EVERYTHING THAT ONE IS BORN WITH works together to achieve a harmonious state throughout the body. This is part of my belief system, that we can achieve this harmonious state when we are in balance. I know when I am stressed I usually can figure out what is causing it. With the schedule I keep there are multiple opportunities for me to get stressed out. I find myself thinking about what I need to do instead of being present in the moment. When I am in this state of mind I am much more forgetful, which in turn causes me further stress. It feels like I am jogging in one of those hamster wheels that goes around and round without going anywhere; there is no down time for me. To get back in balance I would need to stop overbooking myself and take some “me” time. The body and mind are so connected; when one is lacking something the other tries to compensate. Well known examples of this would be Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Though he lost his hearing his mind filled in the tones he was putting together for his musical pieces. Helen was blind and deaf but her mind and sense of touch for signing were extraordinary. RECENTLY I WAS OBSERVING A martial arts class. One of the participants had underdeveloped arms; they were small for their body size and looked as if they stopped growing at the elbows. I watched this member as the class was put through a variety of exercises. It was incredible to see how the lack of arm strength was made up by the amazing leg strength they incorporated into their one on one exercises. I know it is a cliché to say “when there is a will there is a way;” but in the case of this student, their mind and body found a way for them to be an active participant in the class. I am in awe when a person is denied one sense or body part and another one fills in the gap. People who are blind tend to have exceptional hearing capabilities. Or those confined to wheelchairs usually have powerful upper body strength. In the case of the main character in this biographical dramatic comedy, I started out not being sympathetic towards him; however, as the story unfolded I found myself going with him on his journey of discovery. A NIGHT OF PARTYING AND DRINKING led to a horrific accident that would change the life of John Callahan, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, You Were Never Really Here), in unimaginable ways. Based on a true story this movie also starred Jonah Hill (War Dogs, True Story) as Donnie, Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Annu, Jack Black (The D Train, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Dexter and newcomer Tony Greenhand as Tim. The fact that I went from being an unsympathetic viewer to admiring Joaquin’s character tells you how impressed I was with his acting skills. He has an eclectic body of work already and each character he does always leaves me amazed at his acting abilities. The rest of the actors were not slouches by any means; they were wonderful. I felt the director handled not only them gracefully but did a beautiful job with the script. Nothing came across as preachy or inspirational; the director took what was a tragic event and found a way to mine the humor and sadness in equal portions. As for the story, the theme may have a familiar feeling to the viewer; however, the execution of it makes it worthwhile to watch. If for nothing else this story will show you not to give up hope because when you lose one thing, something else will take its place.
In the Latin community, so I have been told, the males need to be machismo, manly. I do not buy that, but I am aware that there is a strong focus on being a family. We can all assume that when a child is brought into this world, whatever their parents’ backgrounds, they will love their child unconditionally. If only that were really true. I have witnessed the horror of a child being kicked out of the house by their parents, because they announced they were gay. These parents only loved him as long as they believed he was straight. What made this situation worse was how the parents had nothing to do with him from that day on…until they found out years later how successful their son had become in the business world. Then all of a sudden they tried re-establishing a relationship with him. For these reasons, I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for this movie. In the mission district of San Francisco lived Che Rivera, played by Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, Law & Order-TV). He was an ex-con, recovering alcoholic and a single dad. Respected by some, feared by others; Che’s world spun out of control when he discovered his son Jes, played by Jeremy Ray Valdez (Constantine, All She Can), was gay. Though this story can and has played out in many ways, I felt having the setting take place in a hyper masculine, Hispanic neighborhood gave the conflicts more intensity. Benjamin and Jeremy did a wonderful job of acting, in spite of several undeveloped scenes. Even if I had never known about my friend’s parents, I would have still found this dramatic film to be a truthful story. In my world, love is either an all or nothing proposition.
2 3/4 stars — DVD