Flash Movie Review: Congo
DESPERATE, I TOLD MY FRIEND I did not want to stick my fingers in the bowling ball. Sure, it was dumb to say; but I did not want to go by myself to the charity event. My friend was involved with the charity and they were having an event at a bowling alley, having rented out the entire place. There was going to be food, a raffle, silent auction and some other things. The morning of the event my friend woke up sick. He called to tell me and insisted I still go though now I would not know a single person at the event. Our tickets were already paid for and he wanted me to go so I could tell him all about it, since he was on the committee for the event. I tried using a variety of excuses, even offering to drive all the way there just to scope out the place then leave; but he was not having any of it. Even the offer of bringing him dinner did not work. At some point I finally resigned to the fact that I had to go; but I told him to let me know if he started to feel better later in the day and If he wanted, I could come pick him up. Unfortunately, I wound up going to the bowling alley alone. THE DRIVE WAS UNEVENTFUL EXCEPT FOR my build up of dread. Because I am not the best in making small talk, I prefer going with someone to these events, especially when there is an activity that I must participate in. I knew I was going to have to be on a bowling team with a bunch of strangers; my anxiety was weighing heavily on me. Walking into the bowling alley I was assaulted with loud, booming music over the loudspeakers. The check-in process was easy; I got my name tag, raffle tickets and lane assignment. I went to get bowling shoes before going to my alley. The shoes I was handed looked newer gratefully than some of the shoes I saw behind the counter. As I got to my lane, I saw my teammates were already there. There was no choice but to go up to them and introduce myself. It did not go as bad as I expected; they all seemed friendly and familiar with each other. When the MC of the event came out to welcome everyone, I was relieved for the ending of our small talk. The MC went through the list of things planned then ended by telling us to have a good time as all the lanes lit up for action. On my first throw of the ball, the wildest thing happened; I rolled a strike. My teammates yelled praises at me; I felt a slight sense of relief. It turned out for the next 4 frames I threw strikes. I could not believe it, but it was such a welcome surprise because all the players around me were being supportive and encouraging. It was crazy and only the beginning for an awesome night of fun, topped with me winning one of the raffle prizes. Here I was not looking forward to going and instead had a great time; it was such a surprise. The characters in this action, adventure mystery experienced something similar by getting surprised; but, with way different results. AFTER HER FIANCE WENT MISSING DOCTOR Karen Ross, played by Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, The Other Man) found an expedition that would take her to the Congo to look for him. Her travels would lead her to find something more. With Dylan Walsh (The Stepfather, The Lake House) as Dr. Peter Elliot, Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters franchise, The Crow) as Captain Monroe Kelly, Tim Curry (The Hunt for Red October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Herkermer Homolka and Grant Heslov (The Ides of March, Argo) as Richard; this film festival winner was based on the thrilling novel of the same name. Because computer graphics have gotten so much better, this movie looked so out of date. With the script jam packed with action as it tried to pour in as much from the novel as possible, the result was a cheesy mess. The highlight for me was seeing Laura Linney; she was able to command the scenes better than any of the other actors. I could see where the writers wanted to take the story, but sadly they failed. For those curious to see what special effects looked like before computer graphics, they may find this picture somewhat amusing. For the rest, they may be left groaning through most of the film.
1 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: The Dinner
THERE was something white and fluttering at my windshield as I walked back to my car. I was hoping it wasn’t an injured bird that had flown into the glass. As I came up from behind I saw it was a sheet of paper that someone had slipped underneath the windshield wiper. My first thought was it had to be some type of advertisement. Wow was I ever wrong when I removed the paper from the wiper and saw what was written on it. Someone had left me a note with their phone number, explaining how their car door flew open from the wind and nicked my car door. I took a look and there was a white mark on my car where the edge of their door chipped the paint. I could not get over someone was kind enough to let me know what happened, since I have never been notified before of all the mysterious nicks and dents my car has received in parking lots all these years. Reading the phone number, I called the person to thank them and refuse their offer of compensation; I kept a bottle of touchup paint for such occurrences. SOME years ago I remember sitting in my car in a parking lot and hearing a loud bang. The parked car next to me had been nudged by a person pulling out of a space across the way. I got out of my car to examine the damage and saw that car’s fender was pushed in. The driver of the car that backed up was starting to drive away. Running up to the driver side window I waved at them to stop, which I was surprised they did to tell you the truth. The person rolled down their window and I told them they dented the fender of the parked car. When they tried to tell me they did not do it I explained I was sitting in the car right next to it and saw the whole thing. From that short delay of time, it was just enough for the driver of the dented car to come out of the grocery store. I explained what happened and gave them my phone number before driving off to leave the two of them to figure it out. It was the right thing to do. ONCE the video of the horrific prank was downloaded to a social media site brothers Stan and Paul Lohman, played by Richard Gere (Norman, Days of Heaven) and Steve Coogan (Philomena, The Trip to Italy), met with their wives for dinner to discuss what they should do next. This film festival nominee had an important theme and message here. However, the script was such a mess I lost interest in this movie pretty quick. I am not a fan of jumping back and forth to pick up fragments of a story to create a complete piece and this dramatic mystery was doing it until nearly the end. Speaking of the end, it was not until this picture was nearly over that I started to care about the story. The acting was excellent, including Laura Linney (Sully, Mr. Holmes) as Claire and Rebecca Hall (The Gift, The Prestige) as Katelyn, for what they had to work with but it was not enough for me. I consider this review an act of kindness in warning you about this film.
1 2/3 stars
Flash Movie Trailer: Sully
There were some toys that were just begging me to take them apart. Toys that did amazing things to my young mind back then warranted me either unscrewing screws, twisting off parts or simply breaking pieces apart until I could see what was inside. The downside to this was I would not have the toy to play with anymore. It is funny now as an adult there are some things I do not want to know anything about how they work. Getting into an elevator, all I care about is when I press the floor number the elevator car takes me there with no incident. I do not need to know if the car is rising due to air pressure, counterweights or pulleys; all I care about is I do not get stuck between floors and make the local news. While on vacation I had to take a gondola lift to reach my destination. There was no reason for me to look at the cable wires strung above or the little wheeled contraption that the gondola was hanging from. As I stepped into the car with the other passengers I looked down at the floor until we started moving. Once we rose above the visitor’s center I peered out the large windows that enclosed us to see the slope of the mountain slowly pass us by. All I was interested in was taking pictures until we arrived at the top; I did not want to know about the mechanics that got us there. Just writing about that experience still creeps me out, though I did get some fantastic shots with my camera. For the same reasons I just described there is no way I want to hear about all the mechanics involved in getting the airplane I am on up into the air and to my destination. If you are already nervous about flying then this film will not calm your nerves. WHEN a flock of birds destroyed both engines of the plane he was flying Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies, Captain Phillips), had little time to follow the flight manual; he had to rely on his instincts. Based on the true story this biographical drama was led by Tom who was exceptional in the role. Along with Aaron Eckhart (Olympus Has Fallen, The Dark Knight) as Jeff Skiles and Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes, The Fifth Estate) as Lorraine Sullenberger; this film was directed by Clint Eastwood (Trouble with the Curve, Gran Torino). I have to say Clint did a great job with taking the story and recreating it on screen. For the most part the script was fine; I am sure it was a big asset having Sully’s conversations to build on. However, there were parts of the story where I had wished the writers would have gone deeper. It seemed as if some scenes were assigned to convey a quick reference before moving forward. On the scheme of things this was not a major fault because it did not take the entertainment value away from the movie watching experience. Let us face it; this was an incredible story about a true hero and the ordeal he had to endure even after the flight. Make sure you stay for the beginning of the credits.
3 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Genius
I sit and wait, searching their face for any clue on which direction their reaction will go. It is a gamble; I know that going in, but I am willing to take the risk. Of course, I make sure I have plenty other choices in case any one of them goes bad. You see I love trying new products, especially in the food category. Anytime I have people over to the house I try offering something new to them and myself. It could be from any food group, I would take a chance on it. And here is the little dietary secret; if a guest enjoys the new product I make them take it home because I do not want it to stay alone with me. It would be too much temptation. This way I get to taste something new without overindulging myself. The other secret about having new food items for company is seeing the look on people’s faces at that first bite; I do not know if I can explain it but I truly love seeing someone putting on a happy face due to some new discovery I found. When I am at the grocery store I feel like a treasure hunter when shopping for an upcoming party. Now before you tell me I need to find a new life, let me tell you I feel the same way outside of my home. When I was a kid I wanted to be a tour guide for the city. I wanted to take people I knew or people they knew and show them something they had never seen before. It could be art, architecture, nature or a restaurant; it did not matter as long as the person would have a positive experience from my tours. My desire to be a discoverer played right into this biographical drama. MAX Perkins, played by Colin Firth (The Railway Man, Before I Go to Sleep) had a special place in the literary world. He was the book editor for Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. This film festival nominee had a top notch cast of actors. Besides Colin there was Nicole Kidman (Secret in Their Eyes, Paddington) as Aline Bernstein, Jude Law (Spy, Sherlock Holmes franchise) as Thomas Wolfe and Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes, Primal Fear) as Louise Perkins. I was excited not only for the cast but the story itself, seeing these authors I was familiar with coming to life was a treat. You will understand now why my disappointment in this film was significant because the script did not live up to the characters. For such dynamic well known authors this story needed more levels of emotion, besides offering more of the artists’ motivations and feelings. Sure there were drunken and screaming scenes but I wanted to hear more about the “why.” The look of this picture was appropriate and the acting was the best the actors could do with the script; I just wished the script would have been at a higher level to match the story. Considering this film was only playing at 2 theaters in the city, I still felt like I was discovering a little piece of history.
2 1/3 stars
Flash Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
A generation of children grew up glued to their television screens Saturday mornings to watch the latest cartoons of their favorite characters. Back then cartoons were the main source to see one’s favorite superhero or friendly ghost. Once in a great while there may have been a full-length movie made from a Saturday cartoon and just like the cartoons they were done with hand drawn animation. Computers back then were not used for such artistic purposes. The 3rd avenue available to experience a cartoon character was finding a toy, game or comic book of them. Growing up I collected comic books of all my favorite cartoon characters, besides having an army of G.I. Joe soldiers. However, one of my coolest toys was a model I built of the Batmobile; that vehicle used to travel through all the rooms of my house. Back then as far as I could tell, this was the extent of a child’s exposure to cartoon characters. These days it seems like a whole different world to me. I think there are still comic books but they may be predominantly superhero characters; I do not know. There are the usual toys and games but now it is not unusual to see a cartoon character on cereal boxes, vitamins, cookies, candy, toothbrushes; I can go on and on. The marketing of cartoons is big business where if a character is especially popular they may get their own ride at an amusement park. Honestly, in my opinion I feel it is overkill with all these different things available now. I felt the same way about this action adventure comedy. WITH an evil criminal on the loose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will have to take a bigger risk that may expose their identity to an unknowing public. This sequel brought back Megan Fox (Transformers franchise, Jennifer’s Body) as April O’Neil and Will Arnett (When in Rome, Arrested Development-TV) as Vernon Fenwick, along with new characters Chief Vincent and Casey Jones, played by Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes, Hyde Park on Hudson) and Stephen Amell (The Tracey Fragments, Arrow-TV). I really cannot say anything about the acting because the whole film played like an extended cartoon. Action scenes were the vehicle that drove the story in this movie. I really did not find anything funny in the script, though the special effects at least were entertaining. It was about halfway through the picture that I glanced down at my watch, wishing time would move faster; I was getting bored with the monotony. Now I will say I think tweens, the 9 to 12 year olds, will enjoy this film more than me. Compared to other movies I have seen in this genre, the script was weak; it did not offer any little morsels to entertain the adults in the audience. I have not noticed much cross marketing for this film yet. If it should increase we may be in for a long dull summer of overkill.
1 ¾ stars
Flash Movie Review: Mr. Holmes
Presently when I look towards what my future may be, I cannot make out any distinct elements to it. As if just beginning to wake from a slow long slumber in the middle of a morning fog, retirement has never been something that has made its presence known in my awarenesses. Only recently do I wonder what my life will be like in the years to come. I imagine there will be an older version of myself with deeper lines etched into my face like small creeks that have run dry. The mirror in my house may appear to have a layer of permanent dust on it because my outline always appears fuzzy. Will I still be teaching fitness and yoga classes; I would like to think so, though maybe my energy level may not be able to reach its former high. Maybe I will be leading a walking class instead of a cycling class. Age is such a contradiction. On the one hand it is assumed we acquire more knowledge the older we get; however, we may not be able to do as much with it as we age. What sense does that make? I am known for telling my yoga classes, when we are in the middle of a challenging pose, that we are doing this now so we can get out of a chair by ourselves when we are 90 years old. I really do believe this to be true. For me I need this as a fundamental pillar of my retirement years. RETIRED to the country to tend to his bees the famous Sherlock Holmes, played by Ian McKellen (The Hobbit franchise, X-Men franchise), has one old unsolved case that still troubles him. His failing mind cannot bring back all the clues he needs to solve it. I mean this as a compliment; everything about this film festival winning crime drama was window dressing for Ian’s amazing performance. The idea of the story was brilliant, based on the novel of the same name. In addition the cinematography was exquisite for both story lines and the acting from Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson, The Savages) as Mrs. Munro and relative newcomer Milo Parker as Roger fit in perfectly with Ian and his character. Even the small humorous throwaways about the real Sherlock Holmes compared to Dr. Watson’s version were a nice balance as we learn more about the unsolved case. Since I grew up watching the old Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone, it took me a few minutes to readjust my mind and let Ian fill in the elements for this version of Sherlock. It was an easy adjustment. By the end of this film I felt I had seen the real Sherlock Holmes honestly dealing with life in his older years.
3 1/4 stars
Flash Movie Review: The Fifth Estate
With a single word or phrase a story can take on a different meaning. The same holds true for a newscast or written article. When I watch or read the news I know I am getting a fragment of the whole story. It is understandable due to time constraints or limited space. Being a naturally curious person, I enjoy finding out the backstory to what was reported to the public. It could be almost anything from entertainment to science to government; hearing the details on an individual’s thought process behind what they did or created is something that has always fascinated me. In regards to this movie, I was looking forward to discovering something new on the how and why Julian Assange created the site WikiLeaks. As some of you already know, I am not here to judge if something is right or wrong, legal or not, ethical, etc.; I am reviewing the movie on its entertainment value. Benedict Cumberbatch (12 Years a Slave, Star Trek into Darkness) played the role of Julian. Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Winning Streak) played Julian’s collaborator Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Both actors did the best they could with what was given to them. For a movie that claimed it was a dramatic thriller based on real events, the script was a real mess. I was bored through a major portion, finally becoming engaged in the last third of the film. It really was a shame considering the cast also included Laura Linney (Mystic River, Hyde Park on Hudson) as Sarah Shaw and Stanley Tucci (Margin Call, The Terminal) as James Boswell. All of them were good but the way the story played out with short scenes that did not go anywhere; there was not a cohesive trail to follow. With all the controversy regarding WikiLeaks and the way it received anonymous covert data; I wished the writers would, if not enhanced, at least have allowed more time to look at an event from multiple points of view. I did not gain anything new regarding Julian, the site and more importantly I was not entertained. A story so current needed an exciting script and offer something extra to grab the attention of the viewer. If not then one should just watch the news.
1 3/4 stars
Flash Movie Review: Hyde Park on Hudson
The challenge in reviewing this movie based on true events was not letting my belief in faithfulness bias my observations. Unfaithfulness is a foreign concept to me. Whether I am called old-fashioned or traditional, I believe loving a person unconditionally incorporates being faithful to them. Once I am in a committed relationship I only have eyes for them, no matter how corny that may sound. I was surprised by this movie; I had no idea one of the story lines was concerned with President Roosevelt’s love affairs. The object of his affection was his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Stuckley, played by Laura Linney (The Savages, The Truman Show). From the trailers I thought this film was all about the first visit of a reigning British monarch to America. Samuel West (Van Hesling, Notting Hill) and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Tryannosaur) played the King and Queen of England. In the summer of 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to visit President Franklin D. Roosevelt, played by Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Moonrise Kingdom), at his home in upper state New York. Fearing Britain would be pulled into the war waging across Europe, the King hoped to persuade the President in becoming an ally. If the story would have stayed with this part, the film would have been much better. The scenes with the President and King together were well acted and wonderful. At the start of the movie we were presented Daisy with little back story, as she became the narrator of the film. However, as the story continued she became more of a secondary character, blatantly showing the poor quality of the under developed screenplay. It was a shame because I was curious to see more of the cultural differences between the two countries. Those scenes had a gentle, sweet humor to them. Laura Linney who I have always enjoyed was sadly wasted in this film; granted she did not have much to work with in her role. This movie was like being on a bad date; I was not attracted to it, but did not want to appear rude by leaving early.