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Flash Movie Review: A Boy Called Christmas

IT STARTED WHEN I MENTIONED I had not gotten many holiday cards this year. My friend thought for a moment before she told me she believed it was the same for her. It was not like I sat and counted each card received, but since I normally display them by standing each card up on a coffee table, this year only a quarter of the table had cards. One thing my friend thought could be the reason was the fewer card shops we had around these days. I could see that being one of the reasons because I know fewer pieces of mail get handled currently. Another reason I thought of was the possibility people are simply tired, frustrated or scared of the current situation with COVID and all the ramifications associated with it. Some people I know are cancelling their plans to be with friends and family for the holidays; others have either lost their job or have had their health compromised, so they can no longer do their job. I know an individual who became ill due to COVID and was in the hospital for 75 days, near death at times. It has been nearly a full year and they are still in no position to go back to their job. Another person I know was put out of work because their profession was totally upended by the pandemic and it had to be shut down. I feel these are perfect reasons why people are not feeling festive.      THERE ALSO IS SOMETHING ELSE THAT is weighing on the minds of people. The issue with the overtaxed supply chain is part of it, but I also believe the higher prices and fewer choices together can be the deciding factor for someone who decides they cannot afford to spend the extra money presently. When I mentioned this to my friend, she told me I was right because of a discussion she recently had with a family member. This relative was complaining about the amount of money they spend on people for the holiday, but they feel they never get that much in return. The look on my face must have conveyed my shock to her because she told me she was just as shocked. Even with the fact the holiday is not something I ever celebrated, I commented on how sad it was that the focus for her relative was the amount of money she spent compared to what she received; that the gifts have nothing to do with the meaning and spirit of the holiday. Next, I told my friend I wish I could meet her relative just so I could tell them they need to see this beautiful, family adventure drama to learn the real meaning of the holiday.      A SON TRIED TO WAIT FOR his father to return from a long trek, in search of a magical place; but decided to take off on his own to find his father and bring him back home. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Aunt Ruth, relative newcomer Henry Lawfull as Nikolas, Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adaline, Game of Thrones-TV) as Joel, Kristen Wiig (Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, Ghostbusters) as Aunt Carlotta and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Eternal Beauty) as Mother Vodol; this film based on the popular book was a wonderful movie watching experience for me. The cast was first rate; each actor was wonderful in their role. Despite the story being somewhat predictable, I found the mix of fantasy, thrills, magic, drama and fun to be a perfect mix—especially during this holiday season. The message in the story is something that I feel everyone could learn from. As I mentioned, Christmas was not part of the holidays I celebrated; but I must tell you, I enjoyed and appreciated this treat of a picture.

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Onward

MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom.      THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy.      UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.

 

2 stars             

Flash Movie Review: Strange Magic

Their skin had a distinct glow that made it look like soft amber. Only their teeth, when revealed in a wide smile, could outshine the beauty of their skin. If one could pull their gaze from that face and widen it to include the rest of the body, they would see a sculpted form that would remain solid as a statue in any environment. There are some people whose heart would lasso such a being, letting their love wash all over them. Unfortunately they do not realize one very important reality; there is a slow moving poison pushing inside of them. I refer to this condition as “dark heart.” The individual may be the perfect fit for what you consider to be beautiful; however, there is darkness inside of them. You may remember I consider our bodies to be rented, that they are constantly in a state of change. So I put little emphasis on the external side of a person. I find someone who displays things like kindness, honesty and respect to be much more interesting. Things like hair and height have no relevance in determining if a person is a good human being or not.    EVEN in a world inhabited by elves and fairies, true love can have a strong influence. When the Bog King, voiced by Alan Cumming (Spy Kids franchise, The Good Wife-TV), kidnapped Marrianne’s, voiced by Evan Rachel Wood (Across the Universe, The Ides of March), sister and held her hostage until he received a magical potion; it would take someone with a determined will to combat all the forces that were put in place. Based on a story by George Lucas (Star Wars franchise, American Graffiti), this animated fantasy was not only colorful to watch, it was one of the oddest movies I have seen in a while. The idea behind the story was solid and I could relate to it; however, having various characters break out into popular songs from the past decades to tell the story was weird. All the actors like Elijah Kelly (Hairspray, Red Tails) as Sunny and Kristin Chenoweth (The Boy Next Door, Glee-TV) as the Sugar Plum Fairy were in good voice, but I did not care too much for any of the characters that were voiced. The villain character was weak which contributed to me remaining bored throughout the movie. Honestly this film was not only dull it had little magic compared to recent animated films I have seen. I was so surprised to read later that George had been developing this story for years and finally pushed it forward to become a movie. All I can say is behind this pretty facade of a film there was only boring dreariness. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits and at the end.

 

1 1/2 stars

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