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The Death of Stalin

A Unique Comedic Take on the Power Struggle After Stalin's Death
(Flash Review)

This film was clever in balancing humor, Russian political struggle and executions. It's a dry dark comedy about a very grim subject, the reign of terror that Stalin championed. As the title states, Stalin dies and you watch his bumbling council decide on a successor and next steps are amusing. Even while the military continues executing people on 'lists' it is shown 'mostly' not graphically. Who will end up in top of the power struggle? This is actually based on real events and people but told in a very satirical manner which is highly amusing. Great dialog, acting and production values. A smart & unique comedy for a change.

Odd Man Out

A Wandering Around Caper
(Flash Review)

A man released from prison just a year ago is involved with a bank heist with a few fellows and in the process he shoots a man. During the escape, he gets separated and spends the entire film on the run in the streets worried that the man died while his lady tries to locate him. Will she or the authorities find him or will other 3rd parties be swayed to fetch a reward for their knowledge of his whereabouts. This had good cinematography and a few creative cinematic effects. Hard to root for the protagonists as I didn't care about them at all and the story sort of dragged thus my interest was mediocre.

Le samouraï

Not a Samurai Sword Film
(Flash Review)

But the protagonist is a stealthy, cold and shrewd as one. I love films that tell much of the story through visuals and actions and this does it in spades. The story revolves around a man who is hired to assassinate someone and after the event is a lengthy cat and mouse with the detectives before you learn why he did this. Before his 'hit', he appears to carefully set up his alibi for the evening. Even though he gets picked up by authorities he passes initial police questioning and a line up. How will his strategic alibis hold up? Was he thorough enough? The party that hired him wants to tie up 'that' loose end after seeing him temporarily detained. Will this chap be able to outsmart both police and the other party? Much of the film is without dialog and just observing the assassin and others play out their strategies. I'll say the ending is certainly unexpected that leaves you pondering; a good thing. This film is notable for shooting on location for its time, which seems surprising to me in 1967...?

Crin blanc: Le cheval sauvage

Visually Minimal Story of a Unique Friendship
(Flash Review)

In the same vein as The Red Balloon, there is a lone boy wandering alone. This time not the streets of France but the white plains in the country. He comes across a white haired horse and the slowly form a friendship. The horse had escaped a ranch and while the ranchers are unable to tame it, the boy shows kindness and the horse acknowledges his warmth by letting only him ride him calmly. Will the boy keep him or will the ranchers wrangle the horse back? The pace is slow and the scenery minimal which gives it time to quietly makes its point.

Le ballon rouge

Cute Personification of a Balloon
(Flash Review)

This is pure French cuteness. A little French boy has a big red Balloon, with a personality, that becomes his good friend and follows him around occasionally with a little sass. Then some local boys try to steal his balloon. How will the balloon respond? Will a little French magic happen? This is a fun little creative film that is virtually silent and full of charm. For the 1950s, the balloon effect was totally believable and with the muted colors of French 50s French urban living, the red balloon really pops!

They Live by Night

A Fool-Hearted Couple
(Flash Review)

A man who participates in robbing banks, now believed to be the ring leader, runs off with a woman he just met. They fall for each other and they rush off to marry as they both now evade the authorities. He and his wife talk future dreams while they lie low and as he tries to throw the cops off his scent. Will he and his lady be able to shake them and flee to Mexico? This is pretty much about a foolish couple not dealing with reality and a future they can only dream of. Meh.

The Gentleman Driver

Live The Dreams Many People Have
(Flash Review)

For those who like auto racing, specifically European auto racing, that is where gentleman drivers are found. What is a gentleman driver? They are very good and very wealthy amateur race car drivers who race endurance races alongside the highly skilled professionals. They bring the lion's share of the funding for their teams in order to compete. There is some decent insight into that lifestyle and how they hone their skills to not embarrass the team during races as well as some good racing footage. Each gentleman driver interviewed talks about their background and how they can afford to race. Yet there is a bit too much of product or company plugging. But they are businessmen so I bet they angled for that. Cinematically, it is ok and informative yet not super creative.


Pure Hollywood; Pure Spielberg Magic
(Flash Review)

Peter Pan has grown up into a high power business man who sacrifices time with his family for the next phone call or meeting. Adult Pan is swept back into Neverland where Captain Hook often threatens. Hook has kidnapped his two kids and now the children of Neverland must crack the real Peter Pan out of his adult shell so he can remember who he truly is and learn to fly again. Of course with the help of Tinkerbell. And he must remember who he is before Hook wins the favor of Pan's son! This has genuinely fun humor and true emotion with creative charm and spectacle. The music score plays a big role in energizing the scenes and fits perfectly.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Should Have Been Better
(Flash Review)

It is what it is. A Kevin Costner big budget epic from the early 90's. Complete with his overly calm demeanor, to a fault, and dashing leading man looks as Robin Hood pitted against Alan Rickman as the dastardly scheming Sheriff of Nottingham. The acting and casting hurt this film as Costner was too monotone for this role in contrast to Rickman, the film's bright acting spot. Morgan Freeman's Muslim sidekick role felt underutilized and Christian Slater was too Christian Slater for his role. The film had very good analog and genuine 90s effects, many chasing action scenes and overall this was an easy to watch formulaic Hollywood blockbuster. It is amazing how substandard acting or dialog can drag all the positives down. Thankfully, Rickman nailed his role.


The Impact a Life Has Because of the short word "Sir"
(Flash Review)

Painter Claude Monet would be proud of the quiet rural scenes this film delights the eyes with. Where a poor family has just learned, word of mouth, they are actually related to a family name with status. The elder daughter Tess visits the established family to make introductions and begins to work on their estate to earn money. During this period two men enter her life. The first emotionally misleads, forcefully impregnates her and promptly dismisses her. After her baby dies, she meets the second chap and he cares for her and marries her and later they share their pasts which causes a major rift in their relationship. How will she survive going forward with a checkered past in this era? Will either of the two men have any remorse for how Tess is fairing after their unsympathetic actions towards her and what emotions are still burning deep down in Tess? Paced with ample time to digest all the picturesque yet humble old world rural scenery, the film never slogged even at close to 3 hours. Every scene was carefully set up, sumptuously lit and edited effectively throughout. It also took the time to show in great detail how hard laboring on a farm is back in those days.

Black Narcissus

Picturesque Sloooow Burn
(Flash Review)

I watched this as I heard it won an Oscar for best cinematography. Going into it with zero expectations I was obviously impressed with its careful consideration for every shot, lighting, music score and color palette as a very early Technicolor film. I keep forgetting this was 1947; wow. The story is a slow burn and not one that would peak much interest which is Nuns setting up a new convent located on a massive cliff on Mopu in the Himalayas. This is quite a psychological story with these four nuns trying to get things established and running and their struggles with blending into the established cultures as well their faith when certain temptations present themselves. The story turns from calm to incredibly and eerily intense while properly utilizing their unique location. This is not for everyone yet those who give it a shot can soak in the cinematography while waiting for the slow burn story to eventually unfold.

Xue di zi

Campy 70s Martial Arts
(Flash Review)

This is meant to be lightly campy I assume or is it just the 70s and low budget? The Emperor had ordered two important officers executed and has entrusted a stealthy ninja to do a clean job. The ninja needed to invent the Flying Guillotine for the special task. This weapon can lop heads clean off from a long distance. The Emperor has also commanded a group to train with the main ninja to master this weapon and become a killing arm to kill traitors. When ordered to assassinate more than just traitors some question their loyalty to the Emperor vs their morals. When the main ninja questions the orders, now he is the one order to die. Can he survive as the warriors he trained who now aim to lop off his head? Overall, this is lightly entertaining. Quality of early Bruce Lee movies.

The Social Network

I'll tell you why this is so re-watchable
(Flash Review)

Editing and Dialog.

The intelligently-written script is machine gunned out at as brisk a rate as the film's pacing echoes the mind of Zuckerberg and the hockey stick growth of Facebook. The chronology flows together with perfection and is complimented by Fincher's slick and glossy atmosphere. The story is spliced between the startup phase of Facebook and the legal battle between the twins and his co-founder. Not sure how accurate the portrayal of the characters are but it makes for an entertaining story which could have easily been boring. Yet another great Fincher film.


Pacino Plumps Up His Wallet
(Flash Review)

Pacino playing his common side role of the crafty and experience detective solving complex murder cases. He's always able to ask the right question at the right time and able to figure out the key clue to stay hot on the trail. In this movie, the murders are rather dark and part of a killer's hangman game for the officers to try and solve before the killer wins the game. Thus, time is an element to add urgency. If you are in the mood for some gritty murders, of course found hanging, and Pacino doing this detective persona, which he does with ease, then click play.

For Love or Money

Forgettable Aside From Michael J. Fox
(Flash Review)

This was a below average fluff RomCom with absurd and irritating story situations. Michael J Fox plays a concierge at a 5-star hotel who has a knack for being suave and collecting hefty tips. Tips to help fund his dreams of starting his own luxurious hotel. Throw in a wealthy investor and a romantic interest and as anticipated will need to make a choice 'for love or money' and there's the story line. While it is nice to reflect on a Michael J Fox in good health, I must say this movie was overly thin and shallow. Fox is the lone bright spot as the writing produced inauthentic relationships and situations which are all a bit muddled.

Angel Has Fallen

Nothing But Action
(Flash Review)

If you are up for tons of well-produced action, serious guns, bullets flying, BIG explosions, blood splattering, a knife fight and a true American hero who of course has been framed for an assassination attempt on the President than look no further. This time, the president is played by stoic Morgan Freeman. The movie delivers on its core purpose and then some as plumes of pyrotechnics fill the frame and an energetic pace keeps your eyes glued. The plot is simple yet clear and if you want to zone out in a wash of gun battles then click play now.

The Florida Project

Gritty, Sobering, Raw: Not For Everyone
(Flash Review)

This is a gritty slice of life as you follow a crass and under educated mother and daughter as they survive day by day by scamming, begging and more to get some cash or food. They live in poverty at a garish pink motel nearby Disney World. Almost a cruel tease of the happier world so close yet so far. They roam around, pester guests and the hotel owner is William Dafoe who has to keep things in check as he is the only real adult. Lacking a narrative, the viewer is left to observe and wonder how the mother and daughter ended up like this. Easy to guess some reasons and thankfully, the film is unbiased and tells it straight, raw and depressing as it is. It highlights some hard-hitting realities. The acting felt true and the cinematography captured their unique reality. This is a hard watch. Pretty sad and depressing with glimpses of children's ignorant bliss.


Picturesque and of Course Poetic
(Flash Review)

A Chilean police officer is assigned to track down influential poet Pablo Neruda as he has become a fugitive for joining the communist party and insulting political heads in the 1940s. Neruda is encouraging them to come and find him; for the attention to raise his own notoriety. The film has some decent nuggets of an officer hot on the trail of a fleeing fugitive and some subtle inner-character physiological depth. Yet it felt a bit stuffy and tedious even while also taking place in fancy locals in the first half and shifting gears and opening up with adventures into nature in a snowy climate. Will this desperate officer catch the slippery poet? Something different for those in the mood for a slightly contemplative foreign film.


Professional-Grade Character Study of Gaining Enlightenment
(Flash Review)

Citizens are looking to cover up a stinky sewage area with a new kids playground park and to get that proposal approved is difficult due to all the red tape. The request ultimately falls to a man at the desk with stacks of unprocessed papers. He has lived without joy for many years for reasons, which will be revealed, is a key cause to all the red tape. This man has also just been diagnosed with stomach Cancer and reflects on his life's past choices. Will he be invigorated to change his ways in his short time remaining? What downstream effects will his decision have? This was certainly directed with an experienced hand, was a very noble story, well-acted yet the pacing could have been a bit more briskly paced in the second half...coming from someone who loves Barry Lyndon. The film slowly reveals a substantial character arc and watching the impact of those around him is inspiring.


Still Impactful, Especially in 2020
(Flash Review)

This is an interesting look at the powerful statement three Olympic sprinters made on the medal stand in 1968 in Mexico. Americans Tommie Smith won Gold and John Carlos won Bronze and zippy Australian Peter Norman passed Carlos for Silver at the tape. During the medal ceremony Smith and Carlos made their strong Black Power salute and Norman contributed his sentiments by wearing a pin on his jacket supporting the human rights cause. This documentary is about the effects on Norman's life being part of that medal stand and the pin he wore. It of course talks about Smith and Carlos and the effect their salute had on their lives post Olympics and to the civil rights movement overall. It also focused on the atmosphere of civil rights during that time and how much they all respected his contribution. This was a unique and touching perspective on that event with interviews from the three athletes and others. Norman is a witty fellow.

I Am Not Your Negro

Pertinent Today
(Flash Review)

The footage was plucked out of the 1960s but could be inserted into 2020 and not miss a beat. This documentary focuses on James Baldwin who was a notable civil rights author of his time. Much of the file footage is Baldwin speaking during interviews or lecturing while wrapping his influence in correlation to the deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin is a very personable figure and his footage easily carried the film and he raises many good points, many still applicable today. Yet he raised one questions I've never heard asked, which I would be curious to hear an answer to: Paraphrasing: "the white people created the N-word; the question needing asking is why?" In order to get to the core of the problem.

Downton Abbey

Big Screen for a Big Event
(Flash Review)

The King and Queen announce their plans to spend the night at Downton Abbey. The entire movies revolves around this event with several tiny family-based side stories. Watch the household and servants scramble to ready the estate for a royal visit. As the staff works hard, the family works equally as hard navigating a few inner-family and political plot points. And don't belittle the Downton staff, as the official royal staff rudely does, as they attempt to take charge of the service. With less time to devote to intriguing stories than in the series, many story lines felt underdeveloped or rushed. The opulence is full force yet the dialog isn't as crisp and overall it felt more sentimental than an engrossing drama which it certainly could have been. Watch it for one last chance to see your charming characters once more.

Unabomber: In His Own Words

I Remember Seeing the Manifesto in the Paper: Eerie
(Flash Review)

This was as well-crafted a documentary just like the Unabomber's more advanced mail bombs; high quality. This film follows the Unabomber from childhood to recluse and settles into chronologically revealing his quickly advancing bomb making process through the year, which started about once a year in the beginning. After a large gap, he reemerges with gusto and uses more advanced techniques. Who are his targets? Oddly they are scientists, technology engineers and professors. Once light is shone onto his well-articulated writing, you'll understand he was against the massive technological system within society and the stresses it puts on human beings. This culminates into his infamous manifesto published in all the major newspapers used as blackmail. His story is well-told and edited nicely to keep the pace clipping along. There are a decent amount of clips of him speaking, which are pretty rare apparently. Perhaps the film's title oversold that point.

Free Fire

(Flash Review)

Ahhhh shucks...a simple illegal arms deal goes awry. A bunch of numskulls can't seem to manage a deal without their stupid egos complicating the situation. I must say the movie title is 100% accurate but this movie tried to be Tarantino without the story or dramatic flare. The only question to answer is who will survive the botched gun deal? Either the movie thinks it's cooler than it is or may be trying to pull off a parody....? This is full of gunfire, pointless cursing and hot headed idiots. ZERO PLOT. Why was Brie Larson in this!?!?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Sadly Still Super Relevant Today...
(Flash Review)

...from both sides of the isle. Smith, a young small town, morally honest, gentleman is given a senate seat due to a unique situation. Upon his arrival to the nation's capital, he is amazed and in awe of the history upon which the United States has been formed as he wanders the national monuments. Quickly he becomes angered by the misleading press articles after he dips his toe into political waters. He also learns of the lack of expertise of congressmen and the process it takes to actually pass a law. Getting his feet wet with his first harmless bill proposal comes in direct conflict with a plan a few corrupt congressmen have been planning. Looks like this is shaping up for an honest man up against established and scheming congressmen who are heavily influenced from outsiders. Stewart carries the picture as his emotions range from frustration, pleading, anger to exhaustion of trying to prove an honest point. I imagine the inner workings of congress today as even more frustrating and bewildering.

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