THOUGH OUR CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE YEARS ago, I still carry the elderly man’s words with me. The details surrounding our talk are faded and fuzzy after all these years; however, I know we were talking about the death of a mutual friend. It was a sudden death and we were saying how hard a sudden death is for those left behind. The man said something that was profound to me; he said the longer a person suffers towards their end, the easier it is for the living at the time of death. These are words that have been tested for me and it is true. I never want to see someone suffering before their time is done here. The first time I saw where these words were tested was at a nursing home. Seeing the person wilt away in an antiseptic environment, losing their awareness of everything around them; it was heartbreaking. Though they were not suffering in the traditional sense, for it appeared they had no pains or aches, those of us around them felt defeated and beaten because there was nothing, we could do to change things. This was not living, and they were not the person I knew in my younger days. The life in them was draining out to the point where no one would argue with you if you thought they looked like a breathing carcass. THE ELDERLY MAN MENTIONED THAT THE time of his death would be part of the natural order most people have come to expect. He liked to refer to death as a walk into the sunset. What he was saying made sense to me because the grief I was experiencing concerning our mutual friend was different than what I feel towards someone who had lived a long time. When one is living in their younger years, death usually doesn’t have a seat at their table. But, when someone is living in their twilight years, death not only has a seat but eventually becomes an active participant in your mind’s tabletop discussions. When the man was telling me about order, he said in the natural order of things a parent never wants to see their child die and a child always expects their parent to die before them. I thought about that and it made perfect sense to me. From our conversation, I realized grief is not a simple, clear cut function; grief is multifaceted, there are many shades to it and every single person handles grief in their own way. I hope my talking about this subject is not upsetting you; I am simply preparing you in case you choose to watch the incredible performance in this dramatic, film festival winner. A TRAGIC EVENT SENDS A COUPLE into a world of grief that each one handles differently. Will their paths meet during their grieving process? With Vanessa Kirby (Kill Command, The Crown-TV) as Martha, Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Sean, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, American Woman) as Elizabeth, Iliza Shlesinger (Instant Family, Spenser Confidential) as Anita and Benny Safdie (Good Time, Person to Person) as Chris; the beginning of this movie was one of the toughest things I have had to sit through and watch. Right from the start, I felt engaged with Vanessa and Shia; they were tremendous in their acting abilities. The story may not be original, but the way it was acted out and directed gave it a fresh perspective. Now there were times where I felt the story drifting, particularly more so in the last half; but Vanessa was a force in this picture, she carried the bulk of the work needed to keep the viewers interested in what was taking place. This was not what I would call an “up” type of film, but it was a good example of seeing someone go through the grieving process.
3 ¼ stars
MY FRIEND WAS TELLING ME HOW stunned he was when he found out what his mother had done. Through their entire lives, his parents lived frugally; he thought it was out of necessity. It turned out that was not totally correct. His mother handled all the finances, from paying bills to shopping for food. My friend told me his father was given strict instructions on how much he could spend on any replacement clothing or food when he went shopping. Some of the stories my friend would tell me about his parents seemed extreme to me. For example, his mother would continue to wear a sweater or blouse even after it was discolored from age or frayed to the point where a small hole would appear. She never went clothes shopping unless there was no way she could continue to wear an article of clothing, after all the mending she tried to do to it. The thing that surprised me was the fact, according to my friend, his father had no idea how much money he and his wife really had saved. Throughout their entire marriage, the father never once wrote a check. I found this to be the weirdest thing out of all the things my friend told me about his parents. WHEN I THINK ABOUT OLDER GENERATIONS, I remember how the household was divided between “male” and “female” chores. It was expected the women would clean and cook while the men shoveled snow and mowed the grass. To me, it seemed like 2 separate worlds co-existing together instead of 2 people working in unison to create one world. I never understood why changing a diaper was the mother’s job or washing the car was the husband’s job. As I witnessed the growth of later generations, I noticed a refreshing change in the way married/partnered couples handled the running of their households. Males were now changing diapers or cooking while their significant other would take on the repair of a household item. There is a couple I know who have a near perfect union in the way they managed to remove “male” and “female” labels to the functions of running their home. It would not be unusual for either of them to cook dinner, clean, pay bills or grocery shop. Whoever has available time, takes on the duty and it works beautifully for them. The only area where they are not equal is with their finances. The husband does all the investing of their funds, setting them up for their retirement years. I believe this is an error in judgment because if the husband were to die first, his wife would have no idea how to manage the finances he set up for them. Imagine what kind of trauma his wife would experience. Though the circumstances are a bit different in this crime drama, one can still see the affect it has on a spouse when they are left out of the loop. FIRST, SHE WAS HANDED A NEWBORN baby, then she was forced to go on the run; all due to her husband’s actions. All Jean, played by Rachel Brosnahan (Patriots Day, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV), wanted was to get answers from her husband. With Marsha Stephanie Blake (See You Yesterday, The Laundromat) as Teri, Arinze Kene (The Pass, Been so Long) as Cal, Frankie Faison (Do the Right Thing, White Chicks) as Art and Marceline Hugot (Working Girl, The Messenger) as Evelyn; the strength of this film was solely placed on Rachel’s performance. I thought she did an excellent job in the role. Set in the 1970s, I enjoyed the sets and costumes in this picture; however, I found the script to be lacking. The first half of the film was slow to me. It was not until the halfway point where things started to pick up and I took more of an interest in Jean’s plight. Also, I liked seeing her growth in the story. Overall, it just seemed as if the writers and director did not talk much to each other when they were creating this disjointed movie.
2 ½ stars
Am I to assume that having children is just a different form of a prison sentence? Seeing the married couples portrayed in this movie, it certainly looked as if marital quality took a nosedive once a child was born. Let me start by saying I give props to Jennifer Westfeldt (Ira & Abby, Kissing Jessica Stein), the writer, producer, director and lead actress of this comedy. Her character Julie Keller with close friend Jason Fryman, played by Adam Scott (The Aviator, Step Brothers) decided they wanted to have a baby. However, witnessing the drama of their married friends and their children, Julie and Adam wanted to maintain their platonic friendship, avoiding the stresses of holy deadlock. The wild portrayals of their friends were crazy in this movie; with some great, funny lines of dialog. The stand outs for me were Jon Hamm (The Town, Sucker Punch) as Ben and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Date Night) as Missy. I felt the premise of the movie was original, taking the “can a woman and man be best friends” question to a new level. One of the issues I had with this movie, however, was Jennifer’s acting. There was something about it that was lacking for me. This may sound odd, but her face seemed as if it had just been treated with botox; I could not get any visual cues on her emotions. By the end of the movie, I felt the story lost its edge and went the safe route. More chuckles then belly laughs; this film was a good idea that did not carry through by the end.
2 1/2 stars