Category Archives: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
WE WERE WALKING AROUND THE TOWN looking for buildings that were still standing from the turn of the century. On a road trip with a friend, he asked if we could make a stop at this small town where a relative of his had lived. He had never met the relative but wanted to find his grave. The town came as a total surprise to me because it had this mixture of old and new buildings that complimented each other, giving off an old-world vibe. As we walked down the main street, we found buildings that had been built and standing at the time my friend’s deceased relative had migrated to the area. My friend took photos of the buildings we had found; he wanted to form some type of bond to this man he never knew, but who yet was connected to him. All my friend had was an old photograph of his great uncle when he was a teenager. Whenever he looked at the photo of the man, he would see a strong resemblance to his Dad, who coincidentally happened to be named after this departed relative. As we walked around, I thought how lucky my friend was to be able to visit his relative’s town and travel the same streets his great uncle might have used when he was alive. HOW I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO BE able to visit the town of an ancestor. Since I was a little boy, I was always fascinated with looking at old, family photographs; both mine and other families. There is something about me having a similar genetic makeup to a long line of individuals that comforts me. Maybe because I really was never part of any type of group growing up that now I find myself comforted knowing I have an immediate connection to a group of people. I am always amazed when I run into someone who is a distant relative that shares similar features to myself or to an immediate family member of mine. Only recently I was at a restaurant where I bumped into a group of distant relatives. One of the relatives looked strikingly similar to one of my immediate family members that it startled me for a moment, especially because this person was a cousin twice removed from me. As we briefly talked about our family connection, I could not help thinking how important it is to me to look back at those who came before me to find out where I was going now. The main character in this animated, adventure comedy would know what I am talking about. A DISTANT VOICE THAT ONLY ELSA, voiced by Idina Menzel (Rent, The Tollbooth), could hear was calling out to her. Something about it sounded familiar enough to make Elsa leave her kingdom and put herself in terrible peril. With Kristen Bell (Bad Moms franchise, The Boss) voicing Anna, Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Marshall) voicing Olaf, Jonathan Groff (Glee-TV, Looking-TV) voicing Kristoff and Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) voicing Mattias; this sequel was a visual masterpiece. The amount of detail and creativity put into every scene was breathtaking at times. As for the script it was good but not as good as the original movie. Since there was no main villain, I felt the drama waned at times. It seemed as if the studio’s marketing department was working overtime; for example, the script had a new cute character that would be perfect in toy version and there were places where songs were sung (though I could not remember one song when I left the theater) in the hopes that one of them would be a chart topper. All of this does not mean much since the theaters were packed with small children and their parents dressed up as one of the characters. There was such a high bar to reach due to the success of the first movie that it would have taken super powers to try and top it. I give the studio credit for its valiant effort. There was an extra scene at the end of the movie credits.
I COULD SEE THE GUEST AT MY table was getting annoyed with the server. When the server came to our table, after we had sat down, to find out who had ordered the vegetarian meal, this guest acknowledged it was for him. When the soup came out and was placed on each of our plates, the vegetarian guest asked the server what was in the soup. When she said it was a beef-based broth, I could tell the man was not happy. He asked the server why she would bring a meat-based soup to a vegetarian; the server was noticeably flustered. She apologized, saying it was the only soup offered for the dinner, before removing it from his plate. When the rest of us were done with the soup, the main meal was brought out to be served. I received my plate before the vegetarian man and immediately noticed bacon bits on the baked potato. Not knowing what was on a vegetarian meal, I waited and watched the server as she made her way to the gentleman. Sure enough, his special meal included the same baked potato with bacon bits. As soon as he saw it, he glared at the server before reprimanding her. She was visibly shaking as she apologized again and took his plate of food back to the kitchen. The man turned to the rest of us as he continued complaining about the service. ONE OF THE OTHER GUESTS SITTING at our table told the vegetarian he understood his aggravation. It turned out he had several dietary restrictions that required extra diligence at wedding receptions, holiday parties and other such special events. I watched as the annoyed diner quickly calmed down while commiserating with the other diner. A connection/bond was established between the two gentlemen because they had something specific in common; I became curious about this and started wondering if I had a similar reaction to meeting someone who shared a common trait of mine. It occurred to me that I indeed have had the same responses with people I have met who experience similar reactions like mine. When I have met someone, who has the same type of sensitivity that I do to the cold, it has formed an immediate connection between us. Others cannot relate to what the two of us experience when we feel cold. For most of the evening, I wind up spending time with that person who gets me, just as I get them. There is a perfect example of this to see in this dramatic, fantasy horror sequel. AFTER HAVING FOUND A COMFORTABLE PLACE to settle down Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor (Christopher Robin, August: Osage County), gets contacted by a young girl named Abra Stone, played by Kyliegh Curran (I Can I Will I Did), who shares a common trait with him; a trait he has been trying to run away from for many years. With Rebecca Ferguson (Life, Despite the Falling Snow) as Rose the Hat, Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider, The Dark Horse) as Billy Freeman and Zahn McClarnon (Strike One, Mekko) as Crow Daddy; the story in this picture was slowly brewed. I enjoyed the buildup at first because of the acting and film editing. However, as the story continued, I found myself losing interest. It was not until Kyliegh’s scenes increased that I reconnected with the story. The buildup went on too long for me; I only found myself fully invested during the last half of the movie. The suspense was decent thanks to the acting and set designs. I feel the viewer would benefit if they watch first The Shining before seeing this film; but it is not a requirement. After so many years between stories, I just could not find a solid connection to this picture.
2 ¾ stars
THOUGH I DISLIKED HIM IMMENSELY, I was stuck having to work with him. If you pressed me to say something complimentary about him, I would have a hard time finding something nice to say. From the day I started working at the company, we never really clicked; however, we were cordial towards each other. From my perspective, it was important we had an open line of communication since we worked in the same department. It was not like I would see him sporadically; we were sitting in the same work space every day. It was within the first couple of weeks I realized I did not care for him. The first thing that set me off was when he started telling me what I should do. I would not have gotten a negative reaction if I had asked his opinion, but I knew what I was doing. He was taking it upon himself to explain his method, which he felt was the right way. There was no right or wrong way; it simply was a question of which order one did the steps needed to get to the conclusion. From listening to the way he treated customers and fellow employees, I felt he was pompous and arrogant. DESPITE MY FEELINGS ABOUT HIM, I was not about to jeopardize my position nor the reputation of the company. I was not into drama; so, I was not going to make a scene over any of the comments he expressed to me personally or to other people. As far as I was concerned it was up to upper management to deal with his behavior. However, there were times where it was tough for me not to react to him. At some point we finally got into an argument where he resorted to name calling. That turned out to be the turning point in my relationship with him. From that time, I had nothing to do or say to him beyond anything work related. If he tried to start a conversation with me, I would walk away. When I came to work in the morning, I would say hello to my fellow employees, while bypassing him. If I happened to bump into him in the bathroom, I would look beyond him without saying a word. You might think my behavior was childish and it might have been; however, it served me well. I no longer had to pay attention to him expounding on his beliefs and the proper ways of living. If it had to do about business however, I would talk to him. We were working for the same company; so, it had to be done, just like one of the main characters had to do in this action, adventure science fiction film. THERE WAS SOMETHING SO SPECIAL ABOUT Dani Ramos, played by Natalia Reyes (Birds of Passage, 2091-TV), that old enemies would have to learn how to work together if there was any chance of saving her and the planet. With Linda Hamilton (Dante’s Peak, Defiance-TV) as Sarah Connor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Escape Plan, True Lies) as T-800/Carl, Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049) as Grace and Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages, Summer Camp) as Diego Ramos; this latest installment of the film franchise took a lot of its material from the previous stories. I enjoyed this movie for what it was trying to do; relive some of its past glory. Essentially the script was one long series of chase scenes. Some of the action was fun and exciting; however, there was nothing new or fresh about it. I did like the way the writers created a few sly, humorous moments for Arnold’s character and what they did for the character of Sarah Connor. Overall, this was an easy picture to watch that did not require much brainpower.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS A HARD LESSON TO LEARN but it made my life much easier. I have worked with a variety of individuals, some would say characters, throughout my work history. For years, I was quick to react to their actions. If I did not like an individual, they would know it without me having to tell them. There was this one salesman who walked around the place like a male peacock looking to mate. One day I counted how many times he had stopped in front of any type of reflective surface to check on his appearance; it was 23 times. It could be a reflection in a window, microwave oven door, mirror; it made no difference to him where he was or what he was doing at the time. He would see himself and stop to check the condition of his hair, face and tie. I did not like him because of the way he treated the employees. Besides talking down to them, he would belittle them if he felt they were not doing something he thought they should be doing, despite the fact he was not their boss. Whenever I had a verbal exchange with him, I would avoid making eye contact and try to limit my responses to one- or two-word answers. Trust me, he was not a nice person. THERE WERE EMPLOYEES I HAD TO DEAL with who were stoned or drunk. You would think that could be amusing; but, try getting the correct answer you need from someone who cannot focus on their work, it wasn’t pretty. I would get upset as I sat and fumed over the encounter. How is it that I was trying to complete a project, getting stressed over the approaching deadline, while this other employee got to fly high through the day without any consequences. It was my job on the line, not theirs. My anger would last for days at times; I did not realize how much energy I was using to maintain my anger. Maybe it was maturity, therapy, self-reflection or a combination thereof; but I started altering my behavior. Things that used to annoy me I now was acknowledging their existence then moving on. If I was not getting the help I needed from a fellow employee; instead of getting ticked off I would document the event and add it into my notes on my progress. It was such a liberating feeling for me. No more getting upset or combative allowed me to focus on my needs and feelings. Though I have to say after seeing this dramatic fantasy film, I do not know if I could remain calm if I were in that position. DESPITE VIOLENT WEATHER AND MECHANICAL FATIGUE, two strangers needed to work together for several weeks to maintain the functions of the lone lighthouse. With William Dafoe (The Florida Project, Shadow of the Vampire) as Thomas Wake, Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Twilight franchise) as Ephraim Winslow and newcomer Valerila Karaman as the mermaid; this was one of the most original stories I have seen at the movies this year. I honestly cannot say I was totally entertained; but I could not stop watching the impactful scenes in this film festival winner. The acting was superb; not once did I think the characters were William or Robert. Using a square format for filming in black and white made each scene that more intense. If you were to ask me what the story was about, I do not know if I could give you an answer. If there was symbolism or hidden meanings, they went over my head. My attention was so drawn to the characters due to the actors’ skills that I had to let go in trying to understand what I was watching on the screen. To describe it best, watching this film was an experience; I am just not sure what kind.
THREE CELEBRITIES DIED IN THE SAME WEEK during the month of June in 2009. They were Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Ed McMahon. It was proof of a superstition I believed to be true; death comes in threes. Even to this day when I hear about someone dying, I think to myself two more will be happening soon. Some of my friends think the same thing because we have talked about it. Not that any of us are obsessed with death; but let’s face it, as one gets older one cannot help but be aware of death slowly finding its place at the table of one’s life. The other thing I have learned about death is how each person handles it in a different way. I knew an individual, who confronted with the bad news about the state of his health, went off the deep end and started acting out in extreme ways. He started abusing drugs and alcohol, finding himself waking up in strange places and not remembering the previous day’s events. It was troubling to see how self-destructive he had become. The people around him wanted to help, but he had no interest in their help or pity; he simply wanted to make himself numb enough to the point where he was not thinking about death 24/7. IF I WERE TO RECEIVE NEWS about my life expectancy, I honestly do not know how I would react to it. There is a part of me that wonders if I would focus on trying to keep myself on my same routines: work, teach, exercise, movies. It is hard to say. I knew several individuals who never told anyone about their life status. Until it became apparent that something was serious, each of them continued living their life as if nothing had changed. I think it is safe to say most of us hope when our time comes it happens while we are asleep. It certainly is my wish. I have always said I hope my death does not make the news for something tragic or bizarre. Though I love watching movies I would really prefer not dying in a movie theater and being discovered dead only after remaining in my seat through a couple of full-length features. My other wish is I hope I get to see everything I want to see before my time is up. And I have a lot of things I want to see; one of them was not this horror thriller. AFTER DOWNLOADING AN APP THAT TELLS the user when they are expected to die Quinn Harris, played by Elizabeth Lail (Unintended, Once Upon a Time-TV), finds out she has less than a week to live. She will need to do a lot of things if she plans on proving the app wrong. With Jordan Calloway (Riverdale-TV, Unfabulous-TV) as Matt Monroe, Talitha Eliana Bateman (The 5thWave, Annabelle: Creation) as Jordan Harris, Peter Facinelli (Twilight franchise, Nurse Jackie-TV) as Dr. Sullivan and Dillon Lane (Better Things-TV, Here and Now-TV) as Evan; this film’s story was an unholy marriage of high tech and ancient lore. I thought Elizabeth had potential here, but the script made sure that never happened. The story was odd from the start and as time went on, I was getting increasingly bored. The film was pretty much a series of shock/surprise sequences; a tired formula by itself to tell a story. I felt the story needed to go through a few revisions to make better sense of it. Also, if they wanted this to be listed as a horror film it needed to add more suspense to build up the scary parts. After sitting through this picture, I hope I will not have to experience it in threes because of the extra scene I saw at the film’s ending credits.
1 ½ stars
WE WERE STRANGERS SITTING TOGETHER IN a car on our way to a convention but would be connected for the rest of our lives, by the end of the trip. It was early in the morning before rush hour traffic as we headed to the location. After exiting the highway, we were on a street that was lined with industrial buildings. Up ahead there was a car parked at an odd angle alongside the curb; its tail end was stuck out into our lane. Coming up alongside of it, we both noticed the driver was slumped over the steering wheel. My companion yelled for me to pull over and she jumped out the door before I came to a complete stop. I soon joined her as she was tapping the driver’s shoulder, asking if he was okay. The driver roused from what appeared to be a long sleep because he was groggy, and his voice sounded gravelly. However, his speech was slurred. I immediately called 911 as my companion tried to see if the driver could move any of his limbs. By the way, my companion was a health professional. An ambulance soon showed up. After explaining how we found the driver, the two of us got back into our car and continued to the convention. However, something changed in us as we talked about what just happened. From that moment forward a connection formed between us where we would seek out the other at these business conventions. SHARING AN EXPERIENCE CUTS THROUGH MUCH of the introduction process in my opinion. Though less dramatic, I enrolled in a workshop where I found myself not knowing any of the participants. When the facilitator asked everyone in the room to pair up, I turned to the person next to me and asked if she wanted to work together. She agreed and we walked over to an open space of the room where we would get further instructions. There was to be an abundance of physical activity through the workshop, where we would have to assist our partners with hands on instruction. Some of the exercises were intense where I did not know if I could complete them; however, my partner constantly encouraged and helped me to finish. Spending the entire day together, helping each other with challenging tasks; by the end of the session we felt a comfort with each other that led to a friendship and a sense of being family. We wound up working together at the same facility and everyone there thought we were brother and sister because we were so similar. I referred to her as my work sister. It goes to show you one does not need bloodlines to form a family. SURVIVING THESE PAST YEARS THROUGH THE zombie invasion turned the ragtag group of individuals into a small family unit. But as a family, would they be strong enough together to combat the evolved zombies who were stronger and smarter? With Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, Solo: A Star Wars Story) as Tallahassee, Jesse Eisenberg (The Hummingbird Project, The Art of Self-Defense) as Columbus, Emma Stone (La La Land, The Favourite) as Wichita, Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island, August: Osage County) as Little Rock and Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Set It Up) as Madison; this action, horror comedy sequel had some fun parts in it. I enjoyed the cast immensely, smiling at their snarky sarcastic remarks. The spirit of the first film was present in this one, only it did not feel fresh and new. However, it seemed as if the cast was having fun; so, I was able to travel with them during this mindless ride…so to speak. There was nothing earth shattering here; if you enjoyed the first film then you would probably like this one. For new viewers into comedy horror, good chance you will become a fan of this family unit. There were a couple of extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.
2 ¾ stars
SHE WAS PROUD OF HER GRANDCHILDREN; I heard her talk about them enough times to know. They were respectful and polite which made me like them right from the start. According to their grandmother, the boy was a star player on his school’s football team and his sister was the school’s photographer. When I met and spoke with the 2 siblings, I learned the grandmother’s description of their school activities was exaggerated a bit. The girl enjoyed photography and had submitted one of her photos to the school’s newspaper; it was one of several to be chosen to accompany an article about the plant life around the school building. The boy was on the football team as the grandmother had mentioned; however, he was one of the 2nd string players on the team. Most of his time was spent sitting on the bench. So, the grandmother expanded the truth, I get it. She was not the first grandmother I met who used hyperboles when it came to her grandchildren. It did appear to me; however, she spoke a lot about these kids. It is one thing to mention one’s children or grandchildren if it comes up in a conversation; but, without solicitation or prodding one talks excessively about them then I start to wonder what could be fueling it. YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON, but then something happens that forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought regarding this individual. This is what happened to me and explained why the grandmother talked a lot about her 2 grandchildren. Her and I were part of a small group of people who had met for lunch one day. During the meal many topics were discussed. However, it was during the subject of racial tensions when the grandmother said something that led me to believe the reason behind her excessive talking about her grandchildren. She had said a derogatory remark about another race. I was shocked because up until that time I never considered her to be a prejudicial person. As I sat there processing this new information the conversation drifted off to something else. No one questioned her about her comment, but I had to because what she said did not make any sense to me. I asked her how she could make a derogatory remark about a person’s skin color when her grandchildren had the same color of skin. She said it was not the same. Her grandchildren were born from a mixed-race couple; evidently, she was not comfortable about it which explained the constant talk about her grandkids. All of this because someone looks different? She has something in common with one of the characters in this adventure fantasy. AGREEING TO MARRY PRINCE PHILIP, PLAYED BY Harry Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Darkest Minds), would be the easiest part compared to having each of their families sitting down together for a dinner. Aurora, played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8), would have to convince her Godmother Maleficent (Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), to meet the humans she so distrusted, for good reason. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, What Lies Beneath) as Queen Ingrith and Sam Riley (On the Road, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Diaval; this family film was beyond colorful. The opening scenes may take one’s breath away because they were so filled with colors and creativity. Along with my amazement of the visual aspects to this picture, I thought the cast was wonderful. Angelina, Michelle and Elle were so good together that I could see them doing another film together. My only complaint had to do with the story and script; it was uneven and convoluted at times, besides sharing similarities to another story made famous as a Broadway musical. Despite this, I found the movie entertaining. It had great special effects, was visually stunning and had a killer performance by Angelina, Michelle and Elle.
IF I ONLY KNEW BACK THEN what I know now, I could have avoided so many troubling things. Oscar Wilde had a famous quote, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” This is so true. I am reminded of a friend who would repeat the same pattern when it came to the men she dated. Each relationship ended the same way with the man breaking it off and her heart getting broken. Whatever my 2 cents of advice is worth, she never allowed her relationships to develop; she went from having a few initial dates to acting like they were in a full-blown relationship, as if they were a long time couple. It was odd and uncomfortable to see her place herself repeatedly in these situations; yet, she would do the same thing over and over with each person she started dating. Of course, it is easier for me to give advice to other people than it is for me to take my own advice. I was in several relationships that, I see now, were not healthy. If I had my current level of confidence and knowledge back then, I could have saved myself a whole lot of pain. Yet, I always want to believe we gain something from each person we encounter. I DO NOT KNOW IF I am wiser, but I certainly am aware how differently I react to certain situations these days. In the past, my younger self would always view any type of criticism as a threat, where I would immediately go on the attack. Most of my verbal confrontations with individuals was me yelling “You” statements at them. These are sentences that start with the word “You” followed by a descriptive adjective or action, like “You never said” or “You didn’t care.” My older self can see the difference between saying “you never said” and “I did not hear you” or “You didn’t care” and “I felt you were not interested.” It changes the whole flavor of the situation when one starts out saying I instead of You. When I look back at my younger years, I can honestly say I have few regrets. However, what I can tell you is my life would have been less stressful if my younger self had my current self-awareness. From time to time in fact, I will recall an experience from my past and replay it in my mind to see how things could have been different, if I acted more like my adult self. For me doing this is more of a mental exercise; for the main character in this dramatic, action science fiction film his past was more physical. REACHING A POINT IN HIS LIFE where he could finally retire; elite assassin Henry Brogan, played by Will Smith (Aladdin, Suicide Squad), did not understand why he suddenly became the target of an assassin who was able to anticipate his every move. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) as Danny Zakarweski, Clive Owen (Closer, Inside Man) as Clay Verris, Benedict Wong (The Martian, Doctor Strange) as Baron and Douglas Hodge (Red Sparrow, The Report) as Jack Willis; I was anticipating this film to be an exciting and visual piece of work because of the director, Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain). Visually there was a lot to look at; however, the action went to fast for me. I found Will was doing the same type of acting he has done before; so, I was not connecting at all with his character. The real shame here was the script; it was not only generic but gave the viewers clues to what was going to happen further in the story. Overall, there was nothing exciting or fresh about this picture. I hate to say it, but I believe this movie is an example of Oscar Wilde’s quote.
1 ¾ stars
JUST BECAUSE IT IS THE PAST does not mean it ever goes away. Recently, I attended back to back family events. The first one was held at a relative’s house with a variety of family members in attendance. During the evening a photo album (does anyone remember one of these?) was brought out for relatives to peruse at their leisure. The cover of the book was made of a deep reddish colored leather or fake leather. I knew it had to be old because the clear vinyl pages that were supposed to cover and hold the photos in place had lost their adhesiveness. Some of the edges of the vinyl were yellowed from age. Making sure the table spot in front of me was clean, I carefully placed the book down to look through it. Thankfully my relative had labelled the photographs because there were many people in the photos I did not know, even though they had a familiar look to them. There were some photos that had been shot in that particular relative’s country of origin; they were printed on thick cardboard with foreign printing on the back. I have to say they looked classy, elegant and ancient. I was seeing for the first-time relatives who were from generations past. The other startling thing I experienced was the realization, while looking at these deceased relatives, many of my current relatives looked like them. THE SECOND FAMILY EVENT I ATTENDED was held at a restaurant. All of us were to meet there for dinner. When I walked in, I saw some of my relatives off to the side. Approaching them, one relative saw me and announced me to the group around her. Out of the faces I could see, there was one there I knew but had not seen in a long time. She was a distant relative from a branch of the family that, for whatever reason, we had not had much interaction with while we were growing up. Walking up and greeting her, we exchanged excited comments of surprise about bumping into each other since her group was not part of the group of relatives I was coming to see. Once we calmed down from the surprise, she told me her brother was there; I had no memory of him in my memory banks. Pointing to someone standing behind me I turned around and was stunned at what I saw; it was the face of one of my deceased parents. Though this relative was connected to me distantly, our shared gene pool dealt him a hand where he turned out looking like he was part of my immediate family. Not that I have forgotten my parent; but it struck me how each relative, whether living or deceased, plays a part in creating a place where we belong and a sense of home. This animated film had a similar story. YI’S, VOICED BY CHLOE BENNET (AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D-TV, Nashville-TV), dream of traveling the world took on a new wrinkle when she discovered a magical Yeti hiding on the roof of her apartment building. With Albert Tsai (Dr. Ken-TV, Trophy Wife-TV) voicing Peng, Tenzing Norgay Trainor (Liv and Maddie-TV) voicing Jin, Eddie Izzard (Across the Universe, Ocean’s Thirteen) voicing Burnish and Sarah Paulson (The Goldfinch, The Post) voicing Dr. Zara; I found the animation both beautiful and colorful. The idea behind the story was sweet and touching, despite the script being somewhat generic. However, I so enjoyed the message and the scenes that I did not mind the familiar story lines. Though this film is classified as humorous, it is not a laugh out loud type; more like a knowing chuckle. Appropriate for all family members, one cannot deny the sweetness of the message for it does make one think of their own family. Plus, the still photographs used during the ending credits were a nice touch to cement those feelings of family and home.
I DON’T THINK I WOULD HAVE been as upset if the packaging had been different; but the fact that the bag looked identical to the name brand product, annoyed me to no end. During my weekly grocery shopping excursion, I picked up a bag of chopped lettuce and threw it into my shopping cart. I buy bagged lettuce every week; it is a staple in my household. When it came time to open the bag to make a salad, I noticed the pieces of lettuce were smaller than usual and several pieces were wilted already. Looking for the best by date on the bag, I realized the brand was different from the one I always bought; it was the grocery store’s private brand. I had no idea because as I said the packaging was so like my brand. Now I am not bad-mouthing store branded products, but it bugs me that they make their products look just like the name brand ones. I perceive it as an act of deception instead of a sign of flattery. In my pantry there are several store branded products, so I don’t have a problem using them. To be honest, some of them taste the same as the national brands; but some just do not have the same quality. I DO UNDERSTAND THE MARKETING THAT goes behind these products. They are usually cheaper priced versions where the store can increase their profit margins by the sale of their own items. In my mind the reason a product is made to look like another product is to trick the shopper into thinking they have the original brand, just like what happened to me. All it takes is for a consumer to try the private brand and then hope they realize the thing they bought is fine, which will turn them into a devoted shopper of the store’s brand. If the package looked nothing like the original brand, a consumer could easily skip over it to reach for the one they have always used in their household; I truly understand the thinking behind this, but I still do not like it. I remember trying a store branded roll of paper towels and I took an immediate dislike to them. They were not as soft or absorbent as my chosen brand. They were a good price on sale, so I was willing to take a chance. This is the type of marketing I prefer where I do not feel I am being manipulated and I am getting something in return for trying the item, a sale price. Now I only wish I would have gotten a discount on my theater ticket for this dramatic, science fiction thriller. HAVING BEEN TOLD HER WHOLE LIFE by her father that it was too dangerous to go outside, 7-year-old Chloe, played by Lexy Kolker (Shooter-TV, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-TV) never left the house. However, when an ice cream truck came and parked outside her door, she did not understand what could be so dangerous about getting an ice cream cone. This film festival winner starred Emile Hirsch (Milk, Speed Racer) as Dad, Bruce Dern (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Remember Me) as Mr. Snowcone, Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O-TV, The Border-TV) as Agent Ray and Amanda Crew (The Age of Adaline, The Haunting of Connecticut) as Mary. The story started out slow and lasted a long time; it was not until the last third of the film where things picked up for me. I enjoyed the acting, particularly Lexy’s performance. I thought it was a smart move to have the audience see the story through her character’s eyes. The script was fine for the most part, but the entire story felt like a light version of the X-men franchise. Also, I think there must have been a small budget allotted to this project because the special effects looked cheap. When the film was over, I truly felt I had seen a generic X-men picture, interesting characters but nothing memorable.