MOST EVERYONE I KNOW has/had one favorite relative they have enjoyed being with the most. For some it was/is a grandparent or an aunt/uncle. I remember the feelings I would get when walking into one of my closest relative’s home. There was a settled in feeling to the place, if that makes any sense. You know those types of homes you visit where you are afraid to sit on the furniture or eat in a room because everything is in place, looking spic and span clean. Possibly some homes might even have furniture that has a plastic or cloth cover over it. Does anyone remember what it was like to sit on plastic covers on a warm summer day? The answer was sticky. That was nothing like my relative’s home. Their place had furniture with deflated cushions on the sofa and chairs as if they were tired from holding up the bottoms of people for so many years. There were a variety of knick-knacks placed around the rooms, from framed photos to small ceramic pieces shaped into animals and dancers. And for me my favorite part was the kitchen because it always provided me with recently baked cookies, pies or cakes. AS FOR THIS RELATIVE they had an all encompassing hug that made me feel safe. After receiving one of their big hugs they would lightly pinch one of my bulbous cheeks as a warm, pure smile spread across their face. I cannot recall ever not getting greeted that way any time I went to visit their home. Because of their disposition and maybe rank in the family, their home was always a safe haven for all the relatives; there never was a fight or disagreement inside their home. I guess the best way to describe it would be to say it was a peaceful place always filled with the smells of something cooking in the kitchen. Though there were few modern devices or appliances, you never felt like you were missing out on something. I can remember bringing my friends there one time and watching them enjoy this one particular cookie that was my favorite. So it wasn’t just me I realized; everyone who met my relative always left with feeling the same way: comforted, safe and joyful. I got to experience these feelings once again while watching this charming, adventure comedy. SEARCHING FOR A BIRTHDAY gift for his aunt Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw (The Lobster, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), found the perfect gift at Mr. Gruber’s, played by Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York), shop. But while Paddington was saving up to buy the item it was stolen and the evidence pointed to Paddington. With Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Maudie) as Mary Brown, Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill, Downton Abbey-TV) as Henry Brown and Hugh Grant (Cloud Atlas, About a Boy) as Phoenix Buchanan; this was such an entertaining movie that caused me to have a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. The story evoked feelings of excitement, joy, sadness and comfort; I actually enjoyed this sequel more than the first film. Sure some of the humor was predictable and corny, but it did not bother me; it only added an old fashioned sweetness to the story. For those who want a film to take the whole family to, from child to adult, this would be the one to go see. After viewing this picture I wished I was friends with Paddington. Oh, and do stay for the beginning credits to see a fun scene.
3 ½ stars
One single seed over time can create a bodacious garden. All it takes is nourishment, encouragement and tenderness. The same holds true for writing a story. A kernel of a memory, truth or experience is all that is needed for the writer. My first published story was about me and my friends’ experiences selling door to door a variety of kitchen and houseware products for a charity. It started out with an incident one of my friend’s had, where he spent the rest of the day walking with me on my route. I took that event and created several companion pieces to accompany it in a series of sales stories told from different perspectives. Just recently a friend called me up after reading one of my reviews, asking me who I was writing about since they could not place me in my opening commentary. I had to remind them of the incident that caused me such anguish. Now I am sure there have been times where you read a story and were curious to know if there was any truth to it; I know I do it all the time. When I am writing each character I have a voice for them I hear in my head. Some of the voices are actual people I have heard while others were made up. I would love to know how authors come up with their stories. To hear the truth behind some of the classics or best sellers would be amazing. Having read the novel Moby Dick 3 times, I had no idea it was based on a true story; in turn, I was excited to see this movie. Herman Melville, played by Ben Whishaw (Spectre, Suffragette), was desperate to talk to Tom Nickerson, played by Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise, Gangs of New York), the last survivor of the New England whaling ship, the Essex. Tom’s unbelievable story about the destruction of the Essex would be the catalyst for Herman to write the story Moby Dick. This action adventure had huge special effects to match the size of the story. There were times I was trying to figure out how the scene was even done; they looked spectacular. With Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor franchise) as Owen Chase and Benjamin Walker (The War Boys, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as George Pollard, there were two things happening in this biographical film. There was Herman listening to Tom for one story line and then there was Owen and George hunting for whales in the 1820s. I preferred watching Herman and Tom. Their acting and story was more memorable to me. Owen’s tale was too choppy; I felt it dragged in places, in others it just seemed ridiculous. It lacked emotion in my opinion. Honestly, I could see this script being a Broadway musical and working better than it did on film. Nonetheless I was fascinated with the story that was the impetus for the classic novel Moby Dick.
2 1/4 stars
One of the more important acts a parent can instill in a child is the love of reading. There is an art in reading a book to a child. As the words get spoken, images begin to form and take shape in the little one’s mind. Stimulating the brain this way, sets the foundation for an active imagination to grow in the child. A blanket once draped around the shoulders becomes a cape that enables the child to fly from room to room. Spreading that same blanket out on the floor then repeatedly lifting it up and down in waves turns the living room floor into a choppy sea filled with a school of gigantic whales. Once the blanket goes still it becomes the launching pad for today’s rocket launch. Who hasn’t as a kid carried around some item that was special only to them? For me it started out with a stuffed monkey for several years and then my attention was drawn to retractable ballpoint pens. They were my fleet of spaceships that were constantly firing at each other by me clicking and unclicking them. Memories of my childhood, that had been lying dormant, flourished up into my consciousness while watching this sweet and joyful family comedy. COMING from Peru to England Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, I’m not There), found shelter with a lovely family. Mary and Henry Brown, played by Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, Blue Jasmine) and Hugh Bonneville (The Monuments Men, Downton Abbey-TV), agreed to take in the bear for one night. What could possibly go wrong? This movie was an absolute treat, harking back to a civilized and charming time. I mean this in two ways: as a story line and as a movie watching experience. It was obvious this was a group effort because the entire cast from the characters Sally and Hugh played to Mrs. Bird and Millicent, played by Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise, Mamma Mia) and Nicole Kidman (The Railway Man, Rabbit Hole), all played their parts to the hilt; you could see they were having so much fun. In turn, I had a great time watching this picture; it had drama, comedy, excitement and suspense that was appropriate for all age levels. Even the special effects that created Paddington were seamless to the point where I actually believed he was standing right there in every scene. I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this film and not getting a smile on their face. It was such a good time for me and when it was done and over I walked out of the theater with my childhood memories playing out before my eyes.
3 1/3 stars