I WAS FASCINATED WITH IT WHEN I was small, which was the last time I laid eyes on it. Years had passed; where, during this time frame, I became the recipient of a multitude of items from different relatives’ estates. Some were sentimental, others practical and some bordered on being an oddity—at least odd for my lifestyle. I treated each item with the respect it deserved and for the most part could recall a vivid memory I had associated with that item. However, this one particular article was something special because I remembered the relative who owned it. She was a kind and loving soul. There was never a time where she was not happy to see me. Keep in mind, this would apply to any of my relatives because that is how she felt about each and every one of them. She enjoyed being around family. Somewhere in my house I knew I had this piece of jewelry that she wore all the time. Venturing up into my attic I started to tackle each stacked box; I felt I was going back in time with every box I explored. It was not until I was halfway done, after laying hands on so many random non-essential things, I found this small black velvet jewelry case. Inside there it was, a vintage pink colored cameo broach. What made this piece so special to me was the fact the woman depicted in this piece had a resemblance to the woman who wore it. THE CAMEO WAS COOL TO THE TOUCH as I traced the woman’s profile with my finger. Memories flooded me as I stood in the quiet attic, surrounded by a multitude of discarded or half-forgotten items that were bequeathed to me. Among the items I had unearthed were coats, hats, baseball equipment and dinnerware. None of it stood out for me, though I could for the most part remember the relative who wore or used it. None of them provided the excitement I felt when I found this cameo. My relative loved this piece and wore it as much as possible. Whenever I got to visit with her, she would be wearing it. Throughout our conversations, her hand would quietly rise to allow her extended index finger to trace the profile of the woman in the broach. It was done almost in an absentminded way, as if she did not remember she had done the same thing earlier in our visit. Finding this jewelry in my attic was like finding a lost treasure. I felt the same way about seeing this exquisite, dramatic war film. WITHIN A SMALL WINDOW OF TIME, two soldiers must travel behind enemy lines and get a message to the commander of a battalion of troops, to halt his planned attack because the enemy was waiting for them. With Dean-Charles Chapman (Before I Go to Sleep, Game of Thrones-TV) as Lance Corporal Blake, George MacKay (Captain Fantastic, Pride) as Lance Corporal Schofield, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sergeant Sanders, Colin Firth (The Command, The King’s Speech) as General Erinmore and Pip Carter (Robin Hood, The Eagle) as Lieutenant Gordon; this film festival winning World War I story had the most brilliant filming I have seen in such a long time. After sitting through an abundance of poor or average pictures, this one grabbed me right from the start. The director worked at making the scenes all look like one continuous shoot; it was amazing…and at times exhausting, in a good way. Where we do not learn much about the characters, we certainly can feel what the actors are going through in the story. There was excitement, danger, thrills, sadness and horror all mixed within the script. I still cannot get over the amount of physical demands the actors had to endure throughout the film. I felt like I was watching a triumphant piece of work that had familiar attachments but seen in a whole new way. There were a few scenes that could be disturbing for some viewers and a few scenes with blood.
3 3/4 stars
IF YOU WERE A BOY, THE one thing you would not want to do is cry in public. If you were caught crying it would become the catalyst for a slew of derogatory nicknames, teasing and abuse. It was just a fact of life back then. And this is not me imagining or over dramatizing it; every boy in school knew no matter what, don’t cry and do not even let your eyes water up. It was expected girls would cry because they were more “emotional.” I had no idea where I was taught this fact; there were no surveys done or analysis completed. It was just something that all of us in school knew or assumed at least. I have seen girls fight each other as well as boys and I can tell you the two sexes fought in totally different ways. The girls were more vicious; they would slap, punch, pinch, scratch and use any item they could grab their hands on. The boys would limit their fighting to punches, wrestling holds and kicks. Where the girls would scream and yell, the boys rarely uttered a word. No matter what happened if someone was going to cry during their fight it was usually a girl. A boy might crumble up in pain and moan but would do everything possible not to cry. THANK HEAVENS TIMES HAVE CHANGED OR AT least I hope so. Gratefully I have not been in a fight since I have been an adult, but I can easily tear up or cry during a movie. This is not something exclusive; I can easily tear up while listening to music or during an emotional conversation. There is something freeing about releasing tears, both of sadness and joy. Think about the amount of energy it takes to hold in your emotions. I find it exhausting, so rarely do I try to keep my feelings/emotions in check these days. However, when I was in school being picked on or bullied, I held my emotions in. Thinking back at those times, it surprises me how we lived in a compartmentalized society; girls and boys, men and woman each had to act a certain way. I remember a parent saying it was not ladylike for a girl to fight. What did ladylike mean? Emotions and feelings are not defined by gender; they are unisex, universal. One emotion is not exclusive to one sex; yet for my generation, we were raised to believe differently. Therefore, films like this action fantasy are necessary. WITH THE WORLD LEFT IN SHAMBLES minus half the population, the remaining members of the Avengers had to move on with their lives. Losing a battle was hard for them; something they never wanted to experience again. But when a sliver of hope to rectify the past appeared, would any of the superheroes take the chance to change the past? With Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge, Chef) as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Evans (Gifted, Before We Go) as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right, Spotlight) as Bruce Banner/Hulk; Chris Hemsworth (Bad Times at the El Royale, 12 Strong) as Thor and Scarlett Johansson (Rough Night, Lucy) as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; this adventure sequel was a culmination of the past Avengers films. Coming in at 3 hours and 58 seconds; be prepared for a moving experience. I cried multiple times during this movie. The script was special; it was thoughtful and tied up every little detail for this franchise. What impressed me the most was the fact that female and male characters were equal, both in emotions and fighting skills. It did not matter whether a character had little or more screen time; they each played an important part in creating this superhero masterpiece. I felt there was more story than action in this picture; however, what action there was in the story was incredible to watch. How the movie studio will ever top this, I do not know. Whatever gender you identify with, I suggest you bring tissues with you and allow yourself to experience this epic movie. There were NO extra scenes at the end of the film.
3 ¾ stars
There are some people who fall in love at first sight. I know it has happened but I have never experienced it. Now sure there can be an immediate attraction, but what is it based on? For some folks it could be the person’s looks, style of dress, humor or manners. Though each of those attributes have their place in one’s love scorecard, I have had different experiences. A good portion of relationships I have encountered started out where I had no feelings for them. They may have not been attractive according to some people’s way of thinking or at first glance, we had very little in common. However, as we continue to communicate with each other a transformation takes place. Their features soften in my eyes while their voice begins to feel like a warm current of water that continuously washes over me. I cannot explain it nor does it make sense to me most of the time, but a connection forms that is like a high voltage cable that jump starts my heart. Each of their spoken words ignite an array of colorful sparklers in my mind that blaze across the landscape of my soul. I refer to this as being in a cerebral state, but others call it an emotional relationship. Having this ability allowed me to have a couple of long distance relationships in the past. It also made me fall in love with this romantic Golden Globe nominated movie. Writer and director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are) created a story in the not so distant future about letter writer Theodore, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, The Master). With the purchase of a revolutionary operating system, Theodore began discovering a different world with the help of the operations assistant Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon, The Prestige). With most of the screen time devoted to Theodore and Samantha, they created a world of amusements and touching moments. Joaquin was utterly amazing playing a character filled with total emotional depth, some of it even light and funny. With only using her voice Scarlett created such a vivid character that I was immediately drawn in to her, believing she was a living breathing human. Even Amy Adams (Man of Steel, Enchanted) as Theodore’s neighbor Amy was lovely in a stripped down sensitive way. I thought this was Spike’s best movie; his directing of the cast, the gorgeous cinematography and even the perfectly placed music from Arcade Fire created an amazing film viewing experience. Like a long distance relationship this movie continued to resonate with me long after I saw it in the theater.
3 3/4 stars
When two people work well together they create something truly special. I have one friend who is the only person I will travel with because we compliment each other so well. When we are exploring a new city or area out of state, we usually cover everything on our to do list. If for no other reason because we both are avid walkers. For example at a national park while they read all the signage that pertains to each site, I make sure I take multiple photo shots to create a visual travelog. After we return home we can easily recreate our vacation down to the littlest of details. In film history there have been several couples who had a way of blending with each other to give us memorable moments. Some of these pairings would be Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy/William Powell. A current couple that does something special when they get together on a film project is Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed, Titanic) and director Martin Scorsese (Hugo, The Departed). In this crime comedy the two men made a spectacular film. Based on a true story Leonardo played Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who was at the center of a huge securities fraud scheme back in the 1990s. With his partner Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill (This is the End, Moneyball), the two built up a brokerage firm that would fund their excessive lifestyle; it did not matter if it was legal or not. I believe this was Leonardo’s best acting performance to date. Not only the emotional aspect but the physical side of his acting created a volcanic, unforgettable character. The casting of this Golden Globe nominated movie yielded several interesting choices such as Rob Reiner (The Story of Us, All in the Family-TV) playing Jordan’s father Max Belfort and Joanne Lumley (Late Bloomers, Absolutely Fabulous-TV) as Aunt Emma. For the few scenes they had, each left a lasting impression. Now I understand the movie originally clocked in over 4 hours but after some editing it was reduced to 3. This was still too long for me, since I felt the amount of sexual scenes were excessive. With that being said, Martin’s directing was pure perfection; each scene came across fully realized. Some viewers may have a hard time with the nudity and use of strong language throughout the film. Based on the track record for Leonardo and Martin, we should be in store for more movie magic in the future.
3 3/4 stars