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Flash Movie Review: The Black Phone

LIKE MANY OTHERS, I TOO SUCCUMBED to the allure of the recent lottery buzz. I find it one of the cheapest fantasies, simply with a two-dollar purchase price. There was so much coverage in the newspapers, television broadcasts and online news sources about it being one of the largest pots in lottery history, that I wanted to be part of the craze. After I made my purchase, I kept fantasizing about what I would do with the winnings. Surprisingly for that much money I did not have that much on my wealthy life to do list. The first thing I decided I would do is to buy a car, despite financial columnists saying now is not a good time. Next, I would buy a home in a warm climate; a place I could go to during the winter months. There is not that much I want or desire after that except to travel. So, with my $2.00 lottery ticket in hand, I joined everyone else who was hoping their ticket would be the winner. The suspense, and it was a good suspense, was building up as the drawing neared; I was all into my fantasies. By the time of the drawing, the suspense was overwhelming because of my mind being filled with imaginary houses on the market for me to peruse.      SADLY, THE NUMBERS I WAS READING from the lottery site were not on my ticket. My dreams shattered, just like that. There would be no new car or new home, oh well. As far as I was concerned it was still a wonderful week of suspenseful fun. There are different forms of suspense, and I would partake with this kind any day. It certainly is better than the suspense one experiences before going under for surgery or the kind associated with what one hopes will be the delivery of a healthy baby. I believe each of us has experienced a form of suspense. The suspenseful anticipation of waiting for a loved one to come out on stage for a performance or the suspense one endures during a live auction; I feel they all are valid forms. As most of you know, horror films are not the first on my list to attend. I prefer the kind of horror that has suspense and is psychological. When I first saw the movie poster for this film, I was curious because the face reminded me of an old film that I enjoyed, where the main character had a similar mask. Deciding to see it, hoping it was not going to be gruesome, I cannot tell you how surprised I was watching it.      YOUNG CHILDREN ARE GOING MISSING AND the police have very few leads. The latest victim wakes up in an empty room with a disconnected phone that still rings. Should he answer it? With Mason Thames (Walker-TV, For All Mankind-TV) as Finney, Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Outcast-TV) as Gwen, Ethan Hawke (The Northman, The Kid) as the Grabber, Jeremy Davies (Twister, Saving Private Ryan) as Terrence and E. Roger Mitchell (Favorite Son, The 5th Wave) as Detective Wright; this film checked off all my boxes for pure entertainment. I thought Mason and Madeleine were wonderful. Part horror, part mystery and part fantasy; the suspense level was steady and consistent due to a smart script. Aiding the suspense level was this constant sense of dread that the director expertly managed. Ethan was as good as the other cast members, but I felt his character could have been darker. I was relieved there were only a couple of short, bloody scenes with violence. During the ending credits, I sat in my chair and thought if there was any other movie this year that moved me as much as this one. None came to mind, but I certainly will not forget how much I enjoyed watching this one.

3 1/3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Toy Story 4

THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them.      IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise.      WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars        

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