INTENSITY HAS BEEN A PART OF ME as long as when I became aware of my shadow. Many people have described me as being intense; or I should say, those who know me well enough know the amount of intensity I can generate in myself. I have always had a strong single mindedness that is like a starving, aggressive dog who will not let go of a found bone. There was a time where I was acutely aware of people around me feeling the heat coming off me when I am intensely, laser focused on one thing. Now you would think there must not be many things that I find intense, but you would be incorrect to assume such a thing. Driving in a violent storm is something that I find to be an intense situation. With the wind jostling the car and rain pelting the windshield relentlessly; I find myself with my shoulders stiff by my ears and my grip turning into a vise around the steering wheel. I used to react in a similar way when I used to ride roller coasters. Now I avoid most of them because I already deal with enough stress and do not want to willingly put more tension on myself. MORE THAN LIKELY MANY OF YOU have experienced some form of tension in your life. The first thing that comes to mind is a doctor’s office or hospital. I knew a person who would get such a strong reaction every time they went to the dentist that they decided to stop going all together. I am sure this happens more now than it used to, but I quickly become uncomfortable anytime someone is heckling a performer. Sitting in the audience and suddenly some random individual talks back to the artist or yells at them and I immediately tense up. I remember sitting in a smallish type of venue, watching a comedian. At one of their jokes a drunken guy in the audience shouted out a derogatory remark to the performer; I immediately tensed up and started worrying about what would happen next. The reason being, I remembered at a rock concert where someone threw a beer bottle towards the band and they instantly stopped the show and left the stage. I held my breath to see what the comedian would do. He came back with such a classic retort that I still use it to this day; it shut the heckler up. From the experiences I listed I can add something new that made me tense and on the edge of my seat, this film festival winning movie based on a true story. KNOWN FOR ITS ELEGANCE AND ATTENTION to its guests the Taj Hotel was the focal point for a terrorist group’s message to get out to the world. This dramatic thriller starred Dev Patel (Lion, The Man Who Knew Infinity) as Arjun, Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex, Sorry to Bother You) as David, Nazanin Boniadi (Ben-Hur, Homeland-TV) as Zahra, Tilda Cobham-Hervey (One Eyed Girl, The Kettering Incident-TV) as Sally and Alex Pinder (Ocean Girl-TV, Angel Baby) as Butler Jamon. I cannot remember the last time I sat through a movie where I was swept up into a tense state by the action on the screen. The actors were well suited for this story and they delivered in my opinion. I am telling you now this was not an easy movie to sit through because there was violence, bloodshed and terrifying scenes. Honestly, I did not care if everything I was watching was true or not; the fact that the script kept me engaged and kept my eyes riveted to the screen made the experience memorable for me. I suggest you prepare yourself before you see this film and remember to take deep breaths.
THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO thrive on experiencing things that are fresh and new. It can be anything across the board from electronic devices to food. I, myself, enjoy trying new food items; though I must preface it by saying as long as the food falls into one of my acceptable categories. I have mentioned before I am a marketer’s dream because I am willing to try a new type of potato chip or ice cream. On the other hand, I could not care less if my car has the newest hi-tech gadgets; I tend to drive my cars until they die, hopefully after a long life of mileage. There was a relative of mine who had to have a new and fully loaded car every year; that was their thing. A friend of mine, on a yearly basis, would clean out their closet and replace it with that year’s latest fashions. The amount of clothes they donated to charity was astronomical. My final example is a couple of friends that absolutely amaze me. They are willing to try any food and food combination; the more exotic the better. Where I find something I like at a restaurant and order it each time, they will constantly order something different each time. You would not believe what has gone into their mouths. WHEN IT COMES TO MOVIES, I enjoy seeing something that has not been told before. Now granted there are a lot of films that have similar themes; but the writers added a twist to them that I appreciated. As you know as long as the picture entertains me I am cool with it. You probably have noticed many of my reviews will mention how the story is predictable; it is something I have seen before. If the writers did nothing new to it I wind up getting bored. I cannot tell you how often this happens to me; in fact, a member in one of my classes asked me why I just don’t leave the theater before the movie ends. This is something I never do or could ever do. If I am going to review a film then I need to see it from beginning to end. Where I have friends who only want to see a certain genre of films; I see pretty much anything, more so now that I review them. Also, I will travel far distances if there is a movie I want to experience that is not playing anywhere near me and that is exactly what I did to see this fantasy comedy. DISCOVERING A NEW-FOUND SUCCESS by changing the sound of his voice Cassius Green, played by Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Short Term 12), started his climb up the corporate ladder as a telemarketer, to the dismay of his friends. Set in an alternative time in Oakland this film festival nominee also starred Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Detroit, Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts-TV, Friends of the People-TV) as Salvador, Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, Free Fire) as Steve Lift and Omari Hardwick (For Colored Girls, The A-Team) as Mr __. Let me tell you I was impressed by first time writer and feature film director Boots Riley. This story was different and twisted in a satirical way. I enjoyed the irony and fantasy for the most part until the last portion of the movie. There were some “far out” scenes and towards the end they became lost on me. The message as far as I could tell I got, but the execution of it I found silly. If nothing else credit must be given to Boots Riley for doing something new; it worked for a majority of the story and I am all for individuals who are willing to take a risk on something new.
2 ½ stars
THE LINE BETWEEN LIKE and love is a permeable one. In my past relationships I can come close to telling you when I went from liking to loving the person, but I cannot give you an exact moment when it happened. Though each relationship was unique, there were a series of events/moments in each one which were the catalysts that made me fall in love with them. Where in one relationship we were exact opposites, to one where we could finish each other’s sentences; they each combined with me in such a way where love sprung out of my heart. Recently talking with friends the question was posed to one, “Do you love him?” The reply was meaningful to me because they talked about always feeling different in past relationships, not referring to it being a bad or good thing. With their present relationship they felt for the first time that they found someone who thinks and acts in a similar way to themself. I FOUND THEIR ANSWER powerful, the idea of feeling like you are the only one until someone comes along who appears to belong to your particular “species.” Love truly has a way of sorting out the various attributes (some would say faults) of a person and ranking them in some sort of hierarchy in importance. A friend of mine’s past significant other loved eating in bed. I am talking where there would be crumbs in the sheets, according to what I heard. Truthfully I do not know if I could handle that situation; if I put myself in their place I might not have continued long enough to have fallen in love with the individual because of their eating in bed. It is similar to some people who refuse to date someone who smokes cigarettes. Love has such a way of smoothing out the wrinkled doubts and buffing away the rusty fearfulness; it has its own special type of fluidity in my opinion. I really see it as falling in love with the person’s being, which I refer to as their makeup; their actions and thoughts as opposed to their appearance. You might at one time looked at a couple and wondered what the two saw in each other; but you know what, you are not in love with one of them, so you are not seeing who they see. LIVING A RELAXED EXISTENCE at his parents’ villa in northern Italy Elio, played by Timothee Chalamet (Lady Bird, Love the Coopers), becomes intrigued with his father’s guest Oliver, played by Armie Hammer (The Long Ranger, The Social Network). There is something about Oliver that intrigues him in a way he has never felt before. This film festival winning dramatic romance also starred Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water, A Serious Man) as Mr. Perlman, Amira Casar (Night of a 1000 Hours, Saint Laurent) as Annella and Esther Garrel (House of Tolerance, Jealousy) as Marzia. The scenes in this movie were so lush and beautiful; I felt I was on a trip through Italy. I thought the framing of the scenes was thoughtful and precise because it laid the groundwork for the smoldering tension that was rising up in the story. Timothee was amazing in his role; his way of conveying emotions was almost palatable in the theater. As for Armie I felt this was a smart move on his part to focus on his acting ability, instead of just being a part of some big budget picture. Now I will say the script was not without fault; there were times where I felt the story dragged. However, I did appreciate the subtleness to the story. Love is one of the most powerful emotions and it was obvious this film was created with love, because they took the time to show what happens when one goes from liking to loving a person.
3 ¼ stars
THEY knew it was one of my favorite musicals which made them think of me. A relative of theirs was performing in a local, community production; so they offered me the extra ticket in their possession. I am a supporter of the arts, enjoying a variety of venues available all over my city. Normally I would jump at the chance to attend a staged production; however, when it comes to certain plays or musicals I tend to be more cautious. The reason is because those few productions that are my all-time favorites I pretty much have committed to memory; every note, dance move and set design. Going to see anything less than a spectacular production would disappoint me. Do not get me wrong, I have tried many times. I could be sitting on an old rickety, folding chair in some small community center’s space pretending to be an auditorium and if everything is on point I am over the moon with joyous excitement. However if an errant musical note is played or a singer is off pitch it ruins the entire experience for me. ULTIMATELY it is a trade-off I suppose; if a person is willing to gamble and hope for the best they will go for it. But I have a question for you; let us say strawberries are one of your favorite things to eat. You eat them fresh from the garden as well as using them in your baking and making of smoothies. How satisfied would you be to eat something that uses artificial flavoring to make it taste like strawberry? If I had a choice between homemade chocolate chip cookies or store bought packaged ones, I would always go to the homemade ones first. I am not knocking the manufactured ones; heaven knows I have never turned down any type of chocolate chip cookie, but there are just times where I want the real thing. I could say the same thing about this action crime thriller. MEETING at an abandoned warehouse a group of people came together to make a deal to buy and sell guns. It would have helped if some of them had prior training on how to shoot a gun. This film festival winner was executive produced by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, The Departed). Starring Brie Larson (Room, The Spectacular Now) as Justine, Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network) as Ord, Cillian Murphy (Inception, In the Heart of the Sea) as Chris and Sharito Copley (District 9, Maleficent) as Vernon; I thought with this much talent the story would have been interesting to watch. The film had a 70s retro look which was fun. As the movie started it appeared there was going to be a sense of mystery to the story. Little did I realize the only mystery was why the movie studio allowed the script to remain in its present form. Essentially if it was not, it sure felt like over ½ of this film was one big shootout. Most of the dialog contained slang words; I was so bored I wanted all of the characters to kill each other and end the picture. If the writers were trying to do a parody on gun violence it was lost on me. And if they were hoping to create an homage to Martin Scorsese, the writers and director failed in my opinion. This was a pseudo action thriller filled with violence and strong language. You have been warned.
1 ¾ stars
DISCLAIMER: At the time of my viewing I was not aware of the controversy surrounding the writer, director and star of this film. Due to what I feel is the importance of this historical story I decided to post this review. It is not meant as an endorsement one way or the other of the person’s past events; I do not have enough knowledge on this controversy.
The 64 count box had the ideal amount for me. Anything more would only confuse me, taking more time to decide which color I would use next. For a kid a box of crayons is an unlimited source of fun and imagination. In my world every color had a purpose and belonged in the box. I started out using the yellow crayon every time I had a sun to draw. Later on I started adding crayons from the orange family, giving the sun a morning or evening look. At one time I started outlining everything with the black crayon then shading in the rest with a variety of colors. None of my crayons ever went unused; they each were treated equally and belonged in that 64 count crayon box. Something I noticed when I was at someone’s house who had crayons; not all of the crayons wore down at the same rate. They could have a short white crayon but a long black one that looked like it had not been used. Another house could have the tan or I think it was also called cocoa colored crayon sitting in the box never to be touched or be part of the picture the person was working on. I will never forget in a science class how the teacher showed us if we took a blue and yellow crayon then drew one color over the other we would have the color green. It was a revelation for me. Except for blue, red and yellow all the other crayons are a combination of 2 or more other colors. The crayons in my box all worked together in harmony unlike the real world. BEING one of the few slaves who could read Nat Turner’s, played by Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails); owner was able to rent him out to preach to the unruly slaves living on the other plantations. The things Nat saw opened his eyes in a new way. This film festival winning dramatic biography also starred Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network) as Samuel Turner and Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist, Awakenings) as Elizabeth Turner. As I said the story based on true events was important but I felt the script needed to be stronger to support the magnitude of the events taking place back during the 1830’s in Virginia. The acting was quite good especially during some of the disturbing scenes in this picture; however, there were gaps in the script where things slowed down for me. I was confused by the outcome that took place in a couple of scenes. For the most part the directing was spot on for this first time director. This was not easy to watch for a few reasons, one being the narrowness and ugliness of the times that only wanted to use 1 of 2 colors from a very small box of crayons.
She could be so vindictive even while serving you buttered toast. I do not want to say she was untouchable, but she was essentially the only one who knew how to operate the outdated billing system at the company. By today’s standards she would have been written up by her manager multiple times; I was one of her victims having been on the receiving end of a spiteful attack. I had done nothing wrong in my dealings with this one customer; however, while she was on the switchboard she added some extra lines to the message the customer left for their salesperson. She made it look like I had been verbally abusive with the customer. Luckily I kept detailed notes about all my accounts, so her plan did not hit me full force. I will tell you I was furious and spent a long week dealing with my anger at her, devising imaginative plots of revenge. Each plan I came up with became more outrageous as my anger increased, even though I knew I would not act on any of them. But do you know what I did instead? I took my anger and started working harder at my job, soliciting more conversations from my contacts, to strike up a sense of familiarity between us. As time passed my efforts paid off and I was promoted to a bigger position. I became that employee’s boss. You are probably thinking I made her life a living hell, but I did not. Though I remained wary of her, I kept close tabs on her since we had to work together. Sort of the same thing the 2 agents had to do in this action adventure film. DURING the cold war a new threat emerged that could become more powerful than the United States or Soviet Union. CIA agent Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill (Immortals, Man of Steel), and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, The Lone Ranger), would have to work together if they were to succeed in their mission. Based on the 1960s television series there were parts of this film that were fun and entertaining. With a slick stylized look to the movie I enjoyed some of the banter that took place between the two agents. However, I did not care for the story much; it seemed choppy and uneven to me. The fight scenes only seemed to enhance this point; I did not like the way they were filmed for the most part. Throughout the picture it appeared to me everything was being laid out as an overture to what would become the main movie, the possible sequel. This felt like a trial run of a story so I will try to keep an open mind if the film studio decided to do another one.
2 1/2 stars
The first musical notes may not be recognized by younger people, but almost everyone else will know the William Tell Overture. As soon as I hear the music I can recall the excitement I had seeing a majestic white horse standing on its hind legs, the rider dressed in white except for his black mask as he exclaimed, “Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!” Danger, thrills, disguises and chases are things I associate with the Lone Ranger. He was a strong character who fought for justice, alongside his Native American companion Tonto. In this action film you at least get the white horse. For nearly 2 1/2 hours you get a boring, ridiculous mess of a movie. Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows, The Rum Diary) played an ancient Tonto telling in flashbacks his story of witnessing the transformation of John Reid into the Lone Ranger, played by Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, J. Edgar). I am tired of movie studios slapping bizarre makeup and costumes on Johnny, thinking that is all that is needed to make a memorable character. Sure, I remember the outfit but I also remember Johnny hardly did any acting worth noting. Partners need chemistry to convince the audience that they have a solid bond and are there for each other. I did not feel any such thing between Armie and Johnny. Having the older Tonto tell the story was utterly useless; it did nothing to enhance the story except the duration of the movie’s running time. The explosions were well done and a couple of chase scenes had some thought put into them, but it was like watching fireworks. The story was so disconnected I felt I was just watching one fight after another. The only decent acting came from Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Debt) as businessman Cole and William Fichtner (Contact, Black Hawk Down) as outlaw Butch Cavendish. The best way to watch this film would be going out for a meal at the start of the movie then arrive back for the last 1/2 hour of the film. At least you will get to hear the William Tell Overture. Better yet, download the music and look for an old episode of the television show to watch. There were a couple of scenes with blood and one particularly disturbing scene.
1 2/3 stars
What do you think the Grimm brothers would have thought about this movie version’s twist on their original story? My guess would be none too happy about it; for I am afraid this mirror needed some polishing if it wanted to reflect a happy audience. Please do not get me wrong, there was nothing horrible about the movie; it just came across disjointed for me. On the plus side it was colorful, had a couple of good special effects in it and had kid friendly humor. The queen was played by Julia Roberts (Closer, Erin Brockovich) and it seemed she was having fun with the role. Some of her lines had a sickly sweet, sarcastic coating that played off well against the rest of the cast. Where I had an issue was the Snow White character, played by Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Abduction). I did not feel she had any chemistry with the other actors, especially with what should have been the most important one, Prince Albert played by Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar). The story line of this movie was a combination of parts from various fairy tales. When Snow White’s father the King mysteriously disappeared from the kingdom, her stepmother the evil Queen took over the throne. Letting her true colors come out, she started to treat Snow White like a pseudo Cinderella. As you can see, I found the story odd. But in the scheme of things, this movie was harmless and acceptable for a family outing. Instead of casting a charming spell on you, this film will only cast a forgetting spell.