I have known for a long time I could never live in a condominium. I would be the resident everyone would talk about after any of the condo board meetings. You see, I know if I voted differently than the majority I would be upset if I lost. Not for things that have to do with maintaining the buildings, but for items that do not interest me. Having a friend who was a board member for his condominium association, the stories he told me about the heated discussions, back stabbing and yelling only confirmed my decision never to live in such a dwelling. When too many people have a say in the decision process I have found it always to be filled with unhappy participants. If you do not believe me just get a group of say 6 to 8 people together and ask them where they want to go to eat out dinner. In my experiences I have never had a group all say the same place or cuisine. Now there is the “care factor” of your group; some individuals have a definite response and will only eat at certain places. Then there are others who go for the socializing aspect; the food is secondary for them. I have been part of both sides, being the dominant one on where we should all eat besides being on the not caring where we wind up side. The point is if no one can agree or make a decision then someone has to step up and lead the group to, under the circumstances, the best decision possible. It can be a hard decision but someone has to do it, just like in this military drama. COLONEL Katherine Powell, played by Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold, Trumbo), suddenly had an opportunity open up that she had been waiting on for 6 years. If she was the only one who needed to make a decision she was ready. This film festival nominee was a tense thriller. Besides Helen the cast also had Aaron Paul (Triple 9, Need for Speed) as Steve Watts and Alan Rickman (Harry Potter franchise, Nobel Son) as Lt. General Frank Benson. The story fascinated me because of its relevancy and the logistics that were involved in creating the action. Without a question, Helen was terrific as usual and though I enjoyed seeing Alan, part of his performance reminded me of his Harry Potter character. Another reason why this film worked was due to the questions it presented in the decision process. If there is any truth to this story I am totally amazed with how many people are needed to be involved in the decision process. The type of action on display in this war picture is something I have seen before; however, my perceptions of it being similar to playing a video game are no longer true. All this time I thought getting people together to go out to dinner was a challenge; little did I know it pales in comparison to the decisions that had to be made in this movie.
I listened and looked but still did not quite understand how the relationship worked. In its infancy there was a given intimacy as a comfortable space was created to allow for growth. The amount of attention given was at a high level so that everything that would help keep things fresh had an opportunity to do so. For years I was a bystander as I listened to friends talk about their gardens. The relationship they had with their gardens provided them with a pleasure that made little sense to me. Sitting in a friend’s backyard watching them prune and weed patches of open land that were thriving with vibrant colors only perplexed me. Yet after all these years something has happened inside of me. I have been visualizing seeing mounds of ornamental grasses with feathered tops out my back windows, watching how breezes would tickle the tops and cause the grass to sway. Besides the tall grasses there was a row of plants in different stages of colorful growth going down the width of my house. So I decided to dig in and bought 10 plants that I planted in the same way as in my visualizations. And wouldn’t you know it, everything I saw my friends do to their plants I am now doing to mine. Little uninvited sprouts of green invaders keep trying to circle my plants but I find myself stopping by each plant everyday to violently remove these interlopers. I have a new appreciation for what it takes to create a beautiful garden. King Louis XIV, played by Alan Rickman (Harry Potter franchise, Nobel Son), wanted and expected the gardens around his palace in Versailles to be something that no one had every seen anywhere in the world. The responsibility befell Andre Le Norte, played by Matthias Schoenaerts (Far From the Madding Crowd, Rust and Bone), who was taking a big risk in hiring landscape artist Sabine De Barra, played by Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland, Labor Day). This romantic drama had as you can imagine a beautiful look to it. I thought the story’s premise was wonderful and loved the idea that some of the things portrayed in this film could have a basis of truth in them. All the actors were so believable and really commanded the viewer’s attention. I had to hand it to Alan, not only was the role a perfect fit for him but he was also the director and one of the writers for this period piece. Maybe he took on a bit much because the script lacked a deeper level of drama, along with keeping the characters two-dimensional. On the plus side I liked the feminist angle the writers were trying to convey. This picture about the gardens of Versailles needed a little more pruning.
2 1/2 stars
We were never properly informed so we did not know any better at the time. There was a little girl in our class that we had to be careful around whenever we were near her. The teacher only told us she could become seriously ill if she fell or cut herself. Of course this made all of us more curious about her. It was on the playground where we found out she was a hemophiliac; she was the one who told and explained it to us. Until she did however, there were kids who would not go near her. I now know with the HIPPA act and privacy concerns there may be an issue with talking about someone’s medical condition; but until it was explained to us, there were a few classmates who behind her back would say she had cooties. As I grew up I began to notice how people with a certain genetic disposition were being stigmatized. I did not understand why anyone would be uncomfortable with someone who had diabetes or deafness. In this film festival winning drama I was totally taken by the story and performances. Alan Rickman (Nobel Son, Harry Potter franchise) played Alex, who was on a road trip to Winnipeg, Canada. After being involved in an automobile accident; Alex went to pay his respects to the grieving mother Linda, played by Sigourney Weaver (Avatar, Alien franchise). He discovered she was a high functioning autistic woman who seemed more concerned about the garbage being taken out on time instead of her deceased daughter. Sigourney was outstanding in this role; in fact, while I watched this film I was surprised I had no recollection of it ever being advertised or at the movie theaters. Alan’s acting was fine but I felt the script may have been biased towards his previous works; it took a while before he overcame it and grew into this character. Even with some predictability in the script I enjoyed the small town feel along with the characters Vivienne and Maggie, played by Emily Hampshire (Cosmopolis, It’s a Boy Thing) and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix franchise, Disturbia). Though the subject of autism was not the only story line, I thought it was handled brilliantly. Of course I have to reiterate Sigourney had a lot to do with it. This was a surprise find for me on DVD, where I not only felt invested in the story but enjoyed sitting and watching it.
3 stars — DVD