Flash Movie Review: Traffic
I MAY NOT REMEMBER A PERSON’S name, but I am good with remembering faces; yet, I had a hard time recognizing this man who was talking to me in the music store. He called out my name as he walked up to me. I am not attaching any judgment here, simply describing what I saw coming down the aisle. This man had, if I understand the phrase correctly, long dishwater blonde hair that looked oily. It cascaded in waves down the sides of his head. Perched halfway down his nose was a pair of wire rimmed glasses that had lenses that looked smudged and dirty to me. He was wearing an oversized, beige canvas jacket that had frayed edges and a couple of discolored spots on it. The jeans he was wearing were extremely faded and were so worn at the knees that you could see the white threading crisscrossing in the fabric. His shoes were so dirty it looked to me as if he had been trudging through a long road of mud. As I watched his face get nearer to me, I tried placing where I had seen it before. There was something familiar about it; I had a feeling that I must have known him from a long time ago. WE WERE FACE TO FACE WHEN he asked me how I was doing. I said fine but he must have seen the bewildered look on my face because he told me his name. As soon as I heard it, memories of him flooded into my mind. I did know him because we went to school together. So, you will better understand, let me tell you about him. He wasn’t a jock, did not play sports, but he was always trim. His hair back then was a lighter shade of blonde and was thick and cut short. I don’t remember him ever wearing glasses back then; maybe he only used them when he was studying at home. Many of the students in his class considered him a Brainiac; though, he never flaunted his high intelligence, at least he did not around me. A lot of us thought he would become a scientist or philosopher. I remember him always having a paperback book in his hand. So, you can sort of get the idea how shocked I was to see such a different version of him. As we were conversing, I kept wondering what had happened to him that caused such a drastic change in appearance and mannerisms. I think I found the answer while watching this Academy Awards and film festival winner. WITH HIS NEW GOVERNMENT POSITION ROBERT Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra, Ant-Man franchise), did not realize the impact his new mission would have on his family. With Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, 21 Grams) as Javier Rodriguez, Don Cheadle (The Guard, Traitor) as Montel Gordon, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Mask of Zorro franchise) as Helena Ayala and Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop, Crossing Jordan-TV) as Eduardo Ruiz; this dramatic crime thriller took me a short time to separate and connect all the characters among its three story lines. The large cast was full of top notch acting that ran the gambit of emotions. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Magic Mike), I felt he did a masterful job of keeping the stories moving forward and blending in easily with each other. There were several intense scenes with blood, yet I did not find the violence was in excess. Once I found the rhythm of this picture, I was totally in and lost the concept of time; things kept happening and changing without me losing track once. I especially enjoyed the way the subject was broken down so each story line could focus on a particular aspect of it. Watching this film, I could not help wondering if my assumptions about my old classmate were closer to truth than I first thought.
3 ½ stars
Oscar Awards Show 2020
EXCUSE ME IF THERE ARE TYPOS within this Oscar telecast review; I did not get much sleep due to the extra long telecast last night. It was a good thing I added extra recording time on my DVR for the show. After finishing up the weekend’s chores earlier in the day, I had everything out and ready to sit back and relax while checking off my predictions. Overall, most of my predictions were correct; the biggest surprise was the best picture category. The reason for my surprise was not that Parasite was chosen; it was that the academy actually voted it the best. I thought by them giving the award for best international film (I am glad they changed the title of this category from best foreign film) to Parasite, the academy would not also give the movie the best picture award. None of the other picks shocked me. LAST YEAR I TOLD YOU HOW I did not miss having a host; it turns out that may have been a fluke, because this telecast had an uneven flow without a host. I thought the show started out with a big bang by having Janelle Monae opening the night to get the crowd into the mood. Sadly, her precise and lively performance only made Steve Martin’s and Chris Rock’s banter stilted when they came out next. Some of their jokes were humorous, but it appeared they needed more rehearsal time; or, they might have been confused on why they were there if the show was not going to have a host. It became apparent to me as the show lumbered along that a host might have kept things connected and flowing. Having people come out to introduce celebrities who were then going to introduce the nominees seemed redundant to me. As for the acceptance speeches; some were short and delightful, while others rambled on. As you know I rate movies based on their entertainment value; I want the same thing for award shows—to be entertained. I do not want to hear celebrities lecture or preach about a cause unless they actually are involved with it. Just to hear someone’s opinion on a subject, I do not feel an awards show should be the avenue for a celebrity to tell me what I should do. And another thing about the presenters; maybe the academy should vet them a little better. There were a few actors/actresses who rambled on without making much sense. They took valuable viewing time and wasted it. THERE WERE A FEW SEGMENTS THAT I found baffling. Why did we need someone to give us a recap of what we had seen so far in a rap? Why did we need to hear Eminem sing his Oscar winning song without an introduction or explanation? And speaking of introductions, why were some of the nominated songs performed without letting the viewers know who and what was being sung? Some of the decisions that were made for this telecast were wasteful and frustrating to me, especially since I could tell the telecast was going to go past its allotted time slot. Now I do not want to be Mr. Gloom and Doom here; there were some lovely and touching moments. Seeing the winning director of Parasite pay his respects to Martin Scorsese was sweet as was Laura Dern’s acceptance speech. I admit it takes a lot for me to be disappointed with the Oscars telecast since it is something I have been watching ever since I was a young child. The memories I have of past shows have stayed with me all these years as will the new memories I get from current telecasts. For yesterday’s show, though I still enjoyed watching it, there certainly was room there for improvement. I hope everyone had fun this past Oscar year as I go right into our next year of movies, looking for that perfect 4-star film. Thank you for your comments and support throughout the past year; I appreciate it deeply.
Oscar Awards Show
THE DAY OF THE OSCARS TELECAST is supposed to be a day with no stress, conflicts or upsetting news. It is a day of comfort, excitement, being with friends and family or not; a time to sit back and reflect on the past year’s movies. So, when I woke up to an alert on my phone that read “due to inclement weather…” I could rebook my flight home for a different time at no charge my stress level became elevated. Due to scheduling I already was cutting the times close to get home and settled before the awards show. Now with wintery weather, I could get caught in “flight delayed” hell. I did not want to rebook my flight; so, I decided to take my chances with getting on that 1st flight out of town. Even if it meant I had to get up awfully early with only enough time to shove all my clothes tightly into my suitcase, I would get home in time to see the show. Gratefully, the Hollywood powers that be and the alignment of the celebrities’ stars took pity on me and let my flight take off on time to get back home. WALKING INTO MY HOUSE 10 MINUTES before the awards show started was not planned. I had to leave my suitcase and bags in the hallway, race into the kitchen to only eat whatever I could grab right out of the refrigerator (like a bear scavenging thru an empty house) and sit down in front of the television to see the momentous occasion of the show going without a host. And you know what? I did not miss having a host at all. The hosting job, in my opinion, can only be handled by a certain type of individual. They would need to be quick thinking, funny and be able to have a strong command of the audience. I can only bring a few to mind who could fit that bill. Starting out the show with Queen and Adam Lambert performing was a smart move by the academy. After their missteps of having and not having a most popular film category to moving some awards to commercial time, they needed an attention-grabbing start to the show and they got that with Queen. Following it up with Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler coming out for the first presenter spot was a brilliant move. The academy needed to warm up the audience and get them into the mood and these 3 women knew exactly what it took to make that happen. I felt the rest of the presenters were all safe choices with only a couple of surprises, Melissa McCarthy dressed up in costume and Barbra Streisand. It was great to see Julia Roberts; however, based on her reaction it looked like they sprung the news on her to end the show. It appeared and felt awkward. Instead, they should have had a “surprise guest” come out and say goodbye. BASED ON MY PREVIOUS POST THAT listed my choices, I was overall okay with the chosen winners. A couple of surprises based on the audience’s reaction, but for the nominations that were given, the academy got most of the choices right. Now for what I felt was the highlight of the show and that was the performance from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. If ever you wanted to see a master class of acting, then this was the couple to see. Going from nominated actors in the audience to walking up on stage and immediately into “character” for their performance of the song, “Shallow,” was an amazing feat. I understand Bradley was extremely nervous to sing on stage, but I could not see it. They were perfection in their singing and chemistry; nothing more need be said about it. The last thing I wish to mention was the shorter duration of the telecast. It was enough time and I appreciated it immensely. So, with that being said I want to thank all of you for another good year of movie watching and reviews. May your journeys take you to uncharted territories of wonder, surprise, thrills and love as we look for those films that can take us away from our reality and place us into the middle of the movie’s story. Thank you for following and sharing your comments with me; it is deeply appreciated.
Oscar Awards Telecast
THOUGH I WAS PREPARED FOR a long show, by the time it actually ends it always seems so much longer. Not that I am complaining about it since I know when you have people talking off script it is hard to peg an actual ending time. Personally I prefer the winners to come prepared with their acceptance speeches. The reason I say this is because there have been so many times where a winner gets up in front of the audience and can only sputter out sporadic words of thanks. Of course I am all for an off the cuff remark or something fun; but walking up and pretending you are totally in shock (especially if you are one of the odds on favorites) and not having anything written down makes me suspicious. Oh wait, maybe that is supposed to be ACTING!
COMPARED TO PAST SHOWS THIS one was not one of my favorites, though nowhere near the one Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted one year. Overall Jimmy Kimmel did a decent job; not a laugh out loud type stint at hosting, but he had some good segments. I actually thought he was a bit restrained. Where the Jet Ski joke was fun (don’t you love Helen Mirren?!) I thought going over to visit the movie patrons next door was a waste of time. It is funny my first thought when the lights turned on and they stopped the feature film was I would have been so upset if I was in the audience and they stopped the movie in the middle. The whole stint was similar to last year’s joke that went a bit sour when it was discovered one of the tourists had recently gotten out of prison.
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR me was hearing all the nominated songs being performed by their original artists. I enjoyed the staging especially for Remember Me from Coco and This is Me from The Greatest Showman. Another high point for me was Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech. Granted I wish we lived in a world where we did not have to classify or label a person’s gender or race to their profession, but I totally understand why it needs to be done presently. Maybe it is just me but I do not focus on whether a woman or man wrote the screenplay; I just want it to be a well written script. However if a person is being discriminated because of their race, religion, gender or gender identity; then I would have a problem with it. I noticed many of the celebrities were wearing a particular pin on their clothing. Showing your solidarity with a cause is admirable and I do not want to downplay the action. The question I have is are they just wearing the pin to wear it; did they pay for it and the money is earmarked for a good cause or are they actively trying to cause change in a broken system? You know how much I love the movies but like sports figures, I think something is askew when people who act are given huge amounts of money while many school teachers are being forced to foot the bill to supply their class with fundamental utensils for education.
OVERALL I WAS SATISFIED WITH the voting results. There really were no surprises per se. My only wish is I would like the better made movies to be spread throughout the year, instead of the film studios holding what they believe will become Oscar nominated pictures towards the end of the year. The other thing I would like to have is more quality made movies; this year had more than the usual amount of films that got a low star rating from me. But enough of that; let me end on a happier note. How many of you absolutely loved the introduction of Rita Moreno, who wore the exact same dress she wore when she won her Oscar for West Side Story? That took place over 55 years ago! Now one more comment; I thought it was an excellent idea to bring back Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to get a 2nd chance to name the correct picture. Now that they are done don’t bring them back.
WELL THAT IS ALL I have to say about the show. Another year closes into the record books. I have gathered up my reviews from the past year and put them in a time capsule that looks suspiciously like a box that once held a humidifier inside of it, hung up my Oscar predictions on the corkboard, recycled my plastic water bottle and watered my poor neglected plants before I checked on what movies would be opening this weekend. In case I have to see three films in a row I better get on the treadmill to prepare myself. Everyone thank you for following me the past year; I hope I was able to save you from spending money on the poorly made films and let you become surprised on some new discoveries. A happy and healthy year of movie watching I wish for each and every one of you. Thank you.
Oscar Predictions 2018
WELL ANOTHER OSCAR SEASON will close with this weekend’s awards show. It has been an interesting past year for movies. There have been a couple of breakout stars and some major flops. Looking at my reviews the past year, there seems to have been fewer outstanding films in my opinion. I believe only 1 or 2 movies received my top 4 star rating. To tell you the truth overall it has been a tough slog to sit through so many pictures that were poorly made. I did however discover 3 new things at the theater. First, I love the one remodeled theater out of 18 at the movie complex near my house. With oversized, soft reclining seats that vibrate to the soundtrack and a dynamite sound system; it made watching a blockbuster film more enjoyable. Second, I discovered a decked out theater with great sound and picture quality along with reclining seats does not make a poorly made film any better. And lastly I discovered I hate, yes hate, sitting in a theater that allows people to order food and have it brought in so they can eat a meal while watching the movie. It is so annoying to sit there and try to pay attention to the picture while a group of people next to you are chomping down on their food. And don’t get me started with the ones that eat with their mouths open!
So let us put all of that aside, get settled into our happy place and enjoy the Academy Awards show. I have all of my favorite snacks ready (to be eaten during the commercials) and have the weekend off from teaching, so I can focus on getting all of my chores done before the telecast. Without further ado let me present to you my choices for what I think should and will win in each category listed.
MY CHOICE TO WIN WHAT WILL WIN
The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
Gary Oldman Gary Oldman
Sally Hawkins Frances McDormand
Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell
Allison Janney Allison Janney
Guillermo del Toro Guillermo del Toro
Loving Vincent Coco
Call Me by Your Name Call Me by Your Name
Get Out The Shape of Water
Dunkirk Blade Runner 2049
This is Me Remember Me
Phantom Thread Beauty and the Beast
Baby Driver Star Wars: The Last Jedi
THERE YOU HAVE IT, my picks for the Oscars. May each and every one of you enjoy the show and may each day after be an Oscar worthy day for you. Thank you for your support, comments, likes and suggestions; I appreciate it deeply and also you allowing me to nurture my passion for movies.
Oscar Predictions 2016
Five people are lined up waiting for the starting bell. When it goes off they race as fast as they can to the finish line. It seems as if the race was over just as fast as when it started. Under these circumstances I agree on naming one of the contestants the”winner.” The person was the fastest human on the planet. You see all five people ran their hearts out to get to the finish line first; but they were timed, so one came in first, the next one second and so on. Truthfully I have no issue with this type of contest because it seems more like physics to me. The Oscars on the other hand are different; how does one judge art? It is that time of year that everyone (that is right I am pointing my finger at you) is all abuzz about who will get an Oscar award. I do not know what methods other people use to decide who deserves the award (notice we no longer use the words win or winner, example: …and the Oscar goes to ___), but this is how I choose the acting roles: the actor who is the most convincing and totally becomes the character, where I no longer see them as “so and so” portraying a character, they are the character; they get my vote. My bottom line for how I choose in the other categories is how much did that nominee or aspect contribute to the entire film watching experience and teleport me from my theater seat into the picture and story.
With no further ado I present to you my choices on who I would like to see get the Oscar award and who will probably receive it.
MY PICKS THEIR PICKS
SPOTLIGHT THE BIG SHORT
ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU
LEONARDO DICAPRIO LEONARDO DICAPRIO
BRIE LARSON CHARLOTTE RAMPLING
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
SYLVESTER STALLONE MARK RYLANCE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
ALICIA VIKANDER KATE WINSLET
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
THE BIG SHORT THE MARTIAN
BEST FOREIGN FILM: (I DID NOT SEE ALL THE NOMINEES)
SON OF SAUL
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: (I DID NOT SEE ALL THE NOMINEES)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
THE HATEFUL EIGHT THE HATEFUL EIGHT
As the past Oscar season is about to come to a close, I want to wish all of you an Oscar day filled with unexpected joy, happy surprises and as always good health. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover that elusive 4 star movie.
Let the show begin!