Flash Movie Review: The Black Phone
LIKE MANY OTHERS, I TOO SUCCUMBED to the allure of the recent lottery buzz. I find it one of the cheapest fantasies, simply with a two-dollar purchase price. There was so much coverage in the newspapers, television broadcasts and online news sources about it being one of the largest pots in lottery history, that I wanted to be part of the craze. After I made my purchase, I kept fantasizing about what I would do with the winnings. Surprisingly for that much money I did not have that much on my wealthy life to do list. The first thing I decided I would do is to buy a car, despite financial columnists saying now is not a good time. Next, I would buy a home in a warm climate; a place I could go to during the winter months. There is not that much I want or desire after that except to travel. So, with my $2.00 lottery ticket in hand, I joined everyone else who was hoping their ticket would be the winner. The suspense, and it was a good suspense, was building up as the drawing neared; I was all into my fantasies. By the time of the drawing, the suspense was overwhelming because of my mind being filled with imaginary houses on the market for me to peruse. SADLY, THE NUMBERS I WAS READING from the lottery site were not on my ticket. My dreams shattered, just like that. There would be no new car or new home, oh well. As far as I was concerned it was still a wonderful week of suspenseful fun. There are different forms of suspense, and I would partake with this kind any day. It certainly is better than the suspense one experiences before going under for surgery or the kind associated with what one hopes will be the delivery of a healthy baby. I believe each of us has experienced a form of suspense. The suspenseful anticipation of waiting for a loved one to come out on stage for a performance or the suspense one endures during a live auction; I feel they all are valid forms. As most of you know, horror films are not the first on my list to attend. I prefer the kind of horror that has suspense and is psychological. When I first saw the movie poster for this film, I was curious because the face reminded me of an old film that I enjoyed, where the main character had a similar mask. Deciding to see it, hoping it was not going to be gruesome, I cannot tell you how surprised I was watching it. YOUNG CHILDREN ARE GOING MISSING AND the police have very few leads. The latest victim wakes up in an empty room with a disconnected phone that still rings. Should he answer it? With Mason Thames (Walker-TV, For All Mankind-TV) as Finney, Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Outcast-TV) as Gwen, Ethan Hawke (The Northman, The Kid) as the Grabber, Jeremy Davies (Twister, Saving Private Ryan) as Terrence and E. Roger Mitchell (Favorite Son, The 5th Wave) as Detective Wright; this film checked off all my boxes for pure entertainment. I thought Mason and Madeleine were wonderful. Part horror, part mystery and part fantasy; the suspense level was steady and consistent due to a smart script. Aiding the suspense level was this constant sense of dread that the director expertly managed. Ethan was as good as the other cast members, but I felt his character could have been darker. I was relieved there were only a couple of short, bloody scenes with violence. During the ending credits, I sat in my chair and thought if there was any other movie this year that moved me as much as this one. None came to mind, but I certainly will not forget how much I enjoyed watching this one.
3 1/3 stars
Flash Movie Review: The Lost City
I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE AND I will say it again, you really get to know a person when you travel with them. Not the daily routines of eating and bathing per se; I am referring more to the person’s emotions and reactions to different events. I remember visiting a friend who had recently moved out of state. He took me on a drive around the city before parking the car to begin a walking tour. We walked around, had lunch and explored a couple of bookstores before it was time to head back to his place. Because he was driving, I did not pay close attention to where we parked. It turned out, he did not have the best sense of direction and could not remember where he had parked the car. I followed him as we walked down one street after another in search of his vehicle. For the most part, I was okay and not too stressed by this unexpected event. However, after walking the streets multiply times, I lost it and burst out with a fit of anger. I knew it was not the best option, but I was tired and hungry. We sat a moment and I asked him what the first place was we went to after he had parked the car. It was a monument of George Washington, so I asked him to retrace our steps from the monument. Standing up, he took the lead as I hoped we were heading finally in the right direction to retrieve the car. When one of the streets we turned on looked familiar to me, both of us were able to follow our previous path back to the car. WHAT MY FRIEND DISCOVERED ABOUT ME, is the fact that I can go for a certain period of time feeling annoyed before I break and unleash a volley of anger. I am not saying this is the right thing to do; it is what I used to do to help release the built-up negativity inside of me. Let me show you a different experience on a trip. A friend and I took a trip together out of state. We had a gameplan of things we wanted to see and do. One of our excursions was to visit a palace. Compared to other palaces, this one was not elaborate or regal by any means; in fact, it was somewhat small for a palace. As we walked through with our tour group, we were informed that this palace was the first royal palace in the world to get electricity. We looked at each with a look of elated shock on our faces, like two little kids discovering a secret. I very much enjoy learning obscure or not well-known facts/tidbits about different things. Hearing the electricity story fit right into my interest in architecture. The two of us felt like explorers. I had no idea my friend would find interest in this area; but it became something that further cemented the bond between us. If you are interested to see another type of example, feel free to watch what happens to the main characters in this action, adventure comedy. UPON DISCOVERING THE AUTHOR TO THE books that he is the dashing adventurer cover model for, there was only one thing Alan, played by Channing Tatum (Logan Lucky, Magic Mike franchise), knew he had to do. He had to rescue her; if for nothing else, to keep his modeling career going. With Sandra Bullock (Our Brand is Crisis, The Heat) as Loretta, Daniel Radcliffe (Escape from Pretoria, Swiss Army Man) as Abigail Fairfax, Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Office Christmas Party, The Last Shift) as Beth Hatten and Brad Pitt (The Big Short, 12 Monkeys) as Jack Trainer; this film’s story harkened back to the times of the Romancing the Stone film era. The chemistry between Sandra and Channing took some time to gel, but eventually it did. I will say Brad Pitt was a viewing highlight playing such a fun character. Plus, it was the one surprise I found in the script that was predictable. However, I still enjoyed watching the movie because the cast was focused and committed to their sometimes outlandish characters. This was an easy and fun movie to sit back and enjoy.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Lost Girls
I LOOK AT A PARENT AND wonder sometimes, why they ever had children. From the variety of news stories I have seen, I know there is good and bad in every type of group. I am aware of mothers and fathers doing extraordinary things and downright dumb ones. Just recently there was a news report about a father carrying his 2-year-old daughter over barriers to take a selfie in an elephant enclosure. Can you believe it?!?! As you might guess, the elephant charged at them, where the father at one point dropped his child as he was trying to make his escape. I was glad to hear the man was arrested for trespassing and child endangerment. In my opinion, this would be an example of bad parenting. I am reminded of an episode that took place at a movie theater a couple of years ago. A child in the row behind me was kicking the seat in front where a theater goer was sitting a few seats down from me. The movie patron nicely asked the child a couple of times to stop kicking; the child did for several minutes before starting up again. Finally, the person turned around and firmly said to stop it or they would tell the manager. You should have seen the mother; you would have thought the movie goer said they were going to kill the child because the mother went off, yelling and calling the person names until the person got up and went to the manager. The manager told the mother and child they could change seats or leave. ENOUGH WITH THOSE EXAMPLES, I WANT to balance things out by telling you about a couple of friends who I think have amazing parenting skills. One mother picked up her family and moved out of state so her challenged child could attend a special school with a sterling reputation. With the schooling and parenting her child not only graduated high school but is attending college while working a part time job. The growth the child has shown has been remarkable. I have another friend whose child is now 12 or 13 years old. Besides being well mannered, they have such a well-rounded assortment of interests that go way beyond their years. Hearing some of the things that come out of their mouth; you would think you are talking to an adult. There is no denying that many parents sacrifice for the sake of their children. What I witnessed in this film festival winning mystery thriller was a strong example of a mother who never took “No” for an answer; it was a sight to see. WHEN HER DAUGHTER WENT MISSING MARI Gilbert, played by Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Strange but True), refused to accept what the police were telling her. In her mind it just was not right. With Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, Leave No Trace) as Sherre Gilbert, Gabriel Byrne (Louder Than Bombs, The Usual Suspects) as Richard Dormer, Lola Kirke (Gone Girl, Mistress America) as Kim and Oona Laurence (Pete’s Dragon, The Beguiled) as Sarra Gilbert; this movie inspired by true events squarely rested its success on Amy Ryan. Her performance was something to see. Despite what I felt was some choppiness between scenes, I found myself drawn into Amy’s character’s plight. The story has an ick factor and there were a couple of rough scenes to watch; however, I thought overall the directing was good and it tried to keep the story moving forward. As for the script, I appreciated the way it did not sugarcoat things; this was especially noticed during the final scenes. There was a realness that came through that did not seem manufactured. Based on this film, I can only imagine what the real details of the events must have been like. Either way, what an example of a mother fighting for their child.
2 2/3 stars
Flash Movie Review: Highway
WE WERE SITTING AND ENJOYING OUR menu choices that we carried out from a local restaurant. At some point the conversation turned to traveling and we started asking each other what places we have gone to in the states. I think I was the most interested in the answers because I was the only one at the table who had been to all 50 states. Listening to the places people were mentioning brought back my memories of those times when I was there. I remembered one city where I got there the day they opened a new people mover to connect their airport to the downtown area. As I was sitting in one of the train cars, I noticed an elderly couple staring at the automatic doors. From the conversations I had with them during the ride, it turned out they had never seen automatic doors before. I know, hard to believe right? They lived in a tiny town out in the country. I will always have this memory as part of my memories of the city. Now some of the stories being told around the table dealt with areas in a state that I did not have time to visit. Many of my state visits dealt with flying into a city and exploring it and its surrounding area; usually there was not time for me to explore further out unless the destination was a national park or something else significant. MORE THAN SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE EVENING, someone would mention staying at a local area of an out of state city where I also had stayed during my trip. When this would come up we then would compare our notes on our time there. I found it curious when someone, who stayed in the same area as me, saw nothing of what I had seen. Though they could recall the street where their hotel was located, they had no idea what I was talking about as I mentioned the different tourist and local attractions/places I went to see when I was there. I would mention a famous museum, garden or mansion and they would shrug and tell me they had no clue such and such was there. I do not mean this to sound judgmental or condescending; I was simply perplexed by the things they chose to experience. Going out of state and visiting the same places one has back home has never been my thing. For example, going to a national pizza chain or clothing store or breakfast restaurant are places I do not care to visit when I am out of state. I know some people find comfort by choosing places that are familiar but then I would ask why spend the money to experience them out of state. Also, I am guessing some people may not even know there are other choices; like the main character in this film festival winning movie. KIDNAPPED AT GUNPOINT, THE DAUGHTER OF A wealthy businessman discovers a completely different world than the one she grew up in. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a scary or beautiful world. This romantic crime drama starred Alia Bhatt (Gully Boy, Dear Zindagi) as Veera Tripathi, Randeep Hooda (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Beeba Boys) as Mahabir Bhati, Durgesh Kumar (Dhadak, Paharganj) as Aadoo, newcomer Pradeep Nagar as Tonk and Saharsh Kumar Shukla (Ugly, Raees) as Goru; I initially thought this was going to be a standard Bollywood picture. Surprisingly, the script started out that way but eventually took a different trajectory. There were times the story wavered and turned to typical relief tricks; but I liked the ride this film provided me. I thought the acting was decent and I enjoyed the variety of outdoor shots the story provided. To call this movie a coming of age story would not necessarily convey its true story, I believe; it is more of a coming into awareness story. Hindi was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Greta
FOR YEARS I THOUGHT I WAS JUST a suspicious person, but it turns out I was being instinctive. I used to get teased because out of all my friends I was usually the last person to trust someone. I have no explanation why I was always cautious around new people; maybe, just the things I experienced in life. Though I never thought about this before, I wonder if there is a connection to my biggest pet peeve: telling me you will do something then not doing it. Now ever since I can remember I always would say, “Trust is something a person earns; it is not given out freely.” There is something about a person being “super” sweet that makes me leery. I tend not to trust someone who is always happy; who never shows any other emotion besides happiness. In college I had a friend who grew up in a family where no one talked about their feelings. No matter what was going on in their lives their standard answer was, “I am fine,” or “All is good.” My friend would tell me about some of the issues taking place in the family but on the surface, no one would have ever guessed there was turmoil. THROUGH THE YEARS MY CAUTION AROUND sweet people served me well. There was a woman I used to work with who was on equal footing with me at the company. She appeared to be everyone’s friend; passing out homemade cookies and lending an ear to anyone who wanted to talk. I was not convinced, so I remained careful but cordial around her. She must have thought I was a challenge because the more I kept my distance, the more she would pour on the sweetness. One day she came up to me and asked if I wanted two tickets she had to a concert, because something came up and she would not be able to use them. I thanked her but declined. I do not know if this caused something but as time went on I noticed some of the work information she would give me was incorrect. If I had not been paying attention and checking her work, I would have been turning into my boss the wrong data. It came to a point where I had to confront her, by showing the incorrect information she had given me. She denied making the mistakes, trying to in a kind way blame someone else in her department. I did not believe her and felt good that I had never given her my trust. The same thing took place as I watched this dramatic mystery. RETURNING A LOST HANDBAG TO ITS OWNER found Frances McCullen, played by Chloe Grace Moritz (Let Me In, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), in a position of making friends with the sweet owner of the bag. A sweet older woman named Greta Hideg, played by Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Happy End). Their budding friendship would come with some conditions. This movie also starred Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave, The Guest) as Erica Penn, Colm Feore (Chicago, The Prodigy) as Chris McCullen and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, The Heavy) as Brian Cody. I thought casting Isabelle in this type of role was inspirational, since I consider her an excellent actress. Do not get me wrong; she and Chloe were wonderful, but the script was silly. There were things taking place that I felt were ridiculous. Without any character development the whole story seemed odd. It is too bad because there were a few scenes and surprises that were well done. The only other thing I can say about this picture is it reinforces my belief to be careful around someone who is heavy-handed in doling out the sweetness.