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Flash Movie Review: Maps to the Stars

With their arms stretched to their maximum length, they are yelling out the names of the celebrities walking past them. Though they are not close enough to touch; just a turn of the head, a slight nod, a smile or the ultimate acknowledgement–a wave of the hand, will make the bond between them complete. However, that connection is only in the spectator’s mind. Now you would think with my love of movies i would be right in the middle of that crowd, jostling my way to the front to catch the eye of a movie star, but you would be wrong. I absolutely want to be at the event, but do not see celebrities as demigods walking the planet. They are humans with bodies that function the same and are similar to anyone else. The rise in people’s fascination with celebrity/reality stars is something I find very odd. I do not understand why anyone would care about the mundane occurrences of essentially a stranger’s life. The thing that I find the most offensive are these “stars” who feel they need to bestow upon us their advice on what or how we should live our lives. Sorry but in my book just because someone has money doesn’t give them the right to tell me what I should or should not be doing. You cannot equate wealth with intelligence. In fact, there are many celebrities or wannabes who are filled with ugliness inside.    FROM all appearances Dr. Stafford and Christina Weiss, played by John Cusak (The Raven, High Fidelity) and Olivia Williams (An Education, Seventh Son), looked like a successful couple. With him being a best selling author and her managing the acting career of their son Benje, played by Evan Bird (Chained, The Killing-TV), it would be hard to imagine they had any problems. This film festival wining drama directed by David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis, A History of Violence) had an incredible cast that also included Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland) as Agatha and Julianne Moore (Still Alice, Non-Stop) playing Havana Segrand which she won at Cannes for best actress. The story showed how deep ugliness grows even in some of the most recognizable celebrities. I enjoyed the way the scenes moved from one character’s plight to another. Though the acting was wonderful there were parts of the film that did not gel for me. It almost felt as if there was not enough drive with the characters, becoming similar to caricatures. The writers seemed to have worked harder to show the ugliness in the characters than their history. I felt disconnected at times, similar to when I see celebrities in the news doing dumb things. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood in them.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Sabotage

The amount of years I have lived so far is not a true measure of how I feel or act. One’s age never meant anything to me except a reference point for when they were born. I have never been one to judge a person’s actions based on their age; it is a meaningless point to me. The only one I judge is myself, as I notice the transitions between my mind and body. On a surface level, I am not going to walk around with my pants hanging low to reveal my underwear clad backside; however, I do not care if someone else wants to do it. Sure I wish I could stay up late at night like I used to do (think how much more I could get done), but my body now requires a certain amount of daily sleep if it wants to function in a lucid, steady way. I will say I have always been a big proponent of periodically letting your inner child out to play. When it comes to actors I understand why they want to maintain their youthfulness as they try to keep alive the facade that made them popular. I hope this does not come across as judgmental but when I see a celebrity trying to portray the illusion they maintained 20-30 years ago I feel sadness for them; even more so when they have simple physical stunts that are being handled by their very obvious stunt doubles. It is somewhat ironic that this very complaint I have had about his recent movies was not the case in this action drama. Arnold Schwarzeneggar (Batman & Robin,The Last Stand) played John “Breacher” Wharton, the head of a top level DEA task force. After bringing down a drug cartel’s safe house, the members of John’s group were systematically being brought down one at a time, as if someone was watching their every move. Based on its opening weekend box office receipts it appears this will be another disappointment for Arnold. Funny, I did not mind Arnold in this role; his character was older and more mature. Yes there was plenty of bloody violence and fighting but Arnold was not the focus. He shared the screen with among others, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood-TV) as Joe “Grinder” Phillips and Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge) as James “Monster” Murray. This crime film fails due to the script. There was so little story about the characters that I was not invested in their well-being. The movie was a series of agents being hunted and violently killed. However, the element of mystery was what kept my interest going in the story. I just hope the poor ticket sales won’t have Arnold thinking he needs to resurrect himself and say to us, “I’ll be back.”

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Last Days on Mars

On Saturday afternoons there was a television program that exposed me to some strange creatures. I remember watching a being that had the limbs of a human but was totally covered in scales like a fish, living in a dark lagoon. Tomatoes which never frightened me before were now wreaking havoc on innocent citizens with their massive weight. When I was little you would always find me in front of our television set on Saturdays watching this program, where each week the uniformed host would introduce a new movie. As I got older I started to figure out that the space aliens attacking Earth had aluminum foil wrapped around their heads and the colossal woman was not fifty feet tall; there was a split screen which explained my confusion on why there was never any interaction between her and anyone else. All of these movies served some level of entertainment. Looking back at those times I can easily say some of the films are now considered campy. With today’s movie review, this science fiction horror thriller took itself too seriously to be considered campy. A small group of space explorers on the planet Mars was completing their duties as they prepared for their return trip back to Earth. Their plans were disrupted when an evil force started to attack them and try to pick them off one at a time. Liev Schreiber (Salt, Defiance) as Commander Vincent Campbell did his best to battle the unknown force; however, I was completely perplexed why he even agreed to do this film. I felt the story was an amalgamation of several other movies, finding nothing new or exciting. The character Kim Aldrich, played by Olivia Williams (An Education, The Sixth Sense), was a Ripley wannabe from the Alien franchise as far as I could tell. The special effects were substandard to the point of almost being laughable. I have been sitting here racking my brain out to find something redeeming to say about this awful film and all I can come up with is the fact it did not have anything offensive in a hateful way. Do yourself a favor and go rent one of those campy movies from the 1950’s or 60’s, taking a pass on this film that was horrific for the wrong reasons. There were scenes of violence and blood.

 

1 1/4 stars

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