Category Archives: Drama
I WAS FRIENDS WITH ONE OF THE two brothers. Though I did not know much about the older brother, it was apparent the two brothers were quite different. My friend had an idea what he wanted to do when he grew up. Maybe the brother did too; but I was not aware of it. I do remember whenever the brother would mention a career path he was interested in doing, his parents would usually nod their heads and mention something else they thought was better suited for him. Now granted, a lot of the times I would hear these conversations taking place from a different room while my friend and I were doing something in an adjoining space; so I could not see the physical reactions that I am sure were accompanying the dialog. If someone were to ask me how I thought the conversations were going, I would say they sounded more combative than a calm discussion. Whether these talks had an affect on the brother, I do not know. The only thing that was quite apparent to me was how dark the older brother seemed compared to his younger brother. By dark, I mean he was more of a moody soul that rarely cracked a smile; heck, he barely said hello to me whenever I came over to their place. ONE OF THE REASONS I REMEMBER THESE two brothers is because they were the first set of brothers I knew who were so different in almost every aspect of their lives. I always assumed my friend was much smarter, though he was not athletic like his brother. The younger one never got into a fight with his parents (at least while I was around) like the older one. There were a couple of times I was over at their house when the older son and his parents would get into a screaming match that nearly made the walls shake. The yelling would end with the son either slamming the door as he went into his bedroom or slamming the front door as he ran out of the house; it was always an awkward moment for me. I would look over at my friend and all he could do was shrug his shoulders with a sheepish grin on his face; I felt bad for him. As long as I knew them, nothing ever changed in that family. The last I heard about them was that the older son had moved out during high school and hasn’t talked to his parents since. I wondered if the family in this film festival winning drama had a similar dynamic that made their sons so different. RETURNING TO THE SMALL TOWN HE GREW up in, a Vietnam vet’s brother hopes he can convince his brother to settle down and enjoy what life has to offer both of them. The returning brother did not see it quite the same. Written and directed by Sean Penn (Gangster Squad, Milk), this movie starred David Morse (The Hurt Locker, The Green Mile) as Joe Roberts, Viggo Mortensen (Green Book, Captain Fantastic) as Frank Roberts, Valeria Golino (Hot Shots franchise) as Maria, Patricia Arquette (Boyhood, Medium-TV) as Dorothy and Charles Bronson (Death Wish franchise, The Magnificent Seven) as Mr. Roberts. This was a slow to start story for me. It was wild to see some of the actors in their younger versions, since this film was nearly 20 years old. I thought Viggo, David and Patricia were especially strong with their acting. The script provided me a glimpse into a different world, set in a rural town at a time where things moved slower. There was a bit of repetition with the scenes dealing with the brothers; however, as bits and pieces was being revealed I found myself becoming more interested in where they were going in the story. If nothing else, it was interesting to see how 2 brothers who were raised in one house turned out in life.
2 ¾ stars
I AM USED TO WAITING IN LINE at the drive thru lane of a restaurant; but I was not prepared to do it at a funeral home. As I arrived at the funeral home, I saw there were several cars lined up as if they were preparing for the procession to the burial ground. Pulling into the lot behind the last car an employee of the funeral home, who had been standing off to the side, walked up to me to explain how to proceed through the visitation. I was to follow in single file, as one car at a time will pull underneath the porte-cochere. The occupants can then get out of their car and walk up to the locked, double glass doors of the lobby to pay their respects to the grieving family, who will be standing behind the doors with the casket. After the respects are paid, I was to return to my car and drive out of the parking lot. The last thing the man said to me was that there was not a sign in book; instead, I could go online to the funeral home’s home page and leave a comment for the family. I thanked the gentleman, closed my car window and waited for my turn. AFTER FIVE MINUTES, I WAS ABLE TO move forward one car length ahead. Outside my driver’s side window there was now a TV monitor that was set up on a stand. There was a slide show of photos rotating that showed different time periods in the life of the deceased. From birth to their first birthday part, their school years through college and family trips; I sat and watched the photos appear and disappear, providing me with a glimmer of what their life was like. I had lost track of time, as it became my turn to pull underneath and pay my respects. Getting out of the car, I walked towards the glass doors; the only thing I saw at first through the reflective glass was the open casket. It seemed to be floating in midair. As I got closer, images of the grieving family began to appear through the reflection as if they were materializing before my eyes. Out of the family members standing, the father looked the worse. I could not tell if what I was seeing was distorted by the reflective glass; but the father looked like he was in a state of shock. The solid stone expression on his face never changed. With lifeless eyes and a neck that looked like it had been replaced by a spring, he simply kept nodding his head up and down while staring directly ahead. It looked like he was missing a part of himself; similar to the way the main character did in this mystery drama. WHEN HER DAUGHTER DID NOT COME home it was up to Debra, played by Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, American Sniper) to be in charge of raising her grandson. She only needed someone to raise her. This film festival nominated movie also starred Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver, Elvis & Nixon) as Bridget Callahan, Kentucker Audley (Funny Bunny, The Middle Distance) as Brett Tobeck, Christina Hendricks (Good Girls-TV, The Neon Demon) as Katherine and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Terry. Set in rural Pennsylvania, this acting by Sienna and Christina was outstanding. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; but with the acting and directing I fell into the events taking place while becoming emotional attached. This was a quiet film where some of the characters needed more emotional depth. However, the performances of the actors made up for any deficiencies. This was both such a heart wrenching and triumphant story that Sienna navigated with expert skill.
3 ¼ stars
WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, I was obsessed with pencil sharpeners. Though my obsession lasted a couple of years, I acquired a large collection of them within that time frame. I had several pencil sharpeners that were in the shape of airplanes and rocket ships; another group of them was made up of different animals. I would rotate bringing different sharpeners to school with me; as you might expect, I never had a dull pencil at my desk. There was a game I used to play with myself when sharpening a pencil. I would try to turn the pencil continuously to see if I could get one long shaving off of it. Yes, I was an intense child at times. One of my favorite pencil sharpeners was a flying saucer, the top half white and the bottom gray. The pencil hole was right in the center on the top, which allowed the pencil shavings to spin around the interior circumference of the round saucer. There was always a good chance I could get a long shaving with this pencil sharpener. At home, I would keep this sharpener in a desk drawer and whenever I needed it, I would take it out and hold it high in the air, pretending it was flying. AS I GREW UP MY OBSESSION faded away and the pencil sharpeners were relegated to an old shoebox that resided up on a shelf in a closet. Through the years, I had other things that became my new obsession. In one of my recent reviews I talked about my thing for wristwatches; so, you see I have been visited by obsessions through my whole life. Whenever I have had conversations and talked about an obsession, I always say I prefer shaking hands with the obsession instead of trying to wrestle it. The thing I am grateful for (if there is something to be grateful about) is my obsessions never involved other people. They were always things that only had an affect on me, whether it was pencil sharpeners, wristwatches or dance music CDs. I had a friend who became obsessed with someone she met online. This altered her daily life to the point it put a strain on her friendships. She would cancel dates with friends so she could drive to finally meet this individual at a central location, only to receive a last minute text that he was called into work or some other excuse like that. Yet she would do the same thing over and over to the point some of her friends refused to make plans with her. I could see their point, but I tried to stay neutral; her obsession was preventing her from coming to terms with the reality of her situation. I could say the same thing about the main character in this dramatic movie. WRITER AND CRITIC MORTON VINT, PLAYED by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The 12th Man, The Tudors-TV), wanted to know everything he could about the famous poet Jeffrey Aspern, played by Jon Kortajarena (The Cliff, A Single Man). He would even pretend to be someone else if it meant getting more information about his favorite poet. With Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet, Howards End) as Juliana Bordereau, Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Maggie) as Miss Tina and Lois Robbins (Girls Nite Out, One Life to Live-TV) as Mrs. Prest; the only reason to see this film would be to watch Vanessa and Joely working together. They were wonderful to watch as they powered their way through the weak script. I thought Jonathan’s character was not believable; he came across so odd to me that I found him uninteresting. The scenery and sets were pleasing but due to the direction and script I felt many opportunities were lost to add drama and back-story. It was sad to see Vanessa and Joely being wasted in this misfired picture. I only wished the writers would have been obsessed with telling a good story as much as Morton was obsessed with the poet Jeffrey Aspern.
1 ½ stars
THOUGH I INITIATED THE CONVERSATION, I now was trying to gracefully remove myself from it. I had been selling raffle tickets at a charity event and was on my hour dinner break. Standing over by the buffet table that nearly stretched out the length of the ballroom, a gentleman next to me commented on one of the platters of food. We both agreed it might taste good but it looked nasty. A man behind be seconded our comments. As we made our way down the table we started up a light conversation between the three of us. It turned out the 2 men were doctors. With my background in fitness, I thought I could hold my own in the conversation. However, when they started delving into different maladies and surgeries; I not only had nothing to contribute, but I did not even want to hear what they were saying. They were talking in detail about unusual surgeries they had performed, life threatening situations where time was of the essence. The ease of their dialog, to the point of almost being bantering, surprised me while at the same time giving me the heebie-jeebies. I was hearing such details about body organs, unusual tumors, spurting blood; I quickly lost my appetite. If you didn’t know the conversation you would have thought they were talking about a sporting event; they were so nonchalant about it. I MAY HAVE FOUND THEIR CONVERSATION icky but I am sure this type of thing is commonplace for so many people. If you take the emotion out of the conversation and are conversing with a like minded individual(s), then whatever the topic is being discussed might not be startling or out of the ordinary. I guess if I was having a conversation with other yoga instructors about poses and practices, to the layman it might sound odd/bizarre to that person. When I am in such a position the thing that surprises me is the juxtaposition between the average dialog and the amazing topic. There is just something about it that can both amuse or horrify me. I am reminded of a CPR class I attended that was being led by a paramedic; his stories about his work were incredible to listen to yet he was so blasé about it. Just because this was recently in the news, I am also reminded of our past primary election where one of the candidates was a Holocaust denier. His matter of fact manner when discussing such a thing was mind blowing to me. The memory of him was in the back of my mind as I sat and watched this unbelievable, biographical drama. DURING WORLD WAR II HITLER’S TOP LIEUTENANTS convened in a remote place to discuss how to proceed on Hitler’s final solution. The meeting for all appearances looked like a lively dinner party. This film festival winning movie based on true events starred Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, My Week with Marilyn) as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci (Night Hunter, Spotlight) as Adolf Eichmann, Barnaby Kay (Red Tails, The Man Who Knew too Little) as Rudolf Lange, Peter Sullivan (The Limehouse Golem, The Bill-TV) as S.S. Col Eberhard “Karl” Schongartin and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) as Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart. Seeing such a young cast of actors was my first surprise; my second was the horror I was witnessing in their conversations. Most of the film takes place in one room, but do not think you will get claustrophobic; the acting was stellar and the script was intense. These were two things that kept me glued to the screen. At times, I felt I was attending a history lesson and at other times I felt I was a “fly on the wall” listening to such world altering conversations. This film seemed like a classic to me.
3 ½ stars
EACH OF US HAS EMOTIONAL NEEDS such as love, growth and significance. If one begins to feel empty, there is usually a negative feeling ready to fill the void. During those times where I was feeling alone, as if I was the only one of my kind, I filled my emptiness with food. Coming into the house with grocery bags filled with some of my favorite foods would provide me with a short-lived euphoria of comfort. At one point I was eating frozen pizza 2 to 3 times a day; that is how intense I was reacting to the emptiness. My attempts at love kept failing because of my lack of love for myself. It took a lot of hard work and discipline to recognize what I was doing with food and deciding to make some changes. All considering, based on what I have seen regarding what people use to fill a void, I am grateful I only used food to fill the emptiness inside of me. During my period of change it always fascinated or maybe I should say troubled me that this void inside constantly needed to be filled. When I experimented with things I thought might fill it, I never found myself reaching a level of comfort. I certainly got an understanding of what it meant to be “comfortable in one’s own skin.” WHILE I WAS ON MY JOURNEY of self-discovery, a friend of mine was being forced into one. She had been married for 20-25 years when I first met her. She had a great sense of humor and a personality to match. Yet, there was something I saw in her eyes that troubled me. It was a look that was familiar to me. During the life of our friendship I watched as her personality, humor and self-worth faded away. She would never talk about it; but I could see when she said anything about her husband, the life in her would die down like a campfire at the end of an evening. It was painful to see the life being sucked out of her and no matter what I said to her, nothing worked. It was not until a couple of years later when the door opened a crack and she revealed the pain she was in from her loveless marriage. Her outlet was to delve into the world of crafts. It was shocking to know the pain she was going through was producing some incredible pieces of art. Using arts and craft as a springboard, she found her way back to herself and became strong enough to leave her husband. It turned out her husband was abusive to her. Not feeling loved by him opened a gateway where her self-worth spilled out. Gratefully she filled her void in a healthy way, unlike the main character in this film festival winning, romantic drama. STUCK IN A LOVELESS MARRIAGE KATHERINE, played by Florence Pugh (Little Women, Fighting with my Family), realized what she was missing when she felt an attraction to a hired hand. That discovery started Katherine on a path of filling the void inside of her with darkness. With Cosmo Jones (Hunter Killer, The Marker) as Sebastian, Paul Hilton (Doctor Faustus, Eternal Beauty) as Alexander, Naomi Ackie (The Corrupted, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as Anna and Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Boris; this film grabbed my interest from the beginning. The reason for it was Florence Pugh. She was such a presence in the story; I could not stop watching her in the role. Set in rural England during the 19th century, the story started out slow and deliberate. The scenes appeared authentic and only added to the shifting moods that took place through the script. I will say at times the script drifted off track, but for me this was not a glaring issue because of Florence’s acting. With the present situation regarding the ability to see films, this one filled a void in me for well-done movies.
3 ¼ stars
THE WHOLE MISUNDERSTANDING COULD HAVE BEEN avoided if I had only known he was in a foul mood. Such a simple thing to do and it would have made a world of difference. I had texted my friend to see if he was free to talk. Getting an affirmative response, I called him with the intention of catching up since it had been some time since we last communicated. The conversation started out in the usual way with each of us updating the other on our family members. Having known each other for years, our extended families have trickled down to be part of our conversations with some familiarity. At some point I commented on something he said but did not get a response. I thought maybe he did not hear me. When there was a break, I repeated myself. There was dead silence for a few seconds before he made a comment that had an edge to it. You might know what I mean; where the comment could be taken two different ways based on the tone of the speaker’s voice. It took me by surprise and I did not know how to reply. Deciding to push past it and not assume the comment was negative, I continued on with the conversation. IT WAS NOT TOO MUCH LONGER before I felt he was hitting me with another comment that could be taken two ways. This time I called him on it, asking what he meant by saying what he said. He replied with “What do you mean?” which is a pet peeve of mine. He had heard what I said, so why answer with a question? I went ahead and explained to him what I heard and why I responded the way I did. He then took my words and turned them back at me with what I heard to be a condescending tone. One thing led to another until we wound up being irritated with each other. We quickly ended the call; I was left feeling ticked off and confused. I tried wrapping my brain around what had happened but could not find a solution. My feelings were hurt. It was not until later that night where he called back to explain what was going on with him. It turned out he was in a bad mood because of something that had nothing to do with me. His negativity spread into our conversation, where he misinterpreted things I had said to him. We hashed it out so we could clear the air between us. The bottom line was realizing the need to express one’s feelings in order to become a better communicator. This was a conversation the main couple needed to have in this romantic, war drama. TRAVELING TO HAMBURG FROM ENGLAND TO JOIN her husband Rachel Morgan, played by Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) was surprised to see the amount of devastation the war had done. It was even more shocking to discover she would be sharing a home with its German owner. With Jason Clarke (Pet Sematary, Everest) as Lewis Morgan, Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, The Kill Team) as Stephen Lubert, Flora Thiemann (Nelly’s Adventure, Sputnik) as Freda Lubert and Kate Phillips (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Susan; this period piece had a strong cast that worked well together. I thought the filming added drama to the story which turned out necessary due to the cliché filled, predictable script. Despite Keira’s ability to command an audience, the script did not allow for the addition of depth to the characters. I would have also appreciated if the writers included more history into the events that affected the characters placing them on their current paths. With this film based on the same titled book, I have to believe the novel offered a better story than the one in this post World War II setting.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS ONLY ONE FLASH OF light that caught my attention, but it opened up my eyes to a whole world of beauty. I was walking towards the garage when a millisecond of bright light appeared between 2 ornamental bushes. I was sure I had seen it despite its brief appearance in what appeared to be midair. The plants were a recent addition to my backyard, both seemed to be taking nicely to their parcel of land. I walked over to the bushes to see if there was something I had not noticed before. As I made my way across the lawn a slight breeze of air stirred up and that speck of bright light appeared once again. I walked up and like an apparition there was a large spider web that spanned the space between the 2 plants. It faded in and out depending on the breeze being able to push it into full sunlight. It was exquisite, looking like a fine piece of lace. Not wanting to disturb anything, I carefully stepped closer to get a better look. I had to squat down so the web would be at eye level; cocking my head slightly to view the web in front of a darker background, I saw tiny drops of moisture clinging to several strands of the web. It truly looked like a piece of art or an architect’s dream. UNNOTICED BY ME AT FIRST BECAUSE it was off to the side, closer to one of the bushes, perched a massive hairy looking spider. I stayed still as if I was playing a waiting game with it. There are friends of mine who would have freaked out upon seeing the spider; gratefully, they do not upset me. I look at spiders as the gatekeepers to my house, capturing loads of bugs to prevent them from entering my home. The spider did not move from its spot; only allowing the breezes to swing it slightly in the air, but it never once wavered from its spot. For some reason, I felt the garden had taken on a special allure. Here among the assorted plants and shrubbery there was a feat from one of Nature’s creatures, a latticework of silky luminous strands dotted with diamond chips of raindrops. If the sunlight had not hit the web at the exact time I was walking by, I might not have ever noticed I had a piece of art in my backyard. Part of me wanted to get a spray bottle of water to make more drops appear on the web; however, I decided not to and instead enjoyed the beauty that was in front of me. Part of this experience prepared me for the beauty that was found in this Oscar nominated, film festival winning biography. TIRED OF HIS SURROUNDINGS AND THE PEOPLE around him Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, played by Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), took the advice of a friend and moved out of Paris to be closer to nature. It was the best move of his life. With Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria, Homeland-TV) as Theo, Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, A Most Violent Year) as Paul Gauguin, Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Doctor Strange) as Priest and Mathieu Amairic (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Doctor Paul Gachet; this dramatic picture contained a stellar performance by Willem. I felt I was privy to the inner workings of van Gogh’s mind. Combined with the beautiful film shots and steady directing, this film’s story unfurled like a long, colorful pennant on a windy day. The whole cast perfectly fit their roles. If there was anything to question it would be the few scenes that dragged a bit; however, the dynamic acting coming out of Willem kept me invested in the story. I almost felt as if I was a visitor at an art gallery.
3 ¼ stars
I HAD KNOWN HER FOR A LONG time; yet I was still surprised when she told me the reason why she was going to college. Up until that time she did okay in school, nothing above average though. When she told me she wanted to attend college, I had asked her why and she told me she wanted to find a husband. To hide my shock I used my humor by asking her if it would be cheaper to sign up for a dating service. I had to appreciate her honesty, but the idea that college would be the place to find a mate sounded farfetched; there was no guarantee she would find on campus someone to marry. Yet, she was determined and sure enough in her junior year, she met a senior student and fell in love with him. They dated for a year before deciding to get married. During that period, I met him a couple of times when they would drive back home for a weekend visit. He seemed nice, but he had what I refer to as a salesperson’s personality. No disrespect to the people in that profession, but he had a list of catch phrases he depended on when participating in a conversation. Also, he never offered an opinion that was different from the person he was interacting with in a conversation. I did not detect much sincerity behind his statements as a result. THE TWO GOT MARRIED A COUPLE of months after his college graduation. They settled into married life and seemed to be happy. I would see them from time to time and as far as I could tell they seemed fine. There was one thing I noticed however. When they were together, she seemed to talk less. I could not put my finger on it, but it seemed as if he was always the one to make any type of decisions. He never lost the catch phrases, but his delivery of them seemed to have an edge to them now. This continued for a couple of years before my friend started to show up to events without him. At first, she offered excuses for his absences; but it was not too long before she finally confessed she was unhappy and filing for a divorce. I offered support and told her if she needed to talk I was available anytime. She never took my up on the offer and I did not push the subject. Though, one time she did share with me she regretted her years focused on finding a husband because they blinded her to her husband’s faults. I wondered if she could leave her regrets behind to move forward. This was the same thought I had for the main character in this dramatic film. YOUNG GROVER’S, PLAYED BY HONG-CHI Lee (City of Rock, Baby) dream was to move to the United States. Moving there meant leaving the ones he loved behind; a decision that would come with regrets. With Tzi Ma (Arrival, The Ladykillers) as Grover, Christine Ko (Hawaii Five-O-TV, Dave-TV) as Angela, Fiona Fu (Power Rangers, Blood and Water) as Zhenzhen and Joan Chen (Love in Disguise, Judge Dredd) as Yuan; this multigenerational film had an authentic, touching story that was easy to follow. With the beautiful filming, I was thoroughly involved with the story. The acting was well done, as the story would shift between Taiwan and the United States. I did not feel as if the script was trying to manipulate me; each pause in the dialog allowed the actors to express true emotion in my opinion. The story has a certain universal appeal that I think many viewers will connect to and appreciate. I have always said for every action there is a reaction. When it comes to affairs of the heart one can only hope for the best by striving towards a goal. Several scenes were spoken in Chinese with English subtitles.
NOTHING CAUSED ME MORE FEAR IN SCHOOL than having someone shout out that I threw like a girl. To get branded with those words would mean you were going to have an especially rough semester at school. I actually was pretty good in throwing a baseball, but I wasn’t so good when it came to playing basketball. Gratefully, I just passed under the radar whenever we would play basketball in PE class. There was always someone worse than me who would suffer the humiliation of getting the moniker for throwing like a girl. And once you were deemed with that label, no matter what you did in class afterwards was never truly appreciated by the other students. I recall at one point I wondered what the girls did in their PE classes to make fun of a student who was not proficient in a particular sport. Notice, I assumed the girls could be just as mean as the boys; I don’t honestly know why that was my way of thinking. There were a few girls in the school who were bullies. Based on the things I experienced, it was natural for me to think that anyone who showed a sign of weakness or inability would be an open target for verbal abuse. For boys, the quickest cut to another boy was telling him he was a sissy or acted like a girl. TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND NOW THROWING like a girl does not have the same connotation; too bad it took such a long time to evolve. Imagine how many boys could have been spared humiliation from their fellow classmates if they understood girls could throw a ball just as well as boys. I know a father who has a daughter who went to college on a scholarship because she was a top baseball pitcher in high school. During her summer vacation, she would attend baseball camp to perfect her pitches. Her Dad would update me on the locations she and her traveling teammates visited and how well she would do in the baseball game. There were a couple of times where she pitched a no-hitter. After hearing this, I wondered how many men would hope they could pitch as well as a girl? The question I would like to know is what is happening in the classroom? Has mankind expanded its thinking to the point where a male student is told he throws like a girl and the boy says thank you? NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES BEING told she could not compete with men Michelle Payne, played by Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies), knew in her heart she could compete with any man. She just needed someone to take her seriously. This dramatic sport film based on a true story caught my attention because of the movie’s title. With Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Paddy Payne, Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Darren Weir, Brooke Satchwell (Subdivision, Wonderland-TV) as Therese Payne and Magda Szubanski (The Golden Compass, Kath & Kim-TV) as Sister Dominique; this biographical story had some David and Goliath moments. Fundamentally the story’s arc was not that unusual; what sold me were Teresa’s performance and the action scenes. What was missing for me was seeing more back-story to the Payne family. The scenes that involved the siblings seemed ripe for a further in-depth look at the family. I never really got a sense on where Michelle got her drive. Despite my concerns, knowing this film festival nominated picture was based on a true story made the viewing of it more engaging for me. Also, seeing what Michelle went through to do what she loved was inspiring to me because I appreciated the fact that there essentially should be no preference for a woman or man to try and reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
2 ¼ stars
THE STORY SHE WAS TELLING DESCRIBED a world that was unfamiliar to me. Right out of school she got married and moved to her husband’s family’s lands up in the hills of Kentucky. The trip did not take them long, which allowed her to see her new home in the daylight along with several of his relatives who were stationed as lookouts. Being in love had an extra benefit here because she did not mind one bit that the home standing in front of her looked abandoned. Her husband, who had no training, built the house and it showed. There was no running water; instead, there was a pump in the back of the house. She would grow to hate the pump, especially in wintertime. Keep in mind; we are talking current times, not a date back in the 1800s. The only heat sources in the house were 2 fireplaces and a potbellied stove. She eventually got used to the house; though she mentioned she had a hard time sometimes coping with it in winter. There would be mornings when the bucket of water they kept in the bathroom for washing would be nearly frozen. Being a city person, I could not comprehend that in this day and age; people would be living in that type of situation. Her story started only 50+ years ago. DUE TO THE STORY SHE TOLD, I was careful when I decided to visit Kentucky. You may think I am paranoid but the image of her husband’s relatives sitting with rifles along the road has always stayed with me. All I could think about was whether her husband’s family was in some type of feud with another family, akin to the story of the Hatfield and McCoy families. When I visited the state I only went to large metropolitan areas. I actually had a wonderful time while delving into the history of those areas along with sampling the local cuisine. The state was picturesque which provided me with many photo opportunities. Driving down the road seeing several horses trotting across an enclosed pasture made me pull over to take a photograph. The things I was seeing were so far removed from the things my friend told me about regarding her time living in the state. The two worlds were so opposite. Granted I was simply a tourist who zeroed in on the sights I wanted to see; it is not like I didn’t know every state has more than one version of itself. I was fortunate and lucky during my stay in Kentucky, unlike the main character in this film festival winning dramatic thriller. WHEN A WRONG TURN LEAVES SAWYER, played by Hermione Cornfield (Fallen, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), in the back woods of a country road; she quickly realizes her education won’t necessarily get her to where she needs to be. With Jay Paulson (Black Rock, Mad Men-TV) as Lowell, Sean O’Bryan (Olympus Has Fallen, Vantage Point) as O’Doyle, Micah Hauptman (Everest, In Stereo) as Hollister and Daniel R. Hill (Above Suspicion, Hunter’s Moon) as Buck; this story resonated with me because of my friend’s time in Kentucky. Does this mean those with no connection to the state should not view this film? Not necessarily because the performance by Hermione was worth watching. The script was pretty generic but I appreciated what the writers did regarding the character Sawyer. There were scenes that did not make sense to me despite the predictability of the script. Except for Hermione, the other characters were a bit too stereotypical for me. What I enjoyed about this picture was watching the story arc to Hermoine’s character Sawyer. For some reason this movie reminded me of Winter’s Bone, though at a much lower level. An added bonus for me was enjoying some of the outdoor scenes of Kentucky and remembering my friend and her story.