Monthly Archives: July 2022
I WAS DEFINITELY IN THE MINORITY at the concert. Gratefully the venue had stadium seating; otherwise, I would have been ticked off with all the phone screens blocking my view. The place was packed with fans, and I was there with a couple of friends. As the band was performing, it seemed as if every person around me was watching the group through the screen of their phone as they were snapping photos and videos. Everywhere I looked there were people with their arms up, pointing their phone cameras to the stage. I sat there and wondered how many photos did a person need of their favorite band? It was crazy; instead of sitting there and enjoying the music, everyone was focused on capturing the musicians with their phones. It could not have been comfortable to hold one’s arms up for such a long time. I found it distracting because I did not pay good money to have these phones waving in the air. If I had been sitting on the main floor, I would have had a fight with the people in front of me if they had been using their phones. Why couldn’t people just allow themselves to enjoy the show and let it settle into their minds, to become a fond memory? CAPTURING AN EVENT ON “FILM” IS not exclusive to concerts; everywhere I look, there is someone snapping a photo. Restaurants are a popular location for people to snap pix of their food; I am not sure why they do it. Sure, some dishes look great; but unless one is going to try and reproduce it, I am not clear why one would want to have a photo of it. I know I am more old school, but I do not see the fascination of posting things about myself on social media sites. I am astounded with the amount of people’s video clips that show up on my sites’ feeds. People dancing, pranking, posing, dressing up and so on; it is like a different world for me. There are many individuals who, I believe, see this as a way to earn income and fame. The more outrageous antics are done, I think, with the hope of acquiring a bigger following. And once there is a bigger following then the next step is to find a way to monetize one’s site. I know someone who has been focusing on making a living by getting corporate sponsors or products to promote while flying to various circuit events. So far it looks like they are succeeding. I am not sure I can say the same thing for the family in this dramatic, science fiction mystery. A BROTHER AND SISTER ARE TRYING to keep the family horse business going despite unusual things taking place around their ranch. With Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah, Black Panther) as OJ Haywood, Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Alice) as Emerald Haywood, Brandon Perea (The OA-TV, Insurrection) as Angel Torres, Michael Wincott (Talk Radio, What Just Happened) as Antlers Holst and Steven Yeun (Minari, I Origins) as Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park; there were parts of this film that were bold and spectacular in a Hollywood way. I thought Daniel and Keke were outstanding, especially Keke; this was such a different role for her, and I was totally impressed. There was a lot going on in the story and to tell you the truth, if there was a lot of symbolism or meaning, it was lost on me. The first part of the movie dragged for me, taking some time before I felt I was engaging with the story. I still am not sure about the chimpanzee scenes and that is all I will say about that. Having some quality moments in this picture, I wished it connected more with me. Or maybe that is the point.
2 ¾ stars
WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I THOUGHT FIFTY was an old age. Now, I think fifty is the new forty. I do not know if it is because the way we live is evolving or something in our genes has changed; but when I look at old photos of family members and realize I am the same age as the relative in the photo, I do not understand why they look so much older than me. Did they think they were old; I have wondered? Age, to me, is a state of mind. As long as I can remember, I have heard people say, “Act your age.” I have always wondered what that has exactly meant. Is there a set of rules handed out at each birthday to tell us how we need to be acting at the new age? Sure, an adult making silly noises during a business meeting would be suspect; but would an elderly person flying a kite or playing with a squirt gun be considered childish? I used to work with a woman who always talked in a baby’s voice. Since she was from a different department, I never said anything to her because I did not know if it was a medical condition. I did find it odd, but figured it was providing her some type of satisfaction. Besides, who was I to judge her? ONCE I FINISHED MY SCHOOLING AND had settled into the business world, I soon picked up this habit of wishing the time away. I am sure I am not alone in this. During work, I was constantly wishing the day would go by faster. If I were saving money to make a large purchase, I would constantly focus on the future, me with a new car or TV, imagining me using and enjoying the item. Even if it was going to take me over a year or two to save up funds, my attention was devoted to the future. I am not sure when I came to the realization that I was no longer living in the moment, but it took me a long time to figure it out. Even today, my tendencies are to dwell on the future while not paying attention to the things currently happening around me. Maybe because as I am aging, I feel time is moving faster. In my mind, I see the younger version of me still doing these strenuous activities that will tax my body; but in reality, I do not have the same level of strength as I did back then. I find it weird how my perceptions can be so different to my reality. However, it is not as odd as what the main characters were experiencing in this dramatic, horror mystery. A FAMILY ON VACATION FIND THEMSELVES on a deserted beach that was beautiful and peaceful. What they could not understand was the fact they were getting older. With Gael Garcia Bernal (Wasp Network, The Kindergarten Teacher) as Guy, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, The Survivor) as Prisca, Rufus Sewell (Judy, The Father) as Charles, Alex Wolff (Pig, Human Capital) as 15-year-old Trent and Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit) as 16 year old Maddox; this film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Glass, The Last Airbender), had an intriguing premise. I was curious about the story, but I thought the delivery of it was uneven. The movie dragged at first before I started to become fully engaged. Except for the gorgeous landscapes, there was nothing that went beyond being average. I thought Gael and Vicky had the most potential out of the cast; however, the script did not give them the opportunity to really explore their characters. This annoyed me because of the way the film ended; I did not care for it much. Now, I do not want to say I wasted my time by watching this picture, but there were times I had wished the film would have ended.
I SAW HER STANDING ON THE stage above an auditorium of people. The music was loud, but not heart thumping loud and everyone was following her moves. Looking at the audience, I noticed there were people of all sizes and shapes. What impressed me the most was the fact that everyone had a smile on their face, despite sweating and moving continuously to the music. This was a foreign concept to me based on my experiences with exercise. A friend had asked me to come with her to this aerobics class and though I was hesitant, I decided to join her only if we could stay in the back of the room. The classes I had attended in school were less about exercise and more about domination and testosterone, which was the reason for me not being too thrilled to go back into a similar scenario. We walked over to the registration desk where a woman was standing in platform shoes. She was barely over five feet in height, but she had an abundance of personality. I felt welcomed and safe. After paying for the class, we found two open spaces close to the back of the auditorium. From this spot, I figured it would be easy to pickup the exercise routines; I would just need to watch the people in front of me. The music the instructor used was current and fun; it was easy to figure out the steps. I soon found myself having a fun time exercising; it was a feat! AT THE END OF THE CLASS, I was hooked. The two of us decided to sign up for the monthly pass. The instructor was amazing to me. She had this infectious personality that radiated throughout the room as she coaxed and encouraged us to keep moving. Her exercise moves were easy to follow for the most part. If there was something she thought might be a challenge for the class, she would demonstrate it first before asking us to try it. Up until this time, I had never given thought to becoming a fitness instructor; but, watching how she conducted her class did something to me. Seeing all these women and men, both skinny and large to old and young, enjoying themselves while exercising gave me the idea that I would like to teach. For months, I never missed a class, noticing a loss in my weight that I had not seen for some time. I idolized the instructor because I attributed this achievement to her skills and devotion to all of us succeeding. It was because of her that I moved forward and became a certified instructor. I realize my story is not unusual as you can see by happens to the young man in this animated, adventure comedy. BEING SUCH A HUGE FAN OF a super villainous group, a twelve-year-old decides to apply for a position when there is an opening. He would need to come with some pretty cool, evil weapons. With Steve Carell (Beautiful Day, Welcome to Marwen) voicing Gru, Alan Arkin (Love the Coopers, Grudge Match) voicing Wild Knuckles, writer and director Pierre Coffin voicing the Minions, Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, The Best of Enemies) voicing Belle Bottom and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once, Last Christmas) voicing Master Chow; this latest installment in the franchise followed its consistent formula for the most part. I will say this was a tight production, everything worked in synch to create an easy level of enjoyment. The cast did a wonderful job with their characters as they went through a steady stream of humorous and fun scenes. When one chooses to see a Minions movie, they already know what to expect so there were no surprises. However, with the excellent animation, cast and script; this was a light, entertaining viewing experience. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
IT IS OKAY TO ACT SILLY sometimes, but there is a time and place for it. I remember the silly stuff I used to do with my friends when we were kids, like making funny noises in inappropriate surroundings. Just recently a friend and I were walking down the sidewalk in a vacation spot. A family of four was sitting on a bench ahead of us. As we neared, their 8–10-year-old girl ran up to my friend, pointed to the ground and said, “Sir, you dropped your pocket.” I immediately caught on that it was a joke, but my friend did not and asked her what dropped as he looked to the ground. Her family sat there and laughed as I told my friend to keep walking, it was a joke. Now if it had just been this girl and her friends, I could understand the appeal of playing a joke on a stranger; however, with her parents sitting there I had to wonder what they were thinking? Did they think it was a good thing to teach their kid to go up to strangers, to play a joke on them? In this day and age? If I had tried that at her age with my family around me, it would have been the last time I ever did it. WHERE ONE MAY EXPECT KIDS TO be silly, when an adult does it, it can be a surprise—hopefully in a fun way, but not always. I had a couple of older relatives who were always doing silly things to amuse the nieces and nephews. There was a family friend who was a doctor who tried to be funny in the same way; however, their version of humor did not match up as well. Though, they never stopped trying. When someone would ask them for medical advice, they would always make light of the situation. For example, if someone asked them about one of their limbs, they would examine the leg or arm carefully then tell them it would have to be amputated. Or they might be flippant with their advice to the point of disregarding the person’s concerns. Their silliness was always at the forefront to the point of frustration for those around them. I could understand their frustration since I had a friend who would never give a straight answer to any question posed to them. It would get to the point where I stopped caring what they had to say, which I know sounds bad; however, a constant barrage of silly jokes gets old quickly. Sadly, I was feeling the same way about this action, adventure comedy. WHEN AN EVIL PRESCENCE BEGINS TO seek out and kill every god, it would force Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Men in Black: International), to team up with someone from his past. With Natalie Portman (Lucy in the Sky, Jane Got a Gun) as Jane Foster, Christian Bale (The Big Short, Ford v Ferrari) as Gorr, Tessa Thompson (Passing, Creed franchise) as King Valkyrie and Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys, Winter’s Tale) as Zeus; this latest installment of the film franchise was the weakest. The humor in most Marvel films has a certain layer of sophistication that is fun for all age levels. There also is room for emotional growth in between the humor. With this film, there was too much silliness that chipped away at the heroics. It was not until close to the end where things started to gel for me. The acting would have been better if they had a better script; example being Russell Crowe’s character. I thought his scenes were ridiculous. And where I think Christian is an excellent actor, in this picture I thought he was a poor version of Lord Voldemort. I prefer not sitting and watching a movie while each joke feels as if it is being beaten into my head. At least the special effects and soundtrack were good. There were two extra scenes during the middle and end of the credits.
MANY YEARS AGO, I LEARNED THERE is one thing a person can do that will speak volumes about their character; it is the giving of their word. Something so simple yet says so much about them. I had a friend who would agree to get together; but when the time came, they would cancel on me. Once or twice would not have bothered me; however, they would do it quite often. Their excuses would run the gamut from a family crisis to double booking themselves. I found it irritating and disrespectful. It did not take me long to realize that their promising to do something meant nothing; I could not trust them when they would give me their word they would be there. I knew I would never want to put someone in that type of predicament; so, I made it a point to keep my commitments as if they were written in stone. Granted, I lost some of my ability to be spontaneous because before I would agree to do something, I needed to process all the factors of that decision before committing. Having experienced at an early age a person who does not keep their word, prepared me when I was old enough to immerse into the dating world. I went into every date and relationship with a cheerful outlook; but at the first sign of the person not committing to what they said they agreed to, I would prepare myself to change course and move on. AS I HAVE GROWN OLDER, I realized not everyone thinks alike. Where my word is ironclad, others are not of the same mind with their word. I have a relative who will tell me they will have me over to their place, but they never follow through with it. With my way of thinking, then why even say something to me if you are not fully committed to the idea. It is my biggest pet peeve outside of grabbing food from my plate; telling me something that never happens. Why even mention it, just do not say anything? It is not like I was fishing for an invite; they were the one to bring it up. Now do not get me wrong; they are a good person, so I adjust my behavior. When I get these pseudo invites, all I say is to let me know what dates they were thinking of getting together. If they respond fine; if not, then it is okay as well. I do not judge; I do not expect someone to act like me. But I MUST tell you, I did admire the conviction of the main character in this fantasy adventure drama. THE NEPHEW OF A MIGHTY KING wants to prove his worth to the family by giving his word. He did not realize all that it would involve when he made the agreement. With Dev Patel (Lion, The Wedding Guest) as Gawain, Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Tomb Raider) as Essel, Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased, It Comes at Night) as The Lord, Sarita Choudhury (Lady in the Water, A Hologram for the King) as Mother and relative newcomer Anais Rizzo; this was a beautiful film to watch. There were several scenes that looked as if they were book illustrations; they were perfectly blocked. I thought Dev did an outstanding job, where he had such a presence that conveyed his inner strength. My issue with the film was the uneven directing, more so for the first half of the movie. There were times where the story dragged for me. I wondered if this occurred because I was not familiar with this aspect of the famous King Arthur legends I have read and heard. Regardless, as a stand alone picture it was entertaining for part of the time; plus, I was fond of the message, and I give you my word on it.
2 ¼ stars
MOST PEOPLE THINK I WATCH AWARD shows to see the stars; and though that is part of the reason, I also enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes award winners. The main reason is because these individuals tend to talk more about reaching their dreams. When a movie/television star or musical artist walks up to accept their award on those telecasts, they more so now talk about a cause or belief of theirs during their acceptance speech. I am not saying these are not valid causes; however, I must wonder what the motivation is behind them sharing these views at that moment. Is it because it would be good PR for the celebrity? It is one thing to stand up there and talk about a cause; it is another thing to do something for the cause, either monetarily or physically. In other words, “put your money where your mouth is” is my feeling about the situation. So, that is why I prefer listening to the writers, directors, costume designers and others. Chances are their speeches will include their childhood dream that led them to their current position. A writer may talk about their childhood, where they drafted stories or comics to share with their classmates and friends. Or the costume designer might share their childhood dream of dressing up as a high fashion designer, creating outfits that would be seen one day on the runway. I love hearing about people’s dreams. DREAMS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF our life, I believe. They provide us an avenue of growth; we simply need to pay attention to them. Despite having flunked physical education class twice and being told I was not athletic, I continued to believe I could teach fitness. During those first initial classes I taught, I was so nervous that I thought for sure members would yell me out of the fitness studio. I was listening to those past negative voices in my head who said I could never do it; instead of believing in my training and abilities. It was my dream to create an inviting and accepting environment for anyone who walked in to take my class and I did it. It was the type of class I wished I had available to me when I was younger. It was my dream that pushed me to what I believed was a healthier lifestyle. I honestly could not imagine a life without having a desire, a dream for something more. Dreams are great motivators; it is what makes the main character in this comedic sports drama to keep pushing on. NEEDING A BREAK TO REACH HIS dream, a basketball scout thinks he might have found it with a street player in Spain. The problem would be convincing his bosses. With Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems, That’s My Boy) as Stanley Sugarman, Queen Latifah (Girls Trip, The Trap) as Teresa Sugarman, professional basketball player Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz, Ben Foster (The Survivor, Leave No Trace) as Vince Merrick and Kenny Smith (Just Wright, Young Rock-TV) as Leon; this movie is proof Adam Sandler is a gifted actor when he takes on a serious role. I thought he was excellent with his character. Now keep in mind, I am not big into team sports; however, I thought this story was executed beautifully, in such a way that would resonate with both sporting and non-sporting viewers. The story itself is nothing new per se; however, there were enough subtle changes and nuances that made this film seem fresh and new. I found myself fully engaged throughout the picture; it was also quite entertaining, in my opinion. The message in the story came out like a blooming flower, slow anticipation into a rich colorful hue. By the end of this movie, I was solidly ensconced into my dream filled memories.
3 ½ stars
THE COUPLE SITTING NEXT TO ME were being rude. We were sitting inside the city’s stadium for a music concert and the opening act was performing. This couple did not pay any attention to the act as they continued with their conversation. I had no idea who the artist was; but I still wanted to listen to them perform. Even if I did not care for their style of music, I would have been considerate of the people sitting around me and not carried on a conversation. From a long time ago, I learned to pay attention to the opening acts because you never knew if they would become a success one day. My favorite example is Tina Turner. I had tickets to a concert where she was listed as the opening act for the star attraction. Her work with Ike was well known but that had happened a long time ago. None of us knew what she would be doing by herself. Well, you can see what she did based on how quickly she returned to being the headliner. As a warm-up act, she was utterly amazing. By the end of her set, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth; she was as they say, a superstar. Because of that concert, I always pay attention to the opening acts at concerts. There was a singer songwriter I got to see early in their career as the opening act; they went on to have a #1 song on the charts. EXPERIENCING A MUSICAL ARTIST AT THE beginning of their career journey and following them to the top of the charts is an awesome feeling. I remember seeing this one musical artist who came out on stage with her hair bound up in a scarf, dressed in old fashioned clothes, with a couple of backup singers and a small band; yet it was an incredible show due to the singer. Her personality and voice were both amazing. From that first time seeing her, I have followed her career as it ventured into movies and Broadway stages, not once being disappointed by her performances. She had something different I had never seen and with her talent, I was sure she was going to be a star. I even have photos of her in the early days of her career because in the initial stages of a musical artist’s career, I believe, they can be the most exciting times. If you do not believe me, feel free to take a look at this dramatic biography to see what it is like. SOME MUSICAL ARTISTS CAN REACH THE top of the charts, but only a few can usher in a whole new movement. One of those artists is the subject of this musical movie. With Tom Hanks (News of the World, The Post) as Colonel Tom Parker, Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die) as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Sisterhood of Night) as Priscilla, Helen Thomson (A Man’s Gotta Do, Getting’ Square) as Gladys and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge) as Vernon; this film was very lucky to have Austin as Elvis. If he had not been in the starring role, the first 1 ½ hours would have been more painful than they already were for me. I thought the quick cutting from scene to scene and the over-the-top dramatics took away from the performances. It almost appeared cartoonish. The last hour was the part that engaged and kept my interest. I say that because we finally got to see a more vulnerable Elvis as the scenes were given emotional depth. Up until this point I found Tom’s performance erratic; at times, his acting was excellent, other times it was off the mark. If for nothing else, it was worth it to me to see Austin’s singing performances. I felt like I was at a concert seeing someone who would be going far in their career.
2 ½ stars
WHEN SHE FOUND OUT MY FAMILY practices the same custom, she peppered me with questions. I was happy to oblige since we were having a lovely afternoon visit at her house. She was my friend’s relative who he had not seen in over twenty years. As we were sitting around her dining room table, eating cookies and fruit, she was telling us about her daughter’s wedding. As she spoke about the wedding ceremony, it occurred to me she was describing a custom my family does at a wedding. I asked her if the couple stood under a canopy during the service; she said they did. You should have seen her face when I told her members of my family get married under a canopy; her face lit up and she started telling me how much she enjoyed the service. From there she immediately went into a series of questions for me, starting with what the reason was behind erecting a canopy in the middle of the room. I told her the canopy represents the couple’s joyful new home together. The sides are open as a gesture that friends and family will always be invited in. She loved the concept as she asked if all canopies were made with an array of flowers. I told her some were, but others were simply made with fabric and four poles. AFTER GOING THROUGH AND EXPLAINING THE other “foreign” customs to her, the three of us shared and compared the various kinds of rituals we experienced growing up. It was quite fascinating to hear what each of us experienced, though we could not always explain the meaning behind the custom. At one point, I was describing the practice of breaking a glass at the end of the wedding ceremony. I could not explain the reasoning behind it when the two of them asked me, so I had to look it up. It is funny, after I read them the explanation, I said I did not think many of my relatives knew this was the reason for breaking a glass. It turned out all of us participated in customs that we did not know the meaning behind. I offered the reason people participate in a custom may be to honor their elders. And as I just wrote this, I recalled a custom we used to do when I was growing up that we no longer practice anymore. If my memory is correct, it stopped after an elder had passed away. Even though some customs fade out of existence, I believe they leave a lasting memory, which may come out in a unique way. If you wish to see, customs play a strong part in this romantic comedic drama. A FATHER FEELS OUT OF CONTROL when his daughter’s wedding plans do not include the customs he has been trying to maintain in the family. With Andy Garcia (Redemption Day, Book Club) as Billy Herrera, Gloria Estefan (Music of the Heart, Glee-TV) as Ingrid Herrera, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Sofia Herrera, Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Transformers: The Last Knight) as Cora Herrera and Diego Boneta (Terminator: Dark Fate, Luis Miguel: The Series-TV) as Adan Castillo; this updated version felt like it was created to appeal to a list of current issues. In other words, it came across as manipulative to me. The first half of the film was dry for me, besides being predictable. I did not find the movie funny, even when it seemed to settle into a slapstick mode. The cast was okay but honestly, there really was not anything that moved me emotionally. It was a shame because I could appreciate the message the story was trying to convey; however, things did not come together for me until the last hour. And even then, the writers kept the story in a light, easy mode. I appreciated the message that was trying to be presented, but the delivery of it was not a custom made fit.
2 ¼ stars