FRIENDSHIPS FORM ON THE COMMONALITIES SHARED between two people. I also feel included in the formation is the admiration one has for an attribute they see in the other person; an attribute that the person realizes they themselves lack. One of my oldest friends, who I met in elementary school, had a peaceful and soothing way of talking that attracted me immediately. I felt I was opposite because I tended to take things to the max, always quick to respond with full force whether the situation warranted it or not. There was another friendship that formed around the same time and it was their easy-going ways that intrigued me. Where I had to sit and ponder things, they were quick to respond with a “yes” or “sure” or “okay” to pretty much any request. That was so foreign that their behavior fascinated me and from there we became lifelong friends. So, you see this is why I think it not only takes things in common that connects two people, but the differences between them. I know a couple who on the surface look like they have nothing in common, they appear to be so opposite in their ways. Yet, if you spend quality time with them you would see how each one admires the differences because it allows the to see things through the other person’s eyes. LIFE AT TIMES WILL CREATE THESE long periods of separation between friends. There was not any type of rift or disagreement that caused it, it simply happened based on changing responsibilities and priorities. I have a friend who lives out of state; our contact is infrequent, where months could go by before we communicate with one another. Yet, when we finally get to talk to each other, there seems to be no break in our connection. We can pick up right where we left off from the previous time. Sure, some of our beliefs have evolved into different paths but at the core we remain close to each other. The key to maintaining a friendship like this or any friendship for that matter is to avoid making any judgements. I used to have a friend who constantly judged me and was always telling me what I “should” do. The final nail that split us apart was when I introduced them to the person I was dating and within 5 minutes they were treating my date rudely. I decided right then and there we had too many differences and not enough commonality to keep our friendship going. If you want to see the evolution of a friendship, you can see it play out in this action, adventure comedy. A CLASS REUNION WAS THE IMPETUS that pushed Lydia Berman, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Kitchen, Can You Ever Forgive Me?), to reach out to a childhood friend she had not been in contact with for many years. After so many years being apart, Lydia was not sure what she would say to her friend. With Octavia Spencer (The Witches, Ma) as Emily Stanton, Jason Bateman (Bad Words, Game Night) as The Crab, Bobby Cannavale (The Irishman, Blue Jasmine) as The King and Melissa Leo (Burn Country, Prisoners) as Allie; this film festival nominee had a major flaw, Melissa’s husband as the writer and director. The script was beyond predictable and filled with lazy jokes and poor dialog. It really was annoying to have two gifted actors, Melissa and Octavia, try and squeeze out sense to the poorly done script. Melissa McCarthy in my opinion has one of the best comedic timing abilities I have seen in an actor. Pairing her with Octavia was a great idea because they appear to be so different; I thought for sure the comedy would be flowing though this story with the two of them. Sadly, there was so little taking place in this movie, both excitement and comedy, that I was not engaged with it.
1 ½ stars
HAVING ONLY SEEN GOOD FORCES BATTLING bad forces, I was not familiar with the concept of rivalry. The closest thing I can think of is when my friends and I would play “King of the Hill,” but that really was not a rivalry. My first encounter was in school when 2 boys in my class had to race each other to see who would be the fastest. They already had the reputation of being fast runners, but our PE teacher thought it would be fun to pit the two of them against each other. I was friends with both, so I was in a quandary. The gym class was devoted to racing, where the teacher would randomly choose 2 students to race the length, up and back, of the gymnasium. He would mark down each student’s time. I hated racing competitions, especially the relay races; because, I was not a fast runner. The pressure to do good in a relay race made me ill; the boys on the team would always call the slowest runner names. When the PE teacher paired the 2 fastest runners, the rest of the students formed a team behind each runner. They cheered and hollered encouragement throughout the race. From that first pairing of these two boys, the teacher always made sure to reprise the pairing in every race through the school year. Suddenly, one had to declare which runner they were supporting in the race. I could not do that because of my friendship with both, so I got teased for it. THE NEXT RIVALRY I BECAME FAMILIAR with was watching the ice-skating competition during the Olympic Games. The television commercials, the ads in magazines and TV announcers all mentioned the rivalry between an American ice skater and a European one. During the different television broadcasts, covering the various Olympic competitions, the commentators would bring up this rivalry. It was as if they were teasing the viewing audience, mentioning each skater’s strengths and flaws. I would later experience this same type of coverage during aired tennis matches. As an adult, I was fascinated with the importance the media placed on having or creating a rivalry. I found myself buying into it. If there were 2 tennis players “battling” each other, I would root for the left-handed player if it was an option. The most random things, such as liking the city where the player or team was from, would sway my decisions. And here now there is this film with its mega- monster rivalry that I did not know existed and I do not know which monster I want to see win. Maybe you will have more luck deciding than me. FOR SOME UNEXPLAINED REASON GODZILLA HAS become destructive, attacking a location in the United States. Some scientists believe the monster is agitated, sensing the movement of King Kong who had been secretly kept hidden. If the two monsters were to meet, there would be no telling if mankind would survive. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, True Blood-TV) as Nathan Lind, Millie Bobby Brown (Enola Holmes, Stranger Things-TV) as Madison Russell, Rebecca Hall (The Town, Holmes & Watson) as Ilene Andrews, Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Bernie Hayes and Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life) as Walter Simmons; this action, science fiction thriller was all about the fight scenes and special effects. The script defies any logic; one needs to turn off their brain before viewing this battle spectacular. I did not feel any of the acting was notable, though I did enjoy watching Millie Bobby Brown. A must in my book is if there is going to be a villain, then they need to be a strong character; the “bad guy” in this movie was nearly nondescript. Without character development and unexplained scenes, this was simply a visual experience, nothing cerebral.
EVERYONE, I BELIEVE, HAS AT LEAST two families; the family they were born into and the family they formed through life experiences. There are other types of families, for example a foster family. I have a friend who grew up with several foster children because her parents believed in helping innocent children out of bad situations. She had biological siblings but had more foster ones in the household through her years living at home. I was fascinated with her stories about all her siblings. It seemed like every meal was a party, even when her parents did not have much money to buy food. When I was little, I had no idea the friendships I was forming would turn into future members of my chosen family. The term “chosen family” was something I was not aware of when growing up; yet, there are individuals in my chosen family that I have known since elementary school. One is a girl I dated from 7thgrade. When we get together there is a long history of shared events, we can recall for each other. Whenever one of us introduces the other to new people, the new people are always amazed at the longevity of our relationship. There is a comfort and an easiness within our bond of friendship because we do not need to be anything but our real selves to each other. FROM AN OPEN SWIM NIGHT, AT a local community center in the neighborhood I grew up in, I formed a friendship with a boy from a different elementary school district. He was the first friend I made who did not go to my school. I was at the pool with my friends and he was there with a relative. We had been taking turns diving into the deep end and were congregated by the edge of the pool. He had been swimming the width of the pool a few times when he took a break by the edge near us. One of my friends struck up a conversation and he soon joined our little circle. By the end of the open swim time we all made plans to meet again the following week. Soon after that 2ndswim night, I found out he and I had a lot in common. Though we did not go to the same school we made plans to get together either after school or on a Saturday. After we all graduated elementary school, we found out he would be joining us at the same high school. Since then and after all these years, he has been one of my closest chosen family members. Because of my family of birth and chosen family, I felt a connection to the crew in this action, adventure, science fiction film. WHILE PICKING THROUGH A CONTAINER OF junk in outer space, a ship’s crew discovers a little girl who was still alive. If that wasn’t surprise enough, the crew would soon find a bigger surprise was in store for them. With Song Joong Ki (A Werewolf Boy, Doraemon-TV) as Tae-ho, Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden, Little Forest) as Captain Jang, Seon-kyu Jin (The Outlaws, Extreme Job) as Tiger Park, Hae-jin yoo (The King and the Clown, The Pirates) as Robot and Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Sullivan; this dramatic space odyssey had sound elements for creating an exciting story. For example, I connected with the chosen family element and appreciated the set-up for the class conflict situation. However, the script needed a good rewrite, I found it too long and the use of flashbacks got to be a little too much for me. The special effects were not spectacular, but they were good. Honestly, this movie came across like a poor cousin to a Marvel superhero film; still, there was enough in it that kept my interest going.
2 ½ stars
ONE YEAR I HAD TO TAKE two history classes back to back, one was US and the other was European. The instructor for the US history class was an older man who, you will not believe, looked like Benjamin Franklin, but with shorter hair. He was balding on top with a ring of hair around the sides. When he wore glasses, they were small frameless lens that kept sliding down to the tip of his nose. When I first met him, I thought of Benjamin Franklin immediately; all he needed was a kite with a key tied to its tail. For some reason I equated his appearance with being a good teacher. From the class syllabus, I knew we had a lot of ground to cover regarding US history. The first class is usually devoted more to introductions and expectations; his was no exception. He went over what was expected of us, the testing he would be administering and his grading system. Nothing he said was out of the norm; though and this is just me, I thought his delivery was a bit dry. The 2ndclass I had with him laid the groundwork for what was going to be a grueling year; he was boring. Most of our time was taken up by him reading to us from a book. I could have done that on my own. There were no historical insights offered by him, very little debate initiated; the time always dragged slowly with this professor. THE FIRST DAY WALKING INTO MY European history class, the instructor who was standing near the door, bellowed, “Who might you be and where did your family originate from?” I was startled; but did not show it, telling him my name and where my ancestors came from. After attending my US history class, then walking into this one; wow, there was a stark difference right from the start for me. This instructor turned out to be a character. There were times he came into the classroom dressed up in clothing that was fashionable for the period we were studying. He regaled us with colorful, historical stories that mirrored what we were presently learning. I looked forward to coming to this class for the simple reason it was informative in a fun way. Compared to my other history class, you could not have asked for two totally opposite ways of teaching a class. I could see with my classmates’ interactions with the instructors that this European history instructor was teaching us to think and learn, not just memorize what was being told to us. This was such a preferable way of learning; almost as good for me as this historical, action adventure film. WITH ANCIENT CHINA BROKEN UP INTO several different kingdoms, a lone man arrives to give the king of the Qin empire the weapons from his dead assassins. It would take a special man to come anywhere near the king in his palace. With Jet Li (The Warlords, Fearless) as nameless, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Internal Affairs, The Grandmaster) as Broken Sword, Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love, Days of Being Wild) as Flying Snow, Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, House of Flying Daggers) as Moon and Daoming Chen (My 1919, Internal Affairs III) as the King; this film festival winning and Oscar nominated movie was gorgeous. One should not think of this picture as a typical “kung fu” or “marital arts” film; the fight sequences were so creative and visually stimulating that they looked like a choreographed ballet. The sheer size of the sets and cast was astounding; and yet, at the heart of the story there was a strong element of love. I believe the script was created from an element of historical truth; but I do not know by how much. Regardless, if the intention of the producers was to teach the viewers some history while entertaining them, then sign me up for next semester’s class.
3 ½ stars
NOT ONCE DID I EVER SEE his father show up for a school function. Parent/teacher conferences, sports games or concerts; it was only his mother who would be present. The father was the president of a local company; I used to see one of their products on the grocery store’s shelf. I wasn’t sure what a president actually did, but I thought there had to be at least one time his father could have been in attendance. It made me wonder if there we something going on between the father and son; or maybe the father was embarrassed, I really did not know. The son was a “B” student, who was on the staff of the school’s newspaper. He was average looking though he gave off the appearance of being ungainly because of his long body torso and arms. There were a couple of times I saw him getting picked on from a couple of bullies; they would push him in the hallway and call him names. I want to say he did not have a lot of friends because I never saw him walking with anyone through the school grounds. At lunchtime he went home to eat; at least that is what I heard. WHERE THAT PARENT NEVER PARTICIPATED IN any of the school functions, there was another student whose parents were well known, not always in a good way. These parents came to every concert; you always knew they were there because they were the loudest when it came to cheering and applauding the performers. One or both them always volunteered for all of the school’s fund drives. They were always available to decorate rooms or sell candy bars; they never refused anything. During the parent/teacher conferences, they were one of the more assertive parents. They took an active role in their child’s education, wanting to know the order of subject matter the teacher was planning to teach the class. Their intensity was something I found puzzling; I could not tell if they were trying to mold their son into something they wanted for him or simply wanted to be completely aware of all facets of their son’s education. Some of the other parents found them “pushy.” There was such a wide range of parental engagement within the school body that I wondered how much did a parent’s enthusiasm, or lack of, play a part in the student’s development. I can only imagine what it must have been like growing up for the children in this action, comedy fantasy film. WITH THE EARTH ON THE VERGE of an alien invasion after the planet’s superheroes were captured, it was up to the superheroes’ children to figure out how to work together to save the planet and their parents. With YaYa Gosselin (13 Reasons Why-TV, FBI-TV) as Missy Moreno, newcomer Lyon Daniels as Noodles, Andy Walken (The Most Hated Woman in America, The Kids are Alright-TV) as Wheels, Hala Finley (Back Roads, Man with a Plan) as Ojo and newcomer Lotus Blossom as A Capella; this film was geared more towards children. The sets had a cheesy, cheap look that I believe was intentional. The reason I say this is because I felt the script had a tongue in cheek vibe to it. There was nothing in this film that one would say was awful; yet, there was also nothing that stood out in a positive way, except for the theme of working together and equality. To tell you the truth, this movie reminded me of one of those Saturday afternoon matinee films that were created to entertain younger audiences. Also, it came across to me like a Saturday morning cartoon series. Nothing earth shattering here unless you consider the peril confronting Earth.
I DO NOT REMEMBER HOW OLD I was at the time; but I do remember I ate the whole thing. It was the first time I had been to one of those ice cream shops where you serve yourself. They had my favorite type of ice cream, soft serve that comes out of a machine in a long tubular shape. As soon as I saw the machine, I grabbed one of the larger sized cups. Even in my thrilled state I did have the sense to realize that the cup I was holding was much larger than the average “large” cup; I stopped filling it up just past the halfway mark. From there I walked down to the toppings station. As I scanned the assortment of treats, I felt I was at a dessert sweet table at a wedding reception because there were so many choices. I think because I had control over the amount of toppings, I could put on my ice cream, my brain went a little haywire; please do not judge me. If memory serves me, I spooned on chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies, chocolate and peanut butter chips, candy coated chocolate candies and for extra crunch, some granola. By the time I was done my cup was completely full. I walked up to the checkout counter where the employee took my cup and weighed it! This was new to me; I had never had my ice cream order weighed before. My creation costed me $21.36. MY SUGAR HIGH LASTED WELL INTO the night from my ice cream creation, or should I say massacre? When I finally crashed, I came down hard, feeling tired and lethargic. First of all, I had never spent that much on ice cream before and that included the gallon size containers from the grocery store. Everything was fresh and tasted good; however, when they were all mixed into the ice cream their individual flavors got lost. I was essentially eating crunchy chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. The sprinkles that remind me of my youth were lost within the meteor shower of sugary chunks. I learned a valuable lesson: less is more. If I would have focused on one or two toppings, I could have savored their individuality, for example chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter chips. It is true what they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Sure, I chose all my favorite toppings, but I could have been smarter about it. And I certainly know it would have been cheaper for me! This lesson is something the writers needed to learn before creating this action, crime drama film. COOL AND EFFICIENT IS HOW ONE would describe trained assassin Ava, played by Jessica Chasten (Miss Sloane, Molly’s Game). After one job went wrong, she got a new description, Wanted. Her survival would depend on her skills. With John Malkovich (Bird Box, RED franchise) as Duke, Common (Suicide Squad, The Hate U Give) as Michael, Geena Davis (Marjorie Prime, Thelma & Louise) as Bobbi and Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Good Wife-TV) as Judy; this story had the good fortune to have such a talented cast. However, the cast could not help with the piecemeal story lines which there were too many of. I felt pieces of other action films were put into the script and they did not play well together. The action scenes in this picture were decent but that only went so far before the heavy script slowed things down. There was nothing new or exciting in this story; as I was watching this movie, there were multiple scenes that reminded me of different films I had seen before. In its entirety, this was not a well thought out movie; there was way too much involved and not enough long-lasting excitement.
1 ¾ stars
I WOULD HAVE TO PACE MYSELF for the day if I wanted to keep my holiday tradition alive. The first item on my list was to walk/jog the parking garage before breakfast. Since it was too cold for me to go outside, I discovered I could get a decent workout by walking/jogging the 2-floor parking garage. In an hour, I can cover nearly 5 miles and that is including the parking ramps which provide me the experience of going up and down a hill. Once my workout was completed, I showered then ate breakfast. With dinner being a big meal, I went light on my breakfast cereal. Once I was done eating, I had to set up my laptop computer on a snack tray in the living room. Later after lunch I was going to be on a video present opening for Christmas. If anywhere in my schedule there could be a delay, it would be during this activity. There were going to be 10 people on the video call, each taking turns with opening their gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to the event; however, there was my holiday tradition I was focused on that I scheduled to take place after dinner was done. AS I FEARED THE VIDEO PRESENT opening went on for nearly three hours. I was besides myself because my dinner was now delayed, which meant the one thing I wanted to happen was going to have to start later in the evening. With movie theaters closed in my area; it has been months since I was last in a theater. In fact, the last time for me was back in March just as the COVID-19 pandemic was rolling out across the country. After all this time, one of the film studios decided to offer first run movies on their streaming service the same day the film opens at the theaters. I cannot tell you how filled I was with excited anticipation to see a new, blockbuster film. Not to take anything away from the different streaming services’ original films, but there is something about a big budgeted picture that is to be released on the big screen. Due to the virus, I was getting the 2ndbest thing by watching the film at home on a large screened television. Since I loved the first Wonder Woman movie, I was expecting everything to be bigger and better with this sequel. Little did I know that my fear of watching this film later in the evening, where I could easily fall asleep, would be a valid issue for me. LIVING A QUIET COMFORTABLE LIFE UNDETECTED was fine for Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses, Triple 9), except for the one person she was missing in her life. Years of wishing he was with her was about to change when a mysterious artifact was delivered to her place of work. With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, The Finest Hours) as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig (Downsizing, The Skeleton Twins) as Barbara Minerva, Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Maxwell Lord and Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049, Moneyball) as Antiope; this action, adventure fantasy was a major disappointment for me. How the script received approval is beyond me because there were so many poor choices made in its story line. In a superhero movie, the villain needs to be as dynamic and powerful as the superhero character; this was not the case in this picture. The villain was downright boring and uninteresting to me. And I have little patience for a script that tries to force feed a message to the viewer and this film nearly choked me on its syrupy monologue. The only highlight for me was the opening scene, Kristen Wiig with her character and the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. My experience with this movie was like one of the gifts I received on my video presents event; a fancy gift-wrapped box that had an ugly sweater in a wrong size.
2 1/4 stars
AS THE ICONIC BUILDING FLASHED ACROSS my television screen, I was saddened to see the damage. Its beautiful white terra-cotta tiles at street level had been broken or spray painted with graffiti. The glass in the entrance doors had been smashed to pieces. All I could do was sit there and stew in my feelings of anger that was bubbling up. This is something I do not understand; why some protesters feel the need to destroy random pieces of property. Before you tell me, they are making a point, I want to be clear that I believe they have the right to protest; whether it is a peaceful march or a sit-in, they have every right to protest. The thing I do not understand is the correlation between a person’s cause and the destruction of an object. Sure, if one felt let us say that voice enabled smart speakers were evil, then I can understand why a person is making a public statement by breaking the devices with a sledgehammer in the middle of the street. But to attack public property or burn down stores, I do not see that act as a productive use of one’s time in getting their message across. Staging a protest at the corporate headquarters of a company that is contributing to the deforestation of the rainforest is totally understandable and valid, in my opinion. But setting fire to the public train station that is underneath the company is not productive and does more harm I feel. MY DESIRE TO PROTECT PUBLIC PROPERTY is born in the love I have for the city of my birth. I have lived in my city all of my life and I am proud of it. Like any city in the world it has its flaws; however, it has things that are unique to it. I mentioned in an older movie review that when I was growing up, I came up with an idea to run a sightseeing company that used limousines instead of buses to transport small groups of people around the city. One of my favorite things to do is take out of town visitors on a tour of the city and its surrounding areas. There is so much to explore and discover just within the city limits that I could spend days dragging visitors to every corner of my city. Besides loving my tour guide responsibilities, I absolutely enjoy when I visit an out of town friend/relative who does the same thing by showing me all the sights in their city. I do not know what to call my strong feelings about my city; pride, love, protective or a combination of them? I just know I do not what anyone tearing down what has been created for its inhabitants. This is the reason I was impressed with the work that was being done by the main characters in this dramatic war drama. REFUSING TO END THE MISSION THEY started, an elite group of officers continue to face death as they try to rid their city from forces who have been tearing it down. With Waleed Elgadi (Four Lions, A Hologram for the King) as Colonel Kaveh Afsahani, Hayat Kamille (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile) as Hayat, Thaer Al-Shayei (Fears, The Antwerp Dolls) as Hooka, Suhail Dabbach (The Hurt Locker, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as Jasem and Adam Bessa (The Blessed, Extraction) as Kawa; this film based on a true story was filled with gripping intensity. Set in what was Iraq’s 2ndlargest city, the non-stop actions of this elite squad were incredible to watch. I thought the direction was in synch with the script and appreciated the moments that were given for emotional release. Despite the violent scenes with blood, I could not stop watching what was taking place in the story and truly, what a story. Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
I THOUGHT I HAD TAKEN EVERY precaution. No matter how many times the bank tellers ask me to insert my ATM card, I must always remind them I do not have one. Nor do I have a debit card. This was one of my decisions to protect myself. It is not that I think the bank has poor security protections, it is because I feel the passageway to get into their websites/portals is only protected by asking for my login and password. I chose not to do electronic banking, prefer instead face to face transactions at the bank. But besides banking, I did all the things that experts suggested one should do to protect their personal identity. I only use one specific charge card for any online purchases, and it has a security alert on it. The passwords I use are the ones that experts have suggested we use with upper and lower cases along with characters. I even pay bills the old-fashioned way with a paper check, envelope and stamp. With everything I do, I thought for sure it would be unusual for me to have any of my personal information stolen. Well, I was wrong because just recently I was the victim of identity theft. WHEN I RECEIVED THE OFFICIAL NOTICE that my unemployment benefits were approved, I was flabbergasted because I am still employed. Looking over the document, all the information was correct about my employer and my social security number. I decided to talk to my company’s HR department to find out what was going on. The next day with letter in hand, I happened to mention my situation to an employee who it turned out got the same letter. He told me several employees received the letter from unemployment and it was a scam. Along with the letter there was a debit card that needed to be activated. If I had activated it, the scammers would have known they scored, and I would have lost access to my savings. I could not believe how this happened to me, especially because of the things I denied myself as a layer of protection. The first thing I was instructed to do was to freeze my credit report. Next, I had to file a complaint with the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission. Filling out information on a government website for identity theft, I then filed a police report. When I walked up to the front desk of the police station, all I got to say was I had my identity stolen and the officer asked if it was the unemployment scam. It turns out they were familiar since they received multiple claims on it. Even with everything I did I still feel violated and vulnerable. Now having watched this action thriller, I am even more paranoid about my plight. UNBEKNOWNST TO LAWYER ROBERT CLAYTON DEAN, played by Will Smith (Gemini Man, Collateral Beauty), there was a reason why he was the target of a concentrated effort to attack and destroy his identity. With Gene Hackman (The French Connection, Runaway Jury) as Edward Lyle, Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy, Runaway Train) as Thomas Brian Reynolds, Lisa Bonet (High Fidelity, Angel Heart) as Rachel F. Banks and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk, Ray) as Carla Dean; this film festival winner was a tense and thrilling film to watch. The action was exciting and intense as it set up a typical good vs bad scenario. The acting was fine for this type of picture; I totally enjoyed Gene and Will in their roles. Though there was nothing too deep in the script and character development was more of a bystander, this thrill ride of a movie was totally entertaining to me. And that is despite the subject being identity theft. I may have to revert to hiding cash in cans at my house.
I WATCHED HIM DILIGENTLY AND DELIBERATELY outline each space that had the number 1 inside of it. My relative was using paint from a small container that was labeled with the same number 1. He first traced the outline of a space with the paint before filling it in. Once he completed all the number 1 spaces, he went on to doing the same thing to all the number 2 areas. It was my first time seeing someone paint by number. He had only gotten the paint kit as a birthday gift a couple of days ago; but to me, he looked like he was an expert painter. I sat and watched as the canvas in front of him took on more colors. To me it looked like the colored spaces were jigsaw pieces that were getting closer to completing the puzzle. Surprisingly, I started to recognize what he was drawing; it was a scene of Buckingham Palace with the Queen’s Guard out in front. There was a part of me that wished I had a paint by number kit because I would have liked to try a different way of painting. Most of my paintings were abstract or landscape scenes because I had a hard time drawing people; I wanted them to look real like a photograph. I was even a perfectionist back then. I WOULD NOT SEE THE COMPLETED painting until my next visit to my relative’s house. My relative had done a great job of painting because there wasn’t a place where he drew over the line; everything looked exact and precise. If I had not known my relative used a paint by number kit to create the painting, I would have thought they had drawn it on a blank canvas. Don’t get me wrong, my relative did an amazing job; however, for me the painting did not look as realistic as I had expected. I guess I was hoping it would have appeared just as clear as a postcard or photograph, especially since there was no freeform sketching involved. Having gotten a camera for a birthday gift, I was very much into taking photos. Whether it was of people, landscapes or objects; I enjoyed setting up the framing for a photograph. I had thoughts of asking for a paint by number kit for my birthday; but, after seeing the final results I decided I did not really need it. Drawing from imagination and photography were better suited for me. When I saw this film festival winner, I had a similar reaction of disappointment. A GROUP OF FIREMEN HAD THE battle of their lives on hand when a fire broke out at an oil refinery; a refinery that was situated too close to a major population center. With Xiaoming Huang (The Message, Ip Man 2) as Jiang Liwei, Jiang Du (Last Letter, Operation Red Sea) as Ma Weiguo, Zhuo Tan (Gone with the Light, Dying to Survive) as Li Fang, Zi Yang (Bodies at Rest, Ode to Joy-TV) as Wang Lu and Hao Ou (The Captain, The Left Ear) as Xu Xiaobin; this dramatic, action thriller had a typical storyline for this genre. There were many scenes with big pyrotechnic productions and blasts; however, I do not know if it was the dubbed English or not that made the acting come across cartoonish. The script was easy to figure out, though there were a few touching scenes that added a touch of newness to the oft used storyline. While I was viewing this film, I kept thinking the writers and producers were trying to get a Hollywood disaster picture wannabe. If you are one who can find entertainment in just seeing special effects and things blowing up, then you might be fine watching this picture. After I finished seeing this film, I wished I had found my old copy of The Towering Inferno. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles/dubbing.
1 ¾ stars