Monthly Archives: January 2020
WHO WILL REMEMBER THE MEMORIES WHEN the keepers of the memories are gone? I think about this from time to time. At a recent get together I started thinking about it again as the people in attendance were going over old, family photographs. There were several photos of people whose identities were unknown to the people at the party. These strangers, one had to assume, were related somehow to the family; but there was no one left from the previous generation who could help identify these strangers. I sat and wondered how many generations would have to pass before all the people in the photographs turned into unknown beings. As the gathering continued, I recalled from when I was little a neighbor who had lost many relatives due to war. She was a survivor herself. In fact, the first time I ever saw a tattoo was the one on her arm. It was a series of numbers and I remember asking her what the numbers meant. Looking back, she explained as best she could without frightening me how she was given the tattoo when she was in a concentration camp. Being so young I had not reached an age where I could comprehend the words, she was telling me; yet, though she is long gone I have not forgotten what she had said to me. NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE I wished I was privy to a person’s memories, especially when they have a historic factor. I knew several Viet Nam veterans, but that is all I knew about them. They never talked about their time away, what they did or what they saw; it was a subject one realized quickly they never wanted to talk about to anyone. I remember a friend’s family where one of the siblings was a soldier in Viet Nam. The family’s mailbox became their only connection to their son and brother. I was over at their house when a letter had arrived from overseas. The family huddled close together as a parent carefully opened the envelope and took out the onion skin piece of paper. Seeing the joy in their faces is something I have never forgotten. Being curious all these years, I had the privilege of talking to a Viet Nam veteran recently and asked him if the norm was not to talk about one’s experiences during the war. He explained the possible reasons for someone not wanting to talk about it, then generously shared his story. I carry his memory with me as I do now of the heroic act that took place in this dramatic, war film. THOUGH WILLIAM PITSENBARGER, PLAYED BY JEREMY Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man), had the opportunity to save himself from the heat of a battle, he chose to remain behind and help save his fellow soldiers. Those who were saved wanted to make sure William was never forgotten. This film’s story was inspired by true events and I must tell you I was surprised with some of the things I saw in this picture. With Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Jackie Brown) as Takoda, Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise; I, Tonya) as Scott Huffman, Diane Ladd (Joy, Chinatown) as Alice Pitsenberger and Christopher Plummer (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Knives Out) as Frank Pitsenberger; I thought the cast was excellent. Seeing the older actors display their gift of acting made the characters come alive for me. I found the story unbelievable to the point it started playing out like a mystery. The issue I had, however, was with the directing and the script. Instead of coming across like one continuous emotional journey, the scenes felt like snippets of events which damaged the build up of emotional depth. I would start to connect to a character but then the scene would jump and sever that feeling. The story I felt was important enough that it needed more time to blend scenes together and tighten up the script. Essentially, this film lacked drama for me. Now maybe those who have gone through the war will have a different feeling, which I would certainly understand. Still, I am glad this story came to light and now I know and remember it.
2 ½ stars
IF THAT KID KICKED THE BACK of my seat one more time, I was going to discipline him myself. Though I was playing out in my head what I would say to him, I knew better than to yell at him. You see, I was on a recent flight where this little boy was sitting behind me. All the seats were full; so, I knew there was no chance of me moving to a different seat. We were in the first hour of our 3 ½ hour flight when the boy started to kick the back of my seat. At first, I thought it was an accident; but it turned out not to be the case. After a half a dozen times I turned back to see if the child was flying with his parents. Sure enough, there they were sitting in their seats; oblivious to the boy’s kicking while they were intently peering at their electronic devices. I thought my making eye contact with the boy would have been enough to make him stop; but it was not the case. Maybe a few minutes had gone by before the boy started up with his kicking again. I turned around again; but this time, I rose out of my seat to look more imposing or serious, I guess. In a voice I knew that would carry back a couple of rows, I told the boy his kicking of my seat was annoying and to please stop. And with a final glare at the now startled parents, I sat back down to experience a more peaceful time for the rest of the flight. A MAJORITY OF THE TIMES I do not blame the child as much as I blame their parents. That boy’s parents on the flight should have addressed their son’s kicking before I had to do it. When I see a child inappropriately acting out, more times than not, I blame the parents for allowing such behavior. Sure, there are some kids who get disciplined but choose to act out nonetheless. However, there have been so many times where I have seen parents letting their children have the run of a place, it boggles my mind. How do they not see the people around are getting upset with their children’s antics? Just last week a mother was letting her two young kids push an empty shopping cart down the aisles, knocking items off the shelves and bumping into other shoppers. If I was the store manager, I would have had them removed. I felt the same way about the children in this dramatic, horror mystery movie. MAKING A CHANGE IN HER CAREER Kate Mandell, played by Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), took a job as a governess to a brother and sister who lost their parents. Kate did not know about the previous governess who ran away. With Finn Wolfhard (It Franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Miles Fairchild, Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Monsters at Large) as Flora Fairchild, Barbara Marten (The Bill-TV, The Mill-TV) as Mrs. Grose and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Red Sparrow) as Darla Mandell; the story for this film was based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” I knew there were previous films done based on this story which only made me more confused on why a movie studio decided to do it again and only produce a half-baked production. I thought each actor made a great visible statement; but there was nothing they could pull out to act upon from the poorly done script. There were no scenes that provided any moment of being scared or concerned. I was bored throughout most of this film, though I enjoyed the visual aspects both indoors and out. Essentially, nothing was working right in this picture. If I were you, I would just read the book and stay away from this imposter.
1 ½ stars
I THOUGHT I KNEW BETTER BUT all I accomplished was the wasting of time. Plans were in place for all of us to meet at the theater to see the performance followed by a question and answer session. The theater was in a part of the city that was unfamiliar to me. Because I was going to be driving near a couple of places I had wanted to get to, I figured this would be the perfect time to get everything accomplished at once before showtime. Going to my first stop was an easy experience; there were only a couple of short traffic delays and I found a parking space close by the store that had an item on hold for me. Once I was done there and back in my car, I headed out to the next destination. Unfortunately, I did not make the same good travel time because I got stopped by a slow-moving freight train at a crossing gate. Have you ever noticed when you are in a hurry, delays always seem to last longer? Well, that is how I felt waiting for that train. When the crossing gate finally rose up, I tore across the tracks and raced to my next stop, where I only needed to drop off my donation. In hindsight, this was not my best decision. FINALLY REACHING MY DESTINATION TO DROP off my donation and there was not one available parking spot anywhere. I could not believe it. For a second, I thought about double parking but luckily, I spotted a police car slowly coming down the street to check the parking meters. I decided to drive around the block to see if a parking space would open. Gratefully, as I was about to skip the donation place, I saw a car parked ahead of the place with its reverse lights on. I pulled up behind it and waited for the driver to pull out of the space. My turn signal was on, I was ready to take the spot; but the driver wasn’t moving. I felt like I was waiting for an eternity; I tapped on my horn and must have woken up the driver because their car finally exited the spot. In less than a minute I was in the spot and running into the donation place. I just had to place my package in the donation bin, run back to the car and get to the theater. There was no way I could stay at the speed limit and get to the theater before the start of the show. When I finally got there, I wound up having a miserable time; I missed the opening and spent the rest of the time replaying my route in my head, to see what I could have done differently. I experienced the same type of feeling sitting through the replayed scenes in this action crime film. ONCE WORD WAS OUT THAT DRUG dealer Mickey Pearson, played by Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, The Beach Bum), wanted to sell his operations; a cast of unscrupulous characters decided to take advantage of the opportunity. With Charles Hunnam (Crimson Peak, The Lost City of Z) as Ray, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, Downton Abbey-TV) as Rosalind Pearson, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Robot & Frank) as Matthew and Colin Farrell (Dumbo, The Lobster) as Coach; this movie’s story was too cluttered for me. I did however enjoy several scenes for their inventiveness and dark humor as well as enjoying most of the cast’s performances. However, not being a fan of tweaking and replaying events over, I was getting bored with the possibilities being shown. It diffused and made the drama less strong in my opinion. I was able to handle the violence on display; but, the constant, repetitive foul language quickly got old for me. The idea behind this story could have been communicated in a better way; instead, as scenes were being replayed, I sat and wondered what would have happened if I had gone to a different movie.
2 ½ stars
ON A RECOMMENDATION, I LOOKED UP a couple of the resorts suggested to me. She was right, they were nothing short of spectacular. One of the resorts had several rooms that had a live tree as the bed’s headboard. From the bedroom one could walk through the adjoining sitting room, with its plush low-backed chairs, then pass through two sliding glass doors out onto a veranda, where one could dine on a specially prepared meal. What was there not to like, I ask you. I scrolled down through photos of the resort’s grounds until I reached the page that listed the prices. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. The pricing started in the low four figures and that was per day. I had to wonder if the person who recommended the resort thought I was rich. Obviously, they were in a different class than me and had enough funds to bankroll several trips to the resorts that they suggested to me. All I could do was just laugh about it. I continued by looking at a couple more of the suggested resorts; they all had similar price ranges. At least I got to see some gorgeous places where the rich hang out, evidently. I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE TYPE to get jealous or envious of another person’s wealth. As long as they acquired their wealth by honest means, it does not matter to me if a person is considered lower, middle or upper class. In my mind everyone is still human. Wealth is not something I list as an attribute when I am “judging” a person. Kind, generous, loving and sweet are some of the things that are important to me. I know not everyone thinks like me because I have encountered individuals who form a dislike towards a person just because they have more money. There was one person I remember who felt because someone was richer than him, they should always offer to pick up the check at a restaurant when they dined out together. I am sorry, but I found that logic ridiculous. What if the two of them went shopping for clothing? Would the person of less wealth expect the other to pay for his purchases? One of my newspaper subscriptions once a week lists houses for sale that exceed one million dollars. Seeing the opulence of these properties is fun for me, since I never will have such a place. That is as far as my interest goes which is something, I cannot say for one of the families in this comedic, crime drama. STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET, THE Kim family finds good fortune when their son Kim Ki-woo, played by Woo-sik Choi (Set Me Free, Train to Busan) becomes the tutor to a wealthy family’s daughter. His position would present opportunities for the Kim family to benefit. With Kang-ho Song (The Host, Snowpiercer) as Kim Ki-taek, Sun-kyun Lee (A Hard Day, The King’s Case Note) as Park Dong-ik, Yeo-jeong Jo (The Servant, Obsessed) as Park Yeon-kyo and So-dam Park (The Priests, The Silenced) as Kim ki-jung; this film festival winner out of South Korea was a wicked satire, filled with memorable moments. I thought the directing and filming of the story was top-notch. Everyone in the cast did a wonderful job of acting; I never once thought the characters were anything but themselves. Because it is a culture I have not had much exposure to, I was fascinated with the outdoor scenes. I never once felt the reading of the subtitles interfered with my fascination or viewing of this film; this truly was a wonderful and enjoyable viewing experience and that is something one cannot put a price on. Korean dialog was spoken with English subtitles.
THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF THE apartment building offered me ideal cover. I was leading the group on a treasure hunt. Our course was going to take us through hostile territories; I was prepared for the known hazards, but not for the unknown ones. Sneaking out of the bushes, we made our way south by staying off the main thoroughfares. The path I took was uneven, filled with potholes and covered with a mix of unkempt grass and gravel. As we came up to a large building, I had everyone cling to the side of the road where at least there was sporadic cover in case we were walking into a trap. It was the right call because 3 trap doors in the building sprung open and a series of time bombs were being hurled at us. My monkey who was 2ndin command leaped to a nearby tree and scurried up into the branches for cover. From my vantage point I could see him navigating the branches as he made his way to the one branch that was leaning over to the structure. I saw him take a few sticks of dynamite and tape them together. He then lit them and tossed it onto the roof of the building. I only had to wait a few seconds before there was a big explosion that caused the roof to cave in and bury our enemies. WHAT YOU JUST READ WAS ONE of many escapades I had with my entourage of imaginary animals. Besides my trusted monkey, I had a tiger, hawk, panther, wolf and chipmunk as part of my group. All these characters came to the forefront of my imagination after I started reading the books about Doctor Doolittle. The stories about the good doctor were some of my favorite ones when I was growing up. I identified with him because I felt I too could talk to animals; though, I was a novice at understanding them. But that did not stop me from talking to my pet parakeet and the animals several of my relatives had as pets. My conversations were not just exclusive to live animals, it also incorporated the stuffed animals I had gotten through my infant years as gifts. Animals were so easy to talk to and they provided me with hours of comfort. Due to this history when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately knew I had to see it. Seeing one of my favorite book characters come to life was going to be a big thrill for me. THOUGH DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, PLAYED BY ROBERT Downey Jr. (Avengers franchise, The Judge), had not ventured outside of his home for several years, when the Queen of England summoned him to the palace he could not refuse. His visit would be the start of an incredible adventure. With Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory) as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Queen) as Dr. Blair Mudfly, Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York) as Lord Thomas Badgley and Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Casualty-TV) as Tommy Stubbins; this adventure, family comedy belonged in a litter box. I know I may have been more invested in this film than others; however, nothing was right about this picture except the animals. I had a hard time understanding Robert’s character due to his quiet mumbling of the words with an odd accent. The script had nothing fun or exciting in it. I felt the writers just threw a bunch of animals into the script to add some slapstick to the dull story. Maybe young viewers will enjoy this movie; but for the young of heart, there would be better enjoyment found if one read the books instead. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ½ stars
AS THE LIGHTS WENT DOWN MY irritation subsided only to be replaced with brimming excitement. The first note struck on the electric guitar echoed through the stadium and the crowd started to cheer wildly. The stage was flooded in dazzling lights of several colors as the members of the rock band rose up from underneath the stage. I was in my happy place as the band tore into their first song of the night. All the hassle it took to drive to the stadium while fighting traffic every step of the way, parking in the outrageously expensive parking lot, then pushing through the mass of people to get to our seats was all worth it to hear our favorite band. My buddy and I endured all this work to get to a concert, sometimes on a weekly basis; because there was no greater feeling than sitting with 20,000 fans who were all experiencing the same feelings. It was a rush for me. We had been doing it for several years; so, we had our routine down solid on how to navigate each venue. Rarely did we get disappointed by a group or musician. My proof would be all the T-shirts I acquired throughout the years. AS PRICES ESCALATED FOR THE PARKING, ticket fees and the price of admission; my passion for seeing concerts started to wane. Some popular musical artists were charging prices that were easily 50 to 100% higher than other acts; I found it offensive. Just because they had the #1 hit in the country and were wildly popular did not, I felt, give them the right to gouge their adoring fans. My buddy still wanted to see every musical artist and group, no matter the cost. I started becoming more selective. We had a good run of concerts I felt; but the hassle and cost were chipping into the enjoyment factor. The concerts that took place during the weekdays were the toughest for me. Getting home late and trying to get to sleep while in the euphoric afterglow of a concert was getting harder and harder for me to do. I felt bad for my friend; we were both tight into our concert routine for years and now it was changing because of me. I tried being as supportive as I could; however, I just could not keep it up. There were times my friend would go by himself to see a concert; it used to make me feel bad. With the passing of time, we started settling into our new roles. I saw the same thing playing out in this latest installment of the action, comedic crime franchise. AFTER NEARLY BEING KILLED BY A drive-by shooter; Mike Lowrey, played by Will Smith (Men in Black franchise, I Am Legend) and his partner Marcus Burnett, played by Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House, National Security), team up with a newly created team from the Miami police department to try and track down the source of the shooter. With Joe Pantoliana (The Matrix, Wedding Daze) as Captain Howard, Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games) as Dorn and Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Kelly; there were no surprises in this movie. If you are a fan of the series, then you will enjoy this latest one; it is pretty much more of the same. Not that this is a criticism; for the script had the same type of quick bantering jokes and humor while Will and Martin delivered their brand of chemistry to the big screen. Granted, part of the humor was now being based on their advanced ages. The action scenes were exciting and some of them were even fun to watch. I believe this is a film one must be in the mood for to watch. If one delays it for a bargain price, there would be nothing wrong in doing that.
2 ½ stars
IT ONLY TOOK ME 4 MUSICAL NOTES and I knew what song was playing. I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel and above the din of people coming and going around me, I heard those notes that were barely audible. Getting up from my rather comfortable chair, I followed the sound of music to see where it was coming from. As I made my way through the massive passageway, I found a lounge/bar off to the side. There were small tables for 2 to 4 people everywhere I looked; it was a large space. Up on the stage, I could not believe what I was seeing, it appeared as if it was one of my favorite Motown acts performing. The singers were all dressed in matching blue suits as they took turns singing parts of the song, when they were not harmonizing. As I went to an empty table, I got closer to the stage. It was obvious to me none of the performers were original members of the group. Heck, I knew that as soon as I came up to the entrance because they were all way too young looking. How many decades had passed already? Their voices were good and did sound like the original guys from the group. As for their dance moves, let me say it would have been better if they just stood behind their mic stands and step side to side. AS I SAT AND LISTENED TO THEM, memories came back that were attached to some of the songs they sang. I remember with one song I was dancing at a relative’s wedding; another song, the first time I played it in class I saw the members start to bop their heads to the rhythm of the music. It was an amusing site as we were all working out. My memories were playing the original music, but what the men on stage were singing sounded more like an imitation. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the same. If any of the men were displaying some serious musical capabilities, matching or being better than the originals artists, the show would have been amazing. However, their vocal range was limited; some of the high notes were a strain for them or they simply lowered the octave. I gave them credit for being able to get the gig and perform at one of the hotel’s lounge areas. Though they were not the original group it was still enjoyable for me to sit and listen to them. That is more than what I can say about this action, dramatic horror wannabe. AFTER WHAT APPEARED TO BE AN EARTHQUAKE damaged their drilling station, the crew would have to find a way to make it up to the surface of the ocean they were under. However, something did not want them to leave. With Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels, Personal Shopper) as Norah, Jessica Henwick (Dragonfly, Game of Thrones-TV) as Emily, Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Eastern Promises) as Captain, TJ Miller (Deadpool franchise, Cloverfield) as Paul Abel and John Gallagher Jr (Short Term 12, Jonah Hex) as Liam; this movie felt like it was trying to be the film Alien, except instead of space it was taking place underwater. I give Kristen credit for trying her best at being an action figure, but the script was incapable of providing any thrills or excitement. The dialog was written in a generic way, using typical exclamations. I thought the filming was dull for the most part, which being underwater I understood. However, the constant dark murkiness did nothing for me. If you have not seen Alien or its sequels, you might find this picture of interest. For the rest of us, I suggest you do not take the bait and find yourself sinking into an abyss.
1 ¾ stars
THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD stop the color in my face from draining. I was in a state of shock. It was an hour before I was going to get off from work and the owner of the company had called me into his office. I knew him better than some of the other employees because I worked both in the retail and wholesale parts of his company, when I wasn’t in school. In fact, when he opened a 2ndstore in a large shopping mall out in the suburbs, I helped set up the shelves with stock. So, when he asked me into his office, I did not think much of it. When he closed the door behind me as I walked in, I knew something was different. As I sat across from him, he began to tell me about the inventory being off, that items were coming up missing. I thought maybe he wanted me to take a bigger part of the inventory process, but that was not the case. He asked me if I had seen anything odd going on. I told him no and that I was surprised to hear such a thing. My face had not turned white up to this point; however, when he said he wanted to talk to my parents I could feel my face changing. He said he was asking the same of the other employees who were also in high school. EMBARRASSMENT, FEAR AND ANGER WERE THE predominant feelings coursing through my body as I sat there. Despite not having any knowledge about the missing stock, I was angry that I was being considered a suspect. Logically I knew it made sense for the owner to question his employees; but I still felt like I was being accused of something I had no part in. It was an awful feeling. My mind was showing me a series of movie scenes depicting courthouses, jails, tearful testimonies; my imagination was running amok. The other thing that came to mind was the possibility I might be considered an accomplice because I was friendly with the other employees. The anger portion I was feeling was due to the idea one of my friends, who I had been working alongside with for over one year, could be a thief. It was all upsetting to me, and I did not know how my parents would take the news about them having to come in to talk to the owner. All this hassle and confusion just because I essentially was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The magnitude of my situation didn’t come close to the main character’s situation in this dramatic film based on a true story; but I understood what he had to be feeling. LIVING ON DEATH ROW, ONE DOESN’T get hopeful; even when your Harvard educated lawyer is willing to fight for your life. With Brie Larson (Captain Marvel, Short Term 12) as Eva Ansley, Michael B. Jordan (Creed franchise, Black Panther) as Bryan Stevenson, Jamie Foxx (Robin Hood, Ray) as Walter McMillian, Rafe Spall (The Big Short, The Ritual) as Tommy Chapman and Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four; O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as Ralph Myers; the story in this film festival winning movie was horrifying to me at times due to the injustice and discrimination that was taking place. The acting was strong and solid from the cast; in fact, they really carried the story along. For most of the time I took the script to be truthful; however, there were a couple of scenes, especially one close to the end, where I felt it was the writer’s option to make something up to pull in the audience deeper into the story. Besides that, I still cannot get over what Walter had to go through for all those years.
I WAS FASCINATED WITH IT WHEN I was small, which was the last time I laid eyes on it. Years had passed; where, during this time frame, I became the recipient of a multitude of items from different relatives’ estates. Some were sentimental, others practical and some bordered on being an oddity—at least odd for my lifestyle. I treated each item with the respect it deserved and for the most part could recall a vivid memory I had associated with that item. However, this one particular article was something special because I remembered the relative who owned it. She was a kind and loving soul. There was never a time where she was not happy to see me. Keep in mind, this would apply to any of my relatives because that is how she felt about each and every one of them. She enjoyed being around family. Somewhere in my house I knew I had this piece of jewelry that she wore all the time. Venturing up into my attic I started to tackle each stacked box; I felt I was going back in time with every box I explored. It was not until I was halfway done, after laying hands on so many random non-essential things, I found this small black velvet jewelry case. Inside there it was, a vintage pink colored cameo broach. What made this piece so special to me was the fact the woman depicted in this piece had a resemblance to the woman who wore it. THE CAMEO WAS COOL TO THE TOUCH as I traced the woman’s profile with my finger. Memories flooded me as I stood in the quiet attic, surrounded by a multitude of discarded or half-forgotten items that were bequeathed to me. Among the items I had unearthed were coats, hats, baseball equipment and dinnerware. None of it stood out for me, though I could for the most part remember the relative who wore or used it. None of them provided the excitement I felt when I found this cameo. My relative loved this piece and wore it as much as possible. Whenever I got to visit with her, she would be wearing it. Throughout our conversations, her hand would quietly rise to allow her extended index finger to trace the profile of the woman in the broach. It was done almost in an absentminded way, as if she did not remember she had done the same thing earlier in our visit. Finding this jewelry in my attic was like finding a lost treasure. I felt the same way about seeing this exquisite, dramatic war film. WITHIN A SMALL WINDOW OF TIME, two soldiers must travel behind enemy lines and get a message to the commander of a battalion of troops, to halt his planned attack because the enemy was waiting for them. With Dean-Charles Chapman (Before I Go to Sleep, Game of Thrones-TV) as Lance Corporal Blake, George MacKay (Captain Fantastic, Pride) as Lance Corporal Schofield, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sergeant Sanders, Colin Firth (The Command, The King’s Speech) as General Erinmore and Pip Carter (Robin Hood, The Eagle) as Lieutenant Gordon; this film festival winning World War I story had the most brilliant filming I have seen in such a long time. After sitting through an abundance of poor or average pictures, this one grabbed me right from the start. The director worked at making the scenes all look like one continuous shoot; it was amazing…and at times exhausting, in a good way. Where we do not learn much about the characters, we certainly can feel what the actors are going through in the story. There was excitement, danger, thrills, sadness and horror all mixed within the script. I still cannot get over the amount of physical demands the actors had to endure throughout the film. I felt like I was watching a triumphant piece of work that had familiar attachments but seen in a whole new way. There were a few scenes that could be disturbing for some viewers and a few scenes with blood.
3 3/4 stars
THE FIRST TIME I ENCOUNTERED SOMEONE affected by a divorce was a boy in 5th grade. He and his mother had recently moved to the neighborhood after her divorce. If someone had asked me if I noticed anything different because this boy’s parents were divorced, I would have said not one thing. His mother worked which was no different than many of the other mothers who had a job outside the home. I do not recall any time when this classmate could not attend a school function or activity due to a missing parent or affordability; he was like any other student. It was not until 7th grade before there was another student who had parents that were divorced. Now during this time there were kids in school who had one out of both parents who had to be away from home for extended periods of time, either for work or the military. There would be times when the parent remaining at home would get help from a family member or neighbor; but it was not like that would make any kind of difference. The only time where it would ever make a difference, if you even want to call it that, was when there was a gender specific event like a father/daughter dance or a field trip where parents were needed to chaperone. So, an uncle or older cousin would fill in for the dance and some relative would handle being a chaperone; it was easily workable. HAVING HAD SUCH EXPERIENCES WHILE GROWING UP, made the realization there was another option couples employed when they no longer wanted to be together much more difficult for me to rationalize. In fact, even today when I hear someone say they are staying together for the kids’ sake, I have to cringe. In my experiences I have not once seen where that option does anyone any good. I knew a family where the parents were doing this and all it accomplished was their kids having to go into therapy to deal with the craziness, they wound up experiencing, during what was a toxic environment. One parent started using the kids to deliver messages to their spouse; besides, trying to sway the kids’ opinion about the other parent into negative thoughts. It was sad to see the manipulation that was taking place in that household. Even worse was when I heard through a second party that one parent told one of their children, they were the cause for the breakdown in their marriage. To me that was criminal to say to a child. Because of my experiences; I intently watched this comedic, dramatic romance to see what was happening with the couple’s marriage. MARRIAGE REQUIRES AN ABILITY IN BEING able to give and take; it appeared Charlie and Nicole, played by Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, The Dead Don’t Die) and Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit, Lost in Translation), thought they were good at it. With Laura Dern (Certain Women, J.T. Leroy) as Nora Fanshaw, Alan Alda (Bridge of Spies, The Four Seasons) as Bert Spitz and Julie Hagerty (A Master Builder, Airplane franchise) as Sandra; this film festival winner’s cast was brilliant. I enjoyed each actor and the words they spoke. The story may appear to have a theme that is common to many other films; however, this script came across fresh and new to me. Adam and Scarlett were so good that I thought their characters were actual, real people. The dialog was authentic which only added to the realness of the characters. If I have any criticism, I think some viewers might find the beginning of the story sedated. Like a marriage, it can take a little work to get into it; but once you are, it can turn into a valuable lesson.
3 ½ stars