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Flash Movie Review: The Whale

I DO NOT REMEMBER WHY I enjoyed eating an entire loaf of bread before dinner; I just knew it felt good. Even if I could bring details back from when I was doing it, I was too young to understand why I was doing it. The only thing I can remember is the comforting feeling that came over me while eating the bread; though, bread was not the only food I would excessively indulge in. Sometimes I would stop at one of the ice cream trucks that were always driving through my neighborhood with their tinkling bells and recorded music, like mobile pied pipers enticing every child within earshot. I would always order the largest chocolate ice cream cone and be able to finish it all during my short walk home from school. It is odd to me now how I could eat an entire meal despite having stuffed myself with these added carb and sugar laden foods. It was not until my later years in elementary school that I made the connection between my feelings and food. Whenever I was made fun of or picked on, I would immediately after school focus on what I could eat that would make me feel better. If I could not find something to eat once outside the school building, I would go home and if there was not much bread available, I would look for cookies in the pantry; and if there were none, I always knew my last resort would be to eat breakfast cereal right out of the box.      DURING HIGH SCHOOL I BEGAN TO delve deeper into my eating habits. I was determined to change my appearance. I was able to do it despite having two major setbacks. Then in college, where I had several courses in psychology, I learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. To maintain my appearance, I cut out snacking between meals. With just that change along with my rule of no eating five hours before going to bed, I was able to keep weight off. Granted, I was no longer stuffing my feelings down by stuffing my face. One of the most important words I incorporated into my life was “balance.” During the weekdays I remained strict with my diet; however, on the weekends I was free to indulge in comfort food as long as it was not too excessive. I have a friend who understands my philosophy, but they are not there yet; they have not controlled the act of rewarding themselves with decadent type foods. For the main character in this drama, I understood what he was doing and deep down I think he understood as well.      WITH HIS PROSPECTS DIMMING FOR A long life, a father wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter, who he has not seen in several years. With Brendan Fraser (The Poison Rose, Doom Patrol-TV) as Charlie, Sadie Sink (Eli, Stranger Things-TV) as Ellie, Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Insidious franchise) as Thomas, Hong Chau (Downsizing, The Menu) as Liz and Samantha Morton (The Messenger, Miss Julie) as Mary; this movie provided me with something I have not seen in a while; an immediate realization I was watching an Oscar worthy acting performance. Brendan was absolutely spectacular. I felt his acting gave the cast an extra boost because they were all excellent. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), I thought this was one of his better films. The script was slow and steady, taking place mostly in one spot; but the emotions tied up with the story and Brendan’s performance nearly took me into his world. Despite some predictability and the slow trickle of back story, I was fully engaged with the characters and understood what they were going through for the most part. I left the movie theater on a high for seeing such a well-done film that deserves to be recognized this awards season.                                    

3 ½ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: The Menu

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I wanted to see what was so special about some of the finer restaurants in the city. One of the first places I made reservations at was the French restaurant, Maxim’s De Paris. I cannot remember anyone ever mentioning that name to me except in the movies. If memory serves me correctly, it was in the musical movie Gigi. The other reason I wanted to book this place was because periodically the city newspapers would mention a visiting celebrity who had dined at the famous restaurant. That was enough reason for me to want to go see the place myself. I remember Maxim’s was located on the lower level of a hotel. The décor was art nouveau with red velvet chairs, spiral black metal railings and curved archways. Lining the sides of the rooms were tall, curved booths of black leather that formed a scallop design down the length of the walls. I remember we had 3 people taking care of us: a waiter, a server and a busboy. The waiter unfolded our napkins and placed them on our laps; between every course he scrapped crumbs off the tablecloth with a metal looking object he kept in his pants pocket. The food was delicious, I remember; however, I did not see any celebrities that night.      MY CURIOUSITY OF FANCY RESTAURANTS DID not last long. It was depleting my funds and more times than not; I did not care for the food. The only time I felt full was when the restaurant served a basket of breads or dinner rolls. I am a visual and texture eater which means for me if a dish doesn’t look good then I will not be touching it. Also, I am not fond of things sitting in liquid or having a gelatinous texture. There were some restaurants we visited that tried to be creative with their food items. Unless it was in the dessert category, I generally did not like any of the food; if I cannot recognize it then I don’t want to stick it in my mouth. The other issue I had with some of the restaurants was the food portions; they were too damn small, in my opinion. What annoyed me during the duration of my eating at fancy restaurants was the fact I never saw a celebrity at any of the places, not even waiting outside the place for their limo. Based on my experiences at these fancy restaurants, there is no way I would want to have been a guest at the food establishment in this comedy, horror thriller.      A YOUNG COUPLE JOINED A SMALL group of dinner guests to experience everything at a renowned chef’s remote island restaurant. There were going to be plenty of surprises for the guests throughout the meal. With Ralph Fiennes (The King’s Man, The Dig) as Chef Slowik, Anya Taylor-Joy (The Northman, The New Mutants) as Margot, Nicholas Hoult (Those Who Wish Us Dead, Warm Bodies) as Tyler, Hong Chau (Downsizing, Homecoming-TV) as Elsa and Janet McTeer (Me Before You, Albert Nobbs) as Lillian; this film is a very dark comedy. Out of the cast, Anya was the standout for me. She has a way of commanding the screen that made her character the strongest. The script was interesting in the way it slowly revealed bits of the story. I will say there were a few scenes that seemed too far-fetched; however, they started to make sense when I thought of them more as a satire. I will say, I did not like the ending and felt it was too abrupt and somewhat of a cop-out. If it was not for the cast, I might have had a harder time watching this film. The food shown did not interest me; but if there was a turkey club sandwich with no mayo and burnt bacon served, that would have caught my attention.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Downsizing

IT APPEARS TO ME when people are reaching a certain age they start going through their home to get rid of stuff. I have recently noticed this due to a few friends, who started doing this very thing recently. They are rummaging through their closets, drawers and basements pulling out a variety of items, from unused tools to shoes that were never taken out of their original packaging. I know this because they are sending me photos showing their stuff piled up, waiting to be donated, recycled or thrown away. In fact a friend of mine who runs an antique/thrift shop was telling me how the store has always gotten items from estate sales or people who are clearing out the homes of their deceased relatives. However now he noticed more and more people are bringing in their own items, telling him they no longer need it or they are downsizing.     WHEN THE TIME COMES for me to reorganize my house I know I will have a lot of items to donate or give away. Like so many people I am an acquirer (a kinder way of saying I like to shop). There was a period of time where I bought into the mindset that the person with the most stuff wins. Because I have the space when I bought, let us say, a new pair of pants or shoes, I did not bother getting rid of a similar item from my closet. I think I do this because I have this constant thought that at some point in time I will need that item for whatever reason. Slacks that are too big for me hang in the attic in case I put on weight or have a dinner guest that spills on their pants and needs to wear something while their stained slacks are in the wash. Maybe a better way of explaining this desire for stuff is to look at the way electronic items and children’s toys are marketed these days. Now when a new thing comes out it suddenly becomes a big event, drawing in and making people believe they would be better off with the new item. Need takes a back seat to desire. Let us face it, who wants to feel like they are being left behind as everyone else is jumping on the shopping bandwagon for new stuff. This film festival winning dramatic comedy has something to say about it.     FINDING IT HARDER TO make ends meet Audrey and Paul Safranek, played by Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters, Masterminds) and Matt Damon (The Martian, The Great Wall), agree to become part of the new trend of downsizing oneself to 5” tall and live like a millionaire. However being small doesn’t mean one will have smaller issues to deal with. With Christoph Waltz (Tulip Fever, Big Eyes) as Dusan Mirkovic, Hong Chau (Inherent Vice, Treme-TV) as Ngoc Lan Tran and Rolf Lassgard (A Man Called Ove, After the Wedding) as Dr. Jorgen Asbjornsen; this story caught my attention right from the start. The first part was both fun and curious; but then other story lines came in and none of them ever became fully developed for me. I found it an odd mix that made me lose interest, though I enjoyed the visual contrasts. The story presented was a social satire that could have led to some interesting conversation afterwards, but instead what was in my head was clutter I wanted to clear out.

 

2 stars    

 

 

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