Monthly Archives: December 2020
IF IT WASN’T FOR MY ECLECTIC taste in music, I would surely be deaf now. In my younger days I could be found at some type of concert almost every week. From small nightclub venues to large indoor stadiums, I was spending a good portion of my paycheck on music concerts. I will say, I have been fortunate to have seen some classic and memorable musical performances. For example, I saw Freddie Mercury and Queen a couple of times; Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Jane Oliver, Black Sabbath, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Many of the concerts were held in an older 18,000 seat stadium, with the last rows up close to the rafters. I remember the buzz of energy sparking through the massive crowd of people who were piling into their seats. There would be these massive speakers stacked up on both ends of the stage, along with speakers that hung down from the roof. With some bands, the music was so loud coming through the speakers that the sound would reverberate in my chest. My ears would be ringing, but I would not notice it until the concert ended. There was one concert that left me with a ringing in my ears until the middle of the following day. Back then I did not give much thought to my ears and in fact, took the ringing as a sign that it was a good concert. How dumb of me. WHAT MADE ME REALIZE THE DAMAGE I was doing to my ears was my first flight to Mexico. I went with a friend and the night before I came down with a head cold. Since it was just some congestion without a cough or fever, I did not give it much thought. However, when the plane was descending, my ears felt like a knife was plunging into my eardrums because of my clogged sinuses; I was in excruciating pain. By the time we landed, I could not hear a thing. My friend had to take the lead on everything for the next two days. If I hadn’t been so freaked out by it, I would have had a better time and just relaxed with the quiet. The only way I could communicate was either by writing a note or doing a solo form of charades. The day I got my hearing back started out with me hearing a crackling noise every time I swallowed. It was similar sounding to the turning of a radio dial, filled with static and buzzing. As soon as I was able to once again hear the spoken word, I vowed never to fly with a cold again and always put ear plugs in my ears before a concert. It was tough watching the main character in this musical drama at first because it brought back such memories for me. PANIC BEGAN TO SET IN AS Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), started to lose his hearing. To make matters worse, his profession was accelerating the pace. With Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds) as Lou, Paul Raci (Smoothtalker, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) as Joe, Lauren Ridloff (If You could Hear my Own Tune, The Walking Dead-TV) as Diane and Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as Richard Berger; this film festival winner had a simple but emotionally filled script. The way scenes played into each other with the incredible use of sound to connect them was impressive. Riz was outstanding with his character; the internal and external battles he experienced were equally intense which added to the connection the story was making with the viewer. I hope he gets a nomination this awards season. This was a wonderful film that was filled with depth and poignancy. I think it also provides an accurate picture of those with a hearing loss.
3 ½ stars
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IS A SAYING I have heard many times. The idea behind it, I believe, is to be a teaching tool; where one can learn something by looking at the past. I’ve used it to see how a person acquired a behavior or trait. There was a boy in my neighborhood growing up, who was a bigot/racist/anti-Semitic; take your pick. On the inside of his notebook cover was a swastika he drew in pencil. I happened to see it because I sat next to him in class. He was not aggressive with his prejudices, but I was always curious to know what happened to him where he learned this behavior. An opportunity presented itself to me one day when I spotted him and his father in a store. I stayed out of sight as best I could; while still being near enough to hear them talk. There was little conversation between them; however, as they passed a fellow shopper their shopping carts bumped together. The shopper excused herself and continued on her way. As the father and son walked away, I heard the father say a derogatory remark in a low voice. What he said was hateful and ignorant; but I now understood why my classmate was prejudiced. WHEN I STUDIED WORLD HISTORY, IT seemed to me every major conflict began due to religion, hope for world domination or a prejudice. The examples for this would be the crusades, World War II and the Rwandan Civil War between the Hutu and Tutsi groups. Century after century the conflicts I studied usually fell into one of these categories. If history is repeating itself, which it appears to be doing, why have we not learned something from it? I look at the struggles of disenfranchised people and more times than not they are being persecuted because some other group doesn’t like them. To this day, I do not understand how someone can form a dislike towards a person solely based on how they look. I am not talking about their hygiene or type of dress; one can form an opinion of a person if they have food stains across their clothing. More than ever, I have witnessed acts of hatred being played out on a massive scale. It seems as if some people thrive on hatred, making themselves feel better when they can dominate someone else. This is such a warped view of the world; I can barely comprehend it. If what I have said sounds confusing, let me suggest watching this documentary that does an infinitely better job of explaining the phrase history repeats itself. EACH GENERATION MAY FEEL AS IF they are the first to experience such an event when it is presented to them. However, if one were to look back in history, they might find a similar event had taken place some time before. Directed by K.D. Davison (Ordinary People-TV), I found this film to be fascinating. Having as the central character Jon Meacham (The Front Runner, former editor of Newsweek) was a wonderful idea. He is a likeable and easy to understand historian, who was filmed at times during several discussions and lectures he held across the country. Seeing the comparisons between past and current times; I found it to be eye opening. I also enjoyed the variety of archive footage that was used in this documentary, with a wide assortment of celebrities and politicians such as George Takei (Star Trek franchise, Heroes-TV), Franklin D. Roosevelt and Edward R. Murrow. Seeing the historical challenges people have faced then comparing it to present times was an informative history lesson to me without feeling as if I were being lectured. This was a well-done picture that had a hefty amount of substance.
I WOULD HAVE TO PACE MYSELF for the day if I wanted to keep my holiday tradition alive. The first item on my list was to walk/jog the parking garage before breakfast. Since it was too cold for me to go outside, I discovered I could get a decent workout by walking/jogging the 2-floor parking garage. In an hour, I can cover nearly 5 miles and that is including the parking ramps which provide me the experience of going up and down a hill. Once my workout was completed, I showered then ate breakfast. With dinner being a big meal, I went light on my breakfast cereal. Once I was done eating, I had to set up my laptop computer on a snack tray in the living room. Later after lunch I was going to be on a video present opening for Christmas. If anywhere in my schedule there could be a delay, it would be during this activity. There were going to be 10 people on the video call, each taking turns with opening their gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to the event; however, there was my holiday tradition I was focused on that I scheduled to take place after dinner was done. AS I FEARED THE VIDEO PRESENT opening went on for nearly three hours. I was besides myself because my dinner was now delayed, which meant the one thing I wanted to happen was going to have to start later in the evening. With movie theaters closed in my area; it has been months since I was last in a theater. In fact, the last time for me was back in March just as the COVID-19 pandemic was rolling out across the country. After all this time, one of the film studios decided to offer first run movies on their streaming service the same day the film opens at the theaters. I cannot tell you how filled I was with excited anticipation to see a new, blockbuster film. Not to take anything away from the different streaming services’ original films, but there is something about a big budgeted picture that is to be released on the big screen. Due to the virus, I was getting the 2ndbest thing by watching the film at home on a large screened television. Since I loved the first Wonder Woman movie, I was expecting everything to be bigger and better with this sequel. Little did I know that my fear of watching this film later in the evening, where I could easily fall asleep, would be a valid issue for me. LIVING A QUIET COMFORTABLE LIFE UNDETECTED was fine for Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses, Triple 9), except for the one person she was missing in her life. Years of wishing he was with her was about to change when a mysterious artifact was delivered to her place of work. With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, The Finest Hours) as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig (Downsizing, The Skeleton Twins) as Barbara Minerva, Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Maxwell Lord and Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049, Moneyball) as Antiope; this action, adventure fantasy was a major disappointment for me. How the script received approval is beyond me because there were so many poor choices made in its story line. In a superhero movie, the villain needs to be as dynamic and powerful as the superhero character; this was not the case in this picture. The villain was downright boring and uninteresting to me. And I have little patience for a script that tries to force feed a message to the viewer and this film nearly choked me on its syrupy monologue. The only highlight for me was the opening scene, Kristen Wiig with her character and the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. My experience with this movie was like one of the gifts I received on my video presents event; a fancy gift-wrapped box that had an ugly sweater in a wrong size.
2 1/4 stars
FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me. HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee. WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.
2 ½ stars
AFTER LISTENING TO THEM WHINE ABOUT how hard it is to be separated so long from their significant other, I had to remind them I had been in a long-distance relationship for a couple of years. They were complaining about the 6 months out of state assignment their partner was on for work. I wanted to be supportive, I truly did; but all I was hearing was a list of complaints about their needs not being met. It was only 6 months and I knew the high costs made it prohibitive to travel often; but they were in a committed relationship. Shouldn’t those in such a relationship be able to “weather the storm” of being apart I wondered? In my past relationship we were only able to be together once a month after they were promoted to a position at their corporate headquarters, that was out of state. They could not turn down the offer and I would not have wanted them to do it; we chose to be together while we were figuring out what made the most sense. My friend knew their partner traveled for work. Granted it usually involved being away 3 to 5 days at a time, nothing more until this current work detail. Tell me if I am wrong, but I had to wonder just how committed were they to their love relationship? COMMITMENT TAKES WORK AND IT TAKES strength; don’t kid yourself if you do not think so. I knew a married couple who spent more time apart than together because one of them took a teaching job in a foreign country. They realized for the short term it would be challenging, but they had a goal; with this job they would be able to retire years earlier than expected. The money from the teaching job would allow them to both retire young enough to enjoy sharing their lives together. I am not saying this would work for everyone; but I will say it shows a strong commitment to each other. This couple was able to see each other 3 times a year. Their children were grown and out of the house, which I assume made this arrangement easier for them. Within my circle of friends and acquaintances, I have seen individuals who cannot handle adversity in their relationships. If something tough happens they are too quick to end everything and move on. I try not to judge them; I understand everyone handles things differently. Now that I have watched this Oscar winner, I should just suggest they watch this movie to see how some people deal with commitment. HAVING RECENTLY MET, THERE WAS LITTLE time for Inman, played by Jude Law (The Nest, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Ada Monroe, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, Bombshell), to get to know each other because the country was falling into a civil war. With Renee Zellweger (Judy, My One and Only) as Ruby Thewes, Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, Gosford Park) as Maddy and Brendan Gleeson (The Guard, Calvary) as Stobrod Thewes; this film festival winning adventure drama was beautifully filmed and exquisitely acted. The outdoor scenes were wonderful to look at. Renee was amazing in her role and for me, she was the most believable. Much of the film consisted of a slower pace; sometimes more than I thought necessary. However, I did not lose interest as the script provided enough change in emotions to keep things moving. I can only assume the book must be powerful as this film had a variety of ways to look at the story. Also, I never gave enough thought to those left behind during wartime and I felt the writers did an especially good job in showing viewers the reality of the times. With a running time of 2 ½ hours, it does take one to commit to watching this film; but I feel it would be worth it.
3 ¼ stars
IT FELT GOOD TO BE NEEDED and I felt the same about them. We had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party; by the time I had to leave, we agreed to meet for dinner later in the week. Over that first meal we discovered things we had in common, including their best friend was married to a cousin of mine. It was things like this that sparked our attraction for each other. Now here is a little secret; the entire time we were together, I felt as if I was dating out of my league. In the very beginning of our relationship I would question, or 2ndguess myself because I could not believe how well things were going. Listening to them talk about their circle of friends/business contacts used to make me feel uncomfortable because they sounded so sophisticated or important. It eventually passed because we were settling into a comfortable, loving place. Though, I never pushed to be introduced to their friends; I thought in good time they would get comfortable to bring me around them. I never questioned it because I was taking a slow pace in introducing them to my friends and family. Looking back now, I should have questioned it. THERE WAS NO WARNING, NOT EVEN an indication, when they told me our relationship was no longer working for them. The only way I could describe how I was feeling was shellshocked. Seriously, I felt as if everything was going along wonderfully; we never even had a disagreement about anything. I tried to get more input about what was not working, but all I was getting was the same “not working” excuse. I must tell you breaking up is harder to deal with when you do not get an explanation or feedback you can process and possibly see things through the other person’s eyes. I mean, if there is something I did that caused this unfortunate turn of the relationship, I certainly would like to know about it; so, I could look and maybe grow from it. All I had to do it turned out was wait one week and I got my answer. The mutual friend we had called and told me that my ex was already dating someone else. Wow, that did not take long. I guess my feeling needed was correct; however, it was for the wrong reasons. They were using me until they found someone who better fit their needs and wants, I guess. I know some people who get into a relationship, know right from the start where they stand with the other person. I do not know if that would make me feel any better about the relationship; it seems like that could be the start of a love/hate relationship. In this musical drama, you can see what I am talking about. BOTH THE RECORD PRODUCER AND MANAGER knew what type of record they wanted to make. What they did not know was the singer had her own ideas. With Viola Davis (Fences, Widows) as Ma Rainey, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 21 Bridges) as Levee, Colman Domingo (Lincoln, Selma) as Cutler, Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara) as Toledo and Jeremy Shamos (The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight); this film festival winner hit the right chord with Viola and Chadwick playing off of each other. They both provided powerful performances that carried this story all the way to the end. I had a hard time, at first, getting into this story. There were some flat scenes that did nothing for me. I could see where they might have been more intense on the stage; however, they did not translate well to the big screen. On the other hand, there were some intense attention-grabbing scenes that made me want to watch more. I could see Chadwick and Viola getting nominations during this year’s awards season and if that was the reason the movie studio used them to make money off this film, I am sure the actors were quite aware of it.
EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME ME and a variety of family members would make our pilgrimage to the wealthy suburb where all the fancy holiday decorations lived. We were a caravan of cars that traveled close to each other as we made our way along the city streets, always staying in the right lane. Nothing I saw compared to the decorations that were on display in this neighborhood. There was one house we drove by, where we would roll down our windows, because they had a full mechanical chorus singing on the front lawn. The house next door had life sized wooden soldiers that reminded me of the Laurel and Hardy movie, “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” The soldiers were lined up all along the walkway leading up to the house’s double front doors, besides protecting the edges of the front lawn. One of my favorite houses had a group of elf puppets dancing and twirling across the front porch while a waving Santa and his reindeer were parked on top of the roof. As a little kid it seemed as if we were riding up and down the neighborhood’s streets for hours because of so many decorated houses. Some houses displayed the same decorations year after year; but others always had something new each holiday season. Though there were not many, I always felt bad for the houses that only had a couple of decorations or a single string of lights. AT SOME POINT AS I WAS getting older, I began to question the purpose for someone to have so many elaborate decorations; what did these items represent to the owners? Did having more decorations mean that one was more religious? I wondered if all the displays were due to that “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. For someone to celebrate the holiday, they had to have decorations? I took it a step further; how did it come to pass that putting up decorations was part of the holiday. And what about having a tree in the house; what was the reason for getting ornaments and hanging them on the tree? I started looking at everything and wanted to know where and how did all these customs come into being. Even Santa Claus, what took place centuries ago that people began to talk about a man with flying reindeer, who was able to leave a present in every single decorated house around the world? There are times when I hear someone talk about the amount of presents they have to buy and how much stress this places on them, where I wonder why do they have to buy so much stuff; what does all this stuff have to do with celebrating the holiday? Well, I finally can get some answers because of this Oscar nominated animated movie. SENT TO A REMOTE TOWN TO open a post office, the postmaster’s son Jesper, voiced by Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom, Listen Up Philip), finds a place where all the citizens are fighting each other. The last thing they want to do is mail a letter. If he wants to get back home, he will need to find a way to get people to use the mail. With J.K. Simmons (21 Bridges, Whiplash) voicing Klaus, Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Celeste & Jesse Forever) voicing Alva, Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Southland Tales) voicing Mr. Ellingboe and Joan Cusack (In & Out, Working Girl) voicing Mrs. Krum; this film festival winning adventure comedy was a pure treat to watch. The story was laid out beautifully, which goes the same for the old-fashioned animation. It may be possible that younger viewers may not get the wonderful message embedded into the script, but it would be okay because there were so many entertaining scenes throughout the picture. I could absolutely see this film becoming a holiday classic; it was so well done on every level.
3 ½ stars
AS I STOOD WAITING FOR THE elevator a woman walked into the apartment building lobby, took one look at me and said I looked creepy. I said, “Excuse me?” She said the mask I was wearing made me look creepy; she did not like it at all. Her response surprised me because throughout the day I was getting favorable comments on my mask. Even at the stores I had been in, there were several shoppers who stopped me to say they thought my face mask was hysterical. I agreed with them. The mask was new, and it had the lower half of a movie character’s face on it; so, when I was wearing it, it looked like it was a continuation of my face without the goatee. The mouth was open slightly to show a couple of crooked teeth. I didn’t think many people would recognize the actor’s face from the classic movie he starred in, but I did not care; I just wanted to have fun with the mask. I told the woman, who was not wearing a mask, I was surprised by her response because I had been getting compliments on the mask all day. She said she was a psychotherapist and that some of her patients looked just like my mask. I wondered what her patients would think of her description for them. WHEN THE ELEVATOR ARRIVED, I REFUSED to ride with her because she wasn’t wearing a mask. She told me it was not mandatory to wear a mask in the building. I told her I knew that but felt it was important to wear a mask to protect my health as well as any person around me. She wanted to start an argument I thought because she asked me to show her proof. I explained to her I was not a doctor or scientist; but if there was any way I could help to stop the spread of this virus that has killed so many people, I was willing to wear a mask to see if it indeed makes a difference. I couldn’t resist one last comment just before the elevator doors closed; I asked her what the other residents of the building thought of her resistance to wear a mask around them. With her gone, I started thinking about future generations and what they will say about the way we handled the pandemic. Also, what about the amount of people who have died; I wondered how their loss would alter the path to our future. Would future scientists try to do what those in this science fiction thriller tried to do? WITH THE HOPE OF BEING GRANTED parole Cole, played by Bruce Willis (Motherless Brooklyn, Die Hard franchise) agreed to be sent back in time, to find out how a man-made virus spread and wiped out most of Earth’s population. With Madeleine Stowe (The Last of the Mohicans, Short Cuts) as Kathryn Railly, Brad Pitt (The Big Short, Ad Astra) as Jeffrey Goines, Jon Seda (Bullet to the Head, Chicago P.D.-TV) as Jose and Joey Perillo (Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate) as Detective Franki; this film festival winner was a kaleidoscope of visual creativity. Almost every scene had something to attract the eye to while the actors cut through the story. There were times where I lost touch with the story and I believe it was because there were multiple story lines. I think the whole film was purposefully done in an over the top type of way; but if there had been a narrower focus on the main story, I feel this picture would have had more of a trippy intensity. Nonetheless, it was a wild ride of entertainment filled with mystery, thrills and drama; all from the safety of my living room.
NOT ONLY WAS IT INFORMATIVE, IT was also a fun lecture. I know, how many times do you get to have a good time while sitting through a lecture? In this case, it really was an enjoyable time; all because of the lecturer. I was attending a fitness convention and was lucky enough to get a space in the lecture before it became filled. The lecturer was well known in the industry and I had heard his lectures were in high demand. Anyone I spoke with who had attended one of his lectures, raved about him. Everything they said about him I found true while sitting through his lecture. He talked about addictive personalities and how to spot them in our classes. Despite the serious topic, he had a special way of injecting humor; and for lack of a better word, his lust for life, into his talking points. At times, he was giving out so much good information that I had a hard time keeping up with it in my notes. Included in the lecture was a workshop where he led us in some specific exercises related to the topic. I have to say he was a dynamic instructor who used an abundance of visual and audio cues in his instructions. And just like he injected his type of humor into his lecture, he doubled the amount in his workshop. By the time the session was over it was hard not to be a believer in his philosophy. THE FOLLOWING DAY I WAS SITTING in the hotel’s coffee shop when that same presenter walked in. As he came near me, I caught his eye and nodded my head. He nodded back and came over. I told him how much I enjoyed his lecture the day before and offered him a seat, if he cared to join me. Sitting down, we started talking about our experiences at the convention; I was curious to hear things from a presenter’s point of view. A waitress came over to see if he wanted to order something and without looking at the menu, he ordered a couple of desserts. To say I was surprised would have been an understatement. Here he had just been talking about addictive personalities yesterday and now he was having 2 desserts for lunch? A little warning flag popped up in my mind. We continued with our conversation, but I noticed he was talking at the same rapid-fire rate as he had done during his lecture. I assumed on a one to one basis he would have toned himself down. Something was starting to feel odd about him. When the waitress brought over his desserts, I knew something was not right because he tore thru the desserts like they were his first meal in a week. By the time he left, I was convinced he was either addicted to sugar or he was high on something; it made no sense based on everything he said during his lecture. Here people were flocking to his classes to receive his words of wisdom, yet not knowing trouble was bubbling up behind it. BY WRITING ONE SONG, AUSTRALIAN BORN Helen Reddy, played by Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Hotel Mumbai, One Eyed Girl), became the voice of a feminist movement. Little did anyone know what was happening behind that voice. With Evan Peters (X-Men franchise, American Horror Story-TV) as Jeff Wald, Chris Parnell (Anchorman franchise, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) as Artie Mogull, Danielle Macdonald (Bird Box, Dumplin’) as Lillian Roxon and Matty Cardarople (Jurassic World, Stranger Things-TV) as Roy Meyer; this film festival winner revealed a surprising side to the life of Helen Reddy, at least surprising to me. To present that side, I thought Tilda did an admirable job playing the iconic singer in this musical biography. With the amount of drama and turmoil around Helen’s life, the script needed to be a powerful statement. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There was enough drama to spring from and create some riveting scenes, but the writing fell flat. There was a level of predictability that I expected, but not the amount that was happening here. Gratefully, I was enjoying the musical performances enough to prevent me from becoming bored. If everything that was being shown in this film was true for Helen, then she was even stronger than any of us believed her to be.
2 ¾ stars
I WAS TIPPED OFF ABOUT THE animatronic bank teller; so, you can imagine how amused I was when I stepped out from the other tourists to ask the robot teller for a deposit slip. The robot turned its head towards me and asked what kind of deposit I wanted to make. The tourists around me, who had been watching and listening, burst into howls of laughter as they were totally taken by surprise. I replied to the bank teller, saying I wanted to make a deposit that would earn me interest. The robotic teller told me I would first have to earn his interest in me; the growing crowd around me hooted and hollered as they egged me on to continue talking to the animatronic teller. My exchanges with the teller became one of the highlights of my amusement park visit. I thought it was a brilliant idea to have an interactive mechanical puppet set up in a storefront imaginary bank that had a real ATM machine in it. Granted if I had not said anything, the tourists who were inside with me would not have experienced my exchange and simply walk through the faux lobby before exiting back onto the main thoroughfare of the park. From my day spent at the amusement park I saw how technology can enhance the experiences of the visiting tourists. WHEN TECHNOLOGY IS IN THE HANDS of those who seek to make life/living a better experience, it is a wonderful thing. However, I have learned there tends to always be a negative aspect attached to a positive. Just last week the news was reporting on those video doorbell systems. According to the newscast, it appears these devices can be easily hacked to let someone not only watch you while you are in your home but talk to you. That is beyond creepy! If you are not convinced that some technological advances can turn bad, just look at my movie review from a couple of days ago, where I talked about my identity being stolen. The idea that there could be a person out there who is trying to use my stolen social security number for illegal gains is horrifying to me. A couple of years ago I had an incident on one of my social media platforms, where it no longer recognized me as the authentic user of my account. It took weeks for me to prove to them that I was the person who set up the account. It is frightening to me that the more we make advances in technology, the more we find out there is a sinister side to them that is growing. All you need to do is watch this documentary to see what I am talking about. IT WAS A FUNCTION THAT WAS to remain a secret, but once it was discovered it would set off a race around the world to create a new form or warfare. Based on the book, this film was directed by John Maggio (Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis, The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee) starred Dmitri Alperovitch, a cybersecurity expert. As I watched this movie, a sense of dread and fear crawled up me. Listening to Dmitri and seeing how countries are using cyber conflict as a weapon was eye-opening. Add in the ability to use technology to plant the seeds of disinformation and I honestly do not know how one can protect themselves from such an onslaught. I thought the way the story was laid out in this documentary was perfectly done to show the growth of such activities. Not that I needed any further proof about the rise of cyber conflicts but sitting and watching this movie was certainly an astounding encounter.