Monthly Archives: September 2022
SHE WAS TOUGH ON ALL OF us; there was nothing we could get away with when we were around her. My friend’s mother was a single parent who worked a full-time job and still was able to keep the household and her children in shape. When I say she was tough, believe me. I remember anytime we would go out after dinnertime, she had a curfew set for my friend that was earlier than the city’s stated time. No one was allowed to wear shoes inside the house. She would tell us she did not need any extra work vacuuming up after us. One of my strongest memories was the sound of her voice when she would yell out for my friend to come to her. Because she was short, she would call my friend to come into the kitchen and grab some item from one of the higher cabinet shelves. Despite her tough exterior she had a good sense of humor, accompanied by deep belly laughter. Even at my young age, I admired her because I knew it could not be easy being single with four children. And none of her kids ever got in trouble at school, which looking back now, was a major accomplishment. FOR MOST OF MY YOUTH, I only had strong female figures around me. Maybe it was due to the times, but both with my friends and family it was always the women who made the daily decisions. They would be the ones to decide what the family would be doing on the weekend; or whose house we would go visit for the holiday. This was not just my perceptions because my friends were experiencing the same thing. Most of the dads in the neighborhood had 9-5 jobs. So, I understand the mother taking responsibility during the week, but it seemed as if it always continued through the weekends. There was this one time where there was a small group of parents visiting at someone’s house. All the women were sitting around the kitchen table discussing current events, politics, upcoming trips and such while the men were sitting in the den watching television. This image has stayed with me all these years due to one of my early sociology classes. In class the discussion was about matriarchy and patriarchy, defining and identifying them. I realized I had grown up in a matriarchy. Sure, the men for the most part were the major breadwinners, but it was the women who sat on the seat of power. If you are curious to see how a strong woman acts, then feel free to see the main character in this action, crime drama. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN easy road trip to their new home, turned into a ride of terror for this single mom and her two kids. With Queen Latifah (Chicago, Hairspray) as Brenda, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (The Ride, Fast & Furious franchise) as Reggie, Mychala Lee (The Greatest Inheritance, Truth Be Told-TV) as Kelly, Shaun Dixon (Velvet Jesus, Dhar Mann-TV) as Cam and Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Descendants) as Hammers; this was all Queen Latifah’s movie. Channeling her Equalizer character, she was the mother who needed to protect her family. I liked the idea to the story and appreciated the effort the writers put in to make this film an intense thriller; however, so much of what was shown was generic pablum. At times, I felt the scenes were ridiculous because they seemed too far-fetched. It was too bad because the injustice aspect was a decent message to convey, but the script got bogged down into standard fare with no flair. I will say I did appreciate the fast pace and the well-orchestrated fight scenes. If one wants to see an example of a tough woman, that might be enough reason to watch this picture. However, do not expect much in the story.
1 ¾ stars
I COULD ONLY SIT THERE AND listen to my friend list the reasons why he did not think he wanted to do another date. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other. He had been busy going out on several dates with different women. Some of the women he had just met for the first time, the rest were repeat dates. From my past experiences, I knew the first date was just an introductory one, where the two of us would be barely scratching the surface of a meaningful conversation. I always considered it an exploratory time, where one learns about the likes and dislikes, along with a touch of historical information. My friend was describing a recent first date, where they met at a restaurant for lunch. He thought the conversation went easy for both because there was never an awkward lull. Not having a lot in common was not necessarily an issue for him; but what bothered him the most was the fact she would talk with her mouth full of food. He said it was hard to look at her while she was talking with food getting mashed up inside her mouth. Honestly, as I sat there with an image of her full mouth in my mind, I do not know if I could have handled it either. THE NEXT DATE MY FRIEND TALKED about was someone he had gone out with twice. From what he was telling me, it sounded like they had an enjoyable time; however, he mentioned how he disliked her hair. I asked if it looked dirty or unwashed, but he said no. He did not like the fact it was cut super short. I did not know how to reply to him. For me, hair is a non-issue; I do not care whether it is short or long, only if it is dirty and greasy would it ever be an issue for me. I queried my friend about the short hair, so I could get a better understanding because everything else sounded like the two of them were clicking together. What I wanted to say was, “What is wrong with you?!?!” However, I tried in my own way to express how unimportant the length of a person’s hair is when it comes to compatibility. It is funny and I am sure I mentioned it before; a big turn off for me was always if they had dirty fingernails and/or food stuck in their teeth. Outside of that, everything else was easily navigated in the getting to know process. The thing I learned that I felt was important was the fact one cannot go into a relationship with a mindset that you would be able to change the other person. Just see what can happen in this comedic drama when one party thinks they can change the other one. HAVING HAD THE PERFECT FIRST DATE Sheila, played by Kaley Cuoco (The Wedding Ringer, The Big Bang Theory-TV) only wanted to repeat the perfection of their first date over and over. She could only do this because she had a time machine at her disposal. With Pete Davidson (The King of Staten Island, Bodies Bodies, Bodies) as Gary, Kevin Corrigan (Unstoppable, The Departed) as Phil the bartender, Deborah S. Craig (A Nice Girl Like You, The Outfield) as June and Rock Kohli (Law & Order-TV, Inside Amy Schumer-TV) as Amit; this action crime movie had a perfect pairing with Kaley and Pete. They were so enjoyable to watch; I felt they were really into their characters. I liked the idea of the story, and it started out on a good note; but as time went by, I felt the script was in a repetitive loop that got boring for me. It truly felt as if the film was in a rut. I would have liked to have seen some changes taking place earlier in the plot. When all is said and done, I am glad I got a first date with this picture; but there would be no reason to have a second.
I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT playing mystery games like Clue. Of all the times I played it, I only won the game once. The same holds true for those immersive, staged mystery house events. Though they are exciting and fun, I do not focus on seeking out who is the killer; I am having such a fun time with the experience, along with the visuals and acting, that I get lost into it. In other words, I immerse myself, hence an immersive production. LOL There is something about seeing, what I would consider, average/innocuous events that later turn out to be vital clues to the identity of the murderer. This also applies to mystery books and movies; the way they can pull one into their story and take them on this wild trail of events has always impressed me. As I have been working on this review it has occurred to me, I was a guest at a dinner party where all the guests had to assume the identity of a famous individual. Throughout the meal there were six of us seated around the dining room table; some were talking with an accent and others were conversing with a different sounding voice. I was a well-known television star, so I periodically dropped clues about the type of shirt I was wearing and the landscape of the area I lived in on the TV series. It was not until we were eating dessert before someone correctly guessed my character. WITH MY LOVE OF MYSTERIES, THE one and only time I was in London, England I wanted to see the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I remember how excited I was to see it, both because it was a murder mystery, and it was being staged in London’s famous West End district. The production checked off all my expectations. And the “piece de resistance” occurred at the end of the show when a cast member came out on stage to ask everyone in the audience to keep secret who was the killer. I thought this was so cool because I felt like I was suddenly part of the production, and my job was not to reveal the murderer. I want you to know I never did reveal the identity of the killer. I find it fascinating that after all these years I am now reviewing a dramatic comedy murder that incorporates The Mousetrap into its story. PLANS WERE IN PLACE TO BRING the play The Mousetrap to the big screen. However, when a cast member was found dead, things had to be placed on hold as an investigation was to take place. The inspector would soon discover it was not easy dealing with theater people. With Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch, American Heist) as Leo Kopernick, David Oyelowo (The Water Man, A United Kingdom) as Mervyn Cocker-Norris, Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Little Women) as Constable Stalker, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Best of Enemies) as Inspector Stoppard and Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Beach Rats) as Richard Attenborough; this story based in the 1950s London had all the markings of being a classic “whodunit” type of thriller. The cast filled with well rounded, capable actors were well matched with their characters. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on, giving a perfect retro feel to the story. Sadly, it did not take much detective work to discover the script was a big letdown as was the directing. Things seemed to drag for the first half of the film. Where I normally admire Sam Rockwell’s acting skills, here he seemed to have gotten lost. There was no emotional variance to the scenes which I found boring. Weirdly, I thought Wes Anderson was directing because it certainly was his type of style; but it was not the case. I almost feel like I need to do some detective work to discover who allowed this production to go forward because it really is a mystery to me.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS OUR FIRST TIME SPENDING the night together, but I was not expecting it to include their cat. I had heard many stories about Dancer, the Siamese cat; she sounded like a sweet, affectionate pet. I had packed an overnight bag and in hindsight, I should have brought some type of cat toy. While eating our carry out meal, Dancer perched herself on the kitchen counter so she could have a clear view of us eating at the table. I was expecting her to jump onto our table any minute based on the way she was intently looking at us. Gratefully there were no interruptions during dinner. At the end of the meal, we took our drinks and went into the den to settle on the sofa. Dancer took this to be an invitation because she followed us down the hall then jumped onto my lap once I was seated. The entire time we sat on the couch Dancer kept trying to reach my face, either climbing up my chest or coming from behind via the back of the sofa. No matter what admonitions were sternly warned at her, Dancer was determined to get to my face to either kiss or scratch me. I could not tell which way it would go. THE DETERMINATION DANCER DISPLAYED WAS JUST a prelude to what was in store for me when it was time to go to bed. We were done closing up the house and making our way to the bedroom. Dancer was right at our heels the entire time. When we got into bed, Dancer jumped onto the bed and made her way to my pillow. She was taken and put back down on the floor. We settled ourselves back in bed and sure enough, Dancer jumped back up to try and reach me again. This went on a couple of more times before Dancer was placed outside of the bedroom. I thought our problem was finally solved, but I was wrong. Dancer started crying behind the closed door and kept it up non-stop until we opened the door. This time, however, Dancer was given a catnip toy as a distraction. She was all over the toy and gave us a moment of peace. By the time we fell asleep, I had forgotten about that cat. It did not take me long to fall into a deep sleep; but it took me less time to wake up after Dancer, from the floor, jumped up and landed on my back. I was done with this cat, so I got out of bed and made my way back to the den, where I slept the rest of the night on the couch while Dancer slept in my place in the bedroom. I would have loved to know what she was thinking when she first saw me walking into the house. CATS CAN BE SO MUCH FUN and yet be so mysterious. Wouldn’t it be helpful if someone could explain what cats are doing? This documentary may finally provide you with the answers. Directed by Andy Mitchell (Secrets of the Whales-TV mini-series, American Serengeti-TV movie), I got a kick out of watching this movie. Granted I love cats and dogs equally; however, if you are not a cat person then I do not think you would want to spend the time listening to the “experts” discussing cats and their behaviors. The pacing of this picture was steady and light. In fact, there were times where it was getting to be a bit too cartoonish for me, but I still enjoyed seeing all the cats and their different settings. I do not know if this movie provides absolute proof about cats’ behaviors, but I will say I found it quite interesting. I would have loved to have seen some of these experts try and explain that nutty cat, Dancer.
FOR SEVERAL YEARS ALL I HEARD her talk about was her “dream” car. She did talk about other topics, but if we were walking down the street and her “dream” car was driving by, she had to stop walking and watch the car as it passed her by. Yea, it was a bit obsessive, but who was I to judge; I had my own fixations. The car, I must admit, was sharp looking. It had sleek lines with a large distinctive grill that had the automaker’s logo smack in the middle of it. I particularly liked the colors I had seen it in; each one appeared to alter slightly, depending on how the light was hitting it. After hearing my friend talk so long about this car, she finally had saved up enough money to put a large down payment down for it. I was thrilled for her. Lucky for her, she found an auto dealer who had the exact car she wanted, both in color and features. She was approved for the loan and with all the paperwork signed, she had a short wait before she could pick up her new vehicle. I looked forward to getting a ride in it and see things for myself. THE CAR WAS EVERYTHING SHE IMAGINED; I could not be happier for her. She picked me up and we went tooling around the neighborhood before heading out on the highway. I must admit, the car was impressive. It was not until after the first time she had to drive in the rain, when I got the call. She was besides herself, sobbing into the phone. When she went to turn the windshield wipers on, the radio came on instead. Without the wipers working, she had pulled off to the side of the road to ride out the showers. I offered to come keep her company, but she declined. Instead, she planned on driving straight to the dealer once the weather lightened up. Later in the day after the storm had passed us, she called to tell me the wiper malfunction was fixed, she was going back home. Over the span of the next few months, she had other issues with the car. There was a recall concerning possible brake failure, the door locks did not always lock, and her sunroof had a leak. She was horribly upset, and I could tell her dream of owning this car was deflating. It was when she received the second recall notice that she had had enough and decided to get rid of the “lemon” car. I was sad for her because I knew how much the car meant to her, but the reality did not match up with her dream. It was a similar situation for some of the main characters in this dramatic, crime horror movie. A MOTHER AND FATHER COULD NOT believe it when they received the phone call that their missing daughter had been found. Upon rushing to meet her, it did not trouble them that their daughter was now talking with a heavy accent. With Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games, The Novice) as Esther, Julie Stiles (Save the Last Dance, Silver Linings Playbook) as Tricia Albright, Rossie Sutherland (Hyena Road, The Expanse-TV) as Allen Albright, Hiro Kanagawa (The Age of Adaline, The Man in the High Castle-TV) as Detective Donnan and Matthew Finlan (My Fake Boyfriend, Jingle Bell Princess-TV movie) as Gunnar Albright; this prequel surprised me. I could not remember much from the previous film, but it turned out it did not matter. As long as one suspends belief, the story was suspenseful and tense. It was so good to see Julie Stiles and to see her in this role. I felt Julie and Isabelle made this film exciting to watch and that is despite the scenes of violence and blood. From the slight memories I have of the original film, I believe I enjoyed this one more.
WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments. AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.
2 ½ stars
BECAUSE I DID NOT WANT HIM for my partner was the reason, I was sure, I wound up assigned to him by the professor. Maybe the teacher was able to pick up the negative vibes I had toward this student, who I found to be loud and obnoxious. During lectures, this student would make snide or rude comments in a voice only loud enough for the students who were around him. Inevitability, there would be a student who would have to stifle their laughter from the comment, making it hard for the rest of us to hear the teacher. It was not like I was so strait-laced and proper, but this was an ongoing thing that got annoying to me after the first few times. When the professor paired us together for the assignment, I detected a bit of hesitancy on this classmate’s part. We never had any type of interaction; he was just as perplexed about me being selected as his partner. I gathered my belongings and changed seats with the person sitting next to him. The subject of this class was sociology; so, I assumed the professor was making these moves to prove some type of point about society. I only hoped this was going to be a one-time event because I was already missing the comfort of my former seat. AFTER THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINED THE ASSIGNMENT, the two of us spoke for the first time. I offered my take on what we needed to get to the next step. As I spoke, I noticed on the inside cover of his notebook was the logo for one of my favorite music bands. I asked him if he had drawn it and he said yes. It turned out he was a fan of the band as well. When I mentioned I thought the drawing of the logo was perfect, he smiled then flipped through some more pages to reveal other band logos he had drawn. Each of them was so precise and accurate that I could not help myself from telling him about going to a couple of those bands’ concerts. I could tell by his facial expression, he was surprised to hear how much I was into music; funny, I was thinking the same thing about him. We wound up in this detailed discussion of the various bands’ song choices, momentarily forgetting about the actual task at hand. I would have never guessed we would have bonded over music. For the rest of the semester, whenever there was an opportunity, we would sit together. The cliché, “Never judge a book by its cover” can be applied here as well as in this animated, action comedy. FORCED BY AN EVIL LORD TO defend a town from a brutal villain, a hound quickly discovers the citizens hate him simply because he is a dog. The townsfolk are all cats. With Michael Cera (Molly’s Game, Gloria Bell) voicing Hank, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Big Game) voicing Jimbo, Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying, Ghost Town) voicing Ika Chu, relative newcomer Kylie Kuloka voicing Emiko and Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs) voicing The Shogun; this movie was an odd mix. The humor went from the level of young kids to adults; the idea of the story was fun, but it came across like a Kung Fu Panda wannabe with Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks. The animation was well done and there were pieces of dialog I enjoyed. Underlying all of this was the message behind the story, which I thought was admirable. There also was an easy predictability to the script that kept a steady pace of action and banter going all the time. If I had not connected to the message, I do not think I would have stayed engaged with this picture. There was a short extra scene after the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, THERE IS NO way around it as far as I am concerned. A person always has a choice and based on their decision; they must deal with the results. In the news recently, a woman was convicted of embezzling close to $100,000.00 from the church where she was employed. The stolen money was used for personal trips and items for herself. I found it appalling that her lawyers were asking for leniency; I wished I were in the courtroom so I could ask them why she should get it. She chose to cheat the church out of its money. It was not like she had overwhelming debt or medical expenses, though that is still not an excuse to steal from anyone. There is a part of me that would like to know what events led up to this person doing such an act. I cannot imagine they thought it was okay; or I wonder if they thought they were smarter than everyone else? Call me “tough love” or “the enforcer;” but I am not a type of person who easily forgives and forgets. If you are doing something that you know is inappropriate or illegal, then do not do it. I AM SURE YOU HAVE SEEN the multitude of public figures that have been caught doing something “wrong.” In the state I live in, it is sad to say there have been many politicians who were apprehended for taking kickbacks, bribes, hush money, and other sordid things. The ones that really stand out for me are the figures who were caught cheating on their spouses. Both in the business world and private life, the only thing a human being can offer unequivocally is their word. When a person takes a vow to honor their significant other, to have and to hold; it is a significant statement. Of course, once they get discovered (if in the public eye) they act out in such a scripted way that I simply find it ridiculous. There next to them stands their spouse who is supposed to be unemotional and supportive. Why can’t they show how they really feel? Whether they choose to stay with their cheating spouse is up to them, but just because they are in the public eye, they cannot show their true feelings? I know there would be no way I could or want to do such a thing; as I said before, actions have consequences. And to tell you the truth, I would not be able to put up with the couple in this comedy. AFTER LOSING THEIR LARGE CHURCH CONGREGATION, the pastor and his wife decide it is worth fighting for and devise a plan to bring back their flock. With Regina Hall (Girls Trip, Scary Movie franchise) as Trinitie Childs, Sterling K. Brown (The Predator, This is Us-TV) as Lee-Curtis Childs, Nicole Beharie (42, Black Mirror-TV) as Shakura Sumpter, Conphidance (Burning Bridges, Bob Hearts Abishola-TV) as Keon Sumpter and Austin Crute (Booksmart, They/Them) as Khalil; this satirical film’s bright spot was watching Regina and Sterling. They made a believable couple with their well-conceived acting. However, that was pretty much it for me. I thought the script was poorly done. At first the story seemed like it was a comedy, but then it turned and felt like a drama. It was predictable, so the humor level was not too high. It almost seemed as if there were too many things the writers wanted to say which bogged down the characters’ development in my opinion. I could appreciate the idea behind the story because there certainly have been similar events that have taken place in the news. Sadly, this film needed an exorcism.
1 ¾ stars