Monthly Archives: March 2020
MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
HE HAD BEEN PLACED IN REMEDIAL classes through most of his education years. Both teachers and students assumed he was “slow,” though many of the students used a derogatory description to describe him. His grades were poor and yet, he was never given extra help by his teachers or counselors. It did not matter to me because he was my friend. Our initial connection was our mutual love of music. Both of us constantly kept up with current music and took turns buying new songs and albums to share with each other. As for him lacking “book smarts,” he made up for it in practical knowledge. To say he was handy would be an understatement; if something was not working, such as an electronic device or piece of equipment, he usually could figure out and solve the problem. I was envious of his abilities. Besides music his other love was building things. Whether he was helping his family rehab a kitchen or bedroom; for his age, his handiness skills were impressive. Now, if you were to have a conversation with him you would realize there was a communication issue going on with him. He knew what words he wanted to use but could not pronounce them properly. Sometimes he would substitute a wrong word into his conversation because it sounded like the word he was trying to say. Thinking of him now, I must wonder if he might have been dyslexic. DUE TO THAT FRIENDSHIP I REALIZED how many people are quick to judge someone just based of their looks and/or actions. Whenever we went to a restaurant or store, the employees would always look to me to handle the bill or to have a conversation. He would ask a question and the employee would answer it while looking at me as if he was a child or simply did not exist. He was not the only friend I had that people were quick to judge. I had a friend who was over 6 feet tall and had a strong presence about himself. Upon meeting him, people tended to be intimidated his looks; he looked like a “tough guy” with his leather jacket and army boots. What people never took the time with was to get to know him; they would interact with him only for the briefest of moments. He was a super sweet guy who was kind and thoughtful. We would spend hours deep in metaphysical conversations. I realize due to the friendships I have, whenever I get together and go out with friends, I usually look at the people around us to see what kind of reaction they are having to us. Some of these reactions are like the ones I saw in this biographical, dramatic thriller. MOVING TO AMERICA FROM FRANCE TO further her acting career, young actress Jean Seberg, played by Kristen Stewart (Underwater, Personal Shopper), assumed she would expand her fan base. She did not expect that would also include the FBI. With Yvan Attal (Munich, Rush Hour 3) as Romain Gary, Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, Tulip Fever) as Jack Solomon, newcomer Gabriel Sky as Diego Gary and Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Leftovers-TV) as Linette Solomon; this picture’s story was inspired by true events. I was not familiar with Jean and her career, so I do not know how much I saw in this movie rang true. I guess it did not matter because I thought the script was basic and static. Kristen was good in the role; but I really could not tell you much about her character or for that fact, anyone else’s. Based on the issues that were going on here in the late 1960s, I felt the writers had a wealth of opportunities to create a powerful, dramatic piece. Sadly, like the actress’ career, this story went nowhere.
1 ¾ stars
I CRINGED WHEN I SAW WHAT I pulled out of the dresser drawer. It was a pair of compression shorts that I used to wear years ago for teaching aerobics. Holding them up arm’s length away, I could not believe there was a time, I not only wore them, but would willingly wear them in public. They were made of a Lycra spandex blend and were black with a pinstripe of red that went down the outer thighs. How did I ever think they were good looking, especially on me I wondered? At the time, it seemed like everyone was wearing these types of shorts; I just wanted to fit in with the crowd. It is funny how over time my original memory of me teaching in those shorts morphed from a happy memory to an uncomfortable one. That is the thing about memories, though the event itself doesn’t change our perceptions do. I can still see my younger self standing on stage in the aerobic studio in those shorts, leading the class through the different movements. During that time, I had the ability to eat whatever I wanted without worrying about gaining weight; how I miss those times! Teaching multiple classes, being on a strict regimen of weightlifting; it was a dream come true not having to worry about the consequences for eating a bowl of ice cream or several cookies at once. MANY OF MY MEMORIES USED TO haunt me. The ones pertaining to my high school years really had a control over me that I could not shake. For years the weight of them prevented me from reaching out and exploring my potential. I do not really look at memories in terms of good or bad; they each are a part of me, but I now choose how to react to them. From the dark times in high school I changed those memories from being demons to motivational spokespeople. I can honestly say part of the reason I lost weight was due to those past high school memories. No more being the victim, I worked to recreate and embrace myself. For those of you who have been long time readers of my reviews, you can see I have an abundance of memories that well up when I am watching a movie. What may have started out as a bad memory is now only a cracked brick among the many that are part of the life path I am walking on. Memories provide us the opportunity to be inspired or creative or reflective; they do not have to weigh us down for an eternity. See for yourself by watching this dramatic, film festival winner. IN FAILING HEALTH WITH TALK OF a retrospective on his previous film work; writer and director Salvador Mallo, played by Antonio Banderas (Dolittle, The Laundromat), looks back on the life that led him to the place he was at presently. With Asier Etxeandia (The Bridge, Velvet-TV) as Alberto Crespo, Leonardo Sbaraglia (The Silence of the Sky, Wasp Network) as Federico Delgado, Nora Navas (Black Bread, We All Want What’s Best for Her) as Mercedes and Penelope Cruz (Loving Pablo, The Counselor) as Jacinta; this was a beautifully filmed movie. The acting was excellent with Antonio doing some of his best work. The story jumps back and forth in time; at first it threw me, but I quickly found the rhythm of it. It was refreshing to experience a thoughtful and well-written script; the issues that came up were handled with a direct, clear vision. I have to say the scenes with Penelope were some of the most gorgeous pieces of story telling I have seen in a long time. This was the type of film viewing experience where one is given the opportunity to reflect on their own life. Spanish was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG, I was unaware of it as the driver of the car tried to cut me off. It was after work while I was driving home. There was a car ahead of me that was trying to make a left turn across oncoming traffic. I checked my rearview and side mirrors along with turning my head to check my car’s blind spot. With no car in sight I drove into the right lane to avoid getting stopped behind the left turning car. As I was passing the car on the left, I heard a car honking; it was a car from behind that was racing up towards me. Once I passed the turning car I drove back into the left lane; however, that was not good enough for this honking car. The driver sped up and got in front of me where he immediately slowed down to a stop. With cars on my right I was stuck behind him. Since I had no idea what was happening, I quickly looked for an out. There was a break in the oncoming traffic; so, I swerved into their lanes to get around the stopped car. He must have been shocked by my actions because he had a delay in his reflexes which was all I needed to speed away. I did see him start to follow me; so, at the earliest opportunity I swerved onto a side street and turned off my headlamps. I cut into an alley and backtracked towards my office to take a different route home. I ALREADY HAD A SUSPICIOUS NATURE and this episode accentuated it. For the next several weeks I kept an eye out for that car. Gratefully, in the middle of my panic I did look at his license plate and remembered the starting letters and numbers. As I drove home, I was constantly checking my rearview and side mirrors. The problem I was running into was the fact this driver’s car and color were popular. Every time I saw black colored car of the same model in my mirror I panicked. I did not know whether I should turn off the road immediately or quickly speed up to make sure he did not get close enough to recognize me; I was driving myself crazy. This route was the fastest one for me to get home; but if I was going to be anxious and nervous driving it every day it was not worth it. Due to this I could totally sympathize with the main character in this suspenseful, mystery horror film. AFTER LEAVING HER CONTROLLING HUSBAND AND his subsequent death by suicide Cecilia Kass, played by Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale), thought she would finally feel free of him. However, she still had this nagging feeling as if she was being watched, especially when little mishaps started taking place. With Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster, Going the Distance) as Adrian Griffin, Harriet Dyer (Down Under, Love Child-TV) as Emily Kass, Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Straight Outta Compton) as James Lanier and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, Don’t Let Go) as Sydney Lanier; this movie was a real thrill ride. Elisabeth was outstanding in the role; the range of emotions that poured out of her was easily felt. I rarely jump in my seat from a scene in a movie; but I did while watching this picture. I thought it was ingenious to take the original story and flip it. There were a couple of scenes that were hard to believe; however, having committed myself fully to the story it did not matter much to me. I loved the buildup of suspense and again, the intense acting skills of Elisabeth which made this film a must see in my opinion. If one has any bit of a suspicious nature; this film could easily heighten it. There were a few scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 1/3 stars