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Flash Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

THE DENTIST WAS TELLING ME HOW he used to be a high school teacher, but there was always something inside of him that pushed him towards dentistry. He said it was after he had a conversation with his dad, that he started taking steps to become a dentist. His motivation was the fact he would be the 3rdgeneration in his family to be a dentist. I was surprised by that revelation for some reason; I have seen father and son dental practices, but not grandfather, father and son. The dentist said he wanted to make his grandfather and Dad proud. So, he went back to school to become a dentist and went into the family business. It was funny to hear he used to be a teacher because anytime he was performing a procedure on me, he always explained in detail what he was about to do and it always sounded like a teacher was explaining it to me; now it made sense. There was one other thing that intrigued me about his story and that was how he basically wanted to be like his father. The reason I mention this is because I am always curious about family dynamics when either a child wants to be like a parent or when they do everything possible to try and not be like their parent. What takes place in the family unit that motivates a child to choose one or the other?     I HAD A FRIEND WHO, IF you did not know better, you would have thought he did not grow up having a father; he never talked about him. It was a long time before I found out he did have a dad and he worked in the scientific community. Interestingly, his mom was quite artistic; both in her career and the things she did outside of work. My friend had nothing to do with the different limbs of science, both in school and interests. He was artistic like his mom and preferred participating in various art and writing contests. He always carried a book to read wherever he went. Though he had a high grade point average, he struggled with his math and science classes. It was in the literature and acting classes where he thrived and grew. It seemed to me as if he was doing everything possible to be like his mother. I never asked about it, but I always wondered what was taking place with him that motivated him to take a similar path to his mother’s.      WITH DREAMS OF BECOMING A TATOO ARTIST but content hanging out and smoking weed with his friends; Scott Carlin’s, played by Pete Davidson (Big Time Adolescence, Saturday Night Live-TV), world was jolted when his mother started dating. With Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out, The Diary of a Teenage Girl) as Kelsey, relative newcomer Ricky Velez as Oscar, Lou Wilson (The Guest Book-TV, American Vandal-TV) as Richie and Marisa Tomei (The First Purge, The Wrestler) as Margie Carlin; this comedic drama was the perfect vehicle for Pete’s skills. Granted he co-wrote the story, but I felt his acting was at a new level. It took a while for me to get into this movie because I felt it was a bit slow; however, as the story unfolded, I fell right into it and enjoyed how the characters grew. Marisa was wonderful in her role; I appreciated how the script dug into her and the other characters and gave their dialog an authenticity. I also appreciated the humor that was on display in this film. If Pete was motivated to show he could do something more with his acting skills, he succeeded as far I was concerned. 

3 stars          

Flash Movie Review: Skin

THE ONLY WAY I COULD TELL the twins apart was one of them was heavyset. They wore their hair the same way and personally, I think they dressed the same at times just to throw their teachers off. The heavier twin was not a nice (I wanted to use a slang word here) person; essentially, he was a bully. His twin brother was the opposite; he always had a smile on his face, and he was friendly to everyone. I had classes with both. It seemed like every other week the mean twin would cause a disruption in the classroom. To complete the picture for you, the nice twin had more friends than his brother. After a couple of years, the heavy twin started to lose weight. It took almost one year for him to get down to the same weight as his brother; now, it was nearly impossible to tell the two brothers apart—at least on the outside. I had wondered if his losing weight would have made the heavier twin a nicer person but that was not the case. He was still ugly on the inside. Not knowing what the motivation was for him to go on a diet, I did not know if he had any expectations about how different his life would be being skinnier. I so badly wanted to tell him a cosmetic change was not enough to really make a change in his life.      WHERE THE HEAVIER TWIN ONLY CHANGED his appearance, there was another boy at school who changed on the inside. He and I had gone to the same elementary school. Periodically we would be on the same team in gym class; plus, I would see him after school in the neighborhood from time to time. He was not a troublemaker in class; but if some prank or disruption did take place in the classroom, he would be part of the group of kids who were laughing about it. Outside of that, there was nothing else noteworthy about him; he pretty much just blended in with his surroundings. When we graduated into high school, a big transformation took place within him. He started hanging out with a group of students who were on the fringe. At the time I did not know what the bond was between them. However, it first became clearer to me when he changed his style of dress. It was confirmed when I saw him participate in a fight with a group of minority students; he was a white supremist. I was stunned when I saw him and had to wonder if he always had those feelings inside of him. I had the same question when I started watching this dramatic, crime film based on true events.      THOUGH HIS CHOSEN FAMILY RAISED AND NURTURED him to be a top leader of their white supremacist group, his love for a woman was making him question his actions. This film festival winning biography starred Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bryon Widner, Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Julie Price, Daniel Henshall (Ghost in the Shell, The Snowtown Murders) as Slayer, Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave, Love & Mercy) as Fred “Hammer” Krager and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Captive State) as Shareen. This film started out on a high level of disturbing intensity. It was almost to the point of me being uncomfortable as I felt I was sitting in the middle of the action. Jamie Bell was incredible in this role; the best I had ever seen him. My major complaint was the script; I never understood the character’s motivations, the how and why. Despite this flaw, I was kept engaged in the story by the top acting performances and the incredibleness of the story itself. I did have a question near the end of the film; can a leopard really change its spots?

 

3 stars

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