Flash Movie Review; Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical
AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I hold teachers in high regard. What they provide is invaluable and they are not compensated enough for it. No disrespect to the professional sporting world, but the pay scale is quite lopsided when you compare a teacher’s salary to a pitcher or basketball player. A teacher is helping our children to become functioning, self-sufficient, independent adults. A sports figure is entertaining us. Despite what I just said, I know there are some teachers who graduate at the top of their class and there are some who graduate at the bottom of their class. The same with any profession; it can be anyone from a doctor to an accountant. I have had some remarkable teachers in my life; ones who pushed me harder to excel in the fields of my interest. However, I remember the instructors, who even back then, I knew were not very good. There was one teacher who taught by reading out of our textbook in a monotone voice. They did not elaborate on anything, nor did they encourage discussion of a topic. It was a boring class, with many of the students not paying attention to them. That class seemed to be the longest one of the day, though it was the same amount of time as all the other classes. COMPARED TO THE TIME I WENT to school; I think teachers have a harder time teaching these days. I spent an evening with a teacher who shared their experiences in the classroom. At their school, all teachers must go through an active shooter training class. Most if not all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for the students because there is never enough money in the school budget to get supplies. Class sizes are larger, where children with learning disabilities are placed in the classroom with no consideration to getting help for the child; it is up to the teacher to try to teach the general student body at the same time as those with some type of disability. The teacher I was talking to told me about a student in their class who they believe is a genius. Being a 2nd grade student, the child’s test scores show they are performing at the level of a sophomore in high school. I asked if the school district is aware of the child’s abilities, and they said yes; but they have not provided any help or tools to help the child excel and adapt to their environment. Learning falls on the teacher, but how can they incorporate a super advanced student into the general mix of the classroom.? If interested, this comedic family drama will show you what I have been talking about to the extreme. HAVING THE WORST PARENTS IN the world, a little girl is hopeful she will finally get an education when her parents decide to enroll her in a school. Her parents would start to look good right after the little girl met the headmistress. With Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home, Darklands-TV) as Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson (Cruella; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) as Agatha Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, The Woman King) as Miss Honey, Stephen Graham (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Mr. Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, W.E.) as Mrs. Wormwood; this adaptation of the staged musical production took the essence of the characters and accentuated them to become standout performers. Alisha and Emma were incredible; I could not take my eyes off them. The rest of the cast was equally as good. The direction was precise and magical at times as it worked to create the ideal version of Roald Dahl’s story. The music and songs provided comic relief at times, as well as the sharp passages of dialog. This was such a fun movie watching experience, that brought me back to a less complicated time, where I was rooting all the way for Matilda.
3 1/4 stars
Flash Movie Trailer: West Side Story
WHEN I HEARD HOW HER MOTHER-IN-LAW was treating her, I was appalled. To be so blatant about a dislike for a person made me question exactly how so-called religious was she? I was told the mother-in-law never missed attending a church service, was involved by volunteering for church events, helped with fundraising; she did everything she could for her church, yet she did not like her daughter-in-law because she was raised and practiced a different religion. It did not matter that she loved her son, made him happy and in turn, he loved her. The fact her son did not push back at his mother’s behavior towards his bride, told me enough about him. I am trying not to be too judgmental here; probably not doing a good job, but here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about. The mother would ask her son to stop by after work then keep him there for dinner, without asking his wife to join. Now granted the son could/should have said something, but he did not; or he could have said he has to get home because his wife was making dinner. Another thing she would do is only give her daughter-in-law a generic birthday card, while everyone else in the family always received beautiful gifts on their birthdays. Granted this is my opinion, but this is why I found the mother-in-law’s behavior appalling. THE THING I DO NOT UNDERSTAND is why should it matter if a person is of a different religion or for that fact, a different skin color. Human is human, how does one justify having negative feelings about someone who believes in a different religion? Or what fault can be found for someone’s ancestors coming from a different part of the world; we all still have so much in common, if one would just invest the time to find out. For myself, I do not know if it was due to my upbringing, schooling or life experiences that these two things about a person (religion & race) were unimportant to me. Putting environmental issues aside, what does the color of an individual’s skin, the shape of their eyes, their religious beliefs have to do with who they are as a good person. Sure, there are those who “practice what they preach” and there are those whose actions could be considered stereotypical; however, do these things change a person’s morals or heart or empathy? In my dating life I have dated people from all walks of life and places from earth; the only thing that mattered is if they were a good person. You can see what I am talking about if you choose to see this Oscar nominated film. HOW DOES ONE REVIEW A REMAKE of an iconic, classic movie? I will give it a try. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List) with Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver) as Tony, newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ariana DeBose (The Prom, Hamilton) as Anita, David Alvarez (American Rust-TV) as Bernardo and Rita Moreno (Play it by Ear, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Valentina; this adaptation of the 1957 film stands on its own merits. The filming and direction were outstanding; Steven is a real storyteller. I was stunned that Ansel not only could sing but sing so well. He was a perfect match for Rachel. For me, the music and songs are the highlight. I felt the choreography was better than the original film because it seemed to have a better fit into the story. What surprised me was the script. The way it was updated, the story made more sense to me. Sadly, because the timing was not right for when this picture came out, few people got to see it. If you are a fan of musicals or even not, then you deserve to treat yourself by seeing this beautifully retooled story about two people in love.
3 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: tick, tick…BOOM!
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE who sacrifice to make their dreams succeed and those who get it handed to them. From my work and life experiences, I have seen the results from both ways. There was the job I had where the owner was the son, who inherited the business after his father passed away. The son was not a pleasant man to work for because he never really had to work to make the business succeed. He had big ideas, but because he did not understand the amount of work needed to succeed, he lost everything when he opened a retail store in a large shopping center. The new store lasted a little over one year before he had to close it down, since it never turned a profit. I remember when I first started to teach fitness, I thought about making it a full-time job/career. For three solid years I worked at making a name for myself as I studied the presenters at fitness conventions, wondering if I could get to that level in the fitness world. At one point I was working at 5 different locations, doing a multitude of classes; I never turned down an offer to sub for an instructor who could not teach their class that day. It was a hectic pace that did not allow me to socialize much. Now, I knew that would be the case and I was willing to focus all my energy on teaching classes while taking classes to increase my knowledge in the fitness world. WHEN I DECIDED TO START WRITING movie reviews here, I made a promise to myself that I would write a review every day for one entire year, and I did it. My life was basically filled with either sitting in movie theaters or sitting at home writing reviews. After the first year, I did not want to stop but understood I could not keep up such a pace and now it has been over 10 years of me writing reviews at a slower pace. In the scheme of things, my sacrifices were not life and death decisions unlike a friend of mine who had to become the main wage earner in her household. After her husband lost his job, she took on extra shifts at work to make up the loss of household income. She realized she would not be able to keep up the pace for the long term; so, she enrolled back in school to complete her master’s degree. With the added degree her wages and job opportunities would increase quickly. This meant she would be working at her job and with schoolwork for 1 solid year with no breaks, and she did it. It was a major sacrifice for their relationship but once it was done, they both had a deeper appreciation of each other and their life together. This biographical musical drama can show you what can happen when one makes a sacrifice. HIS DREAM WAS TO WRITE THE next great musical; but with the clock ticking Jonathan Larson, played by Andrew Garfield (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, 99 Homes), felt the pressure on what he would do with his life if he failed. With Alexandra Shipp (X-Men franchise; Love, Simon) as Susan, Robin de Jesus (The Boys in the Band, Hair Brained) as Michael, Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Karessa and Joshua Henry (American Renegades, Sex and the City) as Roger; this Oscar nominated movie is something that musical theater fans would love. The big surprise for me was how good Andrew was with his performance; he held his own with the other wonderful performers in the cast. Overall, I thought the directing was crisp and precise, though at times it almost felt frenetic. I do not know how much of the story was true; but for those of you who do not know, this story is about the creation of the musical Rent. Knowing that made my film watching experience more enjoyable. As I mentioned before, if one is not a fan of musicals, they may not enjoy this picture as much.
3 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
I TOOK THE BRUNT OF THEIR kidding because I had never heard of such a college degree. A group of my classmates and myself were sitting at the student union. The building was an old, medieval looking structure. The food hall was in the lower level where the space had arched beams in the ceiling. We were sitting at a large table when one of my classmates motioned to a table close to us that had a group of women sitting and talking. He described a couple of the women at the table who were in one of his classes and said that group was here for a M.R.S. degree. The guys around me laughed as I sat there perplexed. I asked what kind of degree was a M.R.S and was answered with more laughter. Finally, my lab partner asked me what the letters spell out; I answered, “Mrs.” He said exactly, they are only attending the university to find a husband. Maybe I am not the brightest bulb in the marquis, bur I was more confused. Who would spend so much money to go to college just to look for a mate? Another guy at the table said he had a couple of lecture hall classes with a few of the women, and he agreed with my lab partner. He said they would stand outside the hall and watch the students walking in until they saw an attractive guy, then would come in and try to sit close to them. I found the whole thing preposterous. HERE I THOUGHT I HAD HEARD everything, yet there was more news to come my way. A few weeks later a free, independent weekly news magazine came out with an article listing a group of universities that excelled in specific categories. It turned out my university was number #1 for drinking, alcohol that is. A school in the southern part of my home state was listed as the best “party school.” What caught my eye was a university close to a major city in my state that was listed as the best “husband hunting” place. I understood this news magazine specialized in “tongue in cheek” humor; but this “husband hunting” concept had to be a known thing to have gotten mentioned in the article. I was so surprised by this discovery; how come I had never heard about it before? Looking back at this time in my life, I must assume many of you cannot believe such a thing took place. I was there and I cannot believe it, it sounds so dated, right? Times change and I had to keep that in mind while watching this musical classic. TWO FRIENDS, WHO WERE ENTERTAINERS, AGREED to take a transatlantic cruise for a job opportunity. What they did not plan for was to be followed by a private detective. With Jane Russell (The Outlaw, Double Dynamite) as Dorothy Shaw, Marilyn Monroe (The Seven Year Itch, Some Like it Hot) as Lorelei Lee, Charles Coburn (Monkey Business, The Green Years) as Sir Francis ‘Piggy” Beekman, Elliott Reid (Inherit the Wind, Vicki) as Ernie Malone and Tommy Noonan (A Star is Born, Bundle of Joy) as Gus Esmond Jr; this romantic comedy based on the Broadway musical that was based on the book was a blast from the past. Made in the 1950’s, I had to remind myself the story took place in a different time. The 2 actresses were terrific in their roles displaying excellent comedic chops and the songs they sang have lasted the test of time. If you are not a musical fan, I cannot imagine this picture will hold your attention all the way through; however, it was a fun and enjoyable movie. Even looking at this film on a historical level, I was entertained and fascinated watching customs and traits that would be frowned upon in present times. Still, this was a classic movie I wanted to see after hearing some of its songs for so many years.
3 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Annette
THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN the feelings of annoyance and hatred. I cannot say it is a rock-solid line in my world. My grocery store stopped carrying my brand of bagged spinach, so they could sell their in-house store brand. I was annoyed but bought their bag anyway. Honestly, I cannot tell the difference except their brand has more loose stems in the bag than my brand. Well now for the past 3 weeks, I open the bag and find partially decomposed pieces. I double checked but knew the bag’s expiration date had not passed. The first time this happened, I was annoyed. The same the 2nd time it happened. But now, I hate their bagged spinach and plan on going to a different grocery store just to get bagged spinach that doesn’t look like slime after you open the bag for the first time. Currently, I am getting annoyed with this store’s fresh broccoli. I do not know what is happening but the last couple of times I have brought it home and washed it, within a couple of days the florets turn dark and mushy. I have been buying broccoli for years and have never had an issue up until now. If this keeps up, I will stop buying the store’s broccoli as well. I am telling you, if they keep annoying me with food that quickly goes bad, I may decide the heck with them and buy all my groceries from a different store. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO JUDGE something or someone and decide they do not like it. I am guilty of this when it especially comes to food. If it doesn’t look good to me, I will not eat it. I am a texture eater; if a food dish looks like it is gelatinous, I cannot stomach even looking at it. Have you ever had food in a sauce that you saved for the next day and the sauce turned into something like an aspic? It has happened to me with some Asian dishes. It is more than an annoyance for me when I open the storage container and see pieces of food suspended in a murky jelly like substance. Do I actually hate it? I know I hate when it happens but maybe I can say I do not like the look of it, though my feelings are close to hating the stuff. Hate is a word I try not to randomly throw around on what essentially are innocuous things. I do not hate public transportation, but I hate running for a bus or train that pulls away as I am getting up to it. For the first time this year, I experienced the strongest feelings that bordered on hatred for a movie. A COMEDIAN’S AND OPERA SINGER’S RELATIONSHIP is all being viewed in the public’s eye. As the two get more serious, so does the pressure. With Adam Driver (Marriage Story, The Report) as Henry McHenry, Marion Cotilard (Angel Face, The Immigrant) as Ann Defrasnoux, Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins, Old School) as The Accompanist, relative newcomer Devyn McDowell as Annette in prison and Natalia Lafourcade (Amar no es querer, El cielo en tu mirada) as Special Guest/The Police; this dramatic musical romance tested my limits on keeping me engaged. Visually I did not mind the scenes; however, I thought almost every musical number was awful. Listening to Adam sing through the film was rough. Maybe there is some secret symbolism in the story; but with my focus being on the entertainment factor, I thought the script was a poor piece of a story that has been told time and time again. The irony here is I liked the acting; but there was nothing in this picture that I found enjoyable. To me, it was pretentious as it attempted to be “artsy.” And at 2 hours and 21 minutes, it was a long and painful waste of time.
1 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: In the Heights
CONSIDERING I FIRST SAW HER WHILE sitting inside a shopping cart, it is rather amazing the memory of her is as strong today as it was decades ago. It was the only grocery store I knew as a little boy; she worked behind one of the cash registers and her name was Henrietta. With wire-rimmed eyeglasses and her shiny, light brown hair pulled tightly back into a large bun that was stuffed into a black hairnet; I always perked up when she was the checker for our checkout line. She knew my name which even for my young age, made me feel important and special. Not all the time, but often enough she would give me a lollipop or a small candy bar. Always with a smile on her face, to me she was the kindest and sweetest person I knew. When I got old enough to go to the grocery store myself, I always chose the check out aisle she was working. Though I had outgrown the desire to eat every bit of candy given or bought for me, Henrietta would give me some kind of small trinket or object. One time I received a pencil sharpener that was shaped like a rocket ship; another time I received a bottle of bubbles. She was such a strong fixture at the neighborhood grocery store; I could not think of the store without thinking about her. NEXT TO THE GROCERY STORE WAS a laundromat and next to it was a hot dog place. Once my friends and I were old enough, we would go to the hot dog restaurant for lunch instead of the school cafeteria. The restaurant was a fast-food joint that served hot dogs and hamburgers in these red plastic baskets that were lined with a red and white checkerboard sheet of waxy paper. The cook knew we students had to be back to school on time, so he made sure to get our orders out to us quickly. Sometimes after school, I would stop at the restaurant to get a soft drink before walking a couple of blocks to the local drugstore. The store had the look of an old-fashioned apothecary with its wooded shelves going high up the sides of the walls. Light fixtures hung down by black piping and the ceiling was made of stamped tin. The pharmacists knew me and would let me take family members’ prescriptions home without a signature. Each store in my neighborhood was a familiar and welcome place; many of the store owners knew me. Nearly all the residents in the neighborhood knew each other. The apartment I grew up in never seemed small to me because my home was my entire neighborhood, just as it was for the residents in this musical drama. ONE WAS NEVER ALONE WHEN THEY lived in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, both in good times and bad. With Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, Honest Thief) as Usnavi, Melissa Barrera (Vida-TV, Dos Veces Tu) as Vanessa, newcomer Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Benny and Jimmy Smits (Star War franchise, NYPD Blue-TV) as Kevin Rosario; this film based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) Broadway musical brimmed over with singing and dancing. The music was infectious, accompanied by electrifying choreographed dancing. I thought the directing was crisp, providing a few opportunities to create powerful scenes. There were a few scenes that did not resonate with me; either they were offshoots to what I thought was the main story line or the scenario presented was predictable to me. If one is not a fan of musicals, I do not feel they will enjoy watching this movie as much as those familiar with Lin-Manuel’s style of song writing. The sense of belonging within a community, done in a vibrant and bold style, was a nice change of pace from the typical pictures that have come out this year. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
SHE TOLD ME IT WAS A television show when I asked her what made her decide to become a dancer. I quizzed her further and she said it was a variety show she used to watch with her family on Sunday nights. Two ballet dancers were introduced by the host and she was immediately enamored by their costumes. The woman looked like a pristine fairy and the man looked like a stately prince. She had never seen ballet dancers before, but as the music started and the two dancers began to perform, she was mesmerized by their movements. The female dancer seemed weightless like a snowflake, spinning and fluttering across the stage. The male dancer had broad shoulders that made him look more regal as he lifted and guided the female dancer through their movements. I listened to her describe the performance and I could see the impact of this one of several acts on the show had a profound effect on her. Before the dancers were done performing, she had already decided that she was going to be a dancer when she grew up. She listed for me the highlights of her journey in becoming a ballet dancer and it was not a simple, straight street to ballet; she had some detours along the way. However, she told me throughout her struggles she kept believing she could do it. HER STRENGTH IN HER BELIEF REMINDED me of a woman who was a participant in my yoga class. I worked at a hospital-based fitness center, where I introduced yoga to the fitness members. The center did not have a quiet room for me to teach class, so they had me taking the members to a laboratory in the hospital to conduct class. One day this woman came into the room in a wheelchair; I thought she was a patient who was lost. When I asked her where she was going, she told me to yoga. Talk about being embarrassed; this was the first time I was going to teach a wheel bound person in a general class setting. During my instructions, I included options that the woman could do while seated. After attending class for a few weeks, I asked her one day how yoga made her feel. She told me how much see looked forward to class because she would get the best night’s sleep after taking class. I was pleased to hear this and asked her if she had any goals she wanted to achieve in class. She said yes, she wanted to stand up out of her wheelchair. I told her it was a wonderful goal and I hoped I would get to see it. She said she believes she will one day, and I told her I believe in her. WHEN HIS ASSISTANT TOOK HIS IDEAS and left him, the town’s toymaker Veronicas, played by Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Black Panther), stopped believing in himself. One day a strange little girl came to town with a belief. With Keegan-Michael Key (Playing with Fire, Let’s Be Cops) as Gustafson, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill) as Mr. Delacroix, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls; Everything, Everything) as Jessica and newcomer Madalen Mills as Journey; this musical family fantasy film was a magical viewing experience for me. At times coming across like a Broadway production, other times like a family classic; this was one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year. The fanciful special effects, the singing and dancing, the costumes and the sets took a somewhat predictable script and elevated it into pure entertainment. I will say if you are not a fan of musicals, you will not enjoy this picture as much. For me, I could easily see this film being translated to the big stage of Broadway. My skepticism about films made for the small screen has been altered; I am a believer now.
3 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again
PLAY DAYS ARE NOT JUST FOR children. I am giving each of you permission to schedule yourselves a day to have fun. Remember when we were little we could find enjoyment from the most innocuous things? There was a phase my friends and I went through where our bicycles had to have playing cards clipped to our back wheels, so the spokes would make the cards clap. To us this made the sound of a car engine. I recall taking a fallen tree branch, stripping off all the leaves and little offshoots from it, to make a magic staff or if smaller, a wand. With that branch I would become a wizard or a king. I cannot tell you how much fun I had when I discovered putting a small paperclip on the front of my paper airplane would make it soar further through the air, when I released it from our 3rd floor apartment’s back porch. Another fun thing to do was to skim pebbles across the surface of water to see if we could make them skip. It served no real purpose except to amuse us as we tried to make the thrown pebbles travel as far as possible. I FIRMLY BELIEVE TAKING TIME OFF from one’s daily life to do something mindless and fun is a great way to recharge the mind and body. For me, going to the movies is one of the fastest ways to put myself in a relaxed state; I can totally forget about the outside world and any of the issues that come along with it. Obviously, I have a purpose in seeing movies; I get to review them. But, there are other things I do that could be considered completely mindless that are just as much fun. It is not necessary to have a purpose or financial gain to experience something joyful. Watching the tide roll in or seeing the sun set does not provide something tangible that you could put in your pocket or bank account. Instead, it may provide you with peacefulness or calmness. It is a feeling you experience that allows you to forget what you were doing. Now I do not know about you, but there are times I want to escape from my daily routines and not have to think about anything. If you would like to try and experience this then I would recommend you go and see this musical comedy, because there is nothing you will have to do except sit and watch it. HOPING TO FULFILL HER MOTHER’S dreams Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried (First Reformed, The Last Word), was almost ready to open a hotel in paradise. She only wished her fathers could see what she had done. This sequel or should I say prequel also starred Lily James (Baby Driver, Darkest Hour) as the young Donna, Meryl Streep (The Post, Out of Africa) as Donna, Cher (Moonstruck, Mermaids) as Ruby Sheridan and Andy Garcia (Book Club, Geostorm) as Fernando. If you have not seen the first film, it would not hurt for you to watch it before seeing this picture. The writers did their best to bring the new viewers up to speed with the story, but there still was a learning curve involved. I found the jumping back and forth in time a little annoying but ultimately, I did not care since there were so many songs packed into the story. There was only a bare minimum of a script and for the most part it did not do anything but steer the characters to the next song. If you are not an Abba or musicals fan you will not enjoy this movie. Everyone else will enjoy themselves with this mindless fluff piece and that is exactly what it was meant to do. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: The Greatest Showman
THE AROMA OF ELEPHANT dung was one of the strongest memories I took away from the circus. I only went to the circus once when I was around 6 years old. To get to our seats we had to walk down a long aisle where the floor was covered in sawdust. Once we were seated I was able to see three rings set up in the arena, with the middle one much larger than the other two. I was excited to be there because all I wanted to see were the tigers. To start the show a tall man dressed in a tuxedo with a top hat walked into a single spotlight that then followed him to the large ring; his amplified voice reverberated throughout the massive arena. From one end of the arena several spotlights pierced the dark and lit up a parade of elephants walking in single file as they made their way around the arena. As they passed where I was seated one of the elephants defecated. Because it happened at the far edge of the arena none of the circus performers noticed what happened, so it remained there for the entire show. MAYBE THAT IS WHY I never wanted to go to the circus after that time. The only type of circuses I will go to today are the ones that are animal free. Even if that elephant had not altered my feelings about the circus I would not go to a circus that used animals for entertainment. For the type of circus events I have attended I get to see humans doing unhuman things; this is the way I describe it, because the performers are doing such spectacular things they almost look as if they are not of earth. There is one particular company that travels around the world, pitching a massive tent in an open space, where the performers are dressed in a variety of costumes and makeup. This is my favorite event to see because at one time I can witness people from all different walks of life, from all different parts of the world, come together and create something magical. I do not know how someone could say anything negative about such an environment. OUT OF WORK AFTER the company he worked at went bankrupt Phineas Taylor Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman (Pan, Logan), had an idea. It was an idea that sounded crazy but he did not care what people said, he was willing to take the chance. This musical, dramatic biography also starred Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) as Charity Barnum, Zac Efron (Baywatch, Dirty Grandpa) as Phillip Carlyle, Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, K.C. Undercover-TV) as Anne Wheeler and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Despite the Falling Snow) as Jenny Lind. The look of this film was wonderful; I thought the sets and costumes were a perfect fit. As for the music written by the same writers who did La La Land, I thought it was much better in this picture; I can actually remember a few of the songs. Sadly despite the decent acting the script failed this film. You got these big, beautiful song and dance numbers connected with a weak script that lacked emotion. I felt a disconnect between the drama of the singing with the acting parts. There was such a timely message to the story that I wished would have been explored more in hopes of connecting everyone together. I would not say this circus movie reminded me of the smelly circus I went to as a kid, but this film could have used a bit of air freshener to make it a better show.
2 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
WHEN I ask why they are attracted to that certain feature of the individual, the answer is never the same. It is perplexing to me how people acquire a particular attraction to a person’s height, hair color or body type. Friends of mine to this day test me because they cannot believe I do not pay attention to the surface details of an individual. They will point at someone and ask me if I would be attracted to that person. Each time I have to tell them I do not know until I have had a couple of conversations with that particular individual. Maybe from my studies in psychology I attempt to rationalize a person’s tastes in potential dates. In some circles of thought one could say one of the reasons a person is attracted to redheads is because they are less available, rarer if you will. This person wants to stand out from the pack. Someone may be attracted to facial hair because it represents a father figure, an authoritarian. There are so many different interpretations, yet they still do not answer my fundamental thought: why should it make a difference what a person looks like? You can have what looks like the most perfect apple in your hand, but it still may be rotten underneath the skin. TAKING this a step further, I feel the same way about a person’s ethnicity. The only thing a person’s ethnic makeup tells me is what region of the world their ancestors were born. After taking in the cultural differences, I do not find anything different between people of different races. Each group produces geniuses, thieves, liars, bigoted and loving people. I find this whole discrimination thing puzzling and troubling. People are quick to make judgments about individuals solely based on skin color; I just do not get it. From what I have said you may begin to suspect, this fairy tale is one my favorite stories from childhood. SIMPLY by plucking a single rose off a bush Maurice, played by Kevin Kline (Cry Freedom, My Old Lady), was imprisoned by a monstrous beast, played by Dan Stevens (The Guest, Downton Abbey-TV). If it was not for his daughter Belle, played by Emma Watson (The Bling Ring, Harry Potter franchise); Maurice would have never survived the ordeal. This live action, fantasy musical was based on the animated film version of this story done in the 1990s. With Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Raven) as Gaston and Josh Gad (The Wedding Ringer, Jobs) as LeFou, the cast members not associated with singing surprised me with their vocal abilities. Emma took her character and made it a somewhat more modern and determined figure. I do not know if it was because of this or not, but I found her interactions with the Beast emotionally too fast. She never had a sense of revulsion upon meeting the Beast; in other words there was a lack of tension between the two. The same argument could be made with other portions of the film; the story was quickly pushed from one action scene to another I felt. At least the creativity and imagination that went into the sets and individual pieces were thoroughly entertaining. Along with the wonderful musical score and beautiful story, there are more things to like about this film than not. Maybe just do not look too deep under the surface to find the cracks.