Flash Movie Review: Empire of Light
THE WEEK HAD BEEN EXTREMELY STRESSFUL. Work was challenging and my kitchen demolition was just starting up. The idea of going home and dealing with the new logistics of eating and washing dishes was too much for me to handle after work; so, I decided to go to the movies. With the Academy Awards ceremony taking place in a few weeks, I was excited that I could catch an Oscar nominated film before the telecast. Traffic was heavy which added to the negativity of the past week and my stress, because I was cutting close the time it would take me to get to the theater before the start of the movie. By the time I found a parking space at the theater, it was past the start time; but, I knew there was at least fifteen minutes worth of previews before the actual start of the picture. I ran from the parking garage to the lobby of the theater, checked in with the ticket taker, made a stop at the restroom, then made my way down the hallway to my theater. By the time I settled into my assigned seat, the last film trailer was nearly finished. I had made it in the nick of time and was hoping the movie would provide me with what I needed. A QUICK AD FOR THE THEATER flashed on the screen as an announcer stated the feature presentation was starting. The lights, which were already dim, lowered completely and the theater was filled with only the tiny LED lights outlining the stairs and exits. The movie started on the wide screen; a setting from an international city in a different time appeared before me. I was familiar with the city, having visited it some time ago. The few patrons in the theater (it was weeknight after all) were quiet and far enough away for me to get transported into the story uninterrupted. This is the ultimate form of relaxation for me; to find myself teleported and inserted into the actions taking place in front of me. All thoughts about the various stresses I was dealing with were pushed out of my mind; or at least out of my consciousness for the time being. I was in that city and experiencing the same effects as the main characters. The story was beautiful and by the end I felt completely relaxed and cozy. That is the magic of being in a movie theater; I can find myself anywhere based on what was showing on the screen. There are very few theaters I have been to that have not allowed me this wonderful experience and I just know the theater set in this romantic drama would be one that would provide me such a trip. DURING A TIME OF UNREST, A small group of individuals find refuge in their local movie palace where they work. With Olivia Coleman (The Lost Daughter, The Crown-TV) as Hilary, Micheal Ward (Blue Story, The A List-TV) as Stephen, Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) as Donald Ellis, Toby Jones (The Wonder, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Norman and Tom Brooke (The Death of Stalin, Preacher-TV) as Neil; this Oscar nominated film had moments of magic in it. Foremost, it was the cast led by Olivia and Micheal that kept me in the story. Next, I enjoyed the way human connections were on display. What I did not understand in parts was the script/story. I could not tell if the story was supposed to be a tribute to movies and I found one of the character’s revelations of racism did not ring true for me. At least the acting and sets were wonderful as I watched Olivia prove she was worthy of her Oscar nomination. This was a touching, adult movie that was almost great.
2 ¾ stars
Flash Movie Review: End of the Road
SHE WAS TOUGH ON ALL OF us; there was nothing we could get away with when we were around her. My friend’s mother was a single parent who worked a full-time job and still was able to keep the household and her children in shape. When I say she was tough, believe me. I remember anytime we would go out after dinnertime, she had a curfew set for my friend that was earlier than the city’s stated time. No one was allowed to wear shoes inside the house. She would tell us she did not need any extra work vacuuming up after us. One of my strongest memories was the sound of her voice when she would yell out for my friend to come to her. Because she was short, she would call my friend to come into the kitchen and grab some item from one of the higher cabinet shelves. Despite her tough exterior she had a good sense of humor, accompanied by deep belly laughter. Even at my young age, I admired her because I knew it could not be easy being single with four children. And none of her kids ever got in trouble at school, which looking back now, was a major accomplishment. FOR MOST OF MY YOUTH, I only had strong female figures around me. Maybe it was due to the times, but both with my friends and family it was always the women who made the daily decisions. They would be the ones to decide what the family would be doing on the weekend; or whose house we would go visit for the holiday. This was not just my perceptions because my friends were experiencing the same thing. Most of the dads in the neighborhood had 9-5 jobs. So, I understand the mother taking responsibility during the week, but it seemed as if it always continued through the weekends. There was this one time where there was a small group of parents visiting at someone’s house. All the women were sitting around the kitchen table discussing current events, politics, upcoming trips and such while the men were sitting in the den watching television. This image has stayed with me all these years due to one of my early sociology classes. In class the discussion was about matriarchy and patriarchy, defining and identifying them. I realized I had grown up in a matriarchy. Sure, the men for the most part were the major breadwinners, but it was the women who sat on the seat of power. If you are curious to see how a strong woman acts, then feel free to see the main character in this action, crime drama. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN easy road trip to their new home, turned into a ride of terror for this single mom and her two kids. With Queen Latifah (Chicago, Hairspray) as Brenda, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (The Ride, Fast & Furious franchise) as Reggie, Mychala Lee (The Greatest Inheritance, Truth Be Told-TV) as Kelly, Shaun Dixon (Velvet Jesus, Dhar Mann-TV) as Cam and Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Descendants) as Hammers; this was all Queen Latifah’s movie. Channeling her Equalizer character, she was the mother who needed to protect her family. I liked the idea to the story and appreciated the effort the writers put in to make this film an intense thriller; however, so much of what was shown was generic pablum. At times, I felt the scenes were ridiculous because they seemed too far-fetched. It was too bad because the injustice aspect was a decent message to convey, but the script got bogged down into standard fare with no flair. I will say I did appreciate the fast pace and the well-orchestrated fight scenes. If one wants to see an example of a tough woman, that might be enough reason to watch this picture. However, do not expect much in the story.
1 ¾ stars
Flash Movie Review: Disgrace
I can only imagine what the award winning book must be like after watching this movie adaptation of it. A powerful yet bleak look at race relations after apartheid ended in South Africa. Professor David Lurie, played by John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Burn After Reading) was a womanizer. He was brought up on charges for having a sexual relation with a student he gave a false, passing grade to on a test. Without remorse or justification Professor Lurie left his post, his home and traveled to the East Cape to live with his daughter Lucy, played by Jessica Haines (White Wedding, The Lost Future). Adjusting to rural living in the remote area, father and daughter tried to find common connection to each other. The dynamics quickly changed however when they were brutally attacked and robbed by three black men. Was it a random attack or were they targeted? John Malkovich brought his incredible intensity to the role, able to convey his feelings without speaking. But, his accent was not always present. I found the juxtaposition of beautiful open landscapes with characters weighed down by their own despair to be an interesting mix. Covering such topics as racism and sexism, this was not a feel good type of movie. I found the script left some questions unanswered; so, I will have to read the book to get the full story on what was a fascinating story.
2 2/3 stars — DVD