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Flash Movie Review: White House Down

Even if one has not visited an iconic building, they can still be upset upon its destruction. When I travel to a new city I always seek out buildings of historic significance. Whether it is an ancient structure or a world renowned architect’s masterpiece, I enjoy seeing the architecture in every place I visit. I have only seen the Capital in Washington, DC from the outside; yet, I felt a twinge of sadness when it came under terrorist attack in this explosive action film. During the horrific incident John Cale, played by Channing Tatum (Side Effects, Magic Mike) and his daughter Emily, played by Joey King (Oz the Great and Powerful, Crazy Stupid Love) were taking a tour of the White House. With President James Sawyer, played by Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Ray) in residence, the building went into lockdown mode. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time; but for who, as the attackers were not counting on someone like John Cale being in the White House. My sadness over the destruction of the Capitol was overshadowed by my dread over the ridiculous script for this film. It did not know whether to be an exciting action drama or a high stakes comedy. Some of the dialog was utterly looney, with no help from Channing and Jamie. Thrown into this mess was Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Won’t Back Down) as secret service agent Finnerty, Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Step Brothers) as politician Raphelson and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Lawless) as terrorist Stenz. I felt bad for these three individuals being stuck in this uninspired movie. To its favor, the film had good explosions and fights. If the writers had kept the story presidential without the attempted humor, I think this would have been a better film. Also, I was annoyed when the good guy characters did ignorant things; I felt as if the writers were underestimating the viewers’ intelligence. If you have nothing else to do and have never taken a tour of the White House, I suppose there would be no harm in watching this film. One of the funniest things to me was reading the credits, where I saw the film was filmed in Montreal, Canada. There were several scenes with blood and violence.

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

The haves and have nots, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, the upper class exploiting the lower class, wealthy husbands and their mistresses; any of these topics can be found in today’s headlines. They also are part of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby. Brought to the big screen by director/writer Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia), we saw the lavish surroundings where the wealthy play; oblivious to those of lesser means. The marketing of this movie has been intense, showing glimpses of spectacular parties, classic cars, mansions; all accompanied by a heavy hip hop beat. Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, Django Unchained) played Jay Gatsby, a mysterious wealthy man whose life had been motivated by his love for one particular woman. Carey Mulligan (Drive, Shame) was Daisy Buchanan, a wealthy socialite married to the unfaithful Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Odd Life of Timothy Green). Set up as the narrator of this story was midwesterner Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire (Spiderman franchise, Brothers). I enjoyed the performances from each actor; they did their best with what was written for them. The costumes and sets were brilliantly reproduced to reflect the era of 1920’s Long Island, New York. With such detail given to the look of this film, I found the choice of music to be a distraction. At a particular scene I glanced down at my watch to make a mental note of the time. It was approximately 50 minutes into the story before I started caring about any of the characters. I found the 1st half of the film to be bloated as it lumbered along. The last half of the movie contained most of the drama, almost force feeding it to the audience. The heavy handed way the story was told made it sag under its own excessiveness. This extravagant film could have benefitted from an austerity program. A couple of brief scenes with blood.

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

An image of my sister-in-law’s deceased cat came to mind while I was thinking about this movie I had just seen. If you had met TC in the house; he was an affectionate, sweet cat. But if you saw him outside; he was a cold, stealthy killer. The reason TC came to mind was due to watching Jessica Chastain (Lawless, Take Shelter) as CIA operative Maya in this tense dramatic movie. She was a slight wisp of a woman in a male dominated arena, whose single focused determination revealed her underlying strength. I found her performance to be one of her best. Since the September 2001 attacks, Maya’s only job was to find Osama Bin Laden. Her single-mindedness would push her to the gray areas of government policy. Whether this movie’s facts were true or not, it was the job of the director to take the story and make it believable to the viewer. In the case of this riveting movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Point Break) created a compelling experience. If you have read my explanation of my rating system; you know for me to award 4 stars to a movie, I have to be swept into the movie and leave my world’s reality behind. As I sat in my seat watching the movie; the sounds of crunching popcorn, the clinking of jostled ice cubes in cups of soda and the rustling of winter coats being squeezed into the back of the theater seats all turned into a hushed silence. My peripheral vision latched onto the edges of the movie screen and stretched them all the way beyond me. I had entered into Maya’s world. Because of the experience I just described, I awarded this movie 4 stars. The directing was brilliant; attaining rock solid performances from the actors. Too many to mention, I wanted to at least acknowledge a few of the competent actors such as Jason Clarke as Dan, Joel Edgerton as squadron team leader Patrick and Kyle Chandler as Joseph Bradley. Everything you have heard about this movie is true; it easily could be the frontrunner for this year’s Oscar awards. Brief scenes with blood.

 

4 stars

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