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Flash Movie Review: Beyond the Lights

There are people among us pretending they are somebody else due to embarrassment or envy. They want nothing to do with individuals who know their history. Within this group you find folk who were guided into taking on a different persona by a parent or mentor. I knew a few people who transformed themselves into someone different. There was one man who grew up in my neighborhood who went to the same schools I did, bought food from the same local grocery and drug stores and even participated in the same summer camp program. However, it apparently was not enough for him. Out of nowhere he started talking with an accent as if he had spent sufficient time in a foreign country and took on their language. He stopped shopping in the neighborhood and began buying only designer clothing. I never understood the change in him but he never wavered from his new veneer. Within my circle of friends I had a friend who had a mother that acted in a couple of television commercials. She was quite the dramatic character and always pushed her daughter towards acting, even though her daughter had no desire to do it. My friend was constantly being dragged either to auditions or fittings for some, what I thought at least, unusual looking clothing. Thinking about them now, I can only imagine how much energy must have been devoted towards maintaining their transformations.    UNCOMFORTABLE and despondent emerging pop star Noni, played by Gugu Mbatha Raw (Belle, Larry Crowne); found herself sitting on the edge of the balcony outside her penthouse suite. Driven by her mother Macy Jean, played by Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, Barney’s Version), Noni felt she had no other way out until police officer Kaz Nicol, played by Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails), tried talking her off the ledge. This film festival nominated drama was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball). Having first becoming aware of Gugu in the film Belle, I thought she did an admirable job of acting for this role. There was an easy chemistry between her and Nate. Including Danny Glover (The Color Purple, 2012) as Captain Nicol, I thought everyone’s acting was quite good overall. The script had its moments of real raw emotion that the actors were able to accentuate. Unfortunately the story did not offer any surprises; it was predictable for the most part. There was a familiarity to this film which I realized had to do with it having a similar story to the movie The Bodyguard. Starting out strong, I wished this picture would have stayed more unique and not try to be something else.

 

2 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Take

One’s actions, whether they choose to take responsibility or not, always come with a reaction or consequence. I try my hardest to take responsibility for my behavior. There have been times when I was not aware I was causing a person distress. On the other hand, at times I knew exactly what I was doing; not saying it was right or wrong, just going with the moment. It was a pleasant surprise watching this small, independent film. Small in budget, but not in star power. I found this dramatic movie put a different twist on the idea of a person being accountable. The story was about two strangers and how each of their actions led them to one common tragedy and its aftermath. Ana Nicholas, played by Minnie Driver (The Phantom of the Opera, Good Will Hunting) was a mother being told her son needed to be in a better equipped school, to handle his special needs. Minnie was exceptional in the role; I could feel her emotional exhaustion as she struggled to keep everything in control. Saul Gregor, played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy), was becoming more and more desperate to find the money to pay back a loan, before bodily harm befell him. It was a treat to see Jeremy in this role, that was filmed before he did The Hurt Locker. One could see what a fine actor he already was becoming before hitting the big time. I found him to be powerful in an ever increasing powerless situation; the anxious desperation oozed out of him. The filming was unique, taking me a few minutes to get into its unusual pacing. Scenes and their story lines alternated between the two characters, with a mixture of colorless starkness and soft edges. This film festival winner was a treat for me. The final message really hit home on how we can be a better person when we take responsibility.

 

2 3/4 stars — DVD

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