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Flash Movie Review: Firebird

IN COLLEGE, I BECAME A FRIEND and confidant to my lab partner in our freshman year. We both had a similar sense of humor and shared the same interests, one of them being we were both from out of state. Early into the semester she told me she had a boyfriend back home which was fine with me, since I was not looking to date someone for the time being. I was more concerned with keeping up with my heavy course load. I asked her if it was hard being away from him and she said, “Not at all.” Well, that was not the response I was expecting; so, I decided to question her further. It turned out both of their parents introduced them to each other. She found him controlling but her parents approved of him because he was of the same religion. Before I could stop myself, I asked if they would still approve of him if he was verbally or heaven forbid physically abusive to her? She replied, “More than likely they would still approve of him.” I could not believe it. What was wrong with her folks, I wondered. Before I could comment further, she told me she was seeing someone else prior, but because he had a different religion, her parents would not allow him to come over to their house. I did not say this, but I was thinking how sad that situation must have been.      TO ME, ONE OF THE MOST powerful things a human being can do is to love someone. To feel it, acknowledge it and express it is a monumental moment in a person’s life. What I cannot understand are those individuals who wish to suppress that emotion/feeling in other people because it does not fit into their beliefs. The amount of time, energy and money being devoted in denying groups of people from expressing their love, for themselves and for someone else, is both horrifying and appalling. I would like to ask these people who protest and shout at marginalized groups, “How does their life infringe upon yours?” If a person loves someone of the same sex, what difference does it make to the person who opposes it? Or if a woman chooses to end her pregnancy, what right is it for a stranger to tell her she cannot do it? I have a hard time hearing and seeing this type of hatred; I cannot think what else to call it. A person realizing, they were born in the wrong body is a decision only they can decide, no one else. The toll it takes on these individuals who simply want to express their love for themselves or for another is exorbitant. You can see it for yourself in this film festival winning romantic drama.      DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD war, a Soviet soldier finds himself becoming attracted to a new charismatic, confident pilot. With the KGB on high alert, any move out of order could be met with the severest of punishments. With Tom Prior (The Theory of Everything, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Sergey Serebrennikov, Oleg Zagorodnii (Who Are You-TV, Oboroten v Pogonakh) as Roman Matvejev, Diana Pozharskaya (Zhara, The Counted-TV) as Luisa, newcomer Jake Henderson as Volodja and Nicholas Woodeson (Skyfall, The Man Who Knew Too Little) as Colonel Kuznetsov; this movie based on a true story was filmed beautifully. I thought the script was bit heavy handed on the emotions despite my feeling that it had glossed over the roughness of the environment. Regardless, it was a touching story that conveyed the dangers present during the 1970s in the Soviet Union. I thought the two main stars did a good job of conveying their emotions, along with a mix of dread. I was able to sense the pressure they were under. This is just me; but because the story is based in the Soviet Union’s air force, I did have a small sense of disbelief while watching this film. What they had to deal with just to be able to express their love.                                          

2 ¾ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: Devotion

WHEN IT COMES TO BEING JUDGED based on a person’s looks, actions speak louder than words. I learned this early on in my teaching career. Because I did not look like the typical fitness instructor, I was not always taken seriously. I did not have a rock hard, or at least, a solid physique that was muscled or chiseled. The way I would describe myself back then was soft and fluid. Prior to my first teaching position, I had not done any weight bearing exercises; so, I was essentially working out with my classes. I was not the type of person who would spend most of the class time walking around checking on members. My style of teaching was different than the other instructors; it incorporated dance moves where every step was choreographed. It was easier and quicker for me to spot a member who needed assistance when everyone was supposed to be doing the same movement. Trust me, I had new members enter class who left after 5-10 minutes, thinking they would not sweat. I could not say anything to them; however, the people in my class were my best advertisers. Though I did not incorporate moves that looked big and powerful, I had members moving non-stop for one hour. By the end of class, you could look around and see a glow coming off people from their sweat, besides feeling that tingling sensation from muscles that had been working hard. It was may way of showing non-believers I belonged there.      THE DISCRIMINATION I EXPERIENCED IN THAT industry, I am aware, is mild compared to the kind I saw at various companies and heard from my friends/relatives. I had a friend who worked at a job he loved; but he could never get a promotion. He knew he worked as hard as everyone else in the department; but whenever there was an opening in the department, he was always overlooked. If he had not accidentally overheard his boss’ comments one day that were derogatory towards a religion, his religion, he would never have found out his boss was prejudiced. It explained all the times my friend was never picked for a higher position. He immediately began searching for another job and I am happy to report he is working at a different company, getting promotions and raises in recognition of all the good work he is doing. Discrimination is ugly and I am always stunned when a person in a high position displays such ugliness. I wonder how the company could allow such behavior and how they can be successful. How many good employees does a company lose in such an environment? In this dramatic film, imagine what opportunities would have been missed if the main character had decided to give up.      BEING A US NAVY FIGHTER PILOT was already a tough job. It was even harder when all eyes were watching you. With Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall, Lovecraft Country-TV) as Jesse Brown, Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Tom Hudner, Christina Jackson (The Night House, Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Daisy Brown, Thomas Sadoski (Wild, Killing Eleanor) as Dick Cevoli and Daren Kagosoff (Ouija, The Secret Life of the American Teenager-TV) as Bill Koenig; this action war drama was based on a true story and what a story. Jonathan was the standout for me; he came across as totally believable with his character. I would have liked to have gotten more back story to his character as well as the others; however, this was a minor complaint compared to watching this well-balanced movie. The directing was straight forward as well as the script. Everything had its place and intension; there was nothing frivolous in the film. Set during the start of the Korean War, this movie shows what can happen when friendships are formed.             

3 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Good Nurse

IT WAS NOT MY FINEST MOMENT, but I also had not slept for two days. My only time in a hospital was filled with torturous nights on an awful hospital bed. The bed looked like a jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces were poorly cut, leaving small gaps between the sections. It was capable of folding and bending in multiple positions; none of them provided any relief for me, since the so-called mattress was as thick as the foam you would find around a dinner plate that had been packed for shipping. It was beyond uncomfortable. Add in the nightly wakeup visits from the nurses to take my vitals and I was more like a zombie than a human being. On the third night I had had enough. I told the night nurse that I was making a bed for myself on the floor using the cushions from the sofa in the room. She said she could not approve it, but I did not care. I told her I did not want to be woken in the middle of the night, just to have my temperature taken; I needed sleep if I was expected to get better. Seeing my determination, she thought better of disagreeing with me. Well, at least that is what I assumed. After she left the room, I got ready for bed. Placing the couch cushions on the floor up against the sofa; I grabbed my pillow and blanket and settled on top of the cushions, in a fetal position. Sleep enveloped me in a matter of seconds.      I FELT A HAND ON MY arm that was rousing me up from a deep slumber. As my eyes slowly opened and adjusted to the darkness, I saw the silhouette of a nurse kneeling next to me. She said I could not sleep on the floor, to please get back in bad so she could take my vitals. I asked her what time it was and when she said 4 am, I unleashed a volley of swear words that were fueled by a well of anger that had been stored inside of me ever since I was admitted into the hospital. The look on her face told me I was scaring her, but I could not stop myself. She quickly got up and raced out of the room, forgetting her clipboard that was still on the floor. I immediately felt bad, but it only lasted seconds before I rolled over and sunk back into a deep sleep. Later that morning, the day nurse walked in, asking if the ogre was receiving guests. I sheepishly looked up at her. For the next several minutes, she explained the importance of me sleeping in the bed and the need to monitor my fever. She offered I place the sofa cushions on top of the bed, but only if I lift-up the rail guards on the sides to prevent me from rolling off. She was being so kind to me after my poor behavior; she reminds me of the nurse in this crime drama.      WHEN A COUPLE OF HER PATIENTS die unexpectedly, a nurse takes it upon herself to find out if there is something going on within the hospital that is contributing to these deaths. With Eddie Redmayne (The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Danish Girl) as Charlie Cullen, Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Molly’s Game) as Amy Loughren, Noah Emmerich (Little Children, The Americans-TV) as Tim Braun, Nnamdi Asomugha (Crown Heights, Sylvie’s Love) as Danny Baldwin and Devyn McDowell (Jerry and Margo Go Large, Annette) as Maya Loughren; this film based on a true story started out slow, but with the wonderful performances of Jessica and Eddie, kept picking up steam as the story unfolded. Having no recollection of the events that this story was based on only made this picture more gripping for me. However, there were several scenes that seemed awkward to me, deflating the building tension. Luckily, the actors worked well together to keep the story going. I only wished the writers would have injected more drama and depth for the actors to incorporate into their performances. Still, this was an incredible story to follow.                                               

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Jerry & Margo Go Large

IN A PREVIOUS REVIEW, I MENTIONED I would do more traveling if I were to win a lottery game. For me, traveling makes me feel like an explorer. I get a thrill arriving in a new place and delving into the history of the area, while also participating in all the kitschy, touristy things. Walking through the only royal residence on US soil, learning it was the first building to get electric lights, even before the White House, was a historical tidbit that gave me a shot of adrenaline. Or, walking through the belly of the USS Midwest aircraft carrier, ducking my head at every doorway, learning at the time of World War II it was the largest warship in the world, sparked my childhood fantasies about being a military general. As you can see, I am not the type who likes to sit at a beach for a vacation. And though I have not won a lottery game with a life-changing jackpot, I am grateful that I can still do some traveling. The only difference between traveling now and if I were a lottery winner or retired is that I would not have a time restriction on the trip if I were not working.      THOUGH I LOVE TRAVELING AND SEEING various places, there is something to be said about the feeling I get when I come home. Presently, I can manage being away from home around 10 days at most before I get tired of living out of suitcases and eating every meal out. I can only do so many breakfast buffets and restaurant food, before I want the comforts of my own cooking with my food items. I do not think I am unusual in this regard. Even if I were to become a lottery winner, I would still live where I am living. Sure, I mentioned I wanted to buy a home in a warmer climate in my previous review; but I would only consider it a winter residence to get out of the cold, snowy days of winter that occur here. I love the area I live in, having grown up in it with family; there are friends who live nearby who I have known since elementary school. Now I do not want you to get the wrong impression; when I play a lottery game, I am only purchasing one or two tickets. I am not the type to walk into a place and buy $50.00 worth of tickets. However, if I would have discovered what the main character did in this comedic drama, I might buy a few more tickets.      RECENTLY RETIRED, A LOCAL RESIDENT DISCOVERS a flaw in the state’s lottery game. The flaw could lead him to a whole, new career. With Bryan Cranston (The Upside, Get a Job) as Jerry, Annette Bening (The Report, Death on the Nile) as Marge, Rainn Wilson (Blackbird, Don’t Tell a Soul) as Bill, Larry Wilmore (Date and Switch, Vamps) as Steve and Michael McKean (A Mighty Wind, This is Spinal Tap) as Howard; this film based on a true story was pure delight. Let me start with Bryan and Annette; they were wonderful to watch as a married couple, using their ample acting skills to their advantage. The story was unbelievable, but with the straight-forward, simple writing style of the script, I found myself totally engaged. Sure, there were several holes in the script, but it did not bother me. Just the fact there was a good, old fashioned type of story told with no CGI effects or wide dramatic flair; I found this such an easy film to watch. If nothing else, the story provided me with fuel to sit and fantasize about what my retirement years could look like.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Duke

I DO NOT THINK I AM CRAZY, though some of my friends and family think so because I soak prescription medicine bottles. The reason is to remove the labels before I recycle the bottles. Several of my friends think for the small size of the bottles it is not worth it to recycle; I beg to differ. But here is the thing, I do not force my recycling beliefs on those around me. If a package can be recycled into another item, I feel I am doing my part to protect our world’s natural resources. If by my recycling there is one less plastic product sitting in a garbage dump or floating in the ocean, then I feel quite good about helping protect the planet. I do not berate anyone if they choose not to recycle their products; I can only hope they see by my example a mindset that does not take much effort to do. If I am drinking water from a plastic bottle at someone’s house, I ask them if they recycle. If the answer is no, then I tell them I will take the bottle home with me to recycle it. I do not pass any judgements on the person, nor do I make a big deal out of it to embarrass the host in any way. I am simply doing my thing, as they say.      THE WAY I ACT ABOUT RECYCLING, where I do not berate or force people to follow, came about from seeing how a couple of individuals were acting about their beliefs. One person had signed up with an organization to become a sales rep for their exclusive home products. This person constantly talked about how wonderful the company benefits were and how they were able to make more than their agreed upon salary. At meals, get togethers, emails and phone calls; they also made a point of asking me to sign up and work under them. It came to a point where I started avoiding them because what they were describing to me was a pyramid scheme. The only way I could make more money was if I could get individuals to sign up under my name; the more people you convince to join the organization, the more money you make. And of course, with the discount salespeople get for the company’s product line, this person’s house was filled with every product from air fresheners to toilet bowl cleaners. I was forced to watch how well one of the cleaning products worked on their kitchen counter; it was no different than the cleaner I use at home, and I did not have to pay shipping for mine. Can you imagine having to listen to this stuff every day? It would be like living with the main character in this comedic drama.      FIGHTING WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER THEIR charging policy for television broadcasts took on more importance when Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Another Year), saw how much money the government paid for a painting by Francisco Goya. With Heather Craney (Vera Drake, Child 44) as Debbie, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Dorothy Bunton, Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, The Children Act) as Jackie Bunton and Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Downton Abbey) as Jeremy Hutchinson QC; this film based on a true story was a treat. First the acting prowess of Jim and Helen was mesmerizing. The story was incredible and the whole cast made this film a non-stop piece of entertainment. I enjoyed the curves the script threw, and the way Jim delivered his words with timing perfection. Because the true story was so outrageous, I at times wondered how much liberty the writers took in writing the script; however, it was not enough to take my attention away from the all the scenes. Finally, to show you the sign of a good actor, I was getting annoyed by some of Kempton Bunton’s actions.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Joe Bell

WHEN I WOULD LISTEN TO HER talk about her children, it was always apparent that she favored one child over the other. I could only imagine how many other people noticed the same thing. According to her, her son was a genius; she would tell everyone that he was going to be a medical researcher or doctor. There was a period when he received less than stellar grades, so she floated the idea he could become a lawyer. I thought one needed good grades to get into a good law school; but that fact did not faze her as she continued to brag about her son. Throughout this time, one might have wondered what was going on with her other children and that would have been a good question, because she rarely mentioned any of them. Her son, it appeared, was the only thing that mattered to her. I knew her daughter; but I must tell you, there were so few things her mother ever said about her. It was as if she were some kind of an embarrassment, though I could not figure out why. Granted, I thought she was a bit unfocused when it came to figuring out what career she wanted to go into, but it did not seem anything that unusual that any other high schooler was experiencing. WHAT I FOUND DISCONCERTING WAS THE fact she did not treat her children equally. It was obvious she favored her son over her daughter, in what I felt was a blatant way.  The sad thing about it was the fact I had experienced other parents doing the same thing, where it was easy to tell which child the parent favored the most. In my dealings with siblings of the same family, I always made it a point to treat each one equally. Gifts for each were of equal value, game times were always split equally between the siblings if we were not all playing the same game and taking one to a cultural event meant finding another event that would interest the other siblings. Why couldn’t a parent do the same thing? I remember this one couple who had 2 daughters and because they favored the eldest, the other one would act out just to annoy her parents. The awful thing about it was the younger child had a harder time finding her place in life, ending up with eating and trust issues. I found it incredibly sad. No matter the intentions, I feel a parent cannot forget the other children in the family. An example of this can be seen in this dramatic film based on a true story.      A FATHER WANTING TO DO SOMETHING for his son, who was a victim of bullying, decides to walk across America. This meant leaving the rest of his family behind. With Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Uncharted) as Joe Bell, Reid Miller (A Girl Named Jo-TV, Play by Play-TV) as Jadin Bell, Connie Britton (American Ultra, Bombshell) as Lola Lathrop, Maxwell Jenkins (Lost in Space-TV, A Definitely Maybe) as Joseph Bell and Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) as Sheriff Westin; I give Mark credit for trying a different role than his usual ones. He was okay but I felt his narrow band of acting abilities did not give that extra oomph the story needed. Though the script was mostly predictable, this film was still worth watching because of the performances from Reid and Connie. The actual story is an incredible one; in my opinion, I felt the writers could have gone deeper into the abusive events. Also, there were times in the script that I wondered if things happened that way or got twisted to provide the viewers with a couple of pulls on their heartstrings. The point the writers were making was valid which made this movie a decent viewing experience.

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: House of Gucci

MY FRIEND WAS SO EXCITED TO show me her new designer purse. It was a good thing she told me ahead of time because when I saw it, I thought it looked like a premium gift one would have received for opening a new bank account. The purse looked ugly to me, with the designer’s initials being repeated row after row all around the bag. But then again, I was never fond of having “name/designer brands” or logos on clothing. When I was a little kid, I had a couple of pullover shirts that had a little crocodile patch attached to them. I never liked crocodiles, so I could not understand why I had to wear a shirt with one on it. All I said to my friend was how happy I was for her to get something she had been wanting for a long time. Little did I know I would see the same design on so many purses women were carrying all around the city. It was not too long before other designers were putting their initials on their clothing items. I thought for sure the people who could not afford these designer brands would be judged by their “ordinary” purses. To me, it looked like a caste system was being formed based on the brand of purse or clothing one was wearing.      MAYBE IT WAS A REACTION TO that idea, that drove me to look for fitness wear that was not simply an advertisement for the manufacturer. I started buying novelty T-shirts that were funny or quirky. Gaining the opportunity to be able to travel, I started buying a T-shirt and hat from every state I visited. Soon two dozen shirts and hats blossomed into 50, then 100; until I wound up with over 300 T-shirts, none advertising a logo or brand name. Sure, I was stuck with workout shoes that had the company’s logo on them, but I always looked first for a nondescript article. I continued to keep my principles even after the imitation/fake items doused the consumer. My lesson in fake items took place at a flea market, where a booth was selling what I thought were expensive watches. It turned out the items piled on the table were fake but looked so close to the originals that I do not think many people would know the difference. However, underneath the tables unbeknownst to me were watches that were made at the same factories as the name brand ones. They were tweaked a bit in cost cutting moves but essentially, they were coming from the same watch company but for more than ½ the price. I thought it was crazy but then I watched this Oscar nominated film.      FROM A SIMPLE LIFE PATRIZIA REGGIANI, PLAYED by Lady Gaga (A Star is Born, Sin City: A Dame to Kill), had no idea who she was looking at when she saw the awkward man behind the bar. If she knew who she was looking at, she certainly did not know what went with the man’s name. With Adam Driver (The Last Dual, Marriage Story) as Maurizio Gucci, Al Pacino (The Irishman, Dick Tracy) as Aldo Gucci, Jeremy Irons (Margin Call, Assassin’s Creed) as Rodolfo Gucci and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Requiem for a Dream) as Paolo Gucci; what saved this movie inspired by a true story was Lady Gaga. She was totally committed to the character to the point I forgot it was her. Because of her performance, Adam Driver was pushed into the background; granted the fact he could not hold onto an Italian accent did not help his cause. As for Jared, I had not idea it was him until I saw the ending credits. The script and direction were weak in my opinion. It was nearly halfway before things started to gel better together and the story finally kept my interest. The story was unbelievable if any of it was true in this picture. And looking up a photo afterwards of Patrizia Reggiani, the producers did perfect casting with choosing Lady Gaga.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Flee

AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, I believe each of us has planned an escape. From something as small as an uncomfortable conversation to leaving one’s home. When I was sending applications out to colleges, I felt I was working on an escape out of the hard times I was experiencing in high school. I purposely chose schools out of state, to get as far away as I could and reinvent myself to no longer be the victim. It was a hard adjustment at first because it was the first time I was ever away from my home. What I learned in my new environment helped me immensely. The knowledge I gained helped when two of my friends wanted to leave their husbands. One friend who I will refer to as Carol, had been married for nearly 20 years and grew tired of the mental and physical abuse inflicted on her by her husband. His physical abuse was confined to pushing and squeezing, at least that is what she told me. I did wonder though when I would catch a glimpse of her arms and see a bruise or two. It came to a point where she needed to get away from him; I did my best to provide her with emotional and mental support through the process of leaving him. The difference in her once the divorce was final was amazing; she was filled with joy and happiness.      MY FRIEND, LET ME CALL HER, Mary was married for years also. She had a low level of confidence in herself, so the relationship was one-sided in my opinion. She let her husband make all decisions and believed whatever he said was true. Through the years she started working on herself through therapy and personal growth avenues, to the point she started feeling confident. As you might imagine, it caused conflict between them because she was for the first time voicing her opinion and discovering not everything her husband said was right. It came to a point where she wound up staying with me until she could figure out her next steps. In this case, they both started couples therapy and are still married to this day in a healthier place. Of course, there are other reasons a person feels they must leave a situation. I met a man who left his family and home because the religion he was born into did not accept him. There is more to it, but I want to respect his privacy. The main character in this Oscar nominated, Sundance winning film had a good reason to find an escape; you might want to see it for yourself.      WITH HIS COUNTRY BEING TORN APART, the family of Amin, voiced by newcomer Daniel Karimyar, had to find a way to get to a safe place. The effects of their plan would have a lasting effect. With Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal, Encounter) voicing the adult Amin, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (The Silencing, Game of Thrones-TV) voicing Rasmussen, newcomer Milad Eskandari voicing 8-year-old Saif and Belal Faiz (Rita-TV) voicing 13-year-old Saif; this animated dramatic documentary based on a true story was extraordinary. This was a new fresh way of telling a story via animation and live footage. The story was incredible and the way it was told fascinated me. Scenes of present times were separated by memories of the past; it really brought me into the story. When an animated film is nominated for an Oscar like this one, I assumed the animation would wow me. That was not my reaction at first because the animation was kept simple; however, its simplicity made the story more vivid for me. Also, I saw the English version of this film; in the original Danish, Dari, Russian and Swedish were spoken with English subtitles. With its other nomination for best international film, this picture is a strong contender in getting the Oscar award. This movie might just be one you do not want to escape you. This is not a film for children.                                        

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Courier

I FELT SAD FOR HER PATIENTS, wondering what it must be like to have her as their therapist. She was a neighbor of mine and granted I did not know much about her, but I heard a lot of talk about her. From the few times I had interactions with her, I felt she had an edge. You know that energy that comes off a person that is stark and harsh, sensing it might shock you like static electricity? Well, she had it in spades. I never saw her smile; only having seen a sour look on her face. She had piercing eyes, but they did not look happy to me. They didn’t have that spark of life in them, only a brown dullness. When she said she was a therapist I was stunned because never had I felt a warm fuzziness from her. At least a sense of empathy; I could not imagine what time of “bedside manner” she must have had with her patients. I mean seriously, even her dog was not friendly. It was always barking at anyone who came near it and I knew it was not a friendly bark because the tail was not wagging. I had heard several things about her from other neighbors who had a run in with her. Some of the complaints were: she didn’t pickup after her dog, she never acknowledged any of them with a hello when their paths crossed on the street or at the grocery store and she took up two spaces when she parked her car. Seriously, I had no idea how she psychoanalyzed someone.      MAYBE I AM GUILTY AS OTHERS by stereotyping what a therapist should look like; I am not sure. I do not believe I am alone in assuming certain people gravitate to certain professions. I remember riding the train into the city and having a conversation with the individual next to me. When I mentioned I was a fitness instructor, they looked at me and said right to my face, “You do not look like an instructor. Don’t they usually have muscles and are more on the slim side?” I was dumbfounded. All I did was give a slight chuckle and tell him there were no body requirements to teach fitness because we deal with the entire body, not just making muscles. I am not sure he got it, but it did not matter to me. It is funny because I make a point of telling a new class that I am not a typical fitness instructor; I do not just eat broccoli and tofu and live at the gym. I tell them I would like to sit at home, eating a pizza; but know I must balance out that desire by helping my body maintain all its functions. Then I add by doing this work now I hope I delay having to depend on someone or something to help me function in my daily life. If nothing else, I pride myself on being different and that is one of the reasons I especially enjoyed watching this dramatic thriller because that was the reason the main character was asked to help his country.      DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD war, a British salesman was asked to go on a sales call to the Soviet Union. Hopefully he would be able to make a contact. With Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) as Greville Wynne, Merab Ninidze (My Happy Family, Jupiter’s Moon) as Oleg Penkovsky, Rachel Brosnahan (I’m Your Woman, Patriot’s Day) as Emily, relative newcomer James Schofield as Cox and Anton Lesser (Miss Potter, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bertrand; this historical film based on a true story was a good old fashioned suspense picture. I was attracted to the methodical pacing of the story as well as to the whole look of the film. The acting was excellent as I felt like an insider to that era’s crisis. Another reason why I enjoyed this film was specifically due to not having any special effects or product placements from a marketing department; I simply enjoyed hearing and watching a story, albeit an important story.                 

3 ¼ stars 

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