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Flash Movie Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant

I do not know if it is an actual term but I call it “deceptive packaging.” If you walk through a grocery store you will see many examples of these false packages. There are so many liquid products that come in these colored bottles that look like you are buying a full size of the product. However, after you take it home and have used it for a short time you cannot believe you already ran out of the item. Let me tell you, hold that bottle up to the light and you will probably see the bottom of it is much thicker then any other part of the bottle; I am talking thick like those funny eyeglasses that you might see an actor wear for their character in a comedy movie. The type of eyeglasses that were called “soda pop glasses” because they were as thick as the bottom of soda bottles. Another way companies use deceptive packaging is in their use of photography to create these sumptuous looking foods on the cover of their products. A frozen dinner on the cover looks homemade with big chunks of vegetables and steaming meat in a thick bubbly sauce; but after you open the box, the meal consists of a couple of pieces of shriveled meat with tiny cut veggies of a lesser assortment than the picture of it. These things are why I not only look at prices when I am at the grocery store, but I also look at the amounts. This may make my shopping trip longer but I and I am sure everyone else do not like feeling deceived.    TRIS, played by Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, White Bird in a Blizzard), had a feeling inside that there was something beyond the wall surrounding Chicago. No matter what others said she had to find out for herself even if it meant she would lose some of her friends. This next installment of the action adventure series kept my interest going because of Shailene, Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as David and the futuristic products that were on show in the story. Outside of that this mystery science fiction story had a tired script. There was barely any emotion in the scenes or characters and the reason for that was the bloated script. The movie studio took the last book and decided to split it into 2 films and I was not buying it. With these types of movies I look forward to watching battles and hand to hand combat in a futuristic make-believe setting, using ray guns and other fantasy devices. I was bored for a good part of this film; it would have been better if the studio had filmed the entire book in one movie. Since I did not read the series I have to tell you I do not know if I want to run to see the next picture because I feel like I was duped.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Steve Jobs

Ugh not again; there they go repeating the same story for everyone. I do not know if this has happened to you but I know a couple of people who can take an entertaining story and pummel it down to the point where most people would have lost interest midway through the tale. One of these individuals will tell me a story, move on to something else for a moment and then come back to the original story to add some unnecessary element. I say “unnecessary” because once you give out the punchline the story is done. If you go back to add something else it never adds extra oomph if someone already knows the ending to the joke or story. At a party this person will go from group to group telling each one a particular story, dragging it out longer and longer as they make their way among the assembled people. It is easy to tell when a captive guest loses interest; their eyes keep darting from side to side after each blink as they are looking to lock in on someone to come save them from the storyteller’s discombobulated oratory. I may not be a great verbal communicator but I do know that a good story or joke needs to be quick and to the point. It is like a speech; there is only a finite amount of time one can hold onto an audience’s attention span before they drift off to someplace else. So here is today’s movie and it is the third film about Steve Jobs I have seen in a short amount of time. How many times do we need to hear about Steve and Apple Computer? Luckily they say the 3rd time is the charm because it was for this dramatic movie.    COME backstage during the launch of 3 major products during Steve’s tenure at Apple Computer. Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV), this film was intelligent, smart and most importantly acted out brilliantly. The casting could not have been better with the likes of Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Shame) as Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet (Titanic, Divergent franchise) as Joanna Hoffman and Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as John Sculley; they were amazing in their roles. Michael completely obliterated any trace memory I had left of Ashton Kutcher’s poor performance as Steve in the film Jobs; there is a good chance Michael will be nominated for best actor this Oscar season. The script was so well done I can only imagine the actors must have really enjoyed digging deep into their characters. I enjoyed the mix of dramatic intensity and humor Aaron brought into the script. The fact the story only focused on three specific time frames I believe made this a stronger picture. Truthfully, I could easily see this film again and not get bored.

 

3 1/2 stars 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Martian

I always want to be respectful of people’s feelings, even when I know with pain and discomfort it is all about perspective. Someone complaining about a nasty paper cut is something I can understand and sympathize along with the person. However, compared to someone having a limb amputated due to disease, the paper cut appears pretty minor; it is all about perspective. Last week was a challenging time for me. I am still a novice when it comes to doing things that are computer related and I had 2 online courses that had to be completed by October 1st. Without formal training on how to navigate the website, I felt lost as I struggled to find my way to taking and completing the courses. In fact on one site, every time after I logged in and clicked on the course title I was brought back to the login screen. Even trying it on a different computer and operating system ended with the same results; it was absolutely frustrating as I had to work with the site’s help desk as the clock was ticking. At the same time my day job was getting busier as we approached month end, so my mind was being heavily taxed to say the least. And if that was not enough I thought a birthday gift I had ordered online was missing as the birthdate was fast approaching. By the time Friday end of work rolled around it took all my energy just to go park the car and buy my theater ticket to see this dramatic adventure film. Right from the start my problems quickly disappeared as I saw what the main character had to endure in his situation.    ABANDONED and left for dead astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon (Interstellar, Saving Private Ryan), realized he had to find a way to contact NASA and his crew before his food and supplies would run out. Mars was not going to be helpful in his endeavor. From director Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Black Hawk Down), this science fiction film was extra special because of its cast, which included Jessica Chastain (Mama, A Most Violent Year) as Melissa Lewis and Jeff Daniels (Dumb & Dumber franchise, Looper) as Teddy Sanders; everyone was outstanding with their characters. The other reason I was transported to Mars was due to the script; special effects took a back seat as I realized I was getting an abundance of technological jargon, but Matt made everything seem believable to me. Nothing seemed frivolous; I felt Ridley used a deft touch in letting the tension and drama play off of each other. There were some scenes where I was sitting on the edge of my seat in nervous anticipation and in the next moment I was sitting back as my eyes teared up. This picture absolutely took me away to a different place, besides adding a new perspective to this year’s batch of Oscar worthy movies. One brief scene showed blood in it.

 

4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Dumb and Dumber To

It was a long day of intensive studies. We had not seen the outside since we had arrived at 8 in the morning. Before the dinner hour was to arrive we were given an hour to decompress from the day and clear our minds. My partner during the practical applications came up to me and asked if I wanted to take a walk with her. We had only met when we both started our yoga training a few months prior; however, there was an immediate connection. Our sense of humor was similar as our skill level with the poses we were practicing in our studies. As we headed outside the sun was in the latter part of the day, its orange hued rays large and unfocused. We headed down a trail that led us into a forest. With the air cooler inside the green canopied trees, we leisurely started up a conversation that moved us to be vulnerable with each other, laughing at each other’s adventures and supportive as we reported our past hardships. Time had left us behind; the few shadows that had slipped into our darkening green enclave could not catch our attention. When I happened to glance at my watch finally, we were 30 minutes past the dinnertime. In addition we were lost. I tried not showing my nervousness, but it was not easy as I began feeling my hunger pangs becoming aggressive in my stomach. Despite these concerns the two of us kept talking and laughing on a variety of subjects as we treated this excursion as an adventure. We did finally find our way back to our studies that day; but more importantly, we cemented a friendship that continues to this day. Lesson learned, adventures can be more fun with friends.    AFTER all these years Harry Dunne, played by Jeff Daniels (Looper, The Squid and the Whale), discovered he had a daughter. When his best friend Lloyd Christmas, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Bruce Almighty), saw a picture of the girl, he convinced Harry they should try to find her. Their road trip adventure would take them to the craziest places. This comedy written and directed by brothers Bobby & Peter Farrelly (Shallow Hal, There’s Something About Mary), was dull beyond belief. Most of the jokes were either retreads or barely humorous to me. The trailers truly provided the highlights for this film. After 20 years I felt the script should have taken a fresh look at Harry and Lloyd; instead it was a rehash of their previous film. All this movie provided was crude, rude and juvenile jokes for the most part. I wished I had for this movie gotten lost before getting to the theater. If you do go to see this film there was an extra scene after the credits.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Howl

There was a time when women could not wear pants. It was not allowed during the period my brothers were in high school. It used to be one could not marry out of their race. Experiencing any type of freedom today, one must look to the past to see who fought for those rights. As a member of the blogosphere, I have read some posts that made me blush. I may not agree with the author of the post, but I would certainly fight for their right to say it. If I am not comfortable reading or seeing something, I simply stop and move on. Being fortunate to live in a country that allows it citizens the freedom of speech, I was curious to see this film about a trailblazer who reinforced that freedom of speech. Poet Allen Ginsberg along with his friend Jack Kerouac were pioneers of what became known as the Beat Generation. Allen’s poem Howl is considered today one of the great works of American literature. When it was first published in the 1950’s, there were many who felt it was obscene. The obscenity trial that ensued was the focus of this film. James Franco (127 Hours, Spiderman franchise) gave an engaging performance portraying the poet Allen Ginsburg. The lawyers at the trial, Jake Ehrlich and Ralph McIntosh, were played by Jon Hamm (The Town, Friends With Kids) and David Strathairn (Lincoln, L.A. Confidential) respectively. I could appreciate the use of three segments to tell this movie; the events that led up to Ginsberg writing his famous piece, the trial itself and the use of animation to enhance the recitation of the poem. But where each segment was interesting, I felt it took away from giving me a fuller story. For example, I would rather have had extra screen time showing more of Allen’s life and his thoughts about the trial. Even having more interaction between Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who was played by Todd Rotondi (Phileine Says Sorry, The Heartbreaker), would have been interesting. The casting for this film was well done, including the small parts for Mary-Louise Parker (Red, Saved!) as Gail Potter and Jeff Daniels (Looper, Dumb & Dumber) as David Kirk. This movie was a compelling history lesson for me. Strong language and visuals of sexual content.

 

2 2/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Looper

It felt like my brain was given an electrical pulse within the first few minutes of this intelligent, science fiction movie. Even those not into this genre, would absolutely enjoy the great story. There were several ways one could interpret the movie. For me, I pondered the concept that our past influences our future and whether fate is finite or can we alter it. From beginning to end, this movie kept my attention with its deft pacing and laser focused direction. Set in the future, time travel has been outlawed. However, large criminal organizations were using it to send people back 30 years where a looper (time traveling assassin) would be waiting to kill them. Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Premium Rush, The Dark Knight Rises), was a smart looper; saving half of his earnings with the intention of moving to France one day. His plans were put into jeopardy the day his next kill arrived and it was an older Joe, played by Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom, Red). Hesitating for a moment, the older Joe escaped and set out to change his past; with the young Joe in pursuit and the mob hunting both of them. If this sounds confusing to you, please do not worry; it will make more sense as you watch the movie. The story was fresh and original with skilled acting propelling everything forward. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was eerily good, looking like a young Bruce Willis. Bruce was back with his macho swagger; one could only imagine he thrived playing a well developed character for a change. Another important aspect was the part of Sara, played beautifully by Emily Blunt (The Five-Year Engagement, Your Sister’s Sister). Remembering the audience’s applause at the end of the film and how the rest of my weekend was great, my past really had an effect on my present. I just hope this movie starts a trend of making more creative, original movies in my future. Brief scenes of blood and violence.

3 1/2 stars

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