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Flash Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

THE PHRASE “TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL the broth” came to mind as I sat there listening to everyone’s opinion. I was a volunteer at a citywide event and wound up being placed into the set up crew’s group; we were responsible for preparing the ballroom for guests, decorating and preparing the auction tables. Thirty minutes had passed already and we still did not have a game plan in place. I felt frustrated as I observed several individuals vie to become the leader of our group. It was obvious, at least to me; no one would back down and allow one of them to take charge. It was a shame because time was ticking away before the doors would open for the event. After remaining in my seat for a few more minutes I had heard enough; I got up and started carrying the items for the auction over to several tables set up in the corners of the room. I heard someone yell out to me but I did not acknowledge them until I came back to the group. They wanted to know what I was doing so I simply said putting things out so we do not look like (fill in the blank). I made my point and it was strong enough to knock some sense into those leader wannabes.     IT FLOORS ME ON HOW many people proclaim themselves to be generous, a people’s person; who want to do the best for everyone, yet think of themselves first. I have seen it happen in so many places besides what I mentioned above. From companies to non-profit organizations to government, you will always find someone who cares more about how they are being perceived instead of doing the right thing. I have to say when it comes to government officials I am the most offended by their actions. These individuals are for the most part elected into their positions and yet they come in with their own personal agenda. The phrase about putting their “stamp of approval” on an issue tells me they want to take credit for everything and agree with it. To me a good politician is one who can approve something they are not a fan of, but realize it is the correct procedure. In my city we are dealing with a politician who put his relatives on the payroll though they are not necessarily qualified. Who benefits from it? Trust me you will be asking yourself many times that question as you watch this satirical, film festival winning comedy.     UPON THE DEATH OF DICTATOR Joseph Stalin, the members of his cabinet were free to explore their deepest desires. It would be a battle of wits to see who would climb to the top and take over the Soviet Union. With Steve Buscemi (Norman, 30 Rock-TV) as Nikita Khrushchev, Simon Russell Beale (Into the Woods, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Laurenti Beria, Jeffrey Tambor (The Accountant, Arrested Development-TV) as Georgy Malenkov and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Hitman) as Maria Veniaminovna Yudina; this movie produced smiles and laugh out loud results. The acting was formidable from the cast, especially Steve and Simon. I do not know how much of the story was based in truth but I have to tell you everything I watched seemed plausible, even when scenes were close to buffoonery. The sets had an authentic look that added a layer of excitement, while the script was filled with fun one-liners that one needed to pay attention to as they flew by. Who knew in the middle of such dismal times one could find humor among the events.

 

3 ½ stars

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Flash Movie Review: The D Train

A funny thing happened to me when I went to see this movie. There was a smattering of people seated in their seats as I walked into the theater. I immediately saw there was a couple sitting in one of my preferred seats. A seat on the aisle that is 1/4 to 1/3 up the rows of seats is my favorite spot to watch a film. As I started walking up the stairs to find a seat, I saw the woman sitting in what should have been my seat staring at me. I made eye contact, looked away, then looked back to see she was still staring at me with a puzzled look on her face. Due to the subdued lighting I could not make out her facial features until I was closer to her. Once I saw her face an image appeared in my mind of a little girl who went to elementary school with me who used to wear a satin ribbon tied in the back of her hair; they both had the same face. I spoke the little girl’s name to the woman in the seat and she spoke mine, saying she would not have recognized me if it was not for my photo on my movie review site. We had not seen each other since high school, having gone through elementary school together. What a coincidence that we bumped into each other after all these years at a theater that was about to show a film about a class reunion.    JACK Black (School of Rock, Bernie) played Dan Landsman who was the head of his high school class reunion committee. When by chance he saw his former classmate Oliver Lawless, played by James Marsden (X-Men franchise, Enchanted), in a suntan lotion commercial on television, Dan became obsessed in getting the actor to come to the class reunion. If he could deliver the actor Dan was sure he would finally be considered one of the cool kids. There were some good themes underlying the story in this picture, but the implementation of them was awful. The writers took the ideas to such an extreme that I found many things not believable and frankly ridiculous. Kathryn Hahn (We’re the Millers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as Stacey Landsman and Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover franchise, Arrested Development-TV) as Bill Shurmur were wasted in this movie. I felt Jack Black offered nothing new, just doing his usual schtick. The only one I believed in was James’ character. After the movie was done my former classmate came up to me to tell me how uncomfortable the two of them were watching this film. I agreed with them wholeheartedly. To get the horrible scenes I had suffered through out of my mind, I sat and reminisced about our time back in elementary school.

 

1 1/3 stars

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