THE FIRST TIME I ENCOUNTERED SOMEONE affected by a divorce was a boy in 5th grade. He and his mother had recently moved to the neighborhood after her divorce. If someone had asked me if I noticed anything different because this boy’s parents were divorced, I would have said not one thing. His mother worked which was no different than many of the other mothers who had a job outside the home. I do not recall any time when this classmate could not attend a school function or activity due to a missing parent or affordability; he was like any other student. It was not until 7th grade before there was another student who had parents that were divorced. Now during this time there were kids in school who had one out of both parents who had to be away from home for extended periods of time, either for work or the military. There would be times when the parent remaining at home would get help from a family member or neighbor; but it was not like that would make any kind of difference. The only time where it would ever make a difference, if you even want to call it that, was when there was a gender specific event like a father/daughter dance or a field trip where parents were needed to chaperone. So, an uncle or older cousin would fill in for the dance and some relative would handle being a chaperone; it was easily workable. HAVING HAD SUCH EXPERIENCES WHILE GROWING UP, made the realization there was another option couples employed when they no longer wanted to be together much more difficult for me to rationalize. In fact, even today when I hear someone say they are staying together for the kids’ sake, I have to cringe. In my experiences I have not once seen where that option does anyone any good. I knew a family where the parents were doing this and all it accomplished was their kids having to go into therapy to deal with the craziness, they wound up experiencing, during what was a toxic environment. One parent started using the kids to deliver messages to their spouse; besides, trying to sway the kids’ opinion about the other parent into negative thoughts. It was sad to see the manipulation that was taking place in that household. Even worse was when I heard through a second party that one parent told one of their children, they were the cause for the breakdown in their marriage. To me that was criminal to say to a child. Because of my experiences; I intently watched this comedic, dramatic romance to see what was happening with the couple’s marriage. MARRIAGE REQUIRES AN ABILITY IN BEING able to give and take; it appeared Charlie and Nicole, played by Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, The Dead Don’t Die) and Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit, Lost in Translation), thought they were good at it. With Laura Dern (Certain Women, J.T. Leroy) as Nora Fanshaw, Alan Alda (Bridge of Spies, The Four Seasons) as Bert Spitz and Julie Hagerty (A Master Builder, Airplane franchise) as Sandra; this film festival winner’s cast was brilliant. I enjoyed each actor and the words they spoke. The story may appear to have a theme that is common to many other films; however, this script came across fresh and new to me. Adam and Scarlett were so good that I thought their characters were actual, real people. The dialog was authentic which only added to the realness of the characters. If I have any criticism, I think some viewers might find the beginning of the story sedated. Like a marriage, it can take a little work to get into it; but once you are, it can turn into a valuable lesson.
3 ½ stars
They bulge out like wide fish eyes skimming the sea’s surface of ceiling tiles. You see them everywhere now, those security cameras encased in smoky dark glass globes. Some places do not even bother making them inconspicuous; they hang up the actual cameras on the walls or have them dangling down from the roof like machine gun turrets. It seems no matter where you turn someone is watching you. Generally it does not bother me; what do I care if someone is watching me pump gasoline into my car or buying kitchenware for a dinner party. However, I just heard on the news this week some financial institution is working on a payment system that only requires the payer to send a selfie of their face. Yuck, the idea turns my stomach. There are already too many people taking selfies or videotaping themselves and everything around them, that I do not need to see more people doing in now. If you do not think security issues are taking a bigger role around you just look at all the crime and detective shows on television; so many of them use high tech surveillance devices that it boggles the mind. If you look at this on an international scale, high tech methods seem to be the norm when it comes to espionage and warfare. Imagine those government officials who worked at a time where being a spy was a more physical job, where one had to secretly tail a suspected individual instead of through the internet. For you Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew readers, you know what I am talking about; for everyone else, see how it was done in this dramatic biographical film. RECRUITED by the CIA to negotiate the release of a captured U2 spy plane pilot by the Soviet Union; insurance lawyer James B. Donovan, played by Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), did not want his morals compromised by the clandestine operations and negotiations unfolding around him. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln), this film festival winning drama once again showed why Steven is a master storyteller. The way the story started out in an unassuming way then began building on top of itself; the viewer had no choice but to be drawn into the exciting tension. Along with Alan Alda (The Aviator, Tower Heist) as Thomas Watters Jr and Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl, Angels and Insects) as Rudolf Abel, who could be nominated for best supporting actor as Rudolf Abel, the acting was outstanding. The way the filming was shot allowed small scenes to be just as important as the major dramatic ones. I truly felt as if I was getting a glimpse into a past world where all of this type of spy work was the norm during the cold war. As I walked out of the theater and into the lobby I am sure who ever was behind the security camera above my head saw my wide satisfied smile.
3 1/2 stars
That moment when a person first feels love for another person takes place at different times for each of us. A mixture of intuition, common sense and infatuation play a part on the timing when the switch gets flipped and we fall in love. There are some people who need time; they have a long distance racecourse type of method for falling in love, where the person has to pass checkpoints to earn further passage. Now other individuals can fall in love with another person right at the beginning, first sight. No matter which way it happens, if that kernel of love is not nourished it will never survive. As for myself, not only do I believe love has to be nurtured and fed, I feel when it is strong it can overcome many obstacles. Having had my share of long distance relationships, the only way I was able to maintain them was due to the strength of my love. The same could be said for the past relationships that were local too. With my hectic schedule of working and teaching, it can be a challenge to find free time to maintain and further grow a relationship. I used to date a stage manager who had a schedule opposite of mine; where I had free time on the weekends, they had weekdays open. It took some creative thinking to try and find times we could get together. The relationship did not last long, due to both of us not feeling a deeper connection to make those compromises one needs to make if they want to make the relationship thrive. DRAGGED to a bull riding competition college student Sophia Danko, played by Britt Robertson (Dan in Real Life, Delivery Man), was not enjoying it until contestant Luke Collins, played by Scott Eastwood (Fury, Gran Torino), gave her his cowboy hat. With Sophia about to move back to New York to pursue her love of art with an internship at an art gallery, she could not see how dating Luke would fit into her plans. Based on Nicholas Sparks’ (The Notebook, The Lucky One) novel, this romantic drama was dead on arrival. The main issue was the poorly done acting; Scott was stiff and wooden. In fact, the only one that came close to being believable was Alan Alda (Tower Heist, The Aviator) as Ira Levinson. It was a shame because I did not mind the story within the story aspect to this film, though both story lines were predictable. Also, the script needed a rewrite to get rid of the manipulative scenes that clearly were done to pull at the viewers’ hearts. Sitting in the theater being bored was no way to try and get me to fall in love with this movie.
1 3/4 stars
From a mundane object a great idea was born. Based on the true story about Dr. Bob Kearns, played by Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, Ghost Town), who had a great idea that would affect everyone who drove a car in the rain. He invented the intermittent windshield wiper. With the support of his wife Phyllis, played by Lauren Graham (Bad Santa, Evan Almighty), and children; Dr. Kearns created a prototype that he planned on selling to the Detroit auto makers. However, his dreams did not come true the way he had expected. This heartfelt movie told the story of the courage, determination, some say insanity of the Kearns family taking on the deep pocketed car manufacturers to protect Bob’s invention. I get fired up from a movie that roots for the underdog and this excellent movie had the perfect set-up for a battle between the every day man against corporate big business. Mr Kinnear was perfect in this role; giving a solid, believable performance to his character who had everything to lose, including his mental state. Also, Alan Alda (Tower Heist, The Aviator) gave an excellent performance as the lawyer who was willing to take on Detroit’s auto makers. One has to wonder how often this type of behind the back shenanigans takes place in the business world. A terrific movie that was about a great idea and so much more.
3 1/4 stars — DVD