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Flash Movie Review: White Oleander

AS SOON AS I HEARD HER use that word in her statement, I knew she was repeating what someone else had already told her. There was no way she knew the meaning of that word, I was positive, having never used it before and pronouncing it incorrectly. Who told her that statement did not have all their facts straight; so, when she repeated it at the restaurant table, I felt if she had any knowledge on the subject it was minuscule. It actually confirmed my suspicions about her desire to get educated on the events the group was discussing at our meetings. Since I had met her husband, I had a feeling she was getting her news filtered through his lens; whatever he thought about on a subject, she digested it word for word then regurgitated it to whoever was listening. I had to wonder if she had been doing this her whole life; because believe me, she is not the first person I met who operates in this fashion. I know several individuals who never seek out the details to an occurrence or event. There was this one person I knew a long time ago who repeated whatever his parents would say, even with the same inflection. If I asked him to explain further, he rarely could do it.      TO SAY IT IS A PET PEEVE would be to harsh to say; maybe it would be better for me to say it is creepy. Whenever I encounter someone who clearly does not know what they are saying, I find it weird, sad, creepy, or a variety of other adjectives. I hope this does not come across as judgmental; I simply do not understand why someone would use someone else’s words without giving that person credit for it. It is like when I see parents dressing up their children in clothing that is identical to their own. For me, it seems as if the parents are denying their child’s uniqueness and individuality. And that is what triggers the creep factor in me, a person having their identity/individuality squashed or tempered. I still remember a classmate who had a mother that tried her hardest to mold her child into an image of herself; it was more than creepy. She wanted her child to follow in her footsteps career wise and in accomplishments. It was difficult for me to be around the mother. Of course, we try to teach our children to be productive and successful; but when a parent so dominates their child’s life’s course, I am never comfortable seeing it or being a part of it. This is why I was experiencing a creep factor while watching this film festival winner.      THEIR LIFE TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL AND colorful up until her mother was arrested and charged with murder. Suddenly Astrid, played by Alison Lohman (Big Fish, Drag Me to Hell), found herself in a series of foster homes. Having to grow up without her mother would be a challenge…or would it? With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, People Like Us) as Ingrid Magnussen, Renee Zellweger (Judy, Here and Now) as Claire Richards, Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, ER-TV) as Mark Richards and Robin Wright (Wonder Woman, State of Play) as Starr; this drama had a wonderful cast of actors. Michelle and Alison were believable and strong in their roles. I was curious about the story, enjoying many of the scenes; however, the script had too many predictable moments. Watching Alison’s character grow in the film was a thing of beauty. There were times I felt I was watching a cat and mouse scenario which added to my enjoyment in watching this movie. I stayed engaged throughout the picture and due to the actors, I think I enjoyed this movie more than I had expected. At least that is my opinion of it.

2 ½ stars           

Flash Movie Review: Shazam

IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film.      THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

It takes more than blood to make a family. Love, support and care would be some other elements needed for a family unit. I am aware the word family had a more traditional minded definition years ago, but it has evolved along with the times. I wanted to see how it is presently defined and this is what I found online: “A social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group.” Another definition I read stated it this way: “A group of persons who form a household under one head.” If I were to define the word “family” I would also add the option “persons of equal status.” The reason I say this is because after I recently left a lunch date with a close friend I was driving home, thinking about how similarly minded the two of us were in our ideas and beliefs. I not only felt comfortable with her, but easily saw her as the sister I never had. We have each shared such personal details about our life that I simply consider her family. There is some type of saying that goes something like this, “You can choose your friends but you cannot choose your family.” Another one is, “Friends are the family you choose.” Both of these sayings have validity; family starts with the heart and mind. Now when it comes to children and the things I have seen and heard, I believe children come into this world with a clean slate, totally innocent. The individuals who bring them in may not always qualify to be a parent. This film festival winning adventure movie will show you an example of what I have been saying.   GOING from foster home to foster home Ricky, played by Julian Dennison (Paper Planes, Shopping), had one chance left to make it work when he arrived at the home of Bella and Hec, played by Rima Te Wiata (Housebound, Full Frontal-TV) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Event Horizon). Not everyone was on board with this arrangement. The story line in this comedic drama may seem familiar to many viewers; however, I am guessing very few of you have experienced a movie of this caliber. First the setting was so incredibly beautiful I just wanted to be there. Secondly, with the inclusion of Rachel House (Whale Rider, Boy) as Paula, the acting was excellent. I thought the script did a wonderful job in the mixing of humor and drama. There were laugh out loud parts, scary parts, touching parts; I absolutely was drawn into this picture for it was the complete package of what a good movie should be. Only for the briefest of moments I had a hard time understanding what Ricky was saying, but once I had a sense of his lingo I did not have any type of issue. Another thing that stood out for me was the direction. I enjoyed the way the story was filmed, giving actors the opportunity to express real emotions without having to say anything. Watching this movie was a joyous experience for me and I would not mind if some of the characters became part of my family.

 

4 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Kid With the Bike

There are some people who have an item in their home that reminds them of a deceased friend or family member. I, myself, have a ceramic vase that belonged to a close friend, who passed away some years ago. In an amazing feat of acting, I understood the ferocity Cyril Catoul, played by Thomas Doret, displayed in keeping the bicycle his father had given him. This is the same father who abandoned his young son to a state run youth home. The opening scene immediately pulled at one’s heart strings as Cyril kept dialing his father’s phone number, only to hear that it was disconnected. From this heart wrenching scene the viewer was a witness to Cyril’s desperate struggle to escape and reunite with hs father. For a relative newcomer, Thomas was outstanding in his portrayal of Cyril. The other incredible performance was from Cecile De France (Hereafter, Around the World in 80 Days) who played Samantha, the local hairdresser who somehow understood Cyril’s plight. From a chance meeting, she shortly agreed to foster home Cyril on the weekends.  What we have here are two broken individuals who needed the other to become whole. The tension and the acting sustained a high level throught the first half of the movie. But in the second half, things began to lose their intensity and I felt let down, along with being disappointed in the ending of this movie. French with English subtitles.

 

2 2/3 stars

 

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