THE WHOLE MISUNDERSTANDING COULD HAVE BEEN avoided if I had only known he was in a foul mood. Such a simple thing to do and it would have made a world of difference. I had texted my friend to see if he was free to talk. Getting an affirmative response, I called him with the intention of catching up since it had been some time since we last communicated. The conversation started out in the usual way with each of us updating the other on our family members. Having known each other for years, our extended families have trickled down to be part of our conversations with some familiarity. At some point I commented on something he said but did not get a response. I thought maybe he did not hear me. When there was a break, I repeated myself. There was dead silence for a few seconds before he made a comment that had an edge to it. You might know what I mean; where the comment could be taken two different ways based on the tone of the speaker’s voice. It took me by surprise and I did not know how to reply. Deciding to push past it and not assume the comment was negative, I continued on with the conversation. IT WAS NOT TOO MUCH LONGER before I felt he was hitting me with another comment that could be taken two ways. This time I called him on it, asking what he meant by saying what he said. He replied with “What do you mean?” which is a pet peeve of mine. He had heard what I said, so why answer with a question? I went ahead and explained to him what I heard and why I responded the way I did. He then took my words and turned them back at me with what I heard to be a condescending tone. One thing led to another until we wound up being irritated with each other. We quickly ended the call; I was left feeling ticked off and confused. I tried wrapping my brain around what had happened but could not find a solution. My feelings were hurt. It was not until later that night where he called back to explain what was going on with him. It turned out he was in a bad mood because of something that had nothing to do with me. His negativity spread into our conversation, where he misinterpreted things I had said to him. We hashed it out so we could clear the air between us. The bottom line was realizing the need to express one’s feelings in order to become a better communicator. This was a conversation the main couple needed to have in this romantic, war drama. TRAVELING TO HAMBURG FROM ENGLAND TO JOIN her husband Rachel Morgan, played by Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) was surprised to see the amount of devastation the war had done. It was even more shocking to discover she would be sharing a home with its German owner. With Jason Clarke (Pet Sematary, Everest) as Lewis Morgan, Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, The Kill Team) as Stephen Lubert, Flora Thiemann (Nelly’s Adventure, Sputnik) as Freda Lubert and Kate Phillips (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Susan; this period piece had a strong cast that worked well together. I thought the filming added drama to the story which turned out necessary due to the cliché filled, predictable script. Despite Keira’s ability to command an audience, the script did not allow for the addition of depth to the characters. I would have also appreciated if the writers included more history into the events that affected the characters placing them on their current paths. With this film based on the same titled book, I have to believe the novel offered a better story than the one in this post World War II setting.
1 ¾ stars
I AM NOT EXPERIENCING A FULL WITHDRAWAL, but I am certainly missing the comfort of being in a dark movie theater. The governor of my state issued a stay at home order the day I was watching a film in the theater. There were 3 other people watching with me and each of us was spaced far from each other. At least the film was wonderful, so I ended my movie theater visits on a high note. Driving home and hearing the news, my first thought was, “How am I going to see movies to review?” As some of you know, I am a stickler for staying on a routine. If I can, I go to the theater and try to watch 2 or 3 films in a row; I figure if I am there I might as well see as many as I can to save time from going back and forth throughout the weekend. I always have everything planned, from the time I need to arrive to where I would park to making sure I have all my seats on reserve. Now that my movie theater routine was put on hold, I spent the weekend trying to figure out how I could create a new routine that will allow me the opportunity to see movies and review them. A WEEK HAS GONE BY AND I am settling into the new normal many of us are doing. I read some movie studios will stream their new releases for a fee; however, seeing that the amount they are asking is sometimes nearly 40% more than what I pay at the theater, I refuse to participate in that option. I used to have DVDs mailed to me, which offered me a variety of films I could review, but a while ago, I switched the option to online. Little did I realize the online option did not have nearly the amount of titles as the DVD option. It has taken me up to 20 minutes to find a movie to watch from the list I have kept the past couple of years. However, if it means I can review it then I deal with the inconveniences. The reason I am telling you all of this is because I want you to know there could be times I might be reviewing a film that I may have seen some ratings or words written about it before I can review it. Today’s movie choice is one in particular; until I found it I knew there was a chance I might not think highly of it. Yikes, little did I know it was going to be such a rough movie watching experience. WHEN TWO CROOKED POLICE OFFICERS DECIDE TO go for a big score, they cross paths with someone who is as dangerous as them and who can play their game even better. This film festival winning movie starred Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, Big Little Lies-TV) as Terry Monroe, Michael Pena (End of Watch, Ant-Man franchise) as Bob Bolano, Theo James (Divergent franchise, London Fields) as Lord James Mangan, Tessa Thompson (Creed franchise, Dear White People) as Jackie Hollis and Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Russell Birdwell. This cast was the reason why I was interested in seeing this action, crime comedy. I can only wonder if they were as surprised as I was with the finished product. The story was nothing special but was dragged further down by the script. I found the dialog crass and monotonous; repeating politically incorrect phrases does not make it any more funny. By the time we discovered the redemption part of the plot I did not really care one way or another. It was a shame because the scene involving it was one of the few I enjoyed. If watching films of this caliber is going to be my new routine, I may go out of my mind with boredom.
SURE, I WOULD LOVE TO OPEN a package of chocolate chip cookies and eat all of them up, but could I do it? Okay, maybe I could but do I really need to have so many at one time? As a kid I would try to take more than I needed, especially if I knew someone else was trying to do the same thing; but these days I am not such a greedy person. There is a periodical I get that has a section devoted to high priced homes across the country. When I see some of the houses listed I am constantly amazed at how much people will pay for a roof over their head; and isn’t that all a person is looking for, a roof over their head? One house had 6 bathrooms. I could not understand why someone would need so many and so much stuff inside when the house only had 4 bedrooms. Looking at the furnishings inside some of these places, I cannot imagine how much people must have paid for the items. My first thought is I wish I knew what the owners did for a living to afford such a place. Houses with a multitude of massively sized rooms that have offshoots of other rooms is something that makes no sense to me. Why does a person need so many rooms? THE ANSWER I COME UP WITH is they like to show-off what they have, or they are simply greedy. Wouldn’t average bathroom tiles do the same job as some exotic imported ones that were made of a rare substance? I remember being at a house where the owner was bragging about their dining room chandelier. It had fancy crystal pieces hanging all around the gold karat structure. I thought it was hideous myself but would never say that out loud. However, the bulbs were like any other bulbs; in my opinion, there was no reason to spend so much money on what basically was a light fixture. It just shows me people like to flaunt their money and believe they can never have too much money. Not that I am saintly or anything close to it, but I have always said I wish I was at a place where I did not have to think about what I was purchasing. I would like to know how that feels. And you know, even if I were to win the lottery I cannot see myself becoming this greedy individual who wants more and more stuff. I do not know if I could say the same thing about the people in this dramatic thriller. VINCENT AND ANTON ZALESKI, PLAYED BY Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me franchise, American Ultra) and Alexander Skarsgard (The Legend of Tarzan, True Blood-TV), had it all figured out. All that was needed was a little finesse and a second less of time. With Salma Hayek (Some Kind of Beautiful, Beatriz at Dinner) as Eva Torres, Michael Mando (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Better Call Saul-TV) as Mark Vega and Johan Heldenbergh (The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Broken Circle Breakdown) as Amish Elder; there was an element of excitement to this story. Jesse appeared for the most part like the same type of character, fast talking and fidgety, he has done before. I could not get over Alexander, however. He played an interesting character and his transformation was a surprise for me. Since I am talking about acting I will add Salma played a fun part and looked like she was having a good time with it. The script began strong for the first half of this film but after awhile I felt it was getting stuck in a rut. I wondered if the story was based on a true event but there was no mention. Do you need to pay full price to see this picture? Not really, you could wait for a bargain matinee and save some money if you like. I know I would have done it if I could.
2 ½ stars
Two events stand out in my mind as pivotal moments that changed the course of my life’s path. The first was seeing the movie Tarzan the Ape Man with Johnny Weissmuller on television; the second was reading the book Doctor Doolittle. I already was an animal lover, enjoying the local zoos and relatives’ pets; but this book and movie sealed my affection for all animals. Seeing Tarzan’s companion Cheetah (did not know it was the name of a big cat breed at the time) the chimpanzee was extra special because I had a hand me down stuffed chimpanzee; the 2 of us would watch any of the Tarzan films whenever they were being aired on TV. When I saw the original Doctor Doolittle movie I was absorbed into it because here I had read the book and now I was seeing the doctor and his animals come to life, so to speak. Ever since then I have been fortunate to have a variety of animals around me. I do not judge but when someone tells me they do not even like dogs or cats, I tend to wonder if something happened to them earlier in life that swayed them away from animals. Looking into the eyes of a dog with their unconditional love, I do not understand how someone could resist such love. I can still remember when people would ask me why I wanted to become a veterinarian; I would tell them it is because animals never hurt me. It would be easier for me to give a shot to a human being than it would for an animal. I have to tell you I was hoping none of the animals would be hurt in this action adventure film. LIVING a comfortable life in England John Clayton, played by Alexander Skarsgard (What Maisie Knew, True Blood-TV), the Lord of Greystoke was persuaded to return to the Congo for what he thought were humanitarian reasons. John who was known as Tarzan would need the help of some old friends to survive what was in store for him. Joining Alexander in this big budget film were the actors Christoph Waltz (Spectre, Carnage) as Leon Rom, Margot Robbie (Focus, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as Jane Clayton and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, The Avengers franchise) as George Washington Williams. I thought Alexander and Margot were perfect for the roles and wished they would have had more scenes together. I know Alexander is a capable actor but I do not think the script and the director helped him for this role. As for Christoph and Samuel, I just want to say they have to stop; stop doing the same kind of characters they have done in previous films. Samuel was a distraction as were the flashback scenes throughout the picture. The script was an odd mix of different story lines that weighed down the pace of the film; I was bored in a few spots. As for the CGI effects they were not as spectacular as I would have expected for a Tarzan film. By the end of this film not only was I missing not seeing Cheetah, but also missing a good story.
1 ¾ stars
I feverishly was trying to keep up with my notes while the speaker was discussing the kinesiology behind their choreographic routines. The workshop was packed with fitness participants; I had no idea this would have been such a popular course. However, I soon realized why when I glanced at the person’s notebook next to me; she was drawing a portrait of the presenter. I was stunned; not because it was actually a good likeness, but because she appeared to be in her middle 20s. Didn’t this kind of thing go on back during our school years I wondered to myself? I could still remember back in school how easy it was to spot someone who had a crush on someone else. If they could not engage their intended target in conversation, they would always be close by to watch the movements of their heart’s attraction. When there was an age difference or more exactly a grade difference I always found it odd that it was okay if the male was in a higher grade, but not the female. I had a friend who had dated an older girl but he never talked about it, only if he was asked questions directly. Now keep in mind back then dating meant going out to eat, see a movie, sitting together during lunch period, hanging out in groups; all depending on what grade one was in. I do not recall hearing about such events like what I saw in this dramatic romance. ARTISTICALLY inclined teenager Minnie, played by Bel Powley (Side by Side, M.I. High-TV), had a crush on Monroe, played by Alexander Skarsgard (The East, What Maisie Knew). He was already dating her mother Charlotte, played by Kristen Wiig (Welcome to Me, The Skeleton Twins). Set in the 1970s in San Francisco, this film festival winning movie used animation in a creative way to bring some of Minnie’s thoughts to life. I thought the cast was exceptionally good; however, if I go by my standards regarding the entertainment value of a film, then I did not find this picture very entertaining. For me it came down to the subject matter, I was not comfortable with it. I do believe the story portrayed certain realness and I know I do not have the right to place my values on other people; but I just felt scenes were being regurgitated to drive a point home. There were parts of the picture that were nicely done and actually the script was well written, even if some of it was predictable to me. What I have always said about a movie is if it moves you, whether in a positive or negative way, then it has done its job. I was moved but I did not experience a lot of entertainment value with this film.
2 1/2 stars
They go hand in hand; for every high point in one’s life there will be a low point. It is just the natural order of things or the way I refer to it, the pluses and minuses of life. There is nothing like riding a high wave of elation; where positive feelings flood the body, coating all the senses with heightened awarenesses. Who would not want to have this type of experience; I know I would prefer it. However, life does not give one the option to pick and choose fully their experiences. I know I did not choose to trip off that street curb and scrape my knee on the ground. In my brain having both positive and negative experiences is necessary. You see, if a person only experiences one or the other what do they have to compare with what they are feeling? I know our emotions play a part in all of this. Though I wish I did not have to deal with the downs in life, I know they only make me appreciate the up times more. Without having the two polar opposites life would be pretty bland. ELIMINATION of the emotions was what the society in this dramatic science fiction film achieved for all of its citizens. There was no war, jealousy, hatred, bigotry or sexism; everyone lived in steady harmony. All negative experiences were a thing of the past; only the memories associated with them were stored in one individual known as the Giver, played by Jeff Bridges (True Grit, The Men Who Stare at Goats). When the time came to share those memories with his apprentice, the Giver needed to make sure the events of the past would not repeat themselves in the present. Based on the Newberry Award winning novel by Lois Lowry, this was one of my favorite books. Meryl Streep (Hope Springs, The Iron Lady) played Chief Elder who made sure all the rules were enforced to prevent history from repeating itself. The cast also included Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent, Oculus) as Jonas and Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, We are What We Are) as Fiona. Sadly I have to say this film version sucked the life out of an incredible, thought provoking story. I was looking forward to seeing this picture and though Jeff and Meryl were excellent, they could not save the dullness of the script. For those not familiar with the book I believe they would mildly stay interested in this film. There was a cool look about the movie where some scenes worked well. Unfortunately with so much taken out of the original story, I could easily see where things could be confusing to viewers. It truly was a shame that a movie about an emotionless society was just as emotionless.
1 3/4 stars
I treat companies the same way I treat actors and musical artists. In my cycle classes I do everything I can to avoid playing music from artists associated with racist, sexist or prejudiced lyrics or actions. This applies to actors as well; I will boycott their movies, not even watching them on DVD or cable. I do the same thing with companies. When I travel, one of my guilty pleasures is to eat at fast food restaurants. Recently I discovered one of my favorite out of state places has discriminated against a group of people. Since I do not have a tolerance for people who are prejudiced, I no longer can visit that restaurant chain. Will it hurt their quarterly sales? Not at all, but I do not care. Morally I cannot purchase anything from them. A group of anarchists in this thrilling movie take things beyond what I have done. Brit Marling (Another Earth, Sound of My Voice) played Sarah, a skilled investigator working for a corporate security firm headed by Sharon, played by Patricia Clarkson (Married Life, Easy A). A radical group called the East has been targeting individuals from large corporations. Sarah’s assignment was to infiltrate the group and expose them. Led by the mysterious Benji, played by Alexander Skarsgard (What Maisie Knew, Battleship), the group was cautious around her before revealing their true purpose. This mystery was well thought out, building up the tension as Sarah delved deeper into the group’s activities. Brit worked on the script with the director, creating an intelligent, thought provoking story; I enjoyed watching this film. Ellen Page (Inception, Juno) as Izzy and Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, Wrath of the Titans) as Doc were exceptional in the roles they played. Having seen Brit’s previous movies and now this one, I am impressed with her writing and acting abilities. She is certainly creating a smart body of work for herself. This action drama only reinforced the beliefs I have regarding certain public individuals and corporations. There were a couple of scenes where blood was shown.
One of the purest forms of innocence can be found in a small child. Without the opinions, prejudices or hatred that can be found in adults; children have the ability to be all inclusive. For that reason it is tragic when a child pays the price for an adult’s war. There is one kind of war that involves bullets and bombs, which is horrifying enough. But there is another type of war and this one involves only two adults–the mother and father of the child. It saddens me when I see one parent using their child as a pawn in a fight against the other parent. I cannot bring to mind anything uglier than a couple sacrificing their child for their own personal gain. Because of the excellent acting in this drama, it made watching this film harder for me. Updating this Henry James story to modern day New York City; the plot was about aging rock star Susanna’s, played by Julianne Moore (Being Flynn, A Single Man) bitter divorce battle with her husband Beale, played by Steve Coogan (Ruby Sparks, Our Idiot Brother). All of this is seen through the eyes of their young daughter Maisie, played by relative newcomer Onata Aprile. For such a young girl, her face easily conveyed the emotions she was feeling. A surprise for me was watching Alexander Skarsgard (Battleship, True Blood-TV) as Lincoln. Familiar with his towering vampire role on True Blood, I was impressed with his acting ability in this film. Alexander’s character was one of the strongest in the cast. I could have used more background information on the characters, but it was a minor complaint. It would be hard not to get involved in the story with the strong emotions playing out on screen. All one could do is hope Maisie does not become another casualty of war.
Take an older stoic movie star, a pseudo action hero, a pop singer, a hot television character, a model/actress, a group of aliens and what do you get? You get a half-baked dumb movie. The powers that be must have sat down and gone through a list of options, picking out the ones that would interest a wide swath of the general population. Unfortunately, this left no one to focus on the story, for it was silly. I mean seriously, aliens could travel across the universe, but could not move out of the way of a communications satellite’s path? The gist of the story was scientists beamed a signal out into the universe and something not so friendly answered it. Poor Liam Neeson (The Grey, Taken) as Admiral Shane tried his hardest with the cheesy script. I was embarrassed for Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood-TV, Melancholia) as Commander Stone Hopper with some of the lines he had to utter. Rihanna as Petty Officer Cora “Weps” Raikes was still Rihanna. And if it was not bad enough being part of the biggest movie flop in history, Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, The Bang Bang Club) had to endure being in this mess as Lieutenant Alex Hopper. On the plus side, the real marines used in this film must have had a fun time hanging out with the cast and crew. The only reason to see this science fiction thriller would be to give your brain a break from thinking.
1 3/4 stars