Monthly Archives: December 2022
THERE IS PLENTY OF TRUTH AND plenty of examples that show beauty is only skin deep. I realized this at a young age because of a friend’s grandmother. My friend lived in the same apartment building, so I had met his grandmother numerous times. She was always well dressed, with hair that was never out of place, thanks to her weekly beauty shop visits. I remember how she constantly avoided being out in the sunlight for too long. Being at such a young age, I translated her prettiness for niceness; in other words, if a person was good looking, then there should be no reason why they were not kind. I do not know how I came up with that reasoning, but I was completely wrong. My friend’s grandmother appeared pleasant upon first meeting, but it never lasted long. My friend and I would be playing a board game at his house, and she would walk into the room, eating a bag of candy. She would offer her grandson a piece, but she never offered me one. From other times I was over there, I could hear the way she talked to her daughter and son-in-law; it was demanding, where she constantly had them bring things to her instead of her getting up to go get them for herself. I DISCOVERED THE IDIOM ABOUT BEAUTY being skin deep was not exclusive to people. It could be used as well for buildings. In college, I had a class in a futuristic looking building. From the street it looked amazing, with an outer surface that looked like a checkerboard, with some of the squares raised up. There was a rooftop garden which was more of a novelty back then. When I discovered one of my classes was in this building, I was excited I would finally be able to get inside of it. Upon first entering, there were these cool orbital globes hanging from the ceiling that lit the hallway. My class was held on the third floor; during the warmer months, the room never got cooled off from the air conditioning. The professor told us when they built the building, they installed a HVAC system that was too small for the building. So, the rooms were cold in winter and hot in summer. I later discovered some of the windows leaked which led to a constant cleaning regiment to get rid of the mold. From such a dramatic façade, being inside the building was rarely pleasant. Not that it is as dramatic as that college building, but this action-adventure fantasy is in a similar predicament. HAVING SETTLED INTO DOMESTIC LIFE WITH a family, life takes an ugly turn for Jake, played by Sam Worthington (Hacksaw Ridge, The Shack), when an old foe returns to the planet. With Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Amsterdam) as Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver (The Good House, Call Jane) as Kiri, Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe franchise, The Lost City) as Quaritch and Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility, The Mountain Between Us) as Ronal; this three hour and twelve-minute-long movie was a visual spectacular. There were times where I sat and wondered if things, I was seeing, were real or not. The use of color and detail in creating visual stimulating palettes was a joy to behold and the special effects were magical. It is a good thing because I thought the script was weak. The story is predictable and a bit repetitive at times. I was feeling the length of the film at some point which told me the writers could have cut the length down some. Spending a little more time on character development would have been beneficial in my opinion, though I appreciated the moral messages. And I did not care for the obvious ploys used in the script to prepare the viewers for the 3rd installment of this franchise. How long will that one be?
I CANNOT RECALL WHAT AGE I WAS except I remember I was not old enough to cross the street without holding someone’s hand. We had gone downtown to one of the old, regal movie palaces to see the animated movie, Pinocchio. It was my first time going to a movie theater and I was beyond excited. Having taken the subway, we entered out onto a busy intersection. The theater was one block away, but I could easily see it with all the flashing bulbs in its marquee. It was a Saturday afternoon matinee we were going to, and I did not expect to see a line of people waiting for the theater doors to open. I became anxious that there would be no seats left for us to see the film. After many assurances, we got into line and waited. To me, it seemed like it was forever before the doors opened and the line started moving forward. The lobby inside had tall arched ceilings. Figurines like angels and nymphs were hanging on the walls with some being part of the lights. Once we had our tickets, we entered the auditorium, and it was massive; I had never seen such a large room with three sections of seating. The wall at the far end from where we entered was covered by a thick, red curtain. We took seats in the middle of a row, halfway back from the curtained wall. It was not too long before the lights dimmed, and the curtain parted to reveal a movie screen. Gratefully, I sat on top of the coats that got piled onto my seat, so I could see the screen clearly. ALL I CAN SAY IS I WAS mesmerized by the movie. I laughed at parts of it and had to be consoled when Pinocchio and his father were swallowed by the whale. I had no sense of time or how long things were taking; all I was focused on was the movie and the box of chocolate candy I was holding tightly in my hand. At the end of the movie, I started clapping with the other kids in the theater. I wanted to stay and watch it again but was told we had to give up our seats so people for the next showing could sit down and see the picture. I was hesitant but the promise of pizza for dinner finally got me out of my seat. That very first movie theater experience to this day is still one of my fondest memories. And since that time, there has been over 50 films made about the little wooden boy, Pinocchio. From the ones I have seen, none compared to the original one I saw when I was a little boy. So, I must tell you I went into watching this newest one by Guillermo del Toro with little expectations. MASTER WOODCRAFTER GEPPETTO, VOICED BY DAVID Bradley (Harry Potter franchise, Catherine Called Birdy), was never the same after witnessing his young son’s death. His sorrow eventually motivated him to create a little wooden boy to honor his late son. There would be something more besides an honor for the father after he completed his work. With Ewan McGregor (Birds of Prey, Doctor Sleep) voicing Cricket, relative newcomer Gregory Mann voicing Pinocchio, Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes, Pacific Rim: Uprising) voicing Priest and Ron Perlman (Hellboy franchise, Nightmare Alley) voicing Podesta; this animated family drama was weird to me. I thought the stop-action photography was inventive and fun, but the script lacked joy and humor. The idea of setting such a beloved character in the middle of wartime Italy was so odd; it made viewing this film an unpleasant experience. If Guillermo wanted to make a statement about fascist Italy during WWII, then he should have devoted an entire movie to it instead of trying to combine childlike goofiness and death and destruction into one story line. I did not care for this film and would have preferred watching the original Disney one that I saw when I was a little boy.
2 ½ stars
YOU KNOW HOW SOME MEMORIES REMAIN crystal clear in your mind? Well, I have the memory of receiving one special birthday gift back when I was in elementary school. I can see in my mind the gift box; it was black on the bottom half and yellow on the top half. Lifting off the top cover, there nestled in hard plastic was a Kodak Instamatic Camera. I had been using an old camera I found in a junk drawer; first pretending it was a spaceship when I was very young. When I got older, I understood the true nature of this mechanical device. But now, I was getting my very own camera and I could not have been happier. Enclosed with it was a set of three flashcubes. Yes, flashcubes; the most innovative invention of its time that allowed the photographer to take four photo shots in a row before one had to change the flash on top of the camera. I was so excited, I immediately fished out the instruction booklet to study up on my new camera. It did not take long before I fitted a flashcube on top of the camera and started going around the house snapping photos of random items, such as a lamp, ceramic figurine, metronome, candy dish. I even tried taking a photo of myself (I was attempting a selfie even back then!) in the hallway mirror; but, when the film was developed there was only a picture of a big, bright light completely obliterating my entire face. AMONG ALL THE FAMILY MEMBERS, I was known as the unofficial “family photographer.” Despite the moniker, many of my relatives complained when I wanted to take their picture. In my mind, I was a documentarian whose job was to capture every event, every relative on film. Looking back, I can see where family members would be annoyed with me as I would suddenly appear and blind them with my flashcubes. Some would yell at me to stop taking photos, but I kept pushing the limits because I knew I needed multiple shots if I wanted to get that one perfect moment captured on film. My love of photography never waned; it grew deeper. In college, I started developing the film myself along with experimenting with different lenses and filters, since I graduated to a single lens reflex camera. For one of my classes, I created a Martian photo album using infrared film that was awarded an “A” grade. Opportunities opened for me where I had a couple of photos hanging in an art gallery and my biggest thrill, taking photos at music concerts. From my childhood experiences, I totally understood what the young boy in this dramatic film was feeling; it is a deep, wonderful feeling. A FAMILY OUTING TO THE MOVIES, would have a lasting impression on a young boy. It was an impression that both of his parents could not agree upon. With Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, Venom franchise) as Mitzi Fabelman, Gabriel LaBelle (The Predator, Dead Shack) as Sammy Fabelman, Paul Dano (The Batman, Love & Mercy) as Burt Fabelman, Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People, Taxi-TV) as Uncle Boris and Seth Rogan (Long Shot, Steve Jobs) as Bennie Loewy; this movie loosely based on Steven Spielberg’s childhood was a nostalgic slice of life experience. No matter the age, one could easily experience the feelings and emotions that were coming out of the script. I thought the acting was stellar from Michelle, Paul and especially Judd. With Steven’s direction, he masterfully directed the story down a sure and steady path. There were, however, a couple of slower parts that were minor compared to the rest of the picture. The word that comes to my mind is “hominess.” I do not know if it was the era this script depicts, but there was a comfort in watching a little boy strive to reach his dreams. It is a good lesson for all of us.
3 ½ stars
WHEN IT COMES TO BEING JUDGED based on a person’s looks, actions speak louder than words. I learned this early on in my teaching career. Because I did not look like the typical fitness instructor, I was not always taken seriously. I did not have a rock hard, or at least, a solid physique that was muscled or chiseled. The way I would describe myself back then was soft and fluid. Prior to my first teaching position, I had not done any weight bearing exercises; so, I was essentially working out with my classes. I was not the type of person who would spend most of the class time walking around checking on members. My style of teaching was different than the other instructors; it incorporated dance moves where every step was choreographed. It was easier and quicker for me to spot a member who needed assistance when everyone was supposed to be doing the same movement. Trust me, I had new members enter class who left after 5-10 minutes, thinking they would not sweat. I could not say anything to them; however, the people in my class were my best advertisers. Though I did not incorporate moves that looked big and powerful, I had members moving non-stop for one hour. By the end of class, you could look around and see a glow coming off people from their sweat, besides feeling that tingling sensation from muscles that had been working hard. It was may way of showing non-believers I belonged there. THE DISCRIMINATION I EXPERIENCED IN THAT industry, I am aware, is mild compared to the kind I saw at various companies and heard from my friends/relatives. I had a friend who worked at a job he loved; but he could never get a promotion. He knew he worked as hard as everyone else in the department; but whenever there was an opening in the department, he was always overlooked. If he had not accidentally overheard his boss’ comments one day that were derogatory towards a religion, his religion, he would never have found out his boss was prejudiced. It explained all the times my friend was never picked for a higher position. He immediately began searching for another job and I am happy to report he is working at a different company, getting promotions and raises in recognition of all the good work he is doing. Discrimination is ugly and I am always stunned when a person in a high position displays such ugliness. I wonder how the company could allow such behavior and how they can be successful. How many good employees does a company lose in such an environment? In this dramatic film, imagine what opportunities would have been missed if the main character had decided to give up. BEING A US NAVY FIGHTER PILOT was already a tough job. It was even harder when all eyes were watching you. With Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall, Lovecraft Country-TV) as Jesse Brown, Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Tom Hudner, Christina Jackson (The Night House, Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Daisy Brown, Thomas Sadoski (Wild, Killing Eleanor) as Dick Cevoli and Daren Kagosoff (Ouija, The Secret Life of the American Teenager-TV) as Bill Koenig; this action war drama was based on a true story and what a story. Jonathan was the standout for me; he came across as totally believable with his character. I would have liked to have gotten more back story to his character as well as the others; however, this was a minor complaint compared to watching this well-balanced movie. The directing was straight forward as well as the script. Everything had its place and intension; there was nothing frivolous in the film. Set during the start of the Korean War, this movie shows what can happen when friendships are formed.
3 ¼ stars
RECENTLY, I ATTENDED A RELIGIOUS CONCERT where members of that church were performing Christmas songs. They were being performed by a choir, band and hand bells; some of the songs had audience participation. I knew some of the songs because I remembered being taught them in elementary school, besides hearing them being performed by a multitude of individuals throughout my life. Looking around the auditorium, I saw how the music was moving people. It brought them a sense of comfort, a sense of joy; I daresay, a peaceful contentment. As a lover of music, I understood what they were feeling, despite the fact the songs had no significance to me except a school memory. I was not raised with the same religion that the people around me were raised in. And you know what, it is okay. I would not expect them to know any of the religious songs I was taught when I was a child. It is the same when I am talking to a stranger; I do not know their religious background, so during this time I say, “Happy Holidays.” More times than not, I am wished a “Merry Christmas.” Out in the world, people practice the faith they believe in and yes, some assume their faith is the true faith, whatever that means. I appreciate the fact that I live in a place that allows freedom of religion. However, I do not feel religion has a place in government. MAYBE IF A COUNTRY’S CITIZENS ALL practice the same faith, then possibly it would work to incorporate religious beliefs into law, but what if someone who is not of the same faith moved to the country? Would they be allowed to live there? Interestingly, I attended a wedding in another country and there the legal ceremony could not have a religious aspect to it; the country was strict keeping “church and state” separate from each other. I agree with that because I do not feel religious beliefs should be incorporated into a country’s government. In fact, I feel religious figures should not be allowed to make any comments about a government’s laws. I think the term is “tending to one’s flock” and that should be the main objective for religious figures. Teach, study the doctrine within your religious organization and help and support the members. My feelings about the separation of church and state, besides studying history in school, were sparked when there was a knock on my front door from a missionary. They wanted to save me, not taking into account that my religion was just as valid as theirs. It angered me in a similar way to what I saw in this startling documentary. LITTLE DID A YOUNG POOL ATTENDANT realize that his partying with an older couple would expose him to the heights of religious and political power. With Landon Price (Critical Thinking Hymns of You) as Jerry Falwell Jr., newcomer Betty Monroe as Becki Falwell and Sam Myerson (Find Me, Mary Loss of Soul) as Giancarlo Granda; the actors were used periodically to reenact events that were being mentioned in this film. Director Billy Corben (Magic City Hustle, 537 Votes) also used archival footage and interviews to complete the story’s trajectory. I was appalled at the things that were revealed; and I am not talking about the intimate relationship Giancarlo had with the Falwell’s. What people do behind closed doors is none of my business. Their story could have filled the entire length of this movie as well as the other story line concerning the political aspects being able to do the same thing. I felt like there was more to say and delve into with each story line. No matter what your religious beliefs, I am sure you would find this film as startling as I did.
3 ¼ stars
EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF PRIMARIES while I was away for college, I have voted for every election. It certainly is easier now with the early voting opportunities and mail in options. I remember back earlier finishing work at the office and racing to get to the polling place before it closed, sometimes showing up just minutes before. So yes, the system to me is much better today. However, in my opinion, I would make election day a national holiday. For something so important as elections, I think all citizens should have the day off to make sure they can exercise their right to vote. The things I have seen taking place in other states troubles me because it appears as if the new state laws being put in place are geared to make it harder for an individual to vote. The news on this last election was showing lines of people, blocks long, waiting to vote. If I am not mistaken, one place did not allow voters to have any food or liquids with them while they were waiting in line for hours. It saddens me to see how such an institution and cornerstone of our government is being tarnished and abused the past several years. THERE IS ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE voting process that I find scary. It is the ability for a candidate to receive massive amounts of money from a single donor. Maybe it does not come directly from one individual, but their money can easily be divvied up among different political action committees for the candidate. There was a billionaire who lived in our state who donated millions of dollars to a governor candidate who had a hateful agenda. The amount of money given was obscene and all because the billionaire disliked the current governor’s policies which did not offer extra favor to the billionaire’s company. I think about the amount of money that goes into today’s campaigns and it could be put to better use in feeding the world or educating every single citizen or even funding new scientific research. But now it seems like only millionaires and billionaires run for political gains and positions. I know not every politician fits this description; but I would like to see a time where there are less political ads and mailers and more time for the candidates to go door to door or hold more campaign town hall meetings. Gratefully in my state the billionaire’s candidate lost significantly to the incumbent, so money did not make such a difference; but who knows what money can do. It may play a factor in this thriller for all you know. A YOUNG JOURNALIST MAKES A DISCOVERY that could have a major impact on an upcoming election. With Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim, The Last Ship-TV) as Elisha, Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV, Glass) as Lucas Nicoll, Ali Marsh (Queens of Daytime, In Plain Sight-TV) as Sharon Romney, Julianne Arrieta (High Resolution, Del Playa) as Rachel Atkins and John Cena (Vacation Friends, The Suicide Squad) as Nate Sterling; this political film was lucky to cast Jodie Turner-Smith. For me, she is the reason I was able to get through the story. The script needed to find a new angle or a flair of surprising twists because the story played out like something I had seen before. I liked the idea, but the directing along with the script did not take advantage of the acting skills of its cast. There certainly were good scenes throughout the movie, but as a whole it felt more like a wannabe picture instead of something new and fresh. It was too bad because Jodie and Ann Dowd had wonderful screen presence that grabbed my attention. The idea for the story was both good and scary, making me more anxious about today’s political scene.
2 ½ stars
TO MY HORROR, THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL told his secretary to go pull the students out of class and bring them down to the office. I had just finished telling him about the abuse I was experiencing from these students and now he wanted his secretary to bring them in while I was still sitting in his office; I wanted to run and hide somewhere. If the assistant principal thought he was making me feel better, when he said he would make them stop attacking me, it was not working because I knew it would only anger the students. They would only intensify their efforts in getting me. I stared at the wall clock wishing school was over for the day and I was safely back at home; my anxiety was increasing with each passing second. It was a five-minute wait until the office door opened with the secretary leading the students into the room. The assistant principal did not offer any of them a seat; he immediately went into his speech about respecting fellow students and their type of behavior was not acceptable. I could not even look at any of them; instead, I kept my gaze directed at the floor. Other things were mentioned but I did not pay any attention to them since I was suddenly feeling nauseous and just wanted to get out of there. I realized the assistant principal was finishing up when he told the students he did not want to catch them bothering me ever again. Yea, right. IT WAS A COUPLE OF WEEKS of “peacefulness” before I was pushed down a flight of stairs in school. I never saw who did it and luckily, I was able to grab a hold of the banister from tumbling all the way down the stairs. A few days later I was eating lunch in the lunchroom when a partially eaten apple hit me in the face. It came from somewhere across the room, but I had no idea who threw it. Well, let me say I did not see who threw it, but I knew who it had to be; one of the students who was called into the assistant principal’s office. Other incidents took place to the point I started skipping classes from time to time and always changing the way I went from class to class. Besides enduring the abuse, the hardest part was explaining the bruises that were visible on me or the stains on my clothing or the dirt covered books. I just had to find a way to get through the time until graduation and go far away to college. Me saying something did not bring me any relief which is one of the reasons why I could sympathize with the victims in this historical drama. FEELING LIKE THERE WAS A POSSIBLE story behind the little news they had heard about a big, powerful Hollywood producer; two reporters agree to work together to see if they could get to the truth. Their challenge would be to find a witness. With Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Promising Young Woman) as Megan Twohey, Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, The Big Sick) as Jodi Kantor, Patricia Clarkson (Out of Blue, The Bookshop) as Rebecca Corbett, Andre Braugher (The Baytown Outlaws, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Dean Baquet and Jennifer Ehle (A Quiet Passion, Zero Dark Thirty) as Laura Madden; this movie based on true story was riveting at times. Carey and Zoe were outstanding together, which added to the movie watching experience. I thought the pacing was better in the beginning and end than during the middle parts; however, because of the familiarity I had with the story, I stayed focused on the events. The story is frightening, horrific, and a variety of other emotions; even if you are not familiar with the news of this event, it is well worth watching this taut, suspenseful film.
3 ½ stars
I SAT THERE WONDERING WHY I was so afraid. The short-term rental place was beautiful; I mean magazine worthy beautiful. A family member had taken a trip out west and stayed at a short-term rental property they booked online. It was a three-bedroom home with a gourmet kitchen, fireplace, in ground swimming pool and a fire pit. The furnishings and home looked like they were from the mid-century modern period. My relative had rented the place with three friends for vacation. The location was walking distance from the main shopping/entertainment district of the city and a 75–90-minute trip away from a national park. In other words, it was an ideal location. As I was being shown photos of their trip, a part of my brain was trying to calculate why I had this fear about doing a short-term rental property; I have always stayed in hotels when I have been on a trip. One of the reasons I know, is because I love breakfast food. I pick hotels that offer a free breakfast or have a restaurant on site; so, I can wake up, shower and head down for a meal that I did not have to prepare. However, seeing this home, I would not have a problem if I had to bring in some groceries and make breakfast for myself; it would be worth it. NOW IF YOU ARE THINKING WHAT I am looking at is unusual for a rental property, you would be correct. I am aware this property is extreme because of the others my friends have shown me from their trips. Most of them are fine, nothing too outrageous; however, there have been a few that were the pits. One friend of mine rented a cottage on a lake for a vacation spot for him and his family. The first thing that greeted them when they arrived was a broken bathtub sitting on the front lawn. Once inside, they found the place was dirty and I do not mean dirty from the previous guests. There was mold in the shower stall, peeling paint on the walls and windows that would not stay open. Also, the hot water never got hot. They took their luggage and went right back to their car and drove to the nearest hotel they could find. That is more like the image that appears in my mind when I hear someone is going to stay at a short-term rental property. And now that I have seen this film, I am even more afraid. ARRIVING IN A NEW CITY FOR a job interview, the candidate picked a short-term rental property to stay at during her visit. To her surprise, when she got there the place was already occupied. With Georgina Campell (All My Friends Hate Me, Krypton-TV) as Tess, Bill Skarsgard (It franchise, Eternals) as Keith, Justin Long (The Wave, F is for Family-TV) as AJ, Matthew Patrick Davis (Henry Danger-TV, Dwight in Shining Armor-TV) as The Mother and Richard Brake (The Munsters, The Rhythm Section) as Frank; this horror, mystery thriller grabbed me early on. The suspense was thick and well played out, partially thanks to Georgina and Bill; they were excellent together. I enjoyed the freshness in the script and the way it built up the suspense and dread. However, the sharp turn it took threw me. It started to feel as if I was watching a couple of different stories at one point. And maybe that is the issue I had with this film; I would have been perfectly fine to keep more of the focus on the beginning two main characters. It took me a while to understand there was more to the script than what I was perceiving; I think with a little more tweaking this movie could have been a breathtaking, scary story. It certainly gives one reason to pause before agreeing to a short-term rental vacation property. There were several scenes with blood and violence.
2 ¾ stars
I COULD NOT BELIEVE AFTER ALL these years; the city changed the street I grew up on to one way. All those years watching two cars trying to navigate between themselves and the parked cars that lined the street, then out of the blue the city now decided the street was not wide enough to accommodate more than one car at a time driving on it. I could have told them that decades ago. The apartment building, we lived in, looked the same except the back porches were now enclosed with a translucent type of plastic or PVC material to protect, I was guessing, the wood from the elements. From the houses down the block, there was nothing different that stuck out; they all looked the same, except for a fresh coat of paint or different floral landscaping. As I drove around the old neighborhood, I saw the elevated railroad tracks for the commuter train had extra support beams. They should have been added when I was living there because the cement back then was breaking off in pieces and the metal beams were rusting. Anytime I had to drive underneath the train bridge, the image of falling cement pieces always flashed through my mind. IN MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD THERE WERE two business districts; one was a couple of blocks away from where we lived and the other was near the lake. I decided to drive down them to see what they looked like these days. The closer of the two, where we mostly did our shopping, had changed drastically. The grocery store where I used to return soda pop bottles for the deposit money was no longer there. A flea market type of business moved into the building. There used to be four restaurants on the main street; today only one remains under a different name. I remember almost every establishment had an electric sign or at least lights that highlighted the signage of the business. Now, there were several businesses that I could not tell if they just opened because they had those vinyl banner signs hung up. Not that this is a negative, but none of the establishments sounded familiar to me. I did notice there seemed to be more litter strewn across the sidewalks and street. My memory was of a pretty (for commercial buildings) avenue with an ice cream parlor, independent drug store, clothing stores, among other retail businesses. What I was seeing was an unattractive strip of a bunch of hodgepodge stores, some with their signs hanging down off center and others with hand drawing on their windows. It really made me sad for the memory of a place that gave me joy as I was growing up. Oddly, though I have a vague memory of the original film, this sequel made me feel the same sad way. DESPITE THE PASSING CENTURIES, LIVING AMONGST us today are the ancient Ronin warriors. They are not the only ones hiding from us. With Anna Akana (A Million Little Things-TV, Amphibia-TV) as Luna, Mark Dacascos (One Night in Bangkok, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) as Shinshiro, Teresa Ting (She Has a Name, Don Peyote) as Onami, Mike Moh (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Empire-TV) as Reo and Dustin Nguyen (Zero Tolerance, Warrior-TV) as Nikko; this action, fantasy drama was confusing to me. I simply did not understand why the movie studio felt it needed to make a sequel. My memory is sketchy, but I remember the original movie had some beautiful cinematography and interesting fight scenes. At least there were decent fight scenes in this film; but the script was all over the place. I never felt connected to any of the characters, and I thought the special effects were dull. Nearly ten years after the first film, I just do not understand why the movie studio felt the need to do this film and then not do it well. Sometimes, it is better to leave the viewer with a memory of a decent film instead of trying to update it for profit. There were multiple scenes of blood and violence.
1 ½ stars
NO MATTER WHERE OR WHEN SHE was seen, she always had on a scarf or rain bonnet. She wore each of them the same way whether it was a blistering hot summer day or a frigid, wintery one. Sometimes, I would see her wearing both. I knew she lived in the neighborhood but had no clue where exactly. She walked with an odd limp that caused her to shift her weight from side to side. It looked like she could almost tip over, except she always had a shopping cart with her, which I assumed she could use to balance herself if she felt like she was toppling over. There was one distinct feature that stuck out for me; she had a marking on the side of her face that could have been a scar or a birthmark. I was never close enough to her to see what it could be. The other thing I remembered about her was the fact she was always alone, whenever she was out in the neighborhood. I had no idea if there were family members living with her or she was all by herself. Taking these things into account, I do not know how many of these things helped contribute to the reputation she had or more precisely was given. People thought she was a “witch.” NOW I DO NOT KNOW IF people thought she did spells and incantations over a black cauldron like what has been depicted in movies and television; but I think they thought she was different from anyone else they knew. Maybe that was the reason why I never saw anyone near her; people were afraid. There were several kids in the neighborhood who would call her names; but only if they were across the street from her, in case she was going to do something to them. It was not until I started high school that I noticed she was no longer seen walking around the neighborhood. It was at that time that I started going to a new doctor for my yearly physical. From our conversations about the neighborhood, I found out he was a distant relative of that “witch” woman. The little he shared about her with me was enough to set me reeling. It turned out she was a Holocaust survivor, having lost her parents and siblings during the war. The doctor said Nazi doctors performed experiments on her while she was being held in a concentration camp. It was horrifying to hear this news and it occurred to me no one in the neighborhood had a clue about it. Instead of finding out and talking to her, people shunned her for her “differences.” It was a similar scenario for the main character in this mystery thriller drama. ABANDONED AT AN EARLY AGE, A young girl must raise herself in the marshlands of the Deep South. The townsfolk, who did not trust her, looked to her as the prime suspect when a dead body turned up in town. With Daisy Edgar-Jones (Pond Life, Cold Feet-TV) as Kya Clark, Taylor John Smith (Lost Child, Wolves) as Tate Walker, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Kin’s Man) as Chase Andrews, David Strathairn (Nightmare Alley, L.A. Confidential) as Tom Milton and Michael Hyatt (The Little Things, Snowfall-TV) as Mabel; this movie based on the bestselling book was beautifully filmed. I thought Daisy and David Strathairn did a wonderful job of acting. Having not read the book, I found myself attracted to the story; however, there were times where I felt I was not getting all the details out of the scenes. Several of them felt like snippets of a story. I can only imagine the book being better at giving the details and emotions of each character. Normally not a fan of jumping back and forth in time, I did not mind how it was done in this film; they were longer in duration and relevant to what was currently taking place in the story. This was a good try by the writers, but with more effort, this could have been a better movie.
2 ½ stars