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Flash Movie Review: I Want You Back

IF A COUPLE IS GOING TO end their relationship, the ideal situation in my opinion is when they both agree to it. I know personally it is much easier when both parties come to the same realization that the relationship is not working/healthy. A couple I knew were together for approximately a year before they discovered they could no longer grow in the relationship because each of them could not see spending the rest of their life with their significant other. Kudos to them for coming to that realization. They continued their friendship and were able to do so because they no longer had any boyfriend/girlfriend expectations placed on each other. I have come close to such a situation; but there always had to be an extended time of separation before I could relate to the person on a different level. Many of my friends never understood how I could be friends with someone who started out as a love interest. I would always answer them by saying just because the love aspect has dissolved, does not negate all the other positive attributes that attracted them to me in the first place. A different kind of love takes over from the romantic one.      THOUGH I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO have had loving relationships that evolved into solid friendships, I have had some horrific breakups. One of the worst kinds is when your love cannot tell you why they are breaking up with you. All they can muster up is the fact they do not want to be in a relationship. It always feels like I cannot get closure with what we shared; honestly, they could say whatever they want as an excuse, and I would be fine with it if they can give me a reason. Outside of that, the absolute worst kind of breakup is when your partner has already started a relationship with your replacement. This has happened to me twice as far as I know and when it has, my first thought is how can a person immediately pivot from one relationship right into another one without some kind of reflection or personal growth help to discover why they were in the relationship and now out of it. I know myself well enough to know I need time off to contemplate all that took place and get myself to a space of self-care and acceptance before moving on. I certainly have not gone the route that two of the main characters in this romantic comedy did, which I am proud to say.      DISCOVERING THEY BOTH HAVE SOMETHING IN common when it comes to a relationship, two office workers come up with a plan to get their true love once again. With Charlie Day (Fist Fight, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Peter, Jenny Slate (Gifted, Obvious Child) as Emma, Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Noah, Gina Rodriguez (Miss Bala, Deepwater Horizon) as Anne and Manny Jacinto (Even Lambs Have Teeth, The Good Place) as Logan; the reason this movie succeeds is due to the cast. I found Charlie’s and Jenny’s characters so authentic because of the chemistry between these two. Though the story is easy to figure out, the writers provided enough little twists and turns to make it all seem fresh and new. I usually do not react to extremes in comedy scenes; but I have to say, I did not mind them here because of the added emotional depth the writers instilled in the characters. And speaking of comedy, I did not find anything that caused me to laugh aloud. However, I did have a smile on my face while watching this entertaining movie about love and relationships.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Survivor

I HAVE LEARNED NOT TO THINK I have heard all the comments and thoughts about a particular subject. After hearing and reading all the different comments about vaccines that inject microchips into our bloodstreams and medical tests that only use lemmings for test subjects, very little can surprise me these days. I do not know if this a good or bad thing to tell you the truth. In my work position, I have heard so many excuses from customers that owe the company money, that I never react to what they say to me. Maybe it is true, maybe not; it does not phase me anymore. Not to delve into any political discussion, but hearing someone actually say members of a political party are buying and selling babies for some demonic ritual; how does someone carry on a discussion with a person who believes this to be true. In yesterday’s review, I mentioned the appalling behavior of individuals who believe the school shootings at Parkland and Sandy Hook were a hoax; it just does not stop does it with these extreme thoughts/comments.      WHEN I WAS MUCH YOUNGER, I knew a couple of people who were survivors of a German concentration camp. They both had a series of numbers tattooed on their forearms. I remember talking to one of them about her time in the camps and could not believe what she was telling me was true; it was so horrific; I was too young to take in the scope of the situation she was living in. She remembered always being cold and shivering to the point where captives would huddle together to try and share any type of warmth in a brutal environment. Looking at this tiny, weakened woman, I recall thinking to myself how in the world did she survive such a place and, how could people be so evil to set up a systematic way of eliminating a large group of humans. Her stories stayed with me and when I finally went off to college, one of my professors was one of the foremost experts on Nazi Germany. He was a German man with a thick accent. He was the author of the textbook assigned to us for the class. I remember he always tried to shock us during his lectures, providing us with personal insights into the Nazi culture, to the point I wondered if he had been a German solider. His stories about all the atrocities and actions that took place during the war made me think I was getting a firsthand look at everything that took place back then. That is until I watched this movie based on a true story.      KNOWING HIS STORY ABOUT HIS TIME in a concentration camp would produce negative reactions, a survivor decides to tell it anyway in the hopes of finding his true love. With Ben Foster (Leave No Trace, Hell or High Water) as Harry Haft, Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Game Night) as Schneider, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, The Last Vermeer) as Miriam Woesoniker, Peter Sarsgaard (The Lost Daughter, Loving Pablo) as Emory Anderson and Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, The Comedian) as Charley Goldman; this drama was an intense and riveting viewing experience. Ben’s acting was mind blowing, including the 62-pound loss for part of the story. As for the story, I was stunned upon discovering what he had to do to survive. My only negative comment is I wish the script had not jumped back and forth as much. I felt the emotional tension would have benefitted with more time spent in each era for a longer duration. The current story paled compared to the older era, in my opinion. Despite this and the fact this is based on a true story, I was locked into this biographical sports story and Ben’s performance. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Adam Project

IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO look back and know what you could have done instead of what you did do in that moment. Though I try to live my life without regrets, I have a history of events that I wish I could have erased or at least acted differently in. There was the odd-looking woman with the shopping cart who my friends and I would call a witch when we were little kids. In elementary school, I found a pencil sharpener shaped like an airplane on the floor. Instead of turning it into the teacher, I kept it because I had never seen one like it. During winter I cannot tell you how many times a group of us boys would be walking down the street as the local bus was making its stops. We never passed up the chance to throw snowballs at it as it drove by. I remember, though, talking a friend of mine out of wrapping snow around a rock before throwing it at the bus. The last time I participated in this activity was when the bus driver stopped the bus and got out to chase us. I never threw another snowball at a bus after that time. It is funny how some things never change because when I drive through the neighborhood in the winter months, inevitably I will spot a couple of little kids throwing a snowball at a bus or car before taking off and running away.      THEY SAY WITH AGE COMES WISDOM and I hope I continue to gain a little bit of wisdom every day. From time to time I think back to an event or a relationship and wonder what would have happened if…ahh, that word “if” can really trip a person up. In my classes I would coax members to at least try a new move because it was always easier than sitting and wondering about it for days on end. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were able to go back in time to do something differently than what we did back then. I carry a regret about a past relationship that ended in a brutally horrible way, to the point I said some awful things that I now wish I could have taken back. We learn from our mistakes, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply return to that specific time and redo our actions? I know I would be busy if I had the opportunity. Watching the main character in this action-adventure comedy, I could not help but admire his desire to try and make a change in his life.      AFTER CRASH LANDING, A TIME TRAVELING pilot finds his childhood home with his younger self living in it. With Ryan Reynolds (Red Notice, Free Guy) as Adam, newcomer Walker Scobell as young Adam, Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers franchise, Dark Waters) as Louis Reed, Jennifer Garner (Draft Day, 13 Going on 30) as Ellie Reed and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Blood Ties) as Laura; this was a fun science fiction film. Here was another role molded to Ryan, though I will say I thought Walker was almost as good as Ryan. There really was no new territory mined in the story; but the mix of childhood angst with family dynamics, rolled into a love story made this movie feel fresh. I enjoyed the whole cast as they all easily blended as a group through the script. As for the special effects they were nothing earthshattering, but they were fine for the several times they were in use. What was a surprise to me were the scenes that I found touching and sweet; they were a nice counterpoint to the other side of the story line. Overall, this was simply an easy, enjoyable movie watching experience and if you have a history of liking Ryan’s films, then you will be glad you saw this one as well.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Tigertail

I HAD KNOWN HER FOR A LONG time; yet I was still surprised when she told me the reason why she was going to college. Up until that time she did okay in school, nothing above average though. When she told me she wanted to attend college, I had asked her why and she told me she wanted to find a husband. To hide my shock I used my humor by asking her if it would be cheaper to sign up for a dating service. I had to appreciate her honesty, but the idea that college would be the place to find a mate sounded farfetched; there was no guarantee she would find on campus someone to marry. Yet, she was determined and sure enough in her junior year, she met a senior student and fell in love with him. They dated for a year before deciding to get married. During that period, I met him a couple of times when they would drive back home for a weekend visit. He seemed nice, but he had what I refer to as a salesperson’s personality. No disrespect to the people in that profession, but he had a list of catch phrases he depended on when participating in a conversation. Also, he never offered an opinion that was different from the person he was interacting with in a conversation. I did not detect much sincerity behind his statements as a result.     THE TWO GOT MARRIED A COUPLE of months after his college graduation. They settled into married life and seemed to be happy. I would see them from time to time and as far as I could tell they seemed fine. There was one thing I noticed however. When they were together, she seemed to talk less. I could not put my finger on it, but it seemed as if he was always the one to make any type of decisions. He never lost the catch phrases, but his delivery of them seemed to have an edge to them now. This continued for a couple of years before my friend started to show up to events without him. At first, she offered excuses for his absences; but it was not too long before she finally confessed she was unhappy and filing for a divorce. I offered support and told her if she needed to talk I was available anytime. She never took my up on the offer and I did not push the subject. Though, one time she did share with me she regretted her years focused on finding a husband because they blinded her to her husband’s faults. I wondered if she could leave her regrets behind to move forward. This was the same thought I had for the main character in this dramatic film.      YOUNG GROVER’S, PLAYED BY HONG-CHI Lee (City of Rock, Baby) dream was to move to the United States. Moving there meant leaving the ones he loved behind; a decision that would come with regrets. With Tzi Ma (Arrival, The Ladykillers) as Grover, Christine Ko (Hawaii Five-O-TV, Dave-TV) as Angela, Fiona Fu (Power Rangers, Blood and Water) as Zhenzhen and Joan Chen (Love in Disguise, Judge Dredd) as Yuan; this multigenerational film had an authentic, touching story that was easy to follow. With the beautiful filming, I was thoroughly involved with the story. The acting was well done, as the story would shift between Taiwan and the United States. I did not feel as if the script was trying to manipulate me; each pause in the dialog allowed the actors to express true emotion in my opinion. The story has a certain universal appeal that I think many viewers will connect to and appreciate. I have always said for every action there is a reaction. When it comes to affairs of the heart one can only hope for the best by striving towards a goal. Several scenes were spoken in Chinese with English subtitles.

 

3 stars      

Flash Movie Review: Emma

IT WAS AT A FAMILY (NOT MINE) GATHERING where I first saw how people judge others based on the work they do. Maybe this happens more than I am aware of because the individuals I was in contact with were not so blatant about it. With this family, they had no problem showing their disapproval; I could see and hear it. We were mingling together in the living/dining area of my friend’s parents’ house. I knew the family well, so I was included on the guest list. My friend’s parents were throwing a graduation party for their youngest child. It was a casual affair where most of the food items were finger foods. Everyone my friend introduced me to was pleasant. I do not want this to come out as judgmental; but let me just say some of the guests were impeccably dressed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as I could tell. At some point one of my friend’s sisters walked into the house with her boyfriend. They had only been dating a few months and this was I found out, the first time the family was meeting this new man. I thought all was going well until one of the relatives asked the boyfriend what he did for a living. When he told them he was an electrician, you could see everyone’s smiling veneer melt away. The tone of voice the relatives were now using were filled with disdain; I was stunned.      WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH BEING an electrician, I wondered? You would have thought the boyfriend said he was a mass murderer; it was the oddest thing to see. As if on cue, the relatives nearby him slowly moved further away. I swear it looked as if the relatives had just come upon a grizzly bear in the forest and were quietly and slowly backing away, so as not to disturb it. I was not the only one to have witnessed this; my friend saw what was going on and decided to, at that moment, introduce me to the sister and boyfriend. He was a nice guy as far as I could tell, and it seemed as if he had a good sense of humor. Personally, I never care who my friends and family are dating; all that matters to me is that the person is good to them and loves them. Whether they are a stock trader, a sanitation worker or a zookeeper; none of that matters to me. If my friend or relative loves them and feels good about it, then I will support them always. I think that is one of the reasons I found it challenging to connect to the characters in this dramatic, comedy satire. BORN INTO WEALTH AND BELIEVING SHE was better than most Emma Woodhouse, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), felt she could not find her equal in love. At least, not in her small town. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Beast) as George Knightley, Bill Nighy (Sometimes Always Never, About Time) as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Everest) as Harriet Smith and Myra McFadyen (Mamma Mia! franchise, Rob Roy) as Mrs. Bates; this movie based on Jane Austen’s novel was hard for me to get into in the beginning. The costumes and scenery were immaculate which helped me pass the time. I also thought Bill Nighy was perfect in his role. Set in England during the 1800’s, it was not until the 2ndhalf of the film where I felt things were better connected. My guess is fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this picture immensely. I on the other hand felt it really had nowhere to go; it was somewhat predictable. And for some reason, I could not connect at all with the main actress’ character; what a surprise based on what I mentioned earlier in this review.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: A Ghost Story

THE ghost from the love of her life remained close to her even after she found herself alone. They had been together for some years so the ghost was familiar with many of the things she enjoyed doing when she was part of a couple. She would hear a particular song and feel a tug at her heart as her feet prepared to move into step to the music; it was their song they danced to when they first expressed their love for each other. The times when she drove by the lake she could look out and almost see the two of them frolicking between the waves. No matter where or when she would experience these random moments, where she sensed there was something around her, it would alert at least one if not more of her senses. An aroma, a sound, a particular look to something and she would feel her heart sigh, experiencing a brief feeling as if she was not alone.     WHEN it comes to whether I believe in ghosts or not I do not have an opinion one way or the other. Let me say I believe anything is possible just because there have been things I experienced that cannot be explained. Maybe there are invisible souls connected to us in some way; how would we really know? I will say love can affect us in such a strong way that sometimes the connection never gets broken. To this day there are a few songs I hear that immediately send me back to a time where I was sharing life with another. As time goes on I do not believe we really forget someone; I feel we just create different routines that do not always take us to the same places we used to share with them. Not to say everyone does this; there are some people who prefer staying in the same spot so they do not have to move on.     EVEN in death C, played by Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea, Out of the Furnace), found himself in the same home he shared with M, played by Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The difference was she could not see him. Written and directed by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), this dramatic romantic fantasy offered a deep message. I appreciated how the script tackled the topics of love, loss, legacy and connection; however, I thought the presentation of it was a slow process. One would expect the acting to be good coming from Casey and Rooney and for the most part it was, though over half the movie Casey was covered in a white sheet. For me the pacing was tedious and it was apparent I was not the only one who felt this way. During a scene where Rooney was eating an entire pie, an audience member yelled out, “It is enough already,” when the camera remained on Rooney the whole time; it really was getting painful to watch I have to say. And this is the issue I had with this picture; there were several times where I wanted to flip a switch to make the film go faster. From the trailers I was intrigued by this story and wanted the movie to be a good viewing experience. The story made me think but its execution was not entertaining for me and that is how I base my ratings.

 

2 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Frank & Lola

LOVE, when it is expressed, can be one of the purest and strongest emotions. At least that is what it can be depending on the person. When an individual falls in love they can find themselves smiling for no apparent reason or getting giddy with excitement in anticipation of being with the source of their love. Some people love going to the circus; they get to experience a range of emotions from the varied acts on display. Other people get in touch with their sense of love when they are able to hike up a mountain trail then sit out on the edge of a precipice. Another thing love can do is steer you away from your daily routines and venture into new territory, exploring the ways 2 people can blend their individual lives into a shared common one.   HOWEVER when a person sacrifices their other emotions and rational thoughts to focus strictly on love, they then have entered the land of the extremes. In this place a person scrutinizes every action, comment and reaction from the focus of their love. In turn they react in an extreme way to the point of becoming obsessive. I was in a relationship some time ago where things started out in an easy way for us. We seemed compatible and had similar tastes in things. As the weeks went by little things started cropping up that I found odd. For example a delay in us getting together due to a prior commitment I had would produce a passive aggressive response in an attempt to make me feel guilty, hoping I would change my plans. This was a red flag for me and a cause of concern. Maybe if my ego was inflated I would have enjoyed the attention and their need to be with me; instead, it caused a disconcerting feeling inside of me. My instincts turned out to be correct. I was being turned into this desired object that they needed to feel fulfilled and complete in their life. Obsession can be a lethal road for one to travel on.   FRANK, played by Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Midnight Special), was falling deeper in love with Lola, played by Imogen Poots (Green Room, Need for Speed), to the point where even warning signs could not influence him. This film festival nominated drama also starred Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell, Accepted) as Keith and Michael Nyqvist (John Wick, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Alan. It was interesting to see Michael playing a romantic lead. He is an excellent actor and in this crime mystery he was good, but I have to tell you I felt he was not the best choice for the role. The intensity he has displayed in previous movies did not translate well in this one. Set in Las Vegas and Paris, I was initially interested with the story line and thought the acting was good throughout the film. One of the reasons why I did not feel totally connected to the story was the lack of back story or depth with the Frank and Lola characters. I could see what the writer was trying to do but it did not take me where I needed to be to truly get into the story. I love movies but I did not love watching this one much.

 

2 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Coming Home

There goes by a young couple walking hand in hand. As they stroll through the park they carry on a conversation that causes them to chuckle, sigh, exclaim and smile from time to time. Periodically one rests their head on the shoulder of the other and when the pathway narrows they wrap their arms around each other to get closer. In a completely different locale there is a couple sitting in an airport gate’s waiting area. While one leans into the other as they begin to doze off, the other is reading a book. When finally coming back to consciousness, the other brushes the hair off their sleepy face, looking into their sputtering eyes. With the book closed and placed to the side the two simply lean into each other, one affectionately massaging the neck of the other one. Anywhere you look you can always find people in love. A candlelight dinner, shopping at the grocery store or sitting together at a sporting event; they do not need to declare their love to the world, the way they interact with each other is proof enough. But I ask you, how often do you see couples in their twilight years out and about participating in public displays of affection? How about in the media or forms of entertainment like movies and television? I can only bring to mind a few from recent movies compared to the amount of films I have seen about youthful love. And the reason why I believe that is the case is because growing old isn’t for the weak. Let us face it when one hears the words, “in sickness and health,” how often do they imagine what their life might be like in their later years?    AFTER spending years in a labor camp during the cultural revolution in China Lu Yanshi, played by Chen Daoming (Hero, Aftershock), was finally released to return to his waiting wife Feng Wanyu, played by Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern, Memoirs of a Geisha). But after so many years Feng did not recognize the man who showed up at her door. This film festival winning drama’s story was beautiful in its simplicity. With newcomer Zhang Huiwen as the couple’s daughter Dan Dan, the acting was painfully real. It was wonderful watching Gong Li as she would turn an emotion upside down with a look or subtle movement. On one level the story focused on the effects the cultural revolution had families. The stronger part of the story in my opinion had to do with the strength love had between two people. I did find a few places where the movie dragged for me, in a repetitive type of way. However, the way the story unfolded as it progressed kept me engaged. After the movie was over I walked away with the feeling I had just witnessed a full and unconditional love. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 1/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect

I have found a majority of noises eventually turn into white noise, background sounds as the mind tunes them out. One sound that never stops being heard is the sound of a loving heart. Hearing it brings such a comfort like a warm, cozy, fuzzy blanket on a crisp winter day. To be in a loving relationship is a major accomplishment in one’s life as far as I am concerned. Finding that one special person who accepts all of you, is supportive and kind, who helps you fill out your dreams and provides nourishment that keeps you glowing is a remarkable achievement. As the two of you grow old together the relationship continues to evolve, taking in account any new dreams or hopes; the underlying strength of your bond will always be there to support whoever trips while walking the path of your lives. All of this is wonderful but I have seen how devastating it becomes when death takes one of the two. I knew someone who could not accept the death of their loved one, going to their grave every single day, seven days a week. She stopped living as she surrounded herself with the memories death left behind. One of the hardest parts I have found is altering the daily routines the two of you had shared.    STRUCK with immense grief seeing Zoe, played by Olivia Wilde (In Time, Rush), lying on the floor dead from a horrible accident; Frank, played by Mark Duplass (The One I Love, Safety Not Guaranteed), would not let her go. He was willing to take a chance on using her for his scientific experiment that had not been tested yet on humans. Not knowing what would happen, all Frank wanted was to bring back Zoe. The concept for this story was not new; there have been various movies that dealt with bringing someone back from the dead. I thought it would be interesting to use love for the main character’s motivation. The cast worked well together which also included Evan Peters (American Horror Story-TV, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Clay and Sarah Bolger (In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles) as Eva. Unfortunately the only horror about this film was sitting and watching it. I was completely bored due to the poorly written script, the lack of anything original and the utter absence of suspense. For being classified as a thriller and horror movie, neither took place. The ending was written in such a way that there could be a sequel which would be a very scary thing. I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this picture and finding something they could relate to, let alone being entertained. The heart of this film needs a “do not resuscitate” order placed on it. There were scenes that had blood in them.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Stalingrad

Situated in the middle of a city block sat an empty lot, where a six story apartment building used to stand. A developer bought the land and knocked the building down so he could construct a bigger building, but when the economy soured he went bankrupt. All that remained on the lot was gravel and pieces of broken cement that looked like they were once part of a cliff that had been weathered away by the wind. A chain-link fence surrounding the property was now dull with rust that had stained the ground like ruined brown mascara off of a crying face. There was nothing to see in the rubble at first glance; however, if you closely peered at one of the larger cement boulders towards the left side, a single small flower had broken through a crack, releasing a bloom shaded in midnight blue with white star like flecks. It was extraordinary to look at and amazing it could live among the ruins. Finding beauty in a hostile environment was the hook in this dramatic World War II movie about an epic battle in history. A small group of Russian soldiers were holed up in a strategic apartment building, trying to defend it from Nazi troops led by Captain Kan, played by Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted, King Kong). As the two sides fought for control of the building Katya and Masha, played by Mariya Smolnikova (The Daughter) and Yanina Studilina (Yasnovidyashchaya), found their lives going down different paths among the horrors around them. The opening scenes in this action film were unbelievable and frightening at the same time. The production values were quite good in both outdoor and indoor scenes. I do not know how accurate the story was compared to the actual battle; but the writers had ample help to create a historic, dramatic story. Unfortunately it was a big letdown for me because the acting and the script collapsed in the scenes. There were some scenes that really were tough to watch but I sat in my seat without much reaction. From such a boffo opening this movie seemed to slide down into disrepair. I am afraid the beauty I thought I saw in this film turned out to be a mirage. The languages spoken were Russian and German with English subtitles. There were scenes that had blood and violence in them.

 

2 stars

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