IT WAS AT LEAST FOR 8 weeks I kept hearing about this recipe I was told I had to use for an upcoming dinner party. This all started in a conversation I was having with a friend. I mentioned I was having a couple of people over for dinner and she told me I needed to try a recipe she had made many times. All I told her was I would let her know once I figured out the details for the dinner. By the time I got home later that day she had already emailed me the recipe, repeating all the compliments she had told me she had gotten from making this chicken dish. I printed out the recipe and placed it with the other ones I was considering. Would you believe the next day I received a follow up email from her, asking what I thought about her recipe? I could only imagine what she felt when I replied I hadn’t looked it over yet; it was weeks away still before I had to make a decision on what I wanted to serve. You would have thought that would have been enough for her to let go of this for a while, but it did not. UP UNTIL THE DAY I NAILED down the things I wanted to make for the dinner party, I kept hearing about all the wonderful compliments my friend had gotten on this easy dish. When I finally looked over the list of ingredients, I had to admit the chicken dish sounded good. How could it be bad with items like honey and barbeque sauce in the recipe? When I told my friend, I was going to make her dish, you should have heard the glee in her voice; you would have thought I had just signed a multi-million deal with her. It was pretty funny. From all the things she had said and my own expectations, the day of the dinner party I was excited to cook and serve her chicken dish. As she stated it was not hard to make and the assortment of spices mixed together formed a wonderful aroma throughout the house. As the guests began to arrive they too noticed the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. When we were all seated and everyone was served I tasted the chicken dish. I was disappointed with it. There was something about the texture that was unappealing to me, as if all the ingredients did not thoroughly combine. My disappointment in this dish was similar to my disappointment in this action, adventure fantasy story. DELVING INTO THE CRIMINAL WORLD IS where a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Rules Don’t Apply), discovered his true talents, besides making new friends. This offshoot adventure story to the Star Wars franchise also starred Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Beckett, Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV) as Qi’ra and Donald Glover (The Martian, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Lando Cairissian. Everything was in place here to create a thrilling, exciting story. However, none of it reached the epic proportions it needed to carry off this story. There was little chemistry between Alden and Emilia, which I believe failed due to Alden. Because most people are familiar with the older Han, one needed to have an actor who could display the emerging traits Harrison Ford brought into the character. Also with bringing in Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, In the Heart of the Sea) after dismissing the first director, I felt he was not the best choice to give this movie the spunk it needed to engage all viewers. Yes, I am a big fan of Star Wars; but I thought this picture was a misfire. My memories of the previous films allowed me to enjoy this movie; but I just did not go wild over it.
2 ¾ stars
MY enjoyment in learning something about a celebrity’s life predominantly comes from only one source. Actually hearing about an individual’s personal experience or shall we say exposure to a celebrity piques my interest. Sure there maybe something reported in the news or entertainment shows; however, I never pay attention to the gossip magazines. Let me show you what I mean without sharing the celebrity’s name just so I do not get sued or something. THERE is a friend of mine who was an extra on a popular television show. He had direct contact with one actor in a scene that had a few extra tapings with different camera angles, over a couple of days. It took place mid morning and my friend told me the actor smelled of alcohol each day before they even started to film. In fact, when my friend was pouring fake drinks for the scene, this actor insisted his drink has real liquor. Now gaining this little insight doesn’t change my opinion of the person unless he does something stupid, like driving, while under the influence. However, if I discover a celebrity is prejudiced against any type of minority I discard them totally. Some of you may already know there are a couple of actors whose films never get reviewed by me because I will not support them in any way, especially by giving them money to see their pictures. Putting that aside, one other thing I get a kick out of are the movies that have for at least part of their story a portrayal of an actual famous person. The fun factor in this comedic drama for me was seeing the “life” of Howard Hughes. RECENTLY transplanted to Hollywood, California Marla Mabrey and Frank Forbes, played by Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Mirror Mirror) and Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Beautiful Creatures), wound up working for the same employer; the famous Howard Hughes, played by Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde, Dick Tracy). Working for the billionaire meant they would have to follow certain rules. This film festival winning romance written and directed by Warren had a great cast of actors such as Matthew Broderick (Glory, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Levar Mathis and Candice Bergen (Miss Congeniality, Murphy Brown-TV) as Nadine Henly. I thought the sets and costumes were accurate and visually pleasing. As for the story there were parts of it that captured the essence of those madcap comedy films from the 1940s; however, there were times where the script got bogged down. It felt like there was so much going on that the viewer was only getting the highlights of the characters’ lives. I found the story line involving Howard to be more entertaining; in turn, a stronger presence on screen in my opinion. Maybe because of my interest in real life individuals I was more interested in Warren’s scenes, though I thought he did a good job of acting. Just now it occurred to me that Warren’s kinetic performance partially mirrored the pacing at times during this film. Overall I enjoyed watching this movie, wondering if any of the scenes involving Howard Hughes were based on any real life events besides the obvious ones shown.
2 ½ stars
Early into this fantasy film it occurred to me that I may be watching descendants of Samantha and Darrin Stephens. I am referring to the television show not the movie with Nicole Kidman. Before Lena Duchannes from this movie, Bella Swan from Twilight or Hermione Granger from Harry Potter; there was Samantha and her mother Endora. Darrin and Samantha represented one of the earliest interspecies marriages between a human and a witch. So you see with today’s movies and books about witches and humans, we can trace a path back to Samantha. That is why I was not too terribly surprised with this film. Relative newcomer Alice Englert played Lena Duchannes, a young witch on the verge of celebrating a special birthday. For on that day Lena would choose whether to practice on the dark side of casting or the light side. Her path would become complicated when she fell in love with Ethan Wate, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Tetro, Twixt). The two teenagers had more in common than they realized at first. Could Ethan’s love of Lena alter the choices laid out before her? What really made this dramatic fantasy were the older cast members. Jeremy Irons (The Words, Margin Call) and Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey, Nanny McPhee franchise) were excellent as Lena’s uncle Macon Ravenwood and powerful evil witch Sarafine. As I expected, Viola Davis did a fine job as librarian Amma. A surprise was the enthusiastic performance from Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Lena’s cousin Ridley Duchannes. The movie felt a bit rushed for me as if the film studio and all involved wanted to get this story out quickly. If they would have taken their time, I believe they would have made a better looking and deeper movie experience. Having knowledge of past tales about witches and humans, this movie had more of a “been there, done that” type of feeling. Like the first time you heard about an interspecies relationship, it may have surprised you; hearing about it now was no big deal.
2 1/2 stars