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Flash Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why I should pay to have a cable repair person come out to replace the defective cable box the cable company shipped me. Customer service told me they could send me a new box and I could install it, saving the cost of a service call. If I had dropped, kicked or broken the box I would better understand the fee structure; however, they installed the box and after several weeks the box started to freeze up periodically. I would have to unplug it and count to ten before plugging it back in so it would reset itself. It is so annoying especially when it freezes up and does not record the programs I scheduled. It is annoyances like this that can drive me crazy. Even when I had my recent medical episode all I wanted medical staff to do was their job and follow through on their promises.     IMAGINE TALKING TO THE nurse about your test results and she says she will call the test facility for more information per my request. She tells me she will call me the next day. After not hearing from her most of the next day I contact her late in the afternoon only for her to hear my voice and say she had my file right on her desk and she forgot to call the facility. I sit there and listen to her rattle off all the things she had to do during the day, less the one thing she promised to do for me. Are you kidding me? I do not know about you but if I do not do my job or at least follow through with what I tell someone it reflects on my performance review. How is it that I and my fellow employees are held accountable for our job duties but I see more and more workers’ lack of care or concern for their job responsibilities not being addressed by their employers? It can be so frustrating which is why I could totally sympathize with the grieving mother in this dark dramatic comedy.     MONTHS HAVE GONE BY without any inkling of the police finding Mildred’s, played by Frances McDormand (Promised Land, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), daughter’s killer. Fed up Mildred decides to let everyone know what she thinks about the investigation. This film festival winning crime movie also starred Woody Harrelson (War for the Planet of the Apes, LBJ) as Chief of Police William Willoughby, Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Officer Dixon, Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea) as Robbie and Abbie Cornish (Geostorm, Sucker Punch) as Anne. Hands down Frances deserves a nomination this Oscar season for her unbelievable acting in this role. I know it is a cliché but she was a force of nature; I could not take my eyes off of her. She must have relished the twisted script with all the opportunities to embellish her character. I enjoyed the rest of the cast almost as much but felt Abbie’s role was minor. The one complaint I had about the script was the story arc for Officer Dixon; his development from the 1st to 2nd half of the film did not ring true to me. Honestly I felt the last part of the script quickly tidied up the events and the viewers were left somewhat hanging. Despite these few issues I still was swept up into Mildred’s plight and to tell you the truth, secretly wished I could act out like her whenever I encounter someone not doing their job.

 

3 ½ stars  

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Mother

TWO mothers who do not know each other yet both dress consistently in an inappropriate way. One rarely showed up for school events for her child like concerts, bake sales or PTA meetings. These were things she was not interested in doing. However when she was out and about doing her errands or meeting friends for lunch, often she would walk or drive by the school. Her blouses were never buttoned all the way up and many times the material of them would be sheer. During the warmer months her standard form of dress would be a pair of shorts that barely extended down her thighs. It was not surprising to see the students in the playground stopping their games to gawk at this adult who dressed in such a young way, at least through their eyes. Her child was constantly being embarrassed by all of it.   THE other mother was the opposite when it came to her child’s school functions. She volunteered for every activity whether it was chaperoning a field trip to a museum or helping in a food drive for charity. Her clothing never fit properly across her large girth. Go-go boots with high heels and hot pants was one of her standard outfits. Where the first mother had very little interaction with any students, including her child’s friends; this mother treated everyone in the student body as her best friend. The other parents would react with a mixture of envy, jealousy and disgust. On the one hand there were parents who wished their own kids would react to them like they did to her. She was considered a fun parent; animated with the use of her hands to talk besides exaggerated facial expressions, her makeup was always heavy and thick which only accentuated the different looks she could make with her face. Many times her child would sit there in embarrassment. From extreme to extreme this film festival winning movie takes you into the world of another type of mother.     WHEN she found out her mentally challenged son Yoon Do-joon, played by Bin Won (The Man from Nowhere, Guns & Talk), was arrested for murder; this mother, played by Hye-ja Kim (How to Steal a Dog, Mayonnaise), was determined to find out the truth for herself, not what the police had decided. This crime mystery also starring Ku Jin (The Admiral, A Dirty Carnival) as Jin-tae and Je-mun Yun (The Good The Bad The Weird, The Host) as Je-moon was written and directed by Joon-ho Bong (Snowpiercer, The Host). I found the dramatic story alluring as it drew me into it. The actress who portrayed the mother did an excellent job of acting; I could feel her pain and emotions. The idea for the story was excellent since it immediately introduced this sympathetic character who was charged with a heinous crime. There were however a couple of characters who came off cartoonish which rang false for me, but I did wonder if this was due to a cultural difference in perceptions. I was taken aback by the twists in this DVD; what an interesting series of events. They say never mess around with a protective Mama Bear (mother) and this film proves that right. The Korean language was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars — DVD    

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Exposed

“Use it or lose it” is one of my favorite things to say to people. In my fitness classes the members have been listening to me say this for years. If we stop working on ourselves how will we continue to move and grow, both physically and mentally? From my experiences I know some individuals have an easier time training their body instead of their mind and visa versa. I actually find it is easier to train my body, which is why I work extra hard on using my mind. To me the mind is like any other muscle in the body and it needs to be stimulated so it can continue to thrive and expand. Without going into too much detail my mind was tested at a very young age; you could say trial by fire. Growing up and being overweight, I heard the “F” word a lot to describe my size. I do not remember when it actually started to work but there came a point where I stopped listening to the taunts. Yes, I still would hear it but my mind would not register it. This explains why today I am skilled in being able to shut out different noises and sounds. Where a co-worker may get distracted with an annoying repetitive sound coming out from the warehouse, my mind only hears white noise, if even that. This ability is not limited to just sounds; if the mind is strong enough it can shield a person from certain parts of reality. It has served me well. I see I am not the only one now that I have seen this dramatic movie.    WHEN his partner was found dead Detective Galban, played by Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix franchise), was determined to find the killer. With the trail of clues not adding up and no one claiming to have seen anything, Detective Galban was positive there had to be someone out in the city who could provide him with the answers. This film which also had Mira Sorvino (The Replacement Killers, Mimic) as Janine Cullen and Ana de Armas (Sex, Party and Lies; The Boarding School-TV) as Isabel de la Cruz had a film noir flavor to it at first. I thought Ana was a compelling actress and found her role the most interesting. In a short amount of time the story broke down and became a jumble of sub-stories. From its film noir look it started to become a surreal fantasy type of story before trying to be more like a true detective story. I kept waiting for something to happen as the script randomly offered these little pieces of information that were not tying up the scenes; I started to wonder what was the point the writers were trying  to convey to the viewers. Also, I have to say Keanu was more stiff than usual in this role. One could blame it all on the editing, the writing, the direction or all of the above; it does not matter. As I type the last word to my review I will forget about this discombobulated piece of work.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Secret in Their Eyes

The word “determination” not only has assertive connotations associated with it, it even sounds strong. The dictionary defines determination as a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult. Just last night after coming home from shopping at a couple of retail establishments I discovered my charge card was missing. I mentally retraced my steps from the stores, to the car, to home, to sweeping the sidewalks of fallen leaves, to entering the house and hanging up my coat. When I later went back to my coat to retrieve the charge card, I checked all the pockets even though I was sure I had put it in the outside pocket of my sleeve which I had already found open and empty. Taking a flashlight I went outside and started to scan the sidewalks, only to find no trace. The pile of leaves that I swept into the street was approximately 7 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high. Everyone sweeps their leaves into the street where the city comes and picks them up. In the dark, in the cold I started to investigate the mound of dead leaves as I slowly followed the flashlight’s beam of light. Carefully moving leaves aside as if I was an archaeologist, I intently looked for any sign of my card. After 30 minutes freezing in the cold with an aching back from stooping over, my eyes caught the sight of a tiny sliver of blue color barely peeking out between two overlapping leaves. I could not believe I actually found my charge card within all those leaves; my determination paid off. Determination can be a powerful motivator as you can see in this mystery thriller.    INVESTIGATING a crime scene partners Ray and Jess, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Martian) and Julia Roberts (Eat Pray Love, Closer), discovered the victim was Jess’ daughter. Ray would make it his mission to bring the killer to justice; it was the least he could do for Jess. This film was a remake of the Oscar winner from Argentina. The cast, including Nicole Kidman (Paddington, Before I Go to Sleep) as Claire, was pretty top-notch. Unfortunately they were totally wasted in this dreadful production. The story kept jumping back and forth in time to the point where it was annoying me. I never felt a connection to the characters simply because the script was so dull. Sure the actors did their best and I actually wanted to be interested in their characters; however, I disliked the minimum amount of time spent with them in each scene. The story dragged for me and I never quite understood what motivated Ray so much. In addition I thought the story line between Ray and Claire was unnecessary. If I was not determined to see and review so many movies I would have taken a pass on this one.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Child 44

Pride means you have a respect for yourself, a sense of happiness when you know you have done something good. There is another form of pride known as false pride. I find this version to be showy or more of a facade. The term “keep up appearances” comes to mind. Some years ago I taught aerobics in a small aerobic studio. The space had this old dark carpeting for the fitness floor and I had to stand on a makeshift wooden stage that was no more than 6 feet wide. We were situated above a clothing store on a busy commercial street. It was my job to be welcoming and upbeat even if there was no hot water or air conditioning. I could deal with stuff like that; however, I had a hard time working for someone who claimed to be a fitness professional but would use illegal drugs in their office. It was such a contradiction; all of the profits were going to their drug habit. I needed the job so I kept quiet, only coming in to teach my classes then leave quickly. After a while the situation began to weigh me further down; it was hard to put on this false front of a gung-ho, cheerful instructor knowing that there may not be enough money to cover my paycheck. Luckily I was able to find another job and resigned from the place. At least I was able to do it, but what about those individuals who have no choice?    THERE are no murderers in paradise; at least that was what people were led to believe during the 1950s in the Soviet Union. But after Leo Demidov, played by Tom Hardy (Inception, Lawless), had to read the death notice to his close friend about his son; Leo knew something was not right. This dramatic thriller had a stellar class that really made this picture. Along with Tom there was Noomi Rapace (The Drop, Prometheus) as Raisa Demidov, Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight franchise, Harry Potter franchise) as General Mikhail Nesterov and Joel Kinnaman (Run All Night, RoboCop) as Vasili. This film had an oppressive darkness hanging down on it thanks to the cinematography and sets. I enjoyed all of this so much which makes me sad to say the script was the weak link. The story was ponderous with a few slow passages. As I sat through this movie I felt like there were all these cool puzzle pieces but they were not all fitting together. It seemed to me that there were too many story lines which made this film longer than it needed to be. All I can say is this film had a good front but once you got into it you realized it was not as good as it looked. Brief scenes of violence and blood.

 

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: True Story

They were the perfect guests for dinner. Always on time, trustworthy and filled with noteworthy stories each time they appeared; many of us had the same nightly guests for supper. They were the newscasters who showed up every day at the dinner hour when our televisions were turned on. I am referring to those TV news anchors when I was growing up. Back then they were sometimes considered family members; they would explain current issues in a way that was unbiased and unfettered. There was no hidden agenda or slanted placement to the presentation of the stories. The same could be said about reporters for the newspapers. That was the beauty of the news during those times; one could get the same story whether it was done verbally or visually. I remember the newspapers being so much thicker than they are now, besides fewer ads then. There were some reporters who had their own weekly or daily columns where they would take a topic, cut it up and spoon feed it to us, the readers. I still hold on to those feelings I had years ago every time I hold a newspaper in my hands. However things are not the same; I do not have the same level of trust anymore. It seems to me the news is based now on getting ratings; the more sensational the story, the higher draw of viewers. In addition, with a majority of media outlets now owned by large corporations I get the feeling there is a hidden agenda to their actions. It is harder to figure out what is really true these days.    BEING released from the New York Times due to a falsified story reporter Michael Finkel, played by Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Sitter), became an untouchable in the news world. Finding a job seemed like an impossible task until murder suspect Christian Longo, played by James Franco (The Interview, Palo Alto), was taken into custody claiming he was Michael Finkel. Based on actual events this dramatic mystery seemed to have all the elements for making a thrilling picture. I liked the cast which included Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, The Theory of Everything) as Jill Barker; however, I only found James to be the most believable. The script was overdone, plodding along to the point where I was bored through portions of the movie. It was too bad because I rather enjoyed the camera work with its variety of close-ups and uncluttered scenes. The beginning of the film was stronger; I kept losing interest as time went on. Though the story had an interesting base, I just could not get into it. I felt the same way about this film as I do about the news; I did not buy into everything I was being shown.

 

2 stars  

https://youtu.be/EkZVLBz4L1s  

Flash Movie Review: The Voices

I did not learn about the concept of “having a conscience” until I saw a cartoon where an angel was sitting on the left shoulder and a devil on the right one of a talking duck. The two were whispering back and forth into the duck’s ear, telling the animal what it should do. I was confused though I laughed at the imagery appearing above them anytime they spoke. After asking many questions with a multitude of examples I started to understand what it meant to have a conscience. Throughout the years I have seen more than my share of individuals who must have listened to their conscience’s negative thoughts. I know I am not alone in this regard; simply watching the newscasts, one can see people from all over the world who act out from the darkness inside of them. Now do not get me wrong, I am certainly no angel and a few of my friends can tell you about times where my dark side took over. When a driver cuts me off you better believe I may imagine I’m ramming their car with mine or they run out of gas or maybe their car’s engine dies, forcing them to use the barrier wall to stop their vehicle. However, that is as far as it goes, it is a fantasy. I may hear my dark side telling me what to do but I never act on it. And that is the difference; what makes some people act out their dark side?    RYAN Reynolds (Buried, Safe House) played Jerry, an affable factory worker who found himself attracted to coworker Fiona, played by Gemma Arterton (Unfinished Song, Quantum of Solace). However, Jerry’s talking pets kept telling him to kill her. This film festival winning crime thriller was a real dark comedy. I thought Ryan was excellent in this role, playing this kind and friendly fellow who had a dark side. The cast was so much fun, which also included Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods, Cake) as Lisa and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook) as Dr. Warren. Let me add the talking pets had some wicked fun lines. The set pieces really helped this comedy with Jerry working at a bathtub factory and living above a bowling alley. There were some scenes that seemed familiar to me as if I had already seen them in other movies and at one point I was not sure if the director was purposely trying to create some campiness or it was part of the script. Either way I was surprised I enjoyed this film despite the violence and bloodshed. I think you will remain with happy thoughts after viewing this film instead of listening to your dark side.

 

2 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Taken 3

I am always available to hear a good story from someone. There is an art to telling a story. Essential components would be an attention grabbing opening, buildup on an emotional level, personal connection and a solid conclusion. If the story is a humorous one then there needs to be a good punchline. Unfortunately there are some people who should never tell a story. I know, I know; I feel bad for even saying that but if you listened to this person I know tell a story, you would see how they can suck the life out of any tale. The thing that is frustrating to me is their topics are actually interesting or funny. However, they not only have to explain every detail, they get hung up on trying to think of a perfect word to convey an action. You would be standing there shifting your weight from one foot to the other as they tried to think of the word they wanted to use, letting the momentum of their story fade to a crawl. By the end of the story, after they repeated several parts and explained the obvious parts to death, all you wanted to do was run away from them. This is how I felt as I sat through this 3rd film of the movie franchise.    ACCUSED of a murder he did not commit Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Non-Stop), became a wanted man. He would need his special skills to stay one step ahead of the authorities while he tried to figure out who was the murderer. Let me first say I totally appreciated the fact that Liam was keeping the aging action hero genre alive; I had no qualms with him or his performance. However, this story did not offer anything new for me. With the uneven directing I found the film editing absolutely annoying. I could not figure out who was throwing what punches because the scenes were horribly choppy. Besides returning characters Lenore St. John, played by Franke Janssen (X-Men franchise, The Chameleon) and Kim Mills, played by Maggie Grace (Lockout, Lost-TV); the addition of Franck Dotzier, played by Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Phone Booth) was a good choice. I only wished there had been more screen time between him and Liam. As for the plot I found it quite weak which only added to the messiness of this film. If one is in the mood for a good crime film, this one was not as exciting as the first one. The only thing I felt was taken during this movie was my time and money; I cannot recommend listening to this lame story. There were violent scenes with blood.

 

1 2/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Horns

Just imagine if everyone would express exactly what they felt or thought. I would be more comfortable hearing the truth instead of some flimsy throwaway type of phrase. How would you react to the 2 following comments: “Why did you cut your hair to look like that?” or “I miss the way your hair outlines your face now that you cut your hair.” I have to admit I do find amusement in people’s comments sometimes; especially those folks who are passive aggressive. An example would be someone I had not seen in a long time coming up to me to say they haven’t heard from me, they missed me. When they say that to me I ask them why then didn’t they just pickup the phone and call me. Let me ask you, how many times have you gone on a date when the person tells you what a good time they had meeting you and will call you later in the week to set up another date? You do not hear from them so you call and leave them a message. And guess what, they still do not call. I do not get it; I wish they would just say they are not interested or they don’t think we make a good fit. Heck, they can say they don’t like my looks; I am not going to take it personally because they barely know me. People can be so funny at times.    WITH everyone believing he murdered his girlfriend Merrin Williams, played by Juno Temple (Killer Joe, Afternoon Delight); Ig Perrish, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings), would now have to face the townsfolk with the unusual horns that had mysteriously sprouted up on his head. He soon discovered the horns had a strange effect on people. Based on the best-selling book, this dramatic fantasy had a bizarre premiss as a story line. However, I was game since I have been intrigued with Daniel’s movie role choices recently. He did not disappoint me in this picture, carrying it off quite nicely as a matter of fact. Actually I thought the whole cast worked well together including Max Minghella (The Ides of March, The Social Network) as Lee Tourneau. Where this film lost me was the script; it tried to do too much, not sure if it wanted to be a drama, fantasy, mystery or horror film. There were some scenes that worked well thanks to the actors; but then other times things would just go flat. One other thing to mention, I believe the idea for this story had been done a couple of times before. Just as I like my conversations to state the bottom line, so do I wish my movies would do the same thing in what they are trying to tell me.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

It was a time where the words “please” and “thank you” were freely given in a sentence. Kind gestures were evident everywhere we went throughout the building. With passports in hand, a group of us went out of the country for a convention being held in a regal old hotel. Wide and majestic with its granite facade and elongated windows, the hotel had several flags waving above the doorway as if they were greeting every hotel guest. Inside the floor was fitted with a combination of huddled polished gold edged tiles that looked like reflective pools surrounded by the plush, deep red carpeting that swallowed up noises from everyone’s shoes. The lobby had an ample crystal chandelier that cast just enough light to make the room glow as if the sun was setting behind the woven tapestry that hung across the far western wall. For the duration of the convention no matter how loud or rowdy the guests became, the hotel staff never once judged or showed a disapproving face. It was when the Grand Budapest Hotel first appeared on the movie screen in this comedic drama that I recalled my memory of that trip. The difference between the two hotels was that mine sat in the heart of a large city and it did not have a murder occur within its walls. From writer and director Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom), this visually stimulating film grabbed me from the very beginning. No need to worry if visuals are not your cup of tea because the story had a creative zaniness that was elevated by the fine acting from the cast. Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, Skyfall) was outstanding as the famous hotel concierge Gustave H. Adrien Brody (The Pianist, Cadillac Records) as Dmitri, Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnance, The Walker) as Jopling and relative newcomer Tony Revolori (The Perfect Game) as Zero Moustafa were only part of the wonderful cast that Wes assembled for this fun film. The story was a story within a story that was easy to follow. When a wealthy guest of the hotel was found murdered, the authorities believed Gustave H was to blame. What took place after were a series of screwball chases and plot twists that hearkened back to the madcap comedy movies made in the 1930s and 40s. Each scene had its own unique individualized detailing where I felt I was looking through a series of paintings. If you are not a fan of Wes Anderson, I think the cast could still win you over.  As far as I was concerned I was willing to book a room at the hotel in this film festival winner.

 

3 2/3 stars

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