Monthly Archives: March 2016
There are some individuals who have been fortunate to extend beyond their 15 minutes of fame, though not always for the best reasons. I not only believe everyone should get their 15 minutes but I feel many people do not even realize they already used part of their time. A person who performs an act of kindness, such as giving up their seat in a crowded train car to someone else or helping an individual with directions to a particular spot, achieve a bit of that fame in someone’s eyes. Before I say what I am going to say next, I want to first state that I feel everyone has the right to work as long as they are able and have the desire. However, I have seen some people who may be better off if they had stopped at an earlier time, especially when it comes to celebrities. There have been film stars who wind up hawking a company’s products or go on the lecture circuit and I am okay with these career changes. But when I see a celebrity trying to maintain their past “glory” by turning themselves into a caricature of their former self just to make a dollar or stay in the public eye, I have to wonder if they really need the attention and money. Since I have been reviewing movies I have seen some actors, even Oscar nominated ones that were doing work that was absolutely beneath them. Did they really need the money? When I was an extra on a movie set there was an actor in the cast that some of us were surprised he agreed to be in the film; it was a silly role for him. He was such a jerk during the filming, one had to wonder if he always acted that way or was he upset that he had to do this type of work now. It is similar to the main character in this dramatic comedy. TO receive an inheritance bronze medal winner Hope, played by Melissa Rauch (Are You Here, The Big Bang Theory-TV), had to coach an up and coming gymnast; a job she felt was beneath her. This film festival nominee had a story that was relatable to viewers; who hasn’t done work they did not like? I could say it for my experience with this picture because I had to sit through this movie listening to crude, offensive remarks in a ridiculous story. With Sebastian Stan (The Martian, Black Swan) as Lance and Gary Cole (In the Line of Fire, Pineapple Express) as Stan, I sat in my seat trying to figure out what attracted the movie studio to okay this film project. The humor was not funny to me except for maybe a couple of instances and if this truly wanted to be a satire I did not see it as such. This may have been partially a story about extending one’s fame but the outcome in my opinion deserves to take back some of that used time.
1 ½ stars
There are several names I am familiar with such as cousins’ club, sibling night or family day. All these terms mean essentially the same thing: time is put aside to spend with one’s family. When I was growing up Sunday was family day for me; every Sunday was spent at a different relative’s house. It was an occasion for relatives to spend time together. Meeting on a frequent and consistent basis allowed all of us to grow up together and be aware of each other’s daily life for the most part. It was fortunate that the majority of the relatives lived no further than 1 hour away from each other. Now there are some families that hold a reunion, so all the family members get a chance to get together no matter where they may live. A specific date is chosen and word goes out to everyone to meet at a specific place and time. When a long passage of time has passed between visits there tends to be a lot of catching up to do between the relatives. I know how fun and exciting it can be to meet relatives that one has not seen for a long time. The happy occasion lends itself for some family members to continue the euphoria of the visit and plan another get together shortly after, “shortly” being a relative term. It is these next meetings that can turn out to be a letdown, compared to the previous get together. All the bringing up to date information was already covered and one discovers that there is not much else to talk about because with daily life events not being shared so often, people start to grow apart. For example it has been a long time since I have seen this family. WHAT Toula’s, played by Nia Vardalos (I Hate Valentine’s Day, Connie and Carla); father Gus, played by Michael Constantine (The Juror, Room 222-TV), used to tell her he now was telling her daughter: that she needed to find a Greek boy and marry him. The family could not understand why the young girl wanted to go away for college. This romantic comedy brought back some of the fun characters we enjoyed from the original movie, such as Aunt Voula and Maria, played by Andrea Martin (Wag the Dog, Delivering the Goods) and Lanie Kazan (Beaches, My Favorite Year). Though I was happy to see Voula’s extended family, I quickly lost interest in them due to the lame script. What made the first film funny and charming was rehashed for this picture which made it goofy and boring. The same types of jokes were used so often that it was easy to predict what was going to happen next. A sense of heart was missing from the script, replaced with dull mugging and humor. If this family has another reunion down the road I may have to decline the invitation; I did not have any warm feelings for them in this movie.
1 ¾ stars
It is one of the hardest situations to navigate I have found, when two people you are fond of do not like each other. Friends, family, significant others, neighbors; I have seen and been a part of all types of uncomfortable situations. There was a dinner party where 2 of my friends attended and spent the evening staying on opposite sides of me. Mingling among the guests or sitting at the table, the 2 friends kept their distance from each other; however, they each wanted equal time with me throughout the night. It was such a challenge to try and keep a mental log of how much time I was spending with each of them, that I found myself not having a very good time at the party. Now I know I have the choice of stepping away from 2 combative friends and letting them deal with their issues, not altering how I interact with them; but I have to tell you, it is harder when someone you are in love with is disliked by someone else you care about. In this scenario there could be times where you choose not to attend an event because you know your significant other will be uncomfortable. I do not know how you would handle it but I dread finding myself in such a scenario. There standing before you are 2 people you care about and they cannot get along; in some circumstances I just want to say, “Be adults and just be cordial to each other whenever the occasion comes up.” Knowing what you do about me now, you can only imagine how I felt seeing 2 of my favorite comic book heroes battling each other in this action adventure film. THE seeds of hatred were planted in Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, The Town), when he witnessed the people he cared about perishing in a catastrophe due to the actions of Superman, played by Henry Cavill (Immortals, The Cold Light of Day). As the hatred continued to grow inside of Bruce, it would not be too long before his alter ego Batman would take matters into his own hands. This fantasy had a dark brooding look that I enjoyed at first, but as the movie continued to its 2 hour and 31 minutes running time I found myself wishing scenes were brighter and clearer. Where I was concerned about Ben taking over the iconic role, it turned out my fears were unfounded; he was a strong, emotional Batman. With a strong cast of supporting actors, intense fight scenes and fun special effects; all that was missing was a great script. The story was dull and slow for the first half of the film before things started to kick into high gear. Part of the reason for this I believe was the movie studio’s intentions to make this film a vehicle for future multiple stories and spinoff characters; it was that apparent. When I left the theater I not only felt bad these 2 superheroes fought but they had to in this film.
2 1/3 stars
Maybe it is my own prejudice but I tend to be suspicious of individuals who date the same type of looking people. You know, like dating only blonde haired people or tall people or those who wear glasses; there are all kinds and though I may not understand it I respect it. I never could comprehend why a certain color of hair or actually any particular physical feature would contribute to hopefully a long lasting relationship. Sometimes I will joke with a friend and ask them what they would do if the person they are dating decided to dye their hair or get contact lenses. They usually tell me it would not make a difference but I have seen the pattern and know eventually they will end the relationship. For me the same thing applies to age differences because I believe our age only represents how long we have been alive, nothing else. I ask you, do you understand what it means when someone says, “act your age”? How should a 72 year old act or a 23 year old? For me as long as the person is not harming anyone and enjoying life, they can do whatever they want to do. A short time ago there was a lot of buzz about older woman dating younger men; they were referred to as “cougars.” Funny, when it was an older man and a younger woman there never seemed to be the same type of humor. There were several television programs that turned these types of relationships into a comedy. Sure there are times where a wide gap between a couple’s ages can result in amusement; however, why would anyone care about someone dating an older or younger person. I have encountered people older than me who acted like little kids just as I have met younger folk who act much older. I will let you decide what you think about the main characters in this dramatic comedy. AFTER taking care of her mother for many years shy yet colorful Doris Miller, played by Sally Fields (Mrs. Doubtfire, Lincoln), found a way to come out of her shell. This film festival winning romance had a wonderful script that came across with honesty and respect. Included in the cast was Max Greenfield (The Big Short, New Girl-TV) as John Fremont, Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, Blended) as Cynthia and Tyne Daly (The Autumn Heart, Judging Amy-TV) as Roz. I thought the entire cast did a great job, but Sally was outstanding in her role. It was just great watching Sally in this character; she came across as a real person. The mix of humor and sadness blended together perfectly, never letting the story turn sappy or maudlin. The pacing of the story never allowed for any boredom to set in; plus, I enjoyed the way the writers played with the generational differences. Whether “younger” or “older” this film can be enjoyed by all ages.
I have known for a long time I could never live in a condominium. I would be the resident everyone would talk about after any of the condo board meetings. You see, I know if I voted differently than the majority I would be upset if I lost. Not for things that have to do with maintaining the buildings, but for items that do not interest me. Having a friend who was a board member for his condominium association, the stories he told me about the heated discussions, back stabbing and yelling only confirmed my decision never to live in such a dwelling. When too many people have a say in the decision process I have found it always to be filled with unhappy participants. If you do not believe me just get a group of say 6 to 8 people together and ask them where they want to go to eat out dinner. In my experiences I have never had a group all say the same place or cuisine. Now there is the “care factor” of your group; some individuals have a definite response and will only eat at certain places. Then there are others who go for the socializing aspect; the food is secondary for them. I have been part of both sides, being the dominant one on where we should all eat besides being on the not caring where we wind up side. The point is if no one can agree or make a decision then someone has to step up and lead the group to, under the circumstances, the best decision possible. It can be a hard decision but someone has to do it, just like in this military drama. COLONEL Katherine Powell, played by Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold, Trumbo), suddenly had an opportunity open up that she had been waiting on for 6 years. If she was the only one who needed to make a decision she was ready. This film festival nominee was a tense thriller. Besides Helen the cast also had Aaron Paul (Triple 9, Need for Speed) as Steve Watts and Alan Rickman (Harry Potter franchise, Nobel Son) as Lt. General Frank Benson. The story fascinated me because of its relevancy and the logistics that were involved in creating the action. Without a question, Helen was terrific as usual and though I enjoyed seeing Alan, part of his performance reminded me of his Harry Potter character. Another reason why this film worked was due to the questions it presented in the decision process. If there is any truth to this story I am totally amazed with how many people are needed to be involved in the decision process. The type of action on display in this war picture is something I have seen before; however, my perceptions of it being similar to playing a video game are no longer true. All this time I thought getting people together to go out to dinner was a challenge; little did I know it pales in comparison to the decisions that had to be made in this movie.
If one wants to create an express lane to the heartstrings of a movie viewer or reader all they need to do is have a sick child or pet in their story. I do not want to come off as being callous; because trust me, I am one of the first ones who will start tearing up when I see an ill animal or child. There is something about seeing a defenseless child or animal suffering that affects me quicker than seeing an adult. I believe it is due to the innocence I perceive in them. Maybe this will make better sense: I have more sympathy for living beings who did nothing to cause themselves to get sick as opposed to an adult who, let us say, drank too much alcohol most of their life and now is suffering with a dying liver. So if that scenario of sickness is going to be part of a story then I want to follow it to its conclusion; whether it has a happy or sad ending does not make a difference to me as long as it is told in an honest way. There is another aspect about all of this that makes this type of story more poignant and that is when it is based on true events. When I am sitting in the theater and the first frame of the film shows what I am about to see is based on a true story I get higher hopes that I will enjoy the movie. When her daughter Anna, played by Kylie Rogers (Finders Keepers, Fathers and Daughters), suddenly became ill and started suffering with severe stomach pain; Christy, played by Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club, Draft Day), wanted an explanation for it, even from God. Based on a true story this dramatic film also included Martin Henderson (Everest, Smokin’ Aces) as Kevin Beam and Eugenio Derbez (Instructions not Included, Jack and Jill) as Dr. Nurko. What worked for me in this picture was the fact this story was based on true events. However, my issue with it was I wished the script would have stayed focused on the Beam family’s plight without the heavy-handed use in reminding me about faith. I read afterwards the movie studio did not want to promote this as a faith based film; however this movie wound up preaching to the chorus in my opinion. Interestingly I became aware of the audience sitting in the theater when one viewer yelled out at a particular scene, “It is a miracle!” It was then that I looked around and realized the crowd was the same type of crowd I have seen at all of these poorly made faith based films. I do not want to be hit over the head with the swooning soundtrack, the film shots of the sky filled with bright light and sermons; I just want to watch and discover the story in my own way. This story of Anna was fascinating enough; I did not need someone telling me how to live my life.
1 ¾ stars
I do not know if it is an actual term but I call it “deceptive packaging.” If you walk through a grocery store you will see many examples of these false packages. There are so many liquid products that come in these colored bottles that look like you are buying a full size of the product. However, after you take it home and have used it for a short time you cannot believe you already ran out of the item. Let me tell you, hold that bottle up to the light and you will probably see the bottom of it is much thicker then any other part of the bottle; I am talking thick like those funny eyeglasses that you might see an actor wear for their character in a comedy movie. The type of eyeglasses that were called “soda pop glasses” because they were as thick as the bottom of soda bottles. Another way companies use deceptive packaging is in their use of photography to create these sumptuous looking foods on the cover of their products. A frozen dinner on the cover looks homemade with big chunks of vegetables and steaming meat in a thick bubbly sauce; but after you open the box, the meal consists of a couple of pieces of shriveled meat with tiny cut veggies of a lesser assortment than the picture of it. These things are why I not only look at prices when I am at the grocery store, but I also look at the amounts. This may make my shopping trip longer but I and I am sure everyone else do not like feeling deceived. TRIS, played by Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, White Bird in a Blizzard), had a feeling inside that there was something beyond the wall surrounding Chicago. No matter what others said she had to find out for herself even if it meant she would lose some of her friends. This next installment of the action adventure series kept my interest going because of Shailene, Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as David and the futuristic products that were on show in the story. Outside of that this mystery science fiction story had a tired script. There was barely any emotion in the scenes or characters and the reason for that was the bloated script. The movie studio took the last book and decided to split it into 2 films and I was not buying it. With these types of movies I look forward to watching battles and hand to hand combat in a futuristic make-believe setting, using ray guns and other fantasy devices. I was bored for a good part of this film; it would have been better if the studio had filmed the entire book in one movie. Since I did not read the series I have to tell you I do not know if I want to run to see the next picture because I feel like I was duped.
1 3/4 stars
The melody rolled out of the radio sitting on my desk and I felt I had just been transported to a spacious open aired room draped with flowing veils. It only took a couple of beats from the song before my ears focused on the music like a new born baby to its bottle. The classic musical piece had been used for years by a multitude of ice skaters at the Olympic Games. Hearing it at my desk had an immediate effect on me; the tight shouldered stress I was experiencing literally collapsed inside of me and I was left in a peaceful oasis. I have many reasons to be grateful that I have all of my senses. Though I may not always be appreciative of them each day, there certainly are times where they are prominent in my consciousness. On vacation at a national park as I stand by a cliff looking out into a centuries old canyon, I am absolutely grateful I have my eyesight so I can see such a spectacular sight. Now I am not sure there is actual scientific proof, but it seems when a person loses one of their senses the remaining ones reach for a heightened state of awareness. I think about the various musicians and composers who have lost their sight or hearing yet they still create incredible music. It is as if they are hearing a combination of notes that reside in a different range than the average listener. There is another example I just remembered about a world famous chef from my city that had to deal with tongue cancer. Can you imagine what that must have been like for him? This film festival winning movie will show you what could happen when one of our senses disappears. JUST as Susan and Michael, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire) and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars franchise, Jane Got a Gun), begin to get to know each other a plague starts to form that robs humans of their senses. This romantic drama was also classified as a science fiction film. I do not know if I would list it as such because it really was not what the average person would consider as a sci-fi story. This movie captivated me; I thought Eva and Ewan were wonderful together. Even the supporting cast like Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Gladiator) as Jenny and Denis Lawson (Star Wars franchise, The Machine) as Boss did a good job of acting with their roles. The story was unique for me; I found myself imagining what I would do as some of the scenes started to play out. Granted there were some slow parts throughout the film, but my curiosity was strong enough for me to want to see what was going to happen next. Seeing the loss of a sense could be a rather bleak experience; I appreciated the fact that I could watch this DVD.
2 ½ STARS — DVD
There has always been a curiosity inside of me to learn about a person’s childhood. It did not matter if it was a neighbor, a friend or a celebrity; I wanted to know what took place in their childhood that contributed to the person they were now. I never discriminated against anyone. Even a sadistic classmate was someone I especially wanted to learn about and see what caused them to be so mean. It was partially due to this curiosity that I started out my college years studying psychology, considering psychiatry as a future career. While taking courses in school I became particularly curious about the famous people we studied in my other subjects such as history and literature. Individuals like Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Catherine the Great and even Adolf Hitler were people I was so curious about that I would take out from the school library any biographical books about them. World figures like these individuals fascinated me to no end. Now here is where the writer in me came out; if I could not find or there was nothing available about the life of a historical figure, I would amuse myself by imagining their childhood. Maybe it was the influence of my psych classes but I would create family dynamics, possible heroes they may have idolized or historical influences; the who, when, what and where of my creations did not make a difference whether they were reality based or not. This pastime provided me much pleasure. I see from this dramatic movie I am not alone in the type of activity, where creative license was amply used to write about Jesus’ childhood. SEVEN year old Jesus, played by Adam Greaves-Neal (Sherlock-TV, All at Sea-TV), did not quite understand why he felt different from other children. His parents Mary and Joseph, played by Sara Lazzaro (Ten Winters, Andarevia) and Vincent Walsh (Saving Private Ryan, 300: Rise of an Empire), avoided telling Jesus about his birth as a way to protect him from the Romans. As I mentioned earlier the use of creative license did not bother me; I was curious to see what the writers had in store for young Jesus. What helped them was the adult actors who were cast. Besides Vincent there was Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Martian) as Severus and David Bradley (Harry Potter franchise, The Holding) as the old Rabbi. The issue I had with the script was the lack of a better story. I mean there was my curiosity being piqued but for such a subject I felt it would have been beneficial if more emotions were involved in the story. It felt like one long, at times meandering, chase scene. Even the cinematography was poorly done, creating stereotypical shots like the sun’s rays bursting through a cloud bank. Once done I left the theater feeling unsatisfied, both my curiosity and movie watching sides.
1 3/4 stars
I know I should not have chuckled to myself as I passed the car parked at the side of the road. The driver was sitting in it with the window open, nodding his head up at the police officer standing outside. Not knowing exactly why the driver was pulled over, I had my own reasons why I was glad he was stopped by the police. Back around a 1/2 mile or so the driver not only cut me off, forcing me to slam on my brakes when he whipped into my lane of traffic, but he then extended his middle finger at me when I honked at him. So when I finally came up to see he was pulled over by the police I had to chuckle and just think it was karma. I wish I could say it was wisdom on my part but I think it has more to do with growing older and less desire to get even or retribution against someone who I felt wronged me. The concept of karma fits well into my mindset at this age since I already believe each person is responsible for their actions. For example, if a person had been told they need to change some of their habits for better health, it is their choice on what type of quality they want for their life. So yes I believe it was karma that caused that speeding driver to get caught by the police. If you want to see another example of karma just watch the main character in this romantic comedy. CHARLIE, played by Terrence Jenkins (Think Like a Man franchise, Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming), avoided any type of romantic relationships; he preferred no commitments with the women he dated. Believing his friends’ bet would be an easy win, he agreed to find a woman to date for 30 days while avoiding any type of commitments with her. With a cast that also included Paula Patton (Deja Vu, 2 Guns) as Sherry and Cassie Ventura (Step Up 2: The Streets) as Eva, I thought the idea for the story was okay. If the script could have been expanded, avoiding the generic formula it used to create its story, this movie would have had more opportunities to display deeper thought into what was going on. Instead I found the story was predictable with a script that did not favor the actors. It was almost odd that the first part of the movie seemed different to the last half, which I enjoyed more. For me the last half had more heart if that makes any sense. The thing that attracted me to this film was the issue of karma, though I am not sure how many people would even think to focus on it. There was not much in this movie to warrant spending money on a full priced ticket. Brief scenes during and after the credits.
1 3/4 stars