FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me. HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee. WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.
2 ½ stars
Gaining physical strength is far easier than mental strength in my opinion. For my body to get strong I can lift weights, practice yoga or do pushups. It is more challenging for me to be mentally strong. I can still hear the negative comments that were thrown at me like poisonous darts that paralyzed the synapses of my mind. Even today when I try something new the echoes of negativity can be heard in my head. For the first review of the new year, I wanted to review a film that inspires strength. This classic movie was filled with tough courage and fortitude. The story was about deaf, blind and mute Helen Keller and her tutor Annie Sullivan. With no means to communicate with her family, Helen was nearly uncontrollable to the point her parents were thinking to institutionalize her. One last option was hiring Annie from the Perkins Institute for the Blind. What ensued literally was a battle of strength, stubbornness and love. Both Patty Duke (Valley of the Dolls, The Patty Duke Show-TV) and Anne Bancroft (The Graduate, The Elephant Man) won Oscars for their phenomenal performances as Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. At the time Patty was the youngest person at 16 years of age to have won an Oscar award. With keen directing by Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man), the scenes in this film were just as powerful today as they were when the film first appeared on the big screen. Please understand by my film choice I am not setting up a comparison of our problems to Helen’s plight. The strength displayed in this drama is a motivation for me. I never make new year resolutions; so for the year ahead of us, I wish everyone emotional and mental robustness.
4 stars — DVD