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Flash Movie Review: Call Jane

I QUICKLY REALIZED I DID NOT belong in the class. It happened before I went forward with trying to get certified as a group exercise instructor. The fitness center, where I took the class, was a popular place. Walking into the aerobic studio, I was surprised by the large number of people standing around. I stayed close to the back of the room, hoping to go unnoticed. Everyone was dressed up as if they were about to do a photo shoot for a fitness magazine or television show. Everyone’s outfit was brightly colored, their hair was perfectly coiffed and most prevalent was the smell of cologne in the air. I was used to being in a class where people wore baggy sweats or shorts with T-shirts or tank tops; no one was “dressed up” just to sweat in a hot classroom. The instructor walked into the room and made their way to the front of the class. They read some announcements off a sheet of paper before turning on music to begin exercising. Everyone stopped talking and spaced themselves out in rows. I had no idea what was going to happen; I only hoped I would not either bump into someone or step on someone’s toes.      THROUGHOUT THE HOUR, I TRIED MY best to keep up; but was getting dirty looks from the people around me. It had to be obvious that I was new to the class, and I would have thought those around me would understand. Their attitude interestingly mimicked the instructors, in my opinion, aloof and uninterested. I had wished the instructor would have come up to me before class or at least ask if anyone was new, because I think that might have helped. As a result, I never went back to that fitness center. The following week a friend asked me to join them at their fitness club. I went and was completely taken aback by the atmosphere in the room, totally opposite from the week before. People were friendly and patient with me as we followed the instructor’s directions. The class was awesome and became the catalyst for setting me off on becoming a fitness instructor. From my experiences at various clubs and centers, I created an aerobic class that was open and accepting of everyone, no matter their fitness level or capability. I always made it a point to go up to all the new people before class started, to get them comfortable with what they were about to experience. I believe no one ever left feeling as if they were unsuccessful or alone. It is the essence of those feelings that I found myself attracted to in this film’s fascinating story inspired by true events.      AFTER BEING TOLD SHE COULD NOT have a lifesaving procedure, a pregnant housewife discovered a clandestine women’s group that could offer her the chance for a healthy life. What she would get would be much more. With Elizebeth Banks (Pitch Perfect franchise, Brightburn) as Joy, Sigourney Weaver (The Good House, Gorillas in the Mist) as Virginia, Chris Messina (Air, Birds of Prey) as Will, Kate Mara (The Martian, Fantastic Five) as Lana and Wunmi Mosaku (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Gwen; this history drama kept my attention with its story. I thought the acting was excellent and especially enjoyed the chemistry between Elizabeth and Sigourney. There were a few places where I thought the scenes were predictable, but they were not so glaring to become a disruption. The story amazed me and now I am curious to find out more about the brave group of women known as the Janes. 

3 stars


Flash Movie Review: Boston Strangler

IT WAS EARLY IN THE MORNING on a Sunday, before the city came to life. We were eating breakfast; or I should say, I was eating breakfast. My friend was too busy fielding all the work texts and emails that were blowing up on his phone. I sat there, thinking to myself, what kind of environment must his company have where so many people were up and working before the sun came out. I mean, it was not an international company with offices all over the world. It crossed my mind that maybe my friend was a “workaholic.” The other option could be he was just a devoted employee; however, that did not explain the senders necessarily. Could they all be true company employees? I have had jobs where I had to put in overtime once in a while, but it never was a consistent requirement. Now that does not mean I have not thought about work over the weekend. I have written memos, reviews and such on my own time, to help me handle an extra busy workload. However, my company encourages its employees to unplug and take time to relax and re-energize themselves. To me, this is a healthy attitude to have in the work world.      AMONG THE VARIOUS COMPANIES WHERE I have been employed, there has always been at least one individual I knew who was “married” to their work. I use the word “married” because it was a strong relationship, where the person had elevated their position into a pseudo relationship. Think about it; they spend more time with their company than any individual outside of the workplace. The reasons are not all the same, but I have seen where the employee’s actions could almost be considered loving. Whether it is for recognition or prestige or power or for the greater good, their job is their number one priority/relationship. This reminds me of a person I met who was a doctor from New York City. It was during the AIDS crisis, where he explained the demands put on him that caused him many times to sleep at the hospital instead of taking time to drive home to go to sleep. He said he was barely able to keep up between the treatment of patients, press conferences and the consultations between medical staff and outside resources. I had to admire his willingness and dedication; it sounded like a brutal and draining routine. I knew it took a certain kind of person to be willing to make such a sacrifice for the “greater good.” In my work situations I have seen a few individuals who came close but nothing on that type of scale. Though, the female reporters in this historical crime drama certainly give their all to make their world a better place.      NOTICING A CONNECTION, A BOSTON REPORTER starts to piece together random killings of women in the Boston area. Her work spawns the name that would captivate a city in fear, the Boston Strangler. With Keira Knightley (The Aftermath, Silent Night) as Loretta McLaughlin, Carrie Coon (The Post, The Gilded Age) as Jean Cole, Chris Cooper (Little Women, August: Osage County) as Jack Maclaine, Alessandra Nivola (American Hustle, The Many Saints of Newark) as Detective Conley and Rory Cochrane (Antlers, White Boy Rick) as Detective DeLine; this movie based on a true story succeeded because of the work and chemistry between Keira and Carrie. I thought they did an outstanding job of acting that overcame the deficiencies in the script. There were places in the script that needed more emotional heft and intensity, which would have turned this story into a gripping tale. For example, Loretta’s home life needed more drama in my opinion. I still enjoyed watching this picture because of the acting and the look of it. I can only imagine what life must have been like for women back in 1960s Boston during the time of this tragic killing spree.                                                

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Babylon

MY ONLY HOPE WAS NOT GETTING a headache from staring at all the pieces strewn out across the table. I had gotten a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle that was of a national park setting with a 3D look to it. Being a huge fan of the national parks, I thought I might have a slight advantage in completing the puzzle in a lesser time. No such luck, the puzzle was challenging, and I swear sometimes I thought I was going cross eyed. It took me longer than usual to get the outline of the puzzle connected; this was not a good sign. With large patches being the same color with little variation in texture, I was struggling to get portions assembled correctly. Weeks went by because I still had a job to go to, besides finding time to shop for food and prepare it for meals. Maybe I took on more than I could handle; however, I was not one to give up so easily. I kept at it, doing a little each night after work and the majority being done on the weekends; I was determined to finish this puzzle. It was as if I was on a mission, and I was making progress. At some point, things took a turn and I was able to consistently connect pieces. The end was nearing which spurred me on. The last day I worked on it was special, but not for the right reasons. Three pieces were missing! Everything in the box was dumped onto the table; I never moved anything off it.      ALL THAT TIME WASTED AND FOR what? I did not have a complete puzzle. The hours, the weeks and weeks of work I put into doing this jigsaw puzzle and the thing did not have all its pieces. To say I was ticked off would be an understatement. I would never get all those hours back from working on the stupid puzzle. I believe I was more angry about this than that time I was baking this elaborate cake that took three days to make. It had to be made in stages, where I would assemble ingredients together then form a layer of the batter in a 9 X 13 pan, refrigerate it overnight, then mix-up another group of ingredients to form another layer and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight until the third day was the final layer. The recipe sounded wonderful; but, after two bites I threw the whole thing away because it tasted awful. I not only wasted all that time but all that money on the ingredients. I cannot imagine anyone not getting upset from devoting time to something that turns out to be completely unsatisfactory. After watching this dramatic, historical comedy I felt the same as when I assembled that jigsaw puzzle and that horrible cake. I would never get back the three hours and nine minutes this movie took from me.      HOLLYWOOD IN THE 1920s WAS A time of excess and glamour, where everyone wanted to be in the movies. It was also the time when movies were learning to include sound which meant when one opened their mouth to speak, they could lose their job. With Brad Pitt (The Lost City, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as Jack Conrad, Margot Robbie (Amsterdam, Bombshell) as Nellie LaRoy, Jean Smart (The Accountant, Senior Moment) as Elinor St. John, Olivia Wilde (Don’t Worry Darling, Richard Jewel) as Ina Conrad and Diego Calva (Beautiful Losers, The Inmate-TV) as Manny Torres; this Oscar nominee directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) was the worst film I have seen the past year. I was stunned by the amount of money they poured into this production, because it showed. The script was overblown with many unnecessary scenes. I could not fault the actors, some who I briefly enjoyed watching, because I found it hard to believe they were not embarrassed at some point during the filming of this disaster. Now keep in mind I have never walked out on a film, no matter how bad it was, but this one certainly tested my patience. And ultimately it was a damn shame, because the idea for the story interested me; the change in Hollywood when silent pictures became “talkies.” I know it killed the career of some actors and created new sought out actors. Regardless, there was nothing I enjoyed about this movie. The scenes with sex, drugs and violence were way over the top and ridiculous at times. Do yourself a favor and use your time for something you would feel satisfied by and enjoy.

1 star 

Flash Movie Review: She Said

TO MY HORROR, THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL told his secretary to go pull the students out of class and bring them down to the office. I had just finished telling him about the abuse I was experiencing from these students and now he wanted his secretary to bring them in while I was still sitting in his office; I wanted to run and hide somewhere. If the assistant principal thought he was making me feel better, when he said he would make them stop attacking me, it was not working because I knew it would only anger the students. They would only intensify their efforts in getting me. I stared at the wall clock wishing school was over for the day and I was safely back at home; my anxiety was increasing with each passing second. It was a five-minute wait until the office door opened with the secretary leading the students into the room. The assistant principal did not offer any of them a seat; he immediately went into his speech about respecting fellow students and their type of behavior was not acceptable. I could not even look at any of them; instead, I kept my gaze directed at the floor. Other things were mentioned but I did not pay any attention to them since I was suddenly feeling nauseous and just wanted to get out of there. I realized the assistant principal was finishing up when he told the students he did not want to catch them bothering me ever again. Yea, right.      IT WAS A COUPLE OF WEEKS of “peacefulness” before I was pushed down a flight of stairs in school. I never saw who did it and luckily, I was able to grab a hold of the banister from tumbling all the way down the stairs. A few days later I was eating lunch in the lunchroom when a partially eaten apple hit me in the face. It came from somewhere across the room, but I had no idea who threw it. Well, let me say I did not see who threw it, but I knew who it had to be; one of the students who was called into the assistant principal’s office. Other incidents took place to the point I started skipping classes from time to time and always changing the way I went from class to class. Besides enduring the abuse, the hardest part was explaining the bruises that were visible on me or the stains on my clothing or the dirt covered books. I just had to find a way to get through the time until graduation and go far away to college. Me saying something did not bring me any relief which is one of the reasons why I could sympathize with the victims in this historical drama.      FEELING LIKE THERE WAS A POSSIBLE story behind the little news they had heard about a big, powerful Hollywood producer; two reporters agree to work together to see if they could get to the truth. Their challenge would be to find a witness. With Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Promising Young Woman) as Megan Twohey, Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, The Big Sick) as Jodi Kantor, Patricia Clarkson (Out of Blue, The Bookshop) as Rebecca Corbett, Andre Braugher (The Baytown Outlaws, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Dean Baquet and Jennifer Ehle (A Quiet Passion, Zero Dark Thirty) as Laura Madden; this movie based on true story was riveting at times. Carey and Zoe were outstanding together, which added to the movie watching experience. I thought the pacing was better in the beginning and end than during the middle parts; however, because of the familiarity I had with the story, I stayed focused on the events. The story is frightening, horrific, and a variety of other emotions; even if you are not familiar with the news of this event, it is well worth watching this taut, suspenseful film.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Enola Holmes 2

THOUGH MY FRIENDS WERE NOT THRILLED having their older sibling attending the same school, I did not mind it at all. When the sibling was a brother, it usually worked out even better for me. I had one friend whose brother was two grades above us. If they saw each other in the school hallway, they rarely acknowledged each other. However, if I was by myself the older brother would nod his head in acknowledgement whenever he saw me. For me, at least in my mind, he was a pseudo-bodyguard. There were times when I would purposely walk alongside of him anytime, I saw a bully nearby. Just for the fact he was older, the bullies would not take a chance on starting something with me as long as he was near me. Not like he was some type of tough guy himself; he just was older and bigger and that was enough to curtail someone from picking on me. This is the reason I said it was a better situation when the older sibling was male instead of female. Some bullies did not hesitate to harass the older sister besides me if we happen to be walking alongside of each other.      WHEN I ENTERED COLLEGE, I LIVED on a floor where everyone else was either in a higher grade or a grad student. At first, I was intimidated; however, it turned into a fortuitous arrangement. The older students treated me more like a mascot than a freshman. What I mean by that is they rather enjoyed by naivety. For some, I think they enjoyed hearing about my trials and tribulations of freshman life; for others, they found comfort in being a mentor for me. Either way it was an added benefit for me. I was able to navigate freshman orientation faster and easier due to the helpful hints I received from the students on my floor. I was especially grateful to find out that the physical ed requirement could be bypassed if I told the university personnel I could not swim. This way, I would be placed in a remedial swimming class and not have to participate in a variety of sports activities I could not do. My floor turned into a highlight for me; I was hanging out with graduate students who were becoming nuclear engineers, accountants and pharmacists. I do not know what they thought about me, but I considered a couple of them like an older sibling who was watching out for me. It was a peaceful year compared to what I endured through my high school years. It is one of the reasons I was intrigued to watch this action, crime adventure film.      CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO SET UP HER own detective agency, the only customer who asked Enola Holmes, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla franchise, Stranger Things-TV), for her help was a young girl. The case would turn into something that was bigger than the two of them. With Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Night Hunter) as Sherlock Holmes, David Thewlis (Harry Potter franchise, Wonder Woman) as Grail, Louis Partridge (The Lost Girls, Paddington 2) as Tewkesbury and Susan Wokoma (The Loneliest Boy in the World, Cheaters-TV) as Edith; this sequel proved movie studios can match or exceed the original movie if they set their minds to it. This picture was a fun film watching experience. Though I am not a fan of breaking character to talk to the audience; the plot twists, humor, and pacing were a perfect blend of excitement. Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter (reprising her role) made for a strong troika in acting. The only downside I found in this mystery was the ending part. It was a bit confusing for me; but at that point I did not let it bother me. Based on this film, there is no reason why this story line cannot become a long-lasting movie franchise. There was an extra scene early in the ending credits.                                                       

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Amsterdam

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A STORY, that if you had not known the person involved in it, you would have never believed it was true? I do not know about you, but it has happened to me many times. A man was telling me about his childhood, growing up in a country that was dealing with strife and conflict. He said whenever soldiers were spotted coming towards the town, many of the families would take their babies and hide them in the forest; so, they would not be taken and raised to become soldiers when they became grown. Or they could just as easily have been killed if the soldiers did not like something about them. What a horrifying way of life, I thought. He said one time the soldiers surprised the town by showing up at nighttime. Whoever was closest to the infant grabbed them and raced out the back to get them into the forest. The soldiers went through the town then left; everyone waited a long time before going out to retrieve their babies. Because of the mad rush to get the baby into the forest, this family member did not pay close attention to where he was placing them. This family member came back to get another family member to join in the search. After a long time, they did come back with a baby they thought was the right one. I stared at him in disbelief. He said it was not until he got older before family members were sure they had taken the right baby; he turned into the perfect likeness to his older brother.      IF YOU ARE ANYTHING LIKE ME, you hear something on the news that is so far-fetched that you cannot believe it is a real news story. Not that I want to get into any political discussion, but there is a candidate who is from a state that verified the past presidential election results multiple times. This candidate does not agree with the results and their reason is because they have never talked to someone who said they voted for the current president. I had to sit there and process what this candidate was saying, “they have never talked to anyone who voted for the president. When told the number of votes that were counted, this candidate said anything is possible in a fantasy world. I could not make such a story up even if I had wanted to; it is so hard to believe. Their argument would be like me saying I have never talked to anyone who had visited the Artic, so it must not exist. I had never heard of the event that inspired this dramatic, comedy mystery story; and based on what I saw, I cannot discern what might have been real or fake.      THREE FRIENDS FRAMED FOR A MURDER find something more sinister than the circumstances of the death they witnessed, while trying to clear their names. With Christian Bale (The Big Short, Out of the Furnace) as Burt Berendsen, Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Mary Queen of Scots) as Valerie Voze, John David Washington (Tenet, Malcolm & Marie) as Harold Woodman, Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, The Many Saints of Newark) as Detective Hiltz and Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho, The Northman) as Libby Voze; this film had a stellar cast of characters. Too bad, they were not given the tools to help create an engaging film. I did not find anything funny in the script which only added to the quickness of me becoming bored. There was a cartoonish style to the acting, due to the script, that never allowed the story to reach a healthy level of suspense and drama. I wondered if the writers intended to shine a spotlight on the parallels between the political environment in this story with the current times, we have been living in. When I left the theater, I had the feeling that I had wasted my time going to this viewing. If I had not gone and seen this, would that have meant that it had never been made?                   

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Woman King

WHEN IT CAME TO HEROES IT did not matter to me whether they were male or female. In reality as long as they were decent and kind, it was all that mattered to me. As for the ones I would watch or read about, if they were a good and exciting character, I was all for them. One of my favorite superheroes was Superman; I remember I had a large collection of his comic books, along with Batman. One of the earliest female characters I remember was Catwoman. I loved cats and thought she was quite cunning; she was a perfectly evil nemesis to Batman. From television shows I had crushes on Honey West and Emma Peel. I thought both women were tough and could handle themselves in a fight, though I would have to say Emma was the toughest female character I had ever seen. I would not be lying if I told you I had a crush on her. Watching her in a fight with her martial arts ability, being able to take down a man who was double her size, filled me with dreams that maybe I could become a martial arts fighter. But then, I saw Bruce Lee as Kato and in Fist of Fury and realized I was too overweight to be able to move as quickly as him.      DURING MY YOUTH THERE WERE SEVERAL strong females who showed me there was no difference between men and women when it came to toughness. I had a relative who was a sergeant in the military, who had the strongest handshake I had ever felt. She did not back down from expressing herself and would call out anyone who she thought was not acting properly or doing their job. I remember one time we were at a store and the salesperson waiting on us was talking down to her, trying to get her to buy a different item that was more expensive than the one she had in her hand. She firmly expressed her feelings and told him to stop trying to sell her “crap” she had no use for. I may have mentioned this before, but in school there was a girl who was tougher than most boys. Granted she was one of the tallest students in our grade, but she was the first girl I saw throw a punch at a boy that made him cry and run away. I knew immediately to never get on her bad side. Though I have no idea what became of her, I must wonder if the true events that inspired this film had been taught to us in school, what kind of an effect would it have had on her and the other girls.      KNOWING THEIR ENEMY HAD HORSES AND guns at their disposal, the general of an all-female unit of warriors was convinced her fighters would prevail. They had to if their kingdom were to survive. With Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Unforgivable) as Nanisca, Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad-TV, Shuga-TV) as Nawi, Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die, Captain Marvel) as Izoogie, Sheila Atim (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Bruised) as Amenza and John Boyega (Star Wars franchise, Attack the Block) as King Ghezo; this historical action drama starred a bulked up Viola Davis who was still able to deliver an amazing character with emotional depth. The movie started out slow for me; however, as it continued playing, I found myself sitting there in awe as the director beautifully laid out strong and memorable scenes, filled with intense fights and emotional depth. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that seemed too far-fetched to have been real; but I still found myself buying into the story. And just from an historical perspective, I am now fascinated about this African kingdom in the 18th/19th century who had this army battalion of women warriors. There were several scenes of blood and violence and an extra scene during the middle of the ending credits.                           

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Oslo

HOW I WISHED I COULD HAVE been a fly on the wall during their conversation. We had plans in place a few months ago, for all of us to get together at a relative’s house. The matriarch had agreed that we should test for COVID before coming over. I was a guest, so I was going with the flow believing it was a good idea. All was set; we tested and were on our way when we got a call from a relative. It turns out the person’s house we were going to refused to test and started a fight with the guests who arrived first. Even if I had not been forewarned, I would have known something was up because the tension in the room was as thick as foam insulation. Plus, several guests had red eyes which told me there had been tears flowing. Not to bore you with all the details, the most startling aspect of this entire event was how the matriarch sided with the person who refused to test. The thing that annoyed me was how the matriarch, when asked, said she never said she thought testing was a good idea. In fact, she was simply parroting whatever the non-tester was saying to us. There is one thing that I feel is extremely precious for each human being and that is their word. How this elderly woman could go back on what she said was something I found appalling. As I said earlier, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall to see how this relative convinced the matriarch to change her mind about testing.      ON A SCALE OF THINGS, I wish I could have been privy to, this incident is far down the list. There are so many places I wish I could have seen or heard that I do not even know where to begin. For example, I would have been fascinated to have heard what was said at the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at their 1943 meeting in Tehran. I think it would have been beyond fascinating to see these three world leaders talking amongst themselves. Another place that I wish I could have seen and heard is the courtrooms where the woman’s right to vote was argued. Imagine what it must have been like to listen to the individuals who argued against the passing of the law; currently they would be ripped apart in the media. Or just recently the Olympic Games where the Russian female skater tested positive for a banned substance; I would have been so interested to hear the arguments on whether to let her skate or not. Hearing the backstory to famous events always piques my curiosity and this film based on a true story hit a bullseye with me.      BELIEVING THEY COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE, a Norwegian couple go outside government boundaries to get two adversaries to talk to each other. Their idea could create a big change for the world. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Mona Juul, Andrew Scott (Pride, Victor Frankenstein) as Terje Rod-Larsen, Karel Dobry (A Knight’s Tale, Child 44) as Johan Jorgen Hoist, Tobias Zilliacus (The Hypnotist, Hospital-Daughter’s Mother) as Jan Egeland and Itzik Cohen (A Matter of Size, Fauda-TV) as Yossi Beilin; this movie based on a true story was a combination of being dramatic, thrilling and historical. I was fortunate to see the play this film was based on and loved it. This movie does a good job of sticking to the same storyline, but I felt there were a few scenes less engaging. However, the sets and dialog kept me zoned into the story. It is an incredible story that very few knew about back in the 1990s regarding the Palestinians and Israelis. There is little action in the traditional sense; so, if one is not a fan of history, they may not get as much enjoyment as I did watching this picture about an incredible event, made more incredible with the added layers of the story that have come to light.                                 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Belfast

GROWING UP I DID NOT REALIZE my neighborhood was idyllic, at least for me. But then, I would think any child who grows up in the neighborhood where they were born would think the same thing, as long as they haven’t experienced any type of trauma. I lived in a large apartment building that wrapped around a street corner, so there were 2 entrances for it. There was not one apartment on our side where I did not know the people living in them. In fact, when I had just started walking, I would go out in the hallway and get myself down 2 flights of stairs by sitting on my backside, to visit the neighbor on the 1st floor. The neighborhood was filled with kids my own age who became friends of mine. We would play outside all the time; every parent on the block knew each kid. One of our favorite games was hide and seek among the apartment buildings’ gangways and back porches. Looking back, I wonder how many steps/flights I would have done during a game. With my building we had 2 separate staircases connected by a cement backyard. The various stores in my neighborhood were all familiar with me and my family. I could walk into the drug store with a note from a parent and the pharmacist would hand over any refilled prescription medicine to me without any qualms. When I got older, I could be outside at nighttime with friends, and no one had a concern or fear.      AT SOME POINT, I DO NOT remember when, the draw of the suburbs became strong and started pulling my neighbors from their homes to settle past the city limits. The same was true with stores. I remember a men’s clothing store that closed and was replaced by a shop that had black lights to illuminate some of their rock posters and T-shirts. Some people would call the place a “head shop.” I guessed it was because it was messing with one’s head? Where the neighborhood had a strong homogenous look to it, things started to change. I hope this does not come out as a judgement; it was an observation. The store signs in my neighborhood were backlit; in other words, three dimensional for the most part, either actual signage or individual letters. I noticed the new store signs coming in were more like banners or made with strong paper. In my mind they did not look permanent to me. Some of the stores began putting up signs in different languages which I discovered bothered some of the older residents in the neighborhood. Change may not always be easy for certain people; you can see it for yourself in this biographical drama.      DURING THE TUMULTUOUS TIMES OF THE 1960s in Ireland, a family experiences something they had never imagined taking place in their small, friendly neighborhood. With Jude Hill (Magpie Murders-TV) as Buddy, newcomer Lewis McAskie as Will, Caitriona Balfe (Ford v Ferrari, Outlander-TV) as Ma, Jamie Dornan (A Private War, Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) as Pa and Judi Dench (All is True, Victoria & Abdul) as Granny; this multiple Oscar nominated film was directed and written by Kenneth Branagh. Based on true events from his childhood, he created a beautifully filmed and directed piece of work here. I loved watching this movie and thought the entire cast worked as one solid, magnificent unit. There was something about the way Kenneth filmed the characters in close or looking up at them that made the visuals stronger. Granted, the actors gratefully could emote without saying a word. The script was solid though there were twinges I felt of manipulation to pull at one’s heart strings. For me, I was able to relate to some of the neighborhood scenes, though I am not sure this would be universal across all viewers. However, it should not deter one from experiencing such a well-done picture.             

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

IF I HAD NOT SEEN IT with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. I felt like I was watching the animal sidekicks of an evil, animated character. I was over at a friend’s house, who has five cats as pets. They are outdoor cats according to him. All of them are tabbies who are lean and muscular, at least in my opinion. Anytime I have been at my friend’s place, the cats have always been friendly towards me. This time my friend was telling me he had to take one of the cats to the veterinarian for some health issue. We visited until it was time for him to get ready. He had gone into the coat closet and pulled out a pet carrier. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple of cats sit up from their reclined positions, staring at the carrier. My friend started to walk over to one of those two cats. As he got closer to her, she let out this sound like a yelp. I do not know where the other three cats were, but they bolted in and joined the other cat to surround the cat my friend was nearing. It was surreal as they hissed and meowed at my friend, all the time keeping a tight circle around that one tabby. My friend turned his head towards me and said this happens each time he must remove one cat out of the pack.      NONE OF MY PAST EXPERIENCES WITH cats ever included this scenario. I have seen cats hiss and cry, but that level of protection towards another cat is something I had never seen. Granted, I do not have any other friends or family who have five cats; but even then, I do not know if it makes a difference if a cat is an indoor or outdoor one. I have loved cats all my life; I can sit and watch them play for hours. There is one friend of mine who uses a laser pointer to get his cat to exercise. This cat will follow the red point of light all over the floor, the couch or chairs, even try to go up the wall to catch it. I have relatives who had one of the most docile cats I had ever known. This cat, I think, was part human because he knew when you were available to play with him or when you were sad, to come over and sit by you. I could lift him up and drape him around the back of my neck, where he would stay perfectly content while purring deeply in my ears. Like dogs, I think cats have distinct personalities. The artist in this biographical drama believes the same thing as I do.      TAKING IN A STRAY CAT DID more for Louis Wain’s, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Courier) career than almost anything else. Some would say it was an obsession; others would say it would be his legacy. With Claire Foy (The Crown-TV, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) as Emily Richardson-Wain, Andrea Riseborough (The Grudge, The Death of Stalin) as Caroline Wain, Toby Jones (A Boy Called Christmas, The Mist) as Sir William Ingram and Sharon Rooney (Dumbo, Zapped-TV) as Josephine Wain; this film based on true events shined a little brighter due to Benedict and Claire. The mix of whimsical and serious scenes made for some variety, though some areas of the story could have used a deeper dive into them. I had never heard of Louis Wain, but I believe I have seen some of his work. The story itself appeared to have a lot of things to explore; I am not sure the script did it justice. However, from a historical and dramatic aspect, I stayed involved with the characters. And the cats were quite cute to boot.

3 stars 

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