Monthly Archives: March 2016
Hank Williams sang a song called, “Alone and Forsaken,” that had to do with regret. I think all of us at one time have regretted something we did or did not do. I came late to the game of life, where one tries to live without regretting one’s actions. And to tell you the truth there are things I still do that I question if there was a different way I could have handled the situation. The key to managing regrets is to not let them stick and fester inside of you. I am sure we all have experienced buying something where soon after we regretted making the purchase. Before I taught myself to take a breath to slow down my reactions, I have said many things that I now regret saying. Even with a couple of the intense breakups I experienced I still wish I hadn’t said some of the angry things I hurled at the individuals. My philosophy in life is I believe there are no accidents; there is a reason for everything. With that in mind I feel mistakes are made to teach us something new. Just last week I followed a new recipe for baking a dessert. After reading the list of ingredients I started mixing the dry ones together before adding the wet ones. However, I failed to read beyond the mixing of ingredients because if I had I would have seen only 1/2 of the amount of chocolate chips were to be spread across the first layer of batter; the rest of them were to be sprinkled on top. In the scheme of things this was not as tragic a mistake as it was for me to see this action comedy. AFTER searching for his brother Sebastian, played by Mark Strong (The Imitation Game, Kingsman: The Secret Service), for the past 28 years Nobby, played by Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator, Bruno), finally found him and discovered he was a top assassin for London’s spy agency MI6. No matter what situation Sebastian was involved in Nobby was not going to lose his brother again; though Nobby did not realize he could lose his life instead. I do not know where I should begin to tell you why I had such a poor time sitting through this movie. Let me start with the humor; it was essentially vulgar, crude and not funny. With the story using comedy to move it along, you can only imagine this was one long viewing experience for me. The thing that truly surprised me was why actors such as Penelope Cruz (To Rome with Love, Zoolander 2) as Rhonda George and Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise) as Dawn Grobham agreed to be part of this picture. Did they not read the script and see that a majority of jokes had to do with body parts? When this film was finally over I actually considered going to the box office to complain; I still regret having spent money on this stinker. Brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
There was a time when the words, “Do you have any change you can spare,” meant someone needed something. Sadly times have changed or maybe I have because when I hear those words from a stranger my first reaction is disbelief. Let me give you an example why I do not trust as many people as I once did. I was standing on the crowded train platform one morning. There was a man going up to each waiting passenger and asking them for money. He would point to his wife and 2 children sitting on a bench, so it sounded like he needed money to feed his family. Under these circumstances who could refuse the man? I saw a few people gave him some money, but before he could get to me the train pulled up to the station and the man walked over to his family. Since it was not my train I watched them as the wife and 2 kids walked onto the train first. The individuals who had given this man money had all entered the train cars by now; however, the man did not follow his family inside. He just stood by the doors until they finally closed and he went back to sit down on the bench. I thought it strange, not understanding at first why he did not go with them. The reason I soon found out was because the woman and 2 children were not his family; he pretended they were to get more sympathy out of his story, for as soon as the train platform became crowded with new passengers he did the same thing, except now his family was an elderly couple he would point to as he told people they were his parents he was taking to the doctor. I ask you, “Who can you trust?” WAKING up from a bad car accident MIchelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), found herself chained to a bed. A man named Howard, played by John Goodman (Love the Coopers, Argo), who came into her room told her he had saved her. Saved her from what she thought. This dramatic science fiction mystery was twisted in all the right ways. John and Mary Elizabeth were amazing; this was one of John’s best roles. I cannot call this a sequel per se because I barely remember the first film from 8 years ago and did not see where it would be necessary to watch it before this suspenseful one. The directing beautifully played to the audience’s fears about trust and beliefs; I appreciated the way the story created this tense atmosphere without the need for violence or fighting. The script was absolutely generated by the actors; they pushed the story along and kept the intensity up throughout. The soundtrack was an additional help. I could see where this movie could spawn a new direction in the franchise; the question I have to ask you is, “Do you trust me?”
3 1/3 stars
I used to think that each of us had a finite amount of breaths inside of us; once you used them up you were done. So I was careful with my breathing, trying not to sacrifice any of them needlessly. This took place when I was a kid. Though I grew out of that phase I still believe everyone has to sacrifice something to achieve a goal. Recently I met someone who wants to start writing a movie blog. Their enthusiasm is contagious with the excitement they display when talking about their recently seen films. The screen does not matter much to them for they watch movies on their television screen, cellular phone, computers and when possible at a movie theater. If I remember correctly, for the month of January they had seen something like 70 films. You just know this individual had to give something up to devote so much time to movie watching. With my own movie site I know I have had to sacrifice social interactions with friends and family so that I could get to the movie theater. Besides there are not many people who can or want to sit with me watching 3 films in a row when I am forced to do it at times. Heck, I even have to sacrifice housework sometimes to get to a movie theater, but this I do not mind too much. The point is each of us who want to get or do something has to give up or sacrifice something to make it happen. I refer to this as the pluses and minuses of life; for every plus you gain there is a minus that comes with it. If you don’t believe me watch this documentary about the last man to have flown to the moon. ASTRONAUT Eugene Cernan did not start out wanting to be an astronaut; he just absolutely loved to fly, the faster the better. This film festival winning biographical movie was its own little time capsule of American history. With personal and never before seen footage, interviews with fellow astronauts like Alan Bean and Eugene’s commentary; this was an interesting adventure picture. The way I can describe this movie’s affect on me is to say I felt like the history I knew about the Apollo space program just got colored in with more details. The tidbits Eugene offered about NASA along with archival footage kept my interest throughout the film. Oh, and before I forget I wanted to make sure to mention I loved the quote Eugene’s wife stated about staying home. One does not need to be a science fan to enjoy this documentary because the story really was about the sacrifices and effects one experiences as they strive to reach a goal in their life. Luckily we are able to be witnesses to a memorable event that was not only historic but personal. In the scheme of things seeing this movie would fall into the plus column of one’s life.
3 1/4 stars
There are some things we think we have let go of but they have only settled somewhere in the still pools of our mind. They live submerged, below the surface while consciousness sails above it. A person cannot say their life is unaffected by it taking up residence inside of them because while it lives in the unconscious depths, it asserts its presence onto random decisions that one makes in life. Not only have I seen the results of this arrangement but I have experienced it myself. There was a person I knew who was in an abusive relationship. Once they were able to disentangle themselves from the abuser I noticed several decisions they made came from a weak position. In other words, they never gave enough credit to their true abilities; as if they were not worthy or good enough for something better. I had to point it out and encouraged them to seek out help since their psyche had been beaten down for so long. As for myself there was a period of time where I had to endure emotional trauma. The way it affected me was through migraine headaches. I would get these at the same period of time like clockwork. Now I know other individuals who suffered from re-occurring nightmares, where they could not understand why they were getting them. I shared the information I got from my schooling, where we were taught that the main character of a dream is a representation of ourselves. It really is amazing what the mind can do to a person. PSYCHOLOGIST Peter Bower, played by Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Pianist), stumbled onto an odd discovery about his patients; they all had something in common. Written and directed by Michael Petroni (The Book Thief, Queen of the Damned), this mystery thriller had the good fortune of having Adrien in the lead role. I thought he brought intensity to the story that was at best average. The reason I say this is due to the idea of it; this picture felt like a light version of a theme that had been done several times before. Included in the cast was Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Event Horizon) as Duncan Stewart and Robin McLeavy (The Loved Ones, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Barbara Henning. The movie as a whole had a good look to it that matched the emotional darkness on display. However, I felt drama was lacking in the scenes; there could have been a heightened level of it given to the characters. This movie kept my interest for the most part, even though it started out slow. I also was surprised with the turn of events in the story. I would have to say this is not a film that one needs to run out and see; instead, it would work just as well waiting to see it in the comfort of your home.
The older people are getting the more I have noticed they incorporate an escape plan into their world. If I do a quick count I believe a majority of the people I know have some kind of activity they can escape to, withdrawing from the realities of their day. Off the top of my head I know individuals who do scrap booking, knitting, jigsaw puzzles and reading books just to name a few. I, if you have not noticed, do movies to escape the pressures that come up in my daily life. Films offer me the fastest way to leave the present moment and be whisked into the alternative world of a movie. Even a poorly done movie that I have given a 1 1/2 star rating will partially transport me away; however, the better the film the more I will be drawn into it. If you have read my description for what merits a 4 star rating, you know the movie has to completely remove me from the theater and allow me to become part of the story; where I do not see the actors playing out their roles only the actual characters. Personally I feel everyone should have some kind of activity that allows them to disconnect from their everyday routines. I do not know about you but it seems the older I get more things become challenging for me. A simple activity like driving a car has become harder due to so many distracted drivers, besides the endless construction projects that constantly close roads and lanes. It is no wonder a person feels stuck in their life and just wants to escape to somewhere or something else. With that in mind, I was surprised to see what the main character chose to do in this comedy. JOURNALIST Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey (Sisters, Muppets Most Wanted), felt she was stuck; her life was going nowhere. That is until an opportunity came up for her to take an assignment in Afghanistan. Based on a true story this war comedy had a well rounded cast that included Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, About Time) as Tanya Vanderpoel, Martin Freeman (The Hobbit franchise, Hot Fuzz) as Iain MacKelpie and Alfred Molina (An Education, Chocolat) as Massoud Sadiq. There were parts of this film I enjoyed, but the more the story unfolded the more I lost sense of it. For some reason I started to disbelieve the scenes because they seemed so outrageous or maybe more accurately they lost the emotion of the action. I did not find much humor in this picture; it slowly became ridiculous to me. It is a shame because the idea of the real Kim Baker taking on this assignment is extraordinary; I just wished this script would have come across more real. Part of the blame would have to go to the director. I never once felt I was watching the actual characters, only seeing the actors playing them. This film did not provide me a total escape.
2 1/4 stars
There are people who live to work; there are other people who work to live. I fall into the latter category. The jobs I have are only a portion of who I am; they do not completely define me. The top 2 responses I get from people when I tell them I am a credit manager is either I must be a mean man or they would be afraid to show me their credit score. Neither statement could be further from the truth; it just so happens this is what I do during the day as is teaching cycling and yoga at night. There is much more in my life besides theses jobs. Now I know there are individuals who define themselves by what they do for a living. I find it humorous when someone announces their job title as if they are landed gentry or royalty. On the other hand I recently was talking to someone who was under stress because they could not let go of their job once they clocked out for the day. Their sleep was being affected, grinding their teeth to the point of waking up with severe pain in their jaw. The lack of sleep was making them sluggish throughout the day, causing their work to back up to the following day which was adding more stress and so on. It was becoming a vicious cycle. I do understand for some folk they love what they do, so their career shares the same space as their life. However, if one begins to lose their identity this could lead to the breakdown of boundaries between personal and business dealings. To see this all you have to do is take a look at the occupation of the main character in this action thriller. FLYING to London to attend the prime minister’s funeral President Benjamin Asher, played by Aaron Eckhart (My All American, Thank You for Smoking), and his team found themselves in the middle of a world catastrophe that was planned especially for him. This sequel had returning cast members Morgan Freeman (Dolphin franchise, The Dark Knight franchise) as Vice President Trumbull and Angela Bassett (Malcom X, American Horror Story-TV) as Lynne Jacobs. The chase and fight scenes were intense; I especially enjoyed the one involving the President’s helicopter. When it came to the script I found it dreadful, filled with ridiculous prejudiced comments and generic catchphrases. For a crime movie all this picture provided was fight scene after fight scene for the most part. And something that I found to be the most unrealistic about these scenes were how in the middle of all these bullets flying around only the “bad” guys were getting hit but none of the good ones. It adds phoniness to the film in my opinion. The idea behind the story was interesting; unfortunately it just turned into a lame action picture. To tell you the truth the whole thing felt like the writers went on automatic to create this script.
1 3/4 stars
One would think we have gone beyond stereotypes; but I still get “that look” in people’s faces when in conversation, if it comes up, I mention my primary doctor is a woman. That look could be made up by a furled brow, downturned lips, maybe one side of the upper lip rising up in a sneer or even rolling eyes; it is so strange to me. When did it become the norm for someone to foist their prejudices onto someone else? Through my life I have been the victim from a variety of biases. There was a person who wanted to know if I celebrated Thanksgiving. When I said yes and asked why they asked, the person told me she did not know if people from my religion celebrated the holiday. I had to tell her Thanksgiving was an American holiday not a religious one. Possibly I mentioned before how one of my elementary teachers told me I would not amount to anything if I decided to pursue writing as a career. Discrimination was and still is a cancerous attribute in humankind. The thing that scares me the most is seeing those individuals who are proud of their prejudices. Granted you tend to know exactly what to expect from someone who does not cover up their biases. However, there is a completely different level that has more subtly to it. Now it occurs to me if you are starting to wonder if this animated movie is as serious as tonight’s topic the answer is yes; but it is mixed inside of a fun, action adventure film. JUDY Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk the Line, Once Upon a Time-TV), was the first bunny on Zootopia’s police force. Her boss Chief Bogo, voiced by Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor franchise), took one look at her and decided she could only issue parking tickets. The only way Judy could prove herself was to take on a dangerous case that she had to solve in 2 days time or lose her job. I was so surprised by this picture; it took me a short time to realize there was an intelligent, inclusive script that still provided fun and excitement. If one expects singing and dancing in this animated movie they will be disappointed since there was none. However, all ages will find enjoyment in watching this film. As for the actors chosen to voice the characters, it was brilliant casting by the movie studio. With Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, Bob’s Burgers-TV) as Bellwether and Jason Bateman (The Gift, This is Where I Leave You) as Nick Wilde, I have to say Jason was outstanding. He and his character were literally the same, that is how good he was in the role. So to finish up, this movie has an important message that everyone should take the opportunity to see and have fun doing it. Do not be surprised if you come out being more diligent in celebrating the differences in all of us.
3 1/2 stars
It may have only been a snippet of a conversation or a brief moment seeing someone in the middle of an activity, but it was all you needed to make an assumption. With all the ways humans now can communicate with each other, I feel we lost the most important part: face to face. For me face to face provides the adjectives or better yet the emotions, the intentions to a person’s conversations. However, there is a pitfall embedded in this way of communicating. Have you noticed how people tend to believe someone if they talk louder or give an impassioned speech? I abhor talking or mentioning politics, but I have only recently noticed that after politicians debate or give speeches, the news services provide a fact check on the politicians’ claims. It is amazing to me how many falsehoods these news sources reveal. The scary part about this is how some people do not care if things are true or not, they just want to be part of a group or majority. I still remember a fight that took place after school hours. One of the combatants had spread a rumor about the other; so there was a small crowd circling the two fighters, cheering and yelling. They believed the rumor was true. It looked like a school of piranha for the scene turned into a feeding frenzy, where bystanders were adding punches and kicks when the opportunity presented itself. You know it only takes one person to plant a seed of an idea into people’s minds before that group mentality mindset takes over to motivate individuals to become joiners. As adults we should know better, but what if that seed came out of a child’s mouth? STRUGGLING to get back on his feet after a bitter divorce Lucas, played by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal-TV), had a steady teaching job and was fighting for equal visitation rights for his son Marcus, played by relative newcomer Lasse Fogelstrom. Plans changed when the principal of the school heard what one of the students named Klara, played by newcomer Annika Wedderkopp, said about Lucas. This Oscar nominated and film festival winning movie was an intense, thought provoking drama. With Thomas Bo Larsen (The Celebration, Pusher) playing Theo as part of the cast, the acting was outstanding. The actors were so good that they kept me glued to the TV screen, tensely wondering what was going to happen next. I can see why this picture was nominated for best foreign movie by the academy. Even the newcomers of the cast were just as convincing as the adults in this story. I have been a fan of Mads for some time and after you see him in this role I believe you will feel the same way. After the movie was over I stayed seated, going over the story in my head. Do not be surprised if you too mull over the story in your head. Danish was spoken with English subtitles.
4 stars — DVD
Once upon a time I had only known police officers to be friendly and helpful. There was a relative’s relative (you know, from the other side of a marriage) who was in the police force. The few times where we would be together for an occasion they were simply kind and quiet. I was told they were tough at work but I never witnessed it. In high school there was a narcotics officer who stationed himself in the cafeteria during all of the lunch periods. I remember him kidding around with the students as he patrolled the large lunchroom. He was always at the entrance first thing in the morning to greet all of us; though I always wondered if he was looking for something in particular. There was only one time where I saw him interacting with a student in a forceful way. It turned out the student was high on something and tried to resist the officer’s request to come with him to the principal’s office. That was my only contact with police officers. Sadly when you hear people talking about the police these days it tends to be with disdain and mistrust. The use of video cameras, installed on the officers and in police cars along with bystanders’ cell phones, has changed the general public’s opinions about the police. With the altercations that have been recorded and shown on the news these days, I cannot imagine someone not being affected by it in a negative way. The one reason I am not surprised by the things I have seen is because I have always had this philosophy for every occupation: someone has to graduate at the top of the class just as there has to be someone who graduates at the bottom. UNDER pressure to commit a criminal act a group of crooked officers have to set up a code 999, which means an officer is down. This crime thriller had an amazing cast of actors that included Chiwetel Ejiofer (The Martian, Z for Zachariah) as Michael Atwood, Casey Affleck (Tower Heist, Gone Baby Gone) as Chris Allen, Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man, Our Brand is Crisis) as Marcus Belmont and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs, Titanic) as Irina Vlaslov. Now you would think with such a group of actors this movie would be stellar, wouldn’t you? The action scenes were absolutely intense but the story went nowhere. I felt no connection to any of it; none of the scenes flowed together, it was disjointed. Sitting here and recalling the characters reminds me I knew nothing about them. It felt as if I had only seen a portion of the film; the part that had the blood and violence in it. The actors did what they could with the script but the only one that stood out for me was Casey. Kate was wasted on her role and I felt I had wasted my time watching this picture. Maybe the people involved with making this movie graduated at the bottom of their class.
1 3/4 stars
There is not a day or two that goes by where I do not hear or see in print the term “OMG.” Usually it comes from younger people, but I have heard folks older than myself uttering it. I am willing to bet some of the individuals who use this term are only using it as an expression of surprise or disbelief, not making a statement about their faith. There is another term, “God’s gift,” that I do not hear as much these days; it always had negative connotations associated with it as far as I could tell. When you heard someone say, “That person thinks they are God’s gift,” what was implied was that person thought they were better than other people. Have you ever encountered such a person? Unfortunately I have met more than my share of such people; I refer to them as demigods. This may be a broad use of the term for it could refer to that person who thinks they know more than you, always telling you what you “should” do; or it could be used for an individual who looks down at you, believing they are better or the things they have are superior to yours. I find it sad, especially when that demigod assumes they have more power because they think they are better. Sadly in my life’s experiences I have seen more corrupt people in positions of power than kinder ones. It bears repeating because I find it so true: absolute power corrupts absolutely. DECIDING it was his turn to rule Set, played by Gerard Butler (Chasing Mavericks, Olympus Has Fallen), defeated his nephew Horus, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mama, Game of Thrones-TV), who was the rightful heir. The city’s citizens would be subjected to a new period of oppressive dark times. It has been reported this action fantasy had a budget of $140 million dollars which I found absolutely startling. For that much money I expected to be wowed by the special effects that played heavily in this story. What I saw instead was cheap looking effects covering a poorly written script. With Brenton Thwaites (The Giver, Maleficent) as Bek and Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Book Thief) as Ra, I found the characters bordering on buffoonery. Geoffrey’s character and the place he resides in was ridiculous enough to make me wonder who would write such a character in that way. Now the fact this adventure film was not released early for reviewers, I did not have high hopes when I walked into the movie theater. However, I would have settled for a light fun fantasy picture with decent CGI effects; this film was boring in parts and in fact, it almost seemed as if it was pieced together in random order. If it is true what I read recently that the movie studio was hoping this film would kickoff a new movie franchise, then I am sad to say this fantasy really is a fantasy of the studio.
1 3/4 stars