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Flash Movie Review: Leave No Trace

THERE COMES A TIME WHERE A child realizes their parent is only human. Some children reach this conclusion with hardly a notice while others discover it in a flurry of drama. There was a kid in my old neighborhood whose parents were born and raised in a different country. They spoke English with a heavy accent which I did not know kept them from socializing with the other families on the block. I rarely saw them for the years I lived there. Their son, I knew, felt embarrassed by them. Though I could understand his reasons why, I did not agree; English was not their first language, so who cared if they spoke with an accent? There was another family in the neighborhood where I remember the exact time their child realized their parents did not know everything; it was during a study session, where a small group of us were studying for class. When we got stuck trying to figure out one problem in our study guide my friend asked his parents. They came in and looked at what we were trying to solve. After a few minutes reading and re-reading the problem they told us they did not know. That was the moment we realized parents did not know everything.      WHERE I FELT THE SADDEST for a kid was when they had a parent who was not fully functioning in reality. During the middle grades there was a new student who had recently moved into the neighborhood. Come to find out it was their 13thmove in 9 years. The fact that they could keep up their studies while moving back and forth across the country was amazing to me. None of us believed the excuse given for all the moves; we could tell there was some embarrassment about it. Now there was a girl I knew whose mother had serious mental health issues. If this had happened presently I believe she could have received the proper care; but back then she was constantly going between her house and a mental health institute. Some of the kids would call it an “insane asylum.” I felt bad for her because sometimes her mother had to be removed from their house strapped down on a stretcher, with the ambulance lights piercing the night sky. All the neighbors knew what was going on without peeking out their front windows. I am sure it was not easy for anyone, especially when one needs their parent to act like a parent. This film festival winning drama brings a new definition to what is a parent and a home.      ALL THEIR NEEDS WERE BEING met as war veteran Will, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, Hell of High Water), was raising his daughter Tom, played by Thomasin McKenzie (The Changeover, Shortland Street-TV), in the middle of a national park, that they called home. Written and directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog), this movie was exquisite. The story slowly rolled out allowing the actors to shine with the sparse script. Ben and Thomasin were beyond good; they brought realness and rawness to their characters, making them come alive. With Dana Millican (Lean on Pete, Portlandia-TV) as Jean and Jeff Kober (Sully, Sons of Anarchy-TV) as Mr. Walters, this was a film for adults. I absolutely enjoyed the experience which included the viewers at my showing. All were adults and not one of them looked at their cell phones the entire time the movie was playing. The filming was beautiful with the story being set in Portland, Oregon and I felt the director took full advantage of the surroundings to let the actors truly discover themselves. This picture was a magnificent way to show a relationship between a father and daughter.

 

4 stars          

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: The Guest

There was nothing they did that caused you to be alarmed. They were pleasant, engaged and most importantly attentive to your friend. Though the two of them had been dating for a few months, this was the first time you were meeting them. This was known as moving the relationship to the next stage, where it was time for the boyfriend/girlfriend to meet the best friend. Hoping to keep the get together as stress free as possible, it was decided that everyone would meet for lunch; nothing else was planned in case by some small chance there would be any kind of friction between the two. In spite of everything going well, there was something about them that set off a tiny alarm in your head. You could not explain it but you had a sense that something was not right about them. The tough part was deciding whether you should tell your friend about your feelings; it was a no win situation. Though there would be several more get togethers, you were always on guard; looking for something concrete you could casually bring up to your friend to see how they would react. You were smart enough to know when a friend was involved in a relationship it was your job to be supportive and not say anything unless something blatant was being done by the girlfriend/boyfriend.    HESITANT at first, the Peterson family quickly opened up their home to the stranger David, played by Dan Stevens (A Walk Among the Tombstones, Hilde), when he explained he and their deceased son had been friends in the military. With Laura and Spencer Peterson, played by Sheila Kelley (Matchstick Men, One Find Day) and Leland Orser (Independence Day, Taken franchise), insistent that David stay with them for a while, it was soon after he had settled in that a couple of accidental deaths occurred. This film was a surprise for me with it retro vibe and fun script. Dan Stevens was so good in the role; he easily commanded the viewers attention. Like those scary thrillers from a decade ago, the tension came more from the chase instead of the violence. Now granted there were a few violent scenes with blood, but they were almost minor compared to the buildup. Another aspect of the movie that i enjoyed was the script; it had a fun dose of cheesiness, yet made the characters real to the point where I was feeling concerned for them. In addition, just when you thought the story was going in one direction, it veered off in another direction. This sounds strange to say but I really had a fun time watching this film, despite my initial wariness. A few scenes had violence and blood in them.

 

3 stars

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