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Flash Movie Review: Licorice Pizza

I WAS SURE I WAS ON my way to becoming a tycoon or at least thought of as being cool. There was no one I knew in my elementary school who was starting a business, but I was doing it. I do not remember how the idea came to me unless I considered the time spent selling candy and lemonade on the street corner, in front of my apartment building. My stand was a success; candy being the number one seller. What I used to do was set up the stand, a folding card table, early in the afternoon. I had two pitchers of lemonade and an assortment of candy pieces and bars. I would buy a bag of hard, fruit flavored candy that was individually wrapped, pour them into a bowl and sell each piece for a nickel. Right there, I was making a nice profit. When I was close to running out, I would have a friend of mine go to the store to buy another bag of hard candy and candy bars, which I priced a little more than the regular price. We would only buy the bars that were on sale; that is how I was able to make a profit on them.      HAVING GOTTEN A TASTE OF SUCCESS from my lemonade stand, gave me the confidence to start selling school supplies to my fellow classmates. I had a relative who was a manufacturer’s representative to a variety of companies that made school supplies. Their garage was completely shelved and fully stocked with all kinds of school items. Every new school year my cousins and I would go over and go “shopping” through the garage to get our school supplies. I must have asked my relative if I could take extra items, but I do not remember. There was no way I would have just taken them without permission; so, maybe I told him I wanted extra for friends? With my schoolbag loaded, I started asking classmates if they wanted to buy colored markers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and other assorted things. When students saw the variety of different colored markers and crayons, I sold out of everything in two days. I thought for sure I was on my way to becoming a great businessman. The added benefit to me was the fact students were now seeking me out to see what I had available. In my brain, I took this to mean I was now “popular.” Due to my history, I felt a connection at first with the main character in this dramatic, comedy romance.      HE WAS THE ULTIMATE PROMOTER OF himself. So, when student Gary Valentine, played by newcomer Cooper Hoffman, saw the school’s photographer’s helper he was convinced she would fall in love with him. With newcomer Alana Haim as Alana Kane, Sean Penn (Flag Day, Milk) as Jack Holden, Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths, Short Cuts) as Rex Blau and newcomer Will Angarola as Kirk; this film festival winner and Oscar nominee was a disappointment. I thought Alana did a decent job for a newcomer and the established actors were good; but it did not matter because I thought the script was littered with distractions. The only actor that stood out for me was Bradley Cooper. There were scenes that fell flat for me because they were hard to believe in. Despite this movie being tagged as a comedy, I did not find anything funny. Sure, there were a couple of precarious predicament scenes, but what it came down to for me was the actors seemed too young for their roles outside of the school scenes. I periodically lost interest, though I enjoyed the soundtrack. I also appreciated the story line of first love and of the would-be actor trying to get ahead; but things did not comfortably fit well for me in the end. With its Oscar nominations, I almost felt as if I was being hustled as I watched this picture.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Drive My Car

THERE IS A FINE LINE, I discovered, between sympathizing and topping. I am the first to admit that I used to not know the difference but have been working on it. It turns out, I am not the only one who was challenged in this area. There is an acquaintance of mine who consistently tries to “one up” me when it comes to issues of health. When we are talking and I mention an issue I am experiencing, such as a slight dizziness when I first get up from a reclined position, he will then proceed to tell me how he suffers from the same infliction; but invariably his condition is always worse than mine. If I said I had trouble sleeping, he would tell me how he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep because of all the times he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Or he would describe to me how horrible his mattress is, that he cannot get comfortable on it. No matter what I say, he is always quick to tell me how much worse it is for him. I must tell you this gets annoying pretty quickly; it is not a contest to see who can out complain the other.      I THINK OF THIS MAN WHEN someone is sharing their personal information/issue/concerns with me. If nothing else, I try to listen to the person to see if they are asking me for advice; sometimes, a person just wants a sympathetic ear or sounding board to help them figure out their feelings. When appropriate if I have had a similar experience, I may share that information with them. If they choose to ask me how I handled it, I will tell them. Sometimes I will tell them I had a similar experience and offer my advice on how I handled the situation, avoiding any comment with the word “should” in it. I do not know if you experience this; but when two people are sharing their issues and there is an even “give and take” of emotions and feelings, it is a beautiful feeling. There is a sense of healing taking place when I have experienced such a thing. Sometimes hearing what another person has gone through or done about their predicament has provided me with new insight and perspective. Not that I am saying it is a situation where you hear someone’s story, and you think things could have been worse for you; but I guess that can play a part in one’s perspective. Either way, it cannot hurt, and the proof is in this Oscar nominated drama from Japan.      HAVING ALREADY ACCEPTED THE POSITION OF director, there was no choice allowed when it came to providing Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima (License to Live, Tokyo Rendezvous), with a driver for his cherished red Saab automobile. The long drive could become a challenge. With Toko Miura (The Girl in the Sun, Weathering with You) as Misaki Watari, Reika Kirishima (Norwegian Wood, Godzilla: Final Wars) as Oto Kafuku, newcomer Park Yu-rim as Lee Yoon-a and newcomer Jin Dae-yeon as Kon Yoon-su; this film festival winning movie was an experience for me. I was not looking forward to its 3-hour running time, plus I experienced a bit of confusion when the opening credits took place well after the story had begun. With that being said, I was surprised how the confusion cleared up as I slowly was brought into this adult story that was based on the written short story. It was fascinating to watch adults be thoughtful and curious as the cast dealt with their various emotions. The play Uncle Vanya written by Anton Chekhov strongly influences this picture. Not having read it, I felt I was at a disadvantage. However, as the scenes progressed, I appreciated the way the director allowed the actors to explore their emotional baggage. As I said this film was made for adults and it did a wonderful job of exposing the depth of human feelings. Spoken Japanese and Korean sign language were used with English subtitles.          

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Belfast

GROWING UP I DID NOT REALIZE my neighborhood was idyllic, at least for me. But then, I would think any child who grows up in the neighborhood where they were born would think the same thing, as long as they haven’t experienced any type of trauma. I lived in a large apartment building that wrapped around a street corner, so there were 2 entrances for it. There was not one apartment on our side where I did not know the people living in them. In fact, when I had just started walking, I would go out in the hallway and get myself down 2 flights of stairs by sitting on my backside, to visit the neighbor on the 1st floor. The neighborhood was filled with kids my own age who became friends of mine. We would play outside all the time; every parent on the block knew each kid. One of our favorite games was hide and seek among the apartment buildings’ gangways and back porches. Looking back, I wonder how many steps/flights I would have done during a game. With my building we had 2 separate staircases connected by a cement backyard. The various stores in my neighborhood were all familiar with me and my family. I could walk into the drug store with a note from a parent and the pharmacist would hand over any refilled prescription medicine to me without any qualms. When I got older, I could be outside at nighttime with friends, and no one had a concern or fear.      AT SOME POINT, I DO NOT remember when, the draw of the suburbs became strong and started pulling my neighbors from their homes to settle past the city limits. The same was true with stores. I remember a men’s clothing store that closed and was replaced by a shop that had black lights to illuminate some of their rock posters and T-shirts. Some people would call the place a “head shop.” I guessed it was because it was messing with one’s head? Where the neighborhood had a strong homogenous look to it, things started to change. I hope this does not come out as a judgement; it was an observation. The store signs in my neighborhood were backlit; in other words, three dimensional for the most part, either actual signage or individual letters. I noticed the new store signs coming in were more like banners or made with strong paper. In my mind they did not look permanent to me. Some of the stores began putting up signs in different languages which I discovered bothered some of the older residents in the neighborhood. Change may not always be easy for certain people; you can see it for yourself in this biographical drama.      DURING THE TUMULTUOUS TIMES OF THE 1960s in Ireland, a family experiences something they had never imagined taking place in their small, friendly neighborhood. With Jude Hill (Magpie Murders-TV) as Buddy, newcomer Lewis McAskie as Will, Caitriona Balfe (Ford v Ferrari, Outlander-TV) as Ma, Jamie Dornan (A Private War, Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) as Pa and Judi Dench (All is True, Victoria & Abdul) as Granny; this multiple Oscar nominated film was directed and written by Kenneth Branagh. Based on true events from his childhood, he created a beautifully filmed and directed piece of work here. I loved watching this movie and thought the entire cast worked as one solid, magnificent unit. There was something about the way Kenneth filmed the characters in close or looking up at them that made the visuals stronger. Granted, the actors gratefully could emote without saying a word. The script was solid though there were twinges I felt of manipulation to pull at one’s heart strings. For me, I was able to relate to some of the neighborhood scenes, though I am not sure this would be universal across all viewers. However, it should not deter one from experiencing such a well-done picture.             

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Lost Daughter

IN FRONT OF ME WAS A pile of recipes I had printed out. I had a dinner party planned and I was looking for a couple of new things to serve. As I leafed through and scanned the recipes, I found one that was titled, “Savory Snack Mix.” The word “savory” intrigued me, so I stopped to read the ingredients and instructions. Some of the ingredients listed were pretzels, rice and wheat cereal squares and what the author called, “potato sticks.” Wow, I had not thought of that snack food in decades and was immediately transported back to my childhood, sitting at the kitchen table with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a plate. Accompanying the sandwich were potato sticks, but I only knew them as “shoestring potatoes.” I loved eating this snack, partially because no matter how many were poured on a plate, it always looked like there were a lot. One of the things I used to do was move them around on my plate, looking for the ones that did not uniformly match the others, such as longer, darker or curved sticks. Once I picked them out to eat, I was left with a uniform shaped space that I could pile closer together to make a wall or spread them out to pave a road across my plate. My imagination was quite active when I was a little boy.      ISN’T IT FUNNY HOW ONE LITTLE thing can trigger a memory that was untouched for so many years? Cleaning out a junk drawer, I found a pencil sharpener shaped like a flying saucer. Instantaneously, I saw myself holding it our at arm’s length, pretending it was flying around our home as I went from room to room. This took place decades ago; yet I could see it as fresh as day, like I had just done it. The mind is such a fascinating organ. How can I forget to pick up the one item I needed at the grocery story, yet I can remember myself from so many years ago, down to what I was wearing at the time? I have mentioned this before, but I can hear the first few notes of a song and immediately know where I was when I first heard it. Now granted, I have only been talking about “happy” memories; it is a whole different feeling when one remembers a troubling time in one’s life. I guess that is where guilt comes into play and the reason why one tries to forget the incident. While watching the main character in this drama, I was wondering what she was remembering while on her vacation.      WHILE ON HOLIDAY LEDA, PLAYED BY Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Lobster), becomes intrigued by a vacationing family. Their child’s baby doll intrigues her even more. With Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy) as young Leda, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Nina, Ed Harris (Apollo 13, The Truman Show) as Lyle and Peters Sarsgaard (The Sound of Silence, Garden State) as Professor Hardy; this Oscar nominee stood out due to Olivia’s performance. In my opinion, she has one of the most expressive faces and knows how to use it to her advantage. Jessie Buckley was the other standout for me. The rest of the cast was excellent, but I found Olivia more noticeable. The directing, along with the visuals, were done in a thoughtful, beautiful way; I especially enjoyed the outdoor scenes. On the downside, this was not enough to keep my attention; it began to wane halfway through the film. I disliked the way the story went, especially the ending. It was a shame because I so enjoyed the acting aspect of this picture. There is a good chance I will not forget Olivia’s acting; but as far as the rest of this movie is concerned, I do not think I will remember it years from now.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Man Who Sold His Skin

LOVE CAN MAKE A PERSON DO things they never thought of doing before. I know because not only have I seen it in action, I have been a participant. Back in my college days, I used public transportation to get to school, 1 bus and 2 trains to be exact. Taking it every day to and from school, I noticed most people stand in the same spot each time they are waiting for the train to pull up to the platform. With this knowledge in hand, I used to run through the station to get to my 2ndtrain; so I could get to the same train car where I knew a passenger was who I had been having a casual conversation with for a few weeks. I made it look like I just happened to enter the same train car, making sure to take a couple of deep breaths to slow my racing heart down before getting on to look for them. My intention was to ask them out for a drink at some point, depending on how things progressed. Some of you may think these antics, in the name of attraction/love, are a bit crazy; while others may think what I was doing was no big deal. I at least knew my actions, compared to some of the stuff I have seen people do, were more on the mild side.      RECENTLY THE NEWS REPORTED ON A man who lost thousands of dollars (we are talking in the mid five figure range) to a woman he had never seen in person. This is an example of something way extreme for me. The man had met the woman online and the two struck up a “friendship” according to the man. They would exchange photos that depicted family members, home and town. As time went on the man was getting emotionally attached to this woman who had started to share stories of a more personal nature; things about her mother’s ailments, her kids’ schooling, the difficulty she was having paying some of her bills ever since her husband had been killed. I am sure you can see where this is going; the man offered to loan her some money. She protested she could not accept his money, but the man was persistent. They finally agreed that it would be okay for him to send her a “little” money and to consider it an early birthday gift for herself. For the next few months, the woman would share a variety of hardships she was facing, including trying to save up money for an airline ticket to come visit him. By that point the man had handed over most of his savings; the airline ticket was the last thing he sent her money for because once she received it, she deleted her accounts and disappeared. Such a crazy and sad story; but I know this happens when love is in the equation. Simply look at what the man did for love in this Oscar nominated film.      ESCAPING THE OPPRESSION OF HIS COUNTRY’S government, a Syrian refugee agrees to become an art piece so he can travel to Europe to be with the woman he loves. However, it was not as easy as that, he soon found out. With relative newcomer Yahya Mahayni as Sam Ali, newcomer Dea Liane as Abeer, Koen De Bouw (The Prime Minister, Professor T.-TV) as Jeffrey Godefroi, Monica Bellucci (The Matrix franchise, Malena) as Soraya Waldy and Darina Al Joundi (Sisters in Arms, The Tower) as Sam’s mother. This film festival winning drama presented an original, fascinating story line that I found refreshing. The acting was excellent as was the filming of this picture. I felt there were a variety of ways a person could interpret what the writers were intending, that I am not sure if I comprehended some of the ideas coming from different angles. Whether one perceives the story as a political, a marketing, a love or satirical one; I think there is something to gain by watching this thought-provoking film. There were several scenes where Arabic and French were spoken with English subtitles.      

3 ½ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Mudbound

I HAD NOT NOTICED BUT MY friend was the one who did. We had gotten together for dinner, meeting at the restaurant. After giving his name to the host, he returned, and we settled into a couple of empty chairs in the waiting area. I was not focused on the time since we were busy talking, catching up on the things we had been doing since we last had seen each other. The restaurant was popular so there were a lot of people coming and going. I do not know how long we had been waiting, but my friend motioned to a couple who had been sitting near us, that were now walking to their table. He told me they had walked in after we did. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. Maybe they had called ahead to make a reservation, I told him. He was not convinced and as we continued with our conversation, he kept looking at the different groups around us, to see who was being called by the host that walked in after he gave his name. When another couple got called my friend pointed out they also had come in after we were seated. The perplexed look on my face told my friend that I was not seeing what he saw; we were being skipped over because he was Black.      WHEN HE SAID THIS TO ME, I looked around and noticed there were very few people who were not Caucasian. I normally do not focus on a person’s skin color or ethnic origins since I consider everyone human. The only differential I consider is whether a person is human or animal, nothing else. It does not matter to me if a person is rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight, short or tall; for me, it is whether a person is good or bad. So, instead of my friend going up to the host I told him I would go and see what was going on. When the host looked up as I approached him, I asked him how much longer he thought the wait would be, giving him my friend’s name. The host looked at his list and apologized for the wait and said the table was just being cleaned off now and to wait a minute. He was gone for less than a minute and asked me to follow him; I motioned to my friend to join me. Nothing the host did indicated his dislike for my friend; however, I had to wonder if there was something more here that I was not seeing. I want to believe people look beyond a person’s skin color, but I know prejudices have been part of our culture for centuries. This Oscar nominated movie will show you it from a time long gone.      HOPES WERE HIGH FOR HENRY McALLAN, played by Jason Clarke (Pet Seminary, Zero Dark Thirty), when he moved his family to Mississippi. What he was not expecting was to share the land with a black family. With Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Promising Young Woman) as Laura McAllan, Mary J. Blige (Black Nativity, The Wiz Live!-TV movie) as Florence Jackson, Rob Morgan (Monsters and Men, Stranger Things-TV) as Hap Jackson and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Rondel Jackson; this film festival winning war drama had an outstanding cast of actors. I found their acting to be authentic with depth, which made the story come alive. The directing was on point to create multiple levels of intensity and drama, which captured me and drew me into the story. I have not read the book this movie is based on; but I felt the script provided me a complete, well-rounded story. This was a powerful picture that had a couple of violent scenes.

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Soul

THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something I thought I would never experience, as I am sure most of you have thought. When my state passed stay at home orders, I thought the only time I would be told to stay indoors was during a tornado or the threat of nuclear fallout. The only crisis I have lived through of this magnitude was during the AIDS epidemic. Though the transmission method was different, there still was a fear early on of getting to close to people. Back then the fear was unfounded; now it is real and could be the difference between life and death. I have known healthy individuals who caught this virus and succumbed to it. The suffering of being alone in a hospital bed as one’s lungs are slowly being squeezed of their last breath is a brutal experience. What makes this virus extra scary for me is how random it is in who will experience its affects. Some people don’t even know they are infected while others can get severe headaches, high fevers or death. I remember during my time at home, looking out the window and seeing the streets void of any human life. Pigeons scanning the sidewalks for a morsel of food, squirrels crisscrossing streets with less hesitancy and noticeable to me, less debris.      WITH THE LOCKDOWN IN PLACE, THAT also meant I could not go to the health club to work out, to restaurants, to theaters and so on. Suddenly Saturdays took on extra meaning because that was the day, I would order carryout, to help the nearby local restaurants. Food took on a different importance; instead of eating for sustenance, I was eating for comfort. There was a manmade lake close to my house that I had never seen. I drove to it so I could get my steps in by walking the circumference of it. Seeing the ducks take off and land on the water was something I had never seen except on television. When the weather got too cold outside, I started walking/jogging in an underground parking garage. Little did I know that the space would become by sanctuary of peaceful calm. Staying in touch with friends/relatives took on a new meaning. In the past, there usually was an activity attached to getting together; but now, just being able to open a window and talk to a friend who was outside on the front lawn was a joy. Sitting outside to watch the sun set felt more monumental than during pre-COVID. Hearing silence except for the birds in the trees was a new experience. Little did I think that living a temporary restricted lifestyle would allow me to appreciate the little things that can go unnoticed on a typical day. This Oscar nominated and film festival winner can explain things better than me.     JUST WHEN A SCHOOL BAND TEACHER feels things are looking up, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place where passion comes into question. With Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Robin Hood) voicing Joe, Tina Fey (Date Night, Sisters) voicing 22, Graham Norton (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Another Gay Movie) voicing Moonwind, Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Baby Done) voicing Terry and Phylicia Rashad (Creed franchise, This is Us-TV) voicing Libba; this animated, adventure comedy had a lot going on with it. As to be expected from a Pixar movie, the animation was inventive and fun. There were some scenes that were rich with details, but others I found to be somewhat average. The script was different to me; I found it to be esoteric in nature. Young viewers may not understand the meaning of some scenes and might ask for an explanation. From an entertainment standpoint, I did not feel the sense of joy I normally do with a Pixar film. I did however appreciate the message; I only wished there had been more musical interludes.                                   

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Better Days

WE HAD A LONG LIST OF items we needed for the beginning of the school year; but they really needed to give us instead, a list of things we should not do. For some of you, what I will be saying will make little sense to you and that is okay. It tells me your school years were good. The rest of you though, will know exactly what I am talking about. When I started school, unbeknownst to me, there was this preordained invisible list of what not to wear to avoid getting bullied. For example, never wear something that was homemade or even looked like it had been otherwise, it could set you up for a whole slew of name calling. Boys had a smaller pallet of colors to choose from for their clothing; so, wearing a shirt that was anything but a primary color could lead one to be cornered in a school hallway or worse, the boys’ bathroom. Glasses only got one so far from becoming a target unless the lens thickness was noticeable enough to earn the moniker “pop bottle eyes.” If a girl was going to wear a dress it had to be the length that fashion was dictating that season. Caught in a long dress that was out of fashion, would earn a girl the nickname of “Granny.” And pity the student who has acne or whose size stands out from the norm; they would be shunned by many of their fellow students.     THOSE THINGS VISIBLE TO THE HUMAN eye were not the only triggers that would get one bullied. There were many actions that would earn a snide remark or an unflattering nickname. It was ok to have a hobby, just don’t have it be a collection of weird stuff. Stamps and coins were on the border of being considered nerdy; however, if one collected old radios or postcards, they could be considered a loser. Any of these examples could warrant a slap in the head, a punch to the stomach, a shove, a hit with a projectile; and these were the milder reactions. A student who for some unknown reason elicits a stronger reaction could find themselves in the gymnasium’s locker room with a group of boys punching and slamming him into the lockers. The victim’s only hope is if a teacher might hear something and come investigate it. However, once the student leaves the school grounds, a whole new set of circumstances comes into play and it could feel like a life or death situation. This Oscar nominated film can show you what life can be like for some students.      PREPARING FOR THE NATIONAL TESTS WAS pressure enough for student Chen Nian, played by Dongyu Zhou (Us and Them, Soulmate), but being the target for a small group of bullying girls was making things worse. There had to be a way to make it better. With Jackson Yee (A Little Red Flower, Song of the Phoenix-TV) as Xiao Bei, Fang Yin (Walking Past the Future, Coffee or Tea?) as Zheng Yi, Ye Zhou (Word of Honor-TV) as Wei Lai and Jue Huang (Fallen City, Long Day’s Journey into Night) as Lao Yang; this film festival winning drama was one of the best movies I have seen the past year. Mixing a family drama with a crime romance made this an all engulfing experience for me. For personal reasons, it was also hard for me to see certain scenes. The directing and filming of this picture blended in a seamless, beautiful way. I was fascinated with the cultural aspect of the testing system depicted; it was intense. The 2 lead actors did an outstanding job with their characters because I felt they were the people they were portraying in the story. Nominated for best foreign film by the Academy Awards committee, I hope it wins. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.

4 stars           

Flash Movie Trailer: Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

AS WE WERE COMING IN FOR a landing at the airport, the passenger in the next seat reminded me to make sure I don’t put my wallet in my pants pocket. I thanked him as I wondered what kind of city I would find in this foreign land. The flight was several hours and this passenger, upon hearing this was my first trip to the city, had updated me on a variety of places where I had to be careful because of pickpockets and con artists. I had heard similar stuff from friends back home who had visited this place before. My plan once we landed was to get my luggage then find the transportation terminal to take a bus to my hotel. The walk from luggage claim to transportation was short; once there, I stopped to put my luggage down to double check my paperwork on which bus I needed. About 25 feet away from me was a woman standing and talking to 2 guys. At first, I thought they were a group; but soon realized the two guys were native as they were talking about their cab that was parked outside. The way they stood next to the woman; she could not see that one of the guys was trying to slip his hand into her purse, that was hanging down from her shoulder. Before I had time to think, I yelled out, “HEY!” It was enough for the guy to move his hand away as the woman turned to look at me. The 2 men quickly walked away. What kind of city was I getting into?      GRATEFULLY, DESPITE THAT INTRODUCTION TO A new city, I fell in love with the place. My time there reminded me of another trip I took to an international city. On that trip, I had planned to incorporate a lot of walking into my daily sightseeing attractions. Of course, I had to try their public transportation at least once, which was surreal for me because I was able to imagine what it must have been like to be underground decades ago, while bombs were exploding above. On one of my daily excursions, I wound up getting lost and could not figure out how to get to my intended destination. With the tourist map in hand, I glanced at the pedestrians who were coming and going and chose a middle-aged looking man to stop and ask for help. He was friendly and unbelievably helpful to the point where he insisted walking with me, to make sure I got to the correct train stop. That chance encounter only enhanced the great time I had visiting that city. A moment of kindness can make all the difference; you can see it for yourself in this animated adventure comedy.      THE SIGHTING OF A UFO NEARBY makes the Farmer, voiced by John Sparkes (Calendar Girls, Peppa Pig-TV), see a new source of income; while Shaun the sheep, voiced by Justin Fletcher (Chicken Run, Justin’s House-TV), makes a new friend. With Amalia Vitale (Making It, Christmas Eve) voicing Lu-La/Me-Ma, Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder-TV, Timmy Time-TV) voicing Agent Red/Timmy’s Mum and David Holt (Angry Kid-TV, The Jungle Book-TV) voicing Mugg-1NS; this Oscar nominated and film festival winner was a joy to watch. Besides enjoying the style of animation in this film, I loved the fact there was no discernible dialog. Emotions and intentions were all conveyed with the face and body; it was incredible. The story was simple and there were no surprises per se; however, there was such a charm and fun element to this film that I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The humor/sight gags were sly and amusing on multiple levels; some geared to younger kids and others to more mature, including adults. If this sequel is any indication of what to expect going forward, I will always enjoy visiting this farm where Shaun lives. Extra scene during the credits.

3 ¼ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

FROM MY EXPERIENCES IN SCHOOL, BOYS were more likely to retaliate against someone who did them wrong than the girls. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “I will be waiting for you outside after school,” which meant two students would be having a fight after school hours. Sadly, that phrase was directed at me a couple of times. With different grades entering and leaving from specific doors, it was easy to figure out where a person would be leaving the school building. I remember bolting out of class when the ending bell rang and running down the hallway to a different exit door. Once outside, I immediately ran across the street and made my way between two apartment buildings; so, I could cut into the alley behind them and make my way home unseen from the streets. The rest of the school week, I kept an eye out for the student who threatened me. Other students were not as lucky as me. I remember two fights that took place in front of the school; one was fought by two boys until a schoolteacher ran over to break it up and drag them both back to the principal’s office. The other fight had 2 girls whose viciousness surprised me as they slapped, scratched, punched and kicked each other until one of them ran off after her blouse was torn open.      THERE WAS ONLY TWO TIMES I can recall, where a female student plotted retribution against a fellow student. The one girl may have been short, but she was tough. She never backed down from anyone, whether it was a girl or a boy. I did not actually see the encounter but was told she cornered a female student in the girl’s bathroom and threatened her with a pocketknife. She felt the girl was flirting with her boyfriend. The other incident happened in my classroom. A female classmate wanted to get back at a boy who called her names. When the male student was not looking, she placed a pack of cigarettes next to the schoolbooks he had piled under his chair. When the teacher was walking in front of her desk, she noticed the cigarette pack on the floor under the student and sent him down to the principal’s office, despite his pleas that the cigarettes were not his. The female student remained silent, looking innocent in her seat. These were the only incidents I could remember from my days back in school. You will see they pale in comparison to what took place in this dramatic Oscar nominated crime thriller.      APPEARING TO LACK MOTIVATION AND DESIRE, there was only one thing Cassandra, played by Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, The Dig), had on her mind. It was something she had been thinking about for a long time. With Bo Burnham (The Big Sick, Rough Night) as Ryan, Alison Brie (Sleeping with Other People, The Post) as Madison, Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, Like a Boss) as Susan and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Stanley; this film festival winner grabbed my attention early on because of Carey’s performance. She gave life to the character and was riveting in the process. The directing and story were both in synch to deliver a perfectly paced story that took me on a hesitant journey into Cassandra’s world. I will say I felt let down from the ending, finding it a bit too convenient. The idea behind the story was sound and relevant, especially for the times we are presently living in. After watching this movie, I have been sitting and wondering if several or so of the scenes shown in this picture have been happening for a long time or not. This film really makes one think and that is a good thing.

3 ½ stars  

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