THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND ME, so I decided I would be the first one to climb the mountain in front of me. Technically, it was a large hill; but to me it looked like it would be the biggest challenge facing me while on vacation. I was not well prepared to undertake such a feat; I was wearing gym shoes, no hat and carrying one water bottle. Ahead of me was what I thought might be a path, simply because there was little grass and rocks compared to the rest of the landscape. I started my way up and at first it seemed like it would be an easy climb. Let me add here, as I have grown older, I have gotten more afraid of heights. However, that thought was the furthest thing from my mind as I was feeling exhilarated from the breeze blowing and the receding land below me. As I was making my way up, the climb started getting steeper. There were a few times my shoes slipped from under me; luckily, if I were going to fall face forward, it would not have been a far fall since I was required to use my hands to help pull myself forward at times. I got as far as halfway up before I felt I would need the same amount of time to descend before it started getting dark. With one turn, I tried taking a step down but freaked out. It was too steep to walk down; I had to sit on my backside and slide myself most of the way down before I felt comfortable enough to stand up. HAVING TAKEN TWICE THE AMOUNT OF time to get back down from the climb up, I sat in my car listening to music to calm myself. What was I thinking? On a scale of things, I am sure this hill might rate mild for most people, but I realized if there is not a defined path with a gift shop at the end of it, I have no business climbing up a hill. In fact, I honestly do not understand why anyone wants to mountain climb. I am sure it must be exciting to say you have done something that so few have been able to do; but if it could kill you, why would you want to do it? A friend of mine one day decided he wanted to skydive. I did not understand the motivation, but he set his mind to it and made it happen. We saw the video of the jump and sure, it was amazing to see; however, seeing his cheeks flapping from the wind force as he was diving was enough for me to realize there is no need for anyone to jump out of a plane. Yet there will always be individuals who want to challenge themselves to do something extraordinary. An example would be one of the main characters in this prequel. HOW IRONIC THAT A MILD-MANNERED bank teller’s dream was to break into one of the world’s most secure bank vaults. All he needed was a little motivation. With Matthias Schweighofer (What A Man, The Red Baron) as Ludwig Dieter, Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones-TV, Maze Runner franchise) as Gwendoline Starr, Ruby O. Fee (The Invisibles, Polar) as Korina Dominguez, Stuart Martin (Only You, Jamestown-TV) as Brad Cage and Guz Khan (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Bubble) as Rolph; this action, crime comedy was your basic heist film with a few fun tweaks done to it. I enjoyed watching this movie because it was fast paced, with some thrilling and exciting scenes. The idea of the story was sound, but I had wished the writers would have gone further with the telling of it. The other reason I enjoyed this film was because the telling of it was not dependent on CGI effects; they did it the old-fashioned way by letting the actors tell and show us the story. I do not necessarily feel like one must see the original film to enjoy this one.
2 2/3 stars
NO MATTER HOW HARD WE TRY, there is going to be times in life where we must deal with stuff (some people would use a stronger word) thrown our way. They may be anywhere between simple annoyances to heavy issues. Presently I am dealing with a continuous annoyance. Every time the temperature outside has a wide swing the tire pressure light goes on in my car. I never know if it is just a loss of air from the temperature, debris in the road or the start of an actual flat tire. I am stuck always going to an auto dealer to have the tires checked out. It is stuff like this that will drive me crazy because I do not have an outlet to release my frustrations. What I would like to do is kick my tires or bang on my dashboard when the tire light goes on; but that is not going to make anything better. However, I have been using my feelings as fuel to come up with an alternative that will give me piece of mind. My idea now is to buy a tire pressure gauge and one of those small air compressors; so, I can even out the air pressure in all my tires and get the tire gauge light to turn off, as long as there is not a flat tire. WHEN DEALING WITH HARD OR HEAVY situations, some individuals may not be fully equipped to handle the pressure. I believe it is better to submerge into your feelings than trying to ignore them. Letting yourself experience these emotions I find can be therapeutic, if not cathartic. In my past I have taken tragedy and taken all the feelings associated with it and wrapped it tightly around me to the point where I was nearly comatose. But during that time there was a part of my brain working on ways to learn and hopefully grow from the experience. Now there are some people who may experience a traumatic event and totally withdraw from reality. The pain is too much for them to handle so they find ways to avoid it. I hope I do not come across as judgmental but that is not something I could maintain. Sure, I can escape by taking a mental vacation for a while; but I am not the type of person who would try to fill the void I was experiencing with a substitute that could harm me. As I said, everyone handles trauma differently and this film festival winning action, crime drama will show you one of those ways. AFTER MANY YEARS A CASE DETECTIVE Erin Bell, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, The Upside), thought she had left behind resurfaced, stirring up strong emotions inside of her. To deal with the present she would have to revisit her past. This movie also starred Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, Dead Man’s Shoes) as Silas, Tatiana Maslany (Stronger, Orphan Black-TV) as Petra, Scoot McNairy (Argo, Monsters) as Ethan and Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya; Captain America franchise) as Chris. This was an unusual role for Nicole. Being a big fan of her work, I thought she would have been outstanding in the role. However, I never found her believable as the older version of her character; the entire time I was aware it was Nicole Kidman playing a role. The scenes that jumped into the past seemed more interesting to me, but I disliked the going back and forth in time throughout the film. This lead it to be not a very entertaining film for me. I found the script slow moving and at times dull. After the movie ended I took my disappointment and funneled it into a grocery store trip to buy myself a treat.
IT IS BEST TO TREAD carefully when you have interactions with a person who has a blurred line between their personal and business life. I am not saying such an individual is a “bad” person; but I have found they tend to react and think differently in social settings and relationships. There are some people whose job becomes their life; the role they play at work continues after hours. At a party I attended there was an individual who was employed in a managerial position. This person was used to having the final say; in other words, they always got their way. If you tried to have a discussion with them they pretended to listen to you, nodding their head up and down at certain points while you talked, but they would quickly make up their mind before you even finished stating your point. Granted this was only one example but I have been a witness to many other similar situations and yet I do not think all managers act this way. It is a particular behavior that I have noticed more than once. DO YOU THINK IT IS safe to say a person who is a control freak or hungry for power would easily change by deferring to another individual? I do not see it happening or at least not easily. Even in a love relationship relinquishing control takes a lot of effort for some people. I admit I am a person who likes to be in control; if for no other reason I have no one to blame for anything that may go wrong. I kid my friends that I wish everyone would follow my rules because it would make life so much easier to navigate. Realistically I know this cannot happen; however, I have been around some individuals who almost desperately try to exert their will on other people. It makes for an uncomfortable situation. These individuals I have noticed tend to compartmentalize all aspects of their daily life, more so at their place of employment. This only feeds into their control issues. And if you want to see an example of this, feel free to view this action crime drama. ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL group of bank robbers has set their sights on something bigger. Their actions are really getting to Officer Nick Flanagan, played by Gerard Butler (Geostorm, Olympus Has Fallen franchise) and his special unit within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. With Jordan Bridges (Mona Lisa Smile, Frequency) as “Lobbin Bob” Golightly, Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Merrimen, Evan Jones (The Book of Eli, 8 Mile) as Bosco and O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Donnie; this movie had some intense moments throughout the story. The director kept the script going with a decent amount of tension throughout. Gerard was good with his character though it did appear to be similar to some of his other roles. I was trying to figure out why I enjoyed this film more than I expected since the story appeared to be your typical bank heist, good guys vs. bad guys type of story and what dawned on me was the audacity of the crimes. With the steady tension and intense characters this picture kept my interest, though the 2 hour and 20 minute running time was not necessary. There will be a chance some viewers will have a problem with the story’s ending. In a test for control I would lose to either group in this movie.
2 ½ stars
NO matter how hard one works it seems as if that finish line keeps moving further away. I am referring to those plans put in place for retirement. Besides the big element of the “unknown,” the unexpected expense, it seems as if the rules and the times keep changing faster to any adjustments one tries to execute. The age of 65 used to be the goal line for retirement; now it gets pushed back depending on the year one is born. There is a grocery store I occasionally use that has a couple of small sections put aside for clearance items. One of them is in the produce section of the store and I have to tell you it is hard sometimes to watch the elderly shoppers pouring over the bruised or wrinkled fruits and vegetables, looking for one that would still be edible. I wonder what my retirement will be like when I am on a fixed income; would I be one of those shoppers looking for a bargain that potentially could make me ill? AS my friends and I grow older our conversations about are retirement years has increased. Some amongst us have multiple insurance policies to cover a variety of scenarios; others have focused on savings that they will be able to draw on once they are no longer working. One of the big concerns we all share is whether we will be able to still live independently, under our own roofs. No one in my circle of friends has had something good to say about nursing homes unless they had a super wealthy relative, who could afford one of those luxury retirement communities set up like a condominium building. They would have to buy the apartment outright and when they died the living space would revert back to the association. Since none of my friends or me could afford such an arrangement, we have come up with some creative ways on how we could take care of each other. I will tell you the option that was chosen in this comedic crime film never occurred to any of us. RETIRED friends Joe, Willie and Albert; played by Michael Caine (Inception, Batman Begins franchise), Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy, The Dark Knight franchise) and Alan Arkin (Get Smart, Argo); were falling deeper into debt. After witnessing a crime, Joe got an idea that would solve all three friends’ money issues. Directed by Zach Braff (Garden State, Scrubs-TV), the only reason to see this film is to watch these three actors, along with Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future franchise, Taxi-TV) as Milton and Ann-Margaret (Grumpy Old Men, Any Given Sunday) as Annie, working together. It would have been more interesting to watch them if the script had not stayed on the light side; the humor and emotional parts were rather wishy-washy. Putting aside my dilemma with celebrating crime situations, I thought the lead up story was a good motivator for the action. When the film came to an end I was left with the same feelings I had with yesterday’s picture, just a sense of “blah.” In my opinion it was a crime to have used these actors for such an uninspired script.
What a surprise; this unordinary heist movie took away my notion that Jason Statham (Transporter, Crank) cannot act. Playing shady, London car dealer Terry Leather, he was excellent in this role. Based on true events, Terry was brought into a scheme by Martine Love, played by Saffron Burrows (Troy, Reign Over Me), to break into a bank when its alarm system was going to be down for a time. Pretty much a foolproof plan; however, Terry and his assembled team got more than money and jewels when they opened a particular safety deposit box. This film started out a little slow, but do not worry. The story builds on itself with surprise twists and revealing turns. I really got wrapped up into this thrilling crime drama. As I mentioned earlier, do not let the slow start stop you from missing out on this astonishing story of a real crime event and its aftermath. There are some scenes of violence.
3 stars — DVD