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Flash Movie Review: The Battle of the Sexes

YOU HAVE NO IDEA how good it feels to be writing this review. I apologize for being away so long but I experienced something that has never happened to me before. For the 1st time in my adult life I found myself being admitted into the hospital. After being home a few days with these weird non-painful symptoms such as zero energy, my daily banana now tasting like rotten flesh; I drove to one of those clinics inside a retail establishment. I think people refer to them as “doc in the box.” They could not have been nicer and immediately called the ER to let them know I was on my way. Once there I walked through the front door, gave my name at registration and I was ushered immediately into a room. The next hours became a blur as I was hooked up to IV solutions, getting a chest X-ray and some other stuff; at that point all my defenses were down and I did not care. However, they did offer me the opportunity to watch movies on the monitor hanging up in the corner of the room. I wondered how they knew I love films.      MY TIME IN THE HOSPITAL was an experience I will never forget. The bed with all the whistles and lights, though sleek and obvious hi-tech, had to have been based on torture racks from medieval times. The mattress on its own would move in spots, so at first I thought I must have been hungover because it made it feel like the room was spinning at times. Through the ups and downs during my days there the one thing that stood out way above everything else was this group of strangers involved with me. I felt I must have woken up from a dream because there were females, males, people from different religious backgrounds, from different countries, old and young, different races, different sexual identity; it was the most utopian place I had ever seen. These people were working side by side; the only drama in the room ironically was me. During those times where my temperature would spike up in a matter of minutes, there were women and men on either side of me placing heated blankets and heat packs around my body. Even one particular nurse I scared after she tried to draw blood from my hand twice at 1 in the morning, looked at me and said she was scared to touch me. I told her she should be; she still came back the next day to see how I was doing. I am telling you it was such an incredible sight, these people who were focused on me but were not just doing their job; they were listening and hearing each other and me. Why couldn’t the real world outside be like this; each of these individuals set a prime example of what it means to be human. I will never forget them and tell the stories they shared with me; I will honor them by trying to be a better human being and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. There was no battle between the sexes, everyone was equal and all were just doing the right thing in the true sense of what it means to be human. Sadly this is not the case yet in many places in the world currently and it sure did not take place back in the 1970s where this famous event between one man and one woman took place.      THIS FILM FESTIVAL nominated biographical comedy based on a true event succeeded with 2 special actors: Emma Stone (La La Land, Magic in the Moonlight) and Steve Carell (The Big Short, Foxcatcher) as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. They were outstanding with the look and mannerisms of the actual celebrities. Steve was truly Bobby, it was mind-blowing. Also cast in this sports film was Andrea Riseborough (Nocturnal Animals, Happy-Go-Lucky) as Marilyn Barnett, Sarah Silverman (The Book of Henry, I Smile Back) as Gladys Heldman and Bill Pullman (The Equalizer, While you Were Sleeping) as Jack Kramer. It is hard to believe that it was only 40 years ago, but there was this wedge between the sexes. As I just wrote that I realize we are living it now with that football quarterback’s comments to the female reporter’s question. Though the acting was this picture’s biggest strength, the script was not strong enough for such a big event. It was obvious Billie Jean and Bobby were the main topic but the way the script was written did not give enough to the rest of the cast to keep up. I wanted more consistent levels of intensity; some scenes were brilliant, but others were drab. It did not make this movie go bad, it just dulled the shine it deserved. On the one hand it seems ludicrous that this event needed to take place; but on the other hand, the event caused an important shift to take place in the way people thought about females and males. I certainly wish no harm to anyone but I wish you could experience the staff I had the honor to be part of in a perilous situation and trust me, there is no such thing as one man being better than one female or 1 woman being better than 1 male.

 

3 stars

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: The Book of Henry

UNLESS a person is a witness to or told about an abusive act, it is not always easy to know if someone has been victimized. There may be some physical signs such as bruises or cuts, but one cannot rely on them being visible. The emotional aspect resides in the deep, murky waters of the mind; where it is harder for someone to find, even for the victim sometimes. There was a boy who every day after school would stop to buy the largest size serving of ice cream from the ice cream man, who drove his blue and white truck around the neighborhood after school hours. By the time the boy walked home he had finished his ice cream, even if he got a brain freeze from eating it too fast. Once in the house this latchkey kid would eat whatever bread was in the kitchen, at times he would eat the entire loaf. If he was queried on what happened to the bread his standard answer was to say he was hungry. He knew eating this much food before dinner was not normal but it did not matter; it made him feel good which may have been the only time that day where he felt that way. There were visual and emotional cues about his behavior but he was tightlipped, afraid to tell anyone what was being done to him at school.     THERE are some people who do their best to help a victim of abuse. They really have good intentions; however, the abuser always has a backup plan or you might say an escape plan. Incorporating a variety of factors they find a way to continue their abusive ways. I remember with a school teacher’s assistance I was ushered into the vice principal’s office. The teacher explained what was happening and to my horror the vice principal requested my attackers be pulled out of class and sent down to him immediately. As each attacker was escorted into the office I prayed I could disappear into my chair. After the vice principal screamed and threatened each of them with expulsion, the group of boys left me alone for exactly 2 weeks. I wonder how they would have felt if they were part of this movie’s story?     NOT only did Henry Carpenter, played by Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special, St. Vincent), run the family finances and watch out for his little brother Peter and mother Susan, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Before I Walk) and Naomi Watts (While We’re Young, 3 Generations); he also was aware something was not right with his classmate who lived next door. He was sure her stepfather Glenn, played by Dean Norris (Little Miss Sunshine, Total Recall), had something to do with it. This dramatic thriller scored points with me due to the acting. Jaeden and Jacob matched each other’s talents, forming what looked like true brothers. Naomi was also excellent in her role. I was totally aware the script was illogical in places along with having a few patchy spots. It was obvious to me the writer were aiming for the heartstring’s of the movie audience; with that being said, I still found the story interesting enough to keep me engaged with it in its entirety. Additionally I am taking into consideration my sensitivity to the subject; even putting that aside I still found this film a worthwhile watch.

 

2 ¾ stars       

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Do you think food tastes any better coming out of a refrigerator costing $2000.00 as opposed to one costing $500.00? Unless the owner of the expensive refrigerator is a gourmet cook and the other owner cannot even boil water, I do not think so. I never understood this mentality about the more something cost the better it should be. Do you remember a television show that filmed the inside of celebrity houses? Now I can appreciate the “finer things in life” such as artwork or custom made furniture, but some places were just outrageous. Usually those places matched the owners who managed to always be in the news, even if it meant they had to be involved in some ridiculous incident. I do not know about you but I have noticed it is always the same celebrities getting in the news and usually not for a philanthropic or generous act. Personally I find it offensive but I understand their need for publicity, both good and bad. There used to be a time where celebrities maintained some form of discretion. When I think of the old Hollywood actors I do not recall most of them being associated with a scandal. Granted the internet and reality TV has altered the playing field; but seriously, how many of us really care to hear the stuff that is out there these days? From shaved heads to addictions to cheating to posing without clothes; it seems like some celebrities’ stunts become the thing they are known for as they get more popular and overshadow their original body of work.   SKYROCKETING in popularity Conner, played by Andy Samberg (That’s my Boy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV), decided to leave his boy band and go solo. He would soon discover popularity has a ferocious appetite. This musical comedy mockumentary also starred Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back, Take This Waltz) as Paula and Tim Meadows (Mean Girls, The Ladies Man) as Harry. The story started out slow for me, where I felt the script was just an expanded version of a Saturday Night Live skit. It was logical since Andy and the writers here were responsible for his digital short films on the show. However, as the story continued it occurred to me the writing trio were creating a satirical social commentary about celebrity fame. There were several biting cuts and loony ideas expressed in this film. I enjoyed the multitude of celebrity cameo appearances that went on throughout the entire movie; I think Andy must know almost everyone in Hollywood. The key to watching this picture is not to take it too seriously. I continued to find parts of the script that did not work for me; but, considering what I have seen and heard these days, the things that did work were sharp. Even the musical numbers were trippy though there was strong language used at times. In a way this movie told a familiar story except it was updated for current times. I recall seeing Andy doing the talk show circuit to promote this film. It may not have been enough to make this film popular at the box office; I just hope he doesn’t start to do some goofy stunts to help gain notoriety for this movie.

 

2 2/3 stars    

 

 

Flash Movie Review: I Smile Back

The outer layer is as fragile as a newborn eggshell. It takes a majority of energy just to maintain its shape. And similar to an Easter egg, one can put anything they want on the surface. The reason why it takes so much effort to keep things together is because just below the surface there is turmoil. Down there lives pain, bellowing and crying at all hours of the day. Sometimes it finds a way out and it obliterates the facade up on top. Only the utmost amount of force can pull back the outpouring of suffering and agony. Some time ago I went through a horrible traumatic event where I did not know if I could pull myself up and out of the house. Most of the life in my heart had been extinguished, yet I had to continue to make a living and teach my classes. Going through the day it took everything I had to focus on my work, pretend I was interested in what people were saying to me. The worst time was at night when I was teaching classes. In that environment I was the upbeat fun person. Ready with a joke or positive reinforcement, I had to be there for each member in my class. On the inside my body was crying out in pain; I just wanted someone to hold me and extinguish all my agony. Over time I may not have conquered all of the misery inside but I was able to manage it. I got through without permanent damage; I know I was and am one of the lucky ones.    Laney Brooks, played by Sarah Silverman (School of Rock, There’s Something ABout Mary), was married to the successful author Bruce Brooks, played by Josh Charles (Freeheld, Four Brothers), and had a beautiful family. She had everything but something inside wanted something more. This film festival winning drama was the first time I saw Sarah doing a heavy serious role. I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised at her ability to carry off the role. She went beyond anything I imagined she was capable of doing in this type of genre. In fact, she was the standout by far though I was also impressed with Skylar Gaertner (Sleeping with Other People, They Came Together) as Eli Brooks. Sadly the script could not hold up with her performance. I found the dark story average and easily able to figure out. In addition there were a couple of times where I thought the story veered off then realized it needed to get back on track. Within the script there were times I felt some things were put in strictly for shock value; though I will say, when it involved Sarah’s character she was the closest to making it believable. If nothing else I did feel Sarah gave an honest portrayal.

 

2 1/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Who knew an arcade villain not only had a heart, but would take me down memory lane? Seated in the movie theater I had a flashback to the first time I saw a video arcade game. Standing in line to be seated at a restaurant, I heard sounds coming from a dark corner. When I turned to see what was making the sounds I saw a tall box pulsing with colored lights. Fascinated I went over and peered into its glass screen to see little, flashing colored creatures chasing what looked like a broken smiley face. That was my first time seeing Pac-Man. The fun I had playing that game has been a fond memory that will now be joined by this terrific animated movie. I found myself sitting in my seat with a smile on my face throughout this film. It was not from the graphics as much as it was the story; it had a heart and soul. Game villain Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly (Carnage, Cedar Rapids), was tired of being hated for being the bad guy in the video game Fit-It Felix. Everyone was afraid of him; while handy Felix, who was voiced by Jack McBrayer (The Campaign, 30 Rock-TV), was loved by all. Ralph decided he would leave his game and seek out a new arcade game, where he could be the hero. Due to his move a diabolical character was released into the arcade world, threatening every character from every game. When Ralph set out on his quest, he never imagined he would have to save the arcade game folks to become a hero. This exciting movie got under my skin with the humorous references, the video characters past and present, ideal voices including Sarah Silverman (Take This Waltz, The School of Rock) as Vanellope and the wild sounds and visuals.  A perfect film for the whole family that will introduce to a younger generation fond memories from our favorite video games.

 

3 1/3 stars

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