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Flash Movie Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT teaching fitness/yoga classes is filling in for an absent instructor. Though I never refused unless logistically I could not make the class, there always was apprehension on what I would encounter from the participants. Like going to doctors or hair stylists, people find an instructor they like and stick with them. Walking into a class to find out a substitute is filling in for your favorite instructor usually leads to some level of disappointment. I remember filling in for a fellow yoga instructor and as I was introducing myself, three participants rolled up their mats and walked out. Ten minutes later as we were doing our warmup poses, a member asked me why I was not turning the lights off; evidently the assigned instructor teaches in subdued light. When I told the member I needed light to observe how each person was doing the poses; she made a sour face, uttered what sounded like a “harumph” before gathering her things and stormed out of the room. I totally get how individuals have expectations before they walk into the fitness room; but I must ask what options do they think are available? Either the substitute instructor teaches class, or the class would have to be cancelled; under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be better to deal with a different instructor’s style of yoga instead of no yoga at all?      WHEN IT COMES TO INSTRUCTORS OR really anyone who is in a visible position, people are funny about those they like. Where I experienced more of the negative aspects when filling in for another instructor, I have heard from those instructors who have subbed for me. They have experienced the same negative reactions to their presence in my classes. I understand disappointment; when I go to a live theater event and the leading star’s character has a stand-in, I am disappointed, but I am not going to deny myself the experience of seeing the production. Just like those stories one hears about a rabid fan doing things to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, people want what they want as they say. I have read about millionaires who pay exorbitant prices to get a singer to perform at one of their parties. Or what about the individuals who do an outrageous act in the hopes of getting their celebrity crush to notice. I had a member who turned into a stalker, who would pop up at the oddest times to talk and ask me out until I had to file a complaint. As I sat down to watch this action crime comedy, I wondered which way would one of the main characters act, upon meeting their celebrity crush.      DOWN ON HIS LUCK AND NEEDING the money was enough incentive for Nick Cage, played by Nicolas Cage (Pig, Between Worlds), to accept the offer to show up at a wealthy man’s estate. If nothing else, it would be a new role for him. With Pedro Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984, The Mandalorian-TV) as Javi Gutierrez, Tiffany Haddish (Like a Boss, Bad Trip) as Vivian, Sharon Horgan (Game Night, Dating Amber) as Olivia and Neil Patrick Harris (The Matrix Resurrections, Gone Girl) as Richard Fink; this movie was a lighthearted, fun experience. What made it so was the pairing of Nicolas with Pedro; they were great together as they played off each other. The idea for the story was novel, where I could appreciate the tongue in cheek flavor of the script. The writers were creative in setting things up for Nic to spoof Nicolas’ old films. Honestly, there is not anything that is a surprise here per se; however, it was just fun to see Nicholas doing such an excellent job parodying himself. As the film ended, I wondered if the movie studio would do another film with the two main leads; I think it would be a hoot. 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Army of Thieves

THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND ME, so I decided I would be the first one to climb the mountain in front of me. Technically, it was a large hill; but to me it looked like it would be the biggest challenge facing me while on vacation. I was not well prepared to undertake such a feat; I was wearing gym shoes, no hat and carrying one water bottle. Ahead of me was what I thought might be a path, simply because there was little grass and rocks compared to the rest of the landscape. I started my way up and at first it seemed like it would be an easy climb. Let me add here, as I have grown older, I have gotten more afraid of heights. However, that thought was the furthest thing from my mind as I was feeling exhilarated from the breeze blowing and the receding land below me. As I was making my way up, the climb started getting steeper. There were a few times my shoes slipped from under me; luckily, if I were going to fall face forward, it would not have been a far fall since I was required to use my hands to help pull myself forward at times. I got as far as halfway up before I felt I would need the same amount of time to descend before it started getting dark. With one turn, I tried taking a step down but freaked out. It was too steep to walk down; I had to sit on my backside and slide myself most of the way down before I felt comfortable enough to stand up.   HAVING TAKEN TWICE THE AMOUNT OF time to get back down from the climb up, I sat in my car listening to music to calm myself. What was I thinking? On a scale of things, I am sure this hill might rate mild for most people, but I realized if there is not a defined path with a gift shop at the end of it, I have no business climbing up a hill. In fact, I honestly do not understand why anyone wants to mountain climb. I am sure it must be exciting to say you have done something that so few have been able to do; but if it could kill you, why would you want to do it? A friend of mine one day decided he wanted to skydive. I did not understand the motivation, but he set his mind to it and made it happen. We saw the video of the jump and sure, it was amazing to see; however, seeing his cheeks flapping from the wind force as he was diving was enough for me to realize there is no need for anyone to jump out of a plane. Yet there will always be individuals who want to challenge themselves to do something extraordinary. An example would be one of the main characters in this prequel.   HOW IRONIC THAT A MILD-MANNERED bank teller’s dream was to break into one of the world’s most secure bank vaults. All he needed was a little motivation. With Matthias Schweighofer (What A Man, The Red Baron) as Ludwig Dieter, Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones-TV, Maze Runner franchise) as Gwendoline Starr, Ruby O. Fee (The Invisibles, Polar) as Korina Dominguez, Stuart Martin (Only You, Jamestown-TV) as Brad Cage and Guz Khan (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Bubble) as Rolph; this action, crime comedy was your basic heist film with a few fun tweaks done to it. I enjoyed watching this movie because it was fast paced, with some thrilling and exciting scenes. The idea of the story was sound, but I had wished the writers would have gone further with the telling of it. The other reason I enjoyed this film was because the telling of it was not dependent on CGI effects; they did it the old-fashioned way by letting the actors tell and show us the story. I do not necessarily feel like one must see the original film to enjoy this one.

 

2 2/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: All the Old Knives

OUT OF THE SEVERAL COUPLES I knew whose jobs were at the same company, they were an anomaly. They were a husband and wife who worked in the same office. If you did not know their last names you probably would not realize they were a couple; they always were professional in their positions. This was not the norm based on the other companies I had worked at where two employees were in a romantic relationship. I was at one workplace where one of the administrators was having an affair with one of the co-owners of the business. My co-workers and I always knew when the two had been together outside of the office. If they had had a good time, then they were always finding reasons to see each other throughout the day, communicating in what I would refer to as a “pseudo lovey-dovey” way, being so effusive with extra sweetness and politeness. If they had a “bad” time together, then they ignored each other the entire day. It got to the point where it was comical to see these two acting out in front of all the staff. The other aspect of this was the fact none of us ever wanted to disagree or cross the administrator, for fear she would say something to the co-owner. So, no matter whether she did something incorrectly or misinformed us, no one would contradict her.      FROM MY VARIOUS JOB POSITIONS, I absolutely understood why some of the companies installed a no dating policy among employees. Honestly, I would have had a horrible time if I was dating a co-worker and we then wound up ending our relationship. How can one immediately switch gears from having a love relationship to a different one without having some separation time to heal and adjust to the new relationship? I know I could never do it; yet, I have witnessed couples who were in love one day and the next they suddenly are just friends. I need time to rewire my heart and mind to the new dynamic between us. In fact, I am proof that one can indeed become friends with their past significant others, because most of the people I have been in long term committed relationships with are still part of my life as a friend. However, with each one we had to separate ourselves for some time before we could come back as friends. Sure, it is not easy if the relationship ended on a sour note, but over time I believe it still can grow into some form of a friendship. If you are interested, see what happens with co-workers in this dramatic thriller.      CALLED BACK TO DO AN INVESTIGATION of an operation that went wrong, a CIA agent must interrogate a former co-worker he was in love with when they were working together on the case. How objective would he be as they delved into their past? With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, Wonder Woman franchise) as Henry Pelham, Thandiwe Newton (Reminiscence, Westworld-TV) as Celia Harrison, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Mystic River) as Vick Wallinger, Jonathan Pryce (The Wife, The Two Popes) as Bill Compton and Ahd Kamel (Wadjda, Rattle the Cage) as Leila Maloof; this movie was more about the conversations than the actions. I thought Chris and Thandiwe were well suited for their roles and had a certain chemistry that worked between the two of them. I thought the idea behind the story was solid; however, I found this film dragged in parts. This might have been due to the jumping back and forth in time, though I thought several scenes could have been done in a more dramatic way that would have elevated the movie watching experience. Overall, this was a decent picture with a twist.

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Kimi

THE COUPLE STANDING IN LINE AHEAD OF me was delaying me from getting to the bathroom. At the theater to see a musical, we were all lined up with our cell phones out that glowed with the images of our virtual tickets. The couple in front were having trouble getting their tickets to open on their phone. I understand the convenience and cost savings of virtual tickets; but I must tell you, I miss holding the physical ticket in my hand. No hassle, no worry of a technical glitch. I have a love/hate relationship with technology. When computers are working like they are supposed to, they are terrific; however, when they are not operating properly, they are a real pain. And do not get me started on how I can have a live face-to-face conversation with someone facing me and immediately ads start appearing on my social media sites based on something we said, it is freaky, eerie and annoying. I remember a friend of mine was using a phone app for driving directions and wound up getting lost due to the incorrect directions their app was telling him. Granted, he did not have a great sense of direction; but still, it was not like he had such a difficult route filled with dead zones his app could not access.      THOUGH I DO UNDERSTAND THE REASONS there are passwords and two-factor authentications, I am so overwhelmed with the number of passwords I must remember to login into my accounts. I am at the point where I can no longer come up with creative passwords that I can still remember instead of the long random passwords some sites suggest to me. There are however some tech things I appreciate, for example my smart watch. If my watch detects a fall by me, it will ask me if I am okay or need to have it dial for help. It also keeps track of my heartrate which comes in handy when I am working out. The ultimate example of the negative aspects associated with current technology was seen in that documentary I recently reviewed about online dating. I was shocked with what took place in that movie. Hopefully you can see why I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I hear about all these scams taking place; in fact, just last week the news reported on an elderly person who was swindled out of nearly $200,000.00. It is awful to hear such things. I wonder what life will be like for me later in life; will I still be able to recognize something that looks or feels suspicious? Now, having seen this film, there is something new to think about when it comes to technology.      HER JOB WAS TO LISTEN TO recorded conversations to fine tune the vocabulary of her company’s virtual assistant. One day she heard something she could not believe. With Zoe Kravitz (The Batman, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Angela Childs, Byron Bowers (Honey Boy, No Sudden Move) as Terry Hughes, Rita Wilson (Sleepless in Seattle, Runaway Bride) as Natalie Chowdhury, Erika Christensen (Flightplan, Traffic) as Samantha Gerrity and India de Beaufort (The Better Half, Run Fatboy Run) as Sharon; this dramatic, crime thriller was slow to start for me. However, it was due to Zoe’s performance that made me stay interested in this movie; she was so good playing an agoraphobic Seattle tech employee. Though there were a few scenes that did not ring true, being a distraction for me; I enjoyed the film more as the story progressed. Maybe the premise of the story was a bit far-fetched; but the acting and tense scenes made up for it. I also am still processing the whole listening in aspect for virtual assistants. Since you have not seen this picture yet, I will not say if my opinion of modern technology has changed or not.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Oslo

HOW I WISHED I COULD HAVE been a fly on the wall during their conversation. We had plans in place a few months ago, for all of us to get together at a relative’s house. The matriarch had agreed that we should test for COVID before coming over. I was a guest, so I was going with the flow believing it was a good idea. All was set; we tested and were on our way when we got a call from a relative. It turns out the person’s house we were going to refused to test and started a fight with the guests who arrived first. Even if I had not been forewarned, I would have known something was up because the tension in the room was as thick as foam insulation. Plus, several guests had red eyes which told me there had been tears flowing. Not to bore you with all the details, the most startling aspect of this entire event was how the matriarch sided with the person who refused to test. The thing that annoyed me was how the matriarch, when asked, said she never said she thought testing was a good idea. In fact, she was simply parroting whatever the non-tester was saying to us. There is one thing that I feel is extremely precious for each human being and that is their word. How this elderly woman could go back on what she said was something I found appalling. As I said earlier, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall to see how this relative convinced the matriarch to change her mind about testing.      ON A SCALE OF THINGS, I wish I could have been privy to, this incident is far down the list. There are so many places I wish I could have seen or heard that I do not even know where to begin. For example, I would have been fascinated to have heard what was said at the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at their 1943 meeting in Tehran. I think it would have been beyond fascinating to see these three world leaders talking amongst themselves. Another place that I wish I could have seen and heard is the courtrooms where the woman’s right to vote was argued. Imagine what it must have been like to listen to the individuals who argued against the passing of the law; currently they would be ripped apart in the media. Or just recently the Olympic Games where the Russian female skater tested positive for a banned substance; I would have been so interested to hear the arguments on whether to let her skate or not. Hearing the backstory to famous events always piques my curiosity and this film based on a true story hit a bullseye with me.      BELIEVING THEY COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE, a Norwegian couple go outside government boundaries to get two adversaries to talk to each other. Their idea could create a big change for the world. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Mona Juul, Andrew Scott (Pride, Victor Frankenstein) as Terje Rod-Larsen, Karel Dobry (A Knight’s Tale, Child 44) as Johan Jorgen Hoist, Tobias Zilliacus (The Hypnotist, Hospital-Daughter’s Mother) as Jan Egeland and Itzik Cohen (A Matter of Size, Fauda-TV) as Yossi Beilin; this movie based on a true story was a combination of being dramatic, thrilling and historical. I was fortunate to see the play this film was based on and loved it. This movie does a good job of sticking to the same storyline, but I felt there were a few scenes less engaging. However, the sets and dialog kept me zoned into the story. It is an incredible story that very few knew about back in the 1990s regarding the Palestinians and Israelis. There is little action in the traditional sense; so, if one is not a fan of history, they may not get as much enjoyment as I did watching this picture about an incredible event, made more incredible with the added layers of the story that have come to light.                                 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Tinder Swindler

THE STORY HAD MAGICIAL ASPECTS THE more I listened to it. A friend of mine had met someone on one of her social media sites. They started a conversation that went back and forth in an easy, rhythmic way for a short time, before they advanced to video chats. When both were comfortable, they agreed to meet at a popular park in the city. They wound up from walking around the park to sitting on a park bench for a total of 4 hours; never was there a lull in their conversation. The way she described it was saying he showed her the part of his heart that had been healing from a past hurt. She added that he was a sensitive man who teared up when they were talking about their pets, and he spoke about the pain he suffered when he had to put down one of his cats. Evidently, the four hours flew by, and they agreed to go out on a longer date for a meal. A week later they met for dinner then afterwards, walked down to a coffee shop where they sat and talked for two hours more. As I was listening to her tell it, it did cross my mind that all of it was too good to be true. I felt I needed to play the devil’s advocate to make sure she was not missing something about him. It turned out things just got better and better for the two of them, to the point where they decided to get married.      I WAS SO HAPPY FOR MY friend and that everything fell into place for her with this man she met online. This was in such sharp contrast to another friend of mine who has had no success meeting people online. Every time we get together, she always has a new story about one of her online dates. There was the one guy who was too eager to date, texting her everyday with little “inspirational” messages and quotes. Then there was this fellow who never mentioned having any friends, along with having no outside interests from his day job as some type of buyer for a company. She always carries pepper spray on her and once, she almost had to use it on a guy she had met who got aggressive with her on their 2nd date. I know how difficult it can be trying to meet someone online; one needs to go through a lot of choices before finding one that clicks and moves in synch with you. If you want to see what I am talking about then feel free to watch what happens to the women in this unbelievable documentary, when they thought they had found the perfect man.      WITH ONE SWIPE A PERSON’S LIFE can change drastically when on a dating app. Directed by 1st time director Felicity Morris, I could not look away from this film that at times played out like a crime thriller. The story was so outrageous that there were moments I thought this could not be real, yet it kept on going. I was not sure how authentic all the re-enactments were, but it did not matter to me. However, the way the scenes tightly unfolded added believability to what was taking place. Also, I enjoyed the way the director built up the story; it took me from one emotional extreme to another. I felt the story would be relatable to anyone who watched it. Maybe not on the same level, but everyone has their level of trust. It is funny; when I asked people who had seen this film what they thought, they were divided into two camps. One group sided with one side and the other group felt it was the other side. I will leave it up to you. This movie can be watched by anyone, but especially those who have used dating sites.

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Nightmare Alley

I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR A small bookcase to fill a space in my living room. Something around 5 feet high is all I could fit into the place I had for it. Months went by without any luck; the contents I wanted to put into the case were sitting in a large box in the basement, collecting dust. One day, I was looking through a catalog I had received in the mail. You know how it is, buy one thing online and your mailing information gets sold to anyone who is looking to sell you something. So, this catalog had a variety of home décor items, T-shirts, jewelry and such listed in its pages. I am sure most people would have just tossed the catalog in the recycling bin, but I have this quirk that I must thumb through it, in case there is something there that I did not know I needed. Lo and behold, I saw on one of this catalog’s pages the bookcase I was looking for; just the right size and in a style that would fit perfectly in my home. I quickly jumped online and ordered the item to be delivered to me. After months of searching who would have thought I would have found what I believed to be the perfect bookcase in some random catalog I had never seen before.      THE PACKAGE WAS SITTING ON MY stoop when I arrived home from work. I was excited as I carried it into the house. Putting my work stuff away, I opened the package, taking the pieces out and lining them up on the floor. The first thing I noticed was the size of the shelves; they looked much wider in the catalog photo. I would have to rethink the placement of the items I wanted to put onto the shelves, I guess. Getting a couple of tools, I started the process of building the bookcase. The outside walls were easy to put together; however, when it came time to insert the shelf pegs inside, some of the holes were not drilled all the way. My patience was being tested. I wound up taking a small knife to open the holes, careful not to make them too big where the peg would not stay stationary. What a pain! This process took way more time than I had planned. Finally done, I was able to place the shelves inside. Next was screwing on the French glass doors. It was easy to do, but again I became super annoyed when the doors had a gap separating them when closed. After getting my expectations and excitement boosted by the photo, this bookcase looked so much smaller. It was such a letdown. I felt the same way after being excited to see this Oscar nominated film.      FINDING HIMSELF AT A TRAVELING CARNIVAL, a down on his luck Stanton Carlisle, played by Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born, American Hustle), finds one act of particular interest. It would lead him to a lucrative career. With Cate Blanchett (Don’t Look Up, Thor: Ragnarok) as Dr. Lilith Ritter, Toni Collette (Dream Horse, Knives Out) as Zeena the Seer, Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate, The Florida Project) as Clem Hoatley and Rooney Mara (Pan, Side Effects) as Molly Cahill; this dramatic, crime thriller was gorgeous to watch. I am referring to the sets, costumes and wonderful acting. Surprisingly, I felt Cate’s performance had a bit of familiarity to it, as if I had witnessed it before. The issue I had with this film was its length and the last part; I did not like them. Way too long and slow in parts, I was disappointed with the ending. Such a shame since I enjoyed watching the cast perform and many of the individual scenes. But put it all together and the script did not provide the impact this story needed. I hear the original version is better and I certainly want to see it. With high expectations, sadly this picture was a letdown for me.

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The 355

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, THE INDIVIDUALS I did not like knew it. I do not know why, but I felt it was my responsibility to put them in their place. If someone was a braggart, I would find a way to knock them down a couple of rungs. Not that I was proud or that it was an achievement on my part, but I used to be the best when it came to holding a grudge. So, if I encountered someone who I had a negative interaction with previously, they knew along with everyone else in the room that I would have nothing to do with them, to the point of completely ignoring them. No so much as a hello or the nod of my head for acknowledgement, I would purposely hover around them without engaging them into any of my conversations with the other guests. Even if they added a comment to the conversation, I would simply talk over them or remain silent. Of course, the other people within the conversation would realize I was ignoring the individual; but they never would make a comment, let alone try to push me to engage with the unwanted person. Out in the real world this was easy for me to do and maintain; but in the work world, I knew I could not act out in the same fashion.      MY GUIDING FORCE WHEN IT COMES to dealing with conflict between employees is remembering that the company comes first. There is nothing more important to me than maintaining a company’s good name. I used to work with a miserable individual who felt everyone around them was stupid, that he was the only smart one. I had a couple of run-ins with him where he tried to get me in trouble. From that point on I decided I would totally ignore him. He got the message quickly when he tried to engage me in small talk; I just looked at him, got up from my desk and walked out of the room. With that being said, when it came to asking anything about company business I would cordially respond. That was the only time I would interact with him, company business. Let us face it, I do not think there is anyone who likes and gets along with every person they meet; there always will be someone that is disliked. I have learned in the work environment to put personal opinions to the side, work with whoever you need to work with, to get the job done. This is the philosophy one can see in this action thriller.      THE BEST WAY TO CAPTURE A top-secret weapon for CIA agent Mace, played by Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, Molly’s Game), would be to join forces with her counterparts from other international agencies; but would she be able to trust them. With Penelope Cruz (Pain and Glory, The Counselor) as Graciela Rivera, Bingbing Fan (X-Men: Days of future Past, Lady of the Dynasty) as Lin Mi Sheng, Diane Kruger (In the Fade, National Treasure franchise) as Marie Schmidt and Jason Flemyng (Deep Rising, From Hell) as Elijah Clarke; this movie’s selling point was having a strong female group who could act, leading this story. The fight scenes were bloody and violent, with an authentic look to them. I did not mind the story’s plotline, but there really was nothing new to it. I have seen similar films that were a lot better in dealing with the spy stuff. There was a nice twist to the story; however, the script did not add to the characters. Personally, I think the writers could have gone to a deeper intensity level which would have made this picture more engaging. There was only a mild curiosity on my part, that got dulled by the poorly written script.

 

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Scream

I CANNOT SAY I WAS DREADING the event; let me say I was just not looking forward to it. One of the reasons was due to the time, it was during the week. I do not like doing anything but my daily routine after work. The idea of having to fight traffic during rush hour to go all the way downtown was enough reason for me not to go. However, I said I would go, and I did not want to disappoint them. The other main reason I did not want to go was because it was going to be a sit-down dinner event. During the week I eat very little for dinner and more importantly, I eat it very early because I prefer to go to sleep on an empty stomach; it is one of the things I have done to lose weight. If the event called for drinks and appetizers, I could have walked around with a glass of water, and no one would have been the wiser. Except now, I would be sitting with the other guests at large round dinner tables and being served a full-size meal. And that brings up another reason why I wasn’t too thrilled to attend; I would be sitting with people I did not know. There is nothing more awkward than sitting next to people who do not know the basics of carrying on a conversation. When it happens to me, I wind up sounding like a news reporter as I ask them question after question to fill the silence.      A SUIT AND TIE WAS NOT required gratefully, so I dressed in a button-down shirt, sweater and slacks. The traffic was heavy as I expected, but it never came to a dead stop on the expressway. Because I was arriving a little after 5 pm, I was able to find a parking spot in a parking lot close to the restaurant. My friend was waiting for me in the restaurant’s waiting area when I arrived, and we immediately went into the banquet room. I won’t bore you with the details of the pre-dinner chatter and introductions; but I will tell you I was grateful when we were told to take a seat at the tables. Finding a seat, I would up sitting next to an unfamiliar guest. Once our table was full, introductions were made by each of us. The guest next to me had flown in from out of town and we hit it off immediately. We talked about my yoga and fitness classes, her trek from growing up in the Midwest to the career that took her out east. The entire time during the meal, we kept up a steady chatter that was fun and informative. After expecting to have a dull and boring time, I wound up having a good time. The same thing happened to me when I went to see this mystery, horror thriller.      IT HAS BEEN 25 YEARS OF peaceful calm for the town of Woodsboro, since it was terrorized by a serial killer known as Ghostface. However, someone in the town wants to bring back the killer. With Neve Campbell (Wild Things, Skyscraper) as Sidney Prescott, Courtney Cox (3000 Miles to Graceland, Bedtime Stories) as Gale Weathers, David Arquette (Never Been Kissed, Mob Town) as Dewey Riley, Melissa Barrera (In the Heights, Vida-TV) as Sam Carpenter and Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games franchise, Logan Lucky) as Richie Kirsch; this latest installment in the franchise surprised me. I vaguely remembered the original movie and was concerned I needed to see it before this one, but that was not the case. The writers did a good job of mixing old with the new and doing it in an amusing way at times. There were several bloody scenes which as you know is not my thing, but the director did not dwell on them for long. I cannot say I believed the story entirely; however, with the steady pacing and the sense of nostalgia, I stayed engaged for the most part. Keep in mind, I was expecting the worst but wound up enjoying it.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Red Notice

IN MY EXTENDED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and family, there are two people who when together make everyone laugh. When a group of us get together for a meal or a social evening, it doesn’t take these two individuals long to start feeding off each other’s energy. Their humor spans from satire to bawdy to intellectual to silly; I have only seen one person who is faster at a comeback than these two people, Robin Williams. A word of caution is in order; you never want to have food in your mouth when these two go at it, because there is a good chance you might start choking while you are laughing and guffawing. When I am around them, I enjoy listening to the bantering and dialog because in the middle of the comedy aspect there are kernels of truth in their sly remarks. You may have experience in this regard, where you have a friend or relative who says the one thing that others are afraid to say. And that is what I appreciate about these two individuals; using a cliché here, they are not afraid to address the “elephant in the room.” I will say they are masterful in how they can bring up uncomfortable topics in a way that is palatable for those who would not appreciate facing the topic head on.      DURING THE LAUGHTER AND COMMENTS, I may in my mind think of a comment to add to the dialog whizzing around the room. It is all about timing, however; more times than not, I keep the comment to myself because it is too hard to overpower the high-volume level that these two people maintain. What I tend to do is turn off my brain and go along for the ride. It is like a train ride; all I need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery, in this case the conversations, as it passes by. The thing that impresses me the most is the way the conversations may be repeating items that the group has heard before, but these two individuals are able to present a repeated topic in a new and fresh light with their choice of words. For example, I have heard about this one relative’s long deceased dog for years; yet each time one of these skilled talkers brings up this dog, there is always something added to the story to make it sound like it is the first time I am hearing about this dog. I felt the exact same way about the banter taking place in this action, comedy thriller.      THE WORLD’S GREATEST ART THIEF IS forced to work with a top profiler of the FBI to catch the person who wants to take his title away from him. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Skyscraper) as John Hartley, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Woman in Gold) as Nolan Booth, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman franchise, Keeping Up with the Joneses) as The Bishop, Ritu Arya (Last Christmas, Doctor-TV) as Inspector Urvashi Das and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges, About a Boy-TV) as Sotto Voce; the story for this movie does not provide anything new from what we have seen in other films. However, the chemistry between the three main stars and the dialog the writers gave them, made this an enjoyable film experience for me. I did not have to think much, just sit back and watch some mindless entertainment. Ryan and Dwayne were doing typical roles suited for themselves; so, it was not a stretch for their acting capabilities. The key to watching this picture is to not have any expectations. Also, if you are fond of witty quips and satire for humor, then this would be a movie for you. 

2 ½ stars  

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