I AM REPEATING WHAT WAS TOLD to me because it has been decades since I have eaten red meat. A friend and I were deciding where to eat for dinner one night. For the fact they enjoy steak, I suggested one of those steak restaurants that reference the state of Texas for some reason. Usually, these places always have other options I can choose for my meal. Before I tell you what my friend said, I want you to know I am not conveying a negative message about any restaurant; this is simply one person’s opinion I am sharing with you. My friend asked me why I would suggest such a place; I told him the reason I stated above. He said if he wanted a steak, he wanted a “good” steak; he was not going to settle for a cheaper brand/cut of meat for his meal. I asked him if he could really tell the difference and he said absolutely. I did wonder if everyone thought the way he did, how would these types of restaurants stay in business? Does one need to be a connoisseur to know when one item is better than another I wondered? When it comes to food, I call myself a low rent eater; I enjoy going to diners and other restaurants that do not do anything fancy to their food. The bottom line for me is I want something that not only tastes good but that I enjoy as well. I AM THE SAME WAY ABOUT movies. As you know, I simply want to be entertained when I am watching a film. I do not pick pictures apart down to every detail. There have been times I have gone to see a movie that the critics have raved about and I wind up sitting in the theater bored out of my mind. These esoteric films that suit a small group of people, where I am sitting in my seat totally confused, are a waste of time for me. Yet I feel compelled to sit through them so I can review them. I try my best to find something redeeming to talk about when I review such movies. In a way, I tend to do the same thing when it comes to food. I have no problem going to a fast food restaurant for a meal. If it tastes good and provides me some type of pleasure, then I am fine with it. Unfortunately, with this comedic drama that was inspired by a Swedish film, I would have rather sat through the original one again and avoid this current production. A FAMILY VACATIONING IN THE ALPS find themselves in the direct path of an avalanche. Though the physical aspect of it was scary enough, it was the aftermath that would be more troublesome. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said, Veep-TV) as Billie, Will Ferrell (Holmes & Watson, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Pete, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Thin Red Line) as Charlotte, Zoe Chao (Where’d You Go, Bernadette; Strangers-TV) as Rosie and Zach Woods (The Other Guys, The Office-TV) as Zach; this movie was painful to see. The original film called “Force Majeure” I reviewed and absolutely loved it. The idea for the story was so smart and thought provoking; the writers and director of that film did a wonderful job in telling the story. In this picture, I only enjoyed Julia’s performance; she really tried her best to make something out of this movie, but it was not enough. There was no finesse or nuance to the acting from the rest of the cast and the script did none of them a favor. There was a heavy-handedness that prevailed through most aspects in the making of this picture. As with my food, I am fine going to a lower end place; I do not have an issue going to an updated version of something I have already seen. However, in the case of this film I would only go see Force Majeure and skip this poor version of it.
1 ½ stars
WITH DIZZYINGLY SPEED, SHE SCROLLED THROUGH her photos on her phone. To me it looked like a blur; I had no idea how she would be able to spot the photo she was seeking. Her thumb looked like it was waving at me from the way she was using it to go through her photographs. I tried to keep up with her and make out the images that sped by on the screen; but, because I guess they were not my photos, I could not decipher the images that were captured for a split second on her phone’s screen. Finally, she found the photo she had been looking for and with a pinch of her fingers she made the image bigger for me. She wanted me to see the details of the object up close. I was chuckling inside, remembering the “old days” when one wanted to see something up close in a photograph, they would have to get a magnifying glass. Speaking of the “old days,” I remember when I used to go to rock concerts, I would have to buy a special high-speed film for my camera if I wanted to take photographs. Nowadays one only needs to take out their smartphone and snap a picture. And I am guessing most of you do not know there was a time when museums prohibited the taking of photographs; try enforcing that now with almost everyone walking around with a camera in their smartphone. I AM NOT DISCOURAGING THE ADVANCEMENTS in photography; but I feel something has gotten lost with the technology we use to take photographs. For me, photographs capture a moment in time; it may be of a person or a place. Going through an old box filled with photos is a way of finding connection to one’s past as they go forward in life. Seeing a relative wearing a different hat in each photo you have of them when they were young might surprise you; since, you have no memory of them even liking hats. Maybe she had designed the hats herself when she was younger; you would never have known if it was not for the photos in your possession. When I see a much younger version of myself and can immediately experience the same feelings I was dealing with in the photo; whether good or bad, I am reconnecting with my former self. That photo is proof of the history I have lived, besides being a reference point to how far I have come in life. Seeing the shiny images of deceased relatives staring out at you, is akin to feeling their support in your current endeavors. A photograph can say a lot about a person; just see what it says in this dramatic romantic film. AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH LEADS JOURNALIST MICHAEL Block, played by LaKeith Stansfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12), on a journey of self-discovery and love. With Issa Rae (Little, Insecure-TV) as Mae, Chelsea Peretti (Game Night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Sara, Chante Adams (Bad Hair, Monsters and Men) as Christina and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Good Boys) as Kyle; this film was beautifully staged. Going between two different time periods, I enjoyed the filming of each period and the connection between the two stories. Issa surprised me in this dramatic role; she had a wonderful authentic screen presence that matched LaKeith. Their chemistry felt real and believable. Though the script got heavy-handed at times with the romantic aspects and predictability; I still enjoyed watching the characters as they matured through the story. Also, it was pleasant to watch a romantic movie that felt organic in its development instead of feeling forced. I would love to see the art of printed photographs make a comeback because of this picture.
THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING ON THE radio as we sang along to it. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other’s life; it had been a few months since we last got together. Driving on the way back to her apartment, my friend wanted to show me the house she was thinking of buying. I was fine with checking out the place, so my friend decided to take surface streets to the house to show me what type of neighborhood she would be living in. On one picturesque street, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the houses were being maintained. My friend slowed and came to a stop near the end of the block; I thought we had arrived at the house she was interested in. Suddenly, she started backing up; I asked her what she was doing. Before she could answer me, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to talk to a man who was standing in front of a car that had its hood up. Before I knew it, she popped her hood and the man was attaching jumper cables to her battery. I sat there in disbelief; I did not even see this guy as we were driving down the street. Within a couple of minutes, the man’s car was running, and we continued on our way. IT WAS SOME TIME LATER AFTER I had left my friend and was home, that I replayed that whole helpful scene in my head. I was struck with the fact that my friend was willing to help a stranger with no hesitation. When I had asked her why she stopped, she said she figured something was wrong by the way the man was looking at his car’s engine. Was I so fearful and mistrustful that I would have continued driving by without stopping I wondered? The next question I had was why was I mistrustful and fearful? In my past, I had been taken advantage of by strangers. Things like being asked for spare change or sign up for a promotion that later turned out to be fake; after several bogus incidents, I stopped offering any help. I guess you could say I became hardened towards those asking for help. Yet, I have always been willing to help friends and family. But as I am writing this, I am recalling times where I did help strangers; the shopper who could not reach the top shelf or the train passenger who was lost would be my examples. Seeing the help the main character offered in this action, adventure film has made me reassess my feelings about helping a stranger. DESPITE HAVING NEVER SEEN SUCH A being did not stop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), from agreeing to help the being called Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (This is Where I Leave You, Parks and Recreation-TV) get to San Francisco. Their trip was the last thing Dr. Ivo Robitnik, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Mr. Popper’s Penguins), wanted to see succeed. With Tika Sumpter (Ride Along franchise, The Old Man & the Gun) as Maddie Wachowski and Natasha Rothwell (A Year and Change, Insecure-TV) as Rachel; this family fantasy based on the video game was a fun movie watching experience. The message was sweet about friendship and friends in need; the humor was cute and pleasant. There was nothing extreme or harsh in any of the scenes. And the big surprise was seeing Jim excelling at the physical comedy; I felt I was watching a much younger Jim Carrey because he was so into his role. This picture was easy to watch and if nothing else I appreciated the way it made me look at my feelings about helping strangers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
2 ½ stars
ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IS not every “idea thief” has malicious intentions. My first exposure to one of these thieves was at a job I had a long time ago. I was working on a project for my boss, coming up with a theme for a new line we were going to carry. It took me several weeks of work before I felt good about what I had created. One day, out of the blue, my boss emailed me a suggestion I should look at and incorporate into my work. His suggestion was something I was starting work on; I could not believe he had just come up with that idea! Well it turned out, thanks to a tipoff from a friend of mine at the company, an employee who was aware of my work went and offered to my boss the names he thought I should use in the product line. The same names I had already chosen; however, it would now look like this employee came up with these names instead of me. I was furious at this employee’s underhandedness. Looking at my options, there was no way I could go and explain the betrayal to my boss without looking petty; so, I went ahead with what I had created and made a mental note never to trust that employee again. FROM THAT EPISODE, ANYTIME I ENCOUNTERED an “identity thief” I stayed clear of them, having nothing to do with them unless it was business. It was not until I was working at a club where a new instructor came on staff and we became friends. She had a couple of body fitness classes but wanted to expand her options. After studying and getting certified as a cycle instructor, she started showing up in one of my classes. It was amusing the way she would take notes while working out with the class. Her dedication and work paid off finally when she was assigned one cycle class. I was not able to attend it to support her but a few days later a member came up to me to tell me about the class. The member told me the instructor had taught the class nearly identical to the way I taught class. She even used some of the same instructions I used when working with the members. I was shocked to hear it and decided to ask my friend about it. She told me she got so nervous she forgot the things she had planned on doing and simply repeated the steps she remembered I did. We talked further as she said she wanted to use some of my techniques because they were perfect cues; I suggested she change the verbiage, so the cues become hers instead of mine. Her goal was to teach a safe class, so there was nothing malicious about her actions; unlike one of the main characters in this comedy. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY CAME TO HAVE a well-known cosmetics mogul invest in their company; best friends and owners Mel and Mia, played by Rose Bryne (Instant Family, Insidious franchise) and Tiffany Haddish (The Kitchen, Girls Trip), could not believe their good fortune. That is, until their new partner came up with her own ideas. With Salma Hayak (Savages, The Hummingbird Project) as Claire Luna, Billy Porter (American Horror Story-TV, Pose-TV) as Barrett and Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, A Cinderella Story) as Sydney; this movie did not offer anything new or surprising. Tiffany was doing the exact same thing she does in each of her comedies; I cannot tell the difference between any of her characters. I grant you she certainly has her way in delivering lines; but when the lines are dull it becomes a chore. The script was done in such a basic, low level of comedy that I was bored through parts of the film. In fact, if you have seen the trailer you have seen this movie. Having taken common themes we have seen before, the writers did nothing new to make this a fresh take on friendship and money.
1 ½ stars
AS I PULLED UP TO HER HOUSE, I saw that her trash containers were overflowing. I am not talking piles of garbage bags; there was clothing, sports equipment and stuff that looked like it was originally part of something else. When my friend asked me to come over, I could tell she was upset. Seeing the stuff in the trash told me she must have broken up with her boyfriend. When she opened the door, I knew my assumption was correct; they had a huge argument and decided to end their relationship. She was still in the angry phase of her breakup and as a friend, I sat and listened to her vent and complain. There was something though that struck my ear. There was a phrase she would say that did not originate in her thought process; it was a saying her now former boyfriend used to say all the time. I wondered if she was aware of it, but I decided not to say anything. Here she had thrown out everything that was associated with her ex; but she was using one of his catchphrases. Wouldn’t that be a reminder to her, I wondered. On the other hand, I am not one to talk based on my history. WHEN I HAVE EXPERIENCED A HEARTBREAKING separation, I withdraw into myself. The stuff that was theirs I usually leave alone for the most part; though, I usually will start using their toothbrush to clean the crevices of the bathroom sink and tub. The most important thing I do to begin my healing process is to quickly change my daily routine. When two people live together, they fall into a pattern that compliments, compensates and co-exists with their significant other. Working around each other’s schedule, filling in places when the other is traveling; essentially working to find a solution to what daily life puts in your path, so the two of you get some quality time together. This is where I have suffered the most; after adjusting to a new schedule to accommodate both people and then suddenly, I am left by myself to come up with a new daily routine. The material things are not my focus during my grieving time. I do know every person handles the grieving process of a breakup differently; some go on a binge and abuse themselves with food, alcohol or non-stop shopping, while others get lost into their books or hobbies. I will say out of all the people I have known who have gone through a breakup, I have never seen one of them do what the main character chose to do in this action, adventure crime film. ON HER OWN NOW AND WITHOUT the protection of her former boyfriend, the city of Gotham suddenly becomes a more dangerous place. But for who; the citizens, the gangsters, the police or for Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Mary Queen of Scots), herself? With Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump, Won’t Back Down) as Renee Montoya, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Gemini Man) as Helena Bertinelli, Jurnee Smollett-Bell (The Great Debaters, True Blood-TV) as Dinah Lance and Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep, Christopher Robin) as Roman Sionis; this comic book feature film’s best asset was Margot Robbie. She was the main character, the narrator and the glue that tried to keep all the different pieces of the story together. I thought the cast was fun; however, the script was such a jumble of different story lines that I found myself getting bored at times. There are only so many fight scenes one can sit through in a day. Margot handled the majority of anything that appeared to interject humor into the scattered script. The story and script both needed to pare the scattered craziness down and increase the excitement and drama. Based on Margot’s performance, I would be sad if I did not see Harley in any future movies; but if they remain at this level of inconsistencies, I could easily live without her.
2 ½ stars
EXCUSE ME IF THERE ARE TYPOS within this Oscar telecast review; I did not get much sleep due to the extra long telecast last night. It was a good thing I added extra recording time on my DVR for the show. After finishing up the weekend’s chores earlier in the day, I had everything out and ready to sit back and relax while checking off my predictions. Overall, most of my predictions were correct; the biggest surprise was the best picture category. The reason for my surprise was not that Parasite was chosen; it was that the academy actually voted it the best. I thought by them giving the award for best international film (I am glad they changed the title of this category from best foreign film) to Parasite, the academy would not also give the movie the best picture award. None of the other picks shocked me. LAST YEAR I TOLD YOU HOW I did not miss having a host; it turns out that may have been a fluke, because this telecast had an uneven flow without a host. I thought the show started out with a big bang by having Janelle Monae opening the night to get the crowd into the mood. Sadly, her precise and lively performance only made Steve Martin’s and Chris Rock’s banter stilted when they came out next. Some of their jokes were humorous, but it appeared they needed more rehearsal time; or, they might have been confused on why they were there if the show was not going to have a host. It became apparent to me as the show lumbered along that a host might have kept things connected and flowing. Having people come out to introduce celebrities who were then going to introduce the nominees seemed redundant to me. As for the acceptance speeches; some were short and delightful, while others rambled on. As you know I rate movies based on their entertainment value; I want the same thing for award shows—to be entertained. I do not want to hear celebrities lecture or preach about a cause unless they actually are involved with it. Just to hear someone’s opinion on a subject, I do not feel an awards show should be the avenue for a celebrity to tell me what I should do. And another thing about the presenters; maybe the academy should vet them a little better. There were a few actors/actresses who rambled on without making much sense. They took valuable viewing time and wasted it. THERE WERE A FEW SEGMENTS THAT I found baffling. Why did we need someone to give us a recap of what we had seen so far in a rap? Why did we need to hear Eminem sing his Oscar winning song without an introduction or explanation? And speaking of introductions, why were some of the nominated songs performed without letting the viewers know who and what was being sung? Some of the decisions that were made for this telecast were wasteful and frustrating to me, especially since I could tell the telecast was going to go past its allotted time slot. Now I do not want to be Mr. Gloom and Doom here; there were some lovely and touching moments. Seeing the winning director of Parasite pay his respects to Martin Scorsese was sweet as was Laura Dern’s acceptance speech. I admit it takes a lot for me to be disappointed with the Oscars telecast since it is something I have been watching ever since I was a young child. The memories I have of past shows have stayed with me all these years as will the new memories I get from current telecasts. For yesterday’s show, though I still enjoyed watching it, there certainly was room there for improvement. I hope everyone had fun this past Oscar year as I go right into our next year of movies, looking for that perfect 4-star film. Thank you for your comments and support throughout the past year; I appreciate it deeply.
UNLIKE LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME, I am right on track to have a perfect Oscars day. I am going to the movies early in the weekend and luckily, I can see my choices back to back. My shopping list is completed; all I need to do is pickup the ingredients for the treats to have on Oscar day. There will be a creamy dip accompanied by cinnamon sugar chips, pretzels baked with caramel chocolate pieces and topped with a pecan half and of course the main chocolate item: a chocolate brownie bread loaf; no stepping on a scale for 2 weeks for me. Household chores will get done long before the telecast and I do not plan on leaving the house several hours before the show; so, I have little concern on what the weather will be. My extra soft afghan is already on the sofa and I wiped clean any dust from my television screen; as you can see, I am all set to reap the rewards from this past year of watching movies. NOW DESPITE MY EVERY BEST EFFORT to cover as many films as possible, this year’s nominees caused me some distress. There are a couple of categories where there are nominated films I not only did not see, but I never even heard of them. I do hope this is an anomaly and will not happen again. Because of this situation, in the category where I have not seen all the nominees, I will only list what I think should win and not what will win. With that being said, I want to take this moment and wish everyone a happy and fun Oscar viewing time. Once again there will be no host and I am totally fine with it. So, here we go; below please find my predictions on who should win and who will win this year’s Oscar awards.
MY CHOICES: OSCAR PICKS:
JOAQUIN PHOENIX JOAQUIN PHOENIX
BRAD PITT BRAD PITT
RENEE ZELLWEGER RENEE ZELLWEGER
KATHY BATES LAURA DERN
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
SAM MENDES BONG JOON HO
FORD V FERRARI PARASITE
STAND UP “(I’M GONNA) LOVE ME AGAIN
JOJO RABBIT THE IRISHMAN
KNIVES OUT ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
THE ACT OF HAVING A DISCUSSION seems to have become a lost art. So much of the news I have seen contains arguments and violence instead of rational and calm discussions of one’s differences. A recent news report covered a fight that happened in a subway between a passenger and street musician. The details of their argument were not listed; however, whatever it was I cannot believe it was something so intense that it caused the two people to resort to physically fighting each other; one using a pocketknife and the other their guitar. The fight took place on a train platform in the middle of the day with passengers walking right by them. I cannot even imagine something like that taking place, but it did. The news reports I find the most tragic are the ones where an argument took place between family members, where one member out of anger kills the other family member. Without being too graphic, in the past few months I have read reports about a son stabbing his mother to death, a father shooting his son and a brother running over his older brother with the family car, just to name a few. The world is becoming scarier and scarier. IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO learn how to have an argument without attaching emotions to it. For years I thought the way to win an argument was to have a louder voice than your opponent. If you added profanity to the conversation it would help your cause. For years, I would take anyone’s disagreement with me as a personal affront and immediately go on the attack against them. I did not hold anything back except one thing; I never turned the fight into a physical altercation. My evolution into staying calm and respectful started with a close friend who was a facilitator of a “self-help” organization. She taught me how to keep the negativity out of a discussion by using the word “I” instead of “you.” This may sound trite, but it made a world of difference for me. That change allowed me to stop coming across as the accuser; instead, I started talking about how I felt based on the actions of my opponent. There was no need for name calling or raising my voice any longer; I simply expressed how I was feeling, and it caused the other person to lose their defenses because they were no longer under attack by me. I now can appreciate a “good” argument which explains why I enjoyed watching the two main characters in this biographical, comedic drama. DESPITE THEIR POSITIONS WITHIN THE CATHOLIC church, the differences between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor franchise, Hitchcock) and Jonathan Pryce (The Wife, G. I. Joe franchise), could have a monumental effect on the direction of the church and its followers. The two men would struggle as they had to confront their pasts. With Juan Minujin (Focus, An Unexpected Love-TV movie) as a younger Jorge Bergoglio, Cristina Banegas (Clandestine Childhood, Killer Women-TV) as Lisabetta and Sidney Cole (Felicia’s Journey, Common People) as Cardinal Turkson; this film festival winner succeeded due to the acting skills of Anthony and Jonathan. They were so convincing to me that I started to forget they were actors. I know the movie was inspired by true events, but I wondered how much of what I was watching was true. Though, since this event happened in my lifetime there was the curiosity factor that played to this film’s advantage. The jumping back and forth in time was disruptive and may have contributed to the slowness I experienced at times. Still, I found the subject interesting and I appreciated watching two people having a discussion.
REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy. NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie. LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.
1 ½ stars
WHENEVER ANY OF US WOULD SPOT the old woman, we would purposely cross the street to avoid getting close to her. I do not know what led us to do this; I only knew she meant to do us harm. The stories I had heard about her on the school’s playground dealt with her kidnapping elementary school kids, selling kids for money, performing experiments on us and other such horrific actions. Whether it was true or not I cannot tell you; however, all the school kids I knew were afraid of her. She lived in the neighborhood but none of us knew where. We always saw her walking down the street with her shopping cart trailing behind her. One story going around said she used the cart to haul off children after she knocked them out with hypnosis or some type of poison. I do not judge people based on their looks; however, back when I was a little kid in grade school, certain facial features would have a negative impact on me. This woman had a large nose that sloped sharply at the end with a large dark brown mole nestled on the outside of her nostril. Her hair was a sea of grey and white waves; sometimes covered with a gauze like headscarf that made it look like fog. Some boys had the courage to get close enough to her to call her names. I kept my distance. WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE OLD neighborhood where I grew up, I can still remember those individuals that were singled out as “scary.” It is weird how these people wound up in such a position. I can only attribute it to us little kids reacting to the looks of the individual or the places they lived in. There was an eerie looking house in the neighborhood that was scary to my friends and me. Besides needing a new coat of paint and some repairs, it was considered a “bad” place because the couple who lived there had no children. I cannot tell you why that made us more afraid of the house; it just did back then. Every Halloween I would skip that house because I was scared something bad would happen to me. What stood out for me was the fence around the house. Though it was made of brick, the top of it had these metal, decorative spikes sticking out that I was sure was used to impale innocent children on who ventured past the gate. These memories of mine, how did they come to be? I think it started when I read the story of Hansel and Gretel when I was little. LOST AND HUNGRY IN THE WOODS, the sight of a house was a welcome relief for brother and sister Gretel and Hansel, played by Sophia Lillis (It franchise, Sharp Objects-TV mini-series) and newcomer Samuel Leakey. When they peered into a window, what they saw made them want to stay. With Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Silent Hill) as Holda, Jessica De Gouw (Dracula-TV, Underground-TV) as young Holda and Charles Babalola (The Legend of Tarzan, Black Mirror-TV) as the hunter; this fantasy, horror thriller was nothing more than a fantasy. The sets and filming of the story were intriguing to me; but the script was a waste of words. I could not believe how the story dragged to the point I was checking my watch several times. Every scene seemed slow as if they were supposed to build up suspense, but nothing ever materialized. There were a couple of scenes that were meant to be disgusting I believe; but outside of that, I thought most of the major decisions made to create this film were a poor choice. To tell you the truth, I was more scared retelling my childhood fears above instead of sitting through this poor excuse for a filmed fairy tale.
1 ½ stars