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Flash Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

THE SENTIMENT WAS TOUCHING; BUT unless there was follow-through, I knew the relationship would not be sustainable. We worked at the same company for several years and formed a bond early on because we were similar in so many ways, both personally and in work ethic. She had a childhood that mimicked mine and I think that is what cemented our relationship the most; we reacted the same to the situations that came up in the office. When she told me she was leaving the company I was both sad and glad. I would miss her, but I was happy she found a job that paid her better. On her last day she came into my office to say goodbye and let me know we will still be friends, that our work time did not define our friendship. We agreed we would stay connected and get together. She left on a Friday and when I came back to the office on Monday, it did not take long for me to miss her. With our time together, we came to a point in our work relationship where we did not have to explain what we were doing; we already knew how the other would manage the situation as it revealed itself.      FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER SHE LEFT the company, we stayed in touch via text and phone calls. I would keep her abreast with any unusual activities that arose among the employees she knew. We agreed to meet for lunch a couple of times and had an enjoyable time sitting and talking to each other. However, as time went on our times in getting together were growing further and further apart. We texted more than called each other and even the texts started to get fewer. I knew if we did not incorporate some type of activities into our relationship besides just sitting and eating, there would be fewer and fewer things to talk about. I mean how much does it really matter to hear about an employee’s exploits at the office after being away for so long? Mostly these days our friendship is limited to sending and receiving birthday and holiday cards. It is an odd situation but not an unfamiliar one to me. You grow together while at the same company, but once one leaves the relationship does not stay the same. It is funny; I feel the same about this prequel franchise to the Harry Potter films. I have a stronger connection to the Hogwarts series than the movies I have seen so far for this current franchise.      WITH AN ELECTION COMING UP PROFESSOR Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law (The Nest, Black Sea), is aware one wizard is trying to stack the deck in their favor. However, the professor cannot act against him directly due to a magical pact created a long time ago. With Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) as Newt Scamander, Ezra Miller (Madame Bovary, Justice League) as Credence Barebone, Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, In Like Flynn) as Jacob Kowalski and Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round, Doctor Strange) as Gellert Grindlewald; this action, adventure fantasy left me with a bland feeling. I felt the drama was usurped by the action. Now there were parts of this movie that were exciting and magical, however, the script felt more one note than incorporating some highs and lows into the story. I normally enjoy Mads’ performances but, in this film, I did not think he was utilized fully for his character. A base comment for this picture would be to say it was lackluster; without the sparkle of wonderment, the magic and creativity did not pop like they did in the Harry Potter films. It almost felt as if the writers and studio were following a set game plan to produce this film. As I mentioned earlier, unless there is interest on both sides, this franchise is destined not to succeed.                                                                

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Justice League

PLANS HAD BEEN FINALIZED several weeks before the event. Schedules were coordinated to make sure everyone was available to spend the weekend together. The kids only cared about getting to the amusement park to see some of their favorite television and toy characters. Commercials that showed the things one could do at the park were a constant companion to the children’s television shows. Anytime the TV was on it would only be a matter of minutes before one could hear the famous jingle and tagline for the amusement park. For the weeks leading up to the big day, the siblings and cousins could not stop talking about what rides they wanted to go on first or who they wanted to see. Every night when going to bed each child asked their parents how many more days were left before they would be there. The week of the trip had finally arrived to a changed landscape.     UNFORTUNATELY A COUPLE OF the kids got sick and two of the parents could not leave their offices, due to an important schedule change with clients that they needed to address. All of the kids were devastated with the news the trip had to be cancelled. Some of the younger children were sobbing uncontrollably. The adults talked among themselves and finally came up with a solution they hoped would appease or at least calm the children down. Once everyone was healthy they would all get together and take a day trip to the local amusement park. This park had characters walking around like the other amusement park but they were more of a generic nature. One could say they were akin to being the supporting cast or distant relatives to the well known characters. The rides were fun for the kids but they involved random animated creatures the children had never heard of before. Where the initial trip involved an entire weekend to see the entire park, this amusement park was small enough to be easily covered all in one day. The children had a good time but their memories of the day soon faded away. I felt the same way about this action, adventure fantasy.     RECENT SIGHTINGS SHOWED A new evil force was descending on the planet; a force that Batman, played by Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Gone Girl), realized he would not be able to handle by himself. Joining forces with Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping up with the Joneses, Wonder Woman), the two did not know if there would be enough time to create a formable match for the destructive power wreaking havoc across the land. With Ezra Miller (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash, Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, Game of Thrones-TV) as Aquaman and Ray Fisher (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Cyborg; I thought the only actor who stood out was Ezra. However his character’s personality reminded me of the recent Spiderman reboot. I felt Batman was the mentor for The Flash like Iron Man was for Spiderman. The script for this film was bland to the point where it seemed all everyone was doing was some action scene. And speaking of action I thought the CGI was poorly done compared to other “superhero” movies that have recently come out. And my biggest complaint was the villain in this story; he was so special effected that he did not come across as evil enough. The villain needed to be dominant and evil in this type of picture. I felt I was watching a B movie; okay fun but nothing special. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

2 1/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

HAVE you ever met someone and there was an immediate, familiar comfort between the two of you? There was very little or none at all the two of you knew about each other, yet you would listen to what they had to say and you had the sense you knew about it already. This recently happened to me. I only knew a few details about the person before our scheduled meeting. Introductions were made and as we sat down we started up a conversation that was void of any silent moments. Each of us found a rhythm to our speech that was open and real as if we had been friends for years.    THE same feeling can be found between long term friends who have been out of touch for a long duration. You must have experienced it at some time I would think. I have a few friends who live out of state. One in particular I had not seen for several years; however, when we finally got together it was as if no significant duration of time every happened between us. We started right up where we left off our previous time as if we had seen each other a few days ago. In situations like this I tend to feel a warm familial connection to the person. Now here is the funny thing, I had this type of reaction to seeing this adventure family film. Being a big fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, I immediately formed a connection to this story that takes place 70 years before Harry Potter arrived in the magical world.    ARRIVING in New York City to seek out a particular magical creature Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything), was waylaid by a No-Maj (American for Muggle) who mistakenly wound up with Newt’s suitcase filled with magical creatures. This family movie did not disappoint with the abundance of magical special effects. Set in the 1920s I thoroughly enjoyed the sets and costumes. With Dan Fogler (Fanboys, The Goldbergs-TV) as Kowalski, Colin Farrell (The Lobster, Total Recall) as Graves, Katherine Waterson (Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs) as Tina and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Credence Barebone; I thought the actors were good with their characters but had no chemistry between each other. Between the script and the directing, I found the movie on a whole a bit stagnant in some places. It went from a slow pace to a frantic action scene causing an unevenness in the pacing. From what I heard I understand this will be the 1st of 5 films, so I understood this movie would be more of an introduction to all the new characters. In addition, it was very hard not to compare this picture to the Harry Potter movies. This may sound odd but I found several characters were lacking   personality; I could not tell you much about them. However with me having an immediate connection to the magical world depicted here the flaws in this film were smoothed over.

 

2 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Madame Bovary

Labels on products have more meaning to me than labels for humans. When I hear people making introductions, adding the label of the person’s profession, I wonder why it is important that we know what the person does for a living. A couple of examples would be, “This is my husband Aaron, the doctor.” or “Let me introduce you to my girlfriend Emily, the lawyer.” What a person does for a living carries very little weight for me when it comes to what I think of a person. Yet I know there are some people who hunger to reach a certain status established in their mind, so they can feel successful. There was this person I used to know who would only date individuals from a specific list of professions. I would argue with them, trying to force them to look at how their love had conditions on it; bit it did not matter, my words fell on deaf ears. Maybe there is something wrong with me because I do not factor in monetary amounts when I am assessing a person’s character. A wealthy person for me would be one who is charitable, has long term friendships, is kind, has empathy; I could go on with my checklist if I had the time here. But the point I am trying to make is this, you could be with a rich successful accountant who cheats on you or a CFO who is a racist. I do not see that as being a wealthy person.    MARRYING town doctor Charles Bovary, played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Anna Karenina, Dimensions), was the start of what Emma, played by Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland), hoped would be the wealthy life she deserved. How long could one be content however when there was no limit on when they would finally feel rich? This dramatic period piece’s landscape was filled with beautiful shots of the countryside mixed with authentic reminders of the era. The star of this film was Mia; she had a strong screen presence with a face that easily conveyed emotions. Included in the cast was Paul Giamatti (San Andreas, Love & Misery) as Monsieur Homais and Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Need to Talk About Kevin) as Leon Dupuis; both had the ability to do a powerful performance but the script did not allow it. This film dragged miserably for me. I also found Mia’s character strange; for the time frame I could not believe her character’s actions which appeared to be easily made. The book I am sure provided more emotional layers to her that were lacking here on screen. This movie had all the trappings to be a rich dramatic story, sadly it did not succeed.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Another Happy Day

With wide open eyes that look almost too big for their head and their body shivering, how can one not feel sorry for their skittish pet? There are some pets that are afraid of lightning and thunder while others get freaked out by a running vacuum cleaner. All one can do is hold and comfort their scared pet if they let them. In the human species there are some people who have a predisposition to be easily scared or high-strung. They get frightened being a passenger in a car. I am sure there are times where they have a legitimate reason to jump in their seat; but sometimes it is just a different style of driving from their way. I tend to be a quiet walker and I am always amazed when I walk up to an employee. If they did not see of hear me they jump with a start. I always wonder who they think would be coming into their office in the middle of our department. Lastly there are some individuals who fall into the intense or high maintenance category. Now there is a difference between the two; with intense people one has to exert effort to try and maintain the relationship, to keep it satisfying for both parties. As for people who are high-strung, one needs only to accept and love them. In this Sundance Film Festival winning movie, it will take a whole lot of love and patience to maintain a civil relationship with this intense family. Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, Ocean’s Thirteen) played high-strung Lynn who was traveling with her family to the Annapolis home of her parents Doris and Joe Baker, played by Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, The Fountain) and George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke, Naked Gun franchise). The occasion was to attend her estranged son’s wedding who was raised by Lynn’s ex-husband Paul, played by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Easy A) and his 2nd wife Patty, played by Demi Moore (Ghost, Margin Call). Mix in dysfunctional relatives, money, addiction, hurt feelings and what could possibly go wrong? I really enjoyed this comedic drama in the beginning. The cast was excellent and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), who has cornered the market in playing a teenager in distress, played Lynn’s addictive son Elliot. As the movie played out I felt overloaded by the yelling and crying to the point I lost interest in the characters. It was too much which is exactly what I say when having to deal with someone who is high maintenance.

 

2 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Every Day

It is impossible to control those things that are out of our control. This took me a long time to learn, yet periodically I still try. I came to this realization when I started my yoga studies. Prior to them, each morning I would get angry while I was stuck in traffic on the way to work. There was nothing I could do about it, though I did come up with some creative ideas on how to eliminate the cars around me. From my studies I finally made the connection that day after day I was using up my energy to get angry at something that was out of my control. I still sit in traffic every day but I stay relaxed, listening to music now. In this dramedy we got an honest portrayal of the daily challenges in a family’s life. Liev Schreiber (Salt, Defiance) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions, Twister) played married couple Ned and Jeanne. The two began to experience their daily lives veering out of control when Jeanne’s cantankerous father Ernie, played by Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Romeo + Juliet), came to live with them. At the same time their gay son Jonah, played by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), announced he wanted to attend the school’s prom. I thought the fine acting sold the majority of the multiple story lines. What did not work for me was Ned’s office. His boss Garrett’s, played by Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen, The Cat’s Meow), extreme requests seemed too outrageous. If Eddie’s character was supposed to represent a commentary on reality television, it was lost on me. The topics of elder care and acceptance would have been enough to make a strong story. Adding the other issues, though valid in the real world, only bogged down the pacing in this film. In addition, I believe this caused the ending to be weak. I would have preferred the writers took a couple of issues and dug deeper into them. The movie kept my interest; there was no need to get angry over its flaws. Besides, there was nothing I could do about it anyway.

 

2 1/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Looking back at my high school years, the popular kids and jocks made up relatively small groups to the rest of the student body. I had an aunt who mistook my largeness for muscles, telling me I should join the football team. It quickly became apparent I did not belong. My goal was to get through high school unscathed. For all of you who understand me, this is our movie. One of the best movies I have seen this year, I commend author Stephen Chbosky who used his own book to write the screenplay and direct this wonderful film. Incoming freshman Charlie, played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, 3:10 to Yuma), already was dealing with family trauma and the loss of his best friend as he floundered to find where he belonged in school. Days of loneliness would pass until seniors Patrick and Sam, played by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, City Island) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise, My Week With Marilyn) took Charlie into their misfit group. Though lucky to have upperclassmen showing him the way, there would be issues Charlie had to face and conquer alone. The casting of this movie was the icing on the cake to the well thought out story; the actors were a perfect fit together. Emma was so good, not once did I think that was Hermione Granger up on the screen. The trailers for this movie do not really show the depth of the story; this was not a typical goofy high school movie. There were shades of darkness mixed with honest portrayals of real high school events. This was one time where I was able to go back to those school years and have tears of joy, as I applauded with the audience at the end of this impressive film.

 

3 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

I’m not a parent but know I would be a “tough love” type of Dad. I do not understand those parents who let their children run wild in a store or restaurant. And don’t get me started on the ones that bring their underage kids to an R rated movie–I am talking like a 6 or 7 year old! But what do you do if it turns out you do not like your child? The Kevin in this movie would really test a parent’s love. This intense film was too much for me to watch all the way through; I had to take a break from it. Since birth it appeared Kevin and his mother Eva Khatchadourian, played by Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Adaptation) never got along. Or maybe they just did not like each other. Tilda was extraordinary in this challenging role. As the teenage Kevin, Ezra Miller (Another Happy Day, City  Island) not only looked like he was Eva/Tilda’s son, but his acting was just as remarkable. Playing the father Franklin, John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids, The Promotion) was reduced to a minor character compared to the mother and son. I did not care for the direction, finding the use of flashbacks annoying. There were times I was trying to figure out why something was taking place. If you were to ask me if I enjoyed watching this movie, I would have to say no, not really. I wanted to see the acting since Ms Swinton was Oscar nominated. And yet, maybe this was a good film since it elicited a strong response in me. I have one other question I would like to ask: Should a parent be held responsible if their child grows up to be a sociopath?

 

3 stars — DVD

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