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Flash Movie Review: We Can Be Heroes

NOT ONCE DID I EVER SEE his father show up for a school function. Parent/teacher conferences, sports games or concerts; it was only his mother who would be present. The father was the president of a local company; I used to see one of their products on the grocery store’s shelf. I wasn’t sure what a president actually did, but I thought there had to be at least one time his father could have been in attendance. It made me wonder if there we something going on between the father and son; or maybe the father was embarrassed, I really did not know. The son was a “B” student, who was on the staff of the school’s newspaper. He was average looking though he gave off the appearance of being ungainly because of his long body torso and arms. There were a couple of times I saw him getting picked on from a couple of bullies; they would push him in the hallway and call him names. I want to say he did not have a lot of friends because I never saw him walking with anyone through the school grounds. At lunchtime he went home to eat; at least that is what I heard.      WHERE THAT PARENT NEVER PARTICIPATED IN any of the school functions, there was another student whose parents were well known, not always in a good way. These parents came to every concert; you always knew they were there because they were the loudest when it came to cheering and applauding the performers. One or both them always volunteered for all of the school’s fund drives. They were always available to decorate rooms or sell candy bars; they never refused anything. During the parent/teacher conferences, they were one of the more assertive parents. They took an active role in their child’s education, wanting to know the order of subject matter the teacher was planning to teach the class. Their intensity was something I found puzzling; I could not tell if they were trying to mold their son into something they wanted for him or simply wanted to be completely aware of all facets of their son’s education. Some of the other parents found them “pushy.” There was such a wide range of parental engagement within the school body that I wondered how much did a parent’s enthusiasm, or lack of, play a part in the student’s development. I can only imagine what it must have been like growing up for the children in this action, comedy fantasy film.      WITH THE EARTH ON THE VERGE of an alien invasion after the planet’s superheroes were captured, it was up to the superheroes’ children to figure out how to work together to save the planet and their parents. With YaYa Gosselin (13 Reasons Why-TV, FBI-TV) as Missy Moreno, newcomer Lyon Daniels as Noodles, Andy Walken (The Most Hated Woman in America, The Kids are Alright-TV) as Wheels, Hala Finley (Back Roads, Man with a Plan) as Ojo and newcomer Lotus Blossom as A Capella; this film was geared more towards children. The sets had a cheesy, cheap look that I believe was intentional. The reason I say this is because I felt the script had a tongue in cheek vibe to it. There was nothing in this film that one would say was awful; yet, there was also nothing that stood out in a positive way, except for the theme of working together and equality. To tell you the truth, this movie reminded me of one of those Saturday afternoon matinee films that were created to entertain younger audiences. Also, it came across to me like a Saturday morning cartoon series. Nothing earth shattering here unless you consider the peril confronting Earth.

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Midnight Sky

IT WAS ALREADY A SAD AFFAIR and now I was back to repeat it, except I would be giving a eulogy. My friend’s significant other had died from a debilitating health condition. I had always heard a parent never wants to bury their child and here both parents along with their remaining children were sitting in front of their child’s casket. My friend was sitting with the siblings. The receiving line was long; I was halfway back away from the seated group of mourners. As I slowly made my way up to them, I occasionally heard a sob or soft whimper rise from out of the family members. Reaching the front of the line, I introduced myself and gave my condolences to the first of the mourners. When I came up to my friend we hugged while they gently cried on my shoulder. Once they were able to calm themself, they thanked me for coming. I tried to offer words of comfort before I had to continue moving forward, to finish offering my sympathy and finding a seat. These types of services are never good to begin with and I found this one especially hard because of the relatively young age of the deceased. It is more of a shock to me, for some reason.      SEVEN DAYS AFTER THE BURIAL, I received a phone call that my friend was found dead in their home. It was such a blow to me that I had a hard time comprehending the news. I had not even processed the previous funeral and now a week later there was to be another one? The past week I had been checking in to see how my friend was holding up; they were having a horrible time of it. Hearing this latest news, the only thing I could think of was the fact they were no longer suffering over their loss. However, how would the family endure another sadness so soon, I wondered? For this funeral, I was asked to give a eulogy. A eulogy? I was too young to be dealing with a eulogy for my friend. The pain I was feeling over both deaths was suffocating me. I do not know if it was right for me to think this or not, but I felt I now understood what survivors feel when multiple family members die in a crash or crime. It is like layering one sadness over another and another; it is such an awful experience. In a way this is how I felt about the story in this dramatic science fiction fantasy. Maybe I would have felt different if this had come out before the pandemic.      WITH EARTH BECOMING INHABITABLE DUE TO a catastrophic event, humans had to leave the surface. One scientist decided to remain behind to try and warn a space crew returning from a space mission. With George Clooney (The Ides of March, The Monuments Men) as Augustine, Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex, The Theory of Everything) as Sully, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Selma) as Adewole, newcomer Caoilinn Springall as Iris and Kyle Chandler (First Man, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Mitchell; this film had a beautiful crisp look to it. The music, though interesting, tended to become overbearing throughout the story. I was drawn into the story quickly; but as it unfolded, I felt as if I had already watched it in similar past films. There was a lack of intensity which I felt was a mistake because the movie dragged in places. I felt I was watching separate movies based on what was taking place in the story; there needed to be a stronger central theme in my opinion. Besides these issues, I just thought the timing in releasing this film was a poor choice. I already have enough to think about; so, why do I want to add something that could so closely become our new reality?

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Wonder Woman 1984

I WOULD HAVE TO PACE MYSELF for the day if I wanted to keep my holiday tradition alive. The first item on my list was to walk/jog the parking garage before breakfast. Since it was too cold for me to go outside, I discovered I could get a decent workout by walking/jogging the 2-floor parking garage. In an hour, I can cover nearly 5 miles and that is including the parking ramps which provide me the experience of going up and down a hill. Once my workout was completed, I showered then ate breakfast. With dinner being a big meal, I went light on my breakfast cereal. Once I was done eating, I had to set up my laptop computer on a snack tray in the living room. Later after lunch I was going to be on a video present opening for Christmas. If anywhere in my schedule there could be a delay, it would be during this activity. There were going to be 10 people on the video call, each taking turns with opening their gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to the event; however, there was my holiday tradition I was focused on that I scheduled to take place after dinner was done.      AS I FEARED THE VIDEO PRESENT opening went on for nearly three hours. I was besides myself because my dinner was now delayed, which meant the one thing I wanted to happen was going to have to start later in the evening. With movie theaters closed in my area; it has been months since I was last in a theater. In fact, the last time for me was back in March just as the COVID-19 pandemic was rolling out across the country. After all this time, one of the film studios decided to offer first run movies on their streaming service the same day the film opens at the theaters. I cannot tell you how filled I was with excited anticipation to see a new, blockbuster film. Not to take anything away from the different streaming services’ original films, but there is something about a big budgeted picture that is to be released on the big screen. Due to the virus, I was getting the 2ndbest thing by watching the film at home on a large screened television. Since I loved the first Wonder Woman movie, I was expecting everything to be bigger and better with this sequel. Little did I know that my fear of watching this film later in the evening, where I could easily fall asleep, would be a valid issue for me.      LIVING A QUIET COMFORTABLE LIFE UNDETECTED was fine for Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses, Triple 9), except for the one person she was missing in her life. Years of wishing he was with her was about to change when a mysterious artifact was delivered to her place of work. With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, The Finest Hours) as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig (Downsizing, The Skeleton Twins) as Barbara Minerva, Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Maxwell Lord and Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049, Moneyball) as Antiope; this action, adventure fantasy was a major disappointment for me. How the script received approval is beyond me because there were so many poor choices made in its story line. In a superhero movie, the villain needs to be as dynamic and powerful as the superhero character; this was not the case in this picture. The villain was downright boring and uninteresting to me. And I have little patience for a script that tries to force feed a message to the viewer and this film nearly choked me on its syrupy monologue. The only highlight for me was the opening scene, Kristen Wiig with her character and the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. My experience with this movie was like one of the gifts I received on my video presents event; a fancy gift-wrapped box that had an ugly sweater in a wrong size.      

2 1/4 stars     

Flash Movie Review: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

SHE TOLD ME IT WAS A television show when I asked her what made her decide to become a dancer. I quizzed her further and she said it was a variety show she used to watch with her family on Sunday nights. Two ballet dancers were introduced by the host and she was immediately enamored by their costumes. The woman looked like a pristine fairy and the man looked like a stately prince. She had never seen ballet dancers before, but as the music started and the two dancers began to perform, she was mesmerized by their movements. The female dancer seemed weightless like a snowflake, spinning and fluttering across the stage. The male dancer had broad shoulders that made him look more regal as he lifted and guided the female dancer through their movements. I listened to her describe the performance and I could see the impact of this one of several acts on the show had a profound effect on her. Before the dancers were done performing, she had already decided that she was going to be a dancer when she grew up. She listed for me the highlights of her journey in becoming a ballet dancer and it was not a simple, straight street to ballet; she had some detours along the way. However, she told me throughout her struggles she kept believing she could do it.      HER STRENGTH IN HER BELIEF REMINDED me of a woman who was a participant in my yoga class. I worked at a hospital-based fitness center, where I introduced yoga to the fitness members. The center did not have a quiet room for me to teach class, so they had me taking the members to a laboratory in the hospital to conduct class. One day this woman came into the room in a wheelchair; I thought she was a patient who was lost. When I asked her where she was going, she told me to yoga. Talk about being embarrassed; this was the first time I was going to teach a wheel bound person in a general class setting. During my instructions, I included options that the woman could do while seated. After attending class for a few weeks, I asked her one day how yoga made her feel. She told me how much see looked forward to class because she would get the best night’s sleep after taking class. I was pleased to hear this and asked her if she had any goals she wanted to achieve in class. She said yes, she wanted to stand up out of her wheelchair. I told her it was a wonderful goal and I hoped I would get to see it. She said she believes she will one day, and I told her I believe in her.     WHEN HIS ASSISTANT TOOK HIS IDEAS and left him, the town’s toymaker Veronicas, played by Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Black Panther), stopped believing in himself. One day a strange little girl came to town with a belief. With Keegan-Michael Key (Playing with Fire, Let’s Be Cops) as Gustafson, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill) as Mr. Delacroix, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls; Everything, Everything) as Jessica and newcomer Madalen Mills as Journey; this musical family fantasy film was a magical viewing experience for me. At times coming across like a Broadway production, other times like a family classic; this was one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year. The fanciful special effects, the singing and dancing, the costumes and the sets took a somewhat predictable script and elevated it into pure entertainment. I will say if you are not a fan of musicals, you will not enjoy this picture as much. For me, I could easily see this film being translated to the big stage of Broadway. My skepticism about films made for the small screen has been altered; I am a believer now. 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Atlantics

IF I LISTENED ANYMORE TO THE WEATHER reports I knew I would break down and not venture outside. I tried blocking out the rattling noises coming from the windows being bombarded by the wind. Though it was the afternoon the sky was as dark as the last breath of twilight. Despite the darkness I was able to make out the shape of the tree in my backyard leaning far to the side with its branches jostling like men in a rugby scrummage. Part of my brain was telling me to stay home, but the other part was saying I had to go and see this film that was only playing at one theater in a distant suburb. On a good day it would normally take me 45-50 minutes to get there; I could only imagine how long it would take in the wild rainstorm raging outside. For the next several minutes I had an internal battle of wits with myself. I asked myself how important was it to go see a movie on a day like this; was it worth possibly getting in an accident and getting injured? The movie was one of those independents that only come to the art house theaters; the fact it was playing in a place I could get to was a little miracle in itself. After arguing with myself my irrational side beat out my rational one.     SITTING IN MY CAR WATCHING THE garage door open, a scene right out of a movie was being revealed to me. Garbage bins were scattered across the alley, with some having their contents pulled out to scatter across people’s backyards. As soon as I left the safe confines of the garage, I had to turn my windshield wipers on high because the rain was coming down so hard. I had no trouble pulling into the street, but within the first several blocks I had to dodge around fallen tree branches. Rainwater was pooling at the street curbs because the sewers could not handle the amount of water rushing down the streets. If there was any comfort to be had, I found it by seeing there were other cars out on the road; I was not the only crazy person to venture outside. My progress was slow, but I was keeping steady until I came upon a viaduct stretching over the street. I needed to drive underneath it; however, the road was flooded. Making a U-turn, I had to find a different route. Luckily, I did nearly a mile away. Despite the change, I made it to the theater before showtime; but, questioned if this was the best decision I could have made under the circumstances. The main characters in this dramatic, mystery romance found themselves having to make tough decisions as well.      HAVING WORKED FOR MONTHS ON A NEW office tower without getting paid, a group of workers make the decision to seek out a better opportunity. The decisions they make will have a lasting effect. With newcomer Mame Bineta Sane as Ada, newcomer Amadou Mbow as Issa, newcomer Traore as Souleiman, newcomer Nicole Sougou as Dior and newcomer Aminata Kane as Fanta; this film festival winner had an interesting and mystical plot that was set in a suburb of Dakar in Senegal. For a cast with no acting experience, they did a believable job with their characters. There were some slow passages throughout the film, where some seemed a bit unnecessary to me. The script intrigued me as it touched upon multiple facets of life experiences. There also was an element of fantasy that threw me for a loop at first, but I soon found myself being drawn further into the characters’ plight. Because of this mix of reality and fantasy, along with the beautiful filming, I found this to be an alluring viewing experience. French, Wolof, Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 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: The Old Guard

I REMEMBER BEING TOLD IT WAS a difficult delivery. Who told me I cannot say; but I can recall hearing about the length of the delivery and the loss of blood involved with it. Despite the difficulties, a baby boy was born who was the couple’s first child. The infant boy had the best of care since both of his parents were doctors. As a result, rarely did the couple ever have to second guess their decisions; any health issue that cropped up and they immediately knew what needed to be done. In other words, there was never any lag time between symptoms and remedies. Not that the child had a sickly constitution; he simply had his share of coughs and colds, along with the other kinds of kids’ ailments. Through his school years, the boy never missed more than 2-3 days of school at one time. Every assignment was turned in on time; each getting a high grade. One could say the boy’s good grades were a direct result of having 2 doctors for parents; however, that would be an erroneous statement. The boy was naturally smart, besides being a good learner who studied hard. What did not surprise me was hearing about the doctors’ son going into the scientific field.      AFTER HE HAD FINISHED HIS SCHOOLING, the now grown man had taken a job with a company involved with auditory systems. He did research, studies and experiments that earned him respect from his colleagues and superiors. He was awarded by being named the project lead for a new division in the company. His major responsibility was figuring out how to mimic the sense of hearing for those who could not hear. He was excited with the opportunity to make a difference for those who were either severely hard of hearing or completely deaf. It took a few years before he created a prototype that might work in providing sound to the deaf; he referred to it as an artificial ear. His parents were beyond excited and proud of their son; their boy was making his mark in the world. Though his project never created a workable artificial ear for the average consumer, his work did play an important part in many other areas of scientific research around the world. Imagine back years ago, at the time of this man’s challenging birth, if things had taken a different turn that resulted in him not being born? The world would have missed out on his important contribution. I have thought about this for many years, though not as long as the main character in this action, adventure fantasy.      DURING A RESCUE OPERATION THAT WENT bad, the operatives’ special abilities were revealed. It was only a matter of time before people would take advantage of them, unless they could find the culprit and destroy the evidence. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Bombshell) as Andy, KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son) as Nile, Matthias Schoenaerts (The Mustang, Red Sparrow) as Booker, Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Triple 9) as Copley and Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden, Rainbow: A Private Affair) as Nicky, this film’s strong suit was the action scenes. Well-choreographed with both women and men on equal footing; I was impressed with the cast, especially Charlize and KiKi. The story was not unusual for this genre and the script was predictable; but the fact that the action was not the prime focus made this picture an enjoyable viewing experience for me. I loved the historical aspect to the story; it played right into my thinking about differences caused when a person’s life is cut short or becomes non-existent. I understand this movie was based on a graphic novel. Whether there are sequels to the book I do not know; but I certainly hope this movie gets a sequel, because I think there would be a lot of ways the writers could take this story.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Mirai

THE TWO OF US SAT QUIETLY playing checkers while people in the room were arguing back and forth between themselves. I had joined my elderly relative for the game after we had eaten dinner. I always enjoyed playing checkers with this relative despite him leading in the amount of games won. It was during our 2ndgame when a couple of the relatives, who were still sitting at the dining room table, started raising their voices towards each other. I had no idea what they were saying, so I started to turn around to look at them. My elderly relative patted his hand on my arm to stop me as he told me not to mind those fighting relatives. I asked him if they would start hurting each other; he said no, they both like being right and will continue yelling at each other until they get tired then they will each get up and walk away. He told me they always argue about unimportant things just so they can say they were right about something. “Pay them no mind,” he said. He also told me to learn from them which I thought was odd to say. When I questioned him, he said he wanted me to learn how to be respectful, that I can disagree with someone but respect that person’s feelings. We went back to playing our game of checkers.      THE THINGS THAT ELDERLY RELATIVE SAID to me during our checker games were invaluable to me. I have never forgotten our conversations and his thoughts about the things he saw going around him. To the other relatives, we looked like we were simply playing a game; but if they had paid attention to us, they would have realized this patriarch was teaching me important lessons that carried me through many situations. When I was that little boy, he was the oldest relative I knew. Those born before him, I only got to see in a photo album. The photos were old and faded. He would tell me who each person was and how they were related to me. I would ask questions about them and he would do his best to answer me in a way I would understand. There was one relative I was intrigued with because of a shiny pin he was wearing on his suit lapel in one of the photos. My relative told me it was a diamond and ruby pin shaped like a piece of candy because the man was a candy maker; how I had wished he was still alive. The little boy in this animated film sure was lucky to have his relatives.      FEELING NEGLECTED AFTER HIS BABY SISTER was born Yukio, voiced by Crispin Freeman (Young Justice-TV, Hellsing Ultimate-TV) found others who cared more about him. They were out in his yard. With Rebecca Hall (The Awakening, The Town) voicing the Mother, John Cho (Star Trek franchise, Searching) voicing the Father, Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent, Lost-TV) voicing the young great grandfather and Victoria Grace (47 Ronin, Tokyo Grandfathers) as Mirai; this film festival winning adventure drama had some beautiful visuals throughout it. I loved the whole idea behind the story, finding things that were touching and sweet. The one thing I had an issue with however, was the main character Yukko. I felt there was too much yelling and bratty behavior coming out of him; it was hard to sympathize with him after a short time. Also, I would have liked the yard scenes to have been drawn with more magic and fantasy to them, to make them stand out more. Despite these issues, I still enjoyed the story immensely. Because I did not realize I could have changed the language, I saw this film with subtitles; they were hard to read in many scenes. I still was able to understand what was going on while Japanese was being spoken by the characters.

 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Excalibur

WHILE WAITING IN THE CHECKOUT LINE, there was a floor show taking place two aisles over from me. There was no way getting away from it, so I along with the other shoppers stood quietly amused while the child performer was in the middle of his soliloquy. I am sure all of us have experienced such a performance within our families and friends; but the one taking place at the grocery store was over the top melodrama. The little boy was pulling out all the stops, being a true “drama queen.” He was carrying on about a box of cereal and a candy bar. I assumed his mother denied his request to buy him one or both items. Weeping with tears rolling down his face I was able to make out part of what he was saying between his sobs. He was telling his mother that he never gets anything and all he is asking for is one candy bar. I had to chuckle when he told his mother he would share the cereal with her if she bought it. When she still declined, he wailed out “Noooooo” and fell to the floor. She told him to get up then turned to the shoppers around her and apologized. Each person gave a slight smile with a nod of their head; there was nothing to be done. You had to feel for the mother because a performance like that, I am sure, was not going to be a one-time event in her life.     I USED THE TERM “DRAMA QUEEN” to describe that little boy because I use that term for both male and female, since I have experienced my share of adult drama queens. If you have never experienced one just stand near a customer service counter and you are bound to see one in action at some point. When I took a part time job for the holidays, part of my responsibilities was working the customer service desk. Most of the customers were polite and understanding, but there were a few who would carry on how their event was ruined or they looked like a fool or my favorite, when I would tell them the delivery date of their order and they would go into this operatic aria how that was not acceptable ending with, “I was ruining everything!” It always astounded me how they would make a scene and blame me for something out of my control. I always wanted to tell them this was not a life or death situation, but instead kept calm and quiet. The reason I mention all of this is because I felt I was experiencing another melodramatic opera by watching this dramatic, adventure fantasy.      WHOEVER COULD PULL THE SWORD EXCALIBUR out of the stone would become king of the land. Though almost every knight wanted to try, there were some who had other ideas on how to rule. With Nigel Terry (The Lion in Winter, The Emperor’s New Clothes) as King Arthur, Helen Mirren (Collateral Beauty, The Good Liar) as Morgana, Nicholas Clay (Sleeping Beauty, Evil Under the Sun) as Lancelot, Nicol Williamson (Robin and Marian, Spawn) as Merlin and Paul Geoffrey (The Thomas Crown Affair, Wuthering Heights) as Perceval; this film festival winner was such an over the top production to watch, that I felt like I was living in a different time. Dated by today’s standards, I still was enthralled with the size of the cast, the melodramatic classical musical score and the overall cheesiness of the script. The story is a familiar one that has been done before, but this production felt like an opera to me. And the extra kick of it all besides seeing a young Helen Mirren was to see an equally young Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson, before they became who we know them to be now. It was such a trip down memory lane to see the big production values of movies from the 1980s; I had to wonder if people were more inclined to be over the top dramatic back then as well.

 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Paradise Hills

I DID NOT SEE THEM UNTIL AFTER we were seated for dinner. They caught my eye because of what they were wearing, identical matching outfits. We were guests at a wedding, and I knew the two of them were not related to me. I had to assume they were a mother and daughter; the little girl looked like she was 5 to 7 years old. They were seated at a table nearby, in seats that were directly in line with my field of vision. Their dresses were made of a soft fabric like crepe or chiffon, with a pattern of autumn colored leaves all over it. With capped sleeves and a rounded neck, they each had a gold necklace around their neck that had a single dropped pearl dangling from it; in their pierced ears there were matching pearl earrings. I tried not to stare but the more I caught glimpses of them the more I found them fascinating in a creepy sort of way. Now I do not want to come off as disrespectful but seeing them dressed and acting the same made me uncomfortable. I have never been one to fall in line to fit in with the majority; I prefer people expressing their individuality and being different without feeling like they must conform to a certain set of “rules.” Watching these two with they identical hair styles and makeup just seemed so weird to me.      AFTER THE WEDDING EVENT ON MY DRIVE home, I spent some time thinking about that mother and daughter and my uneasiness with them dressing up to match each other. Having had some friends whose parents tried to raise them to be the same as their parents, I have always questioned the motivation behind it. Why did a mother or father want to have their child be just like them? Was it because that is how they were raised or maybe they wanted their child to be perfect, at least whatever they considered to be perfect? What I believe is children should be raised to be self-thinking, independent beings. Having spent many years feeling like an outsider, one could argue that has contributed to me wanting everyone to freely express their individuality. It is funny; I am remembering an incident with a friend who refused to go out to dinner with me until I had changed my clothes. He did not like what I was wearing, thinking it looked ridiculous on me. Because I did not want to argue I went ahead and put on a different shirt and pair of pants. I needed some of the gumption and fight the main character had in this film festival winner.      WAKING UP TO FIND OUT SHE was sent to a place that was going to change and mold her to fit into a certain society, there was only one person Uma, played by Emma Roberts (The Art of Getting By, We’re the Millers), knew who could do such a thing; it was her mother. With Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Chloe, Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Yu, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Bloodshot) as Amarna and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil franchise, Shock and Awe) as The Duchess; this fantasy, sci fi thriller had some lofty goals. Visually, I enjoyed watching this picture; the sets and costumes, especially Milla’s, were wonderful. The cast was well-suited for the roles and worked well together. Unfortunately, I was able to figure out what was going to happen due to the script; it was a mashup of a few previous films in the same genre. There were some scenes that worked, but then others lacked focus. If this had been released (or maybe it was) at the theaters I cannot imagine it doing very well. However, seeing it at home made it more palatable for me. If nothing else, I certainly understood the message that was trying to be conveyed and commend the writers and director for trying to create something original. It was a shame it did not quite get to its high aspirations.

 

2 1/3 stars

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