THE DINING TABLE WAS SET PRIOR to all of us showing up. I always notice first what type of napkin the host is using for the dinner guests. Not that I am being judgmental, but I use and prefer cloth napkins. I feel they add a different touch aesthetically, besides being quite functional. The ones I use were on the store’s clearance rack and they work just fine. The table was set for half a dozen guests; it had been a long time since we all got together. After everyone arrived and we visited with appetizers and drinks, we all found places at the table. The host was bringing out a large glass bowl filled with salad when the doorbell rang. Since there were no empty spaces left at the table, one could only assume this was an unexpected event which immediately got confirmed when the host wondered out loud who it could be. I did not hear who the person was when the host went over and spoke into the intercom, but they got buzzed in and the host went to unlock the door. The person soon walked in as we all heard talking coming in from the hallway. I recognized him as a friend of the host, but I did not know him well. Saying hi and asking what was going on as he came into the dining room, the host simply said we were just sitting down to dinner and asked if he would like to join us. Seeing that there was no room left at the table, I would have declined the invitation because it would have been an imposition; it was not like people were just sitting about with boxes of delivered pizza or buckets of chicken. ALL MY FRIENDS KNOW I DO not answer the door unless I am expecting someone. They have questioned me if this is the only option and I tell them yes. If someone wants to come over and visit me, all they need to do is call ahead of time. I remember once a friend had driven into the city and decided to stop and visit with me. Since they did not call, I did not hear them ringing the doorbell because I was jogging on the treadmill. I especially dislike when people show up during mealtimes, either at home or in a restaurant. This happened some time ago, but I still remember eating out with my family and a couple came over to talk to one of my relatives, who they knew. Well I am here to tell you, this couple kept talking and talking while all of us were giving our food orders to the waitress, continuing even when the food came to our table. Personally, I think it is rude to hover over people while they are trying to eat; so, I took it upon myself to say something to them, thanking them for stopping over but I wanted to talk to my family since I had not seen them for some time. They appeared to be startled by my comments but apologized profusely and excused themselves from our space. Ironically, my family was appreciative of my comments to the couple. I do not make apologies for how I feel about uninvited guests; I have no idea how I would have handled what happened to the astronauts in this dramatic, science fiction thriller. WHILE STARTING OFF ON A MISSION to Mars, a crew is stunned when they discover an unauthorized person on their ship. With Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, A Simple Favor) as Zoe Levenson, Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy, Lost-TV) as David Kim, Shamier Anderson (Awake, City of Lies) as Michael Adams and Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary) as Marina Barnett; this cast did a wonderful job of acting. Visually, I enjoyed watching this movie with its special effects. On the downside, I am afraid the script was too drawn out for me; I felt there were several scenes that dragged. However, I did enjoy the moral question that was woven into the story line. For a science fiction film, this one had a slightly different vibe to it which was a plus. I only wished there had been more intensity involved with the story and a different ending.
2 ½ stars
THE WORDS THAT NEVER GET SPOKEN to a loved one will remain inside of you always. They become part of your inner dialog, emerging periodically to your consciousness like buried treasure, whenever you think of that person who is no longer in your life. A friend of mine experienced such a thing when his brother one night took off, never to be heard from again. My friend told me there was a big fight between his brother and their parents; he never told me what the argument was about, nor did I ask. In the heat of the fight, the brother said at some point he did not want to be around his parents anymore. I remember my friend telling me he was shocked by that comment. A few days later the brother packed up his clothing and left in the middle of the night. My friend was devastated when he woke up the following morning. There was no note left behind; the brother did not send a message or word to his brother to let him know he was okay. I could see the pain across my friend’s face. I tried to comfort him, suggesting the brother might reach out to him once he arrived at his destination and settled down. He never called. BESIDES THIS FRIEND I ONLY KNEW a couple of other households that experienced a family loss. With each one, the family member I knew suffered a long grieving period due to not saying goodbye. Because I was at a young age, I could not grasp the scope of such pain. The only way I could relate to it took place several years later when I had experienced breakups from a couple of long-term relationships. Physical death was not a factor, but I still felt the pain of loss. In one relationship I was left without closure; they simply said they could “not do this anymore” and decided to leave. My loss was accentuated by the sudden stoppage of our blended routines. I never realized how prickly routines could be when you try doing them yourself. They are a constant reminder of how your life used to be. Now, I can see if you were the one to end the relationship then those past routines would be the fuel that pushes you to your new life; it makes sense to me. However, not getting the opportunity to have a say in the demise of a relationship can have a profound effect upon one’s psyche. The main character in this dramatic, science fiction mystery can show you. WITH EARTH EXPERIENCING UNEXPLAINED POWER SURGES, the little evidence that could be found led to a past space mission that ceased communications. The astronaut chosen to investigate the mystery was the son of the captain from the lost mission. With Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, By the Sea) as Roy McBride, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, Shock and Awe) as H. Clifford McBride, Ruth Negga (Loving, World War Z) as Helen Lantos, Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise, The Leisure Seeker) as Thomas Pruitt and Kimberly Elisa (Death Wish, The Manchurian Candidate) as Lorraine Deavers; watching this film felt like I was privy to a psychological study. The script and the directing kept a deliberate, methodical slow pace. Because I was involved with psychology in college, I found this movie interesting. However, I am not sure many other viewers would feel the same. Visually the picture was beautiful, and Brad’s performance was outstanding. Overall, I enjoyed learning the story in the movie but there were times I felt it dragged along. I may still be thinking about this film, but I feel complete in having told you what I thought about this outer space, adventure movie.
2 ¾ stars
SHE WAS SHOWING ME HER LATEST purchase. It was still in the box; but from the picture, it was a device that was used on the face. With a clear plastic cone sticking up like a Victrola, my friend was telling me she planned on using it to open the pores of her face. Evidently the machine plugs into an electrical outlet, water is added to a reservoir and steam comes out the plastic cone. I thought, why couldn’t she just boil a pot of water on the stove and drape a towel over her head, while leaning over the steaming boiling water? There was no need for her to spend money on this device since she was on the brink of bankruptcy, according to her. But there was this pattern already of her buying into the latest trendy thing she saw or read about it. One time she wound up with a foot massager that she used a total of three times, before it was pushed back into a closet and she was onto her next new purchase. Out of the things I have seen at her place, I felt she was addicted to one of those home shopping stations or those late-night infomercials that are on TV. BELIEVE ME, I HAVE TRIED TALKING to her about her shopping addiction. At least that is what I called it because she was always buying stuff and more so when she was upset about something. We had been friends for years and I loved her dearly; which is why I was sad to see her go into financial ruin due to her spending habits. Her place looked like a graveyard for discarded products; everything from a popcorn air popper to a pneumatic drain snake. No matter what I suggested or directly said to her, she had an excuse on why she needed whatever she had just bought. She was a close friend who I loved unconditionally. Though it was apparent she was making things worse for herself, I stood by her side and supported her. I think inside of me I was always hoping she would heed my advice one day, but she was an adult and had the ability to make a choice still. It was a hard place for me to be in, but all I could do was love and be there for her until she chose to make a change. Many of the X-Men in this science fiction, adventure film would understand completely. AFTER SURVIVING AN ACCIDENT IN SPACE, a change came over Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner (Josie, Game of Thrones-TV). It was a change that made several of her fellow X-Men uneasy, but they still wanted to be there for her. With James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, Victor Frankenstein) as Professor Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs, The Snowman) as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence (Red Sparrow, Joy) as Raven/Mystique and Nicholas Hoult (Tolkien, Warm Bodies) as Beast; this action movie started out with excitement. It had been a long time since the last X-Men picture; so, I was looking forward to this one, especially to see Sophie in a different role from her Game of Thrones character. Unfortunately. the script was a big letdown for me. There was no “wow” factor to any of the scenes. Along with that, I thought the direction was poor because all the characters seemed to be on the same emotional level. I felt there could have been multiple opportunities to inject some fun or sadness or excitement; but I never really experienced any of these feelings. Sophie’s acting was too close to her Game of Thrones’ character in my opinion. The director could have pushed her farther. I have been a fan of the X-Men for a long time and I want to be there supporting them, but this latest installment was trying to push me away.
HIS attendance was perfect; he never missed a day of work. The quality of his work was outstanding and it showed in his yearly performance review because he never received a below average mark in any of the performance categories. However, he never received an above average mark either; but, he did not complain about it, grateful he had a job. The travel time for him was long; it required 2 buses and a train to get to the office. The company had over 200 employees but he could not call one of them a friend. Some individuals would only talk to him if they had to for business; he was used to the blank or condescending looks he would get for nearly every action he took. SHE was in love and it did not even take her long to realize it. They had met at a coffee shop one afternoon. Over their drinks they did not strictly make small talk; they ventured into deeper subjects and it was apparent there was a unique kindness being shared between them. Over the next several weeks a mutual fondness grew between them. Each was starting to think they found the right one they wanted to be with for the rest of their life. With the blossoming love they shared they became more affectionate with each other. Simple things like holding hands at the movies or a quick kiss on the cheek, actions everyone in love has done from time to time. When they were affectionate they did not realize people around them would stop what they were doing to watch the happy couple. The look on these strangers’ faces was usually a grimace, a look of disgust. Nothing the happy couple did was inappropriate but it did not matter, there was another reason. And the reason could be found in the color of a person’s skin. LOSING the space race to the Russians was not acceptable; it would take effort from every single person at NASA to get astronaut John Glenn up into space. But if you were not the right color, you did not count to some people. Based on a true story this is a must see drama. Starring Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Empire-TV) as Katherine G. Johnson, Octavia Spencer (The Help, Snowpiercer) as Dorothy Vaughan, recording artist Janelle Monae (Moonlight) as Mary Jackson and Kevin Costner (Black or White, Draft Day) as Al Harrison; this film festival winning movie was unbelievable. Let me start with the story; what an amazing achievement during a time period that most of us had never known about while history was being made in getting a rocket into space. The acting was wonderful from everyone; even minor characters fit right in without missing a beat of the story. As a movie viewing experience I had a great time clapping and cheering with the audience during a few scenes. Knowing how the story was going to end, since it is a part of US history, did not take away from the enjoyment in watching the amazing feats being achieved by the people in this movie. The space program has come so far from blasting John Glenn into space; now if only we could elevate our thinking about judging a person on their abilities instead of their color.
I used to think that each of us had a finite amount of breaths inside of us; once you used them up you were done. So I was careful with my breathing, trying not to sacrifice any of them needlessly. This took place when I was a kid. Though I grew out of that phase I still believe everyone has to sacrifice something to achieve a goal. Recently I met someone who wants to start writing a movie blog. Their enthusiasm is contagious with the excitement they display when talking about their recently seen films. The screen does not matter much to them for they watch movies on their television screen, cellular phone, computers and when possible at a movie theater. If I remember correctly, for the month of January they had seen something like 70 films. You just know this individual had to give something up to devote so much time to movie watching. With my own movie site I know I have had to sacrifice social interactions with friends and family so that I could get to the movie theater. Besides there are not many people who can or want to sit with me watching 3 films in a row when I am forced to do it at times. Heck, I even have to sacrifice housework sometimes to get to a movie theater, but this I do not mind too much. The point is each of us who want to get or do something has to give up or sacrifice something to make it happen. I refer to this as the pluses and minuses of life; for every plus you gain there is a minus that comes with it. If you don’t believe me watch this documentary about the last man to have flown to the moon. ASTRONAUT Eugene Cernan did not start out wanting to be an astronaut; he just absolutely loved to fly, the faster the better. This film festival winning biographical movie was its own little time capsule of American history. With personal and never before seen footage, interviews with fellow astronauts like Alan Bean and Eugene’s commentary; this was an interesting adventure picture. The way I can describe this movie’s affect on me is to say I felt like the history I knew about the Apollo space program just got colored in with more details. The tidbits Eugene offered about NASA along with archival footage kept my interest throughout the film. Oh, and before I forget I wanted to make sure to mention I loved the quote Eugene’s wife stated about staying home. One does not need to be a science fan to enjoy this documentary because the story really was about the sacrifices and effects one experiences as they strive to reach a goal in their life. Luckily we are able to be witnesses to a memorable event that was not only historic but personal. In the scheme of things seeing this movie would fall into the plus column of one’s life.
3 1/4 stars