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Flash Movie Review: The Power of the Dog

I HAVE NOT THOUGHT ABOUT HIM for decades. His hair matched his personality; it was bright, fire red. If memory serves me correctly, at one time he was the only redhead in the class. He could be so sweet in front of the teachers, flashing this smile that revealed a little space between his two front teeth that I assumed the teachers thought was adorable. Add in the two freckled fleshy cheeks with that smile and I am sure the teachers forgot what they were angry about in the first place. Little did they know; he could be equally mean. One time he was seated at his desk, quietly cutting with a pair of scissors, little bits of hair off the long-haired girl who was sitting in front of him. One of his favorite tricks to play was to break the ink cartridge inside of a pen and let the ink drop on the seat at a student’s desk; so, if the student did not notice, they would sit on the inked chair and stain their clothing. Doesn’t he sound like a real charmer? Luckily, he was not a fast runner so more times than not I was not the focus of his bullying. It was nothing for him to kick someone in the back to see them fall and that would include any animals that crossed his path.      MAYBE I AM STEREOTYPING, BUT IN my experiences most bullies were not sweet and charming. With them never being anything but mean, there was never an expectation that one would catch them at a kind moment and be given a pass. This red-haired student, in my opinion, was more lethal because his actions were intentional and thought out. He had to get some enjoyment out of inflicting harm on other people, where someone who was always mean may not be aware, they are doing anything wrong or “bad.” Take it from me, there is nothing worse than sitting in class next to a known bully or mean kid because the entire time is spent keeping one eye on them in a state of perpetual dread, that something awful was about to happen. I am remembering how uncomfortable I was sitting in the classroom, not that the classroom was the only place where harm could befall me. The locker room in the gym was always a fertile place where bullies would rule. My vivid memory of this red -haired student appeared shortly after I saw the main character in this dramatic, western romance.      TWO BROTHERS RUNNING THEIR CATTLE RANCH together face a change when one of them becomes fond of a widow. With Benedict Cumberbatch (The Courier, Doctor Strange) as Phil Burbank, Kirsten Dunst (The Beguiled, Little Women) as Rose Gordon, Jesse Plemons (The Irishman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things) as George Burbank, Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road) as Peter Gordon and Sean Keenan (Glitch-TV, Lockie Leonard-TV) as Sven; the acting in this film was spectacular to the point where I felt Oscar nominations would be in store for some of the actors. The scenery, the music and the wonderful direction of scenes made this such an entertaining movie watching experience for me. The story’s pace was done in a slow and deliberate pace, where I found myself uneasy, as if there was going to be some impending doom taking place. This reaction was almost visceral for me, due to Benedict’s character. I especially enjoyed the way the director kept things at a minimum when it came to the actors. Instead of trying to manipulate the viewers’ emotions, she let the actors show their feelings in a look or gaze; it was effective. I also was surprised on how the story turned out; but it made perfect sense to me. This was an amazing film that, as I said earlier, should be a participant in this year’s Oscars’ ceremony.

3 ½ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: Slow West

There has only been one person in my life who made me consider moving away from the city of my birth. Having friends from childhood and family around me, I never considered moving out of state before. In my past relationships I have met many people from different parts of the country and even world. I always asked what motivated them to wind up here and the answers went from the practical to the whimsical. No matter what the reason may have been, I thought anyone who could leave their job, pack up their home and move to a different part of the world was a courageous soul. I am especially fascinated by the influence love has on some people’s decisions to relocate. There was a friend of mine who met someone and within 4 weeks knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with them, so agreed to change jobs and move out of state with them. I of course was wondering how they even knew they loved the person after a few dates. Love really is a powerful force; I guess it has a way of holding and calming any fears similar to what one does to sooth a crying baby. I recall reading a comment left on my movie site where the person mentioned she moved from Europe to the United States and I immediately assumed there was solid strength inside of her. It was the same type of strength I found in this movie.    LEAVING Scotland to come to America Jay Cavendish, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road), had only one thing on his mind. He wanted to find his true love Rose Ross, played by Caren Pistorius (The Most Fun You Can Have Dying, Offspring-TV). Outlaw Silas Selleck, played by Michael Fassbender (X-Men franchise, 12 Years a Slave), agreed to take Jay across the country for a price, realizing Jay would never survive crossing the American frontier on his own. This Sundance Film Festival winning western thriller was an interesting movie. I have seen films about finding long lost love but this one was different for me because it took place in a 19th century wild west setting with a young foreigner. The entire cast which also included Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Payne were rock solid with their characters. Visually this picture had some beautiful scenery and the camera work helped keep the story fresh for me. When there was action it was well done but I hesitate to call this an action film; the pace leaned more to a slower one. This picture provided a curious tale of love that could leave you thinking about your past relationships. There were a few scenes that showed blood.

 

3 stars

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