I CANNOT SAY I TOTALLY BELIEVE or disbelieve; I simply believe anything is possible and that is why I am fascinated to hear people’s experiences with unexplainable events. A friend was telling me about a recent encounter her daughter experienced. While driving to a family function, the daughter looked in her rearview mirror and saw her grandparents, who were deceased, sitting in the back seat. They just sat there and smiled at her for the entire trip. When they arrived and she turned off the car, the daughter turned around in her seat, but the grandparents had disappeared. She went into the house to join other family members but during her time there she felt the presence of her grandparents for most of the night. The daughter was not surprised since her grandparents had visited her multiple times before. Her mother started believing her daughter ever since her first encounter because at that occurrence the grandparents said something in their native language which the daughter would not have known. When the daughter repeated what she heard to her mother, my friend knew something unexplainable had taken place around her daughter. I enjoyed listening about the event and asked my friend if her daughter ever had an encounter that scared her. She said as far as she knew, no. IN MY EXPERIENCES, THINGS HAVE TRANSPIRED that I could not easily explain. I used to workout at home on a cable exercise machine for several years. One day while working on it I felt like my eyes were mildly hurting me. When I clenched my eyes shut the pain subsided. I had no idea what was going on and even inspected them in the mirror to make sure I had not broken a blood vessel or something. For a week every time I did this one particular exercise on the machine, I would just close my eyes through it. However, after a week I started turning my face to the side while keeping my eyes shut. I knew this did not make any sense, but I kept doing it. After a few days when I went to exercise, the cable snapped as I grabbed the pull-down bar before sitting down on the bench. I was shocked but immediately realized that if the cable had held up a few seconds longer until I was seated and pulling up the weights attached to the cable, it would have snapped right into my eyes. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I felt there had to be something else that I could not explain that made me start to clench my eyes and turn my face away from the cable. Once I replaced the cable my eyes stopped hurting. It is things like this which have kept my mind open to any possibility and that is the way I went when I decided to go see this movie. AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN to take possession of a rundown house she inherited from her father, a single mom and her two children were unaware there was something special about the house and land around it. With Carrie Coon (The Post, Gone Girl) as Callie, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Our Idiot Brother) as Grooberson, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Trevor, McKenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home) as Phoebe and newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast; this long-awaited adventure, comedy fantasy in the franchise did not fully materialize for me. The acting was good; I especially admired the performances of McKenna and Finn. However, I thought the script was weak. There could have been more excitement, humor and suspense; everything seemed like a light version of what it was intended to be. Of course, there also was the nostalgic aspect which made things more bearable, especially the last part of the movie. I went into this film with no expectations and came out with just an okay feeling that I saw it, but no wow factor. There were a couple of extra scenes during the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
AS GRANDMOTHERS GO, SHE WAS THE worst I had ever seen. I was a little kid when I met her, and I thought back then she was a mean person. There was never a smile on her face, nor did she ever want to play with us. I was good friends with her granddaughter; you would have thought she would have made an exception for me, though I quickly learned not to be around her. I still can remember playing outside and she came out with a bag of candy. She appeared surprised when she saw us before she came over to offer her granddaughter a piece of candy. I was sitting right there next to her, but the grandmother did not offer me a piece. Instead, she walked back to the entryway and remained there eating her candy. I felt sad that she did not offer me any candy; but I was not shocked because her daughter, my friend’s mother, acted the same way. This is why I was never asked to stay for lunch or dinner, despite my friend coming over to our house to eat. For the several years we were friends, I noticed more and more how my friend’s mother was so much like her mother. It made sense since children learn from their parents, whether the parents know it or not. WHERE THAT GRANDMOTHER WAS PASSIVELY TEACHING her daughter, I had a neighbor on the block who was molding his five children in his own likeness. I know this sounds almost God like, but the kids dressed like their father even. He was a scientist who always had a studious look on his face. With horn-rimmed glasses that 4 out of his five kids also wore, he was not a parent who you would find playing in the backyard with his family. When I saw him there, he was either building something or reading a book. His kids would either help him or they would be doing some type of activity such as reading, painting or constructing something on their own. They were polite, but not overly friendly; I remember the mother being the friendliest one out of the group. They went to the same neighborhood school as I did; but I rarely saw any of them in a class or hallway. I used to wonder what they could be doing because they were nowhere to be found until I discovered all their free time was spent in the school library. The only thing I could think of was the kids were being groomed to become scientists whether they wanted to or not. I had always wondered the same thing about the world class tennis playing sisters in this biographical sports drama. FROM THE TIME THEY WERE LITTLE Richard William, played by Will Smith (Gemini Man, Suicide Squad), had a plan that would make his daughters known around the world, whether they wanted it or not. With Aunjanue Ellis (The Help, Men of Honor) as Oracene “Brandy” Williams, Jon Bernthal (Baby Driver, Fury) as Rick Macci, Saniyya Sidney (Fences, Hidden Figures) as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton (Goldie, Godfather of Harlem-TV) as Serena Williams; this movie based on historical events was fascinating to me. Maybe it is because I am a fan of tennis; but I found the story fascinating. Granted, I do not know if everything I was seeing happened in real life; however, Will’s performance was so good that it kept me drawn into the story. At times, I thought there was too much tennis being shown that took away from the story and I also would have appreciated getting more back story when the girls and Richard were much younger. The other aspect I admired in this film was the purposeful way they stressed education and fun. Whether scenes were accurate or not, this was an engaging film and there is no denying the sisters are history worthy.
3 1/3 stars
AT FIRST GLANCE, I THOUGHT THERE was a miniature guillotine sitting on their kitchen counter. I was over at a friend’s house after school, and we had gone into the kitchen to get a snack. Sitting next to their toaster oven was this small, blue colored contraption that had a partially exposed razor blade attached inside of its open cover. I asked my friend about it and he said his mother used it to cut pills. This was the first time I had ever heard about someone cutting their pills. It never even occurred to me that a pill could be cut in two. When I was a little kid, if I needed to take a pill, I had to have it dissolved in water before I could swallow it. I wanted to see how this device worked but my friend said he did not want to play around with it. I suggested if he did not want to cut one of his mother’s pills, maybe a celery stalk could work. He nixed the idea, and I did not want to push it any further. However, I started wondering why a person would cut their medicine dosage. Was my friend’s family poor and could not afford their prescriptions? Did the drug make his mother sick, so she cut them to lower the side effects? So, all I did was ask him why she cuts pills; he said when she starts feeling better, she likes to take less and save a few pills in case of a relapse later. THAT WAS MY FIRST EXPOSURE TO someone manipulating their medical advice, but it would not be the last. I knew someone who needed an organ transplant; essentially, he was told if he did not get one, he would not live beyond one more year. I cannot tell you the things he did, but he wound up getting the procedure in the nick of time. Another person I knew needed a new drug to help him with his life-threatening illness. The expense to administer the drug was in the thousands; so, they only agreed to receive half a dose. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to cut corners when it comes to one’s health. How does someone decide whether to have a roof over their head or use most of their savings to help prolong their quality of life. I am sure we can all have a lengthy conversation about the world’s health care and drug systems and I certainly hope no one ever has to go through what the family had to in this dramatic, action thriller. WHEN A POSSIBLE LIFESAVING DRUG WAS pulled back by the drug company, there was little hope for Ray Cooper’s, played by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Dune), wife to beat her illness. Ray was determined to find the cause for the sudden removal of this miracle drug. With Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Rachel Cooper, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Amos Santos, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Amanda Cooper and Amy Brenneman (The Jane Austen Book Club, Foster Boy) as Diana Morgan, the bones of this story were solid. However, the execution of it was clumsy. I liked the idea and thought the action scenes were exciting, but there was nothing new presented in this film. Jason was okay but I felt the script did not provide more opportunity to display a larger range of emotions. The surprise twist in the story was unsatisfactory; I found it unbelievable. As I mentioned earlier, the intention to bring this story to the big screen was noble, but it arrived dead on arrival.
1 ¾ stars
A FRIEND OF MINE CREATED AN informal group that consisted of friends and acquaintances, who wanted to help take care of our neighborhood. The only requirement to be part of the group was to have pride for the neighborhood. Since I was born and raised in it, I signed up to become a member of the group. I have to say my friend was a sensitive individual, who started the group to combat the negativity he was experiencing both in his workplace and personal surroundings. His hope was to spread a little positivity around the neighborhood through acts of kindness. The first event he scheduled was to meet at the beach, ready to clean up any litter. When I arrived, he handed me a trash bag; I already was wearing a pair of gloves, so did not need the ones he was providing. There was a total of 9 or 10 people who participated and the time my friend set for the event was two hours. We each were assigned an area of the beach and went at our own pace because some of us weren’t as young and nimble as the others. I was grateful that in my section I did not come across anything truly disgusting. Instead, most of the items I found were cigarette butts, plastic cups, empty bottles, cans and tattered sheets of paper. Why people could not take the time to walk over to the trash and recycling bins, I would never know. ONE OF THE REASONS MY FRIEND asked me to join his group was because he knew how attentive I was in recycling everything I could at home. Granted I was lucky that the town I lived in had a very active recycling program that was easy to follow. Each resident was given two large bins, one for trash and the other for recyclables. They also gave out small orange crates as backup in case our bins got full before trash day. Since I kept my bins in the garage, I made doubly sure to rinse any containers out before leaving them sitting outside for days. I did not want to attract any wildlife with food encrusted items. Besides the usual newspapers and magazines, I recycled most of my junk mail, along with any container that showed the recycling number on it. I also would recycle those plastic rings that held together a six pack of soda, but only after I cut open each ring to prevent any wildlife from getting their head stuck in one. For me, I felt I was doing my part in protecting this world just like the main characters felt in this action, adventure fantasy. DUE TO AN UNEXPECTED EVENT, ANCIENT aliens who lived among us had to come out of their peaceful lives to combat an old enemy. With Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel, Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Richard Madden (The Take, A Promise) as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie (Maleficent franchise, Those Who Wish Me Dead) as Thena, Salma Hayek (The Hummingbird Project, Like a Boss) as Ajak and Kit Harington (Pompeii, Game of Thrones-TV) as Dane Whitman; this latest release from the Marvel Universe was a big disappointment. I felt the script lacked the typical humor one expects from Marvel films. Scenes dragged for me and I did not care for the flip flopping that took place in the latter part of the movie. Surprisingly, I thought the special effects were not up to par; there seemed to be an almost cartoonish aspect to the characters, and I do not mean that in a good way. The pacing and the action scenes just seemed off to me which added to my boredom. Except for the 2 extra scenes during the ending credits, I would not have immediately thought this was a Marvel film. It felt like I had spent an eternity watching this picture by the time it was over.
I WAS NEVER THE TYPE WHO could go from one relationship to another to another, with very little downtime between. If the love relationship I was in ended, I would need time to grieve and deal with the sadness before venturing back into the dating pool. There was one long term relationship I had that I thought was leading to a permanent commitment; I was wrong. For several months I stayed close to home, not going out much even with my friends. I took that pain and funneled it into those home projects that I never had time for during the relationship. Oh, and I also watched a steady stream of movies. To tell you the truth, I cannot even imagine going on a date after a recent breakup. Knowing me, I would at some point mention my past relationship and the struggle I was having with its ending. And we all know one of the biggest red flags on a first date is to mention your recent breakup and how it is affecting you. I will say, after the grieving process has run its course, that first twinge you feel that plucks one of your heartstrings after meeting someone new, feels like the onset of that first spring day after a dreary winter season. WHERE I COULD NOT JUMP RAPIDLY into a new relationship right after the end of another, I have a friend who never had an issue doing it. After being in a long-term relationship for several years, they broke up and within a couple of weeks she had met someone new. They dated for approximately 4-6 weeks and then got married. To say I was stunned, would be an understatement. I so desperately wanted to ask her if she knew him that well where she wanted to marry him. Or ask her if she thought this would be considered a rebound situation. In case you were wondering, their marriage only lasted 3 or 4 years before they got divorced. I cannot fault a person who runs with their emotions, nor would I want to ever judge a person who is experiencing love. From my experiences, I know love is a powerful emotion that can drive a person into uncharted territories of their heart and to a certain extent their mind. I knew someone who would change his entire wardrobe based on the person he was in love with at the time. I did not understand it, but evidently it meant something to him. I felt the same way about the main character in this drama. AFTER THE THEFT OF HIS TRUFFLE hunting pig Rob, played by Nicolas Cage (The Frozen Ground, Leaving Las Vegas) was determined to get her back, even if it meant returning to his past life. With Alex Wolff (patriots Day, Jumanji franchise) as Amir, Adam Arkin (The Sessions, Chicago Hope-TV) as Darius, newcomer Cassandra Violet as Lori and Julia Bray (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) as Bree; this movie captured my attention like the way a home cooked smell grabs me when I first walk into the house; I know there is something cooking that I will have to wait until it is done before enjoying it. The script was a slow burn attention seeker. It started out slow but the more the story unfolded, the more I was going deeper into it. Nicholas was incredible in the role and reminded me that he has the capability to produce a quality piece of work. This film is listed a thriller besides drama, and I can understand the reasons why; however, I do not want to build up anyone’s expectations that this picture will be an intense mysterious story that will have the viewer at the edge of their seat. Instead, what one will see is a deep and personal story wrought with emotions.
3 ½ stars
WHILE WE WERE LINING UP INTO groups, the line monitors kept reminding us not to engage with any protesters. I thought it was ironic since we were about to stage a protest march. There were thousands of people maneuvering into place; I had two friends with me in my group. The volunteers who were chosen to be the line monitors were handing out a list of safety tips to everyone who walked into the staging area, along with reminding us to stay hydrated. Every group I could see from my location had people in them holding banners and signs. While we waited for our start time, volunteers dressed in those yellow hazard vests kept walking by to remind us that this was a peaceful march. Since I was curious about what kind of protesters are we supposed to not engage with, I stopped one of the volunteers to ask him. He told me there was a group of protesters who were known to instigate physical encounters so they could then file legal suits against individuals, protest organizers and city officials in the hopes of getting money either by winning the lawsuit or agreeing to a settlement. I was appalled by this and had to ask how these protesters incite reactions. He said they shout out a variety of vulgarities to rile up a person, besides spitting at them. I was not looking forward to crossing their path. WE WERE ALL IN PLACE BY our start time. There was a certain energy in the air that felt exhilarating to me. Being in the middle of a mass of people with like minds was heady; each of us were there to focus on a common issue we all shared. The beginning of our walk was easy to navigate as we had quickly moved from a park to a main thoroughfare. There were photographers and news reporters scurrying back and forth as they were trying to document and catch a perfect moment. It was not long before I heard a different tone of sound coming up ahead. I was used to the different chants and sayings being uttered around me; however, this sound had an ominous note. A line monitor was shouting reminders to not engage. There up ahead was the group of protesters we were warned about. They were pointing at individuals in the march, yelling obscenities at us. The homemade signs they held in the air depicted vile images. The level of hatred being displayed was unsettling to me. We were protesting for better rights and these people were wishing us dead; it made no sense to me. It was so extreme that I could not wait to pass them by. I did not think I would see such extreme behavior on display ever again, but that was not the case since I watched this eye-opening documentary. WHILE ELECTED OFFICIALS WERE INSIDE THE capitol to certify the presidential election, a mob of people were outside trying to get in. Directed by Jamie Roberts (The Fires That Foretold Grenfell, War Child), this film used a variety of footage and recordings from both the individuals inside and outside the capitol building. I am sure most of us have seen footage shot on January 6th; but I must tell you, the scenes and conversations I saw in this movie were a different level of disturbing for me. It did not appear as if the movie studio tried to sway the story favorably to one side or the other; it just came across as a series of live events that got captured on camera. While I try to avoid any political debate, I just want to say I still cannot get over the level of extreme emotions I saw in this picture. It left me sad that there seems to be absolutely no middle ground in this country. I will keep my personal feelings to myself and simply say I am not comfortable seeing hatred at such an extreme level.
3 ¼ stars
FOR MANY YEARS, THE ONLY OPTION I thought I had when I felt someone had done me wrong, was to retaliate. There was no other thought in my mind on how I could react to the occurrence. I can remember back in elementary school when a classmate called me a nasty name, referring to my size and instead of saying something back, I stood there silently. It was because I was already trying to figure out how I could hurt him. Once I decided what I was going to do, I sat back and waited several weeks because I did not want the classmate to make any connection between calling me a name and something bad befalling him right after. So, I went about my business each school day, while discreetly staying out of his way as I plotted my revenge. Once I formulated my plan and felt confident, I could pull it off, I waited for our next recess time to spring my plan into action. As the class lined up to follow the teacher out of the room, I lingered in the back of the room. With the students focused on getting outside to the playground, I purposely walked by that kid’s desk. Quickly lifting the desk top I found his pencil sharpener and took it. As far as I could tell no one saw me take it. I kept it in my coat pocket all day until I got home, where I took out the hammer from our toolbox and smashed the pencil sharpener in our backyard. INTO MY EARLY YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT, I still had that same mindset of essentially an “eye for an eye.” I worked with a woman who falsely accused me of something that I had never done. The reason she did it was to get the job I was working to get. I remember how furious I was when I found out she was “bad mouthing” me. For the next eighteen months I not only gave her the silent treatment, but I also did a variety of things to annoy her. Periodically, I would bring in food treats like ice cream bars, candy or bagels. Instead of putting them in the lunchroom, I would go around to each employee in the department and offer it to them except for this one backstabbing individual. She pretended it did not bother her; however, as the weeks and months went by, other employees who I was friends with would tell me how irritated this employee was at not being offered any food. I relished in the news and kept it up until she finally apologized me. I accepted it but I never let my guard down around her. Because of my past intensity to seek out revenge, I was able to understand the main character’s motivation in this dramatic western. HEARING THE MAN HE HAD BEEN hunting down all these years was getting out of jail, there was only one thing on Nat Love’s, played by Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick, Lovecraft Country-TV), mind; he wanted to hunt him down and kill him. With Zazie Beetz (Joker, Deadpool 2) as Mary Fields, RJ Cyler (Power Rangers, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) as Jim Beckworth, Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk, Our Family Wedding) as Trudy Smith and Idris Elba (The Suicide Squad, Concrete Cowboy) as Rufus Buck; the wonderful cast was a joy to watch as they committed to their characters that were based on true individuals. The script was a little too long and at times I felt the writers and director were paying tribute to Quentin Tarantino; but once things clicked in, I was thoroughly entertained. I will say I do not like modern language being injected into a period piece, but there was not much of it. I also enjoyed the way the story took a turn. Imagining the amount of energy Nat had to keep up to fulfill his quest, I am so glad I discovered other options to my reactions to a person I perceived had done me wrong. There were scenes of blood and violence.
THERE ON PAGE 4 OF THE newspaper was my professor’s name. I was excited to see her name right below the title of the news article. She was a cool journalism teacher with a colorful vocabulary. Of course, I had to read what she wrote to see if she practiced what she preached. Her class was my first introduction into journalism; I had not made up my mind if I wanted to be a reporter or a novelist. The college I was attending was known as a “working” school of education. The professors worked in the field they taught. For example, my poetry professor was a famous poet with several published books of poetry. I remember seeing them all lined up on a shelf at a large, national chain bookstore. The journalism teacher was on staff at the newspaper. I still remember how she explained to us how to start writing an article; it was like an upside-down pyramid. The opening line should grab the readers attention, so hit the reader with the facts of the story, starting with the most dramatic one. She also was a stickler for spelling and punctuation, editing our news’ stories with a red inked fountain pen. Periodically, she would surprise us with a scenario she created, and we would have to write up an article as she timed us. It was obvious she loved her work. THE OTHER IMPORTANT THING MY JOURNALISM teacher taught me was the importance of words, that words mattered. She taught us how to remove our feelings from our writing because a journalist’s job was to report the facts. We would have newspapers delivered to the classroom then go through them, dissecting the articles that were city, national or world news. The ones about culture, fashion and sports were rarely needed. Our teacher stressed upon us to choose our adjectives carefully. She would show us by reading an article as written then repeat it with the adjectives changed, to show us how it can change the reader’s perspective. The class truly was a master class in my opinion. And though it was one of my favorite classes my heart yearned more for the fictional verse. I loved creating a picture in people’s minds with my words. Now granted I may not utilize my fictional skills in my reviews, but I still watch what words I choose. Being a reporter is a noble job and I know it has taken a beating the past few years. Some of the blame honestly is justified. Seeing how the newspapers I read carry the same story but based on who owns the newspaper, there may be a different slant to the story. However, a reporter’s job is to report the news and that is why I was happy watching this inventive film. AN AMERICAN NEWSPAPER WITH AN OFFICE in France is determined to report the stories. The reporters would go to any lengths to get the story. With Benicio Del Toro (No Sudden Move, A Perfect Day) as Moses Rosenthaler, Adrien Brody (Manhattan Night, The Pianist) as Julian Cadazio, Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love) as J.K.L. Berensen, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, Midnight in Paris) as Simone and Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading, Nomadland) as Lucinda Krementz; this dramatic comedy romance was a kaleidoscope of visual treats. The scenery and use of color kept me attentive to what was taking place in the scenes. The other aspect that grabbed my attention was the abundance of actors in the story. Though some were utilized more than others, I still enjoyed watching them. It did take me time to get into the movie. A quarter to a third way in things started to click for me. The story is a tribute to journalists, told in a fun and entertaining way. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs) then you will enjoy this film; if you are not, I do not believe you will be as entertained.
BEFORE I WAS INTRODUCED TO ONE of my new co-workers, I was told her husband was something like 20 years older than her. It was the oddest thing to hear as part of an introduction to meeting someone. It was my first week at a new job and an employee in my department was taking me around the company to introduce me. As we were walking into another office, she said the name of the first person I would meet, then mentioned the thing about the age difference. The woman with the older husband was friendly as she explained what she did and how her department would be working with mine. After meeting her, I was directed towards several other employees before going back to my desk. However, that comment about the older husband still lingered in my mind. I wanted to ask my co-worker why she thought to tell me about the age difference between that woman and her husband, but I did not know how to approach it. Back at my office, I settled down at my desk and before my “tour guide” left me, I suddenly had a thought. I asked her if the older husband of the employee she introduced me to was ill. She said no and asked me why I was asking. I explained that because she mentioned the age, I was assuming something was wrong with him. She said not at all; she just thought it was bizarre that the employee would marry someone so much older than herself. That was all I needed to hear, and I decided to drop any further conversation about the married couple. LISTENING TO MY CO-WORKER SAY SUCH a thing, told me she had pre-conceived notions about love. In her mind, love was only meant for two people who were close in age. I would have liked to ask her what the cutoff age was to love and marry another person. In addition, their age difference was none of her business. I wondered what she would have thought if I told her I used to be with someone who was 14 years younger than me. As far as I was concerned love has no age restriction. Putting one’s perceptions or beliefs onto another person makes me uncomfortable. I think it is a major achievement when a person can connect with someone and get to a place where they love them unconditionally. What does it matter to someone else if there is a difference in age, race, gender or religion between two people? I like to confront such a person and ask them who decided what were the requirements to love someone. In my opinion, love comes in many forms which is why I so enjoyed watching this dramatic comedy. AFTER DECIDING HE WANTED A CHILD, a software developer searches for the perfect surrogate to carry his child, but what exactly is perfect? With Patti Harrison (A Simple Plan, Shrill-TV) as Anna, Ed Helms (Father Figures, Love the Coopers) as Matt, Rosalind Chao (The Joy Luck Club, The Laundromat) as Dr. Andrews, Timm Sharp (Friends with Money, Fun with Dick and Jane) as Jacob and Nora Dunn (Southland Tales, Three Kings) as Adele; I thought the story offered a charming discussion about relationships. Patti and Ed had an interesting bond on screen that accentuated their acting skills. The script posed some interesting questions which I thought the two of them handled in an authentic way, even down to non-verbal cues. There were a few scenes that seemed to have been created to manipulate the viewer’s emotions, but it was a minor distraction for me. I simply enjoyed the story telling aspect of the movie; it was comfortable to sit and watch the story unfold without any additional bells and whistles placed into the script. I may not have loved this film enough to give it my top rating; but I sure was quite enamored with it.
3 ¼ stars
A FOND CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF MINE was the many times I went to the auto show. Having built and painted a fleet of model racing cars, I loved seeing all the new cars inside the convention center. The faster a car could go, the more I was attracted to it. I would impatiently wait by a sports car, wishing the attendees sitting inside would get out, so I could sit behind the wheel and pretend I was speeding down a long highway. There was not one compartment, switch or knob that I left untouched. At some of the displays there were hired people, dressed in fancy clothes, who would walk around the car and talk about it to any passing person. To emphasize the point, they would eagerly open a car door to invite the individual to come and take a seat in the “latest,” most “advanced” automobile that is out on the street today. I took all of this in, fantasizing that one day I could get hired to talk about all the cars on display. Adding to my excitement, would be all the pamphlets and paraphernalia that the different auto manufacturers would pass out. By the end of the day, I usually had two full bags of stuff that I collected throughout the exhibit. I HAD ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY FROM my times at the auto show. In the cafeteria where we would stop for lunch, they sold one of my favorite cookies but in a smaller size. I loved the idea of my favorite cookie being in a bite-size form because they were so easy to pop in my mouth. And they would not leave any crumbs. I always made sure I finished the bag before we would continue our way through the convention center. Even to this day, I remember those little sized cookies. Now, when I go to the grocery store, there are so many options to my favorite cookie that it becomes overwhelming. I remember when they changed the packaging and proudly proclaimed “New & Improved” across the top. They tasted the same to me. However, with their latest version, I must tell you I did not think they tasted as good as I remembered. After so many years, I hope I am not just getting bored with them; they did not excite me like I know they did in the past. I feel the same about this latest installment in the film franchise despite my love of fast cars. AFTER HAVING SETTLED INTO A QUIET, idyllic life in the country, a crisis forces Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), and the crew to deal with a terrorist that can match their fight and driving skills. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Battle Los Angeles) as Letty, Jordana Brewster (American Heist, Home Sweet Hell) as Mia, Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue, Transformers franchise) as Roman and John Cena (Vacation Friends, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Jakob; this action, crime adventure took the stunt driving to a new level. I enjoyed watching the over-the-top car scenes; however, there were so many of them that it got repetitive for me. There was no place for logic nor was there any time to focus on the characters. It was humor, race, pause for words of wisdom and repeat. The script could have gotten some help if it had incorporated more of Charlize Theron’s character because one of the “evil” characters was not very evil in my opinion. The cast appears quite comfortable with each other and I imagine they are enjoying themselves during the filming process. I am afraid compared to the prior installments in this film franchise, this latest one was more of a basic model instead of being top of the line. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
2 ½ stars