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Flash Movie Review: The Wood

THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls.      THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy.      ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Best Man Holiday

There are so many instances where people talk through a filter. An employee and a boss each have their own filter they must use when talking to each other. A teacher has a certain filter they need to use when talking to their students, just as a student has a filter they use when talking to their teacher. At least they did in my time, though based on what teachers have told me, students today use a filter with larger holes in it. The type of relationship where I feel there is no need for filters is the one between friends. With my friends and I there is no need to soften or temper our words to each other. I would not want it any other way. Our words travel on a slick smooth road that is void of any exits or potholes; a clear straight highway of thoughts and feelings. Fifteen years have gone by, letting their filters become less porous, as college friends reunite for the Christmas holiday at the home of Mia and Lance, played by Monica Calhoun (The Salon, Diary of a Single Mom-TV) and Morris Chestnut (The Call, Think Like a Man), in this funny movie. They soon discover the happy occasion may not soften the hard feelings and lies that were lying dormant inside of them. I did not know this comedic drama was a sequel at first, not recalling ever seeing the first one from 1999, The Best Man. Though the writers tried their best to make this a stand alone film, I felt I would have gotten more out of this movie if I had seen the first one. A few times I thought I was missing the joke or point being made. Putting that aside, I thought the story was predictable for the most part. With a majority of humor being handled by Terrence Howard (Prisoners, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) as Quentin, I thought the first half of the movie was okay. For the last half of the film, the story shifted where I found myself becoming more invested in the action. Besides the story involving Lance and Mia, I was interested in what was taking place with Robyn and Harper, played by Sanaa Lathan (Something New, The Family That Preys) and Taye Diggs (Equilibrium, Private Practice-TV). One of my pet peeves is a movie trailer that shows a scene that is not in the film and it happened with this movie’s trailers. Also, I felt the trailers showed too much humor with none of the dramatic scenes; this was poor marketing in my opinion. Good communication would have helped better advertise this movie; it would have also helped create stronger bonds between the friends in this film.

 

2 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Baggage Claim

I cannot begin to tell you how awkward it is when I am at a wedding and some relative comes up to introduce me to someone she feels has “things in common” with me. There I am standing in my suit with what I can only imagine is the look of an animal caught in the beam of oncoming headlights. My awkwardness is not caused by the innocent individual who is waiting for me to make the first introductions; it comes from the relative who does not know that much about me to assume they know me so well. Another aspect to my uncomfortableness is the way everyone was made aware of the pending introductions except for me. It feels like I was the only one left out of an inside joke. There was a time where I felt I had to bring a friend with me to a wedding just so I could avoid going through another troublesome situation. So on one level I could understand why Montana Moore, played by Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Precious) did not want to go alone to her younger sister’s wedding. Montana’s concern was becoming the last family member who was not married. With only 30 days until her sister’s wedding; Montana and her friends Gail and Sam, played by Jill Scott (Down to Earth, Obsessed) and Adam Brody (Damsels in Distress, Jennifer’s Body) came up with a plan to find a prospective husband for her, but it would take flying 30,000 miles around the country. If this comedy’s story seems a little desperate to you, you would be correct. The slapstick jokes for the most part were easy to spot coming up and then falling flat at your feet. I found the acting was stale with several characters like Montana’s mother Catherine, played by Jennifer Lewis (Think Like a Man, Meet the Browns), nothing more than a cartoon character. Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher, Glory Road) as William Wright and Taye Diggs (Chicago, Equilibrium) as Langston were two actors who tried to rise about the looney script. Since there was nothing that stood out as being to dreadful to watch, this film would be better suited to a home rental viewing. Though I was not part of this wedding I felt a bit embarrassed for the guests.

 

2 stars

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