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Flash Movie Review: What’s Love Got to Do with It

NOT AS EXTREME AS DOCTOR JEKYLL and Mr. Hyde, but I was seeing a completely different side to my friend when I paid a visit to him at his office. He was a sweet and kind individual whose personality leaned more towards the passive side. Easy going, who let others make all the decisions; he was most uncomfortable when confronted with conflict. I knew he had a managerial position at his company, but I had no idea how high he was in the pecking order. When I arrived at his company a security guard had to check me in and call my friend’s office. A secretary was dispatched to escort me to his office. Who was this person I was visiting? Arriving at his office or to describe it better, his suite of offices; I was stunned to see him in such a setting. I would have never guessed he would be sitting in what appeared to be an authoritative position. While there he had to take a couple of phone calls and receive several visits from various employees under his jurisdiction. His staff was in the hundreds I found out; this was something I simply could not comprehend. He could not voice an opinion on what restaurant we should go to for a dinner, but he was sitting here acting powerful and decisive. It was such a dichotomy, like I was seeing two different people.      I HAVE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE to see Tina Turner perform not once, but three times in concert. Her concerts rank in the top three of my favorite performances. One of the reasons why is because she sang live which is quite important to me. Going to see a musical artist lip synch their songs in concert is a waste of money for me; I could stay home and listen to their albums. Another reason I loved her concerts is because she was exciting to watch on stage. The only way I can describe it is by saying she was like a predator stalking the stage. She would cover the entire stage, whether alone or with her backup dancers. Clocking in well over 2 hours, the only time she was off stage was to change her outfit; but then she was right back at center stage, always in high heeled shoes. You knew she was pouring everything she had into her performances because I am not exaggerating when I tell you at the end of the show, she was drenched with sweat. From where I was seated, I could see it dripping off her face; she was a musical beast. How in the world did she cover up the life she was leading when she was not on stage? This dramatic musical biography will explain it.      ON STAGE SHE WAS TINA TURNER, but offstage she was Anna Mae Bullock and she was having a rough time. With Angela Bassett (Black Panther, Strange Days) as Tina Turner, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Ike Turner, RaeVen Kelly (A Time to Kill, Preacher’s Kid) as young Anna Mae, Jennifer Lewis (The Preacher’s Wife, Think Like a Man franchise) as Zelma Bullock and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (Malcolm X, New Jack City) as Alline Bullock; I can emphatically say Angela was Tina in this film festival winner. She was incredible with her acting skills in portraying Tina. Not to be outdone, I must hand it to Laurence because he was equally amazing in the way he portrayed Ike. Just like Tina, both actors commanded the viewers attention as they delivered the script in their own special way. The story is unbelievable; however, the script could have been tweaked a bit to let the cast dig deeper into their characters. If you are a fan of their music, then you will especially enjoy watching the musical scenes of classic songs. What a life Tina has led and with the concerts I have seen of hers, I can add the watching of this film as a special treat.

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Sound of Metal

IF IT WASN’T FOR MY ECLECTIC taste in music, I would surely be deaf now. In my younger days I could be found at some type of concert almost every week. From small nightclub venues to large indoor stadiums, I was spending a good portion of my paycheck on music concerts. I will say, I have been fortunate to have seen some classic and memorable musical performances. For example, I saw Freddie Mercury and Queen a couple of times; Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Jane Oliver, Black Sabbath, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Many of the concerts were held in an older 18,000 seat stadium, with the last rows up close to the rafters. I remember the buzz of energy sparking through the massive crowd of people who were piling into their seats. There would be these massive speakers stacked up on both ends of the stage, along with speakers that hung down from the roof. With some bands, the music was so loud coming through the speakers that the sound would reverberate in my chest. My ears would be ringing, but I would not notice it until the concert ended. There was one concert that left me with a ringing in my ears until the middle of the following day. Back then I did not give much thought to my ears and in fact, took the ringing as a sign that it was a good concert. How dumb of me.     WHAT MADE ME REALIZE THE DAMAGE I was doing to my ears was my first flight to Mexico. I went with a friend and the night before I came down with a head cold. Since it was just some congestion without a cough or fever, I did not give it much thought. However, when the plane was descending, my ears felt like a knife was plunging into my eardrums because of my clogged sinuses; I was in excruciating pain. By the time we landed, I could not hear a thing. My friend had to take the lead on everything for the next two days. If I hadn’t been so freaked out by it, I would have had a better time and just relaxed with the quiet. The only way I could communicate was either by writing a note or doing a solo form of charades. The day I got my hearing back started out with me hearing a crackling noise every time I swallowed. It was similar sounding to the turning of a radio dial, filled with static and buzzing. As soon as I was able to once again hear the spoken word, I vowed never to fly with a cold again and always put ear plugs in my ears before a concert. It was tough watching the main character in this musical drama at first because it brought back such memories for me.      PANIC BEGAN TO SET IN AS Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), started to lose his hearing. To make matters worse, his profession was accelerating the pace. With Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds) as Lou, Paul Raci (Smoothtalker, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) as Joe, Lauren Ridloff (If You could Hear my Own Tune, The Walking Dead-TV) as Diane and Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as Richard Berger; this film festival winner had a simple but emotionally filled script. The way scenes played into each other with the incredible use of sound to connect them was impressive. Riz was outstanding with his character; the internal and external battles he experienced were equally intense which added to the connection the story was making with the viewer. I hope he gets a nomination this awards season. This was a wonderful film that was filled with depth and poignancy. I think it also provides an accurate picture of those with a hearing loss.

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

IT FELT GOOD TO BE NEEDED and I felt the same about them. We had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party; by the time I had to leave, we agreed to meet for dinner later in the week. Over that first meal we discovered things we had in common, including their best friend was married to a cousin of mine. It was things like this that sparked our attraction for each other. Now here is a little secret; the entire time we were together, I felt as if I was dating out of my league. In the very beginning of our relationship I would question, or 2ndguess myself because I could not believe how well things were going. Listening to them talk about their circle of friends/business contacts used to make me feel uncomfortable because they sounded so sophisticated or important. It eventually passed because we were settling into a comfortable, loving place. Though, I never pushed to be introduced to their friends; I thought in good time they would get comfortable to bring me around them. I never questioned it because I was taking a slow pace in introducing them to my friends and family. Looking back now, I should have questioned it.      THERE WAS NO WARNING, NOT EVEN an indication, when they told me our relationship was no longer working for them. The only way I could describe how I was feeling was shellshocked. Seriously, I felt as if everything was going along wonderfully; we never even had a disagreement about anything. I tried to get more input about what was not working, but all I was getting was the same “not working” excuse. I must tell you breaking up is harder to deal with when you do not get an explanation or feedback you can process and possibly see things through the other person’s eyes. I mean, if there is something I did that caused this unfortunate turn of the relationship, I certainly would like to know about it; so, I could look and maybe grow from it. All I had to do it turned out was wait one week and I got my answer. The mutual friend we had called and told me that my ex was already dating someone else. Wow, that did not take long. I guess my feeling needed was correct; however, it was for the wrong reasons. They were using me until they found someone who better fit their needs and wants, I guess. I know some people who get into a relationship, know right from the start where they stand with the other person. I do not know if that would make me feel any better about the relationship; it seems like that could be the start of a love/hate relationship. In this musical drama, you can see what I am talking about.      BOTH THE RECORD PRODUCER AND MANAGER knew what type of record they wanted to make. What they did not know was the singer had her own ideas. With Viola Davis (Fences, Widows) as Ma Rainey, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 21 Bridges) as Levee, Colman Domingo (Lincoln, Selma) as Cutler, Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara) as Toledo and Jeremy Shamos (The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight); this film festival winner hit the right chord with Viola and Chadwick playing off of each other. They both provided powerful performances that carried this story all the way to the end. I had a hard time, at first, getting into this story. There were some flat scenes that did nothing for me. I could see where they might have been more intense on the stage; however, they did not translate well to the big screen. On the other hand, there were some intense attention-grabbing scenes that made me want to watch more. I could see Chadwick and Viola getting nominations during this year’s awards season and if that was the reason the movie studio used them to make money off this film, I am sure the actors were quite aware of it.     

3 stars    

Flash Movie Trailer: I Am Woman

NOT ONLY WAS IT INFORMATIVE, IT was also a fun lecture. I know, how many times do you get to have a good time while sitting through a lecture? In this case, it really was an enjoyable time; all because of the lecturer. I was attending a fitness convention and was lucky enough to get a space in the lecture before it became filled. The lecturer was well known in the industry and I had heard his lectures were in high demand. Anyone I spoke with who had attended one of his lectures, raved about him. Everything they said about him I found true while sitting through his lecture. He talked about addictive personalities and how to spot them in our classes. Despite the serious topic, he had a special way of injecting humor; and for lack of a better word, his lust for life, into his talking points. At times, he was giving out so much good information that I had a hard time keeping up with it in my notes. Included in the lecture was a workshop where he led us in some specific exercises related to the topic. I have to say he was a dynamic instructor who used an abundance of visual and audio cues in his instructions. And just like he injected his type of humor into his lecture, he doubled the amount in his workshop. By the time the session was over it was hard not to be a believer in his philosophy.     THE FOLLOWING DAY I WAS SITTING in the hotel’s coffee shop when that same presenter walked in. As he came near me, I caught his eye and nodded my head. He nodded back and came over. I told him how much I enjoyed his lecture the day before and offered him a seat, if he cared to join me. Sitting down, we started talking about our experiences at the convention; I was curious to hear things from a presenter’s point of view. A waitress came over to see if he wanted to order something and without looking at the menu, he ordered a couple of desserts. To say I was surprised would have been an understatement. Here he had just been talking about addictive personalities yesterday and now he was having 2 desserts for lunch? A little warning flag popped up in my mind. We continued with our conversation, but I noticed he was talking at the same rapid-fire rate as he had done during his lecture. I assumed on a one to one basis he would have toned himself down. Something was starting to feel odd about him. When the waitress brought over his desserts, I knew something was not right because he tore thru the desserts like they were his first meal in a week. By the time he left, I was convinced he was either addicted to sugar or he was high on something; it made no sense based on everything he said during his lecture. Here people were flocking to his classes to receive his words of wisdom, yet not knowing trouble was bubbling up behind it.      BY WRITING ONE SONG, AUSTRALIAN BORN Helen Reddy, played by Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Hotel Mumbai, One Eyed Girl), became the voice of a feminist movement. Little did anyone know what was happening behind that voice. With Evan Peters (X-Men franchise, American Horror Story-TV) as Jeff Wald, Chris Parnell (Anchorman franchise, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) as Artie Mogull, Danielle Macdonald (Bird Box, Dumplin’) as Lillian Roxon and Matty Cardarople (Jurassic World, Stranger Things-TV) as Roy Meyer; this film festival winner revealed a surprising side to the life of Helen Reddy, at least surprising to me. To present that side, I thought Tilda did an admirable job playing the iconic singer in this musical biography. With the amount of drama and turmoil around Helen’s life, the script needed to be a powerful statement. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There was enough drama to spring from and create some riveting scenes, but the writing fell flat. There was a level of predictability that I expected, but not the amount that was happening here. Gratefully, I was enjoying the musical performances enough to prevent me from becoming bored. If everything that was being shown in this film was true for Helen, then she was even stronger than any of us believed her to be.

2 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Go-Go’s

MY FRIEND INSISTED I WATCH THE video clip because he was sure I would agree with him afterwards. The video was of a musical group that was his new favorite band. I sat alongside him and watched the group perform their song. It had a decent beat and I agreed that the band members’ voices were good as well as the song. When the video clip ended my friend did not give me a chance to say anything before he said he wanted me to listen to another of the band’s songs. He quickly pulled up another clip for me to watch and I did think this song was just as good as the first one I watched. Knowing what he was like, my only concern was my friend would continue showing me clips while talking up the band’s virtues, as if he was trying to sell them to me. Before the video ended, I told him I could see why he was enamored with the group. I then told him I wanted to show him one of my favorite performers and took over his computer. The only reason I did this was to stop him from showing me another video clip; I wanted to get out of the house and do something.      LATER IN THE WEEK I WAS exploring the internet and decided to look up the history of my friend’s favorite musical group. What I found surprised me. The group had a television show, but what shocked me was the fact the members did not know how to play their musical instruments. I saw them playing them in the video; but it turns out they pretended to play the guitars and drums. This reminded me of a scandal about a duo who lip synched their songs. And if I am not mistaken, they even had won an award for their singing that was taken away, once the news about them pretending to sing came out. At least my friend’s group were using their own voices for singing. That is one thing that does not sit well with me; singers who lip synch their songs in concert. I always feel cheated when I go to a concert to see a musical artist who does not sing all their songs live. If I am sitting there listening to a recording, I could have easily done the same thing sitting at home without spending the money for the concert ticket and parking. As far as I could tell, the band in this documentary were always singing live.     STARTING OUT IN LOS ANGELES’ PUNK scene, a group of females formed a band that would make history. Directed by Alison Eastwood (Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time, Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place), this film was the equivalent of a gold record; I not only enjoyed watching the band perform in archival clips, I learned so much about them. Much of the movie focused on the band’s formative years, which I felt shortchanged the following years as the members transformed themselves into a successful, multi-platinum selling band. There were a few scenes that were sad to watch as hard choices were being carried out by various band members. But the thing I appreciated was the honesty that came across from the various film clips and interviews. The director did a wonderful job of keeping the viewer engaged throughout the picture, while still teaching those viewers who might not know much about the band. For myself, I knew the band was a success; however, I did not know about their rightful place in history. From watching this film, I do not know what makes a band great as opposed to a one hit wonder; but I will say after seeing this band in this movie, I would have bought a ticket to see them in concert.

 

3 ½ stars       

Flash Movie Review: The Country Girl

THE CARDBOARD BOX SITTING ON A SHELF in my basement said it was some coffee brand; I do not drink coffee. When I took the box down, I could see a layer of dust that almost looked like gauze fabric was covering the lid. Placing it on the floor, I opened the box and saw crumpled newspaper packed inside. This told me whatever was in this box had come from somewhere else. I began pulling the clumps of newspaper out, but not before looking for a date listed on the paper. The paper was decades old which explained its yellowish hue and fragile state of decomposition. Something deep down in the box reflected a spark of reflected light coming from the bare lightbulb that was hanging down from the ceiling above me. I reached inside, dug my way down, and touched something that was cold and smooth. What in the world had been residing in my basement all these years I wondered? My hand was able to engulf nearly all of the object, but something attached to the surface was blocking my thumb and finger from touching each other. As I pulled this thing out of the box, bunches of crumpled newspaper tumbled to the basement floor like expired carnations. Lifting it up to my face, to be bathed in the glow of the single lightbulb, I held in my hand a silver creamer.     MEMORIES INSIDE OF ME AWAKENED FROM their long slumber. This silver creamer with the black Bakelite handle was from the Art Deco era and I remember it only being used when guests were in the house. I put the creamer down on the ground and returned my hand back into the box because I knew the creamer always had a companion. And sure enough, I found the sugar container that was identical to the creamer except it had 2 handles. The times were so different when this set was sitting out on the dining room table. It was a different era where married couples formed couples club; a once a month get together, where the men played cards and the woman played games using small ceramic tiles. The term “coffee and” was popular; it meant coffee and some kind of dessert item(s) would be served during the evening. The tablecloth was set out; the coffee was brewed and stored in a big fancy percolator; platters of cookies, doughnuts or sweet rolls were placed around the table; and the required frosted cake presided over all the desserts from its lofty pedestal cake stand. There were even ashtrays available that were always accompanied by a book of matches. It was a different era and time, just like it was in this dramatic Academy Award winning film.      DIRECTOR BERNIE DODD, PLAYED BY WILLIAM Holden (Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17), had always admired the work of Frank Elgin, played by Bing Crosby (High Society, Going My Way). Bernie was determined to get Frank to star in his play, but he would have to contend with Frank’s protective wife. With Grace Kelly (Rear Window, To Catch a Thief) as Georgie Elgin, Anthony Ross (The Gunfighter, Suspense-TV) as Philip Cook and Gene Reynolds (Boys Town, Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary) as Larry; this film festival winner came out of a different film era. Personally, I loved the feeling of traveling back in time to experience a Hollywood classic with its famous actors and abundant musical soundtrack. The acting was excellent but did come over a bit outdated or maybe I should say with over the top expressions with little subtlety. I did not mind this over dramatic flair because it was so fascinating watching the actors tell the story that threw the viewer a couple of curveballs.  Images of old Hollywood with actors who were bigger than life; I felt as if I had visited a bygone era by watching this memorable movie.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Her Smell

MOST INDIVIDUALS CONSIDERED HIM THE LIFE of the party and I suppose to the untrained eye he was; however, there was something about him that did not set right with me. If I were asked to describe him in one word, I would have used the word “manic.” When he was “on” there was no off switch; he would remain the focus of attention for the entire night. Whether it was a couple of people or a large party, he was always set to put on a performance. I will say he could be quite funny at times, but sometimes people just wanted to chill out and not be forced to play his fall guy or enthusiastic audience member. I use the word enthusiastic because if you did not play along to his style of humor, he would be quick to pounce on you; of course, in a humorous way just to get more laughs out of the situation. Whenever we were at the same event, I always made sure I was off to the side, somewhere on the edge of his peripheral vision. I discovered if I was not in his direct line of fire, which mostly was everything in front of him, I could get by without being pulled into his show.      THE AMOUNT OF ENERGY HE WOULD expend during his performances was not natural; I was convinced there had to be something fueling him on, because rarely was there anyone who could do such a feat without artificial help. In a period of 2-3 years of his over the top personality, I noticed a change taking place in him. His complexion had drained into paleness and his weight loss had become noticeable. You might recall my philosophy of there being no accidents, there is a reason for everything? I was at the right place at the right time when I made a comment to a close friend of his about the physical differences I had noticed. It was as if I had the key to open up her feelings because she teared up as she told me how concerned she was about her friend. It turned out my suspicions were correct because she said she was certain he was addicted to a street drug. I did not take any pleasure in being right; a coat of sadness enclosed me as I tried to comfort her. She explained she was trying to convince him to seek out help but all he would do is promise her then continue on with his day. I felt sad for her and him, telling her she could not do it alone; it would take a major near-death experience or sudden change in the way people respond to his antics. To give you an idea of what it felt like being around him, I was getting the same feelings I used to experience back then as I watched the main character in this film festival winner.      BEING THE FRONT PERSON TO A PUNK rock band required a great deal of energy. Luckily for Becky, played by Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man, The Handmaid’s Tale), she had an unlimited amount of help from the things she would ingest. With Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) as Crassy Cassie, Dan Stevens (The Guest, Beauty and the Beast) as “Dirtbag” Danny, Agyness Deyn (Clash of the Titans, Sunset Song) as Marielle Hell and Virginia Madsen (Dune, Burn Your Maps) as Ania Adamcyzk; this music drama’s prime focus was Elisabeth’s performance. She was eerily excellent in the role which only made me uncomfortable to watch what was happening to her through the story. The script did not do her any favors because I felt many scenes were repetitive. It was not until the last third of the movie where I felt fully engaged with what was taking place. Honestly, there really were not any surprises in this story; but, with Elisabeth’s convincing performance I could not look away from the train wreck that was taking place right before my eyes.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Work It

THE DANCERS ON THE DANCE FLOOR looked to me like one large flower with its petals spreading apart to reveal its stamens; except in this case, the stamens were a man and woman swirling around each other. The people around them moved to the outer edges of the dance floor to give the couple plenty of room to “perform.” The event was a holiday party that was being held at a hotel’s ballroom; everyone was dressed up for the evening. This couple had been dancing together for decades and was not the least shy about being the first ones on the dance floor. Watching them dance, I had to wonder if they had either asked the DJ to play a certain song or hand him one that they brought along with them to the event. They were flawless as they let the music guide them around the floor, perfectly in synch at all times. Where some people dance to be seen; I did not sense that in this couple. They genuinely seemed to be enjoying each other as they ebbed and flowed into a variety of dance steps and movements, letting the music flow through them and come out of their feet. As I continued to watch them, I recalled a time when I used to go out dancing almost every weekend at a club.      THERE WAS A PARTICULAR SPOT I liked to stand in, at this one club, where I could see everyone on the dance floor. It was an elevated area that had a long ledge made of steel to match the walls around the dance floor. From this point, I had the crowded bar to my back while I could lean on the ledge to scan the never-ending flow of people coming on and off the dance floor. After a time, I was able to recognize certain “dancers” who stood out for various reasons. There was one guy who danced to be seen. Rarely did he ever pay attention to his partner because he was too busy looking for approval from everyone around him. There was another dancer who enjoyed themselves despite rarely being able to dance on the beat. This was a person that intrigued me because I wanted to find out what they were hearing that caused them to miss the beat. What I loved about the dance floor with its dancers was seeing the utter abandonment many displayed in just letting their bodies move to the music and enjoying themselves. They were not looking for approval, acceptance or acknowledgment; they simply wanted to dance. For those interested, you can see what that looks like in this musical comedy.      DURING THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS INTERVIEW HIGH school student Quinn Ackerman, played by Sabrina Carpenter (The Hate U Give, Horns), saw an opportunity to increase her chances for acceptance. The only issue was she would have to learn how to dance. With Keiynan Lonsdale (The Finest Hours; Love, Simon) as Julliard Pembroke, Liza Koshy (Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, Freakish-TV) as Jasmine Hale, Briana Andrade-Gomes (Suicide Squad, The Next Step-TV) as Trinity and Naomi Snieckus (Saw: The Final Chapter, Mr. D-TV) as Maria Ackerman; this movie’s motivation was all due to the dancing. Though I enjoyed the dancing scenes, the story was in step with better made dance films such as Footloose and Flashdance. There was some fun, humorous scenes; but overall, the story was predictable, and I am sad to say, the acting was only average. Now despite all of this, I would not say watching this movie would be a total waste of time; however, for those who are not interested in dance, you will find this film keeps stepping on the wrong beat and on your feet.

 

2 ¼ stars        

Flash Movie Review: What Happened, Miss Simone?

I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF PICKING out songs for a playlist to give to a close friend. There was one song I remembered from a movie I saw many, many years ago. The song has always stuck with me, though I never knew the title. Searching online I sought out the movie first to see if I could get a list of its song titles. I remembered an older woman in the film sang the song as she stood still in place. It did not take me too long to find the song I remembered and see its title. Once I had it, I typed the title into my computer’s search engine to see what would come up. Little did I realize this was a popular song, because the choice of artists who sang this song went on for pages. Besides having a list of artists, there were also music videos of artists performing the song. I found myself going from one video to another to see what the musical artist would do with the song. It was interesting to hear the multitude of variations; every artist was trying to put their own spin on the song. I was enjoying this musical journey despite it causing me confusion in not being able to decide which performance I wanted to include in my playlist.      TIME WAS SLIPPING AWAY AND I was no closer to completing my project. I had no idea how many renditions of the song I had seen or heard; but somewhere in the list of artists I saw this name that I had heard, but I had never heard her perform. I clicked on the link and out of my computer speakers came this rich, earthy, passionate voice. At times it delved into the alto range but would veer right into a tenor level; I think her voice would be considered a contralto. Her voice captivated me because I could not recall hearing a female voice with such a strong lower register. It was as if I was listening to this song for the very first time; it was something fresh and new as the notes hung in the air around me like Spanish moss. Who was this woman who could take a song from the past, from a film musical, and make me feel as if our hearts were beating in synch? As soon as the song ended, I replayed it several times. And once I had my fill, I sought out other songs this musical artist performed. Having this as my introduction, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to learn more about Nina Simone.      WITH PLANS ON BECOMING A CLASSICALLY trained concert pianist, one night performing at a nightclub would change the course of Eunice Kathleen Waymon’s life. Directed by Liz Garbus (Girlhood, Bobby Fischer Against the World), this film festival winning documentary delved into the life of Nina Simone. With archival footage, interviews and performances; I found myself yearning for more musical performances as the movie went on. This biography touched on many aspects of Nina’s life, from childhood to adulthood to political activism; all of it was interesting, but part of me wished there would have been more details offered in the non-musical scenes. The interviews with her daughter, I found to be telling. I read somewhere the daughter was upset about a film that came out about her mother, so she got involved in the creation of this documentary. I am glad she did because not having any knowledge per se of Nina’s life, this film was a beautiful way to learn about her. And I have that playlist I made for a friend to thank.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

IF HE HAD NOT SAID ANYTHING to me, I would not have given it a second thought. My friend was expressing how his dad could never make the parent/teacher conferences because of his work. I was not aware it bothered him since there were many students who came to these meetings with only one parent. When I mentioned this to my friend, he told me he just wanted his father to show up once to one of his school functions; that his dad worked all the time. I thought about this for a minute and realized I might have only seen his father once or twice at the most through all the years we have been friends. Mentioning this to my friend, he told me his dad only thought about his job and how he could advance himself. According to my friend his dad was driven by this one thought; he did not think of anything else but what he could do to get promoted and earn more money. I felt sad for my friend; it was like he had an absentee father because within our conversation my friend told me his dad missed family birthdays, anniversaries and even some holiday get togethers. There was nothing I could say to make him feel better.     THE THINGS HE SAID TO ME about his dad were not unfamiliar to me; I have known several people, including myself, who were driven by a single-mindedness to reach their goals. When I started teaching fitness, I pretty much put myself on call to make myself available when anyone needed a sub to teach their class. Rarely would I ever request a sub; I felt it was my job, so I needed to be there to teach class. There were many occasions when I could not join my friends and family in a celebration because it was my time to teach. I know my one mindedness had an affect on my relationships. Some of the people I dated ended our relationship with the excuse I was not easily available to them. At the time it was hurtful to hear because I could not see things through their eyes. I felt they were essentially asking me to choose between them and my job. Now granted, though fitness was my part time job I treated it with the same importance as my full time one. There were instructors who did not have an issue taking off time from teaching whenever they felt like it; I could not do it, that is how driven I was with teaching. After many years, I now finally understand I was not seeing the big picture of my life; I was out of balance. It was the same, I felt, for the main character in this musical comedy.     NOTHING ELSE MATTERED TO LARS CRICKSSONG, played by Will Ferrell (Downhill, Holmes & Watson), then to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. His singing partner and family were certainly aware of his drive, even if they did not understand it. With Rachel McAdams (A Most Wanted Man, Game Night) as Sigrit Ericksdottir, Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, The Guest) as Alexander Lemtov, Mikael Persbrandt (In a Better World, The Hobbit franchise) as Victor Karlosson and Pierce Brosnan (Some Kind of Wonderful, Mama Mia! franchise) as Erick Erickssong; this movie could have used some fine tuning. I am not a fan of Will Ferrell; for me, he was doing a role that he has been doing since his Saturday Night Live days. There was nothing new or fresh about his character. On the other hand, Rachel was impressive; her comedic timing, acting and possible singing voice hit the right notes for me.  Dan Stevens was another standout for me; he was crazy good in this role. There were patches where the story and script were amusing; but then there were times where things felt flat. Gratefully these 2 actors hit the right notes and made this movie easier to watch for me.

 

2 ½ stars    

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