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Flash Movie Review: The Oath

LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT CLASS could have been a valuable asset if I had enrolled. Maybe your school environment was different; but the perception at my school about members of the debate team were mostly on the negative side. Being on a sports team was more prestigious and let us face it, there never was a pep rally held for a debate team; at least I have never seen one. I imagine if I had paid more attention to the skills needed to have a debate instead of the participants I would have been a better communicator. Looking at the disagreements I have had with individuals over the years, I can see why many of my disagreements turned into arguments. Not that I associate an argument with being a negative experience, but I could have avoided sinking into a name calling match with people. It was not until later in life that I learned how to have a disagreement/argument/debate. Having spent so much energy on making statements that started with the word “You,” I was finally taught to start my thoughts with the word “I.” It truly makes a world of difference when you go from saying, “You did this or that,” to “ I feel that option would be harmful because…”; do you see the difference?      DURING THE POLITICALLY DIVIDED TIMES WE live in now; I believe every politician, employee, student and resident would benefit by taking a class in the art of debating. It seems to me as if name calling and belittling are becoming the new standard for making a point. I have mentioned before how I do not allow the subject of politics and religion to be discussed in my classes. These are two topics that I have seen become volatile when discussed. One of the reasons I see politics and religion being hot button topics is because most people let their ego do the talking. There seems to be such a need for every person to be right that they are not listening to anyone else’s point of view. I ask you, what is so terrible about admitting you are wrong? Isn’t part of living being able to learn something new? I know a few couples where one person is conservative and the other is liberal. They have had their share of heated discussions. Each though can maintain respect for their significant other while discussing opposite views; unlike the family in this dark satirical, comedic drama.      THANKSGIVING WAS NOT ONLY A TIME to spend with family, but it was the deadline for signing a controversial oath issued by the government. With family members on opposite sides of the issue, was there any chance they would be able to make it through to dessert? This movie starred Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad, The Mindy Project-TV) as Chris, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew) as Kai, Billy Magnussen (The Big Short, Into the Woods) as Mason, John Cho (Searching, Star Trek franchise) as Peter and Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty, Southland Tales) as Eleanor. Written and directed by Ike, I thought the idea for the story was relevant and would easily provide enough fodder for the script. My biggest surprise was seeing Tiffany do a different variation of her usual movie roles; it was not a strictly outrageous comedic character for a change. Unfortunately, I thought the execution of the story was inadequate to the point where I was tired of listening to all the yelling and name calling. I give Ike props for undertaking such heavy demands; but I wished there would have been more levels to the story, instead of essentially what came across as 2 extreme point of views. All I have to say about this film is a course in the art of debating would have been beneficial for this family.

 

2 stars     

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Flash Movie Review: Searching

AS A RULE OF THUMB, whenever I am having a discussion with someone who has an opposing view, I like to ask them what they heard me say. It is amazing how I may feel I explained something perfectly, but the person heard it differently. This is the beauty of having a face to face conversation; you can hear the inflection in their voice and get visual clues to the intent of their words. With more people communicating via electronic devices I feel I may miss what a person is trying to tell me. I wound up in a conversation with a relative that was done completely on a social media platform. Both of us wound up misunderstanding each other where I was left feeling hurt. On top of it, I was concerned other people would gain access to our conversation since it was all done electronically. Two things that come to mind: embarrassing and nobody’s business. Since that time, I promised myself I would not get into a war of words with anyone unless I could see their face. There is too much that can be misconstrued or lost in translation through the internet.      I WAS RECENTLY CONTACTED BY ONE of my social media accounts and had to prove to them I was me. Considering the variety of unusual names I have seen on accounts, I had no idea why after several years they suddenly wanted confirmation from my account. Maybe I am incorrect in my thinking, but I figured they have the capability to see ever keystroke on my account and the ones that I comment on; why did they suddenly feel I was an imposter? Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind a company verifying their users. With so much fraud and fake individuals I have little trust with most things I see on the internet. I am sure there is even more underhanded things taking place that I am unaware of; I find it scary. From the little exposure I have had with friends of mine who are in IT, I really do not know if there truly is a website that is 100% safe and secure. It seems as if anything can be manipulated online to appear a certain way. I know at work we were taught to closely check the spelling in an email sent from an unfamiliar site. Evidently scammers from other countries may not fully grasp the nuances of another language and misspell a word or use an idiom incorrectly.  Doesn’t it seem like it all comes down to communication and this dramatic, mystery thriller will show you a variety of ways.      WHEN HIS DAUGHTER MARGOT, PLAYED by relative newcomer Michelle La, was not returning any of his calls; David Kim, played by John Cho (Star Trek franchise, Harold & Kumar franchise), filed a missing person’s report. The first thing the detective told him was to check Margot’s computer. David could not believe what he had found. With Debra Messing (The Women, Will & Grace-TV) as Detective Vick, Joseph Lee (Lion, Nerve) as Peter and Sara Sohn (Furious 7, Sense8-TV) as Pamela Nam Kim; this film festival winner told its entire story through social media sites and texts. I honestly thought I would dislike this way of telling a story; but I must tell you, it worked to the story’s advantage. Going from texts to FaceTime to YouTube to email became seamless for me. I found the script riveting and thoroughly enjoyed the acting from everyone. The story could easily be in today’s headlines which only made it more gripping to watch in my opinion. This was a novel and fresh way to do a movie and of all people, look who enjoyed watching it; me, the man who still has a landline in his house.

 

3 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

When the opportunity presents itself I take a drive through the neighborhood where I grew up. I see ghosts of my youth everywhere I look. Playing hide & seek or selling lemonade on the corner, my memories waken from a long sleep. They are refreshed and vivid allowing me to visit with the younger me, showing events that contributed to who I would become as an adult. It is that history that reminds me how I currently arrived at this point in my life. Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Lost-TV) treated the history of Star Trek with the utmost respect for this 2nd movie in the relaunched franchise. The story was brilliant as we found the Enterprise crew back on Earth, unaware they would encounter a dangerous villain close to home. Besides Chris Pine (This Means War, Unstoppable) as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Margin Call, Heroes-TV) as Spock, there was the addition of Peter Weller (RoboCop, the Hard Easy) as Marcus and Benedict Cumberbatch (War Horse, Atonement) as John Harrison. In this go around; the characters were more complex, filled with deeper feelings. Zachary was so incredible that I forgot about Leonard Nimoy for the moment, the original Spock. Chris earned my respect with what he did in this movie. I could almost hear William Shatner cursing at Chris’ exemplary performance. The nonstop action was exciting and evenly balanced to allow flourishes of drama and honestly, giving the movie goers a chance to catch their breath. I cannot add anything further to this review without giving away hints to the plot. Hopefully when people talk about this movie and they will, they do not say much about the story or cast. The added suspense, at least for me, made the time fly by. Also, I felt emotionally spent. Whether you grew up in the world of Star Trek or not will not make much of a difference in loving this film. History is what makes us who we are today; I tip my hat to the current custodian of the historical vaults of Star Trek, J.J. Abrams. A nice touch in the beginning of the credits. There were brief scenes with blood in it.

 

3 2/3 stars for Trekkies  3 1/2 stars for non-Trekkies

Flash Movie Review: Identity Thief

It took me a longer time than usual to write this movie review. I had to look and see if I was being overly sensitive. As some of you may already know, the “F” word that I never say is F-A-T. Having been called that word throughout my childhood, I grew to despise the word and everything associated with it. If the movie studio had used an actress that was slender, I wondered if the comedy scenes would have still worked. The story was about Sandy Patterson, played by Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Arrested Development-TV), who traveled to Florida to find the woman who had stolen his identity. Besides maxing out his charge cards and ruining his credit, there was also a warrant out for his arrest. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Mike & Molly-TV) played the fraudster Diana. To answer my earlier question, several scenes would not have worked with a slimmer actress. No matter who would have been cast, the fact was this movie was not funny. Though I will say Melissa did her best with what was thrown at her, using her impeccable comedic timing. The scenes shown in the movie trailers were the best parts of this bad movie. Didn’t someone read the finished script; it made no sense and was poorly thought out. Besides the main story, the writers threw in a second story about two henchmen chasing Diana for selling their boss bad, fake credit cards. If that was not enough there was another story line about a skip tracer, played by Robert Patrick (Gangster Squad, Walk the Line), who was hunting down the fake Sandy Patterson. I commend Melissa for all the physical comedy she had to perform, but it was such a constant stream that it turned into a ridiculous, slurry of lame stunts. The use of John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar franchise) and Amanda Peet (Identity, A Lot like Love) was a waste for the little screen time they had for their roles. There was one part I did not mind and it was the scene with Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teacher, Modern Family-TV) as Big Chuck. After re-reading this review I have to say I found this film offensive.

 

1 1/2 stars

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