation back to their job. If I made reference to something that happened to me they would match the experience with someone in their office. Have you ever met a person who brings their work home with them? Maybe because from my day job I go and teach evening fitness and yoga classes, I have an easier time of letting go of the workaday world. I am a big believer in employees finding a way to let go of their job stress and not carry it through their daily life. From my yoga classes I have seen what stress can do to a person’s body and mind. There have been some participants walking into class for the first time who are so tightly wound up they look like they could break on their very first yoga pose. It is funny but I actually offered a free yoga class to the individual I was referring to earlier but they declined. The reason I suggested it was because I could see their shoulders rise up towards their ears as soon as they started talking about their work. It was obvious to me they could not let go of their stress. Sadly this was not the only person I knew who brought their work home with them; I have been exposed to quite a few individuals who live to work as opposed to work to live. Feel free to take a look at the guy in this crime drama and tell me if he is bringing his work home with him.   DISCOVERING an opportunity to make a huge drug bust against a major drug lord meant Robert Mazur, played by Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Argo), would have to go undercover and put off retirement. Too bad Robert did not know if it would be worth the trade-off. Based on a true story this biographical film started out slow for me; but just like undertaking a building project, it kept getting bigger and deeper. The acting was first class by everyone including John Leguizamo (Chef, Vanishing on 7th Street) as Emir Abreu, Diane Kruger (Unknown, National Treasure) as Kathy Ertz and Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, The Lesser Blessed) as Roberto Alcaino. One may expect Bryan to be terrific but I was impressed even more by Diane and Benjamin. Their performances were the most believable for me. I thought the directing not only gave depth to the characters but it also added intensity to various scenes. Besides the beginning of the film there were a few slow parts, along with a couple of things that seemed out of place compared to the major story; however, the acting was so good I did not feel these few things took too much away from my experience watching this picture. The other thing I want to mention is the actual story. It was so out of the realm of my world that I had moments of disbelief, but it was not a distraction. I may be intense at times but I have to tell you after seeing this film I am just thankful I can leave my work behind at the end of the day.

 

3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Hot Pursuit

Everyone was having a good time as things continued to go smoothly at the reception. The top reason for this was due to the main attraction, the bride and groom. They were each outgoing individuals that were able to create memorable times no matter the situation. Now as a couple their chemistry only accentuated their fun qualities. All the guests were mingling and chatting during the cocktail hour, telling each other memories they had shared with the bride and/or groom. Dinner was announced as the large padded doors along one wall were folded back, revealing a room glowing in a soft palette of white, burgundy and gold colors. There was an orchestra playing music as the guests headed to their seats. After everyone was seated the orchestra leader announced the newly married couple as they entered in to the sound of cheers and applause from family and friends. Once they were seated the first toasts of the evening were given by each of the parents. They shared personal fun stories about their children, giving the crowd a good laugh. The next toast came from the best man who was the groom’s best friend. Since they had known each other since 1st grade, there were intimate tales the best man felt for some reason were okay to tell the crowd. One embarrassing story led to another with a running joke that was only cute the first time. The lukewarm reaction to the joke did not stop the best man; his speech dragged out to a point where the crowd was dulled into boredom.    JUST like the best man overstayed his welcome, so did the main characters in this action comedy. Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Walk the Line) played uptight police officer Cooper who was assigned to protect Daniella Riva, played by Sofia Vergara (Chef, Modern Family-TV), the wife of a drug lord. Cooper’s training did not prepare her for Daniella and all the bad guys after her. I was surprised by this movie’s story. Sure there was humor to mine when the two main characters were total opposites of each other; however, the writers did nothing new with them. The running joke about Daniella’s accent and not being understood got old very fast. I found Reese’s character, which was the blander of the two, annoying after a short time. As the movie went on it dawned on me that it was similar to the film, The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The difference being this was a very poor version of it. I read afterwards that Reece and her production company want to bring out strong women driven films which I am all for; but if this was an example of what is in store for the movie audience, I think it will push back the limited gains that have been made already.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Dredd

Driving around the city, it has become more and more I wish I had the authority to be the judge, jury and executioner for the crazy drivers around me. The guy who was brushing his teeth and rinsing out with a can of soda while driving would get canned by me. Or the woman who was weaving out of her lane because she was putting on her makeup would be brushed off the road if I had a say. And do not get me started on the parent who was too busy talking on their cell phone at the grocery store to notice their child pulling items off the shelf and onto the floor. If I was in charge there would me more parking spaces and less traffic on the road. Not being a follower of Judge Dredd, I went into this movie with only a vague memory of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film. Set in the future, citizens lived in huge mega towers that reached 200 floors. The police were known as judges since they had the authority to arrest, try and if need be instantly execute felons. Judge Dredd, played by Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Bourne Supremacy) was a top judge who was assigned a female rookie to train. Cassandra Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno, No Strings Attached), was no ordinary judge; she possessed strong psychic abilities. Called to a brutal crime scene, the two became trapped in one of the mega towers, with a bounty placed on their heads by the evil drug lord Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headley (300, Game of Thrones-TV). With the odds stacked against them, the two judges would have to outwit and outlast the constant stream of thugs hell bent on killing them. Karl Urban took this role to heart, not once removing his helmet to give his face some screen time. Olivia did a fine job of acting in this tense film. The special effects were good, especially when showing the effects of the mind altering drug Slo-Mo. What lacked in this movie was sheer excitement; I never felt emotionally engaged with the action scenes. They came across as if they had been over rehearsed, casting a dullness onto the scenes. It seemed as if each scene was volleying between chasing or shooting. The elements were all in place for this to be a better movie; ironically it was the execution of it that softened the impact. Graphic violence with blood.

 

2 1/2 stars 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Raid: Redemption

During one point of the movie I felt I was watching an extreme episode of the Iron Chef. There was so much slicing and dicing, I almost had to take a motion sickness pill. The story was simple: a small swat team of police officers, on a mission to bring in a ruthless drug lord, got trapped in his compound.  Vastly outnumbered, the team had to fight their way through an endless amount of the drug lord’s minions. There was nothing to the story, it only had sparse dialog and practically non-existent acting. The key element here was the action scenes. The main star was Rama, played by Iko Uwais (Merantau). My guess is the studio was hoping to market Iko as the next martial arts superstar. He was a national champion in silat, a traditional Indonesian martial art, which he has been studying since he was 10 years old. The fight scenes were choreographed down to the millisecond. The actors moved so fast I wondered how many real injuries took place while filming. After several battles, they all seemed to be the same to me except for the level of violence. If you play violent video games, you would be okay with this movie. Though I could appreciate the intricate fight scenes, I did not enjoy viewing this movie. Ginzu knives missed a great marketing opportunity here.  Warning: extreme violence.  Indonesian with English subtitles.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

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