MAYBE YOU WOULD NOT GET ANNOYED; but I do when meeting a person for the first time, who is trying to by funny. Humor is and always has been my go to safe spot, so it is not like I am against someone being amusing; however, if I do not know the person I need time to learn about them. The part that bugs me is when the person says something odd, but then says they are only kidding followed up with them saying no, they are not kidding then back to saying they’re kidding. I had this one conversation with this man who tried to make every topic a joke. If it was a straight forward joke where they laughed afterwards, then I would have gotten the message, but that was not the case. They would say something with this deadpan delivery and expression, where I had no idea if they were joking or not. Then they would start the kidding, no kidding cycle; I must tell you that got old fast. In a few minutes I was tired from the confusing signals and politely excused myself. The funny thing though is I love sarcasm and this person was attempting to be sarcastic, but it fell flat. IN A SIMILAR VEIN A PERSON who exaggerates without using humor can be problematic for me as well. This would be someone who enjoys using the words: best, biggest, most expensive, etc. I never know if their statements are true and wonder what they are using as a comparison. At a party I was sitting with a small group of guests. One person was dominating the conversation in my opinion. As I listened it became apparent to me they were either bragging or believed they knew the best places to shop and eat in the country. I so badly wanted to ask what made it the best place but honestly, I was not interested. If they had simply talked about a particular restaurant or store I would have been curious to hear about it; but add in one of those words I listed earlier, and I start to feel like all they are doing is bragging to a crowd. Before you think I am a horrible guest, let me say I totally enjoy hearing people tell their stories. Maybe I do some editing of them quietly in my head as I navigate thru their version of humor and/or exaggeration; but overall, I still like a good story and the main characters in this mysterious crime drama had me paying close attention to their story. HAVING ONLY RECENTLY MET, STEPHANIE SMOTHERS and Emily Nelson, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, Table 19) and Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adeline), were fast becoming friends. So, when Emily asked Stephanie if she could pick her son up after school, Stephanie was eager to please. She was not expecting Emily to disappear and not come back. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, The Bachelorette-TV) as Sean Townsend, Andrew Rannells (The Intern, Bachelorette) as Darren and newcomer Ian Ho as Nicky Nelson; this dark comedic crime story was a blast to watch. Anna and Blake were so good together I would like to see them together again in another film, they had a great chemistry that shined on the big screen. There were a couple of holes in the script, but I did not care; there was so many twists and surprises that kept the story going. I also thought the use of humor added a whole fresh element. Little did I know I was entering such an entertaining experience with this picture, where I got the humor and enjoyed the outrageousness.
3 ¼ stars
IF YOU HAVE AN INNOCENT LOOKING face chances are you will go through life with less obstacles on your path. I believe this to be true because I learned it in school. At the time I was not cognizant of such a thing, but I was a quick learner. There were certain students in school who would always get in trouble with their teachers, some rightfully so. One look at these students’ faces and you would immediately blame them for disruptive behavior in class. I on the other hand had an innocent looking face or to be more exact, could put on an innocent looking face. At the time I did not realize I had this capability. You see I could not only keep a straight face, but if needed put on a great smile accompanied by deep set dimples. There was a period of time where I was mischievous in the classroom. I would throw paper clips at students’ heads who were sitting in front of me. They would turn around to see who threw it but would not be able to tell which student did it. First, no one would say anything and second, I would look as if I was engrossed in our class assignment. Having this new-found awareness and watching the teachers taught me “looks” plays a big part in a person’s perceptions of someone. WHAT I DID NOT TELL YOU about the paperclip story has to do with the student who sat next to me. If my paperclip throwing started accusations being thrown at random classmates, the teacher would single out this student next to me. Because he had a face that spelled out trouble he was the first choice a teacher would pick to reprimand, simply based on his looks. As I said earlier I was not aware of this type of discrimination early on, but I soon realized it was taking place all around me. I even witness it today in my own fitness classes. If a person who is overweight walks into my class, some members will give them a certain look that I have learned means they think the person is lazy and out of shape. Without knowing a thing about the person, members around will make judgments and be somewhat stand-offish. It is so rude of the class participants. Pretty much anywhere I go I can find you examples of people making such rash judgments; but there is no need for me to do it, let this film festival winning comedic drama show you. WITH ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT ON his probation Collin, played by Daveed Diggs (Wonder, Black-ish-TV), wanted to make sure nothing would happen that would land him back in jail. His best friend Miles, played by relative newcomer Rafael Casal, seemed to think it was all a joke. With Janina Gavankar (White Orchid, The League-TV) as Val, Jasmine Cephas Jones (Mistress America, Titus) as Ashley and Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, Grace and Frankie-TV) as Officer Molina; the script for this movie tackled a familiar topic in a whole new way. Kudos to Daveed and Rafael for writing such a piece. I thought the acting was excellent and enjoyed how the comedy and drama easily blended together. It was important that it did that because I feel viewers would have gotten more uncomfortable with the film and stop thinking about what was taking place on screen. I did not care for the last portion of the movie and thought a particular rap scene could have had more impact without the rhyming. However, I will say I give them credit for doing something different. This film grew on me the more I thought about it. As they say never judge a book by its cover.
3 ¼ stars
UP UNTIL WORKING AT A fitness center I never encountered an individual who received replacement body parts. I was fascinated by the first person I met because it was something different and unique. They had their hip replaced with metal, ceramic and hard plastic parts that mimicked their original hip, except now they had no pain. I listened as they told me how soon they were up and standing after the surgery. The reason they joined the health club was to continue their rehab exercises, besides taking advantage of the health benefits of working out daily. Prior to the procedure they could barely walk without experiencing pain, due to arthritis and deteriorating bone joint. Keep in mind this was a long time ago, so back then these replacement procedures to me were out of a science fiction story like Star Trek or the Six Million Dollar Man. You have a broken bone or a bad knee? No problem, just come in and get a new one installed; it really is amazing, isn’t it? From that first person I have met so many other people who have gone through surgery to get replacement parts for their body. IF ONLY THERE WAS A WAY to increase brain cells I would certainly go through the procedure. As I am going thru the aging process I feel as if my brain doesn’t react as swiftly as it did in my younger years. Maybe it is my imagination, but I know there are times it takes me longer to process new information. Some time ago I bought a set of DVDs to learn a couple of different languages. Not that I was expecting to become totally fluent in the new language, but I had hoped I could at least understand what a person was saying to me and reply. I have watched some of the DVDs multiple times but I tend to get frustrated when I replay the same ones over because I had forgotten some of the phrases from the last time I watched the DVDs. What if there was a way to upgrade the brain’s language skills? Simply based on the medical marvels I have seen at the health club and in the news, who knows what is in store for humans regarding having their bodies upgraded. This film festival winning dramatic, action science fiction movie may provide the answers to some of your questions. DOING HIS BEST TO LIVE LIFE without the need for current technology Grey Trace, played by Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus, Spider-Man: Homecoming) was confronted with a tough decision after becoming the victim of a crime. To regain the life he once had, he would have to succumb to an experimental treatment. With Richard Anasasios (The Dressmaker, Cut Snake) as Wan, Rosco Campbell (Winchester, Underbelly Files: Chopper-TV mini-series) as VR Guy, Betty Gabriel (Get Out, The Purge: Election Year) as Cortez and Benedict Hardie (The Water Diviner, The Light Between Oceans) as Fisk; I found the story took what could have been a typical science fiction genre and gave it a new clever twist. Though there was blood and violence the action was terrific, especially because of Logan’s physical acting. He kept reminding me of Tom Hardy to the point I left the theater thinking I had seen Tom. I appreciated the way the director kept things moving; there was nothing too frenetic where I could not follow the players. Once again I have to say the fight scenes with Grey were amazing. Set in a near future (?) setting, it was fun to see a blend of old and new gadgets throughout the story. Who knows what the future holds for us as a species; this movie certainly showed both the positive and negative aspects to an advanced society.
3 1/4 stars
THE ANNOUNCER STATED WITH CERTAINTY THEY were the perfect match. The couple had just been married in what appeared to be a storybook setting; which only flavored the comment into a cliché. Doesn’t everyone who ventures into matrimony feel they found the perfect one to marry? I may not believe someone can be perfect; but I absolutely feel they can perfectly fit with their mate to make the perfect union. Some people find their perfect match and some settle for the best available. I know a few couples who work well together for the most part, but they periodically encounter speed bumps in their growth together. Sad to say but I knew a couple of people who because of their low self-esteem settled with individuals that were not good matches for them. They seemed more like roommates than partners in life; they did very few things together because they did not have a lot of common interests. Not that it should define the relationship; heck, I feel it is important that 2 people coming together should be able to maintain their individual interests. All I am saying is that they also should be able to enjoy some things together. PERFECT MATCHES CAN ALSO PERTAIN TO a person and their profession. How many times have you heard someone say they found the perfect job. Oh, well maybe that is not the best example; I do not know a lot of people who feel they are working at their dream job. Though there are athletes who were gifted in the sport they participated in. Now some people have an aptitude for a particular skill; let us say working with numbers. They may be a whiz at accounting or financing; however, the job may not be best suited for them. What I mean is they may work best individually but in a group setting or under micro-management they may not be the most proficient. Think about it; out of all the options, some would say obstacles, in our path the fact someone can feel as if they have met the perfect match or job really is close to a miracle. In the case of this comedic, action adventure I firmly believe the main actor has found the perfect role to play. Anything he does after this character has a chance of paling in comparison. FOR ALL HIS FOUL-MOUTHED comments, bravado and inappropriate remarks; no one would believe he would be concerned about the welfare of a young child. Why then did he feel the need to assemble a team of super heroes? With Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Buried) reprising his role as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War, The Brave) as Nathan Summers/Cable), Morena Baccarin (Back in the Day, The Flash-TV) as Vanessa, Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Shopping) as Russell and Zazie Beetz (Finding Her, Atlanta-TV) as Domino; Ryan has created the perfect role for himself. Just like the first one, this film was slammed with satire, strong language, humor and an abundance of action scenes. I did find the story a bit typical; but Ryan kept his twisted, humorous comments flying throughout his dialog. One needed to pay attention because there nearly was a constant stream of comments that were relevant, topical, political and pretty much any other adjective you wish to add. The action scenes were exciting and I liked the special effects. On the downside there was less surprise for me with this sequel simply because I experienced most of these reactions when I saw the original movie. Also, I think the amount of action scenes with this one nearly bordered on becoming monotonous. There is no denying Ryan will have a challenge doing a different character. He is now permantely married to this character Deadpool; he has found his perfect match. ALERT: please remember to read the opening credits and there were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.
3 ¼ stars
I HAVE NOTHING BUT ADMIRATION for someone who spent their entire life working to achieve one goal. During a social engagement I was talking with one of the guests who happened to be a plumber. From the conversation we were having, he expressed how he always wanted to be a plumber ever since he was a little boy. While the other kids were playing at the public swimming pool, he was in it trying to figure out where the water was going in the vents by the side of the pool walls. Another time his parents caught him trying to take apart the kitchen sink and drain with his children’s tools. I found it interesting to meet someone who had only one goal and did not care what other people said about him. He did say his parents were not thrilled that he dropped out of college so he could devote all his time to learning his craft. Seriously, one must give him credit for knowing what he wanted to do and then pursue it to make it happen. How many of us wind up in a job that we either dislike or have no investment in it? THINKING BACK TO THE DIFFERENT paths I was on for a career choice, it amazes me that I settled into a position that nurtures me. At one time I wanted to be a full-time fitness professional; like the people you see on the infomercials who have trademarked an exercise method. While that was going on I still had dreams of being either a writer, psychiatrist or veterinarian. All of this superseded my earlier career hope of being an international DJ. Remembering all of this, all I can say is I certainly had eclectic tastes. Do I have any regrets that I did not achieve one of these as my sole profession? Not really, as you can see I had varied interests back then; I never devoted all my time towards one path. On the plus side I presently continue to get much joy out of teaching fitness/yoga classes and writing these movie reviews. I realize not everyone experiences joy from what they do, so I am quite grateful. And if and when the time comes where I can no longer do one of them I cannot imagine I will feel lost. These things are only a part of me, they do not define all of me; unlike the main character in this dramatic, film festival winner. AFTER A SERIOUS HEAD INJURY Brady Blackburn, played by newcomer Brady Jandreau, had to find a way to redefine himself since he was being told he could not do what he loved. Based on a true story this film was made up of newcomers; there was Tim Jandreau as Wayne Blackburn and Lilly Jandreau as Lilly Blackburn. Written and directed by Chloe Zhao (The Atlas Mountains, Songs My Brothers Taught Me), I was at first thrown by this movie. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a documentary or a drama. There was a simple pureness to everything in this picture. From the landscapes to the script to the acting; there was no additional fillers. I cannot say there was action in the story; it was more like a slow burn. Add in the close-up shots and they only intensified the emotional level which I found compelling. The sport depicted in this picture was something I truthfully never gave much thought to before; however, I believe this was an honest and real depiction of these riders. I guess I have only seen the top players on television since this story showed a whole different side. The story to me was haunting and I can only imagine how it must feel being told you cannot do what you love.
3 ¼ stars
A TRAINED EYE IS NOT necessary to see the beauty in things. Walking down the street of a coastal town your eye catches a glimpse of the ocean between two dilapidated buildings. You came up to the space just as the sun slipped out from behind a cloud, sending a blanket of diamond confetti across the water’s surface. Down by the fisheries where the smell of fish is thick in the air, you see the skeleton of an eaten fish that some animal must have scavenged away from the dock as a fishing boat was unloading their catch. The way the skeleton was left on the ground minus its head, it looks like someone was trying to comb the unruly grass blades. So you see there are opportunities to find something special in the most ordinary of things. I have mentioned before that on vacation I tend to be a drive by shooter; that is, someone who can be driving along and spot something interesting that I want to photograph. If there is no traffic around I will stop the car in the middle of the road, roll down my window and snap a picture then drive away. HAVING GROWN UP IN THE city I am particularly fond of state and national parks. Seeing expansive landscapes, with very little trace of human interference, grounds me to the earth so to speak. The area where I live is flat, so viewing mountain ranges and canyons are exciting for me. You should see me at a park with my camera; I am shooting picture after picture of sights multiple times. I can shoot the same scene a few times but each one I make a subtle change like zooming in or focusing on an object off center. One of my dreams when I retire is to spend time every year visiting a national park until I have seen them all. Based on what I saw in this film festival winning documentary, I hope the parks will still be pristine by the time I can go see them. Maybe I will have to adjust my focus. CANADIAN PHOTOGRAPHER EDWARD BURTYNSKY has spent part of his life visiting different areas of the world where people have made an impact on their surroundings. Someone’s trash could be someone else’s treasure. Directed by Jennifer Baichwal (Long Time Running, Watermark) I found this film an amazing smorgasbord of visual actions; where out of the most mundane and blemished areas things were turned into beautiful art. Being a photographer I wondered if I was biased in my assessment, but if the visuals were standing alone I could possible see it. However with the narration and seeing what society was creating, I felt there was a definite message being broadcast in this story. Not that anything is being drummed into the viewer’s head, but one could certainly see what society’s actions were doing to the planet. On the flip side it was fascinating to see how our actions have an effect on the people who either live nearby or far away. Without giving too much away I have to tell you I was enthralled with the ship scenes. This was a thought provoking, visual treat for me.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
THE LINE BETWEEN LIKE and love is a permeable one. In my past relationships I can come close to telling you when I went from liking to loving the person, but I cannot give you an exact moment when it happened. Though each relationship was unique, there were a series of events/moments in each one which were the catalysts that made me fall in love with them. Where in one relationship we were exact opposites, to one where we could finish each other’s sentences; they each combined with me in such a way where love sprung out of my heart. Recently talking with friends the question was posed to one, “Do you love him?” The reply was meaningful to me because they talked about always feeling different in past relationships, not referring to it being a bad or good thing. With their present relationship they felt for the first time that they found someone who thinks and acts in a similar way to themself. I FOUND THEIR ANSWER powerful, the idea of feeling like you are the only one until someone comes along who appears to belong to your particular “species.” Love truly has a way of sorting out the various attributes (some would say faults) of a person and ranking them in some sort of hierarchy in importance. A friend of mine’s past significant other loved eating in bed. I am talking where there would be crumbs in the sheets, according to what I heard. Truthfully I do not know if I could handle that situation; if I put myself in their place I might not have continued long enough to have fallen in love with the individual because of their eating in bed. It is similar to some people who refuse to date someone who smokes cigarettes. Love has such a way of smoothing out the wrinkled doubts and buffing away the rusty fearfulness; it has its own special type of fluidity in my opinion. I really see it as falling in love with the person’s being, which I refer to as their makeup; their actions and thoughts as opposed to their appearance. You might at one time looked at a couple and wondered what the two saw in each other; but you know what, you are not in love with one of them, so you are not seeing who they see. LIVING A RELAXED EXISTENCE at his parents’ villa in northern Italy Elio, played by Timothee Chalamet (Lady Bird, Love the Coopers), becomes intrigued with his father’s guest Oliver, played by Armie Hammer (The Long Ranger, The Social Network). There is something about Oliver that intrigues him in a way he has never felt before. This film festival winning dramatic romance also starred Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water, A Serious Man) as Mr. Perlman, Amira Casar (Night of a 1000 Hours, Saint Laurent) as Annella and Esther Garrel (House of Tolerance, Jealousy) as Marzia. The scenes in this movie were so lush and beautiful; I felt I was on a trip through Italy. I thought the framing of the scenes was thoughtful and precise because it laid the groundwork for the smoldering tension that was rising up in the story. Timothee was amazing in his role; his way of conveying emotions was almost palatable in the theater. As for Armie I felt this was a smart move on his part to focus on his acting ability, instead of just being a part of some big budget picture. Now I will say the script was not without fault; there were times where I felt the story dragged. However, I did appreciate the subtleness to the story. Love is one of the most powerful emotions and it was obvious this film was created with love, because they took the time to show what happens when one goes from liking to loving a person.
3 ¼ stars
THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS used to be such a cut and dry proposition; at least in my mind. During my formative years (they may still be going on presently) when someone made a decision I would carry it out. Whether it was at home or school, this is how I was raised. I cannot recall as a child if I questioned any decisions, though I will say I am sure I interpreted some of them in different ways than they were intended. My sensibilities started to change when that teacher, I have talked about before, told me I would amount to nothing if I pursued a career in writing. It was at that very moment I began questioning authority. The idea of one person, let alone a relative stranger, making a decision that would directly affect me made me extremely uncomfortable and rebellious. What right did this person have to decide what I could and could not do? Not that I would cause a riot or something, but I would question their decision even if it was only an internal dialog in my mind. LOOKING BACK THRU THE eyes of an adult; I now see where some decisions were solely a lucky guess, while others had consequences. Remembering my gym teacher in high school who refused to give me a passing grade, so I would have to repeat the course over; condemned me to another year of abuse even though he was aware of what I went through the first time. The decision by a fitness instructor to let me choreograph an aerobic routine for her started me on a career path in the fitness industry. Now I am very much aware of the magnitude some decisions have not only on me but on society in general. Thinking about one individual deciding on something that has major ramifications on a vast amount of people has to be a scary notion; heck, it should be a terrifying thing. I would not want someone to decide something of importance so cavalierly. The reason I have been thinking about decisions is due to this film festival winning dramatic war film. It is one thing to read about it in history books, but it is totally different to watch the decision process in action. WITH GERMAN FORCES SWEEPING across Europe it was only a matter of time before Germany had Great Britain in its sights. Choices had to be made but which ones would be the right ones? Starring Gary Oldman (The HItman’s Bodyguard, The Space Between Us) as Winston Churchill, Lily James (Cinderella, Baby Driver) as Elizabeth Layton, Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Clementine Churchill, Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Rogue One) as King George VI and Stephen Dillane (Spy Game, The Hours) as Viscount Halifax; this film would be an ideal companion piece to the film Dunkirk since they are set in similar times. Gary was outstanding as Winston Churchill; he was the main focus actually of the whole film and script. I understood this however; I felt the script was a bit weak in parts. When Winston was on everything felt right, but in the quieter moments I was left wanting more out of the characters, more in depth interactions between them. Taking the action at face value, I enjoyed the cat and mouse approach to part of the story. Whoever decided Gary was the right choice for the role deserves a pat on the back. I would not necessarily say the same for the script approval, but still the film was worth seeing.
3 ¼ stars
THE HONEYMOON phase is a real thing in a burgeoning relationship. However it can be quite deceptive for the individuals. I have seen many couples during this period who were bubbly and giddy in love, freely participating in public displays of affection. To the outsider they appeared perfectly in synch and for all intents and purposes they might have been. But it is here where that deception comes into play. With the couple exploring their love connection they might begin to feel that they could be together forever…and they just might succeed. But when 2 people never go past this faze to their real daily world, any slight obstacle can trip them up with drastic consequences. They were so focused on the happy, joyful, loving experiences they never took the time to really learn about each other. Even if some individuals are conscious about the different phases to a relationship they may fear showing their faults or quirks to their partner in love. RELATIONSHIPS take work sometimes; it would be great if everything was simple and easy but most people are complicated. From my past experiences I have learned to express my feelings more and not hide my quirks so far in the future hopes. The reason being I need a person to love me for who I am, instead of them focusing on the good stuff and thinking the difficult things will disappear or worse yet that they can change them in me. Going into a relationship with the idea you can change someone is the quickest way to kill the relationship. I mentioned in an earlier review about being with someone who resented me teaching fitness at night, but there have been others who thought they could change me to suit their needs. I will say it helps if a person will talk about their needs instead of going into a relationship under the pretense the person they are in love with will figure it out. I may not be an expert in the relationship department but I do know a relationship needs communication and respect. Feel free to take a gander at this Oscar nominated romantic drama to see what I mean. DISSIMILAR backgrounds and beliefs were not a concern for Elise and Didier, played by Veerle Baetens (The Ardennes, Code 37-TV) and Johan Heldenbergh (The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Brand New Testament), when they first met. Their love of bluegrass music and physical attraction to each other was a good start to begin a relationship. They were setting themselves up for a fall when their lives took an unexpected turn. This film festival winning musical movie also starred Nell Cattrysse (Labyrinthus, Het Vonnis) as Maybelle and Geert Van Rampelberg (The Treatment, The Memory of a Killer) as William. I thought the acting was excellent because to me Didier and Elise came across as a real couple. The script surprised me and I will tell you why. Normally I am not a fan of a story jumping back and forth in time; but in this case, it worked to break up the intensity of the situation with the musical numbers and home life scenes. There was honesty in the script, where I felt myself getting drawn into the lives of these people. As I stated earlier relationships are not always easy. Flemish and Dutch were spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars – DVD