Monthly Archives: May 2015
There has only been one person in my life who made me consider moving away from the city of my birth. Having friends from childhood and family around me, I never considered moving out of state before. In my past relationships I have met many people from different parts of the country and even world. I always asked what motivated them to wind up here and the answers went from the practical to the whimsical. No matter what the reason may have been, I thought anyone who could leave their job, pack up their home and move to a different part of the world was a courageous soul. I am especially fascinated by the influence love has on some people’s decisions to relocate. There was a friend of mine who met someone and within 4 weeks knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with them, so agreed to change jobs and move out of state with them. I of course was wondering how they even knew they loved the person after a few dates. Love really is a powerful force; I guess it has a way of holding and calming any fears similar to what one does to sooth a crying baby. I recall reading a comment left on my movie site where the person mentioned she moved from Europe to the United States and I immediately assumed there was solid strength inside of her. It was the same type of strength I found in this movie. LEAVING Scotland to come to America Jay Cavendish, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road), had only one thing on his mind. He wanted to find his true love Rose Ross, played by Caren Pistorius (The Most Fun You Can Have Dying, Offspring-TV). Outlaw Silas Selleck, played by Michael Fassbender (X-Men franchise, 12 Years a Slave), agreed to take Jay across the country for a price, realizing Jay would never survive crossing the American frontier on his own. This Sundance Film Festival winning western thriller was an interesting movie. I have seen films about finding long lost love but this one was different for me because it took place in a 19th century wild west setting with a young foreigner. The entire cast which also included Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Payne were rock solid with their characters. Visually this picture had some beautiful scenery and the camera work helped keep the story fresh for me. When there was action it was well done but I hesitate to call this an action film; the pace leaned more to a slower one. This picture provided a curious tale of love that could leave you thinking about your past relationships. There were a few scenes that showed blood.
Whether I am a witness or a recipient to any type of injustice, I still get angry either way. A friend of mine bought living room furniture from a well known retailer. When it was delivered, a marble table had a crack in it. She called the company, they sent someone out to evaluate and replaced it. The 2nd table came with a defective leg that was shorter than the others. Back on the telephone with customer service, she spent one month trying to get another replacement or her money back; neither thing took place since the company basically started to ignore her. I was just as mad as her and told everyone I could about her story. When I was dealing with a national bank to refinance my home, I was battling with them all the time. Their worksheet had the wrong figures on it, they misspelled words on legal documents; it went on for months until I finally showed up at one of their bank branches and let everyone know my frustrations. Every time I see a social injustice I sit and wish I had gone into politics to try and right these wrongs. I used to let my dark side take over and become a spiteful person who wanted revenge. When I suffered from a bad relationship breakup, a friend reminded me about the way they dealt with their anger. It was taking their ex’s toothbrush and using it to clean the bathroom. I admit, at the time, it provided me a small amount of satisfaction. That was nothing compared to what was happening in this film. BAZIL’S, played by Dany Boon (Welcome to the Sticks, A Perfect Plan), life was forever changed when a bullet became lodged in his brain and his dad stepped on a land mine. This film festival winning action comedy reminded me of that kid’s game where the players have to create a Rube Goldberg style trap to catch a mouse. Some of the players in this movie were Andre Dussollier (A Very Long Engagement, Tell No One) as Nicolas Thibault de Fenovillet, Omar Sy (Intouchables, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Remington and Yolande Moreau (Ameile, Seraphine) as Tambouille. All the characters played a part in drawing me into this movie due to their physical comedic capabilities. This really was a fun film to watch since it was more action than dialog. Though there was a flavor of slapstick humor to it, I would not classify it as such. I felt the story was laid out like a well planned idea that just happened to appear zany. Watching this DVD was and would be the perfect respite before one takes on their next battle in life. French dialog with English subtitles.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
You see them with their heads bowed, peering down at the item in their hand. If you did not know better you would think everyone standing in the aisle was having a moment of silence. What they are looking for is the defining answer on whether they will purchase that particular item; it all depends on the expiration date. If the date is close or even past the day’s date, the food item is placed back on the shelf and the shopper looks for a fresh container. Thank heaven love doesn’t have an expiration date, though seeing some people’s reactions to an elderly couple being affectionate makes me wonder. If two people can find each other and form a long lasting love relationship then I say more power to them. I am not comfortable when I see anyone performing public displays of affection that go way over the top, where you want to tell them to go get a room. For those types of individuals I think they are doing it more for the people around them than the recipient of their affections. However, when I see a couple holding hands or one has their hand gently resting on the other person’s leg or back I think those two people have a comfortable connection. When I am in a relationship I enjoy resting my hand on the person’s arm or leg, especially at the movies because I can get an extra read on how they are reacting to the film. So why should it matter how old a person is if they can still find and enjoy being in love? CAROL Peterson, played by Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents franchise, The Lightkeepers), had been a widow for many years. Encouraged by her friends she attended a speed dating event. It only reaffirmed why she preferred to be alone all these years; but did she really prefer it? This comedic drama had everything working in its favor. Blythe was so good; she may get a nomination for best actress for this role. I cannot believe this was Blythe’s first starring role; she was in every scene and was wonderful. Joining her in this story were June Squibb (Nebraska, Scent of a Woman) as Georgiana, Rhea Perlman (Matilda, Cheers-TV) as Sally, Martin Starr (Knocked Up, Adventureland) as Lloyd and Sam Elliott (Tombstone, Draft Day) as Bill. The script was smartly written, allowing characters to grow in a real and organic way; I was quite taken by this movie. The script felt fresh and was not predictable. Whether you are young or old, I feel everyone could connect to this picture on some level. Love is a powerful force; it would be hard to resist it and this film.
3 1/2 stars
The day before I went to see this movie, I was at a dinner party where I heard an incredible story. A friend, who lives in the house she grew up in, said her house has ghosts. The people around her did not know how to react to such a statement, so the majority of them replied by saying, “Really” with a question mark at the end. With her sister confirming there were ghosts, she told us about the wristwatch she lost 4 months ago. She had placed it on her dresser before she went to take a shower. When she returned, the watch was gone. She looked all around the dresser, even in the drawers, as she retraced her steps positive she had left the watch on the dresser. A week went by and still no watch so she went out and bought a new one. None of us knew how to respond; so we simply nodded our heads, letting her continue with her story. Months passed as she went about her business, opening and closing the drawers of her dresser on a daily basis. One day as she was getting ready to go out with her boyfriend, she opened one of the dresser’s drawers and sitting in the bottom of it was her original watch. That in itself would have been freaky enough but along with the watch was an old folded up piece of paper. When she unfolded the paper she saw it was a shopping list that her deceased sister had written years ago because the first item listed was cigarettes. Everyone listening to her story was speechless. FORCED to downsize their expenses Eric and Amy Bowen, played by Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back, Moon) and Rosemarie DeWitt (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Watch), took a deal on a smaller house. The real estate agent failed to mention the house was built on top of an old cemetery. This remake of the 1982 horror thriller was odd to me. The writers kept some of the original ideas in tact, but other iconic parts were discarded. Unfortunately they were not replaced with something that was more intense or memorable. The cast was okay even if I thought Sam was an odd choice. I admire his work, but having him in this film gave it a slightly comic bent. Another example was the character Carrigan Burke, played by Jared Harris (Lincoln, Natural Born Killers). He too was okay but his character did not have the impact like the original character he replaced. Now there were some scenes where I enjoyed the special effects; but here again, they just did not have the same level of intensity. So if you have not seen the original movie you may be okay with this modern version. I would have rather attended another dinner party with shared paranormal stories.
1 3/4 stars
I do not know if it was because I did not go at an early age and had more time to think about it, but I used to wonder what I would find in Tomorrowland when I finally got there. Besides the usual science fiction stuff like flying cars and robots, I thought of other things that could be in the park; I was not an average little boy. I wanted there to be no sadness or pain in Tomorrowland; everyone would be kind and accepting of everyone else. The opportunity to go there did not happen until a friend and me were legal adults. It was the first trip by airplane for both of us. When we arrived at the amusement park I was overwhelmed with all the images that I had only seen on television or in photographs come to life right before my eyes. We made our way through every attraction whether it was a roller coaster ride or stage show; we felt like little kids again. From one section to another we planned on experiencing it all over the course of 3 days. On the second day we had Tomorrowland on our to do list. As we followed the signs pointing to it, I was remembering all the things I imagined about the park when I was small. I was not expecting what I found when we reached our destination. Tomorrowland had a somewhat dated look to it; almost like a retro look from a decade or so ago. I was so confused by the things around me; this was nothing I imagined Tomorrowland would be. I felt the same about this action adventure film. Mysteriously appearing among Casey Newton’s, played by Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride, Dan in Real Life), things was a curious pin. When touched only by her, Casey ‘s surroundings would change into a futuristic world; she had to find out how and why she had this pin. Starring George Clooney (The Monuments Men, Up in the Air) as Frank Walker, Hugh Laurie (The Oranges, House M.D.-TV) as Nix and Raffey Cassidy (Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman) as Athena; this science fiction fantasy was so confusing to me, I could not even tell you what the story was about. Now I lived through Star Trek’s space-time continuum and could follow its logic; but this story made no sense to me. With all the money used for the great special effects, that was all this movie offered the viewer essentially. However, the writers wanted to make sure we understood the message they were trying to convey so it was repeated over and over to us. This was the 2nd time Tomorrowland disappointed me; I better focus on making each year better than the last. You can start by not paying full price for this confusing picture.
It made a cool spaceship without its razor blade. There was an old metal razor in the cabinet below the sink that I would take out and pretend it was a spaceship. I would hold out the length of my arm and fly it around the house. The best part was how the tip of the handle would turn and the top of the straight razor would open up like dock doors. This is where my spaceship hid its laser cannon. I don’t even know if they make these types of razors anymore because I use disposable plastic ones. I can remember a time when a host wanted to give you leftovers; they would be on a dinner plate covered in tin foil. Now everyone has these disposable plastic containers in every imaginable size. When I am hosting a dinner party I buy several of these to give leftovers to my guest. Most people appreciate it because let us face it, who wants to wash and take care of someone else’s dinnerware until you can give it back to them. I actually do not give the containers a single thought once I turn them over to someone else; I do not expect them back. Everything is becoming disposable these days it seems. When I accidentally stepped on the plastic lid of a storage container and cracked it, I just threw it out and bought a new one. It is a mindset I acquired from everything around me; it never occurred to me to stop and think about what was the real price paid to stock all of this plastic stuff found on store shelves. Now that I have watched this film I give it a lot of thought. INVOLVING thousands of people and billions of dollars, this film festival winning documentary felt like a legal drama. This movie was about the lawsuit that the people of Ecuador brought against one of the largest multinational oil companies. Director Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Under African Skies) did an incredible job of making this film interesting, informative and startling. I thought showing the opposing lawyers talking about the case was a perfect way to engage the viewer. Seeing some of the damage that had been done to the Amazon area, to the people who live there; I have to tell you I felt like I contributed to these people’s hardships by having a laissez-faire attitude towards disposable items. I think that really says something for the writers and director on the way they made this unbelievable documentary. For example they touched on human rights, politics, the environment and the loss of culture to name a few. When I was done watching this DVD I really wished I had that straight razor instead of those damn plastic disposable razors.
3 1/2 stars — DVD
No matter how people are labeled, they all fall somewhere on a horizontal line. From doctors to parents to plumbers, each one can find a place among their peers. A saying I am fond of is, “Someone has to graduate at the head of the class and someone has to graduate at the bottom of the class.” What I mean by this is there will always be individuals who are better than others in their profession or group; just as there are good doctors and bad doctors, the same holds true for parents. Now first let me say I am not a parent and I do not mean to judge anyone’s parenting skills. In my little corner of the world I have seen and heard parents doing extraordinary things along with not so extraordinary things. Just walk through a grocery store; you would be surprised how many things you can see a parent doing to their child. I saw a mother take the time to explain to her kid what harm his actions/behavior could cause to the shoppers around him, explaining to him if he continued their behavior they would have to leave the store. There have been other times where I have seen a parent hit their child then yell at them as they nearly lifted them off the ground by the arm before storming out of the store. WORKING on a criminal case similar to one she had several years ago Detective Nancy Porter, played by Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, People Like Us), found it interesting that Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning, played by Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, Man on Fire) and Danielle Macdonald (The East, Trust Me), who were convicted of the previous crime were recently released from prison. Based on best selling author Laura Lippman’s novel, this crime drama had a strong cast of actors. Besides the celebrities I mentioned, there was Diane Lane (Unfaithful, The Perfect Storm) as Helen Manning and Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Beyond the Lights) as Kevin Jones. Everyone did their part well; with Elizabeth, Diane and Danielle being the most memorable to me. I liked the idea of this suspense story being led by a mostly female cast; it provided an interesting take on the detective formula. The story was meant to keep the viewer in suspense with its twists and possibilities; I really wished it had done that for me. Not only did I find the story to be quite predictable, I thought there was a flatness to the drama. For such a story this movie could have used more intensity to keep the viewers guessing. After the movie was over I was disappointed it was not better; I guess there are some writers and directors who are better than others.
1 3/4 stars
The first time I saw the album cover was at my friend’s house. It was their brother’s record so we had to be careful when we pulled the record off of the shelf. I remember looking at the album cover and thinking I had seen it on a T-shirt that was hanging in the window of a store that was known as a “head shop.” I was not sure why the store was called that but I remember there were black lights inside that made things glow eerily in the dark. We would gently ease the record out of its paper sleeve and put it on the record player. (For those of you who do not know, this was a device that was used to listen to music pre-CD, cassette and 8 track times.) The music told a story all the way through the various song tracks. We especially enjoyed singing along with the lead singer Roger Daltrey when he sang, “See Me. Feel Me. Touch Me. Heal Me.” It was soon after I discovered this album was being referred to as a rock opera. I was fascinated with this term since I had never heard it before. Growing up I was exposed to operas like Carmen and Madame Butterfly, but for a popular piece that could be heard on the top 40 hits radio station to be called a rock opera was new to me. I did not know at the time I was listening to something that would become known as a rock classic and the band known as The Who would become world famous. ASPIRING filmmakers Kit Lambert and Christopher Stamp were looking to make a movie about the changing times in England. They came upon a band known as the High Numbers whose players looked the part the two men wanted to portray in their film. These men from opposite sides of the tracks were the most unlikeliest guys to manage a band, but they wound up becoming the band’s managers and so the story began. This biographical documentary was a walk in history for me. Still having vivid images of Tina Turner as the Acid Queen and Elton John as the Pinball Wizard, I enjoyed hearing about the band’s rise from obscurity to super stardom. Christopher who is the brother of actor Terrence Stamp (Wanted, Unfinished Song) and Pete Townshend handled the bulk of the narrative. Though I was pleased to see such early footage, I did not enjoy it being jerky and shaky. I understood a good portion of it had to be non-professional, but I still found it irritating. It was a small price to pay to gain insight into the workings of this band. The movie was too long as it was but I really wished they had shown the band performing some full songs from their rock opera.
There are various reasons to chase someone and I think I have experienced most of them. I can remember as a small child the thrill of having a relative chase me around the house. Funny for their size and age it was surprising they did not catch me more times than they did back then. I understood this better when I started being asked by my younger relatives to try and catch them. Then there was the time I was riding my bicycle in the neighborhood and a neighbor’s dog ran after me when I passed in front of its house. I was huffing and puffing as I sped away, not sure if the dog was being friendly or protecting its territory. Another form of chasing is when you spot someone you know in a crowd and you try to catch up to them. Out of the different reasons for being chased the one that produces the most adrenaline is the one where you feel you are about to receive bodily damage if you are caught. In that split second when you realize the person or the group assembled in front of you wants to hurt you, your entire body springs into a hyper accelerated gear as you try to run away. All of your senses fine tune themselves to accept clues from your surroundings at a faster clip. The eyes continuously scan for clear paths; the ears listen beyond their usual range to keep track of your attackers and you feel your temperature rising to keep every muscle and fiber from tearing apart under the added exertion. An example of this can be found in this action adventure film. WITH humanity broken and barely surviving on a spent planet two rebels dream about a better place. Such a dream could get them killed. Writer and director George Miller (The Witches of Eastwick, Happy Feet franchise) did not create a remake of his original Mad Max movies here; he produced a fierce, fiery adrenaline fueled science fiction fantasy that was utterly intense. Though I could barely understand some of the dialog, this film was meant to be a visual experience. Tom Hardy (Warrior, Child 44) and Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Monster) as Max Rockatansky and Imperator Furiosa were awesome. I loved the female empowerment angle to the story. Honestly, you can say whatever you want about the story; it really doesn’t matter because this was a visual masterpiece. There was so much action during what was essentially one long continuous chase scene that I was just amazed with the retro feel to everything. I could not tell what was CGI or what were actual stunts; even the motor vehicles were like individual characters. This picture was one stripped down, raw, death defying road trip without a seat belt. There were scenes with blood and violence.
3 1/2 stars
The night was going to be the first of its kind in this part of the country. An amusement park was closing early to host a charity event that a group of us decided to attend. To gain entry into the park you had to have a special wristband; it was weird to see employees of the park usher out those who did not have one of these bands. However, it was a cool feeling to walk around the park with like-minded folks. The weather was perfect with a summer ending temperature accompanied by a gentle breeze. While we were walking around the park speakers that normally played non-descript background music were pumping out dance music. In fact the center outdoor stage was turned into a huge dance floor with spotlights and disco balls. It was such a successful event the park agreed to host another one the following year. Since all of us had a great time, we decided we would get together next year and do it again. The following year’s event was well attended and the weather was even better this time. As we walked around we noticed some of the rides were not available; we could not remember if they were open the first time. I noticed there were fewer restaurants and food kiosks available for us; luckily I ate before we left for the park. All I remember thinking at the time was the event did not have the same fun feel and magic as the first one. AFTER creating a major embarrassment in front of the President of the United States, the Barden Bellas were banned from performing or auditioning; essentially it would eliminate the a cappella singing group from existence. The only way the women could return to performing was to enter and win an international competition that no American group had ever won. This musical comedy sequel quickly came on strong with its solid singing and dancing performances. Returning cast members like Beca and Amy, played by Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods, The Voices) and Rebel Wilson (Pain & Gain, Bridesmaids), were joined by Hailee Steinfeld (Begin Again, True Grit) as Emily and Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Borgen, Marie Kroyer) as arch rival Kommissar. There were parts of this film I enjoyed but others seemed forced with cheap humor. In fact I thought several of the jokes were being beaten over our heads and a couple were distasteful in my opinion. Where the first movie was a classic underdog one; this one did not offer the same kind of connection for me. If I was not a fan of the singing portions, I would have been bored after a while. The magic was less compared to the original film. One surprise extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
2 1/2 stars