Flash Movie Review: The Mother
WAITING TO CHECK OUT MY SCHOOL supplies, I saw something that changed my opinion about motherhood. In the next line stood a mother holding a crying baby. I had no reason to assume she was not the mother. She tried calming the child by gently bouncing her up and down, while making soft cooing sounds. I was wondering why the mother did not give the baby bottle she had in her hand to her child just as she brought it closer to her other hand to unscrew the top. Placing the bottle on the edge of the conveyor belt, she contorted her arm back to grab something out of her large canvas bag that was slinged over her shoulder. I could not believe what she pulled out of that bag; it was a bottle of cola. She quickly took off the cap and poured the soft drink into the baby bottle. I had to look around to see if anyone else was seeing what I was watching; it was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. The mother closed the baby bottle and stuck the nipple into the baby’s mouth. I thought the baby would spit out the carbonated liquid, but I was wrong. The baby calmed down and sucked away on that bottle, like the way I imagined a sugar addict would do it. I wondered if Dr. Spock would have approved. FROM THAT EARLY SINGLE INCIDENT, I realized not every woman is cutout for motherhood. I have encountered many women who were outstanding mothers. There was the mother who surprised her music-loving child with tickets to their very first rock concert, because she wanted to further encourage her child’s interest in music. On the other hand, I heard about the mother, who was attending the parent/teacher conferences at her son’s school, when the teacher mentioned the child’s disappointing testing scores and the mother exclaimed, she was screwed (the actual comment is not printable here). The mother was more concerned about the optics of having a child who is struggling in certain areas instead of focusing on finding the proper resources to help her son succeed. Her actions as told to me simply reinforced my belief that just having a baby doesn’t qualify a woman to be a mother. It takes a special person with a special skill set. It does not even have to be as skilled as the mother in this action thriller, but it certainly could not hurt. HAVING BEEN FORCED TO GIVE UP her child at birth, a single mother had to resign herself to a quiet life of solitude. That life would rapidly change when she found out her daughter was being targeted by someone from her past. With Jennifer Lopez (Shotgun Wedding, Marry Me) as The Mother, Lucy Paez (The Exorcism of Carmen Farias, Silencio) as Zoe, Omari Hardwick (Army of the Dead, Sorry to Bother You) as Cruise, Joseph Fiennes (Risen, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Adrian and Gael Garcia Bernal (Old, The Motorcycle Diaries) as Hector; this drama had a decent premise and a committed lead star with Jennifer. Granted even in a fight scene her makeup and outfits looked fine, but I did appreciate her effort in making the fight scenes look believable. My issue with this picture was the script. It was a good idea but came across as a series of cliches; it was easy figuring out what was going to happen next. I felt there could have been more given to the characters, both emotionally and historically. And of course, there were a few scenes that came across as non-believable. It was not lost on me that this film debuted Mother’s Day weekend because it really showed an intense example of a mother’s love. There were several scenes filled with blood and violence.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Old
WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I THOUGHT FIFTY was an old age. Now, I think fifty is the new forty. I do not know if it is because the way we live is evolving or something in our genes has changed; but when I look at old photos of family members and realize I am the same age as the relative in the photo, I do not understand why they look so much older than me. Did they think they were old; I have wondered? Age, to me, is a state of mind. As long as I can remember, I have heard people say, “Act your age.” I have always wondered what that has exactly meant. Is there a set of rules handed out at each birthday to tell us how we need to be acting at the new age? Sure, an adult making silly noises during a business meeting would be suspect; but would an elderly person flying a kite or playing with a squirt gun be considered childish? I used to work with a woman who always talked in a baby’s voice. Since she was from a different department, I never said anything to her because I did not know if it was a medical condition. I did find it odd, but figured it was providing her some type of satisfaction. Besides, who was I to judge her? ONCE I FINISHED MY SCHOOLING AND had settled into the business world, I soon picked up this habit of wishing the time away. I am sure I am not alone in this. During work, I was constantly wishing the day would go by faster. If I were saving money to make a large purchase, I would constantly focus on the future, me with a new car or TV, imagining me using and enjoying the item. Even if it was going to take me over a year or two to save up funds, my attention was devoted to the future. I am not sure when I came to the realization that I was no longer living in the moment, but it took me a long time to figure it out. Even today, my tendencies are to dwell on the future while not paying attention to the things currently happening around me. Maybe because as I am aging, I feel time is moving faster. In my mind, I see the younger version of me still doing these strenuous activities that will tax my body; but in reality, I do not have the same level of strength as I did back then. I find it weird how my perceptions can be so different to my reality. However, it is not as odd as what the main characters were experiencing in this dramatic, horror mystery. A FAMILY ON VACATION FIND THEMSELVES on a deserted beach that was beautiful and peaceful. What they could not understand was the fact they were getting older. With Gael Garcia Bernal (Wasp Network, The Kindergarten Teacher) as Guy, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, The Survivor) as Prisca, Rufus Sewell (Judy, The Father) as Charles, Alex Wolff (Pig, Human Capital) as 15-year-old Trent and Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit) as 16 year old Maddox; this film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Glass, The Last Airbender), had an intriguing premise. I was curious about the story, but I thought the delivery of it was uneven. The movie dragged at first before I started to become fully engaged. Except for the gorgeous landscapes, there was nothing that went beyond being average. I thought Gael and Vicky had the most potential out of the cast; however, the script did not give them the opportunity to really explore their characters. This annoyed me because of the way the film ended; I did not care for it much. Now, I do not want to say I wasted my time by watching this picture, but there were times I had wished the film would have ended.
Flash Movie Review: Coco
IT WAS NOT UNITL I turned 12 years old that I first experienced a death. A close relative had suddenly died; it was a complete shock for everyone. After hearing the news I remember sitting down at the piano to play a song over and over that reminded me of this relative. The funeral took place rather quickly and afterwards we all gathered at a relative’s house. The atmosphere was somber but there were periods of laughter throughout the night. Typically I was excited about all the food that somehow magically appeared while we were at the cemetery. There were so many desserts that they commandeered their own table. The amount of people who stopped over was staggering and it never let up for the next several days. By the end of the mourning period I felt the past week had been one long party. I discovered this was our custom for all future funerals. AS I HAVE GONE through the past years I have been exposed to other forms of mourning from my own experiences. There are some cultures that believe in cremation, while others are against it. In some faiths it is important to bury the body quickly, yet I have been to funerals where the body remains above ground for several days. Now one thing I have noticed as baby boomers have aged is hearing more people talk about incarnation. Excuse me for being simplistic but I can see how death would be less scary if one felt they would be coming back to life. To tell you the truth I feel however one deals with death is fine with me because I have seen so many people deal with loss in many different ways. There is not one that is better than another. Regarding myself I hope when my time comes people will focus more on celebrating my life instead of mourning it. Death is one of those things that everyone on the planet will experience in their life; so why focus on the sadness and sense of loss? Honoring a deceased person and sharing personal stories about them is something I find comforting, which is why I was enthralled with this animated, adventure comedy. DESPITE HIS FAMILY’S BAN on music Miguel, voiced by relative newcomer Anthony Gonzalez, wanted to be a musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, voiced by Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange, Miss Congeniality). His determination would lead him to the grave of his idol just in time for the Day of the Dead celebration. This film festival winning movie was exquisite in both the kaleidoscope of colors across the screen as well as the script that beautifully handled the subject of death based on Mexican culture. I thought the story was thoughtful, respectful, kind and in a way comforting; it did not shy away from the subject of death. With Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries, Rosewater) voicing Hector, Alanna Ubach (Meet the Fockers, Waiting…) voicing Mama Imelda and Renee Victor (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Weeds-TV) voicing Abuelita; I cannot say this was a true comedy. It had a few humorous moments but for the most part the word I would use to describe this picture would be heartwarming. As an added bonus to watching this movie there was a short film shown beforehand from the award winning Frozen realm, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” There is nothing you will lose by seeing this captivating film about life and death.
3 1/2 stars
Flash Movie Review: Ardor
Stories that get handed down from generation to generation sometimes take on a life of their own. I grew up in an area where the land was as flat as a piece of paper except for one hill. Growing up I heard a story about how the hill was formed from a glacier during the ice ages. Evidently a glacier was creeping down from the north and by the time it got to my area it was already on its last ice cubes of life before the ice age ended, leaving this mound of pushed up dirt in the middle of my neighborhood. By the way when I say hill I have to be honest with you; the height for it was the distance between 2 floors of an apartment building. So we are not talking very tall here. There is a story about a gold coin I have in my possession that was given to me by a relative. This coin was some great, great relative of mine who always kept it in a little secret pocket that was sewed inside of their clothing. I was fascinated with this unknown relative, spending hours daydreaming about the reasons why this particular coin had to remain hidden. Knowing my ancestors were not wealthy people, it seemed odd that the coin was not used as currency back then. I took the coin, wrapped it up and sealed it in a plastic bag to protect it. The fact that it was handled by my long deceased relatives provides me some type of connection to them. This is one of the reasons I enjoy hearing different types of folklore no matter where it comes from. PASSED down amongst the inhabitants in a remote area of the Argentinean rainforest was a story about a being who would emerge from the Amazon river to do battle against any evil forces. Vania, played by Alice Braga (Elysium, I am Legend), needed someone like that to help her and her father defend their land. This film festival nominated drama had the feel of a spaghetti western. Low budget, simple story, minimal conversations and action; I really got into this movie. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal (Rosewater, Bad Education) as Kai, I thought he was excellent in the role. Essentially the story was about good vs evil; it had the right elements in place to maintain one’s interest in the action. Now there were some parts that were easy to predict besides one side story line that seemed unnecessary. Visually I was fascinated with the landscape and thought the cinematography did a wonderful job of playing up the mystery of the forest. I am used to getting folklore verbally; this folk tale was a visual treat. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles. Several scenes had blood and violence in them.
2 2/3 stars
Flash Movie Review: Rosewater
Humor is the soothing balm that cures the mind’s ailments. A good laugh can expel the dark clouds that build up to weigh down one’s thoughts. My sense of humor leans more toward the satirical instead of cracking a joke at someone’s expense. Since humor is a personal thing it may be hard to know when someone is making a joke when they are not familiar to you. There has been so many times where I have met someone new who said something they thought was funny but I did not get it. I may not understand their joke because when a person tells me something I assume they are telling me the truth until proven otherwise. Now I am guilty of doing the same thing regarding telling jokes to strangers; however, with a straight face I try to say things so outrageous they would be hard to believe. Of course there could be the issue of gullibility; some individuals go through life with a non-skeptical mind. My brain on the other hand has skepticism as its first filter for processing. Once two people understand each other’s sense of humor, the possibilities of eliciting laughter are endless. UNFAMILIARITY with a television show’s humor would lead to dire consequences in this biographical drama. Based on journalist Maziar Bahari’s book, “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love;” this movie covered the time Maziar Bahari, played by Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education, Letters to Juliet), was held captive in an Iranian prison while he was there covering the country’s elections. Unable to make contact with his mother Molloon, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Lake House, The Stoning of Soraya M.), he was only aware of his Iranian captor Javadi’s rosewater scent, played by Kim Bodnia (Bleeder, Pusher). Maziar could not believe his captors thought he was a spy due to what they saw on a television show. Using this story for his screen writing and directorial debut Jon Stewart (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) had a good grasp on what was needed to make an engaging film. With well done cinematography, the pacing was consistent even when a scene would jump to a different time period. The cast’s acting was exceptionally good which I felt made Jon’s job easier. For me the story was one of those stranger than truth type of stories where I sat there thinking how could this have really happened. My main issue with this film was how everything stayed on the same emotional level. It lacked intensity for me; however, I may be projecting here. Considering the scenarios, I thought this movie would have been an intense ordeal; maybe the book went into more detail. No matter, with this being Jon’s first time as a director he has no worries of anyone laughing at his creation.
Flash Movie Review: Letters to Juliet
It could happen at a business meeting, a party, or even at the grocery store; when you see an older version of someone you were in love with years ago. For me it happened at a holiday party. I had seen them across the room. It was obvious they were a happy couple, but I could still remember each happy event when it was me standing there and not him. I do not have the answers on the how and why it did not work out; the timing was not right, I was not mature enough, they easily could be one of many reasons why it did not last. But I wonder, if we had the opportunity to see a past love, how many of us would want to seek them out? Claire, played by Vanessa Redgrave (Anonymous, Coriolanus), was fortunate to have such an opportunity in this romantic comedy. Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!) and Gael Garcia Bernal (No, Bad Education) played engaged couple Sophie and Victor. On a pre-honeymoon trip to Verona Italy, Sophie stumbled upon a group of women known as the “Secretaries of Juliet.” They were entrusted with the job of answering letters left by lovelorn individuals seeking advice from Juliet Capulet aka Romeo and Juliet. Asked to join them, Sophie answered a recently found letter that Claire had written back in 1957. When Claire showed up with her grandson Charlie, played by Christopher Egan (Eragon, Resident Evil: Extinction); Sophie joined them on their search to find the love of Claire’s life from decades ago. Though there were no surprises in this movie, it was beautiful seeing the countryside of Italy. There was nothing offensive or rude in this film nor did it have any foul language. Vanessa’s acting never goes bad; however, it showed the other actors were not as convincing as she was with her character. Overall there was nothing great or bad about the movie, perfectly suited for viewing on a lazy day. I will say if I had the opportunity to meet a past love, even if the relationship had ended badly, I would absolutely go if it meant going to Italy.
2 1/4 stars — DVD
Flash Movie Review: No
The amount of money spent on marketing political candidates these days is obscene to me. There are countries that do not come close to having such amounts in their treasury. It seems to me that the only people who can run for office are wealthy individuals. This concerns me because in my experience some wealthy people have a hard time relating to the average person. For example, the man who bought Princess Diana’s dress that she wore when she was dancing at the White House with John Travolta. At a winning bid of $360,000.00, a gentleman bought it to surprise and cheer up his wife. How many of us can do such a thing? Where I find this excessive, I have the same feeling about the money needed to fund a campaign. It seems the issues are not enough to determine whether a person will vote for a candidate; it also depends on who does a better job of marketing the politician. One of the reasons I grew to enjoy this historical drama was seeing what a grassroots advertising campaign can accomplish. Nominated for best foreign language film with the Academy Awards, this film took place in Chile, 1988. Military dictator Augusta Pinochet had been in power for fifteen years and needed to show the world that his government was legitimate. A referendum was scheduled, but would anybody opposing Pinochet survive the election? Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education, Y Tu Mama Tamben) played young advertising executive Rene Saavedra, who had the task of creating a campaign that would not get censored. He created the “No” campaign. Starring Alfredo Castro (It was the Son, Tony Manero) as Lucho Guzman and Antonia Zegers (Post Mortem, The Life of Fish) as Veronica Carvajal; the story used humor, actual footage and a faux 1980’s style of filming to draw the viewer into a fascinating time in Chile’s history. I had a hard time getting into the story at first; it felt slow to me. Once the campaign started to come together I was enthralled with the genius of it. With excellent acting, the movie became inspirational for me. The question was could creativity, strong beliefs and dedication triumph over money. Spanish with English subtitles.