FEW OF MY FRIENDS LIKED THE candy pellets that came out of the candy dispenser I carried around in my pocket. I had a couple of different kinds; one had Popeye’s head on the top and the other had the head of a dog. When you tilted the head back the mouth would open to reveal a candy pellet, for you to slide out and pop into your mouth. Whenever I went to the candy store I always picked up a couple of packs of pellets to reload my dispensers. As time went on and my tastes changed, I stopped carrying around my candy dispensers; I placed them in a desk drawer and soon forgot about them. Fast forward to years later and on one of my social media sites I have a follower who is a big fan/collector of the same kind of candy dispensers I used to have when I was younger. From seeing the things this follower has been posting, I discovered there is a world of people who enjoy these candy dispensers. And here I thought when I was younger I was the only one who liked them. I will say from the time I had them they certainly have increased the amount of different heads on them. THOUGH I KNOW NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE in my follower’s posts, I felt some kind of connection. It is the type of connection one feels when they discover someone they do not know has the same like/dislike of a particular thing. It immediately forms a connection between the 2 individuals because they have something in common that they can now use to build on a relationship. The best example I can show is my movie review site. The people who comment on my reviews were unknown to me for the most part. All of a sudden we started a dialog that was born in our mutual love of movies and in turn a comfort formed that allowed an easy sharing of each other’s life stories. Growing up, I had a variety of interests that were not shared by those around me. I can remember during the 7th or 8th grades meeting a couple of new students who had similar interests. It was not only an immediate connection, but it was the start of a deep friendship. In a way it was like finding someone who spoke the same language as you after being misunderstood by your peers for years. From the beginning of this film festival winning, dramatic thriller I found myself connected to the main characters. BEING NEW TO THE AREA DID NOT make a difference to the connection that quickly formed between Casey Caraway and her neighbor Jonas Ford, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) and Josh Wiggins (Max, Walking Out). Their connection would be tested beyond anything they imagined. With Joe Cobden (Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow) as Elbert Ford, Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Wayne Caraway and Colm Feore (Chicago, The Chronicles of Riddick) as The Chief; this story drew me in due to the connection I mentioned previously. The acting came across truthfully and at times powerfully. I felt Bill’s performance was authentic and intense, especially because I was getting a physical reaction from his character. The story line had a similar flavor to past movies of the same genre; however, I was surprised with the twists in this one. The filming style added to the despair felt in the story; there was a simple and direct style that made the characters come across in a raw, sometimes desperate, way. The story may cause uneasiness with viewers in the beginning, but it would be worth staying to see what happens and you never know, there may be a connection that forms with you.
2 ½ stars — DVD
WATCHING me stand in line at the grocery checkout line cannot be very exciting. The most someone would see is me arranging my items on the conveyor belt according to description, such as frozen or produce. Only other thing one could witness is me holding coupons in my hand. I have no issue with any of the security cameras throughout the store. In fact I do not even pay attention to any of the cameras that have been installed in public places. The thing that freaks me out is on a personal level. For example I was online looking for a small shelving unit; I went to 2 or 3 different sites without finding anything suitable. Would you believe the very next time I checked into one of my social media accounts, right there on the welcome page, was an advertisement for shelving units? How did the site know I was looking for shelving units?! This made me uncomfortable as if I was being watched in my very own home. AS the world becomes more tech savvy I feel like I am turning into a dinosaur. I do not know if it some kind of paranoia on my part, but I have always been a private person. Keeping the window shades pulled down in the house is preferable than having pedestrians walking by out front peering in; not that there is anything going on, I just do not want people looking into my space. There was a news article about these new talking assistant devices for the home being hacked, so someone can listen to the conversations taking place in the house and sometimes respond to them without being asked. Am I the only one who finds that disturbing? It has come to the point if I do not know the origin of an email I will delete it. At my office anything that comes in unfamiliar to me I have sent to our MIS department to investigate; I just do not want to take a chance on my computer becoming infected with a virus. Sitting through this dramatic thriller made me uncomfortable for more than one reason. WITH the help of a friend Mae, played by Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter franchise), got a job interview with a premier high tech company. This job would offer a big change in her life, but at what cost? This film also starred Tom Hanks (Sully, Bridge of Spies) as Bailey, Bill Paxton (Titanic, Apollo 13) in one of his final roles as Vinnie and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Attack the Block) as Ty. As the story started out I wondered if this movie was a satire about a current popular tech company; there seemed to be several similarities. I felt the idea was sound, but the script was poorly done and amateurish to the point where I was periodically bored. There were some good scenes but there were times where a scene did not make any sense. For example the character of Ty was odd right from the start and it was obvious why he was in the story. I liked Emma’s acting and felt she tried her best, but hearing some of the words coming out of her mouth just made me cringe. If the writers were hoping to scare the audience with the subject matter, they missed their mark; this could have been a better movie if everyone involved was watching what they were doing.
1 ¾ stars
It was due to my youth and innocence that I did not realize what was really going on. The possibility of earning more than my weekly allowance spurred me to join my friends in selling products door to door. It was the summer before my 13th birthday and my training lasted as long as our van ride, that was taking us to a suburb far from the city. The crew leader who was a friend divided us into pairs; I was put with my best friend who had already been working for a couple of months. The owner of the company had explained to us that the products we were selling were made at a school for blind people. Generally the products consisted of household items such as dishrags, toilet brushes and oven mitts. Each item had a printed sticker attached that read, “Products of the Blind.” I had no idea the owner was buying the items from a discount store and placing the stickers on himself. It was my first job; I did not know better. Looking back now I can see telltale signs that something was not right about the owner. He always appeared disheveled with messy hair as if he had slept in his clothes and had not taken a bath. Sure I had seen some of the items at the store, but I assumed the manufacturers gave them to the school for a special price to let the residents attach the labels. Looking back I can say the owner was an unscrupulous piece of work. DESPERATE for any type of work, Los Angeles native Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Brokeback Mountain), found something enticing when he came upon a traffic accident. Freelance photographers were swarming around the accident victim like sharks as they kept snapping shots that a news agency would be willing to buy. A fast learner without a moral compass, Lou soon discovered a way to increase a photo’s selling price for a willing buyer. Jake was so creepy in this role; the weight loss he endured made his eyes bug out, adding a crazed look to his performance. He will probably earn an Oscar nomination for this role. From writer Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy, The Fall), this was Dan’s first attempt at directing and he created a tense crime thriller. With Rene Russo (Outbreak, The Thomas Crown Affair) as Nina Romina and Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Four Lions) playing Rick as part of the cast, they were equally outstanding with their acting. Also, the parallels to our current frenzy to witness immediate reality events did not go unnoticed by me. Despite a few implausible scenes, I found this dramatic movie to be a riveting intense experience that creeped me out. There were multiple scenes that had blood in them.
3 1/3 stars
Have you ever noticed how similar one’s work environment can be to their home life? Considering the amount of time spent at work, it is not surprising that some people form a family with their fellow employees. In my work history I have had to work with a variety of characters. There was the one employee who acted like everyone’s uncle, always coming by to check on you and see how your day was going. I used to work with someone who acted like he was our older sibling; telling us what we should and should not do whether it had to do with our work or in our personal lives. Then there are those employees who are like the sisters I never had; where we are able to gain knowledge by our different perspectives on any issues that would come up. Like any family, the work family can be or not be dysfunctional. The main draw for this action comedy was the chemistry between Denzel Washington (Man on Fire, Unstoppable) and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Ted) as criminals Robert “Bobby” Trench and Michael “Stig” Stigman. Using each other to help pull off a bank robbery, the two were not so dissimilar to two brothers fighting. When the bank heist did not go as planned, they had to form an uneasy partnership to find out who set them up. For this role I actually felt Mark’s limited acting range worked to his advantage. HIs character was a wise cracking, show-off while Denzel played the older smooth talking, reserved type. The contrasts worked and I enjoyed the banter between the two. However, it became too much after a while and lost some of its edge. I was confused with the story by the twists of who were the good and bad guys. Among those included in the cast were Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice, Stand and Deliver) as drug cartel kingpin Papi Greco, James Marsden (Enchanted, Hairspray) as naval intelligence officer Quince and Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as special agent Earl. It seemed as if James and Bill enjoyed playing their characters. There were a few exciting fights and chases, with an adequate amount of explosions in this crime thriller. For a summer movie this one was okay; but it was like spending time with a dysfunctional relative, you just wanted to keep it to a short visit. There were multiple scenes that had blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars