AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I hold teachers in high regard. What they provide is invaluable and they are not compensated enough for it. No disrespect to the professional sporting world, but the pay scale is quite lopsided when you compare a teacher’s salary to a pitcher or basketball player. A teacher is helping our children to become functioning, self-sufficient, independent adults. A sports figure is entertaining us. Despite what I just said, I know there are some teachers who graduate at the top of their class and there are some who graduate at the bottom of their class. The same with any profession; it can be anyone from a doctor to an accountant. I have had some remarkable teachers in my life; ones who pushed me harder to excel in the fields of my interest. However, I remember the instructors, who even back then, I knew were not very good. There was one teacher who taught by reading out of our textbook in a monotone voice. They did not elaborate on anything, nor did they encourage discussion of a topic. It was a boring class, with many of the students not paying attention to them. That class seemed to be the longest one of the day, though it was the same amount of time as all the other classes. COMPARED TO THE TIME I WENT to school; I think teachers have a harder time teaching these days. I spent an evening with a teacher who shared their experiences in the classroom. At their school, all teachers must go through an active shooter training class. Most if not all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for the students because there is never enough money in the school budget to get supplies. Class sizes are larger, where children with learning disabilities are placed in the classroom with no consideration to getting help for the child; it is up to the teacher to try to teach the general student body at the same time as those with some type of disability. The teacher I was talking to told me about a student in their class who they believe is a genius. Being a 2nd grade student, the child’s test scores show they are performing at the level of a sophomore in high school. I asked if the school district is aware of the child’s abilities, and they said yes; but they have not provided any help or tools to help the child excel and adapt to their environment. Learning falls on the teacher, but how can they incorporate a super advanced student into the general mix of the classroom.? If interested, this comedic family drama will show you what I have been talking about to the extreme. HAVING THE WORST PARENTS IN the world, a little girl is hopeful she will finally get an education when her parents decide to enroll her in a school. Her parents would start to look good right after the little girl met the headmistress. With Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home, Darklands-TV) as Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson (Cruella; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) as Agatha Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, The Woman King) as Miss Honey, Stephen Graham (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Mr. Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, W.E.) as Mrs. Wormwood; this adaptation of the staged musical production took the essence of the characters and accentuated them to become standout performers. Alisha and Emma were incredible; I could not take my eyes off them. The rest of the cast was equally as good. The direction was precise and magical at times as it worked to create the ideal version of Roald Dahl’s story. The music and songs provided comic relief at times, as well as the sharp passages of dialog. This was such a fun movie watching experience, that brought me back to a less complicated time, where I was rooting all the way for Matilda.
3 1/4 stars
THOUGH MY STUDIES DID NOT NECESSARILY cover the psychological makeup of actors, I have seen enough live theater performances to tell when the cast members are enjoying themselves. I do not know if I can explain it properly, but there is a feeling in the air that is like carbonated liquids, with a touch of electricity that sparks the performance. Recently, I was in New York City and attended a couple of Broadway shows. One of the theater productions was a big, old-fashioned musical with a large cast of actors and dancers. The curtain rose and within five minutes the actors went into a big musical number. The male lead was the last one to join in; but once they did, the rest of the performers kicked it up a notch to match the lead’s energy level. Later, the same thing happened when the female lead had her first big singing and dance number. There was so much activity taking place on stage, I did not know where to look first. But no matter who I was focusing on, everyone was vibrant, filled with high energy. I could feel that energy coming out into the auditorium. Do you know those times when you are standing somewhere and can tell when someone has come up behind you? It is in that same vein, but to the umpteenth power of intensity, where I can feel the actors’ joy. GRANTED, A LIVE PERFORMANCE IS DIFFERENT than watching it on film; however, there are times when I am sure the actors are having a great time filming their story. An example that comes to mind are the Marvel superhero films. For me, there is an enthusiasm that comes across the screen, just like the screen presence comes across from an actor. There is a film I will be reviewing shortly, with Emma Thompson, where the energy was infectious coming off the cast. It added an extra layer of enjoyment in my viewing of the picture. Another way of looking at this is to think about a party you have attended. When everyone is experiencing the same type of fun and joy, the party is always more memorable; or at least remembered fondly. When there are guests at a party that are not experiencing the event in the same way, there is a disconnect. I have been to a couple of small events where there was a guest who was not participating in conversation and laughter. It puts a damper on everyone’s experience, in my opinion. Luckily that doesn’t happen in this dramatic crime comedy sequel. LONG TIME FRIENDS MEET AT ONE of their friend’s estates on a Greek island for vacation. Added to the list of guests is the world’s greatest detective which was fortuitous because there was going to be a murder. With Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, No Time to Die) as Benoit Blanc, Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) as Miles Bron, Kate Hudson (Fool’s Gold, Almost Famous) as Birdie Jay, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, My Spy) as Duke Cody and Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) as Andi Brand; this movie was a fun viewing experience. The cast was well chosen and not only blended well together but were all deeply into their characters. The script was not as sharp as the first film and at times seemed to be veering off subject; however, the distinct different characters involved smoothed over the rough patches. There were places where I felt this picture was trying to be an Agatha Christie story, except going a more outrageous route. The standouts for me were Janelle and Dave; I felt they had the strongest presence on screen. Still, even with its flaws this was a decent addition to this budding film franchise.
I HAVE BEEN MANY THINGS IN my lifetime. I was a music DJ, packing the clubs where I played to capacity. My favorite places were the ones that had the best light shows. One club had lasers and mirrors placed around the dance floor in such a way that when the fog machine was in use, it looked like there were waves at high tide above the patrons’ heads. Another time I was a double agent, following suspects and keeping track of their whereabouts. There were times when I would get into an altercation with a foreign agent, where I had to rely on my incredible martial arts skills to subdue them. My time as an agent did not last long because I wanted to be an actor. My talent was having a face that could show intense emotions, from piercing hot anger to heartbreaking sadness; I was positive I would get an Academy Award one day, for one of my performances. One of my earliest careers was being a religious singer, which I was going to take up after I retired from being a window washer. All these jobs were things I used to daydream about when I was quite young. Though I never pursued them in real life, in my daydreams I was the best at each one of them. MY YEARS OF DAYDREAMING DURING MY YOUTH (and presently from time to time), led me to explore the science of dreams when I was attending college. A couple of things I still remember from those years is that the main character in our dreams is usually us and when you wake up in the middle of a dream, if you ponder what the outcome would have been, you will be less tired through the day. There was a short period of time where I was experiencing the same type of dream over and over. I was being chased by an entity that was determined to kill me. I would wake up with a start each time, not sure if the dream was real and if there was someone in my house; it was awful. Because I never could see who was chasing me in the dream, I had a difficult time trying to make sense of the images. However, once I came to an understanding of what the dream might have meant, it stopped replaying during my sleep. To this day, I am still fascinated with dreams, both mine and the ones that are told to me. So, when I heard about this movie, I wanted to view it and see what kind of dreams other people experience. A YOUNG GIRL, WHO RECENTLY LOST her father, finds a hidden treasure map. It was not your typical map; it was a map to one’s dreams. With Jason Momoa (Dune, Aquaman) as Flip, Marlow Barkley (Spirited, Single Parents-TV) as Nemo, Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, The Program) as Philip, Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Manchester by the Sea) as Peter, and Weruche Opia (When Love Happens Again, The Bad Education Movie) as Agent Green; this adventure comedy, family fantasy was a visual treat; it was very creative and colorful. Add in Jason tackling an out of character role from his previous stints and doing it quite well, this was a fun film to watch. The script was on the light side for the most part, but the idea for it was solid. I would have preferred more depth for the characters and bigger surprises, along with a stronger buildup of tension; however, within all the themes, there were a few things that kept me interested. All in all, this was an easy film to sit back and watch; plus, the most important part I am guessing was the fact it did not put me to sleep.
2 ½ stars
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