Flash Movie Review: Triangle of Sadness
I THOUGHT THEY WERE “WELL OFF” based on what their house looked like. It was not a mansion by any means, but I think the term is “well appointed.” They always had the latest kitchen appliances and electronic gizmos. The front and back of their house had a variety of flowers and greenery, though I never saw anyone from their household working or maintaining it. I only became aware of their financial status when they threw a huge celebration party for one of their children. The event was held in a grand ballroom in a luxurious hotel in the heart of the city. The room had been decorated to look like a forest/jungle, with bushes in various sizes lining the walls along with intricate, lush green vines coming down the walls. Every dinner table had a different centerpiece, each looking like a piece of art. Some of them looked like statuaries in various materials such as metal, glass and ceramic; other tables had floral arrangements with ice, water or candles as part of the display. I did not know where to look first. Scattered through the ballroom were various food carts with servants at attention ready to assist the guests. My table was just off to the side of the dance floor that was created with colored glass blocks. I could only imagine what else would be in store for the evening. WITH SO MUCH ACTIVITY TAKING PLACE at the start of the meal, I excused myself so I could go to the bar and get a soft drink. While standing there, I saw my friend’s mother was at the head of the line, intently talking to the bartender. I could not hear every word she was saying, but I could tell she was not happy about something. After I finally got my drink, I was walking back and crossed paths with the mother again; she was talking to a waiter and from what I was hearing, she was unhappy. To me it sounded like she was talking down to the waiter, who by the way had a look of fear on his face. I kept walking and bumped into the father of my friend, who was demanding something from what I figured was a manager of the establishment. Again, I overheard the conversation and wound up feeling bad for the worker because of the way the father was speaking to him. Granted, I was not privy to the details; but, I could not imagine something so egregious took place that warranted speaking in such a tone. It made me wonder if having money made a person talk in that type of fashion; I thought I might get an answer while watching this Oscar nominated comedic drama. WHEN A COUPLE OF FASHION MODELS find themselves on an intimate boat cruise with a group of wealthy individuals, they expected to have a peaceful luxurious ride. Instead, they found themselves fighting for survival. With Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Where the Crawdads Sing) as Carl, Charlbi Dean (Don’t Sleep, Spud franchise) as Yaya, Dolly de Leon (Verdict, Cuddle Weather) as Abigail, Zlatko Buric (Pusher franchise, 2012) as Dimitey and Iris Berben (Eddie the Eagle, Crossroads) as Therese; this movie had a good point to make. However, it took so long to make it that I lost interest halfway through the film. There were some funny scenes that made me laugh out loud, however, there also was a predictability to several scenes. Things started to get better in the last half of this picture; but by that time, I did not care. Also, I still am perplexed on how this picture was nominated for the best picture category. Sure, there was a good dose of satire and humor; but it felt safe to me. I thought a thorough rewrite would have created a tighter script and more focused deep dive to mine a fuller story with more outrageous characters.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Where the Crawdads Sing
NO MATTER WHERE OR WHEN SHE was seen, she always had on a scarf or rain bonnet. She wore each of them the same way whether it was a blistering hot summer day or a frigid, wintery one. Sometimes, I would see her wearing both. I knew she lived in the neighborhood but had no clue where exactly. She walked with an odd limp that caused her to shift her weight from side to side. It looked like she could almost tip over, except she always had a shopping cart with her, which I assumed she could use to balance herself if she felt like she was toppling over. There was one distinct feature that stuck out for me; she had a marking on the side of her face that could have been a scar or a birthmark. I was never close enough to her to see what it could be. The other thing I remembered about her was the fact she was always alone, whenever she was out in the neighborhood. I had no idea if there were family members living with her or she was all by herself. Taking these things into account, I do not know how many of these things helped contribute to the reputation she had or more precisely was given. People thought she was a “witch.” NOW I DO NOT KNOW IF people thought she did spells and incantations over a black cauldron like what has been depicted in movies and television; but I think they thought she was different from anyone else they knew. Maybe that was the reason why I never saw anyone near her; people were afraid. There were several kids in the neighborhood who would call her names; but only if they were across the street from her, in case she was going to do something to them. It was not until I started high school that I noticed she was no longer seen walking around the neighborhood. It was at that time that I started going to a new doctor for my yearly physical. From our conversations about the neighborhood, I found out he was a distant relative of that “witch” woman. The little he shared about her with me was enough to set me reeling. It turned out she was a Holocaust survivor, having lost her parents and siblings during the war. The doctor said Nazi doctors performed experiments on her while she was being held in a concentration camp. It was horrifying to hear this news and it occurred to me no one in the neighborhood had a clue about it. Instead of finding out and talking to her, people shunned her for her “differences.” It was a similar scenario for the main character in this mystery thriller drama. ABANDONED AT AN EARLY AGE, A young girl must raise herself in the marshlands of the Deep South. The townsfolk, who did not trust her, looked to her as the prime suspect when a dead body turned up in town. With Daisy Edgar-Jones (Pond Life, Cold Feet-TV) as Kya Clark, Taylor John Smith (Lost Child, Wolves) as Tate Walker, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Kin’s Man) as Chase Andrews, David Strathairn (Nightmare Alley, L.A. Confidential) as Tom Milton and Michael Hyatt (The Little Things, Snowfall-TV) as Mabel; this movie based on the bestselling book was beautifully filmed. I thought Daisy and David Strathairn did a wonderful job of acting. Having not read the book, I found myself attracted to the story; however, there were times where I felt I was not getting all the details out of the scenes. Several of them felt like snippets of a story. I can only imagine the book being better at giving the details and emotions of each character. Normally not a fan of jumping back and forth in time, I did not mind how it was done in this film; they were longer in duration and relevant to what was currently taking place in the story. This was a good try by the writers, but with more effort, this could have been a better movie.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: See How They Run
I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT playing mystery games like Clue. Of all the times I played it, I only won the game once. The same holds true for those immersive, staged mystery house events. Though they are exciting and fun, I do not focus on seeking out who is the killer; I am having such a fun time with the experience, along with the visuals and acting, that I get lost into it. In other words, I immerse myself, hence an immersive production. LOL There is something about seeing, what I would consider, average/innocuous events that later turn out to be vital clues to the identity of the murderer. This also applies to mystery books and movies; the way they can pull one into their story and take them on this wild trail of events has always impressed me. As I have been working on this review it has occurred to me, I was a guest at a dinner party where all the guests had to assume the identity of a famous individual. Throughout the meal there were six of us seated around the dining room table; some were talking with an accent and others were conversing with a different sounding voice. I was a well-known television star, so I periodically dropped clues about the type of shirt I was wearing and the landscape of the area I lived in on the TV series. It was not until we were eating dessert before someone correctly guessed my character. WITH MY LOVE OF MYSTERIES, THE one and only time I was in London, England I wanted to see the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I remember how excited I was to see it, both because it was a murder mystery, and it was being staged in London’s famous West End district. The production checked off all my expectations. And the “piece de resistance” occurred at the end of the show when a cast member came out on stage to ask everyone in the audience to keep secret who was the killer. I thought this was so cool because I felt like I was suddenly part of the production, and my job was not to reveal the murderer. I want you to know I never did reveal the identity of the killer. I find it fascinating that after all these years I am now reviewing a dramatic comedy murder that incorporates The Mousetrap into its story. PLANS WERE IN PLACE TO BRING the play The Mousetrap to the big screen. However, when a cast member was found dead, things had to be placed on hold as an investigation was to take place. The inspector would soon discover it was not easy dealing with theater people. With Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch, American Heist) as Leo Kopernick, David Oyelowo (The Water Man, A United Kingdom) as Mervyn Cocker-Norris, Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Little Women) as Constable Stalker, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Best of Enemies) as Inspector Stoppard and Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Beach Rats) as Richard Attenborough; this story based in the 1950s London had all the markings of being a classic “whodunit” type of thriller. The cast filled with well rounded, capable actors were well matched with their characters. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on, giving a perfect retro feel to the story. Sadly, it did not take much detective work to discover the script was a big letdown as was the directing. Things seemed to drag for the first half of the film. Where I normally admire Sam Rockwell’s acting skills, here he seemed to have gotten lost. There was no emotional variance to the scenes which I found boring. Weirdly, I thought Wes Anderson was directing because it certainly was his type of style; but it was not the case. I almost feel like I need to do some detective work to discover who allowed this production to go forward because it really is a mystery to me.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: The King’s Man
I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A CURIOUSITY with how things are created and started. When I was a young kid, I used to break apart my toys to see how they worked. One of my favorite toys that I had for an extended time finally met its demise, when I smashed the plastic globe that held these small hard plastic, colored balls that were smaller than golf balls. Attached to this globe that was on wheels was a long handle. As I rolled the toy that got the name “Popcorn Maker,” due to something in the middle popping the balls up against the inside top of the globe, the balls would be bouncing around accompanied by a popping sound. I loved this toy; but eventually my curiosity got the better of me, leading me to destroy it to see what was making the balls pop up whenever I rolled the toy around the house. It looked like a tiny, tiny bicycle wheel without the rim, just the spokes sticking out. As the wheels rolled, this device in the middle of the axel would as well. As the spokes rolled towards the top of their enclosure, they got bent back. When they got to the very top where the hole was the spoke would spring up and snap at any ball that landed in the hole. It was such a simple device, but I enjoyed playing with it nonstop. IN MY LINE OF WORK, I have had the opportunity to discover the origin of hundreds of companies and businesses. A well-known ice cream company got its start over 100 years ago when 2 brothers contracted with a farmer, the use of his 15 cows. They would turn the cows’ milk into ice cream and sell it from the back of their truck. As popularity grew, they bought a distributor to sell their product beyond their small town. I get a kick when I see their product stocked at the grocery store, knowing its humble beginnings. When I was visiting Savannah, Georgia I learned how the Girl Scouts came into being because of a woman’s idea that she wanted to encourage young girls to focus on their strengths; so, they could create opportunities for themselves. Keep in mind this was a time before woman were given the right to vote. Another time where my curiosity was piqued was when I was visiting the Iolani Palace in Hawaii. I wanted to know how it became one of the first places in the United states to be entirely wired for electricity, even before the White House. It came about when the King of Hawaii met Thomas Edison while on a world tour. So, you see, being inquisitive comes naturally to me and that is why I was interested in seeing today’s prequel film. FROM AN IDEA, A FEW INDIVIDUALS formed a group to tackle world problems. They, however, did not know the scope of the problems they would be tackling. With Ralph Fiennes (The Dig, A Bigger Splash) as Orlando Oxford, Gemma Arterton (Their Finest, The Girl with all the Gifts) as Polly, Rhys Ifans (Last Call, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise) as Grigori Rasputin, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) as Conrad Oxford and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, Blood Diamond) as Shola; this action, adventure comedy had a broad canvas to tell its story. I am afraid the canvas was way too big, because I felt there was to much stuffed into the script that the flow of the story was scattered all over the place. I enjoyed the acting and the action scenes; however, there was such a mix of emotions that were on display that I would lose interest periodically. The historical aspect was a fine idea and one I was interested in since I enjoyed the previous films, but the script needed a major rewrite. By the time I left the theater, I had lost my interest in how the Kingsman got its start. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
Flash Movie Review: Beach Rats
THE LACK OF hope in one’s life can create situations fueled by desperation. It is one thing to ignore the perceived bleakness; but when one comes face to face with it, life looks like it has turned into a series of extremes. There was a person who used to work in the same department as me whose life was a series of extreme events. She would tell us about some of her hardships, but only after the fact. In other words, for example she would sign up for these different so called easy money earning jobs that promised big earnings. The only thing she would have to do is pay a couple of hundred dollars for the sales kit that would have everything she needed to start making money quickly. If she would have said something to anyone in the department beforehand they could have warned her it was just a scam, but she never did and then wondered why she could not get ahead on her bills. BELIEVING YOU WERE dealt a bad hand in the game of life can feel like a constant burden of negative emotions. Depression, anger and hate would be a few that come to mind. I remember there was a new fashion trend in clothing that everyone in school was running to the stores in search of, not wanting to be left out of it. I was one of those who also went on the hunt for the clothing; however, every store I went to did not have my size. At first I wistfully hoped they were just out of stock but I knew better. None of the stores I visited carried my large size. This may sound trivial but back then school was all about fitting in or becoming an outcast. I am embarrassed to admit this but I even saved up money to see if I could have a tailor or seamstress make the clothes for me in my size. Looking back the adult me would never have cared one way or the other whether I wore a new fashion trend, but as I said desperation has a way of altering one’s priorities. WITHOUT A SENSE of hope or purpose Frankie, played by Harris Dickinson (Home-TV movie, Clique-TV), was looking for something that would satisfy the feelings he had bottled inside. Friends and family would not be able to provide any help. This film festival winning drama also starred relative newcomer Madeline Weinstein playing Simone, Kate Hodge (Rapid Fire, She-Wolf of London-TV) as Donna and Neal Huff (Split, Moonrise Kingdom) as Joe. Set in Brooklyn I found the style of filming created a stark realness to the scenes; in some ways it almost seemed like I was watching a documentary. There were multiple close-up scenes that lingered on characters’ faces so the viewer could get a feeling for the emotions being felt. This style helped the acting but overall I found the pacing exceptionally slow and drawn out. With the lack of any major dramatic scenes I felt everything was contained in a narrow band of emotions which did not help in the entertainment value of this story. I did not feel any connections to the characters, along with not knowing exactly what motivated them. There was a physical darkness to the film that I took was done on purpose to make scenes look more bleak. Unfortunately that despair was being felt by me as I did not see my feelings about this movie improving.