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Flash Movie Review: Gotti

HER GRIEF-STRICKEN FACE APPEARED on the television screen after the commercial break. Huddled next to her was her husband, his head slowly dropping down to a certain point before being jerked back up by consciousness. They were freezing and had barely eaten anything for the past couple of days. Their car was stuck in a snow bank when it skidded off the road in a remote area; they were on their way to his mother’s house out of state. The snowstorm unexpectedly hit their area much harder than the weatherman had predicted. If they would have known they would not have taken the risk, especially since she was pregnant. I only knew about all these details from the news reporter that was interviewing the couple. The scenes in the snow were actually reenactments with 2 actors portraying the real couple. From everything I was watching and hearing, I honestly was amazed the couple survived that ordeal. They were just an average couple; they did not have any special skills or superpowers, only their wits. Being sensitive to the cold I know I would not have survived one night, yet these two lasted days before they were discovered.     AFTER WATCHING THAT TELEVISION SHOW, I was curious why the couple’s story was told via a newscast program instead of being turned into a movie for theatrical release. I have seen so many films based on true stories that have been unbelievable at times. Some were about famous people; but then there have been others who were nobody special, expect for the extraordinary occurrence that they were part of. For example, one of my recent reviews was for a movie about a couple who found themselves in the middle of a major storm while sailing across the ocean. Sure, the two had some sailing knowledge, but nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered. There was another film I just reviewed that was inspired by the true story of a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades. Both films were created to entertain an audience, so I am sure the writers took some liberties with the real story. The ones that get shown on TV are not in a movie format style; they usually have been a series of vignettes narrated by some type of reporter. Both productions have value, I understand it; however, today’s movie was not as clear for me.     HAVING WON MULTIPLE LAWSUITS BROUGHT AGAINST him John Gotti Sr., played by John Travolta (Hairspray, Life on the Line), received the moniker “Teflon Don.” Leading one of the largest crime families, the name suited him well. Based on true events this dramatic crime film also starred Kelly Preston (Battlefield Earth, What a Girl Wants) as Victoria Gotti, Stacy Keach (Nebraska, Escape from L.A.) as Neil Dellacroce, Spencer Rocco Lofranco (Unbroken, At Middleton) as John Gotti Jr. and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Constantine) as Angelo Ruggiero. John did a wonderful job of acting in this film; I found his presence on screen remained strong throughout. Kelly was also good; however, the issue I had with this movie was the script or lack of one. Most of the scenes felt like they were just copies of news segments. I was somewhat entertained simply because I was curious about John Gotti, but I did not see anything I had not already known. For listing this picture a biography, I would have preferred getting more history about the characters. Instead, there were family scenes; the only difference being the father was a major crime boss. With the addition of scenes that jumped back and forth in the story, I had a difficult time staying engaged. Maybe this picture would have been better served if it had been released on television.

 

1 ¾ stars   

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Flash Movie Review: If I Stay

You know it is a real love when the person looks past your perceptions of yourself and focuses on what they see in you. It may have started as an infatuation but as time lengthened the love inside of you branched out to form a bond with the other person. The connection taps into each of your reservoirs of dreams and hopes, where the common ones blend together as the single ones wait for that spark of support that will fire them up towards reality. Love brings a person startling powers. Alone, individuals would not willingly place themselves in a situation that would be painful or harmful. However, when in a relationship love spurs the person to take on or at least try to take on their significant other’s pain or suffering. I have had a couple of relationships where the person had an accident or became ill and had to be hospitalized. It was awful to see them incapacitated and in pain. I felt helpless, wishing there was something I could do to ease their agony. It was during those times that I discovered love grows stronger in a health crisis.    TRAGEDY would not change the feelings Adam, played by Jamie Blackley (The Fifth Estate, Snow White and the Huntsman); had for Mia, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie, Hugo). A gifted cellist, Mia was on course to follow her dreams when an automobile accident occurred, placing her in a coma. Adam could only hope his love would bring her back. Based on the novel, this dramatic movie had several elements that had the potential to create a moving story. The cast which included Mireille Enos (Gangster Squad, World War Z) as Mia’s mother Kat, Joshua Leonard (Higher Ground, Men of Honor) as her father Denny and Stacy Keach (Nebraska, American History X) as Gramps did the best they could with the script. Ultimately it was not enough because this picture fell flat as the scenes seemed forced and manipulative. The chemistry between Chloe and Jamie never felt strong to me; it only made things worse. One of the big issues I had was the way the story jumped from current time to past memories. They never provided an opportunity for the characters to become more than one dimensional. Compared to this past summer’s movie, “The Fault in Our Stars,” this film was a poor alternative. What made this a less enjoyable experience was the crowd at the theater; it was predominately 13-15 year old girls who were vocal throughout the movie. Geared towards them I just sat in my seat and wondered what would happen to them when they grew up and discovered love in the real world.

 

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Nebraska

It takes a person with a certain disposition who can enjoy living in a small town. They find comfort in knowing their neighbors, bumping into friends at the local supermarket, having their children attending the same school and living a simpler lifestyle than in a large metropolis. I am so not one of those individuals; in fact, I would probably get claustrophobic if I had to live in a small town. Being born and raised in a large city, I find comfort in the anonymity of being part of the masses. I do not know if it is due to how I was raised or to the hostile environment I experienced in high school, but for years I have always felt safer being invisible and not standing out. Now I will say I do not have a problem visiting small towns. There is something to be said for kicking back and going at a slower pace from time to time. If you can appreciate the attributes of small town living, you might get a quicker kick out of this dramatic adventure film. When mentally confused Woody Grant, played by Bruce Dern (Monster, Last Man Standing), received a notice stating he could be a million dollar sweepstakes winner, he was determined to make his way from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up his winnings–even if he had to go on foot. With his youngest son David, played by Will Forte (The Watch, MacGruber), being the only family member to show compassion for his dad, they took off on a road trip that brought them some unexpected surprises. This beautiful black and white film directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt) unfolded like the sipping of a sweet tea on a lazy summer day. There were no big or thrilling moments per se; instead, scenes bloomed with satiric wit and touching realizations. The actor that stole ever scene she was in was June Squibb (Meet Joe Black, Scent of a Woman) as Woody’s wife Kate. She was a hoot with her take no prisoners persona. I found myself being drawn into this quirky story as it revealed more and more the realities of small town living. There were several scenes where I laughed out loud as the stellar acting carried us along for the ride. Though I still would not want to live in a tiny residential area, I would gladly go visit this family and sit down to a piece of homemade pie and some iced tea.

 

3 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Planes

Looking down at the rolling landscape below from my small window, I kept waiting for the dotted lines to appear between each state. I wanted to know the exact moment when the airplane would cross over into a new state. To prepare for my very first flight on an airplane many years ago, I studied a map of the United States. Once we were airborne I was expecting to see the same outline of each state that was on my map. Though I was disappointed they were not there, it did not last long since I was already falling in love with flying. From that momentary push back into my seat during takeoff, to rising above patches of white puffy clouds that looked like huge vanilla ice cream sundaes; I would forever be hooked into traveling by airplane. As you might imagine, I was looking forward to seeing this animated movie about planes. Crop dusting plane Dusty Crophopper, voiced by Dane Cook (Employee of the Month), had a dream to enter a prestigious international aerial race. There was only one problem; he was afraid of heights. How would he reach his dream if he could not fly the race’s flight pattern? The first thing to note about this film was the excellent computer animation. There was a good assortment of voices used for various characters; such as Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond-TV) as Chug, Stacy Keach (American History X, The Bourne Legacy) as Skipper and Terri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives-TV) as Dottie. The next thing I noticed was the audience sitting around me. The first time I heard children laughing at a scene was 40 minutes into the movie. As for myself, I did not find anything funny. The story was not only generic, but it looked like one long advertisement for toys to be sold to kids. Ironically the day I viewed this film was the same day the sale papers came out, where I found pages of toys and games based on characters in this film. From the movie studio that brought us such wonderful animated movies, this one was a major disappointment. There was nothing fun or exciting as far as I could tell. For a film about airplanes, this one never took off the ground. No need to stay through the credits; at the very end it just told us a sequel would be coming. Thanks for the warning.

1 3/4 stars

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