Monthly Archives: August 2021
KNOW WHO YOU ARE VACATIONING WITH before you commit to it; that is my advice. I have gotten quite particular with who I want to be with on a trip. Some years ago, I took a trip with a friend that turned into a disaster. Because I am more of a visual person, I favor experiencing things that need little written explanation. I usually will research a place before I agree to visit it; so, most of my reading and learning is done before I get to my destination. In other words, I am a planner. He, it turned out, was exactly opposite. Where I would just stand and admire a structure or building, he wanted to know what type of materials were used and why the creator chose them. We did not make it to lunchtime before I had to tell him we would need to figure out the different sights we want to see and maybe go to some of them alone. Just to give you an example of what I experienced; we were marveling a recently completed building that had won several distinctions. I was standing there just taking in the look of the building when my friend peppered me with questions like, “Where do you suppose the brick came from?”, “Why did the artist choose that color?” and “How will they keep the glass clean?” Notice all the questions were asking about things I or any other tourist would not know. I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO JOIN a group for vacation and though I enjoy their company, I have had to decline because they are what I refer to as “beach people.” Traveling to a location just to spend much of the day relaxing at the beach would be torture for me. I am not the type to sit by a swimming pool or lay out at the beach to sun myself. My friends refer to me as a vampire because rarely have they seen me with a tan. When I take a trip, I feel like I am an explorer on a mission to discover new land. I never know if I will ever be able to see a new place more than once; so, I want to take in as much as possible each day I am there. It is not unusual for me to be out of the hotel by 9-10:00 am and not return to the hotel way past dinner time. This would be a successful vacation for me. I do not think I have to tell you that I would fail miserably if I were in the shoes of the couple in this adventure comedy, who encountered a partying couple who were already guests of their hotel. THE PURPOSE OF THEIR TRIP TO Mexico was for them to relax. That hope was quickly thrown out the window once Marcus and Emily, played by Lil Rel Howery (Bad Trip, Get Out) and Yvonne Orji (Night School, Insecure-TV), arrived at their hotel. With John Cena (The Suicide Squad, Playing with Fire) as Ron, Meredith Hagner (Palm Springs, Royal Pains-TV) as Kyla and Robert Wisdom (Beast of Burden, The Loft) as Harold; this movie had its moments. The cast was good, though I felt John and Lil Rel were repeating previous roles. The script started out fun but got repetitive after a while with the same type of scenarios taking place. There were a few times I chuckled because of the outrageousness of the scene and I especially enjoyed the way Meredith delivered her lines. Despite the negatives about the script, I did enjoy what I took as the underlying message the writers were trying to convey. There may not be much surprise found in this picture; but if you enjoy humor based on the differences between people, then you may be okay with watching this film.
2 ¼ stars
THE TRAUMATIC EVENT CHANGED THE COURSE of his life. Up until that point he bounced around from one job to another. The thing that focused him on his work was a broken heart. I knew the minute my friend fell in love and it occurred when he told me he had gone over to his “friend’s” house to transplant some bushes; he had not yet defined her to me as his girlfriend. As long as I knew him, he only worked on his yard and one of his ancient relatives. When he told me about moving her bushes, I did not let on that I knew she had to be special to him; I figured he would tell me when he was good and ready. A few months went by before he expressed to me his feelings about her. He said he felt comfortable with her. That was major for him to say, because in the past he always had something negative to say about the people he dated. It was not until a few months afterwards when he finally told me he loved her and could see himself living with her. I was happy for my friend because; I knew it had been such a long time since he was able to be comfortable around a love interest. I really thought he had finally found the right person. THEY BECAME AND REMAINED A COUPLE for 3 more years before the relationship disintegrated. I did not know all the details, but she was the one who had broken it off. As an outsider, it was tragic to see him in so much pain and sadness. He became super depressed and lethargic. When he skipped cutting his lawn for the first time, I knew things were awful for him. He was not motivated, did not leave the house for long periods of time. I tried my best to help him through this period of loss and grief; I was quite familiar with it myself, so I had an idea how much pain he was in. Weeks went by before he agreed to just meet me at a restaurant for lunch. When we did, I heard for the first time about his job. This was something new because he rarely was interested in talking about his work. As he worked through his sadness, I got to hear more about what he was doing at his job and how his superiors were appreciative of the time he was putting into his work. From his sadness, essentially, he was becoming the hardest worker at the company. It was as if he took all that pain and drove it into his performance at work. I thought the same thing was taking place for the main character in this action, adventure thriller. KNOWN FOR HANDLING THE TOUGHEST ASSIGNMENTS, an assassin makes a quick decision that changes the course of her life. With Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Not Another Happy Ending) as Sam, Lena Headey (The Flood, Game of Thrones-TV) as Scarlet, Carla Gugino (San Andreas, American Gangster) as Madeleine, Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas) as Florence and Joanna Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bridgerton-TV) as Rose; the story to this film seemed like a cross between the John Wick films and Hotel Artemis. I enjoyed the female focused story and loved the cast. For the most part this picture is adrenalin driven; there is no depth or character development. It simply is a “shoot ‘em up” and beat them up thrill ride. There does not need to put much thought into the plot and story, just sit back for the outrageous and crazy fight scenes. My suggestion is not to go out of your way to see this movie; but if you have a couple of hours to kill and do not mind blood and violence, then you might experience some entertaining moments.
2 ¼ stars
AFTER THE MEAL WAS DONE AND the dishes were washed, the lights would be turned down and the show would begin. Except for dessert, this was my favorite part of family get togethers. The first movie projector I ever saw was at a relative’s house. I cannot remember how young I was when I saw my first home movies, but I know it was before I was in kindergarten. The movie projector would get set up in the living room; opposite of it, my relative would unroll a movie screen that was perched on top of a tripod. All the kids would be sitting on the floor while some of the older relatives squeezed together on the sofa. The other family members would either sit on one of the various chairs that were set up around the room or simply lean up against a solid surface. Every time the movie projector was turned on, I enjoyed hearing the film reel being spooled through the projector because it sounded like the sound I would get when I clipped a playing card to the spokes of my bicycle wheel. With the tick, tick, tick sound steady in the background the first few frames of each movie reel always had what I took to be static; random scratches and lines briefly appearing on the screen before family members would materialize. MY COUSINS AND I WOULD GIGGLE whenever we saw a much younger version of one of our relatives. No matter where or what was being filmed, every reel always had scenes of family members waving at the camera. I discovered that waving usually meant they did not want to be filmed, especially anything that required any physical exertion beyond waving. Then there were some relatives who loved to perform in front of the camera by either singing, dancing, demonstrating a tool, cooking or some other type of activity. To me, I did not care what they did because I was just excited to see a piece of family history. I had this fascination with studying the relatives who had died before I was born. It was one of my ways to find a connection to the past. Not that I wanted to live in the past, I just wanted to see the same things my older relatives had seen. Being able to see a past relative in one of these movies brought life to the photos that we had in our old family photo albums. I can not only appreciate what the subject in this documentary has done throughout his life, I can also relate to it. THROUGHOUT HIS ENTIRE LIFE VAL KILMER (The Doors, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) filmed everything he was doing, even when he was the one being filmed. Directed by first time directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott, this biography was a fascinating study of an actor’s life. Spanning approximately 40 years, I enjoyed the cameos from movie actors such as Kevin Bacon and Marlon Brando. The idea of Val having not only filmed so much of his life, but to have saved all of it was remarkable; but seeing it in contrast to his life now was especially emotional. I felt I was getting a history lesson in multiple subjects and I mean that in a positive way. Seeing a brash young actor at one moment, then realizing the scope of his acting journey as it unfolded in this movie provided a solid base for Val to touch on many subjects which I appreciated. Hearing what he wanted to make a particular scene more authentic gave me new insight into his capabilities and insights. Even if one is not a movie fan, this film provides enough entertainment along with poignant moments for any type of viewer.
3 ½ stars
I MISS DIALING A PHONE NUMBER and speaking to an actual person. The amount of time it takes these days to get a hold of someone seems as if it is getting longer and longer. Going through the different prompts feels like I am being tested to see how long it will take before my patience wears out. Not that I am totally old-fashioned; but I get frustrated when I must contact companies and offices for something, I think will have an easy answer then jump through automated verbal hoops. On the other hand, it is a breeze to check on my bank balance with the bank’s automated system without having to speak to a bank employee. I have similar feelings about the self-service checkout lanes at the grocery store. If I do not have coupons, I will use the self-service lanes. However, if I am using a coupon then I use the regular checkout lanes. The reason being at the self-service I have to wait for an employee to come over and approve my coupons then override the computer screen to allow me to scan the coupons. By the time I get through this process my ice cream usually has softened. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW who are emotionally locked to their past, when it comes to their love relationships. I had a friend who was living with the love of their life for several years, before their love took ill and died. My friend never got over it, mourning them for years. After what seemed a long, long time they agreed to go on a blind date; however, it went no further after the initial meeting. There were several dates to follow with various suitable individuals; but like that first blind date, all of them went no further than the one and only date. My friend kept saying none of the people they were meeting could compare to their deceased partner. I tried offering that it probably was difficult to make a comparison from only having one date. My musings fell on deaf ears. They preferred to live in the past and I say that because after a time I would have thought my friend would have started to dispose of their love’s clothes and personal items. They did no such thing; instead, they left everything the way it was when they were alive. A hairbrush remained in the medicine cabinet; their toothbrush stayed in the toothbrush holder. I felt sad for them, similar to how I felt initially about the private investigator in this romantic mystery. WHEN HE FIRST MET HER WHEN she walked into his place, private investigator Nick Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman (Bad Education, The Front Runner), had no idea that finding her lost keys would lead him to a crime. With Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep, The Kid Who Would Be King) as Mae, Thandiwe Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, Vanishing on 7thStreet) as Emily “Watts” Sanders, Cliff Curtis (Risen, The Dark Horse) as Cyrus Boothe and Marina de Tavira (Roma, Secondary Effects) as Tamara Sylvan; this futuristic film noir production was enticing to watch. I thought the sets stood out as well as the outside Miami area. The first half of the story drew me in as the mystery was building. The pacing fit the story as the actors, who were stiff with their acting, tried to bring their characters to life. Sadly, the script did not help them. Unfortunately, the last half of the story got bogged down with twists and turns, past and present; to the point I lost interest. It bothered me because I enjoyed the visuals and the mystery portion of this picture. The other thing that absolutely annoyed me had to do with seeing a person’s memories that were being shown from an outside perspective. I can look back at a memory but if it is being pulled from my mind to relive, how could there be a different perspective that I did not see back then? This was not the way I remembered the past.
1 3/4 stars
AFTER MUCH SEARCHING I FINALLY FOUND what I was looking for at an incredible deal. I had been checking different web sites for these “high-tech” socks I was told would help with my physical activities. After some time, I was thrilled not only to find them and like the color choices, but they were priced way below any other sites that offered versions of these types of socks. I could not believe how lucky I was to get them for such a cheap price. Because I was so stoked by my good fortune, I purchased multiple items so I could get an extra discount that was being offered. The package arrived and I was thrilled on how they looked with their bold colors. After taking them out of their packaging, I tried a pair on. It was a challenge getting them on my feet which I thought was weird but attributed it to their high-tech qualities. The socks were snug on my legs which I just took for granted. My legs felt okay after working out with them; the first week I tried 3 different pairs. After their first time in the wash, I noticed one pair had a snagged thread as if it got caught on something. I did not pay it too much mind; however, after a couple more times in the washing machine the loose thread unraveled into a hole—that matched a hole that had formed in another pair of socks. My deal it turned out was too good to be true. I SHOULD HAVE GONE WITH MY first reaction when I saw the price of the socks; but the idea of getting something for less money overrode my senses. How many times have we heard “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not?” And just recently, I said that to a friend who was sending $300.00 to someone he met online. I know what you are thinking and yep, you are correct; how could he send money to someone he just met online, who lives in a different country. I could not believe my ears when I heard what he did; I had considered him an intelligent human being, but this was not proof of it. Now get this, he tells me that he is considering buying an airline ticket for them to come visit him here in the states. I was dumbfounded as my mouth went before my filter kicked in and I told him he was an idiot, followed with the saying about “If it sounds too good…” The main character in this romantic comedy had more sense than this friend. YEARS OF PUTTING HER CAREER FIRST, a chance meeting makes a stand-up comedienne wonder if the man she met was too good to be true. With Iliza Shlesinger (Pieces of a Woman, Instant Family) as Andrea, Margaret Cho (Friendsgiving, Drop Dead Diva-TV) as Margot, Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as Dennis, Rebecca Rittenhouse (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Red Band Society-TV) as Serrena and Mav Viola (normal, Beautiful Mess-TV) as Grace; this film worked to a degree due to Iliza’s performance. I found her to be a natural in the role and enjoyed the segments where she was doing her stand-up. Despite the vein of craziness that turned into an unrealistic scenario, this movie was an easy viewing experience. I liked the idea for the story; however, I do not think it did much with the script that was written for it. It needed more depth infused into the characters. Also, the last portion of the movie took a downward spiral that I felt was an easy out and written to get some cheap laughs. Though there was nothing horrible about this picture; I feel the trailer for it may fall into the category of too good to be true.
SOME PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR soft drinks. I know several individuals who will not order a soft drink with their meal if the restaurant does not carry “their brand.” That seems a bit intense for me; I am not as picky. Regarding the top two cola brands, I prefer one over the other; however, if a food establishment does not carry the one I like, I will order the other one. Though they have a similar taste, the one I prefer is sweeter tasting and not as strong in my opinion. I feel the same way about fast food restaurants. Not that I eat at them often, but when I do, I usually seek out one in particular for their French fries. However, if they are not conveniently located to where I am traveling, I am fine going to a different fast-food chain. There are some folks who would not be as flexible going to a different place to eat from the one they like the most. To me, it is just food; I can always find something to eat, not that it will always be a healthy choice. I will say though, there are some companies I will not support due to their actions that have an effect on certain groups of people. Those types of businesses do not get any of my money. DESPITE THERE BEING A COUPLE OF film studios that specialize in superhero movies, I have found myself to be somewhat biased when it comes to the films, they each produce. After having seen several of each studio’s films, I find myself looking forward more to one studio over another. Now, I still act the same towards both; I do not read any reviews or comments until after I have seen the movie for myself. However, the past several films from one studio have not been as captivating as the other studio’s movies. The studio I find myself being more excited about has entertained me consistently with their pictures. There is something about their scripts that feel more well rounded to me, with action, drama, humor and wittiness among other emotions. The other studio just never seems to reach such a high benchmark when compared to this studio. It is like that famous chocolate cookie with the creamy filling, where some people twist the cookie parts to eat the filling first. There is another food company that makes the same type of cookie, but I know no one who has ever bought them. Despite everything I have just said; I was pleasantly surprised by this action, adventure comedy that came from the film studio I tend to have lower expectations for their superhero movies. AFTER A SUPER SECRET AGENCY’S MISSION fails, a group of extremely dangerous, imprisoned villains were picked for their particular skill sets, with the hope they might be able to complete the original mission. First, they would have to get along with each other. With Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots, The Legend of Tarzan) as Harley Quinn, Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Dark Tower) aa Bloodsport, John Cena (Playing with Fire, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman (The Informer, Run All Night) as colonel Rick Flag and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences) as Amanda Waller; this movie was nothing what I expected for the most part. I did expect Margot to be good and she was beyond good. The other acting surprise was John Cena; I thought he stood out as well. This is not a picture for young viewers; there was extreme violence and strong language. It was a shock to me; a superhero film that was gory and intense, despite being colorful, fun and a parody at times. I did not care much for the shifting between short time frames because it diminished the excitement factor for me. DC Comics took a drastic turn with this picture by creating a darker and crazier version of its usual movies. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO GREW up without an intelligent personal assistant/navigator like SIRI, the first time you saw it in action had to be amazing. I remember the first time I tried it and how excited I was when SIRI created a reminder for me. To me, SIRI and the others of her kind are simply the great grandchildren of HAL 9000. I do not consider myself “worldly;” however, I enjoy trying to stay current. That does not mean I am jaded to experiencing new things either as a participant or observer. I will say though it takes a little something more these days to impress or amaze me. And the reason I say this, is because there is so much more information out there at our disposal. I remember the first time I saw this world-famous traveling, animal free, circus’ performance acts. The things these performers did surprised me to no end. After seeing them for several years, it is harder for me to experience the same level of wonder and amazement when I go to see them now. Yet, I still get a thrill watching the variety of acts. If someone were to ask me if I ever wanted to get to the point where nothing surprises me, I would have to say no; I always want to be able to experience the sensations of being surprised. BESIDES THE ENJOYMENT, WONDER AND THRILLS I experience in life; I get just as much enjoyment in seeing other people experience these feelings. I remember one vacation I was taking, where I was able to ride the city’s new people mover that opened the week I arrived. Sitting in my seat and watching several riders being surprised and amazed with the automatic sliding doors and lowering steps brought me such pleasure. It was like seeing a little baby’s expression of laughter when playing peek-a-boo with them. The individuals could not stop giggling and whispering to each other when the steps lowered and raised at various stops. They reminded me of some of the contestants I have seen on those reality shows that left their small town for the first time, on their very first plane ride, to come perform on the show. I cannot imagine someone never leaving their surroundings to explore what is out in the world. One of my lab partners in college had never been outside of his state until he came to school. There were so many things I took for granted that just stunned him. Since I enjoy watching people’s reactions to experiencing new things, I had a good time watching this silly comedy. AFTER 2 BEST FRIENDS WERE LAID off from their job, they decided to take their very first trip out of state. What were the chances they would chose a place that was about to experience a disaster? With Kristen Wiig (Wonder Woman 1984, The Skeleton Twins) as Sharon Gordon Fisherman, Annie Mumolo (This is 40, Bad Moms) as Barb, Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Private War) as Edgar Paget, Damon Wayans Jr (Let’s Be Cops, The Other Guys) as Darlie Bunkle and Ryn Dol (Kidding-TV, Drama Club-TV) as Yoyo; this movie was a fun experience. It felt like Kristen took a character she would have done on Saturday Night Live and placed her in a longer comedy sketch. Sure, there were preposterous scenarios and goofy antics; but I did not care. I appreciated the “small town” friends going out of their comfort zone into a new experience. It was just easy to sit back and not have to get confused trying to figure out what was going on in the story. There was nothing fancy or sophisticated here; one needs only to let go and let the cast surprise you. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 ½ stars
I TRIED MY HARDEST, BUT I could not figure out what the couple next to me was seeing. The man was telling the woman to look at the paint strokes in the painting and notice how they are pointing up to the god figure. I did not want them to know I was listening in to their conversation; but I honestly was trying to figure out what the guy was seeing because I could not find any type of god figure in the artwork. I had to wonder if the woman was able to make out what the man was talking about because most of the time, she simply nodded her head and said, “uh-huh” or “ah.” The painting was an abstract with bold sweeps of color all over the canvas. The man continued with his explanation of the painting, saying the artist was making some type of statement against the elitists. I had no idea what he was talking about and got bored with listening to him carry on about the art. I happened to be roaming through the art museum after seeing their new exhibit and stopped at this painting because I liked the way the colors blended into each other. WHEN I AM LOOKING AT AN art piece, I am not trying to figure out what the artist was trying to do or say with it. I am simply enjoying the feelings that the piece evokes in me. It may be the landscape in a painting or a chiseled arm in a sculpture or the subject’s face in a photograph; I stop to look at the art piece that moves me in some way. Maybe it is due to my brain’s wiring, but I have never been one to try and figure out creative things. Mechanical things are a different story; I like to know how a device or machine works. But books and art are a whole different thing for me. They are more personal. I feel everyone can have a different reaction to a piece of art or a book. It goes along with what I have always said; no one has the right to tell another person how to feel. I may be fond of a particular symphony, but my friend may hate it and that is perfectly fine. The reason I like science fiction films is because they are pure escapism for me; yet, I have a friend who asks me (in his words) why I watch that crap. He doesn’t like it, I am okay with it; but, when I try to tell him why I like them, he cannot understand it. I felt like him after I watched this well received motion picture. WHEN AN EASY JOB GOES WRONG, a group of criminals must figure out what happened and who caused the situation they were in. With Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead, Hotel Rwanda) as Curt Goynes, Benicio Del Toro (A Perfect Day, The Usual Suspects) as Ronald Russo, David Harbour (Black Widow, Hellboy) as Matt Wertz, Jon Hamm (Richard Jewel, Lucy in the Sky) as Joe Finney and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Gimme Shelter) as Doug Jones; this dramatic crime mystery was great to look at. The sets and costumes were spot on while the cast did an amazing job with their roles. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), the story was interesting, but I thought the script was poorly written. I became confused several times and by the last part of the movie, I felt like I was missing, or something was missing in the movie for me. An uneven feeling was what remained for me after watching this picture. There were times I enjoyed watching it, but other times I was sort of blah about it. I am just telling you how I felt about it; maybe there is something more in it for you.
2 ½ stars
THE PUSTULES ON HIS FACE WERE fiery red which I took to mean it was going to be a bad day. The days they were deeper in color were the days he usually went on a rampage. It was hard to look at him which truthfully was not a problem for me. You never wanted to make eye contact with him, trust me. I was lucky because I was never a direct target of his; I usually was on the peripheral edges of his outbursts. In other words, I was near the student he was attacking at the time. There were times when I could not get away fast enough and wound up getting knocked down to the floor from the victim being pushed into the scattering students. I never understood why the school did not kick him out at some point because through my years at the school, he was always trouble. One of my biggest fears was having my seat assigned next to him. I do not know if it was because he had flunked a grade or not; but no one ever tried to fight back against him. He was a bully, though I felt he was a maniacal, insane, crazy person. Putting aside his horrible complexion, I never understood why he was so angry all the time. You would have thought at some point he would have used up all his energy for staying angry; but I could not remember a time when he was calm, or at least less angry. DURING MY TIME IN SCHOOL WITH him, it never occurred to me that his actions could be fueled by hatred. Hate was a feeling to me, not a cause for action. I hated cooked spinach and football, but I would never throw my dinner plate with spinach against the wall. But something happened that caused hate and anger to blend inside of me. That bully’s friends (I know, it is hard to believe he had friends) became emboldened and they started looking for their own victims. One of them started to focus on me. We had a gym class in common which was the worst place to become a victim. Through half of the semester, I dreaded walking into the locker room because I knew it would be difficult to stay hidden from him. It always stunned me; no matter where in the school I would get ambushed, there always were students who joined in on the abuse. This is where my hatred and anger fused together to the point, I was plotting diabolical revenge against all of them. Of course, it was only in my mind, but my anger was at such a high level, I could have used the device the main character had in this action thriller. AFTER LIVING YEARS IN LONELINESS, A woman with anger issues finds comfort from a first-time date. Unfortunately, it was short lived when he was found murdered soon after. With Kate Beckinsale (Underworld franchise, Love & Friendship) as Lindy, Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard) as Justin, Stanley Tucci (Supernova, Night Hunter) as Dr. Munchin, Bobby Cannavale (Thunder Force, The Irishman) as Detective Vicars and Laverne Cox (Promising Young Woman, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Detective Nevin; this picture had a comedic element through the story. Kate was fun in the role, being able to balance the tougher aspects of herself with the softer things the character was aspiring to become. The script, though it was mostly a basic story we have all seen before, had some leeway to let the actors try to elevate the story. I found this film to be a light, female centric version of the John Wick movies; there was more action than story. And I was okay with it; I was not angry in the least. In fact, there were times I chuckled while cringing. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.