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Flash Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell

WHEN I saw Rosie helping the Jetson family and Data assisting the crew of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, I believed an opportunity was being created for mankind to better itself. Removing some of the unimportant necessities of the day would allow man to study and learn more about life; in other words humans could reach a higher level of consciousness. Witnessing the blending of mechanical objects with people really has been an extraordinary event. Just think about individuals who received mechanical hearts and valves or athletes getting artificial arms and legs; it has changed people’s perceptions about what it means to be physically challenged. Just in the past several months the news reported on an artificial hand that a person could control with their mind; did you ever imagine this becoming reality during your lifetime? I vaguely remember an advertisement tagline that said something like, “better living through science.” This idea certainly has validity; however, I have a growing concern that science, depending on who is calling the shots, could dominate mankind.     ONE of my concerns for some time has been the manipulations taking place in our food chain. I am not comfortable ingesting a food item that has been genetically modified. The idea of animals being injected with growth hormones to create supersized creatures to yield more meat or milk frightens me. This was one of the reasons I gave up red meat years ago. Another area that concerns me is the “beauty” industry. With the amount of chemicals people apply to themselves on a daily basis with their soaps, dyes and makeup; I just wonder what the body does with it when the products get absorbed into the skin. Even seeing people who have gone through extensive plastic surgery to maintain their youthful appearance troubles me. I remember standing next to a television celebrity who was talking to their aide. Their face barely budged as the lips were forming words; their facial expression was totally void of any emotion. The title of this futuristic action film could easily apply to this celebrity.     MAJOR, played by Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Lost in Translation), was the first of her kind; she was the ultimate blend of human and machine. At least she thought so until she started experiencing flashbacks. Watching this dramatic crime movie was a wild visual ride. All I could think about was it looked like a cross between the films Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Based on the graphic novel this movie also starred Pilou Asbaek (Lucy, A Hijacking) as Batou, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla, The 33) as Dr. Ouelet and Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths, The Dreamers) as Kuze. I am not familiar with the story; however, the first half of this picture had me totally into it. Scarlett was good with the physical demands of the role, but I thought the acting part was one dimensional; unless that was how the character was written in the book. The last half of the film for me turned into a typical action movie; in fact, I am concerned Scarlett is being typecast since her character shared similarities with her Lucy and Avengers characters. I would have preferred if the script had stayed focused on the storyline regarding the flashbacks. The title of this movie remained with me afterwards as I wondered if this is where science will be going in the future.

 

 

2 ½ stars

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: The 33

In a way you can call it a controlled scare. When one goes to see a horror film it is a given that they could get scared but nothing will happen to them. I enjoy going to see a suspenseful horror film if it is done well. The type that puts the viewers on the edge of their seat, holding their breath, waiting to see what will happen next. Just as I believe we should choose food from every color group, I feel the same way about experiencing all emotions. I believe it is healthy for the body to feel happiness just as well as sadness; it provides definition in living one’s life. Another thing, I find reality to be scarier than anything in a movie. There was a film I recently reviewed about Mt. Everest; it was thrilling and scary to see what the climbers endured because there is no way you would find me anywhere near the place. Instead I get to live it vicariously through film. These true scary stories we hear about, that actually happened to someone, can make for a powerful film watching experience. This is why I particularly look forward to seeing movies that were based on true events. Some of them have historical value while others can tell the story about the obstacles one individual had to overcome in their life. I appreciate all of them and that is why I could not wait to see this biographical drama.    THIRTY-THREE miners made their way down the only path into the mine that most of them have taken many times before. Except this time their path was changing to a one way road. This film festival winning movie had a story familiar to me; I had seen and read about it on the news. Based on true events the large cast involved in this story included Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, The Big Bang) as Mario Sepulveda, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla, Clouds of Sils Maria) as Maria Segovia and Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns, Courage Under Fire) as Don Lucho. I did not mind the acting however what they had to say was pretty corny. The script was riddled with this rah, rah courage that did not seem real to me. It was a shame because the story was truly unbelievable. I assume everyone must know about it but just in case I will refrain from divulging much about the story. To think the actors were portraying actual people who lived this experience, it really was a miracle. I found the special effects effective because they looked so believable to me. Part of the issue with this picture may have to do with the writers having to include so many characters; I never got a true sense of what each of the individuals was experiencing through this event. Seeing pictures of the actual miners at the end of the movie really drove home how lucky and amazing they were to be alive to see their story now made into a film.

 

2 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Clouds of Sils Maria

There is a lot of history that can be found in my collection of clothes. I still have this habit I have been trying to break, where I keep clothes even if I do not wear them anymore. From my years where I was struggling with my weight, I was fluctuating between sizes. Back then I had this thought that I should keep the clothes that do not fit because there could be a point in time where they would fit again. So you see no matter what size I was back then I could always find a pair of pants and a shirt that fitted me. I have been the same size for some years now, but I still have these old clothes hanging in closets, in the attic and in the basement. Once in a while I come across an article of clothing that has a story behind it. There was this copper metallic looking pair of jeans I bought just to annoy someone who kept telling me how I should dress. I still have a navy blue, pullover sweater that got its hole in the back when I lost my footing on a mountain trail and slid down until a big rock stopped me. When I am going through my clothing I can look back now with aged eyes at some of the things I had done and wonder what the heck was I thinking back then. I would like to say one gets wiser with age but that may not always be true.    INTERNATIONAL celebrity Maria Enders, played by Juliette Binoche (Chocolat, Godzilla), needed time to wrap her head around the idea of starring in a revival of a play she did 20 years ago that made her a star. The only difference this time was the role offered to her was the older character. This award winning drama had genuine power due to its cast. Juliette was outstanding in the role as her character had to face changing times; it was a universal theme that was relatable. The biggest surprise for me was Kristen Stewart (Still Alice, The Runaways) as Maria’s assistant Valentine. This was one of Kristen’s best performances and keep in mind I have not been impressed by her for some time. Rounding out the major players was Chole Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, If I Stay) as Jo-Anne Ellis; she was wonderful, also. The actors were provided with a good amount of substance from the somewhat lengthy script. I felt there were a couple of places that could have been edited out. With some spectacular scenery, good acting and an interesting subject; I felt this movie had some of the good qualities of a fine aged wine. There were several scenes that had French and German spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Words and Pictures

I have always found it curious how some people read instructions to learn something while others acquire knowledge visually. I fall into the latter category. Though I love to read, when it comes to being taught a new computer program or learn how to use a piece of equipment, I prefer watching either someone else doing it or a video on the equipment’s functions. One of the best examples of these two different ways of understanding is giving directions to someone. There are individuals who require landmarks with their directions, such as a gas station is on the southwest corner where you want to turn. There are others who just want the facts written down like travel east for 2 miles then turn north on Newgard Street. I do not judge one way being better than the other; it is just the way we are wired. However, in this film festival nominated movie two camps were set up for students, those who prefer words and those who would rather have pictures. Set in a prep school, one side was led by English teacher Jack Marcus, played by Clive Owen (King Arthur, The Boys are Back), who was determined to prove words were more important than pictures a/k/a art. Jack would have a fight on his hands with art teacher Dina Delsanto, played by Juliette Binoche (Dan in Real Life, The English Patient), who was a well known artist. Their rivalry would have an affect on the entire school. Clive and Juliette tried their hardest with the script they were given in this comedic drama. I enjoyed watching them throughout the film. Part of the cast also included the competent Valerie Tian (21 Jump Street, Juno) as student Emily and Bruce Davison (X-Men franchise, Harry and the Hendersons) as fellow teacher Walt. What knocked this film down into just being average was the poorly written screenplay. Besides being predictable I found some of the scenes did not work well at all. It really was a shame because one of the positives i found was showing teachers who were not your typical instructors, who had the ability to motivate their students. Looking back at the teachers I had during my school years, the ones that taught differently than the majority were always able to motivate me on a deeper level. I wanted to like this romantic movie more than I did; it had two things I absolutely enjoy, literature and art. When it comes to these two things I do not favor one over the other, but with this film I did not care a lot for either.

 

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Breaking and Entering

Committed relationships are not always easy to maintain; they take effort and work from both parties. Within this dramatic movie, examples were presented of relationships that needed extra work. Will, played by Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes, Cold Mountain) felt like an outsider in his own home, living with Liv played by Robin Wright (Moneyball, A Home at the End of the World) and her daughter. After his architectural firm was broken in to twice, Will staked it out at night and spotted the perpetrator. From a series of events, Will discovered more then just the stolen items from his firm. The acting was exceptional from the entire cast. One of the stand outs for me was Juliette Binoche (Dan in Real Life, Chocolat) as Amira. The director, I felt, did an outstanding job keeping a steady pace throughout the film. I loved the examination of the different relationships portrayed in this movie. Whether it was mother and son or two lovers, the way they were connected into the story line was deftly executed. A well done film that was a surprise find for me; this thrilling drama kept me engaged with each of the characters.

2 3/4 stars — DVD

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