THOUGH I WOULD TRY TO OUTRUN HIM, he would catch me often. When he did, I always tried to wrap my arms around his big arm because he would lift me off the floor with that one arm. There I was dangling in midair and I loved it. He was an older relative who was one of the tallest in the family. Big in stature, he would wait for me or a cousin to dare him to catch us. We would run out of the dining room into a hallway, to a bedroom that had a 2nddoor that led to another short hallway that took us back to the dining room; in essence, our path was a big circle. Sometimes he would push me down to the floor and tickle me after catching me. For a little kid it was a fun activity to try and outrun him; though, I am sure the other relatives quickly tired of me running inside the house. Eventually he grew tired of the game and tell us we tired him out. That seemed like a victory for my cousins and me for some reason; however, the relatives sitting around the dining room table usually told us to sit down and cool off because we were sweaty from our game. THE GAME OF BEING CHASED ALWAYS reminded me of 2 of my favorite cartoon shows, the Road Runner and Tom & Jerry. I used to watch them on TV every week, even if they were repeats. I was especially fond of the contraptions Wile E. Coyote would build to try and catch the Road Runner. Many of the items he used always came from the Acme company, I believe. With Tom & Jerry there was a rivalry between the two that drove each one to top the other. However, I recall a couple of times where they saved each other from real danger or worked together for a common goal. As a kid I loved these shows, but now as an adult, I cannot get over the amount of violence these cartoons displayed for their time. There was The Three Stooges who used to beat on each other, but I do not recall them using guns or axes to attack one another. I would be curious to see how these programs would play out for young children currently. Well look here, Tom & Jerry have their own movie now; I had to check it out and see if it reminded me of those old cartoons of theirs, I used to watch while sitting in front of the television. AFTER JERRY TAKES UP RESIDENCE IN an exclusive hotel, Tom is hired to remove Jerry permanently from the property. The key was to do this quietly so as not to alert the guests to a mouse living amongst them. With Chloe Grace Moretz (The 5thWave, Let Me In) as Kayla, Michael Pena (Dora and the Lost City of Gold, 12 Strong) as Terence, Jordan Bolger (Don’t Knock Twice, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Cameron, Patsy Ferran (Darkest Hour, Jamestown-TV) as Joy the Bell Girl and Pallavi Sharda (Lion, Begum Jaan) as Preeta; this animated/live action family comedy had a script with a serious flaw in it. The opening scenes were okay but when the writers introduced the 2ndstory line about the wedding taking place in the hotel, all the fun and humor ran dry. I had a hard time with the amount of violence and did not care for any of the characters except Joy the Bell Girl. There was a decent message within the story but there was nothing creative about the scenes and the humor was predictable. Maybe young children would still enjoy it; but, unless animated characters are given overexaggerated reactions during the fights, I found the violence uncomfortable. Now that is just me, but this film was not of the same caliber as those old cartoons they used to show on television.
1 7/8 stars
THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future. THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year. FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.
1 7/8 stars
FOUR MONTHS AFTER MY IDENTITY HAD been stolen, I received a notice from the government that my fraud claim was confirmed, and I was not responsible for any losses. It has been a long four months with me contacting different agencies, freezing my credit report and filing a police report. It all started when I received a notice from unemployment that I had been approved to receive benefits; a debit card was enclosed that I was supposed to activate to receive funds. I knew it was a scam since I was currently employed. Due to the pandemic, I had a harder time getting things accomplished to protect myself. There were the multiple calls to the Social Security Administration, where I had to wait on hold until their phone system would tell me no agents were available and to try back later. Once I finally was able to speak to a representative, I could not get an answer to my questions, like why they are dunning me for 4 payments they claim they sent to me. I asked them where were they sending it; if it was to that debit card I did not activate, why couldn’t they just pull the funds back? Still, I could not get a clear answer and was told I should just hold on to all the paperwork that was sent to me. MY ORDEAL, THOUGH IT WAS A hassle, was manageable for me. However, I did wonder how I would have handled it if I was older. It is weird how it just happens; that sense of vulnerability that enters our consciousness as we get older. When I was younger, I gave little thought to walking in the snow and ice during winter; now, I am hyper aware of where I am stepping on an icy wet pavement. Will I become easily confused in my senior years? Will I be an easy target for scammers? These are things I think about now. They had a news report recently of a senior citizen in a nursing home who was milked out of her savings to the tune of $500,000.00. She was befriended by an employee at the nursing home who would have her sign withdrawal slips for small amounts of money from her savings account. Over time the small amounts added up and left the woman very little to live on. It was heartbreaking to see and confirmed my fears that the elderly can be such easy targets. If I get to a point where I might become easily confused, I hope I would know to find an advocate for me, someone who would watch out for my best interests. If you care to see an example of what could happen, then watch this dark comedy, crime thriller. MARLA GRAYSON, PLAYED BY ROSAMUND PIKE (A Private War, Gone Girl), had a good thing going of being a legal guardian for those who could not take care of themselves. That is until she became the guardian to someone who had a couple of secrets of her own. With Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones-TV, X-men: Days of Future Past) as Roman Lunyov, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Paradise Hills) as Fran, Dianne Wiest (Hannah and her Sisters, Darling Companion) as Jennifer Peterson and Chris Messina (Away We Go, Ruby Sparks) as Dean Ericson; this Golden Globe nominated movie had an interesting premise. I felt the writers could have gone in a variety of ways to make their point. However, the way they chose I found horrible. I thought the script was mean spirited and ignorant. The only thing that kept me watching this film was the performances by Rosamund, Peter and Dianne. They were excellent; but I do not know how they kept this picture going, because there was no moral compass in the story and there really was no character that elicited any sympathy from me. If it wasn’t for the acting, I would have given this film a lower rating of stars.
1 7/8 stars
FOR A LONG TIME, I ATTRIBUTED my ability for seeing little details to Sherlock Holmes and the Hardy Boys. Having read the books and seen the movies that they were in, I began to pride myself with the way I observed people and places. A friend and I used to pretend we were detectives who had to follow individuals in the neighborhood, who we suspected of being criminals. I remember following a woman with a shopping cart into the grocery store, who I believed to be a foreign spy; she was shopping for essentials for herself and her co-conspirators back at their hideout. As she was walking up and down the aisles, I kept track of what she was putting into her shopping cart. I waited until she was paying for her groceries at the checkout line before I left and joined my partner across the street. We waited until she came out then followed her back to her hideout. While we were tagging behind her, I updated my friend on the items she had purchased at the store. I pointed out the reason for all the canned goods was because they were planning to be here for an extended time to work on a huge operation that would cause considerable damage to our city. We decided we had better keep her under surveillance for the near future. AFTER I HAD GROWN OUT OF my detective phase, I stopped focusing on getting every detail of a situation. It faded into the background, or at least I thought it did. Never giving it any thought, I seemed to have the ability to retain full images of things I observed. It wasn’t something that made me think I was doing anything different from anyone else. It wasn’t until a friend asked me one day how I could remember what everyone wore at a party that took place a couple of months ago. We were talking about a mutual friend and I asked him if he remembered they had attended a social function we were at. When my friend could not recall their presence, I told him what the person was wearing and where they were seated. I thought everyone could recall such things, but my friend told me it was not true. A short time later, I discovered not everyone has the ability to see the finer details when they are looking at something. Some individuals take in the “big picture” while others laser focus on certain elements; I have seen it time and again. Whether a person can train themselves in acquiring the skill, I do not know; but I know having that ability was an asset for the main character in this dramatic crime thriller. DRAWN INTO AN UNSOLVED MURDER CASE, Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon, played by Denzel Washington (The Equalizer franchise, The Book of Eli), began to experience déjà vu. Will his past interfere with the present? With Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Papillon) as Jim Baxter, Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club) as Albert Sparma, Chris Bauer (A Dog’s Way Home, True Blood-TV) as Detective Sal Rizoli and Michael Hyatt (Nightcrawler, Like Crazy) as Flo Dunigan; this Golden Globe nominee had all the fixings of a good old detective story. With its cast, I was expecting some top notch acting and was rewarded by Jared’s and Rami’s performances. As for Denzel, I was sadly disappointed with his acting; it felt like he was on automatic, doing a repeat of former characters from his past movies. Putting the acting aside, the script had the glimmer of hope in the beginning but then spiraled down to a massive failure. There were a couple of parts that made no sense whatsoever. This poorly thought out script and story turned this movie into a mediocre addition to the murder mystery genre. If only everyone involved with the production of this film had Denzel’s character’s ability to pay attention to the fine details, it then might have been a worthwhile viewing.
1 7/8 stars
The last song set was my favorite part of this musical comedy because it reminded me how much I love concerts. There was nothing like being with 20,000 people who were there for one reason: to watch a musical artist create a magical moment. I especially would get a kick when a musician or singer made an unexpected change to a familiar song. It made me feel special as if I were part of an exceptional group, that would be the only ones to hear that version of the song. That fond memory was pretty much the only good thing associated with this cheesy film. A cross between the television show Glee and the movie Footloose, this film had nothing original to bring to the genre of singing competitions. Queen Latifah (Just Wright, Chicago) was newly appointed church choir director Vi Rose Hill. She was chosen over long term benefactor and choir member G. G. Sparrow, played by Dolly Parton (Nine to Five, Steel Magnolias). This set up a continual conflict between the two women. If it involved Vi’s daughter Olivia, played by Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee, Cleaner) and G. G.’s grandson Randy Garrity, played by relative newcomer Jeremy Jordan or what musical direction to take the choir; the two woman never let up in every situation. The script was nothing but cringe worthy and icky. It came across as if the writers cut and paste bits from other movies, thinking since it worked once it would work again. Of course, Queen Latifah and Dolly had their big solos and for the most part I enjoyed the singing numbers from everyone. But then again I am a sucker for most any singing done in a movie. Sadly I have to say on a musical scale, this movie was a D flat.
1 7/8 stars — DVD