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Flash Movie Review: The Dinner

THERE was something white and fluttering at my windshield as I walked back to my car. I was hoping it wasn’t an injured bird that had flown into the glass. As I came up from behind I saw it was a sheet of paper that someone had slipped underneath the windshield wiper. My first thought was it had to be some type of advertisement. Wow was I ever wrong when I removed the paper from the wiper and saw what was written on it. Someone had left me a note with their phone number, explaining how their car door flew open from the wind and nicked my car door. I took a look and there was a white mark on my car where the edge of their door chipped the paint. I could not get over someone was kind enough to let me know what happened, since I have never been notified before of all the mysterious nicks and dents my car has received in parking lots all these years. Reading the phone number, I called the person to thank them and refuse their offer of compensation; I kept a bottle of touchup paint for such occurrences.     SOME years ago I remember sitting in my car in a parking lot and hearing a loud bang. The parked car next to me had been nudged by a person pulling out of a space across the way. I got out of my car to examine the damage and saw that car’s fender was pushed in. The driver of the car that backed up was starting to drive away. Running up to the driver side window I waved at them to stop, which I was surprised they did to tell you the truth. The person rolled down their window and I told them they dented the fender of the parked car. When they tried to tell me they did not do it I explained I was sitting in the car right next to it and saw the whole thing. From that short delay of time, it was just enough for the driver of the dented car to come out of the grocery store. I explained what happened and gave them my phone number before driving off to leave the two of them to figure it out. It was the right thing to do.     ONCE the video of the horrific prank was downloaded to a social media site brothers Stan and Paul Lohman, played by Richard Gere (Norman, Days of Heaven) and Steve Coogan (Philomena, The Trip to Italy), met with their wives for dinner to discuss what they should do next. This film festival nominee had an important theme and message here. However, the script was such a mess I lost interest in this movie pretty quick. I am not a fan of jumping back and forth to pick up fragments of a story to create a complete piece and this dramatic mystery was doing it until nearly the end. Speaking of the end, it was not until this picture was nearly over that I started to care about the story. The acting was excellent, including Laura Linney (Sully, Mr. Holmes) as Claire and Rebecca Hall (The Gift, The Prestige) as Katelyn, for what they had to work with but it was not enough for me. I consider this review an act of kindness in warning you about this film.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Norman

AMONG the employees he was the “go to” guy, for almost anything you needed. Not for work related issues, it was for almost anything you were looking for personally. You see, it always seemed as if he knew someone; or if he did not, he knew someone who knew someone who could handle any of our requests. If you needed a new sidewalk, he knew someone in the cement industry; if you were looking for a new car, his cousin’s brother-in-law sold cars. I cannot recall ever hearing him declining someone’s request; this guy always had some type of connection to get any of us help. Now I cannot honestly say every person he recommended did the best job, because many times I heard employees describe the work done as fine or adequate; but with the promise of getting the work at a cheaper price, I guess one could say you get what you pay for as the saying goes. When I needed new windows in my basement I used this employee’s connections. I did not think doing glass block windows would be too hard, but I did have to call them back to fix the caulk job on a couple of windows.     HAVING been employed for many years I learned a long time ago it is not what you know but who you know. In my personal life I know a couple of people who have friends in the entertainment industry. They are part of an association that allows them to attend some of the award shows. Since one of my dreams is to attend the Oscar awards telecast, I would have no issue seeking them out. Granted I wish they were friends of mine instead of being friends of a friend. When I have had the good fortune to attend a special screening of a new film, I always try to stay afterwards during the Q & A session with cast members and the director. If there is an opportunity to give any of them my business card, you better believe I will do it; however, I don’t come anywhere near the skills of this dramatic movie’s main character.     ALWAYS coming close but never being a party to the big power brokers Norman Oppenheimer, played by Richard Gere (Arbitrage, Primal Fear), begins to realize something is happening when a politician he had met in the past drops his name. This one connection could change Norman’s life. This film festival nominee also starred Michael Sheen (Passengers, Kingdom of Heaven) as Philip Cohen, Lior Ashkenazi (Later Marriage, Footnote) as Eshel, Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia, 3 Hearts) as Alex and Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Criminal Activities) as Bill Kavish. The script to this story allowed Richard to shine; he was excellent in the role. The movie for the most part was dialog driven. At first I felt the story was going to become a drag; but the more I saw of Richard’s character, the more involved I became. It was surprising to see this film was also tagged a thriller besides being a drama. Maybe in the loosest of terms was it thrilling; for the most part I took it to be a believable telling of those in power. Not having connections to any powerful bigwigs, I enjoyed getting an up close seat to this party.

 

3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I felt I was interrupting a prayer service as I stepped into the train car. The majority of the passengers had their heads bowed. They were all looking at their cell phones, though there were some with earbuds dripping out of their ears who stared off into space as if they were witnessing a vision. For whatever reason as I sat amongst them I wondered what the future would be like; would there be mobile apps to take care of all our needs? I have already witnessed the deterioration in our ability to communicate, I just wonder as we grow old will we be tucked away in our own tiny spaces having little contact with the outside world? Though I like my alone time, I find comfort in being part of a community. I may not see some of my neighbors for weeks, but we are well aware of each other’s routines and activities. It may be their car is in a different spot or their dog is out in the backyard; there is an invisible bond that connects all of us. Just this past weekend I was chipping away the melting ice from my walkway and my neighbor came over with an ax. Granted until I recognized him due to the sunlight shining in my eyes, I had a moment of fear spring up.    WITH only one room left to rent in his hotel Sonny Kapoor, played by Dev Patel (Chappie, The Newsroom-TV), had his eye on a second property. It would already be a challenge; but with the added stress from the approval process and his upcoming wedding, Sonny would need a lot of things to go right if he was going to realize his dreams. This sequel saw the original cast like Maggie Smith (Quartet, Harry Potter franchise) as Muriel Donnelly and Judi Dench (Philomena, Skyfall) as Evelyn Greenslade mingling with new cast members such as Richard Gere (Brooklyn’s Finest, Amelia) playing Guy Chambers. I enjoyed seeing the cast again but there were parts of the script that I found unattractive. What I mean is I felt some of the writing came across as cheap and easy, not giving the actors enough to fully develop their characters. Sure there was the same mix of comedy and drama, but I did not find this film as entertaining as the first one. It was as if the writers did not know whether to make the story more like a madcap ensemble comedy piece or go in a more serious vein. I really hoped this would have been a better film because I was fond of the idea to have a group of people coming together as a family of choice, a real sense of community.

 

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Sommersby

Memories are the bridle that tether us to a place of hope, where we dream of the way things used to be. You may know such a place; I know I do. It is here where one hangs on to the relationship they are in, even though it may no longer be healthy. We desperately hold on to those old memories; hoping for change while not strong enough to leave. I can remember wishing that person I knew to be inside of them would come back out and replace the stranger standing before me. I wanted to believe my sheer determination could make everything all right again. Alas, it was a sad and painful lesson for me. I saw a similar pain move across the face of Laurel Sommersby in this dramatic movie. Played by Jodie Foster (Panic Room, Inside Man), I had forgotten how good of an actress Jodie can be. The story was an Americanized version of the award winning film, “The Return of Martin Guerre.” For this movie, the story was set in the south right after the civil war had ended. Laurel with the help of Orin Meecham, played by Bill Pullman (Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping), was settling into a life without her husband who was presumed dead, getting a handle on the family farm. A couple of years had passed when unbelievably her husband John Robert aka Jack was spotted making his way home to her. But this man who went off to fight in the war was not that same man who returned home. Richard Gere (Arbitrage, Amelia) perfectly blended his character John Robert with Jodie as his wife Laurel. Though there were dull moments in the movie, Jodie and Richard were able to draw me into their romance. The addition of James Earl Jones (Finder’s Fee, A Family Thing) playing Judge Barry Conrad Issacs was great; even though I thought his character was not realistic for the times. I enjoyed the acting more than I liked the story. This movie made me realize how easy it is to understand how the sheer will of hopeful dreams and memories can motivate a person to hold on.

 

2 1/2 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Hachi: A Dog’s Tail

There is a special love between a pet and its owner. Crossing the threshold of one’s home with a bundle of unconditional love anxiously waiting to greet you, easily makes all of the previous hours melt at your feet. What has always fascinated me was the innate ability pets have in reading human emotions. Sadness would quickly leave me as I would look down to see these two unflinching eyes looking up at me. When feeling excited, I can remember gleefully dancing around the room holding this bundle of fur, my extended hand holding up their little paw. If you are not a pet person, particularly a dog lover, you may not be interested in seeing this movie. But I am afraid you would be missing out on the telling of a remarkable true story. Richard Gere (Arbitrage, Brooklyn’s Finest) played Professor Parker Wilson, who some say was found by an abandoned dog at the train station. When station agent Carl, played by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld-TV, Ira & Abby), refused to hold the puppy at the station overnight; Parker agreed to take the dog home for one night. Despite his wife Cate’s, played by Joan Allen (The Contender, The Notebook), resistance to keep the Akita more than one night, the bond between the professor and the dog was already forming to last beyond a lifetime. This movie went at a slow, even pace. There was a pure simpleness to the way the story was told. I thought Joan and Richard made a perfect couple and I liked the way the director made their differences apparent but not distracting. As for the dog named Hachi, I fell in love from the very beginning. I might as well tell you now, make sure you have some facial tissues handy because I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this dramatic film and not shedding a pail of tears.

 

3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Movie 43

It does not take long after perusing my reviews to notice movies mean a lot to me. Whether on a physical, emotional or cerebral level; there is some kind of connection made between me and the movie. From several of the comments left, there is an appreciation to the personal relationship that a film forms with me. That is one of the wonderful aspects of watching a movie. The way it can trigger a memory, make me think, cause me to burst out laughing; I love the way a movie can take me away so easily. This is why I am so thrilled to say there was absolutely no connection between me and this worthless, offensive comedy. To say I was stunned by the tasteless subject matters would be an understatement. After sitting through this movie, despite several people walking out, I felt every actor and actress should come out publicly with an apology. The movie consisted of several short films that were loosely connected, each one vulgar and tasteless. The cast is more than I can list here, but there are a few that stood out. Let me start with Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables, The Prestige) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible, 21 Grams). These two have been nominated for best actor and actress in this year’s Oscars. I want to know how they can walk the red carpet, knowing what they did in this dreadful piece of garbage. If Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas, X-Men franchise) was concerned she would never live down her role in Catwoman, she won’t have to worry about that anymore. Let me just say she reached a new low when she was mixing guacamole with her breast during her film segment. Add in Richard Gere, Liv Schreiber, Greg Kinnear and Kate Winslet; did all of these movie stars owe someone a huge favor? I could go on and on, but let me end on a positive note. This movie has earned a special place on my movie review site:  it is the first film to receive a single star from me. I would have given it a zero; but when I started this site, I decided to make 1 star my lowest rating. Obscene and vulgar language in trailer.

 

1 star

Flash Movie Review: Arbitrage

Just because someone has financial wealth does not mean they are smarter or better; there is not a different set of rules for them, though they may think so. I have a relative who became wealthy and felt they could tell everyone else what they “should” be doing in life. It is quite annoying listening to them. I am certain there is more going on in the business world besides the Bernie Madoff types and Enron style scandals, that we do not hear about in the news. One could add from this movie Robert Miller, played by Richard Gere (Brooklyn’s Finest, Chicago), to the list of immoral, corrupt greedy businessmen. While Robert was in the middle of delicate negotiations to sell his company, he was involved in a terrible accident. If news were to get out about the incident, the ramifications would be monumental to his firm and family. How far would the unscrupulous Robert go to maintain control over his life before his greed ripped him and his empire apart? Richard Gere was excellent in this role, being smooth and sexy with a venomous bite. Susan Sarandon (Robot & Frank, Mr. Woodcock) did a beautiful job playing Robert’s wife Ellen, the charitable good spouse with a steely spine. The story was evenly paced, allowing the suspense to build long enough to keep my interest. A couple of noteworthy performances I want to mention were Brit Marling (Another Earth, Sound of my Voice) as Robert’s daughter Brooke and Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails) as Jimmy Grant, the son of a former employee of Robert’s firm; who was trying to make a better life for himself. Except for the choice of ending that was not very satisfying to me, this was a solid adult movie that showed the ugliness of greed we have all seen before.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Brooklyn’s Finest

If there was a crack in a building’s foundation, the more weight added would only widen the crack, I would think. In regards to human character, if there was a fracture in one’s moral character; what would happen to them if they were put under extra pressure? This was a question I pondered as I watched this action film about three New York policemen. Each one was broken in some way; I just did not know if they were already broken by the time they joined the police force or if the force pushed them into their current state of mind. The grittiness and rawness of these officers was perfectly played by Richard Gere (Nights in Rodanthe, Pretty Woman), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 2) and Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Gattaca). In fact, the acting was what made this movie worth watching. The story followed each officer as they did whatever they could to get out from under their personal demons. Richard as Eddie had to get through one final week before retirement; Don as Tango was being consumed by his undercover job and Ethan as Sal was frantic to get his hands on any cash, by any means. Each one’s struggle was leading them to a deeper desperateness. I had a hard time believing some of the scenarios in this crime film. I mean, not all police officers wind up disillusioned, do they? Without a strong script, I also found this film choppy in places and sadly, the excellent acting got wasted in this movie.

 

2 1/2 stars — DVD

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