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Flash Movie Review: Den of Thieves

IT IS BEST TO TREAD carefully when you have interactions with a person who has a blurred line between their personal and business life. I am not saying such an individual is a “bad” person; but I have found they tend to react and think differently in social settings and relationships. There are some people whose job becomes their life; the role they play at work continues after hours. At a party I attended there was an individual who was employed in a managerial position. This person was used to having the final say; in other words, they always got their way. If you tried to have a discussion with them they pretended to listen to you, nodding their head up and down at certain points while you talked, but they would quickly make up their mind before you even finished stating your point. Granted this was only one example but I have been a witness to many other similar situations and yet I do not think all managers act this way. It is a particular behavior that I have noticed more than once.     DO YOU THINK IT IS safe to say a person who is a control freak or hungry for power would easily change by deferring to another individual? I do not see it happening or at least not easily. Even in a love relationship relinquishing control takes a lot of effort for some people. I admit I am a person who likes to be in control; if for no other reason I have no one to blame for anything that may go wrong. I kid my friends that I wish everyone would follow my rules because it would make life so much easier to navigate. Realistically I know this cannot happen; however, I have been around some individuals who almost desperately try to exert their will on other people. It makes for an uncomfortable situation. These individuals I have noticed tend to compartmentalize all aspects of their daily life, more so at their place of employment. This only feeds into their control issues. And if you want to see an example of this, feel free to view this action crime drama.     ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL group of bank robbers has set their sights on something bigger. Their actions are really getting to Officer Nick Flanagan, played by Gerard Butler (Geostorm, Olympus Has Fallen franchise) and his special unit within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. With Jordan Bridges (Mona Lisa Smile, Frequency) as “Lobbin Bob” Golightly, Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Merrimen, Evan Jones (The Book of Eli, 8 Mile) as Bosco and O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Donnie; this movie had some intense moments throughout the story. The director kept the script going with a decent amount of tension throughout. Gerard was good with his character though it did appear to be similar to some of his other roles. I was trying to figure out why I enjoyed this film more than I expected since the story appeared to be your typical bank heist, good guys vs. bad guys type of story and what dawned on me was the audacity of the crimes. With the steady tension and intense characters this picture kept my interest, though the 2 hour and 20 minute running time was not necessary. There will be a chance some viewers will have a problem with the story’s ending. In a test for control I would lose to either group in this movie.

 

2 ½ stars  

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Ingrid Goes West

THEY WERE STANDING by the fountain in the middle of the block long park. If anyone noticed who they were they did not show it. I was sitting at a park bench and spotted them immediately as they came into view. It was a celebrity couple with their young child; both of them were actors, one in movies and the other did movies and television. My first feeling was surprise, surprise they were by themselves without an entourage. Despite their celebrity status they were walking around like your average parents taking their kid to the park. My curiosity about them was limited to finding out if they were pleasant, stuck up, funny or if they could form a complete sentence and carry on a conversation. I was not interested to hear if they had an opinion on world affairs or product endorsements. In fact, it offends me when celebrities use their status to share their thoughts and opinions on subjects far removed from their daily lives.     THERE IS A FINE line that separates admiration and obsession. It used to be getting a celebrity’s autograph was the ultimate prize. These days it seems as if people want so much more out of their celebrities. Look at the plethora of commercial products being promoted by celebrities. Better yet look at the effect social media has had on the relationship between fans and stars; one comment by a screen actor can send an army of fans on the warpath. It borders on the bizarre for me. I am not interested in knowing where a celebrity shops or eats; it does not interest me to know where they have been or who they are dating. Now I will admit regarding the celebrity couple I mentioned earlier, I did ask my 5 year old relative to go over and try to play with the couple’s child so I could mosey on over; but, all I wanted to do was strike up a casual conversation and perhaps mention I have reviewed their movies. I guess that sounds self-serving doesn’t it? Oh no, am I turning into a celebrity stalker?     FEELING LIKE AN outcast Ingrid Thorburn, played by Aubrey Plaza (Safety not Guaranteed, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), found the life she was meant to lead. To get it she just had to become friends with a social media celebrity. This film festival winning, comedic drama also starred Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, In Secret) as Taylor Sloane, O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton) as Dan Pinto, Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Ezra O’Keefe and Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Bridge of Spies) as Nicky Sloane. I found the script for this story to be smart and heavy on the satire. Aubrey was perfect for the role; though I have to say from the few things I have seen her in, she appears to stay in the same comedic lane with her style. The rest of the cast did a great job as well and helped gave this story some biting depth. There were times when I noticed my mind started to wander away from the story, but I believe it was due to me not being able to relate to any of the characters. When I left the theater I needed to give more thought to the movie as a whole and realized it really provided a scathing take on society’s obsession with social media and celebrity status.

 

3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton

Besides being a valid emotion, anger can play a vital component in the creative process. Some of the most beautiful classical music we listen to, from artists such as Frederic Chopin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, came out of outrage for what was taking place within their respective countries. If you take a look at the paintings by Francis Bacon you cannot tell me there were not some kernels of anger inside of him that generated some of his creations. Of course, the arts are not the only beneficiary of angry emotions; I believe every facet of any field from sports to science has individuals who were motivated by anger and frustration. It is like the basketball player who was told he was too short to play, who then pushed himself harder to become a better player. As for me, it took me many years to understand my anger and direct it to something positive. Being told I was too big and could not play in some athletic games caused me to take my anger and stuff it inside of myself. However, I thought that meant I should stuff my face constantly with food. I do not know if there was a single event or something else that flipped a switch inside of me that motivated me to start exercising and focus on healthier food choices; but whatever it was, I am grateful I learned how to deal with my emotions in a nurturing way. Watching this musical movie one cannot help noticing how anger played a part in everyone’s life.    FROM a tough neighborhood three friends came together to vent their anger in song that caused a revolution of change. The first thing I want to say is directed at those individuals who do not like rap or hip-hop music. Please do not let that determine whether you watch this biographical drama because you would be missing out on a raw and compelling movie watching experience. I am not a fan of some types of rap music but seeing how the songs in this film came about added a whole new level of understanding for me. Starring newcomer O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins (Non-Stop, Romeo and Juliet) as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell (Contraband, Broken City) as Eazy-E; these three actors did an intense job playing members of the musical group N.W.A. Having O’Shea play his real life father Ice Cube was creative cloning casting by the studio because he looked just like his father. Now I will say there were parts of the story where I had to wonder if things were being exaggerated or sanitized because they seemed so outrageous to me. But ultimately I did not care because I felt I was watching musical history being made. There was strong language used throughout the movie.

 

3 1/4 stars

 

 

 

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