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Flash Movie Review: Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

THE TWO FRIENDS WERE PLAYING a board game they had played many times before. However, this time the game would have a different outcome. Not by very much, Friend #1 had acquired more winning pieces than Friend #2. This did not imply that winning was a sure thing for Friend #1. Halfway through the duration of the game Friend #2 decided to do an unexpected move that was never done before. When Friend #1 questioned the move, Friend #2 explained the reason for his move which essentially changed the rules of the game. This made no sense to Friend #1 so he challenged the sudden change in the rules. If the two of them had a discussion beforehand and agreed to this new rule Friend #1 would not have gotten upset; but without saying a word and just deciding to make a change because he was losing, Friend #1 was upset. The two of them argued back and forth, each one feeling they were in the right. Unfortunately, they never finished the game nor did they ever play it again; both were rather stubborn. I was Friend #1.      EVER SINCE THAT ARGUMENT I have always had a bad attitude towards anyone who changes the rules in the middle of something. Maybe because I am not a spontaneous person I have a hard time when plans are set and then something unexpected comes up to disrupt the plans or schedule. At least now I am much better at letting go and not letting the shift in plans upset me. The one place where I cannot do this though is at work. When payment terms have been established with a customer (I am in the credit department) and we ship out product to them; nothing riles me up more than a customer who decides to change the due date on their invoice. I take offense from this act which I know may sound looney to some of you; however, I feel business to business dealings need to follow rules to form trust between companies. When someone does not follow the rules how can a company or person interact with them? If one side abides by the rules and the other side doesn’t; who do you think will benefit from it? Sadly, the one who doesn’t I feel will come out on top more often. And if the rule follower decides to join the other side by not following the rules, the only thing it will produce is chaos. It becomes a dangerous world then and this dramatic crime thriller is proof.      ONCE THE MEXICAN CARTELS STARTED to smuggle terrorists into the United States, the rules the U.S. government had been following needed to be eliminated. There was one small strike team that could thrive in such an environment. This action-packed sequel starred Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2, Only the Brave) as Matt Graver, Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, Escobar: Paradise Lost) as Alejandro, Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, 100 Things to do Before High School) as Isabel Reyes, Jeffrey Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice-TV) as Steve Forsing and Catherine Keener (Capote, Get Out) as Cynthia Foards. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat while watching this intense film. There were multiple scenes of blood and violence. The pacing of the story was consistent throughout and I especially enjoyed the acting from Benicio. Between the two films there was similarity in their look and action scenes; however one of the differences that stood out was not having a character that was a counterpoint to the others. The story needed a sympathetic person. Instead the script kept a constant sense of darkness and dread throughout the picture. In addition, the script could have used more variance with the emotional level. I know there are some rules that need to be broken and this action film broke a whole bunch of them.

 

3 stars      

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Flash Movie Review: Deadpool 2

THE ANNOUNCER STATED WITH CERTAINTY THEY were the perfect match. The couple had just been married in what appeared to be a storybook setting; which only flavored the comment into a cliché. Doesn’t everyone who ventures into matrimony feel they found the perfect one to marry? I may not believe someone can be perfect; but I absolutely feel they can perfectly fit with their mate to make the perfect union. Some people find their perfect match and some settle for the best available. I know a few couples who work well together for the most part, but they periodically encounter speed bumps in their growth together. Sad to say but I knew a couple of people who because of their low self-esteem settled with individuals that were not good matches for them. They seemed more like roommates than partners in life; they did very few things together because they did not have a lot of common interests. Not that it should define the relationship; heck, I feel it is important that 2 people coming together should be able to maintain their individual interests. All I am saying is that they also should be able to enjoy some things together.      PERFECT MATCHES CAN ALSO PERTAIN TO a person and their profession. How many times have you heard someone say they found the perfect job. Oh, well maybe that is not the best example; I do not know a lot of people who feel they are working at their dream job. Though there are athletes who were gifted in the sport they participated in. Now some people have an aptitude for a particular skill; let us say working with numbers. They may be a whiz at accounting or financing; however, the job may not be best suited for them. What I mean is they may work best individually but in a group setting or under micro-management they may not be the most proficient. Think about it; out of all the options, some would say obstacles, in our path the fact someone can feel as if they have met the perfect match or job really is close to a miracle. In the case of this comedic, action adventure I firmly believe the main actor has found the perfect role to play. Anything he does after this character has a chance of paling in comparison.      FOR ALL HIS FOUL-MOUTHED comments, bravado and inappropriate remarks; no one would believe he would be concerned about the welfare of a young child. Why then did he feel the need to assemble a team of super heroes? With Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Buried) reprising his role as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War, The Brave) as Nathan Summers/Cable), Morena Baccarin (Back in the Day, The Flash-TV) as Vanessa, Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Shopping) as Russell and Zazie Beetz (Finding Her, Atlanta-TV) as Domino; Ryan has created the perfect role for himself. Just like the first one, this film was slammed with satire, strong language, humor and an abundance of action scenes. I did find the story a bit typical; but Ryan kept his twisted, humorous comments flying throughout his dialog. One needed to pay attention because there nearly was a constant stream of comments that were relevant, topical, political and pretty much any other adjective you wish to add. The action scenes were exciting and I liked the special effects. On the downside there was less surprise for me with this sequel simply because I experienced most of these reactions when I saw the original movie. Also, I think the amount of action scenes with this one nearly bordered on becoming monotonous. There is no denying Ryan will have a challenge doing a different character. He is now permantely married to this character Deadpool; he has found his perfect match. ALERT: please remember to read the opening credits and there were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.

 

3 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

AN INCREDIBLE EVENT RECENTLY TOOK place that I was fortunate enough to witness. You may have experienced something like it already but for me it was my first time. In the past I have attended special events where family was present. A baptism, bar mitzvah, wedding and other such type of events where there were relatives from two different families. Usually the 2 families sit separately; for example, the custom for weddings is the bride’s side sits on the right and the groom’s family sits on the left. That divide, as far as I can tell, remains throughout the dinner and reception. People who know the groom all sit together as does the bride’s family and friends. Honestly, I get it and am not judging it; however, that divide that started with the wedding aisle continues into the night. Here is where I have seen people judging those from the “other side.” I have heard guests commenting on clothing, physical features and dance moves; gratefully not all of them were negative, some were complimentary. My point though is I was a witness to an event where both sides blended together; all coming together to celebrate both the bride and groom.      BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE WEDDING ceremony guests from both families were mingling with each other. I heard people sharing stories about the bride and/or the groom to explain their connection to the happy couple. Each tidbit of anecdotal information was being pieced together to form this loving blanket of cherished memories. I was impressed with the amount of love guests were displaying over these two young people who were about to be joined in marriage. To give you an example, in all the weddings I have attended I have never danced with the mother from the other family. After dinner I was on the dance floor and the mother came up to dance with me. Maybe this is not unusual for you, but for me it was a new experience. When it was time to lift the bride and groom in the air for a cheer, each of them had equal family representation underneath holding up their chairs. The entire evening went on like this; every person was there celebrating together for a common goal—to wish the newlyweds a happy, long life. So, you see it is possible to get different sides to work together for a common purpose or goal. Great things can come out of this type of partnership; see what happens in this action adventure film.      WITH THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE falling piece by piece into Thanos’, played by Josh Brolin (Only the Brave, Old Boy), hand; it would take more than one group of fighters to attempt to thwart his mad plan. This fantasy, science fiction movie also starred Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge, Due Date) as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Blackhat) as Thor, Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, Ingrid Goes West) as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight, Foxcatcher) as Bruce Banner/Hulk. I am guessing this picture cost a fortune to make because the production values were top notch. The special effects, the massive cast and the script each contributed to creating a huge spectacular. Josh was so good in this role; it was the first time I could recall a movie villain being a thoughtful, emotional character instead of just some evil being bent on destroying things. Where I thought the last Thor film installment had too much humor in it, this one had the perfect blend. If you are not familiar with the Marvel universe there is a chance you might get lost in this movie. The other issue I had was the way the picture ended; it was obvious this film only told ½ the story. I believe we will have to wait until May 2019 to find out what happens. At 2 hours and 29 minutes this film was long to sit through, but time for the most part went by fast. This was an almost perfect blend of different franchise characters coming together for one common purpose. There was one extra scene at the end of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Only the Brave

IDEALLY IT SHOULD BE in balance within one’s life, but that is not always the case. And truthfully sometimes the circumstances are out of the person’s control. Trying to find the balance between one’s work and personal life takes determined strength with a bit of finesse. I have mentioned before how my work load dominates my personal life; from the day job to teaching to writing film reviews, there is a part of me that feels like I have missed out on many things. However, I do realize I am fortunate in the circle of friends around me who understand my crazy schedule as I try to negotiate time to get together with each of them. Others may not be as fortunate. There is an acquaintance of mine that is in sales. It is difficult to get a hold of him because day and night he is usually with clients; making plans to get together is almost impossible.     NOW IT OCCURS TO me that I might have been prejudiced against certain occupations. I noticed when a “workaholic” was involved with a worthy cause; I would cut them some slack if they were not always available for family and friends. However if the person worked for a large for profit corporation, I was not so forgiving. Honestly from watching this film I have been thinking about this lopsided thinking when it comes to whether I perceive the business is doing something good or not for the planet. Who am I to assume the person who works 60-80 hours a week to help the homeless is a better person, than the state employee who puts in double shifts to help plow the city streets after a snowstorm? They each are important in their own way; no matter what the job entails the employee plays a vital part in the success of the employer. The one thing I am curious about is how people wind up in their jobs. I wonder if they always wanted to be let us say a window washer or actuary; or did the individual follow in a parent’s footsteps or just fell into the job. These were the type of questions I had when I watched this dramatic, biographical movie.     IT TAKES A CERTAIN type of person to fight a forest fire and Eric Marsh, played by Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice, Old Boy), believed he knew what was needed. He just had to prove it to the people in charge. Based on a true story the cast also included Miles Teller (War Dogs, That Awkward Moment) as Brendan McDonough, Jeff Bridges (True Grit, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Duane Steinbink, Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond, A Beautiful Mind) as Amanda Marsh and Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, Battleship) as Christopher MacKenzie. Having not seen or experienced what forest firefighters do, there were aspects of this story that were amazing. The acting was excellent; the standouts for me were Jennifer, Miles and Josh. For such an incredible story I had a challenging time with the script. The story would go from thrilling, nerve wracking scenes to snippets of a personal nature. What was presented regarding the plight of these types of firefighters, I had wished more time was spent on building up the characters’ personal stories. I felt I was only getting a partial piece of the puzzle so to speak. This movie about the Granite Mountain Hotshots deserves stars just on the story alone; as for the entertainment value of this picture it left me slightly cool.

 

2 ¾ stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

The first time I saw them on a small screen I thought they looked unusual, almost bizarre. Every Saturday afternoon there was a television show that showed old movies. I did not understand the point of a movie musical the first time I saw one. Why actors were breaking out into songs in the middle of their scenes baffled me. It was not until I paid attention to the lyrics that I realized the songs were explaining parts of the story. These films along with the others that got broadcast came from a different time. The screwball comedies, dramatic romances and other genres had movie stars that were, to use a cliche, larger than life. I was familiar with those who had a prolific career, churning out a new movie every year. These actors gave off an almost regal persona; it appeared the film studios kept each of them up on a pedestal to be admired and revered. As far as I can recall there was never any controversy associated with those actors, unlike the current actors of today. It seems as if more times than not actors are just as famous for their offscreen activities as they are for their acting roles. This however brings up an interesting thought: are current actors more out of control then the ones from years past? It would seem easy to say yes but upon more thought, I do not think there is much difference between the different eras except for the way we get our news presently. This comedy sheds some light on what the movie studios used to do for their actors.    EDDIE Mannix, played by Josh Brolin (Everest, Sicario), had one mission and that was to keep things running smoothly for the film studio. With the actors they had under contract it was a 24 hour a day job. This dramatic comedy written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo, True Grit), was set in the 1950s when movie studios was churning out movies like an assembly line. The cast which included George Clooney (The Ides of March, Gravity) as Baird Whitlock, Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Only Lovers Left Alive) as Thora Thacker/Thessaly Thacker and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike franchise, Foxcatcher) as Burt Gurney were all representative of past celebrities. For example Channing’s character was similar to a past star like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. With the variety of actors in this film, each had essentially their own story going on. Though things kept moving along I felt most scenes were only offering a brief glimpse of a story before it was time for the next actor’s turn. The movie came across as little skits pieced together. I found the story amusing but nothing that warranted any major investment. Don’t get me wrong, this picture was fun to watch; however, if one is not familiar with movies that came out from the old Hollywood era, they may not enjoy this film as much.

 

2 3/4 stars for fans of old movies       2 stars for fans unfamiliar with the Golden Age of Hollywood

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Sicario

As part of my daily vitamin regiment I used to take a supplement that caused an unusual reaction in me. I would get these intense, what I would call, hot flashes that would change my skin color to red; I mean a deep bright red. This would happen spontaneously throughout the day. One time my boss walked by and started to panic when they saw me sitting at my desk with my face and ears crimson red. I had to explain I was fine and it would pass as soon as I gulped down copious amounts of water. That supplement was the reason I started to always keep a bottle of water with me whenever I was out and about. One of the few places this caused a problem believe it or not was at this one movie theater near my house. They would confiscate any food or liquids carried inside by the patrons. I understood what they were doing; they wanted people to use the concession stands because let us face it that is where the movie theaters make their money. Because I never knew when I would get a rush of heat across my body, I did not want to have to leave my seat during the movie to go get some water. So I would bring in my own bottle of water and carry it beneath my jacket, underneath my arm. I know I was breaking their rules but the idea of missing out on parts of a film was something I could not handle. In my mind bending the rules led me to a better review.    VOLUNTEERING for a special task force led by government agent Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin (Everest, Men in Black 3); FBI agent Kate Macor, played by Emily Blunt (Looper, The Young Victoria), found herself involved in a drug war where the rules were not always followed. This film festival nominated crime drama had a superior cast that also included Benicio Del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects) as Alejandro and Victor Garber (Titanic, Milk) as Dave Jennings. First I must warn you there were several scenes of intense bloody violence. The taut story kept the viewers in a constant state of suspense; the director did an excellent job keeping the scenes tight while bringing the life out of the actors. I caught myself several times holding my breath in anticipation of what was to come. Though there have been other films about the drug war between the United States and Mexico, I found this one to be a raw realistic story that lingered with me even after the movie was over. If the film studio had to bend a few rules to get this action film made then I firmly believe it was worth it because this picture kept you on the edge of your seat. Intense violent scenes with blood in this film.

 

3 1/2 stars 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Everest

The first thing one notices is the air feels different, a fresher smell unlike the cloying scents from air fresheners. It seems more spacious with odorous wisps filled with childhood memories of jumping into piles of leaves and water sprinklers. Traveling higher the landscape reveals ancient scars deeply etched into its face, some are dry while others have rushing water tumbling down them. If you are standing in the right place on a sunny day you may see the appearance of a rainbow floating in the mist coming off the water. There is a sense of discovery or more precisely being on a treasure hunt because one could travel undercover for some distant, where the sun’s rays can barely reach you except for the momentarily flash between waving leaves, before stepping out of the darkness to a cliff overseeing a wide valley of sleepy hills under a wheat and green colored blanket. Personally I love exploring this type of terrain…from the comfort of my car. Now before you ask me how I can explore nature while riding around in a car, let me explain. My first two hiking experiences turned me off from physically climbing and scaling rugged territories. The first hike ended with the rocks under my feet dislodging and I tumbled down towards a cliff, my clothes ripping apart on the jagged surface. My second time was hiking on an easier topography, however it was dense with foliage and we lost our way as night fell. We were stuck on the mountain for 4 hours until we finally found our way down by midnight, hungry and cold. Ever since that time I only hike if there is a designated trail to walk or a road to drive on. So for the life of me I could not understand why the people in this adventure thriller wanted to climb Mt. Everest.    BASED on a true story, a group of mountain climbers have the perfect window of opportunity to scale Mt. Everest, unaware a storm is about to take birth. The storm would become one for the record books. This dramatic movie was incredible to watch. The different landscape shots were spectacular. With a cast that included Jason Clarke (Lawless, The Great Gatsby) as Rob Hall, Josh Brolin (Labor Day, Gangster Squad) as Beck Weathers and Thomas M. Wright (Balibo, Van Diemen’s Land) as Michael Groom; the acting was utterly convincing. I do not know how the actors handled the grueling frigid scenes; it looked totally real to me. Putting aside my bewilderment for this type of undertaking, the story really had the potential for creating a powerful movie. However, the script had poor dialog and a smattering of cliches. I know the focus was on the action and this picture really delivered it. I just wished the movie theater had turned up the heat; we were bundled up sitting in our seats.

 

3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Inherent Vice

I sure wish they would hurry up and create those human transporter devices I have seen in science fiction films. You may know the type where your body turns into a swirling mass of small, colored bubbles of light that disperse and reassemble you in a different location. This would be so useful during those awkward moments where you feel out of place among a group of individuals. The moments I am referring to would be similar to situations like attending a party where you were not told it was a masquerade event and costumes were mandatory. Last year I signed up for a training workshop regarding a new body fitness sculpting format; it was a three day event. The first day I walked into the training facility and was met with a group of people who were easily half my age. There I was dressed in baggy workout shorts and a loose T-shirt as everyone else either had skin tight or skimpy, color co-ordianted outfits. Now it was not a big deal to me what they wore or their age; however, a majority of them were personal trainers and I was not. As we went through the training I realized there was no way my body could do what everyone else was doing in class. I could have used that transporter then since I felt out of place. Those same feelings started to come over me during this comedic crime drama.    WHEN Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sortello, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Immigrant, Her), agreed to help his ex-girlfriend he had no idea where the case would lead him, but as long as he had drugs available he was good to go. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood, The Master) that was based on Thomas Pynchon’s (Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon) novel, I did not get this film festival winning movie that ran for 148 long minutes. Viewers will either love or hate this picture, I believe. The cast was good, including Josh Brolin (Labor Day, W.) as Lt. Detective Christian F. “Bigfoot”Bjornesen and Katherine Waterston (Michael Clayton, Robot & Frank) as Shasta Fay Hepworth, along with the variety of other actors who had small roles. However, for a movie watching experience I did not have a good time sitting through this showing. The mix of scenes seemed random and scattered, as if little vignettes were first created then pieced together. Since I was getting bored in the theater I did glance around at the crowd. This may sound weird but I actually felt a little out of place because the crowd seemed to be all cut from the same mold and I was not. I do not know if it was a generational thing; all I wanted was to be transported out of the theater.

 

1 3/4 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Such a fickle force that makes us breathlessly swoon as we extend our arms into an inviting hug; yet, it can similarly drive us to a dark place to commit a murderous act of passion. It is frightening how much power love can have over us. In yesterday’s review I spoke of love’s ability to move us to a point where we would willingly take the suffering and pain away from the person we love if we could. With today’s movie I am being led to the darker qualities of love. I have met several people who were obsessed by love. For those in a relationship, they needed constant reinforcement from their significant other that they were being loved. If it was not enough they would seek it from outside their relationship. Unfortunately I have dated this type of person and discovered it in an inconvenient place. We had traveled out of the country for a vacation; I was not familiar with the language, but they were fluent. During our stay at the hotel the assistant manager always made a point to come up to us to say hello or ask how we were doing, conversing in English for me and Spanish for them. I did not think much of it at first; however, their conversations seemed to last longer filled with chuckles and smiles. As the week progressed the assistant manager periodically popped up at our door just to check on us and chat. I think you know where this is going. When I returned to the hotel room early from a tour I had taken by myself, I caught them in bed together. Evidently they needed to be loved by more than one person.    EMOTIONS of love and hate ran high, driving people to do extreme things in this action thriller. It seemed as if several of Sin City’s citizens with hidden agendas were crossing paths on their way to administering their own form of justice. This sequel to the 2005 movie was able to stand on its own; it had to because I vaguely remembered the first one. The cast included Josh Brolin (Oldboy, Men in Black 3) as Dwight, Eva Green (Casino Royale, Dark Shadows) as Ava and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Angel Heart) as Marv. Using the same stylized graphics as the previous film, the majority of violent scenes were made to look more cartoonish; though, there were a couple of places I had to turn my head away from the screen due to the intense violence. In spite of this I was entertained by watching this crime picture. It was nothing spectacular and I was a bit confused in some spots; but, the story was easy to follow and I enjoyed trying to figure out which actors were playing the unrecognizable characters. I believe a majority of viewers will either love or hate this movie.

 

2 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Labor Day

How can something that feels so empty weigh one down so much? When the person you love leaves you, the leaden heart is not the only thing that sustains an injury. Granted the heart takes the majority of the impact, caving in from the flooding emptiness; but the bridge of life that connects to the heart takes heavy damage. The road of living becomes riddled with potholes that make life unbearable. Each pothole reveals the remains of a broken dream. There are so many holes that one becomes too afraid to traverse the road and relinquishes what was once the joys of living life. Every action from eating to breathing takes a monumental effort to complete. I totally understand it and know some people do life better when in a relationship. This is why I accepted the plight of Adele, played by Kate Winslet (Contagion, The Reader), in this dramatic movie. During one of their infrequent trips to the supermarket lonely Adele and her young son Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith (Changeling, Couples Retreat), were forced to help and take in a bleeding man named Frank, played by Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, Oldboy). Written and directed by Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Thank You for not Smoking) I was actually looking forward to this film, based on the novel by Joyce Maynard (To Die For). There were a few scenes that were beautifully done, where I could feel the emotions of the characters come to life. The scene of making a peach pie made me hungry; it was tender and touching. It pains me to say this was all that was good about the movie. I thought the script was sickly sweet with sappiness and unrealistic. The acting was not as good as it could have been, especially from Gattlin who had the same deer in the headlamps look through most of the film. During parts of this movie I found myself getting bored as things seemed to go unnaturally slow. That reminded me to mention the whole police search story line; it seemed so not urgent to me, which really was needed to build tension in the action. I also found some of the events towards the end to be unsatisfying. Any time a movie is made about someone’s heart I expect to see and feel passion. Sadly this picture failed since it had no heart.

 

1 3/4 stars

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