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Flash Movie Review: The Lighthouse

IT WAS A HARD LESSON TO LEARN but it made my life much easier. I have worked with a variety of individuals, some would say characters, throughout my work history. For years, I was quick to react to their actions. If I did not like an individual, they would know it without me having to tell them. There was this one salesman who walked around the place like a male peacock looking to mate. One day I counted how many times he had stopped in front of any type of reflective surface to check on his appearance; it was 23 times. It could be a reflection in a window, microwave oven door, mirror; it made no difference to him where he was or what he was doing at the time. He would see himself and stop to check the condition of his hair, face and tie. I did not like him because of the way he treated the employees. Besides talking down to them, he would belittle them if he felt they were not doing something he thought they should be doing, despite the fact he was not their boss. Whenever I had a verbal exchange with him, I would avoid making eye contact and try to limit my responses to one- or two-word answers. Trust me, he was not a nice person.     THERE WERE EMPLOYEES I HAD TO DEAL with who were stoned or drunk. You would think that could be amusing; but, try getting the correct answer you need from someone who cannot focus on their work, it wasn’t pretty. I would get upset as I sat and fumed over the encounter. How is it that I was trying to complete a project, getting stressed over the approaching deadline, while this other employee got to fly high through the day without any consequences. It was my job on the line, not theirs. My anger would last for days at times; I did not realize how much energy I was using to maintain my anger. Maybe it was maturity, therapy, self-reflection or a combination thereof; but I started altering my behavior. Things that used to annoy me I now was acknowledging their existence then moving on. If I was not getting the help I needed from a fellow employee; instead of getting ticked off I would document the event and add it into my notes on my progress. It was such a liberating feeling for me. No more getting upset or combative allowed me to focus on my needs and feelings. Though I have to say after seeing this dramatic fantasy film, I do not know if I could remain calm if I were in that position.      DESPITE VIOLENT WEATHER AND MECHANICAL FATIGUE, two strangers needed to work together for several weeks to maintain the functions of the lone lighthouse. With William Dafoe (The Florida Project, Shadow of the Vampire) as Thomas Wake, Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Twilight franchise) as Ephraim Winslow and newcomer Valerila Karaman as the mermaid; this was one of the most original stories I have seen at the movies this year. I honestly cannot say I was totally entertained; but I could not stop watching the impactful scenes in this film festival winner. The acting was superb; not once did I think the characters were William or Robert. Using a square format for filming in black and white made each scene that more intense. If you were to ask me what the story was about, I do not know if I could give you an answer. If there was symbolism or hidden meanings, they went over my head. My attention was so drawn to the characters due to the actors’ skills that I had to let go in trying to understand what I was watching on the screen. To describe it best, watching this film was an experience; I am just not sure what kind.

 

3 stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Great Wall

WALKING among the ancient relics in the midst of reproductions was exciting. The museum had opened an exhibit devoted to the achievements of ancient man. As I started to walk around the displays I came up to glass cases that had several items in each one. According to the printed cards next to each item these objects were all tools that must have been used eons ago. To tell you the truth except for the obvious hammer and chisel devices I would not know these things were tools. I wondered how the archeologists and scientists figured it out. Among the cases there were blueprints displayed on large easels that stood alongside each case. The plans were modern but they depicted the schematics to ancient structures that historians believed would have been built using some of these same tools that were in the cases. I may be a pessimist but how did they really know? At least I could see the blueprints and corresponding tools would make a good story for the visitors.     IN another part of the exhibit there were computer monitors set up to provide visual mini tours of some famous structures. I gravitated towards these monitors and stopped at the first one which was focused on a famous temple in Cambodia. I knew about the temple only because a friend of mine had traveled to it and shared his photographs with me. Listening to the film’s narrator I heard a variety of statements being made about the uses or purposes to several portions of the temple’s structure. How could one really know that a platform jutting out from a side entryway was used for sacrifices I wondered? Maybe it was used as a balcony or it was a portion of a bridge that had fallen apart; who could really say with certainty what something was from so long ago? Call me a skeptic but I tend to need more proof before I will accept someone’s version of an ancient item’s purpose. Maybe this is why I had a hard time believing this action adventure film.     MERCENARIES William and Tovar, played by Matt Damon (The Martian, Promised Land) and Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau, Game of Thrones-TV), were traveling through China in search of a black powder that was rumored to be a powerful weapon. Their search would lead them to something scarier than the powder. Directed by Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers, Hero), this was the largest production to be filmed entirely in China. I will say this expansive fantasy picture had some wonderful visual scenes. Women warriors swinging off of the Great Wall of China looked like a cross between a ballet company and Cirque du Soleil; it was beautiful to watch. Also starring Tian Jing (Special ID, The Warring States) as Commander Lin Mae and William Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Platoon) as Ballard, I found the story to be silly and the script to be even sillier. The idea of fending off “alien” creatures was an odd concept, but if that is the idea I would have reluctantly been okay with it if the script was written better. I was periodically bored and the CGI effects did not help the situation. Except for a couple of well choreographed fight scenes I actually enjoyed the craziness of the Great Wall’s defenses. Who knows, maybe there is actual proof somewhere that the wall used to do these things.

 

1 ¾ stars       

 

 

Flash Movie Review: John Wick

It can cut across all age groups. I am not saying it is right nor am I condoning it, even though I have done it myself. If you never acted it out there is a good possibility you have seen someone else do it. Maybe at the beach you saw two little ones building sand castles. I do not know what the attraction is but after the castles were done, one of the little ones kicked the other castle. In turn, the one with the broken castle ran over to the remaining castle and stomped on it. Through my school years I saw so many examples of revenge that sadly it was pretty much the norm. In my day revenge consisted of putting glue on a student’s seat or starting a rumor about them. With the access of the internet we have been exposed to various kinds of revenge and cyberbullying. I remember an incident where I worked at a company that had a boss who was a horrible person. Trust me when I say he was not a nice man; so keeping that in mind, I am going to tell you something that I am embarrassed to reveal. At work one day, late in the afternoon, I went to the restroom. Standing at the urinal I heard a faint cry for help. Looking over by the stalls I caught a glimpse of my boss’ shoes peeking under the only closed door. I pretended I did not hear anything and shut the lights off as I walked out of the bathroom. Back when that happened I knew it was wrong but it felt so good.    REVENGE was the only reason ex-hitman John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves (The Matrix franchise, Devil’s Advocate), came out of retirement. This action thriller had a no-nonsense, take no prisoners approach that was beautifully executed by first time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. Interesting side note, the two directors were both stuntmen, which explained the focus on physical contact in this movie and I was impressed by it. The fights played out like live video games with precision choreographed movements. Keanu was well suited for this role with its sparse dialog that he delivered in the proper framework, whether it was sadness or sarcasm. Without giving away anything I thought the writers did a brilliant job on what was the motivation that pushed John back into his former line of work. Operating just as well were the actors Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, Disconnect) as Viggo Tarasov, Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones-TV, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Iosef Tarasov and William Dafoe (Out of the Furnance, The Hunter) as Marcus. This film knew exactly what it wanted to achieve and succeeded. I have to tell you I did not know revenge would be so much fun to watch. There were many scenes that had blood and violence in them.

 

3 1/4 stars

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