THOUGH OUR CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE YEARS ago, I still carry the elderly man’s words with me. The details surrounding our talk are faded and fuzzy after all these years; however, I know we were talking about the death of a mutual friend. It was a sudden death and we were saying how hard a sudden death is for those left behind. The man said something that was profound to me; he said the longer a person suffers towards their end, the easier it is for the living at the time of death. These are words that have been tested for me and it is true. I never want to see someone suffering before their time is done here. The first time I saw where these words were tested was at a nursing home. Seeing the person wilt away in an antiseptic environment, losing their awareness of everything around them; it was heartbreaking. Though they were not suffering in the traditional sense, for it appeared they had no pains or aches, those of us around them felt defeated and beaten because there was nothing, we could do to change things. This was not living, and they were not the person I knew in my younger days. The life in them was draining out to the point where no one would argue with you if you thought they looked like a breathing carcass. THE ELDERLY MAN MENTIONED THAT THE time of his death would be part of the natural order most people have come to expect. He liked to refer to death as a walk into the sunset. What he was saying made sense to me because the grief I was experiencing concerning our mutual friend was different than what I feel towards someone who had lived a long time. When one is living in their younger years, death usually doesn’t have a seat at their table. But, when someone is living in their twilight years, death not only has a seat but eventually becomes an active participant in your mind’s tabletop discussions. When the man was telling me about order, he said in the natural order of things a parent never wants to see their child die and a child always expects their parent to die before them. I thought about that and it made perfect sense to me. From our conversation, I realized grief is not a simple, clear cut function; grief is multifaceted, there are many shades to it and every single person handles grief in their own way. I hope my talking about this subject is not upsetting you; I am simply preparing you in case you choose to watch the incredible performance in this dramatic, film festival winner. A TRAGIC EVENT SENDS A COUPLE into a world of grief that each one handles differently. Will their paths meet during their grieving process? With Vanessa Kirby (Kill Command, The Crown-TV) as Martha, Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Sean, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, American Woman) as Elizabeth, Iliza Shlesinger (Instant Family, Spenser Confidential) as Anita and Benny Safdie (Good Time, Person to Person) as Chris; the beginning of this movie was one of the toughest things I have had to sit through and watch. Right from the start, I felt engaged with Vanessa and Shia; they were tremendous in their acting abilities. The story may not be original, but the way it was acted out and directed gave it a fresh perspective. Now there were times where I felt the story drifting, particularly more so in the last half; but Vanessa was a force in this picture, she carried the bulk of the work needed to keep the viewers interested in what was taking place. This was not what I would call an “up” type of film, but it was a good example of seeing someone go through the grieving process.
3 ¼ stars
NOT ONCE DID I EVER SEE his father show up for a school function. Parent/teacher conferences, sports games or concerts; it was only his mother who would be present. The father was the president of a local company; I used to see one of their products on the grocery store’s shelf. I wasn’t sure what a president actually did, but I thought there had to be at least one time his father could have been in attendance. It made me wonder if there we something going on between the father and son; or maybe the father was embarrassed, I really did not know. The son was a “B” student, who was on the staff of the school’s newspaper. He was average looking though he gave off the appearance of being ungainly because of his long body torso and arms. There were a couple of times I saw him getting picked on from a couple of bullies; they would push him in the hallway and call him names. I want to say he did not have a lot of friends because I never saw him walking with anyone through the school grounds. At lunchtime he went home to eat; at least that is what I heard. WHERE THAT PARENT NEVER PARTICIPATED IN any of the school functions, there was another student whose parents were well known, not always in a good way. These parents came to every concert; you always knew they were there because they were the loudest when it came to cheering and applauding the performers. One or both them always volunteered for all of the school’s fund drives. They were always available to decorate rooms or sell candy bars; they never refused anything. During the parent/teacher conferences, they were one of the more assertive parents. They took an active role in their child’s education, wanting to know the order of subject matter the teacher was planning to teach the class. Their intensity was something I found puzzling; I could not tell if they were trying to mold their son into something they wanted for him or simply wanted to be completely aware of all facets of their son’s education. Some of the other parents found them “pushy.” There was such a wide range of parental engagement within the school body that I wondered how much did a parent’s enthusiasm, or lack of, play a part in the student’s development. I can only imagine what it must have been like growing up for the children in this action, comedy fantasy film. WITH THE EARTH ON THE VERGE of an alien invasion after the planet’s superheroes were captured, it was up to the superheroes’ children to figure out how to work together to save the planet and their parents. With YaYa Gosselin (13 Reasons Why-TV, FBI-TV) as Missy Moreno, newcomer Lyon Daniels as Noodles, Andy Walken (The Most Hated Woman in America, The Kids are Alright-TV) as Wheels, Hala Finley (Back Roads, Man with a Plan) as Ojo and newcomer Lotus Blossom as A Capella; this film was geared more towards children. The sets had a cheesy, cheap look that I believe was intentional. The reason I say this is because I felt the script had a tongue in cheek vibe to it. There was nothing in this film that one would say was awful; yet, there was also nothing that stood out in a positive way, except for the theme of working together and equality. To tell you the truth, this movie reminded me of one of those Saturday afternoon matinee films that were created to entertain younger audiences. Also, it came across to me like a Saturday morning cartoon series. Nothing earth shattering here unless you consider the peril confronting Earth.
I DO NOT REMEMBER HOW OLD I was at the time; but I do remember I ate the whole thing. It was the first time I had been to one of those ice cream shops where you serve yourself. They had my favorite type of ice cream, soft serve that comes out of a machine in a long tubular shape. As soon as I saw the machine, I grabbed one of the larger sized cups. Even in my thrilled state I did have the sense to realize that the cup I was holding was much larger than the average “large” cup; I stopped filling it up just past the halfway mark. From there I walked down to the toppings station. As I scanned the assortment of treats, I felt I was at a dessert sweet table at a wedding reception because there were so many choices. I think because I had control over the amount of toppings, I could put on my ice cream, my brain went a little haywire; please do not judge me. If memory serves me, I spooned on chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies, chocolate and peanut butter chips, candy coated chocolate candies and for extra crunch, some granola. By the time I was done my cup was completely full. I walked up to the checkout counter where the employee took my cup and weighed it! This was new to me; I had never had my ice cream order weighed before. My creation costed me $21.36. MY SUGAR HIGH LASTED WELL INTO the night from my ice cream creation, or should I say massacre? When I finally crashed, I came down hard, feeling tired and lethargic. First of all, I had never spent that much on ice cream before and that included the gallon size containers from the grocery store. Everything was fresh and tasted good; however, when they were all mixed into the ice cream their individual flavors got lost. I was essentially eating crunchy chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. The sprinkles that remind me of my youth were lost within the meteor shower of sugary chunks. I learned a valuable lesson: less is more. If I would have focused on one or two toppings, I could have savored their individuality, for example chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter chips. It is true what they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Sure, I chose all my favorite toppings, but I could have been smarter about it. And I certainly know it would have been cheaper for me! This lesson is something the writers needed to learn before creating this action, crime drama film. COOL AND EFFICIENT IS HOW ONE would describe trained assassin Ava, played by Jessica Chasten (Miss Sloane, Molly’s Game). After one job went wrong, she got a new description, Wanted. Her survival would depend on her skills. With John Malkovich (Bird Box, RED franchise) as Duke, Common (Suicide Squad, The Hate U Give) as Michael, Geena Davis (Marjorie Prime, Thelma & Louise) as Bobbi and Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Good Wife-TV) as Judy; this story had the good fortune to have such a talented cast. However, the cast could not help with the piecemeal story lines which there were too many of. I felt pieces of other action films were put into the script and they did not play well together. The action scenes in this picture were decent but that only went so far before the heavy script slowed things down. There was nothing new or exciting in this story; as I was watching this movie, there were multiple scenes that reminded me of different films I had seen before. In its entirety, this was not a well thought out movie; there was way too much involved and not enough long-lasting excitement.
1 ¾ stars
THEY APPEARED TO BE SUCH A HAPPY family, then why did a dozen roses arrive at the office from a different man, I wondered. After they were delivered, I brought them to her desk. The card was poking out to the side and that is where I saw the signature. It was not her husband’s name. She was thrilled with the roses; it was obvious since she sniffed each individual rose. I walked back to my desk, processing this odd turn of events. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I could hear her bragging about her boyfriend being so sweet. Her boyfriend!??! She was married with 2 kids, yet she is going around telling everyone about her boyfriend; this made no sense to me. One of her co-workers must have asked her about the boyfriend because I heard her say she and him have been together for almost two years. The part I found most disturbing was the fact her daughters knew about it. The girls were only 14 and 8 years old. The fact she confides in her daughters about her affair sends an awful message to them, in my opinion. I can only imagine what this woman says about her husband when her children ask about their father under these circumstances. THIS DECEPTIVE OR MAYBE NOT SO deceptive plan is something I do not understand at all. You could say I have a negative opinion about it. If I was no longer in love with the person I was with, I would end the relationship before starting a new one. I could not stay with someone while cheating on them behind their back. There was a man I used to work with who would make his employees lie to his wife about his whereabouts because he was meeting up with random women during the workday. I was fortunate I was never in a position to have to lie for him because I do not know if I could have done it. Just get a divorce and leave the relationship with some dignity. Now I do understand some people associate divorce with failure, but I do not agree with that thinking. I knew a couple who stayed together because they were afraid what their neighbors and friends would say about them. This concept about appearances is so warped; why should someone worry what someone else thinks about them when it comes to relationships. Sure, I can see talking to a close family member or best friend about a personal issue; but to worry about what a neighbor or acquaintance thinks makes no sense to me. Knowing my thoughts about affairs, you will understand my uncomfortableness with how certain things were handled in this Academy Award nominated romantic drama. A SUBURBAN TOWN IN MASSACHUSETTS LOOKS like the ideal place to live until you see some of the cracks in its foundation. With Kate Winslet (The Mountain Between Us, Revolutionary Road) as Sarah Pierce, Jennifer Connelly (House of Sand and Fog, Only the Brave) as Kathy Adamson, Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera, The Conjuring franchise) as Brad Adamson, Jackie Earle Haley (Shutter Island, The Birth of a Nation) as Ronnie J. McGorvey and Noah Emmerich (The Truman Show, Blood Ties) as Larry Hedges; this film festival winner was an intense, well-done film. The acting was so good to begin with that the script and direction only served to elevate it to a higher level. There were several emotionally powerful scenes that took my breath away, thanks to the way the writers carefully peeled back its layers without inserting any judgements or manipulative techniques. Putting my personal ethics aside, I felt this was a well-crafted story that the actors convincingly conveyed to the viewers.
3 ½ stars
SOME OF YOU MAY LAUGH, BUT I learned about the reproduction process from a dog. I was at a relative’s house and was walking their dog. We had only gone to the end of the block when a dog from the corner house came up to us. My relative’s dog was backing up into me because of the neighbor’s dog’s aggressiveness. Luckily the neighbor came outside and retrieved her dog. As we started to head back home, I heard barking sounds behind me. With a look over my shoulder, I saw two dogs trotting towards me. Where were these dogs coming from, I wondered? I picked up my relative’s dog and started running back to the house. The 2 dogs behind me were in pursuit and they were faster than me. I started yelling at the dogs to get away, pushing then with my leg. My relative had heard me and came out to rescue us. Once back inside I asked why these dogs were after us. The reason given to me was their dog was in heat. I was confused by the use of the word heat, so my relative explained the dog was giving off a scent that male dogs were attracted to because she was releasing an egg. This answer only made me ask more questions. By the time we were done I promised I would never walk their dog again when she was in heat. FROM THAT EXPERIENCE, I NEVER LOOKED at dogs the same way. All through my early years my only contact with dogs was if a relative or friend had one. Some of them were smart, others not so much; but they were all friendly dogs. The first time I saw a service dog was at a department store. I was of high school age and saw this dog leading a blind woman through the store. Up until that time I did not know dogs could do such a thing. I kept my distance, but I followed them for a short distance because I was so fascinated by it. After that meeting, I discovered a whole new level of working dogs; from guarding scrap yards to being a service dog for the elderly. A week after 9/11, I was at the airport where I saw dogs doing something I had never seen before; they were sniffing all the passengers in line for explosives. The guards who were leading them kept telling us not to pet or engage with the dogs because they were working. It was both amazing and scary watching these dogs. Now from watching this emotional documentary, I know there is another function dogs perform that could be lethal. WHEN HANDLERS AND THEIR DOGS WORK side by side during military conflicts, it creates a unique bond that can last their entire lives. Directed by Deborah Scranton (Earth Made of Glass, The War Tapes), I feel even if one is not a dog lover, they will be moved by this movie. The story focused on a few veterans and their K9 companions. Seeing the bond between each of them was a glorious sight. I was not familiar with military dogs; I do not know anyone who worked in such a capacity. As I watched this film, it did cross my mind that some of the dogs could be the canine version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I do not want to say too much about the individual scenes; it is best if the viewer goes in and experiences the stories for themselves. From the time I was small, walking a dog that was in heat, up to my love of animals as an adult; I have never seen such a world made up of veterans and their dogs working side by side and loving each other as they are doing it.
DOG LOVERS: 3 ½ stars NON-DOG LOVERS: 3 stars
MY FRIEND WAS TELLING ME HOW stunned he was when he found out what his mother had done. Through their entire lives, his parents lived frugally; he thought it was out of necessity. It turned out that was not totally correct. His mother handled all the finances, from paying bills to shopping for food. My friend told me his father was given strict instructions on how much he could spend on any replacement clothing or food when he went shopping. Some of the stories my friend would tell me about his parents seemed extreme to me. For example, his mother would continue to wear a sweater or blouse even after it was discolored from age or frayed to the point where a small hole would appear. She never went clothes shopping unless there was no way she could continue to wear an article of clothing, after all the mending she tried to do to it. The thing that surprised me was the fact, according to my friend, his father had no idea how much money he and his wife really had saved. Throughout their entire marriage, the father never once wrote a check. I found this to be the weirdest thing out of all the things my friend told me about his parents. WHEN I THINK ABOUT OLDER GENERATIONS, I remember how the household was divided between “male” and “female” chores. It was expected the women would clean and cook while the men shoveled snow and mowed the grass. To me, it seemed like 2 separate worlds co-existing together instead of 2 people working in unison to create one world. I never understood why changing a diaper was the mother’s job or washing the car was the husband’s job. As I witnessed the growth of later generations, I noticed a refreshing change in the way married/partnered couples handled the running of their households. Males were now changing diapers or cooking while their significant other would take on the repair of a household item. There is a couple I know who have a near perfect union in the way they managed to remove “male” and “female” labels to the functions of running their home. It would not be unusual for either of them to cook dinner, clean, pay bills or grocery shop. Whoever has available time, takes on the duty and it works beautifully for them. The only area where they are not equal is with their finances. The husband does all the investing of their funds, setting them up for their retirement years. I believe this is an error in judgment because if the husband were to die first, his wife would have no idea how to manage the finances he set up for them. Imagine what kind of trauma his wife would experience. Though the circumstances are a bit different in this crime drama, one can still see the affect it has on a spouse when they are left out of the loop. FIRST, SHE WAS HANDED A NEWBORN baby, then she was forced to go on the run; all due to her husband’s actions. All Jean, played by Rachel Brosnahan (Patriots Day, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV), wanted was to get answers from her husband. With Marsha Stephanie Blake (See You Yesterday, The Laundromat) as Teri, Arinze Kene (The Pass, Been so Long) as Cal, Frankie Faison (Do the Right Thing, White Chicks) as Art and Marceline Hugot (Working Girl, The Messenger) as Evelyn; the strength of this film was solely placed on Rachel’s performance. I thought she did an excellent job in the role. Set in the 1970s, I enjoyed the sets and costumes in this picture; however, I found the script to be lacking. The first half of the film was slow to me. It was not until the halfway point where things started to pick up and I took more of an interest in Jean’s plight. Also, I liked seeing her growth in the story. Overall, it just seemed as if the writers and director did not talk much to each other when they were creating this disjointed movie.
2 ½ stars
FROM MY SEAT, I COULD SEE the setting sun poking through a bank of clouds with long tentacles of deep orange, rays of light. The ocean was quietly whispering its waves gently onto the white sand beach. I felt relaxed as a salt infused warm breeze brushed past me. All this beauty around me suddenly dissolved, replaced with rows of wooden folding chairs, when the person next to me accidently elbowed me. I was sitting in the middle of a bookstore, listening to an author talk about his latest book. He was describing the place he secluded himself to, so he could concentrate on his writing. Because he was so descriptive about the area, I felt as if I had been transported from the bookstore to his beach. The people seated around me had been replaced with palm trees and scattered rocks. That is the beauty of a great storyteller; their words can take the reader/listener/viewer on a fantastical trip to any place in the entire universe. I may have no experience or reference point to a place or event; but through the writer’s words, I can experience and understand it as if I had been a part of it. It is a gift I feel because not everyone can tell a good story. THERE WAS THIS PERSON WHO I DREADED being around whenever they started to tell a story. I know this is going to sound rude, but it was tortuous to sit there and listen to them as they would constantly stop to correct some non-essential detail to the story they were trying to tell. Seriously, who cares if a person is 41 or 42, or if someone drives a blue or black car; I would be cringing in my seat, refraining myself from editing them so they could get to the end of their story. This person ruined every joke they tried to tell. Either they would leave out something or add so much frivolous details that by the time they got to the punchline, the listener had lost all interest. There have been times where I felt like I was being held a prisoner due to this person’s poor storytelling ability. I feel the same way about movie scripts. A good script writer can convey the essence, the feelings in a story, allowing the viewer to experience it even if it is something they have never encountered. Some of you may remember the convention that took place in Chicago in the 1960s; if you do or do not, it will not make a difference when you watch this historical, dramatic thriller. A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS ARRIVED IN CHICAGO to protest the Vietnam War; several of them would find themselves on centerstage in a trial like no other. With Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts franchise, The Danish Girl) as Tom Hayden, Alex Sharp (The Hustle, The Sunlit Night) as Rennie Davis, Sacha Baron Cohen (The Brothers Grimsby, Les Misérables) as Abbie Hoffman, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, The Judge) as Jerry Rubin and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Robot & Frank) as Judge Julius Hoffman; this film festival winner written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV) immediately grabbed my attention and never let go. The writing was sharp, witty, enlightening; in other words, outstanding. I felt each actor was talking from their heart and mind; they transformed into their characters. Sacha and Frank Langella were brilliant in their roles. I knew about the event that took place in Chicago but did not really understand what was going on with it. Whether scenes in this film were true or not made no difference to me because I wasn’t looking for historical accuracy; I was looking to be entertained and with this movie I received it 100%.
NOT AS EXTREME AS DOCTOR JEKYLL and Mr. Hyde, but I was seeing a completely different side to my friend when I paid a visit to him at his office. He was a sweet and kind individual whose personality leaned more towards the passive side. Easy going, who let others make all the decisions; he was most uncomfortable when confronted with conflict. I knew he had a managerial position at his company, but I had no idea how high he was in the pecking order. When I arrived at his company a security guard had to check me in and call my friend’s office. A secretary was dispatched to escort me to his office. Who was this person I was visiting? Arriving at his office or to describe it better, his suite of offices; I was stunned to see him in such a setting. I would have never guessed he would be sitting in what appeared to be an authoritative position. While there he had to take a couple of phone calls and receive several visits from various employees under his jurisdiction. His staff was in the hundreds I found out; this was something I simply could not comprehend. He could not voice an opinion on what restaurant we should go to for a dinner, but he was sitting here acting powerful and decisive. It was such a dichotomy, like I was seeing two different people. I HAVE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE to see Tina Turner perform not once, but three times in concert. Her concerts rank in the top three of my favorite performances. One of the reasons why is because she sang live which is quite important to me. Going to see a musical artist lip synch their songs in concert is a waste of money for me; I could stay home and listen to their albums. Another reason I loved her concerts is because she was exciting to watch on stage. The only way I can describe it is by saying she was like a predator stalking the stage. She would cover the entire stage, whether alone or with her backup dancers. Clocking in well over 2 hours, the only time she was off stage was to change her outfit; but then she was right back at center stage, always in high heeled shoes. You knew she was pouring everything she had into her performances because I am not exaggerating when I tell you at the end of the show, she was drenched with sweat. From where I was seated, I could see it dripping off her face; she was a musical beast. How in the world did she cover up the life she was leading when she was not on stage? This dramatic musical biography will explain it. ON STAGE SHE WAS TINA TURNER, but offstage she was Anna Mae Bullock and she was having a rough time. With Angela Bassett (Black Panther, Strange Days) as Tina Turner, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Ike Turner, RaeVen Kelly (A Time to Kill, Preacher’s Kid) as young Anna Mae, Jennifer Lewis (The Preacher’s Wife, Think Like a Man franchise) as Zelma Bullock and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (Malcolm X, New Jack City) as Alline Bullock; I can emphatically say Angela was Tina in this film festival winner. She was incredible with her acting skills in portraying Tina. Not to be outdone, I must hand it to Laurence because he was equally amazing in the way he portrayed Ike. Just like Tina, both actors commanded the viewers attention as they delivered the script in their own special way. The story is unbelievable; however, the script could have been tweaked a bit to let the cast dig deeper into their characters. If you are a fan of their music, then you will especially enjoy watching the musical scenes of classic songs. What a life Tina has led and with the concerts I have seen of hers, I can add the watching of this film as a special treat.
3 ½ stars
IT WAS ALREADY A SAD AFFAIR and now I was back to repeat it, except I would be giving a eulogy. My friend’s significant other had died from a debilitating health condition. I had always heard a parent never wants to bury their child and here both parents along with their remaining children were sitting in front of their child’s casket. My friend was sitting with the siblings. The receiving line was long; I was halfway back away from the seated group of mourners. As I slowly made my way up to them, I occasionally heard a sob or soft whimper rise from out of the family members. Reaching the front of the line, I introduced myself and gave my condolences to the first of the mourners. When I came up to my friend we hugged while they gently cried on my shoulder. Once they were able to calm themself, they thanked me for coming. I tried to offer words of comfort before I had to continue moving forward, to finish offering my sympathy and finding a seat. These types of services are never good to begin with and I found this one especially hard because of the relatively young age of the deceased. It is more of a shock to me, for some reason. SEVEN DAYS AFTER THE BURIAL, I received a phone call that my friend was found dead in their home. It was such a blow to me that I had a hard time comprehending the news. I had not even processed the previous funeral and now a week later there was to be another one? The past week I had been checking in to see how my friend was holding up; they were having a horrible time of it. Hearing this latest news, the only thing I could think of was the fact they were no longer suffering over their loss. However, how would the family endure another sadness so soon, I wondered? For this funeral, I was asked to give a eulogy. A eulogy? I was too young to be dealing with a eulogy for my friend. The pain I was feeling over both deaths was suffocating me. I do not know if it was right for me to think this or not, but I felt I now understood what survivors feel when multiple family members die in a crash or crime. It is like layering one sadness over another and another; it is such an awful experience. In a way this is how I felt about the story in this dramatic science fiction fantasy. Maybe I would have felt different if this had come out before the pandemic. WITH EARTH BECOMING INHABITABLE DUE TO a catastrophic event, humans had to leave the surface. One scientist decided to remain behind to try and warn a space crew returning from a space mission. With George Clooney (The Ides of March, The Monuments Men) as Augustine, Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex, The Theory of Everything) as Sully, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Selma) as Adewole, newcomer Caoilinn Springall as Iris and Kyle Chandler (First Man, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Mitchell; this film had a beautiful crisp look to it. The music, though interesting, tended to become overbearing throughout the story. I was drawn into the story quickly; but as it unfolded, I felt as if I had already watched it in similar past films. There was a lack of intensity which I felt was a mistake because the movie dragged in places. I felt I was watching separate movies based on what was taking place in the story; there needed to be a stronger central theme in my opinion. Besides these issues, I just thought the timing in releasing this film was a poor choice. I already have enough to think about; so, why do I want to add something that could so closely become our new reality?
IF IT WASN’T FOR MY ECLECTIC taste in music, I would surely be deaf now. In my younger days I could be found at some type of concert almost every week. From small nightclub venues to large indoor stadiums, I was spending a good portion of my paycheck on music concerts. I will say, I have been fortunate to have seen some classic and memorable musical performances. For example, I saw Freddie Mercury and Queen a couple of times; Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Jane Oliver, Black Sabbath, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Many of the concerts were held in an older 18,000 seat stadium, with the last rows up close to the rafters. I remember the buzz of energy sparking through the massive crowd of people who were piling into their seats. There would be these massive speakers stacked up on both ends of the stage, along with speakers that hung down from the roof. With some bands, the music was so loud coming through the speakers that the sound would reverberate in my chest. My ears would be ringing, but I would not notice it until the concert ended. There was one concert that left me with a ringing in my ears until the middle of the following day. Back then I did not give much thought to my ears and in fact, took the ringing as a sign that it was a good concert. How dumb of me. WHAT MADE ME REALIZE THE DAMAGE I was doing to my ears was my first flight to Mexico. I went with a friend and the night before I came down with a head cold. Since it was just some congestion without a cough or fever, I did not give it much thought. However, when the plane was descending, my ears felt like a knife was plunging into my eardrums because of my clogged sinuses; I was in excruciating pain. By the time we landed, I could not hear a thing. My friend had to take the lead on everything for the next two days. If I hadn’t been so freaked out by it, I would have had a better time and just relaxed with the quiet. The only way I could communicate was either by writing a note or doing a solo form of charades. The day I got my hearing back started out with me hearing a crackling noise every time I swallowed. It was similar sounding to the turning of a radio dial, filled with static and buzzing. As soon as I was able to once again hear the spoken word, I vowed never to fly with a cold again and always put ear plugs in my ears before a concert. It was tough watching the main character in this musical drama at first because it brought back such memories for me. PANIC BEGAN TO SET IN AS Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), started to lose his hearing. To make matters worse, his profession was accelerating the pace. With Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds) as Lou, Paul Raci (Smoothtalker, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) as Joe, Lauren Ridloff (If You could Hear my Own Tune, The Walking Dead-TV) as Diane and Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as Richard Berger; this film festival winner had a simple but emotionally filled script. The way scenes played into each other with the incredible use of sound to connect them was impressive. Riz was outstanding with his character; the internal and external battles he experienced were equally intense which added to the connection the story was making with the viewer. I hope he gets a nomination this awards season. This was a wonderful film that was filled with depth and poignancy. I think it also provides an accurate picture of those with a hearing loss.
3 ½ stars