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Flash Movie Review: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

I AM NOT ADVOCATING TO THROW caution to the wind, but within reason to allow yourself to experience at least one indulgence. Since I was a little boy, I have loved and always wanted a particular European sports car. Now I know chances are I will never be able to afford to buy one, but I still dream about it. Maybe I can splurge at some point and rent it while on vacation. From time to time, an article of clothing or a small electronic device has caught my attention. If it grabs a strong hold on me, I will obsess over it to the point where I feel everything would work out in my life if I just had that item. There was a time, years ago, where I would act on these compulsions and immediately buy it on a charge card, whether I could afford it or not. Just having that thing brought me immense joy and it was something I did not expect anyone else to understand. For example, getting a sweater that I thought was so cool looking gave me such pleasure because, in my mind, I thought I would look great in it. Not having a substantial level of high esteem, this was my way to make myself feel better. I think that is one of the reasons it is hard for me to get rid of clothes; I do not want to throw away the magic that article of clothing provided me.      WITH MATURITY, I LEARNED TO CONTROL my habit for finding happiness in material things. Not that it was necessarily a negative thing, it needed to have a coating of reason with it. While I was still living at home, I decided I wanted to have a house I could call my own. One thing you can say about me is I have an incredibly strong sense of determination. If there is something I want, I will laser focus on it and do whatever I need to do to make it a reality. For several years, I took on extra hours, worked overtime and saved every penny I could so that I would be able to put a healthy down payment on whatever house I found. Sure, I did not accept every invite to go out to dinner or a show; but sometimes I would make alternate plans to meet for lunch or just to hang out which would cost less money. My plan worked and it was well worth doing because I was able to fulfill my dream of having my own home. This is one of the reasons why I feel indulging oneself within a reasonable limit can be a positive thing. There is a wonderful example of it you can see in this lovely comedic drama.      SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME A Christian Dior dress was all cleaning woman Ada Harris, played by Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year) needed to fall in love with it. She would find a way someday to own her very own haute couture Dior dress. With Isabelle Huppert (About Joan, Greta) as Claudine Colbert, Lambert Wilson (The Matrix franchise, Timeline) as Marquis de Chassagne, Alba Baptista (Patrick, Warrior Nun-TV) as Natasha and Lucas Bravo (Ticket to Paradise, Emily in Paris-TV) as Andre Fauvel; this movie was a treasure. Set in the city of London during the 1950s, Lesley was magnificent as Ada; she drove the story beyond the predictable. The pacing was perfect throughout every scene; I felt I was transported back in time. And the ultimate compliment belongs to the writers; their story brought me into a situation that I initially thought was impossible. Yet, with their words, I soon was rooting for everyone in the cast. If there were more films out of this caliber, I would indulge my love of movies by going to the theater more often.

3 ½ stars 

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Flash Movie Review: See How They Run

I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT playing mystery games like Clue. Of all the times I played it, I only won the game once. The same holds true for those immersive, staged mystery house events. Though they are exciting and fun, I do not focus on seeking out who is the killer; I am having such a fun time with the experience, along with the visuals and acting, that I get lost into it. In other words, I immerse myself, hence an immersive production. LOL There is something about seeing, what I would consider, average/innocuous events that later turn out to be vital clues to the identity of the murderer. This also applies to mystery books and movies; the way they can pull one into their story and take them on this wild trail of events has always impressed me. As I have been working on this review it has occurred to me, I was a guest at a dinner party where all the guests had to assume the identity of a famous individual. Throughout the meal there were six of us seated around the dining room table; some were talking with an accent and others were conversing with a different sounding voice. I was a well-known television star, so I periodically dropped clues about the type of shirt I was wearing and the landscape of the area I lived in on the TV series. It was not until we were eating dessert before someone correctly guessed my character.      WITH MY LOVE OF MYSTERIES, THE one and only time I was in London, England I wanted to see the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I remember how excited I was to see it, both because it was a murder mystery, and it was being staged in London’s famous West End district. The production checked off all my expectations. And the “piece de resistance” occurred at the end of the show when a cast member came out on stage to ask everyone in the audience to keep secret who was the killer. I thought this was so cool because I felt like I was suddenly part of the production, and my job was not to reveal the murderer. I want you to know I never did reveal the identity of the killer. I find it fascinating that after all these years I am now reviewing a dramatic comedy murder that incorporates The Mousetrap into its story.      PLANS WERE IN PLACE TO BRING the play The Mousetrap to the big screen. However, when a cast member was found dead, things had to be placed on hold as an investigation was to take place. The inspector would soon discover it was not easy dealing with theater people. With Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch, American Heist) as Leo Kopernick, David Oyelowo (The Water Man, A United Kingdom) as Mervyn Cocker-Norris, Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Little Women) as Constable Stalker, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Best of Enemies) as Inspector Stoppard and Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Beach Rats) as Richard Attenborough; this story based in the 1950s London had all the markings of being a classic “whodunit” type of thriller. The cast filled with well rounded, capable actors were well matched with their characters. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on, giving a perfect retro feel to the story. Sadly, it did not take much detective work to discover the script was a big letdown as was the directing. Things seemed to drag for the first half of the film. Where I normally admire Sam Rockwell’s acting skills, here he seemed to have gotten lost. There was no emotional variance to the scenes which I found boring. Weirdly, I thought Wes Anderson was directing because it certainly was his type of style; but it was not the case. I almost feel like I need to do some detective work to discover who allowed this production to go forward because it really is a mystery to me.     

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Duke

I DO NOT THINK I AM CRAZY, though some of my friends and family think so because I soak prescription medicine bottles. The reason is to remove the labels before I recycle the bottles. Several of my friends think for the small size of the bottles it is not worth it to recycle; I beg to differ. But here is the thing, I do not force my recycling beliefs on those around me. If a package can be recycled into another item, I feel I am doing my part to protect our world’s natural resources. If by my recycling there is one less plastic product sitting in a garbage dump or floating in the ocean, then I feel quite good about helping protect the planet. I do not berate anyone if they choose not to recycle their products; I can only hope they see by my example a mindset that does not take much effort to do. If I am drinking water from a plastic bottle at someone’s house, I ask them if they recycle. If the answer is no, then I tell them I will take the bottle home with me to recycle it. I do not pass any judgements on the person, nor do I make a big deal out of it to embarrass the host in any way. I am simply doing my thing, as they say.      THE WAY I ACT ABOUT RECYCLING, where I do not berate or force people to follow, came about from seeing how a couple of individuals were acting about their beliefs. One person had signed up with an organization to become a sales rep for their exclusive home products. This person constantly talked about how wonderful the company benefits were and how they were able to make more than their agreed upon salary. At meals, get togethers, emails and phone calls; they also made a point of asking me to sign up and work under them. It came to a point where I started avoiding them because what they were describing to me was a pyramid scheme. The only way I could make more money was if I could get individuals to sign up under my name; the more people you convince to join the organization, the more money you make. And of course, with the discount salespeople get for the company’s product line, this person’s house was filled with every product from air fresheners to toilet bowl cleaners. I was forced to watch how well one of the cleaning products worked on their kitchen counter; it was no different than the cleaner I use at home, and I did not have to pay shipping for mine. Can you imagine having to listen to this stuff every day? It would be like living with the main character in this comedic drama.      FIGHTING WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER THEIR charging policy for television broadcasts took on more importance when Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Another Year), saw how much money the government paid for a painting by Francisco Goya. With Heather Craney (Vera Drake, Child 44) as Debbie, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Dorothy Bunton, Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, The Children Act) as Jackie Bunton and Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Downton Abbey) as Jeremy Hutchinson QC; this film based on a true story was a treat. First the acting prowess of Jim and Helen was mesmerizing. The story was incredible and the whole cast made this film a non-stop piece of entertainment. I enjoyed the curves the script threw, and the way Jim delivered his words with timing perfection. Because the true story was so outrageous, I at times wondered how much liberty the writers took in writing the script; however, it was not enough to take my attention away from the all the scenes. Finally, to show you the sign of a good actor, I was getting annoyed by some of Kempton Bunton’s actions.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: No Time to Die

ONE OF THE THINGS I MISSED most this past holiday season was spending time at the movie theater. In the past, I would spend one of my days off from work at the theater, watching as many films as I could in one day. Due to the current times with COVID and the variants, I have not been comfortable sitting in a crowded theater. In the good old days, I could sometimes catch 5 movies in one day. Maybe some of you might think that is too intense to do, but for me it was like therapy; I loved getting lost in story after story, while taking off enough time just to catch something to eat before I went back into the next showing on my list. What made this work of course was the fact the film studios always release their blockbusters around this time; so, the Academy of Motion Pictures would have the studio’s film fresh in their minds for the beginning of the voting period for an Academy Award nomination. Truth be told, even if the picture was not high on my list, if it fit into my time schedule to make the day’s viewing work, I would go see it. Surprisingly, I have only a couple of friends who could handle watching multiple movies in one day. Usually, a friend might only meet me for one or two films before they had to bow out and take a break.      SINCE I CHOSE TO STAY HOME this holiday season, I wanted to experience that blockbuster type of movie experience. Luckily, I was able to rent the film I am reviewing today. It still is playing at the theater and the fact it is two hours and 43 minutes long, I could hit pause at anytime so I would not miss any scene. There is something about a James Bond movie that always has a special mystique when it premieres. In my family, a new 007 picture always meant a family outing to go see it. Even if we were on a vacation out of state, if the movie was coming out, we would find time to go see it no matter where we were at. I always experience a bit of nostalgia whenever a new Bond picture comes out because of all the memories I have of the previous pictures; especially of the ones that starred Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. With their longevity in the role, there is for me something extra special about the film when they starred in it. While I began watching this newest film in the franchise, I was feeling nostalgic and sad as the scenes unfolded.      HAVING FOUND A SENSE OF PEACE in retirement, it did not last long when an old friend came calling on James Bond, played by Daniel Craig (Knives Out, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), asking him for one last favor. With Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out) as Paloma, Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Need for Speed) as Lyutsifer Safin, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, The Lobster) as Madeleine and Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, Powder Room) as Nomi; this action, adventure thriller came packed with its trademark big action/fight scenes. Craig’s Bond is more of a brawler, grittier 007 compared to the others. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart on display in this story. There were some poignant moments I felt. My big complaint was with the script and the villain. Though Rami was decent, I found the character was not menacing at all. His character was a bit bland, and the script did not help as it tried to pack too much into the story, to honor Daniel’s portrayal of Bond, hence the too long running time. Despite my misgivings, I am glad I was able to see this movie and if you are especially a fan of this franchise, you would not want to miss this one. And even if you are not a fan, based on the star rating below, you might want to see it as well.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Cruella

I REMEMBER THERE WAS A STUDENT in class who was more creative than the rest of us. He would get reprimanded for always drawing outside of the lines. Where pretty much all the drawings being done around me used the color yellow for the sun, he would use a different color like tan or pumpkin. I was not very good at drawing and preferred having figures and objects outlined on the paper, so I could just fill them in with color. My favorite thing to do would be to boldly add color to the pre-drawn outlines then lightly shade color inside of them. The teacher at least did not complain about my work like she did with his art pieces. Many a times he would get a lower grade from the teacher than I did. It puzzled me because his stuff, I thought, was much better than mine. At first, I thought his lower grades were due to not following the rules; but what the teacher explained to us never mentioned the things he did were not acceptable. Maybe she just did not like the work he produced, I thought. Either way, I admired his determination in following his creativity. Years later, I still wonder what he might be doing artistically these days.      JOINING A FRIEND AT AN ART fair, we stopped at a booth that was selling jewelry. My friend was familiar with the artist’s work and especially fond of the earrings they created. She was showing me one pair she liked and oddly it looked familiar to me. It was as if I had seen something like it years ago. I had to think about it for a while, but then suddenly it occurred to me; it looked as if that student in my art class from years ago had designed it. I mentioned it to my friend, and she said maybe they did. I told her it was not because his name was different than the jewelry artist. She surprised me when she next said the artist at the booth did not design his jewelry; he had a team of artists who created his look and he simply was the face of it to the public. I could not believe it because listening to him talking to a customer, it sounded like he had designed and manufactured the pieces he was selling. So, in other words, he was taking credit for someone else’s creativity? Maybe that student was one of the artists he had working under him. In my mind the jewelry artist was taking credit for someone else’s hard work which was similar to what I found in this comedic crime adventure.      HAVING DREAMT ABOUT WORKING FOR THE top design house in London, nothing prepared Estella, played by Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes, The Favourite) for the nightmare she was about to experience. With Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, A Walk in the Woods) as The Baroness, Joel Fry (Game of Thrones-TV, 10,000 BC) as Jasper, Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewel; I, Tonya) as Horace and John McCrea (God’s Own Country, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) as Artie; the standouts for me were both Emma’s and the soundtrack. Their acting together was wicked and fun. I enjoyed everyone’s performances; however, I thought the script was odd for the main character. Who was the movie studio marketing this film to because it was too dark for young children, in my opinion? Situations seemed too extreme to me in a very unfun and unfunny way. The costumes were great, and I loved the idea of Emma taking charge of her creations; however, there was a streak of meanness that I found uncomfortable. The question comes up for me, was this film created for a quick money grab? I felt the creative team behind this picture could have worked better together to create a more enjoyable experience for the viewer.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Judy

SOON AFTER WE BECAME FRIENDS IN 1stor 2ndgrade, we became best friends. I lived on the northwest corner of a square, city block and he lived on the southeast one; we would use the alley to go to each other’s house. He had an uncle who was some type of farmer; so, every summer he would always bring over a grocery bag of his uncle’s fruit to our house each weekend. We would go through the bag picking out the ripest fruit to eat right away before putting the bag in the refrigerator. All through elementary school we remained the best of friends. During that time, we were there for each other during a parent’s health scare, the surprise birth of his baby sister and the rise of bullying as we advanced in school. By the time we graduated and started high school we were sure nothing would change between us. With the school population tripling between elementary and high school, besides going from a small school to a block long building, we assumed we would still see each other through the school’s hallways. As it turned out that was not the case and as time went on, we started drifting apart. Our circle of friends was expanding and diversifying on top of it.      I WENT OUT OF STATE FOR college and that was the last time I saw my friend; we lost touch with each other. Fast forward now 20 years, where I am living down in the city in my own place. There was a store in my neighborhood that I had read about in the newspaper; they carried “funky” retro stuff. I decided to check it out one Saturday and walked down to it. The newspapers were right because the store was cool looking with a variety of items from different eras. As I was gazing down into one of the glass display cases a staff worker came up to me, to see if I needed any help. When I lifted my head up to reply I was stunned. The man standing across the case from me was my best friend from elementary school. He recognized me immediately as we both started laughing. He asked what I was doing there; I asked him the same thing. It turned out he was the owner. While we were talking, I noticed something odd; he was talking with a British accent. Listening to the scope of his business dealings, he was heavily involved in the entertainment business. He went by one name, deciding his last name sounded suddenly “to ethnic.” I found all of this bizarre, to say the least.      AFTER THAT STORE VISIT, WE STAYED in touch sporadically. I felt like I was talking to a different person whenever I would see him. He had turned himself into this persona with the one name to make an impression with the Hollywood people he was dealing with now. His business expanded so much he had to acquire multiple warehouses to store his burgeoning inventory. He became the “go to person” whenever Hollywood studios needed specific styled props and costumes. His lifestyle became fast paced and crazy to match the people he was now hobnobbing with, from coast to coast. I had bumped into him at a play one day and knew immediately he was high on drugs. His speech was slurred, his eyes were halfway shut, and he kept swaying from side to side. That was the last time I saw him until I read his obituary in the paper.      DESPITE BEING UNINSURABLE AND BROKE LEGENDARY performer Judy Garland, played by Renee Zellweger (Chicago, My One and Only), flew to London in 1968 for several sold-out concerts. This biographical drama also starred Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Tempest) as Rosalyn Wilder, Finn Wittrock (Unbroken, American Horror Story-TV) as Mickey Deans, Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist, Hercules) as Sidney Luft and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter franchise, Quartet) as Bernard Delft. Whether the story was accurate in this film did not matter to me because ultimately it was all about Renee’s performance. Not once did I think it was Renee acting; she was utterly convincing in the role. Doing her own singing, I had to give her credit because I knew it was not going to be easy; however, she did an incredible job. Her mannerisms, her posture, her gestures; all of them were Judy. As for the story, many viewers already know it; so, let me just say, it is sad. However, don’t let that stop you from seeing this film because I believe you will be hearing Renee’s name this upcoming awards season.

 

3 stars      

Flash Movie Review: The White Crow

BARELY ABLE TO SEE ABOVE THE heads of the people sitting in front of me, I watched in astonishment the man leaping in the air. The stage had been filled with dancers dressed in costumes that glittered under the stage lights. Most of the costumes were white in color, but some were the exact opposite in black. The male dancer in the lead role reminded me of royalty because of the way he moved across the stage when he was not leaping and spinning. With angular features for his face, his body on the other hand moved consistently with graceful fluidity. I was too young to realize the amount of work it must have taken him to be able to jump so high without a running start or to spin so quickly in the same spot; his moves at times would make the audience quietly gasp in their seats. The music the orchestra was playing was familiar to me because we had a recording of it at home. I would play it from time to time, never realizing that people were hired to dance to the music. Ballet was something foreign to me at the time. I was aware of it having seen clips of dancers on television or in a movie; but I had never seen a live performance of it up until this time. The male lead dancer in this performance was Rudolf Nureyev.      WHEN I DELVED INTO THE FITNESS world as a profession, it was there I discovered the amount of work a dancer must do to make their performances seem effortless. One training class I took was based on dance moves and it was intense for me. Holding positions, working my core, and being able to give instructions to a class at the same time was a challenge. Imagine doing a side plank pose where you are on your side on the floor, balancing only on the side of your bottom foot and the hand from your extended arm. Now raise up you other leg and hold it in the air; trust me, you will feel it in your core. The first time I tried to do this I rolled over onto the floor. It took me some time to build up my strength to master the pose. I knew if I wanted to be an effective fitness instructor, I would have to put in the work to make it happen. It is no different for any profession, but I feel there is a slight difference when your profession involves performing in front of an audience.     WITH ONLY ONE PURPOSE IN MIND Rudolf Nureyev, played by newcomer Oleg Ivenko, was willing to work hard to become a top ballet dancer. Nothing would stop him, even his own country. This biographical drama also starred Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Pushkin, Louis Hofmann (Sanctuary, Land of Mine) as Teja Kremke, Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color, Racer and the Jailbird) as Clara Saint and Sergei Polunin (Red Sparrow, Murder on the Orient Express) as Yuri Soloviev. Set during the time of the Cold War, this film festival winner was something I wanted to see since I had seen Rudolf perform. His story was probably more interesting than what the script offered here. I would start to get interested in the story and then the scene would shift to a different time in Rudolf’s life; I found this jumping back and forth more of a distraction then a story telling technique. For someone who commanded the stage with a bigger than life personality; this movie seemed out of step with his story.

 

2 stars — DVD           

Flash Movie Review: Phantom Thread

FOR YOUR INFORMATION IT TAKES a large amount of discipline to stay in control. Or is it a lot of control to stay disciplined? When it comes to me, in certain areas, I have an incredible amount of discipline. Some of the things I have heard said about me are, “iron willed,” “determined,” “obsessed” and “fanatical” when it comes to my rule of not eating anything 5 hours before I go to sleep. I would say no matter where I am or what I am doing, I will not eat a morsel of food if it is close to my bed time. In the last 20 years I can count on one hand the times I broke this rule and it was for reasons outside of my control. Keeping stoic with my mouth shut is one of the ways I maintain control over my weight; it has worked for me my entire adult life.     NOW THE FUNNY THING ABOUT control is it is very much a singular function. Rarely does one allow another controlling person to share their domain. Let us face it, there are some people who thrive on making all the decisions and there are others who do not want that responsibility. I used to be the one who always had and shared an opinion. If someone wanted to do such and such, I had no issue letting them know I was in agreement or disagreement. If I disagreed then I would tout my reasons why and try to persuade them to agree to my decision. I know this may sound a bit twisted and you know I would not disagree with you. As I grow older I have let go, or maybe I should say I have lost some of that intensity to the point I am comfortable sharing my spot with another individual who is disciplined in a similar vein. It can work just take a look at the musicians Hall and Oates or the designers Dolce & Gabbana. Oh wait maybe it doesn’t work if you take a look at what happened to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. This elegantly filmed, Oscar nominated romantic drama will give you a chance to see what being in control can do.     REYNOLDS WOODCOCK, PLAYED BY Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln, Gangs of New York), was the guiding force to the success of his dressmaking business, House of Woodcock. From his chance meeting with Alma, played by Vicky Krieps (Hanna, The Colony), she would become an inspiration for his work. Alma had an opinion about it. This film festival winning movie also starred Lesley Manville (Another Year, Topsy-Turvy) as Cyril and newcomer Sue Clark as Biddy. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood, Boogie Nights), Daniel has said this will be his last film. If it is true then he is leaving on a high note; his along with the rest of the cast were simply perfection with their acting skills. The details in the script and the sets all fit together to form a complete puzzle. I will say the story was different to the point I left the theater with mixed emotions. For me the story was not what kept my interest in this picture, it was the emotions and nuances of the characters. Also with the story being set in London during the 1950s, the style of fashion played a part in what I referred to as the details of the sets. Kudos to Paul Thomas Anderson for his control of the story and direction and I have to tip my hat to Daniel for his discipline on picking the best movies for him to star in; I will try to control myself over the loss of not seeing him play in another film.

 

3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Their Finest

UPBEAT and positive is how I would describe the man telling us about the changes in our office. We were being told how these moves decided by upper management would be a good thing for our company. I sat there with my fellow employees and I am sure they were thinking the same thing: who was going to get the ax. Maybe that is too harsh to say so here are some ways I have heard it expressed: laid off, let go, reassigned, reevaluated, eliminated and left behind. None of these terms warrant a happy face with optimistic comments. I used to work at one place that decided after many years to outsource their payroll functions. The staff for each manager had meetings set up to explain the changes in how we were going to be paid. You should have seen the spin job the managers tried to sell us. They talked about the convenience of looking up our paycheck online, the ability to schedule time off and the ease of changing our benefits package. I knew there had to be more to the meeting and sure enough towards the end the manager told us how salaries would be administered.     EVERYONE’S salary was scaled back to a standard base amount. From that point you would go up the scale depending on a number of factors; each factor was worth a certain dollar amount. I remember sitting there and quickly figuring out the math and realized a majority of us would be taking a rather large pay cut. There stood this person in front of us stating the virtues of this new pay system, doing their best to sell it as if it was the best thing since sliced bread. With me losing over 30% of my salary I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut and not stating the facts about their so called great new system. Let us face it; there is no good way to promote bad news.     WHILE Germany was dropping bombs on the city of London during the early 1940s, the defense department was working on a propaganda film in the hopes of drawing the United States into the war. All it needed was a woman’s touch. This film festival winner was part comedy, part drama and part romance. At first I felt the story was starting out slow but as things began to unfold I enjoyed how the writers were fitting together all the different pieces to create this enjoyable movie. Starring Gemma Arterton (The Voices, Gemma Bovery) as Catrin Cole, Sam Claflin (Me Before You, The Hunger Games franchise) as Tom Buckley, Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pride) as Ambrose Hilliard/Uncle Frank and Jack Huston (American Hustle, Ben-Hur) as Ellis Cole; I thought the cast worked together beautifully. Bill and Gemma were the standouts for me. The script did a great job of balancing the elements of the story. Things moved naturally between the genres of drama, comedy and romance; there was the ever present war, but it never overshadowed the other story lines. I will say I thought the ending was a bit abrupt regarding one of the characters in particular; it felt somewhat false. However, as I sat and imagined what it must have been like back then, I realized there was no choice; the British government needed to stay positive.

 

3 1/4 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Desert Flower

SITTING comfortably behind the steering wheel, cruising down the road, the celebrity driver was expounding on the finer things about the automobile. It almost looked like this was their main means of transportation. Now I do not care if a celebrity wants to earn income by doing a commercial; everyone deserves to make a living. Will this person persuade me to buy that type of car when I am in the market for a new vehicle? The answer is absolutely not. In fact that goes for any celebrity endorsement. Though I am a big fan of movies and such, I am well aware of the financial inequity between celebrities and let us say teachers. Not that there is anything wrong with making as much money as you can; however, I have a hard time with anyone who uses their position of wealth as a bully pulpit to tell everyone else what they should do. I have experienced this in my own circle of friends and family, where those who were financially well off starting acting like they knew everything and the rest of us were not as smart. That type of behavior is offensive to me.     THE area where I can support celebrities is when they use their wealth and status to help a cause they believe in. I know about one celebrity who works with an organization to bring clean water to third world countries. I remember when parts of Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. There were celebrities down there helping and rebuilding houses; they had the means and connections to bypass the red tape to get things done. With some celebrities their support of a cause may be due to personal reasons; they could be experiencing it in their own family, for example a celebrity with an autistic child. Whether you feel the same way or not, I admire someone who overcomes challenges in their life to then become a social activist against those very same tribulations. What I saw in this film festival winning movie, which was based on a true story, both stunned and amazed me.     THIRTEEN year old Waris, played by newcomer Soraya Omar-Scego, had to leave her village in Somalia. What was done to her there would have a strong impact on her life when she made it to London. Before I talk about this biographical drama I want to say I have very little knowledge about the customs that were performed in this movie. They may be based on religious beliefs or native; I do not know and I do not want to offend anyone who believes in them. Starring Liya Kebede (The Best Offer, Lord of War) as older Waris Dirie, Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go –Lucky) as Marilyn and Timothy Spall (Denial, Mr. Turner) as Terry Donaldson; the actual story had to be more powerful than what the script provided here. The back and forth between the young and older Waris dampened the intensity for me. I had a hard time watching some scenes because I could not believe what was being done. The acting was fine; I have always enjoyed Sally’s performances and Liya was perfect in this role. Honestly I still cannot get over that this custom takes place in the world. This DVD provided me with a whole new respect for those who overcome difficulties in their life and decide they want to do something about it.

 

2 ¾ stars — DVD    

 

 

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