Monthly Archives: March 2020
WE WERE SITTING AND ENJOYING OUR menu choices that we carried out from a local restaurant. At some point the conversation turned to traveling and we started asking each other what places we have gone to in the states. I think I was the most interested in the answers because I was the only one at the table who had been to all 50 states. Listening to the places people were mentioning brought back my memories of those times when I was there. I remembered one city where I got there the day they opened a new people mover to connect their airport to the downtown area. As I was sitting in one of the train cars, I noticed an elderly couple staring at the automatic doors. From the conversations I had with them during the ride, it turned out they had never seen automatic doors before. I know, hard to believe right? They lived in a tiny town out in the country. I will always have this memory as part of my memories of the city. Now some of the stories being told around the table dealt with areas in a state that I did not have time to visit. Many of my state visits dealt with flying into a city and exploring it and its surrounding area; usually there was not time for me to explore further out unless the destination was a national park or something else significant. MORE THAN SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE EVENING, someone would mention staying at a local area of an out of state city where I also had stayed during my trip. When this would come up we then would compare our notes on our time there. I found it curious when someone, who stayed in the same area as me, saw nothing of what I had seen. Though they could recall the street where their hotel was located, they had no idea what I was talking about as I mentioned the different tourist and local attractions/places I went to see when I was there. I would mention a famous museum, garden or mansion and they would shrug and tell me they had no clue such and such was there. I do not mean this to sound judgmental or condescending; I was simply perplexed by the things they chose to experience. Going out of state and visiting the same places one has back home has never been my thing. For example, going to a national pizza chain or clothing store or breakfast restaurant are places I do not care to visit when I am out of state. I know some people find comfort by choosing places that are familiar but then I would ask why spend the money to experience them out of state. Also, I am guessing some people may not even know there are other choices; like the main character in this film festival winning movie. KIDNAPPED AT GUNPOINT, THE DAUGHTER OF A wealthy businessman discovers a completely different world than the one she grew up in. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a scary or beautiful world. This romantic crime drama starred Alia Bhatt (Gully Boy, Dear Zindagi) as Veera Tripathi, Randeep Hooda (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Beeba Boys) as Mahabir Bhati, Durgesh Kumar (Dhadak, Paharganj) as Aadoo, newcomer Pradeep Nagar as Tonk and Saharsh Kumar Shukla (Ugly, Raees) as Goru; I initially thought this was going to be a standard Bollywood picture. Surprisingly, the script started out that way but eventually took a different trajectory. There were times the story wavered and turned to typical relief tricks; but I liked the ride this film provided me. I thought the acting was decent and I enjoyed the variety of outdoor shots the story provided. To call this movie a coming of age story would not necessarily convey its true story, I believe; it is more of a coming into awareness story. Hindi was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars
I AM NOT EXPERIENCING A FULL WITHDRAWAL, but I am certainly missing the comfort of being in a dark movie theater. The governor of my state issued a stay at home order the day I was watching a film in the theater. There were 3 other people watching with me and each of us was spaced far from each other. At least the film was wonderful, so I ended my movie theater visits on a high note. Driving home and hearing the news, my first thought was, “How am I going to see movies to review?” As some of you know, I am a stickler for staying on a routine. If I can, I go to the theater and try to watch 2 or 3 films in a row; I figure if I am there I might as well see as many as I can to save time from going back and forth throughout the weekend. I always have everything planned, from the time I need to arrive to where I would park to making sure I have all my seats on reserve. Now that my movie theater routine was put on hold, I spent the weekend trying to figure out how I could create a new routine that will allow me the opportunity to see movies and review them. A WEEK HAS GONE BY AND I am settling into the new normal many of us are doing. I read some movie studios will stream their new releases for a fee; however, seeing that the amount they are asking is sometimes nearly 40% more than what I pay at the theater, I refuse to participate in that option. I used to have DVDs mailed to me, which offered me a variety of films I could review, but a while ago, I switched the option to online. Little did I realize the online option did not have nearly the amount of titles as the DVD option. It has taken me up to 20 minutes to find a movie to watch from the list I have kept the past couple of years. However, if it means I can review it then I deal with the inconveniences. The reason I am telling you all of this is because I want you to know there could be times I might be reviewing a film that I may have seen some ratings or words written about it before I can review it. Today’s movie choice is one in particular; until I found it I knew there was a chance I might not think highly of it. Yikes, little did I know it was going to be such a rough movie watching experience. WHEN TWO CROOKED POLICE OFFICERS DECIDE TO go for a big score, they cross paths with someone who is as dangerous as them and who can play their game even better. This film festival winning movie starred Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, Big Little Lies-TV) as Terry Monroe, Michael Pena (End of Watch, Ant-Man franchise) as Bob Bolano, Theo James (Divergent franchise, London Fields) as Lord James Mangan, Tessa Thompson (Creed franchise, Dear White People) as Jackie Hollis and Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Russell Birdwell. This cast was the reason why I was interested in seeing this action, crime comedy. I can only wonder if they were as surprised as I was with the finished product. The story was nothing special but was dragged further down by the script. I found the dialog crass and monotonous; repeating politically incorrect phrases does not make it any more funny. By the time we discovered the redemption part of the plot I did not really care one way or another. It was a shame because the scene involving it was one of the few I enjoyed. If watching films of this caliber is going to be my new routine, I may go out of my mind with boredom.
FEW OF MY FRIENDS LIKED THE candy pellets that came out of the candy dispenser I carried around in my pocket. I had a couple of different kinds; one had Popeye’s head on the top and the other had the head of a dog. When you tilted the head back the mouth would open to reveal a candy pellet, for you to slide out and pop into your mouth. Whenever I went to the candy store I always picked up a couple of packs of pellets to reload my dispensers. As time went on and my tastes changed, I stopped carrying around my candy dispensers; I placed them in a desk drawer and soon forgot about them. Fast forward to years later and on one of my social media sites I have a follower who is a big fan/collector of the same kind of candy dispensers I used to have when I was younger. From seeing the things this follower has been posting, I discovered there is a world of people who enjoy these candy dispensers. And here I thought when I was younger I was the only one who liked them. I will say from the time I had them they certainly have increased the amount of different heads on them. THOUGH I KNOW NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE in my follower’s posts, I felt some kind of connection. It is the type of connection one feels when they discover someone they do not know has the same like/dislike of a particular thing. It immediately forms a connection between the 2 individuals because they have something in common that they can now use to build on a relationship. The best example I can show is my movie review site. The people who comment on my reviews were unknown to me for the most part. All of a sudden we started a dialog that was born in our mutual love of movies and in turn a comfort formed that allowed an easy sharing of each other’s life stories. Growing up, I had a variety of interests that were not shared by those around me. I can remember during the 7th or 8th grades meeting a couple of new students who had similar interests. It was not only an immediate connection, but it was the start of a deep friendship. In a way it was like finding someone who spoke the same language as you after being misunderstood by your peers for years. From the beginning of this film festival winning, dramatic thriller I found myself connected to the main characters. BEING NEW TO THE AREA DID NOT make a difference to the connection that quickly formed between Casey Caraway and her neighbor Jonas Ford, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) and Josh Wiggins (Max, Walking Out). Their connection would be tested beyond anything they imagined. With Joe Cobden (Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow) as Elbert Ford, Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Wayne Caraway and Colm Feore (Chicago, The Chronicles of Riddick) as The Chief; this story drew me in due to the connection I mentioned previously. The acting came across truthfully and at times powerfully. I felt Bill’s performance was authentic and intense, especially because I was getting a physical reaction from his character. The story line had a similar flavor to past movies of the same genre; however, I was surprised with the twists in this one. The filming style added to the despair felt in the story; there was a simple and direct style that made the characters come across in a raw, sometimes desperate, way. The story may cause uneasiness with viewers in the beginning, but it would be worth staying to see what happens and you never know, there may be a connection that forms with you.
2 ½ stars — DVD
I SAW THE REQUEST POSTED ON ONE of my social media sites. The person was asking for suggestions and recommendations on food delivery services. They wanted to place an order for food to be delivered to an elderly couple, who did not have the ability to leave their home during the state’s shelter in order. Besides the generosity of this person’s request, the other thing that impressed me was the immediate response they were getting from so many people. As I read through the comments, I discovered this request started because the person’s first choice of a delivery service cancelled the order because they could not fulfill it due to several items being out of stock. What struck me about this was the fact the response was coming from a major grocery store chain. I soon discovered, based on the posted conversations going back and forth, that the items out of stock were some basic household items, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables. This struck me as odd since those items, at least in my experiences, have never been out of stock; especially, the household items which are produced by several different manufacturers. I wondered how long it was going to take this person to find all the items they needed to send to the elderly couple; I hoped it was not going to turn into the type of scenario where they were trying to beat the clock before the elderly couple went hungry. LITTLE DID I KNOW READINGTHOSE comments were only going to be a prelude to what I would encounter when I went to buy groceries. The first thing I noticed when I was walking inside the grocery store was the amount of people who had scared looks on their faces. They were walking up and down the aisles staring forlornly at the empty spaces that popped up periodically along the shelves. The magnitude of the situation did not hit me until I discovered there were no bananas or sweet potatoes to be found anywhere; I could not process this fact. Later on I found out the reason for the absence of these two items was because parents were buying them up to mash into food to feed to their babies. Continuing on my way through the store, I saw polar opposite examples of people’s compassion during a crisis. In one aisle I saw a shopper with a cart brimming over with items. Each item was in multiple amounts, for example 5 bottles of salad dressing. Unless they were buying for multiple families, I felt they were being greedy during these scary times. Soon after I saw a shopper in the checkout line who had 4 loaves of bread in their cart. They were talking to the person behind them and whatever was said, I saw this shopper take one of the loaves out of their cart and hand it to the person behind them. Wow, it looked like an act of kindness. Similar examples to the ones I just mentioned can be found in this film festival-winning movie from South Korea. PASSENGERS ON A BULLET TRAIN BOUND FOR a resort town are confronted with the fact they may not make it due to the zombies that got on board. With Yoo Gong (Finding Mr. Destiny, A Man and a Woman) as Seok-woo, Yu-mi Jung (A Bittersweet Life, Psychokinesis) as Seong-kyeong, Dong-seok Ma (The Outlaws; The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) as Sang-hwa, Su-an Kim (The Battleship Island, Memories of the Sword) as Soo-an and Eui-sung Kim (Wiretap, Six Flying Dragons-TV) as Yon-suk; this action horror thriller was a complete surprise to me because of its heart. With any zombie movie, one gets the idea of what is going to happen; however, with this story, I found the script added depth to its characters. The different side stories of individual people allowed me to become more engaged with their plight. Add in the skillful action and this picture turned out to be a mirror to the times we are living in presently. There were scenes that showed blood and violence; but I did not find them to be the usual gory type one finds in horror films. Whether it is unseen viruses or zombies, both bring out people’s true natures. Korean was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars — DVD
EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF PARTICIPANTS WHO came with a friend none of us knew each other as we sat in the room, waiting for the instructor. The class each of us signed up for was a pottery class at the local community center. I was interested in pottery after seeing a potter at an art fair use a potter’s wheel to make a bowl. Watching him take a lump of clay, throw it onto the wheel and with some water and wooden utensils turn it into a beautiful etched bowl; it was mesmerizing to me, as it seemed to be pure magic. The instructor walked into the room and introduced himself to us. After explaining what he planned on us achieving, he asked us to come up and get some clay to work on for the day. With a quick succession of instructions and encouragement, the instructor asked us to talk to each other and left us to explore the possibilities with our clay. Before we turned on our potter’s wheels a member in the class asked what people were thinking of making with their clay. I planned on doing a bowl, but I was surprised by all the different comments. The creative ideas some of the participants expressed were fueling the conversations as we began our projects. It wasn’t until after the potter’s wheels were on and everyone’s lump of clay were halfway towards completion that I realized how exciting it was to be sitting in a room with engaged and creative “artists.” THE CREATIVITY THAT CAME OUT OF THAT classroom could be seen by the variety of objects that each of us made and designed. I surprised myself by how quick I adapted to the environment. Almost all of the time, I need time to process a situation. As you can imagine being spontaneous is not something I do often, or maybe ever. When I have attended aerobic workshops, I always have a fear the presenter is going to ask us to break up into smaller groups and create an exercise routine. I am horrible in these types of scenarios. Now granted, I am aware and can feel the excitement participants experience while working together to create a routine to present in the workshop; I, on the other hand, experience an undercurrent of dread as I feel I am put on the spot to come up with something to share with the rest of the group. I do see the merits of working together to hash out ideas and there have been times where I do contribute once I feel more comfortable; however, I prefer sitting back and think over the variety of possibilities that begin to pop up into my head. This is why I totally understood what the musical artists were experiencing in this musical documentary. DURING THE 1960S, A GROUP OF MUSICIANS found an area in Los Angeles that not only allowed but also encouraged them to take creative license with the music they were creating; it was called Laurel Canyon. This film festival winning movie had a variety of interviews and performances by Fiona Apple, Ringo Star, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, and The Mamas and the Papas. This film’s journey was “hosted” by Jakob Dylan who also performed. I did not mind him being the interviewer, but wished he had asked more questions of the musical artists instead of simply nodding his head. I enjoyed watching and listening to this documentary because of the historical significance and the personal stories being told. At times, I felt I was being taught a history lesson as I listened to the artists explain their connection and influences to the creation of a particular song; it was so cool. For music lovers in particular, this would be a worthwhile viewing experience. It reminded me of my younger days in winter when I would sing to myself “California Dreamin’” to stay warm.
3 ½ stars
I WISH I COULD REMEMBER HOW OLD I was when I was able to stay home alone without a babysitter. The funny thing is, I absolutely remember the day when it happened. It was a clear but windy Saturday night. My food treats for the evening were a freshly popped bowl of popcorn, a box of chocolate chip cookies and a cup of chocolate pudding that was covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. I was so excited to have the run of the house all to myself. No fighting over who would get to watch their TV show on the large television in the living room and no waiting to use the bathroom; I was all set for the evening. The first television show I planned on watching was a comedy. All settled on the couch with my bowl of popcorn and a bolster to recline on, I began watching my TV show. It was only 10 or 15 minutes into the program when I heard a sound coming from the back door. I was afraid to walk into the kitchen to see what it was; so, instead I creeped along the living room wall until I was able to sneak a peak out the window that was closest to the back porch. I did not see anyone there; but I was scared enough to run into the kitchen and wedge one of the kitchen chairs under the doorknob of the back door. I also took out a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and kept it by my side the rest of the night. THOUGH THAT WAS MY INITIAL INTRODUCTION into becoming a responsible “older” boy, I began to relish my new status within the family. There was a sense of freedom, if you will. I do not mean to infer I was a prisoner or something like that; it was having the option of choice that gave me this feeling of freedom. A small child is told what to do or not do. For example, I remember when I was not allowed to touch the knifes that everyone else was using at the dining room table; my food was cut up for me because I was too young to do if for myself. At some point as I got older, I was able to use a knife to cut my own food. Stuff like this may sound trivial but being able to take actions and make decisions for oneself is a powerful force. This is something I do not take lightly because I know there are places in the world where people do not have the ability to make their own choices. Imagine what life would be like for you if you did not have the freedom of choice. If you wish to see examples, this exquisite, dramatic film festival winner will show you. AFTER HER SISTER’S DEATH HELOISE’s, PLAYED BY Adele Haenel (The Unknown Girl, Love at First Fight), mother pulled her out of the convent to take her sister’s place hopefully in an arranged marriage. With Noemie Merlant (Paper Flags, Heaven Will Wait) as Marianne, Luana Bajrami (School’s Out, Happy Birthday) as Sophie, Valeria Golind (Hot Shots franchise, Escape From L.A.) as La Comtesse and Armande Boulanger (Conviction, Silence du leopard) as L’eleve atelier; this romantic movie was filmed in such a beautiful way that I felt I had been transported back to the 18thcentury on the Island of Brittany. The acting was mesmerizing as Noemie and Adele used their acting skills to tell the story. I especially enjoyed the way the script slowly heated up, giving enough time for each scene to fully set in. The dialog was spoken in French and Italian with English subtitles; I had no difficulty following the story while reading the subtitles. This was a fascinating movie watching experience that depicted a time when women particularly had less freedom to choose. At least, I hope they had less back then, than they do now.
3 ½ stars
ONE OF THE BASIC RULES I LEARNED in science class was opposites attract. Every solid, liquid, gas and plasma are composed of atoms and within those atoms you will find subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. The positive charged protons and negative charged electrons attract each other; hence, the phrase “opposites attract.” If you try to put two protons together, they will repel from each other. From this basic rule, I have gone through life not fearing things or people that are different. However, in elementary school I learned that there are some people who do not like those that are different from themselves. In my neighborhood there was a parochial school. Some of the male students of the school formed a gang (I know, it sounds odd). Whenever they were off for a religious holiday, the boys would show up at our public school during our recess time and try to start fights with us. They would call us derogatory names; sometimes, using hateful slang that referred to what they perceived was our religious beliefs. Sadly, this was an ugly lesson for me to learn on how some people form dislikes based solely on someone’s looks, beliefs or simply on the way they think. I AM FORTUNATE THAT WITHIN MY circle of friends and family no one is as judgmental as what I just described. There is a couple I know who are in synch when it comes to all aspects of their life, except for their political views. They are opposites; in other words, one is a democrat and the other is a republican. Many mutual friends do not understand how this couple could be connected in so many ways but have such different world views politically. I remind these people that opposites attract. They have had rational discussions where each one will present their views on a topic without being judgmental towards the other one’s views. Most of the time they used to end their talks by agreeing to disagree; these days they no longer will talk politics to each other. I believe it is because things are more polarized these days, people seem to be more extreme. One of the big changes I have seen recently is how hate has become part of people’s discussions. It is not enough to just think differently than someone else; one now openly hates the individual for thinking differently. Does that make sense? Hatred must be acceptable I guess because I see so much more of it out in the open. Being reported on the news, people in heated arguments out in public; I have become more fearful when I go outside. You never know if things could get to the point where they do in this action, horror thriller. WAKING UP TO DISCOVER THEY WERE muzzled and in an open field, a group of strangers do not have time to figure out what happened to them when they suddenly hear a gunshot. With Betty Gilpin (True Story, Isn’t it Romantic) as Crystal, Hilary Swank (The Homesman, P.S. I Love You) as Athena, Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad, The Oath) as Staten Island, Wayne Duvall (The Kitchen, Prisoners) as Don and Ethan Suplee (American History X, Remember the Titans) as Gary; this satire had its moments. I felt the writers’ focus was to create a wicked satirical piece that would get everyone talking; there were some scenes that were heavy handed in trying to achieve this exact thing. There were other scenes that were amusing to me; however, I found several scenes of violence that were so over the top to the point it was a distraction. In other words, gore and blood. Out of the cast, I thought Betty and Hilary were the standouts with their characters. Betty gave it everything she had, I felt. Based on the current environment, I could see where this film might have an impact on viewers. I only wish the writers had worked harder on connecting the story in a real way instead of thinking they were writing such a “daring piece.” They might disagree with me and that is okay.
THERE WAS A TEACHER AT MY SCHOOL who had a wooden arm. Every student knew it even if they did not have her as their teacher. She wore long sleeves year-round and she kept the hand portion of her fake arm covered with a glove. There was a rumor I had heard about a student in one of her classes. Upon being told to close the classroom window they had opened without permission; the student asked the teacher why, was she afraid of woodpeckers flying into the room? The student was expelled from school for 2 weeks. I am guessing most of you are shocked after reading about this teacher’s arm. It surprised me as well, since I live in a city that has a renowned rehabilitation center. Through the years the local news has reported on this institution’s latest cutting-edge, technological achievements. Patients from all over the world have come here to receive help and guidance from this rehabilitation center. I did not know the teacher’s circumstances on why she either chose or was given a wooden arm instead of some type of bendable prosthetic. Back in school there was a part of me that had always hoped I would get her for a teacher; so, I could see for myself how she navigated through the daily class routines. What can I say; I was curious. SINCE I MENTIONED THE REHABILITATION CENTER, there was one success story that never made it to the news. I was fortunate to watch one patient’s progress on one of my social media sites. I must tell you; it was an incredible journey to watch because this patient came to the center after an accident caused their inability to walk. Periodically, they would post a photo/video of themselves relearning how to walk with mechanical assistance. I never knew what type of injury they had; however, I remember their earliest videos would show them buckled into a nearly full body suit that was suspended from the ceiling and had electrodes attached all over it. There was one video where the patient was wearing the suit and had 2 people on either side moving their limbs to simulate a walking motion. Weeks and weeks went by before the patient was able to move one leg an inch with no assistance; the smile on their face was immense. At some point the suspended suit was replaced with one that was remotely controlled. The patient had to hold onto two parallel bars, as their legs would slowly shuffle one at a time forward. What a feat to witness; I originally thought I would be seeing a similar feat in this science fiction, action drama. NEW TECHNOLOGY WAS ABLE TO BRING Ray Garrison, played by Vin Diesel (The Last Witch Hunter, The Fast and Furious franchise), back from his untimely death. However, his memories were a different story. With Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) as Katie/KT, Sam Heughan (Outlander-TV, The Spy Who Dumped Me) as Jimmy Dalton, Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, The Hurricane Heist) as Martin Axe and Guy Pearce (Spinning Man, The Rover) as Dr. Emil Harting; this film based on a popular comic book was a typical Vin Diesel picture. It also included a typical Vin performance; even when the action was done in slow motion. The idea behind the story intrigued me; in fact, I enjoyed the enhancements made to Vin’s character. Yet, the writers did nothing new with the story line. There were big fight scenes and special effects; but they were all wrapped into a blah script that did not provide me with anything new. All I can say is this film was not horrible; it was just bland and mindless. You would think with all the technological advances that have been achieved in the world, the movie studio could have presented a better film.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS AT A FAMILY (NOT MINE) GATHERING where I first saw how people judge others based on the work they do. Maybe this happens more than I am aware of because the individuals I was in contact with were not so blatant about it. With this family, they had no problem showing their disapproval; I could see and hear it. We were mingling together in the living/dining area of my friend’s parents’ house. I knew the family well, so I was included on the guest list. My friend’s parents were throwing a graduation party for their youngest child. It was a casual affair where most of the food items were finger foods. Everyone my friend introduced me to was pleasant. I do not want this to come out as judgmental; but let me just say some of the guests were impeccably dressed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as I could tell. At some point one of my friend’s sisters walked into the house with her boyfriend. They had only been dating a few months and this was I found out, the first time the family was meeting this new man. I thought all was going well until one of the relatives asked the boyfriend what he did for a living. When he told them he was an electrician, you could see everyone’s smiling veneer melt away. The tone of voice the relatives were now using were filled with disdain; I was stunned. WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH BEING an electrician, I wondered? You would have thought the boyfriend said he was a mass murderer; it was the oddest thing to see. As if on cue, the relatives nearby him slowly moved further away. I swear it looked as if the relatives had just come upon a grizzly bear in the forest and were quietly and slowly backing away, so as not to disturb it. I was not the only one to have witnessed this; my friend saw what was going on and decided to, at that moment, introduce me to the sister and boyfriend. He was a nice guy as far as I could tell, and it seemed as if he had a good sense of humor. Personally, I never care who my friends and family are dating; all that matters to me is that the person is good to them and loves them. Whether they are a stock trader, a sanitation worker or a zookeeper; none of that matters to me. If my friend or relative loves them and feels good about it, then I will support them always. I think that is one of the reasons I found it challenging to connect to the characters in this dramatic, comedy satire. BORN INTO WEALTH AND BELIEVING SHE was better than most Emma Woodhouse, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), felt she could not find her equal in love. At least, not in her small town. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Beast) as George Knightley, Bill Nighy (Sometimes Always Never, About Time) as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Everest) as Harriet Smith and Myra McFadyen (Mamma Mia! franchise, Rob Roy) as Mrs. Bates; this movie based on Jane Austen’s novel was hard for me to get into in the beginning. The costumes and scenery were immaculate which helped me pass the time. I also thought Bill Nighy was perfect in his role. Set in England during the 1800’s, it was not until the 2ndhalf of the film where I felt things were better connected. My guess is fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this picture immensely. I on the other hand felt it really had nowhere to go; it was somewhat predictable. And for some reason, I could not connect at all with the main actress’ character; what a surprise based on what I mentioned earlier in this review.
2 ½ stars
THOUGH IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS since I taught that class, I still think about it often. I go over in mind what I would have done differently if I could repeat the class over. It was the last part of my yoga class, where we go into a relaxed position with guided visualization. I had turned the lights off; there was only a faint glow coming from the displays of the few electronic devices in the room. Halfway through our relaxation period, a member coughed a couple of times then burped. Though I could not see faces I could tell the noise had come from a female member. While I was still guiding the class through a visualization, I quietly walked towards the woman. Before I reached her, I saw another woman had rolled over to face her, to see if she was okay. As I came up to them the other woman said her mother was not feeling well, pointing to the burping woman. Before I could say anything, the ill sounding woman started making sounds as if she was about to vomit. I ran to get a garbage can as the daughter helped her mother to a sitting position. When I returned with the garbage can the daughter told me her mother had eaten dinner just before she came to class. I still wish to this day that I would have mentioned something about eating during my introduction at the beginning of the class. MY YEARNING TO REVISIT AN EVENT in the past used to be based solely on guilt. There was the aerobic charity event where I lead a packed basketball court of people through a workout. I had to wear what I thought was a goofy outfit promoting the event. Looking back, I now realize my movements were a tad too complicated for the novice exerciser. I remember seeing guests getting lost with my directions. Where guilt used to drive my actions, I can now look back at the things I have done and consider them a learning experience. I know some people never look back at their history, but I cannot do such a thing. For me, the ability to look back at a past event is a teaching experience. A friend of mine never takes the time to study their past; as a result, they keep making the same mistakes over and over. I mentioned guilt used to be my motivator; however, I believe there are individuals whose motivation is their desire to receive approval. It could be from a parent, a teacher or even best friend; for some reason they may not have enough confidence to appreciate the things they can do. I wonder if this was what was going on with the main character in this dramatic sports film? ACCEPTING THE OFFER TO TEACH THE school’s losing basketball team would provide Jack Cunningham, played by Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Gone Girl), an opportunity to revisit his past. It was a past he was running away from, however. With Janina Gavankar (Blindspotting, True Blood-TV) as Angela, Michaela Watkins (Brittany Runs a Marathon, The Back-Up Plan) as Beth, Hayes MacArthur (Life as We Know It, She’s Out of My League) as Eric and Da’Vinchi (All American-TV, Grown-ish-TV) as Devon Childress; most of the attention was given to Ben. I will say he was excellent in this role; though, I did wonder how close did this character mirror his own life. The story and the script were easily predictable which took some of the drama out for me. I did find the basketball scenes funny, especially the ones involving Jack interacting with the team’s spiritual advisor. There will not be any surprises here, I do not think, for the viewer. Luckily, Ben’s skill at playing this type of flawed character is his forte, in my opinion. What connected me further was my experiences with dwelling in the past.