Blog Archives

Flash Movie Review: See You Yesterday

I WAS GETTING TIRED AS I was going through a bin of paperwork. For the past hour, I was sorting, shredding and filing papers, cards and clippings. Grabbing a handful of stacked papers, I started to lift it up out of the bin when a letter slipped out onto the floor. I picked it up and turned it over to see a name I had not thought about for some time. It was a friend who moved to California, who would communicate with me via hand-written letters. It was such a retro thing to do; yet, it was fun to get a letter from him in the mail. Lifting the letter out of the envelope, I gently unfolded the pages and smoothed them onto my lap. I chuckled because I had forgotten he always used yellow legal-size paper to write his letters. Starting with page one, the handwriting quickly became familiar to me once again. He was starting vacation when writing this letter because he talked about the hikes he wanted to do and the chance to go rafting for the first time. This was one of the things I admired about him; his freedom to try almost anything once with no hesitation. I, on the other hand, had to mull things over for days on end before agreeing to try something new. For him, it was as easy as taking a breath.      WHEN I REACHED PAGE 4 OF his letter, things took a darker turn. Not on his part per se, but because I knew what the outcome was going to be with these first symptoms he was talking about. Since he moved to California, he was prone to getting sinus infections. At first, he thought it was allergy based and was treating it as such on his own. But after some time, he would decide to go see a doctor about the infections. The letter only talked about how he had to back out of a couple of engagements due to his sinuses acting up. I knew this was just the beginning to a challenging year ahead of him. Over the course of his treatments he went from only taking prescribed medications to trying alternative methods such as meditation and visualizations. He changed his diet, thinking that it would make a difference, but he would find out it did nothing for him. Finally, he agreed with a specialist to have an operation on his sinuses. The relief it provided him lasted a couple of months, but then his health rapidly deteriorated. This letter in my hands was written in 1998; a year later he was gone. The letters I kept were the only way I could go back in time and visit with him.      WORKING ON THEIR SCIENCE PROJECT for time traveling, two science whiz kids are put to the test when a relative is killed. With Eden Duncan-Smith (Annie, Meadowland) as C.J. Walker, relative newcomer Dante Crichlow as Sebastian Thomas, Astro (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Earth to Echo) as Calvin Walker, Marsha Stephanie Blake (The Laundromat, The Blacklist-TV) as Phaedra and Johnathan Nieves (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels-TV, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Eduardo; this film festival winner had a deep message wrapped in a goofy package. With limited special effects and a plot that stumbled a few times, this crime action adventure took an important matter and fed it to the viewer in a new type of way. Eden was impressive as C.J. and it was a treat to see Michael J. Fox in a small role. There were predictable moments but having started out at what I thought was going to be a comedy, turned into something much different. By the end, I found myself having enjoyed sitting through this picture and wishing I had the ability to travel through time.

2 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: James vs His Future Self

AT PRESENT MY SUPERPOWER IS THE ability to withstand high heat.  However, when I was a little kid I wanted to be able to fly like a bird. A lot has happened between those two superpowers. I would consider myself an introspective person, maybe more so as an adult than my younger self. Though I would have to say, I tend to look more at the negative aspects of my life than the positive. Not to say I am a “doom and gloom” type of person, but I used to spend the earlier part of my life wondering how things would have turned out if I did such and such differently. You may be familiar with the phrase, “What would have happened if I had only…” This phrase really is two-faced. On the one hand, it gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate a past event and learn from your mistakes; however, it can also be a baseball bat to whack across your head as you beat yourself up for doing something that you later had misgivings on. There are still a couple of events that happened decades ago that I dwell on from time to time, wishing I had acted a different way in the situation. I guess some demons remain to remind me on how not to react a certain way.      THROUGH MY CHILDHOOD I DO NOT recall a superhero who had the ability to travel in time except for Superman when he flew around the earth at high speed, to reverse its rotation and turn back time. At the time I simply thought it was a cool trick, never delving into the true implications of such a feat. Imagine though if you had the ability to travel in time. You could go to the future to see how a decision you made turned out or you could travel back in time to correct something you thought you could have done better. I know one of the things I would enjoy doing is going back in time to see the older generations of my family in their younger days. Wouldn’t it be wild to see how one’s great or great, great grandparents met? I also wonder if the future would look similar to what I used to see on the Saturday morning cartoon show about the Jetsons. Having seen what could happen from that Star Trek episode about going back in time and how one moment of interference would change the world completely (I certainly am watching a lot of television during this stay at home order), I have to say the ability to time travel really is an incredible superpower. If you don’t believe me you might want to check out this comedic, science fiction film.      JUST AS HE WAS GETTING CLOSE TO figuring out the science behind time traveling young scientist James, played by Jonas Chernick (Blood Pressure, The Border-TV), was visited by his older self from the future with a message for him. The message was to stop what he was doing. This film festival winning movie also starred Daniel Stern (Home Alone franchise, City Slickers) as Jimmy, Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Hover) as Courtney, Frances Conroy (Joker, Six Feet Under-TV) as Dr. Rowley and Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Listener-TV, Corner Gas-TV) as Officer Walker. This story appeared as one of those typical time traveling adventures; however, there was a bit of fresh air in the script. First of all, it was great to see Daniel Stern in top form with his character as well as Frances Conroy adding another memorable character to her stable. There were some slow moments in this movie and a few predictable scenes. But you know, it did not bother me too much because I was enjoying the performances and the humor. I especially liked the way the story ended. If nothing else, this film provided me with some entertainment during this time and time really is something I am more aware of presently.

 

2 1/3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The restaurant came highly recommended so it was worth the time and money to check it out. The appetizer was wonderful, crisp and fresh. However the soup was ghastly with globs of grease floating on the surface like used puppy pads. The main course was not hot and had a slightly sour taste, though the potatoes were outstanding with a hint of garlic and a touch of chili powder. When the dessert came with its main ingredient being chocolate it was devoured right up, feeding the remaining hunger inside. So the experience did not match the expectations; maybe it was an off day for the chef or possibly the wrong items were picked. After receiving such high compliments about the place it just seemed odd not to have had a similar experience. Trying to be the optimist (not my forte) another visit was planned with hopes the food would be vastly improved. The only thing learned by going back to the restaurant for a 2nd time was that the food was just not good. What made things worse was the food did not settle well in the stomach causing waves of nausea to wash over the body with a bitter taste coating the inside of the mouth like old rubbery primer. It was confirmed the restaurant was awful.    PLEASE accept this review as your confirmation that this sequel was worse than the first movie which starred John Cusak (High Fidelity, Martian Child). Whether it was a scheduling conflict, broken negotiations or a desire not to reprise the role, John must be feeling mighty lucky that his name was not associated with this crude comedy. The weak story had Lou, played by Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies, Sex Tape), in serious trouble. His friends Nick and Jacob, played by Craig Robinson (This is the End, Pineapple Express) and Clark Duke (Kick Ass franchise, Greek-TV), needed the help of their hot tub time machine if they were going to save their buddy’s life. This unfunny sci-fi film was total trash. Among many other adjectives I could use to describe this horrible picture; I found it vulgar, offensive and infantile. We just finished up the Oscar season and I could not believe so early into the new Oscar season we already have a film that deserved my lowest rating. Now I saw the first movie and did not find much to like about it; though the idea for it was mildly novel. Watching this garbage was like being locked in an outhouse that had not been cleaned out for several weeks; it reeked of bad taste. Even if you do not agree with my taste in movies I am pleading, please do not go see this picture; it will only encourage the movie studio to think about another sequel.

 

1 star 

Flash Movie Review: Project Almanac

For a kid growing up in the city, alleys were a treasure trove of fascinating objects. Discovering unusual or bizarre discarded things was exciting enough; however, if friends were included in the hunt it became a huge source of entertainment for the day. I remember some of the things my friends and I found in the alley; they could easily turn into flying saucers or sleds with our imaginations. During one snowy winter day we had found an old wooden canoe that was painted with red and yellow stripes. Though there were small holes in it, the canoe made a great sled for us to slide down in; even though it always got stuck at the bottom of the hill where the snow was softer. During summer a friend discovered a hand cranked egg beater that worked perfectly as a pretend motorboat. Sticking it in water, the faster the crank was spun, the bigger the waves were created by the twirling beaters. Depending on what items we would find, we could take ourselves to different planets or conquer enemy forts. Having one’s friends around always made the journey more fun during those alley explorations.    UPON discovering his father’s secret work David Raskin, played by Johnny Weston (Chasing Mavericks, Taken 3), was able to complete his dad’s project, creating a time travel machine. With his friends in tow the group started taking short trips back in time to change the results of events that directly affected them. What they did not know was any change in history would cause a ripple effect to their future. This science fiction thriller had an interesting angle to its story; that being, the high school friends were just like any high school students. They were reacting more on a personal level, getting back at a bully or changing a school grade. I understood it; I was a high school student once. However, the script never built on the idea to a point where I really cared about any of the friends such as Adam Le, played by Allen Evangelista (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Mozart and the Whale) and Quinn Goldberg, played by Sam Lerner (Nobody Walks, Envy). Sofia Black-D’Elia (The Immigrant, Born of War) who played the character Jessie Pierce was the only person that interested me. The worst aspect of this movie was it being filmed in that found footage way. I absolutely dislike when this filming technique is used throughout an entire picture as it was here. Due to that I already had a bad attitude early on in the movie. By the end of the film I had wished I could have gone back in time and stop myself from buying a movie ticket to this boring mess.

 

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Predestination

Have you ever wondered if you were able to get one superpower what would you pick? And what would you do with it; use it to make your neighborhood a better place or do something that would bring you some type of personal gain? I was part of a conversation where we were discussing this very thing. When I was very young I wished I had the ability to fly. There was something about flying that always intrigued me. Little did I know how handy this would be in my adult life when commuting to work, especially when stuck in rush hour traffic. As I grew up the flying wish was replaced with the desire to become invisible. My reason for this had little to do with being naturally curious about things and more about protection. The idea that I could have walked through school hallways or out along the streets of the city undetected fascinated me to no end. These days the desire to be invisible has greatly diminished and I fluctuate between a couple of other superpowers. One of them was used in this unique science fiction film.    ETHAN Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day) played a barkeep who secretly was a time traveling agent for an organization that tried to prevent crimes before they happened. His last assignment would be his hardest because of who he had to track down and find before a horrific event took place. This film festival winning action thriller did not have the usual trappings of a science fiction movie. The entire look of the film was so cool in a film noir type of way. I thought Sarah Snook (Jessebelle, Not Suitable for Children) was outstanding as the unmarried mother; she played a captivating character. Including Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Mr. Robertson and Christopher Kirby (Daybreakers, The Matrix franchise) as Mr. Miles, I thought all the actors worked well together. The idea of traveling back in time to prevent a crime was nothing new to me; however, the way this story unfolded was so different and absorbing to me. Maybe I am not a deep thinker regarding the figuring out of my movies; but the ending left me completely perplexed. I am sure there must be many ways to interpret this story, but I still do not have a clue on what took place. Does this bother me? Yes, I like my endings to be closer to neat and tidy. However, someone else may be able to explain it to me; I am all ears. Normally I do not go back and watch a movie over again, but I might do it for this one.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman

The first time I rode public transportation without adult supervision was so exhilarating. A friend of mine joined me as we took the train to go downtown. I remember sticking my hand out the window just far enough to let it rise and fall on the rushing current of air like an airplane. Prior to this my mother had accompanied me but this time she agreed to let me go with a friend. You see, I knew the route by heart since we used to explore downtown on the weekends. However, this time with my friend I felt for the first time like an independent adult. When I think back to that time it occurs to me isn’t that one of the best compliments a parent can receive about their child, that they are growing up to be an independent and hopefully responsible adult? With that being the case then the boy in this animated film was in good hands with Mr. Peabody, voiced by Ty Burrell (The Incredible Hulk, Modern Family-TV). The smart, creative genius Mr. Peabody, who was in the process of adopting as his son Sherman, voiced by Max Charles (The Three Stooges, The Neighbors-TV), would use his time machine to take Sherman back to events that shaped history. Unfortunately when Sherman’s friend Penny Peterson, voiced by Ariel Winter (Speed Racer, Modern Family-TV), learned of Mr. Peabody’s invention, it would take no time for the two friends to cause a ripple in time that would change history. Would the smartest canine in the world be able to set history right while trying to raise a son? One of the things I liked about the original Mr. Peabody cartoons was his quick wit, puns and sarcastic remarks. Gratefully the writers kept all of that in this adventure film. The actors did an admirable job voicing the cartoon characters, quickly playing off of each other, at times in rapid fire dialog. I found the humor became stale as time went  on. With most of the story being predictable I am not sure if younger children would enjoy this movie. The crowd was more adult at the after dinner time showing I attended. I assumed they were there for nostalgic reasons. An issue I had with this film had to do with the ending; I felt it was rushed as it tried to do too much in a short time frame. It redeemed itself with the message I took away from the story on how love makes a family.

 

 2 1/2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: About Time

The conversation seemed to be going well. There was a rhythm established where we started to volley thoughts and questions back and forth. I have always considered the absence of questions being asked as a red flag. In conversations I am a stickler for making eye contact, for I gain added insight when I can look into their eyes while we are talking to each other. The dinner date was going well but there was a voice in the back of my head that was critiquing my performance. There was an onslaught of questions chipping away at my confidence. Why did I immediately say indoors without asking their opinion, when the host asked if we wanted to dine indoors or out? I detest eating outdoors; having to fight bugs, car exhaust and pedestrians walking by. Why didn’t I order a plain entree instead of something that I had to tell the waiter to either remove or exchange parts for something different? If I could have only gone back in time like they did in this comedic drama I know I could have made a better impression. When Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Dredd), was told by his father, played by Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Love Actually), that all the men in their family had the ability to travel back in time, he had to find out for himself. Discovering it was true, Tim set out on a journey to find himself a girlfriend. He would also discover things change when one goes back in time. This fantasy film had a sweet and sentimental story; I was thoroughly entertained by it. I thought everyone did a wonderful job with their characters, especially Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Vow) as Mary. The role was perfect for her style of acting. Since this film festival winning movie was a fantasy, I was not so concerned with the way Tim traveled in time or if it was hokey. They were easily forgivable because I found the entire story had an easy flow and kept me engaged. Imagine if we could go back and do things over from our past; it would make life easier. But since it is make-believe, I have to remember to embrace and live in the moment.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

What would you do if you could travel back in time? Would you change anything from your past? I think I would have altered my eating habits at an earlier age. Or at least buy some Apple stock when it was only $10.00 a share. The question of time travel was quickly addressed in this charming, funny movie. At a local magazine’s staff meeting, one of the writers read a classified ad that was seeking an individual to be a companion in time traveling. Curious to find the writer of the ad, three staff members were sent out on an assignment to get to the bottom of this mysterious story. In a brilliant deadpan performance, Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Damsels in Distress) played Darius, the reporter who was to make 1st contact with the author of the classified ad, aka the time traveler. A total surprise for me was seeing Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister, Hannah Takes the Stairs) as the secretive Kenneth, inventor of the time machine. The reason for my surprise was seeing Mark again after just reviewing his other new picture this week, My Sister’s Sister. I have never seen the same actor debut in two movies that came out on the same day. As in my previous review of his other movie, Mark was just as excellent in this role. There was more to this engaging movie than just the possibility of time traveling. The interesting characters were also dealing with loss, longing, hope and the challenges associated with taking a leap of faith.

 

3 stars

%d bloggers like this: