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Flash Movie Review: The Banshees of Inisherin

I CANNOT REMEMBER HOW WE STARTED out as friends, but I knew it was prior to the third grade and we quickly became best friends. Because we always sat together at various school events, when our parents were in attendance, they became acquainted with each other and soon after were friends as well. Many a time, I would sleep over at their house on the weekends, more so than he at mine because they had more room. He had an older brother that I did not see much of, though I do not know why. What I do remember about him was that he was always getting in trouble, both at school and home. We both were into science fiction stories whether it was books, comic books or movies. Also, each of us had a large collection of plastic army men; we would have some great battles across our living room floors. I still remember I had a portable missile launcher that would take out a group of his soldiers on the carpeted battlefield. The problem was that it only had two missiles. Pretty much, we had the same interests and likes; the only difference between us was he was taller and more athletic. He wound up always being the pitcher anytime we played baseball in our gym class.      WITH HIS SUCCESSES AT DIFFERENCE SPORTS activities, he was becoming friends with a bunch of boys I had little contact with during class. He did not have the same amount of time to hang out with me and as the school year progressed, we started to drift apart. I was not athletic at all and had no interest in playing any sporting games. Looking back, I can say I felt hurt; however, I realized he was not doing it on purpose. He just did not have the same amount of time to spend with me. As we entered our final year of elementary school, I had befriended a new student and we soon became good friends. We both loved reading and could talk about books almost anytime. In fact, during the summer months when we were off from school, we would hang out at the library. With it being air conditioned and a couple of doors down from the local fast-food restaurant, we could spend most of the day at the library. As the time towards graduation approached, my previous friend and I had zero contact between us. It was not like we had a fight or something, we had simply drifted apart; nothing on the scale of what happened to the two friends in this comedic drama.      AFTER BEING FRIENDS FOR SO LONG, it was hard for Padraic Suilleabhain, played by Colin Farrell (The Batman, Seven Psychopaths), to believe his friend when he said he no longer wanted to be friends with him. It would take some extreme measures for Padraic to believe him. With Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, In Bruges) as Colm Doherty, Kerry Condon (Bad Samaritan, Better Call Saul-TV) as Siobhan Suilleabhain, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Green Knight) as Dominic Kearney and Gary Lydon (War Horse, The Clinic-TV) as Peadar Kearney; the main draw for this film was the cast, especially Colin and Brendan. The other draw was the outdoor scenes because they were stunning. Set on an island off the coast from Ireland, the movie was slow going for me. There is not much action until later; however, what kept my interest were the 2 things I mentioned before, the cast and outdoor scenery. At the last quarter of the movie, there were scenes that made me wonder if there was more of a philosophical bent to the script. If there was, it went over me since I was focused on whether the movie was entertaining enough for the general public. If one is into acting and scenery, then this would be an easy watch for them. I will say the writers did take an unusual direction on the dissolvement of a friendship. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood being shown.                               

3 stars 

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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: Hidden Agenda

IT DROVE ME CRAZY HOW SHE could idolize such a person. Because of it, I had a hard time trusting her. She was his administrative assistant, so I could cut her some slack for being loyal. However, he was such a self-centered individual who only cared about himself to the point where he inflicted harm on the company, we were all working for, that I could not respect him or her. How did she not see this, I always wondered? He would have her place orders for his accounts before he even had a confirmation from the customer; there were several times the customers did not place their orders and we wound up getting stuck with the product and having to pay for it. I found his behavior appalling because with each order placed, he would get a commission; it did not make a difference if we got paid for the order or not. I was positive she had to know or at least figure out that some of his orders were bogus. The worst thing he would do was place an order to ship out but redirected it to a different account that was not credit worthy, claiming he had the wrong account number. Sometimes we could get the order back; but a lot of times we would have to use a collection agency to retrieve the item or payment.      IN MY DEALINGS WITH HIM THERE were times I 100% knew what he was telling me was not true. No matter what I would say to him he always had an answer ready, with many of them putting the blame on some other employee. I would then check with the other employee to verify the facts and more times than not the employee had no idea what I was talking about. This would turn into a vicious cycle of he said/she said on his part, to the point where I would become confused and frustrated. I could not understand how upper management could allow such behavior to continue that was damaging to the company. And that is the thing I had the hardest time understanding; why would an employee allow harm to take place against their employer? Besides the financial hit, there was the matter of the company’s reputation being harmed. Imagine a customer getting an invoice for something they did not order; wouldn’t you question that company’s operations and motives? I know I would and would feel less trust towards such a company. Trust is an invaluable asset that a company should never allow an employee to damage. It was unbelievable what was being done to trust in this dramatic, political thriller.      INGRID JESTER, PLAYED BY FRANCES McDORMAND (North Country, Moonrise Kingdom), could not understand why her fellow activist went for a drive through Belfast without telling her. For that reason, she refused to leave until she found out what happened to him. With Brian Cox (Remember Me, Troy) as Kerrigan, Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Lord of the Rings franchise) as Paul Sullivan, Bernard Archard (Krull, The Day of the Jackal) as Sir Robert Neil and John Benfield (The Best Offer, Speed Racer) as Maxwell; this film festival winner had a documentary feel to it at times; that is how good the acting was from the cast. The story was intense, and I thought the pacing was for the majority close on the mark. For me, I felt the script did not go deep enough with the suspense and emotions. There were moments where it seemed as if the scenes were void of dramatic depth. I noticed this especially with Francis’ character. The twists and turns that took place in the script kept me invested in what was taking place and I was to some degree experiencing a level of anger due to what the main characters were experiencing.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Older Than Ireland

If I need proof to substantiate my belief that age is only a state of mind, I only need to look around me. I truly believe a person who thinks they are old will become old. The saying “act your age” is a double edged sword as far as I am concerned. No one should have influence over another person, telling them how to act; at least that is my way of thinking. The obvious place where I see multiple examples of age only being a state of mind is at the fitness centers where I teach. There is a member who participates in one of my cycle classes that is in their 80s; you would never know just by looking at them. Someone who used to take one of my aerobic classes I still see at the club; they are currently 90 years old and still work out in the swimming pool. Can you believe it? I admire so many people at the club and it re-enforces another of my beliefs: use it or lose it. Even if I did not have the examples from the fitness centers, I had a neighbor who was in her 90s that would still climb up a ladder every year to clean out the gutters of her house. The physical marvel alone would be enough for me but to hear these people’s history is such a treat. Presently I have a neighbor who has been involved with a city organization for over 60 years. Hearing her stories about the place with its evolutions has provided me with insight on how the city has grown. It is like having a live history book living next to me. Though I have heard second hand stories that originated from century old individuals, I have never actually been around centenarians. This documentary is the next best thing.   WRITER and director Alex Tegan (The Irish Pub, Mad Made Men) developed this film around a group of elderly individuals from Ireland who all were at least 100 years old. Their history could fill a book. I had not heard or seen anything about this sweet, charming movie; it was an email from a friend who told me I had to go down into the city to see it playing at only one theater. It was worth the trip for I was fascinated by the amount of people interviewed who were over 100 years old and especially the ones who appeared to still be living independently. Take a moment and just imagine the amount of history all of these seniors have seen. There may be some viewers who may lose a bit of interest since the film essentially is a series of interviews. I found it amusing that subtitles were included with the conversations but I was glad; some of the individuals were hard for me to understand. It was fascinating listening to the variety of topics the people chose to talk about. After sitting through this picture one of the things I wanted to know was what factors contributed to the long lives of these incredible people. Where can I find their fountain of youth?

 

3 ½ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Sing Street

The foliage was dense causing the shade to be as thick as morning fog. My face and arms were getting scratched up from the thorny branches and sturdy vines as I tried to outrun whatever was pursuing me. I was freaked out hearing my heart beating in my ears. There were tiny pinholes of light striking the ground like lasers; if I happened to run through one of them I felt a pinch of heat on the top of my head. I saw the gaping hole too late and fell into it. Tumbling down its craggy wall, my clothing was taking a beating while trying to protect my skin. Complete darkness was rushing up to me as I heard one single growl and then I woke up. I had no idea where that dream came from; it made no sense to me. I refer to these as unconscious dreams; sometimes they make sense, sometimes not. The other kinds are conscious ones where a person imagines themselves in a different place, environment or time period. Though each I feel are important, the conscious ones can be strong motivators for a person. I remember growing up I would imagine myself living in a single family home that had a screened in porch and a short fence around the property. For years I would dream about the life I wanted to have when I was an adult. Interestingly I recently saw parts of a television reality show’s finale where they were interviewing the top players and I found it fascinating to hear some of the contestant’s responses. More than not they would say they had been dreaming about doing what they were doing for years; it was their dream coming true now.   LOOKING around and seeing what his life could become Cosmo, played by newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, had bigger dreams. Written and directed by John Carney (Once, Begin Again), this film festival nominee shared a similar type of vibe with his other films. Set in Dublin Ireland during the 1980s I liked the look of this picture. With Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones-TV, Blitz) as Robert and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Albert Nobbs, Jupiter Ascending) as Penny making up part of the cast I thought the acting was well done. What sold me on this film was the music. I enjoyed the way the songs played a part in the telling of the story. In some aspects I felt this movie was a younger version of John Carney’s Once film. I almost want to say it was a bit predictable, but maybe it would be better to say I found myself relating to certain parts of the script. Now there were a couple of times my mind started to drift but overall I found myself staying interested in what was going on; plus the 80’s pop songs were entertaining. There was enough taking place in this film to allow a majority of viewers to sit and dream about themselves.

 

3 stars   

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Secret of Roan Inish

When it happens the mind has a hard time believing it is true. Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, when one of them crosses to the other side the brain forms a hiccup. It could be something as trivial as checking one’s wallet or purse several times for a missing credit card and then on the 8th try the card is there. For me it was when I was at Yellowstone National Park and saw what actually looked like purple colored mountains, just like the lyric in the song that goes, “For purple mountain majesties.” I was standing on the peak of one mountain looking out and seeing a range of purple mountains as a low hanging, orange sun was piercing holes thru large billowing clouds like they were white pin cushions. The precise rays of sunlight formed little stars across the landscape. At first it did not look real to me; I just stood there and stared in disbelief. But there are other events that happen where a person has to take a step back to make sure what they are experiencing is actually real. Think about it, did you ever dream about something that later came true? Maybe what your ideal mate would look like or what your dream house would be? It can be a bit unsettling at first; however, I will say when it happens it brings a magical quality to it. The way this DVD showed up at my front door with no prior knowledge and its timing really made me experience an enchanting movie watching experience.    WHEN Fiona, played by Jeni Courtney (Nothing Personal), went to live with her grandparents she discovered there was something extraordinary about her family members. This film festival winning dramatic fantasy was a special treat to watch because it was based on the same Irish folklore as the animated movie, “Song of the Sea.” I recently had reviewed it here. Having seen the animated picture first, when I started watching this one I could not believe I was viewing the live version of that fantasy tale. With a cast that included Eileen Coogan (My Left Foot, I Sell the Dead) as Tess and John Lynch (The Secret Garden, In the Name of the Father) as Tadhg, I thought everyone did a wonderful job in creating a mysterious and magical atmospheric story about life in a small fishing village in Ireland. The beautiful landscapes and camera shots only added more charm to the story. Speaking of the story, there were differences between the two movies; I found this story was gentler and sweeter in a way, still just as family friendly as the other one. Whether the timing was right or I was in the right frame of mind, I found this DVD drew me completely into its world where I felt I was experiencing a fantasy coming to life.

 

3 1/2 stars — DVD

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: ’71

It is amazing how quickly they know who to cull from the group. As their eyes narrow to focus on the fidgeting, meandering members of the group; their minds are already in “attack” mode. There are 2 ways they usually strike; one is to take off at full power, the other has them slowly creeping towards the pack. No matter which way they choose, they are confident most of the individual ones will back away from them to avoid getting involved and possibly attacked themselves. The sad thing about this story is it applies to both the animal kingdom and the human world. When I take public transportation I do not focus on my Ipod or phone; I remain aware of my surroundings. There have been times when an individual or small group of people enter the train car with the intentions of harassing a passenger. Whether they are drawing on experience or not, they know the other passengers usually ignore what they are doing or simply get up and change rail cars. It is a sad statement on society but even I know from experience there is strength in numbers. How many of you have witnessed a school fight? As the victim was getting beaten up, how many people tried to stop the fight? From what I remember there were more times than not when the bystanders were cheering the fight.    BELFAST, Ireland during the 1970s was a center of conflict. When Gary Hook’s, played by Jack O’Connell (Unwanted, Starred Up), unit was attacked during a riot, he wound up being left behind. Hunted and shot at, this British soldier had very little time left if he wanted to escape with his life. This award winning action movie had an incredible chase scene that was utterly intense. The cast which included Richard Dormer (Mrs Henderson Presents, Good Vibrations) as Eamon, Sean Harris (Prometheus, Harry Brown) as Sandy Browning and Sam Reid (Belle, The Railway Man) as Lt. Armitage really captured the essence of the era. I will tell you I had a challenging time understanding some of the actors’ heavy accents. There was such a dark rawness to this dramatic thriller that it kept me attracted to the story even during the bloody violence. One of the things I appreciated most about this compelling picture was the fact it did not take sides of a well known hatred. It was a story about one man during one night which I found powerful. There certainly were aspects of that group mentality type of thinking about them vs us; but the script showed more layers to it. I still felt that similar type of dread like the kind I experienced in my past. There were scenes with blood and violence.

 

3 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Calvary

From the news to lyrics of a song one eventually comes across the saying: The good die young. There is some truth in those words. Not that I want to get into a political debate here; but when one hears about a person guilty of a crime who died or will be dying, the sympathy is slightly different for them than an innocent individual. Hearing recently about innocent children being killed by stray bullets or just yesterday about the mother who was allegedly murdered and stuffed into a suitcase by her daughter, one’s heart has to go out for these people whose lives were taken away from them. Under those types of circumstances you feel it in the pit of your stomach. I will be the first to admit that I tend not to be sympathetic towards a person who makes the conscience choice to take the life away from another individual. I vividly recall the trial where a friend of mine was picked to be part of the jury, where a mother hung her 2 year old son out the dining room window until he died. She was found guilty for reasons of insanity.    HOWEVER, in this dramatic movie the killer appeared to be totally rational. During confession a man sat and explained why he was going to kill the priest listening to him, Father James who was played by Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise, Troy). After explaining his reasons, the announced killer told the priest he had 7 days to get his affairs in order. In this film festival winning picture Brendan was utterly outstanding in his role. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Ned Kelly), I found the script to be intelligent and mature. The pacing was well suited for this story, building a slow steady tension to the very end. I felt the camera work beautifully displayed the gorgeous landscapes, besides creating memorable images throughout the film. Everyone in the cast from Kelly Reilly (Flight, Heaven is for Real) as Fiona Lavelle to Chris O’Dowd (Cuban Fury, Bridesmaids) as Jack Brennan did their part to push this movie to excellence. The reason why this story worked for many reasons was due to the fact that the audience was immediately told the circumstances. With this knowledge I could not imagine someone not feeling sadness and dread on a deep level; it really was a brilliant idea from John Michael McDonagh. This film made a strong connection to the audience and the only thing it was guilty of was tugging at our hearts. A couple of scenes had blood in them.

 

3 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ondine

Maybe it was magic or a belief, even a mythical character; whichever you decide to choose will enhance this sweet movie. I am sure there have been times where you could not explain something with simple logic. The time I was working on a weight machine and my eyes began to hurt. A reasonable person would have stopped lifting the weights, but not me. I turned my head away to the side just before a cable snapped, missing my turned face. I could never explain it. In this imaginative film Irish fisherman Syracuse, played by Colin Farrell (Alexander, Pride and Glory), could not explain the nearly drowned girl he captured in his fishing net. Adding to the mystery were the changes that began to occur around him since this female came into his life. Syracuse’s daughter believed the woman who called herself Ondine, played by Alicja Bachelda (Trade, Stealth), was a Selke (water nymph). Filmed along the beautiful coast of Ireland, this movie was an enchanting blend of mythology and stark reality. Colin put in an impressive performance as the fisherman who was a recovering alcoholic and a father to an ailing daughter with failing kidneys. I found Alicja to be wonderfully mysterious in her role. Could Ondine really be a Selke or was she something more real. Bring a touch of fanciful thinking with you and find out the answer for yourself, in this curious film.

 

3 stars — DVD 

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