SEEKING APPROVAL FROM THOSE YOU LOVE is one of the strongest motivators one has at their disposal. Feeling good about your accomplishment is fine; however, having that “seal of approval” from someone else forms a stronger bond that can last for years. I remember to this day how I felt the first time I had to construct a diorama for a school project. The assignment was to recreate a scene from a book we were reading for class. My choice was an outdoor scene of mountains surrounding a secluded lake that the characters from the book would periodically visit. I had used a combination of materials, including rolled up pieces of plastic wrap for the lake. With a large assortment of colored markers and paints. I colored the pieces of cardboard I had cut out from a packing box, creating a mountain range with snow caps. For trees I used pipe cleaners that I would twist together to form the foliage over brown and black painted toilet paper cores. As I said before, I used a variety of things for this project. Once completed I was proud of what I had done. Family members praised my work which was both wonderful and expected; but, I really was hoping my teacher would shower her praise over my creation. She was a fantastic artist which made me value her opinion more than other people; gratefully she did not disappoint me. WHY I WAS REMINDED OF THIS memory was due to this musical movie. I have seen Elton John in concert a couple of times; once during his earlier years and the other recently. From the variety of acts I have seen live in concert, Elton was not a typical rock star. Many of them played off a certain sex appeal they were portraying. Male guitarists made it look like they were making love to their guitars; female singers would move in seductive ways. Elton was different; instead of trying to use sex appeal he went the spectacle route. The more flamboyant and outrageous he was the more his fans would scream for him. This is only my opinion; but because I was dealing with a poor self-image, I assumed Elton was also. Only when I could “dress up” in my workout clothes or suit did I feel better about myself. Seeing Elton dressed up in so many costumes led me to believe he was feeling the same way. Behind the façade there was a boy who wanted to be loved; I understood. If you wish to see what was going on behind the scenes, then feel free to watch this dramatic film about a music icon. FROM AN EARLY AGE ELTON JOHN displayed a gift for playing the piano. However, he was looking for something more. With Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood) as Elton John, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden (Cinderella, The Take) as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise) as Sheila and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise) as Ivy; the cast was well chosen. Standing above all of them though was Taron; he was incredible in his role, including his own singing. The acting and story drew me into this picture. I could not believe what I was seeing behind the scenes of so many memorable moments in Elton’s career. Granted I do not know how much truth was shown in this film, but nonetheless I enjoyed watching this movie for the most part. The one thing that did not connect with me was the use of fantasy scenes. A couple would have been fine, but I felt these scenes drained the emotional impact away from the story. It was amazing to see how so many of Elton’s songs’ lyrics lent themselves to the scenes. I would have preferred spending more time in the moment instead of turning the emotion into a fantasy scene. Whether one is a fan or not; one would be hard pressed not to be impressed with what Elton has accomplished in his life.
2 ¾ stars
AS THE TWO OF US WERE WALKING through the forest we came upon a group of trees. They appeared to be dancing a can-can with their wide trunks hovering above their long-exposed roots. The way the trees’ leaves flickered from the wind made me think they could be feathers attached to wide-brimmed cloth hats. I let the image stay with me as we continued on the trail, towards the sound of water gurgling ahead of us. The ground was firm at our feet, barely allowing the tread of our shoes to remain behind. I was not sure if we would be returning on the same path. It was mid-morning and the vibrant sun had a difficult time piercing through all the foliage around us, as if trying to seek us out. At one point there were slender rays of sunlight crisscrossing around us; all I could think of was one of those magician boxes where the assistant was placed inside before the magician thrusted glimmering swords through it. Up ahead there was an opening where the trees had parted, allowing more light to filter down into an area. We made our way to it and upon arriving discovered a squirming brook. With flat rocks barely breaking the surface of the water, the brook looked like an albino snake in movement. All these things went unnoticed by my companion. EACH OF US HAS THE ABILITY TO see things in our own unique way. Where I can look across a canyon and see the outline of an ancient castle, the person next to me may look and see a single flower jutting out from a crack in the granite wall. Because of this variance, I am always curious to hear what other people think about places that I have visited. So much can be learned by seeing things through another person’s eyes, I believe. For me, this ability is essential for building solid relationships. When two people are in a relationship it is important to understand how your significant other will respond in situations. I was in a relationship where we had conflict between us because I would react to a situation opposite of them, then not understand why they were not being more supportive. After a year we parted ways because neither of us knew at the time how to look at something from a different perspective. I can now say that relationship had a profound affect on me, allowing me to experience healthier relationships. Speaking of profound experiences, this was my first contact with the author of The Hobbit and I had no idea the world around him had such a major effect on him creating the fantasy world in his books. ORPHANED AND POOR LEFT JOHN RONALD Reuel Tolkien, played by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road) with nothing of tangible worth except for his words. His words would travel around the world one day. This biographical drama also starred Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) as Edith Bratt, Colm Meaney (Alan Partridge, Layer Cake) as Father Francis, Craig Roberts (Just Jim, Submarine) as Private Sam Hodges and Laura Donnelly (Right Hand Drive, Outlander-TV) as Mabel Tolkien. Having no knowledge of J.R.R Tolkien’s personal life, I was stunned watching this beautifully filmed war drama. The story covered three distinct time periods. If broken apart, each segment was compelling; however, in visual form I was distracted with the jumping back and forth in time. I never felt a deep connection to the characters. With such monumental events taking place in the author’s young life, I wanted to know more about Tolkien. Now I am embarrassed to say this, but I have not read The Hobbit; however, after seeing this film and learning a little about his history I want to read the book.
2 ½ stars
EVERYTHING I SAW AND LEARNED LED me to believe dogs and cats were mortal enemies. From cartoons to movies, as far as I knew if the 2 of them saw each other they would fight until one got hurt or worse. As a kid everyone I knew who had pets always had only one species if there were multiple pets in the household. If a family had a cat they would only get another cat as a pet; the same held true with dog lovers. I had a parakeet; so, I would never have considered getting a cat, because in my mind cats ate birds. Do you remember Tweety and Sylvester? I rest my case; this is where I learned never to mix a cat and a bird. Then there was Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Since coyotes looked like dogs, I assumed dogs were not fond of birds either. I doubt I was the only one who thought this way; I am sure many kids around the same time were thinking the same thing about never mixing different species together. The same holds true for some of the movies I saw as a child where I would see a dog chasing a cat. NOW GRANTED THERE ARE ANIMALS WHO eat other animals for food. I remember seeing a movie that showed a lion going after a herd of wildebeests. It was obvious to me the wildebeests were afraid of the big cat. I translated that as hate. Did the wildebeests instinctively know from birth to fear the big cats or was it something they learned I wondered. I realized at an early age that humans do not come into the world knowing how to hate; they had to be taught on how to do it. I am not talking about hating a specific vegetable or fruit; I am referring to being taught that something or someone is no good, inferior, is bad. I learned about prejudice outside of the classroom, where some kids would make fun of me because I was not the same religion as them. There was a student in class who was quite vocal about his hatreds. He would bully those kids who did not fit into his beliefs. It was awful the way he would make fun of certain students, using their features as examples of what was wrong with them. I had thick curly/kinky hair when I was in school and he took great delight in calling me racist, horrible names. He did not have to be that way, but that is how he was taught. If only there had been someone who could have shown and taught him a different way; someone like the activist in this biographical, dramatic film. WHEN HER DAUGHTER’S SCHOOL CAUGHT ON fire and burned, civil rights activist Ann Atwater, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, What Men Want), was determined to find another school for her daughter and the other students to attend. There were people in the community who hated her idea. With Sam Rockwell (Vice, Mr. Right) as C.P. Ellis, Babou Ceesay (Free Fire, Eye in the Sky) as Bill Riddick, Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) as Floyd Kelly and Anne Heche (Wag the Dog, Six Days Seven Nights) as Mary Ellis; this historical story set in Durham, NC during the 1970s was brought to life by Taraji and Sam. They were dynamite in their roles to the point where I believed who they were portraying. The story was incredible and full of poignant moments that the writers could have taken and made them stand out. I wish they had done that because this historical event deserved a powerful script instead of the sanitized one in this picture. However, it did capture and keep my attention while showing a dramatic time that was brought on by hatred.
2 ½ stars
HIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED ON one of the banners in the hotel’s convention center. There were also photos of him in the members’ welcome booklets, along with a bio about his achievements. In the aerobic world he had achieved a level of popularity akin to a rock star. I was able to sign up for only one of his numerous workshops at the convention. There must have been a cancellation I figured because the rest of his classes filled up immediately according to one of the volunteers monitoring the ballroom. From the articles that were published in my fitness magazines, he seemed like a fun guy who had a strong sense of humor. As I looked around the room at the other participants I noticed many of them already had his DVD’s and other branded merchandise that were being sold down at the aerobic marketplace. This was a place put up in the convention center where a variety of vendors could set up booths and sell their latest fitness products to the participants. A woman walked up onto the stage at one end of the ballroom, to announce his name. She had only gotten out his first and last name before the audience cheered wildly for him. I almost felt like I was sitting in the middle of a cult. I HAVE TO SAY IT WAS AN excellent workshop he presented to us. There wasn’t anyone around me who was not covered in sweat. I toweled off as best as I could in the room, packed up my stuff and headed out to find somewhere to eat in the convention center. There was a coffee shop I found that would work for me, so I went in and let the hostess seat me. Once I ordered food, it came to the table quickly. It was when I was halfway through eating that I saw that same presenter from earlier coming into the restaurant. He looked around the room until he saw me then nodded. I was stunned; how in the world did he recognize me, let alone see me in the middle of a mass of people? He walked over to me and introduced himself. I told him I had just taken his workshop. He smiled and asked if he could join me; I said absolutely. Putting his soft drink cup down on the table, he sat down across from me. The conversation was easy as we both shared aerobic class stories. However, as he was talking he took a flask out of his gym bag and poured out the liquid from it into his drink. I could smell it was alcohol. By the time I finished my meal he was giddy and talking nonsense. Evidently this was not his first drink. To say I was shocked would be an understatement; I wondered if he had any other workshops to teach later. Here I had this image of him based on what I read about him, but this was someone completely different from my thoughts. The young boy in this western drama went through a similar experience. HAVING HEARD AND SEEN SO MUCH written about Billy the Kid, played by Dane DeHaan (A Cure for Wellness, Kill Your Darlings); a young boy could not believe the person he met could have done all those things being said about him. With Chris Pratt (Passengers, Guardian of the Galaxy franchise) as Grant Cutler, Ethan Hawke (First Reformed; Juliet, Naked) as Pat Garrett, Leila George (Mortal Engines; Mother, May I Sleep with Danger-TV movie) as Sara and Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell, Ed Wood) as Sheriff Romero; I enjoyed the perspective used to tell this story. The acting was good for the most part, but I did not feel there was much connection between the characters if that makes sense. Ethan was in top form having been on a strong streak with movie roles; his acting keeps getting better with each film he has been in. What caused me to lose my interest was the script; the first half was better than the last. The components of the script had all been done before, so there were no surprises here. I felt little emotion being generated in the 2nd part which attributed to my mind wandering. I understand this movie can be viewed online already; which I have felt means the studio knows what they have on their hands, so they try to keep up appearances.
I GRANT YOU, THEY DID LOOK somewhat odd to me. They had moved into the neighborhood during my 4th year of elementary school. The house the family had purchased was a 2-story wood frame with a large wrap around front porch. I remember when they painted that porch because some of the neighbors were put off by it; the family painted it a pine green color. I never really understood why some people were upset. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was because all the other porches on the street were either unpainted or painted in 1 of 2 colors, either white or brown. There were 7 family members: 2 parents and 5 children. All the kids looked alike and looked like their mother. They each had the same color hair; the girls had the same style of haircut just as the boys shared the same. Each child wore the same style of glasses, perched the same way on their noses. Their teeth were oversized to the point where it looked like they could not close their mouth all the way. Some of the kids in the neighborhood referred to them as Bugs Bunny. To finish up their identical look, they all wore the same style and color of clothing. PERSONALLY, THEM NOT BEING ENROLLED IN the neighborhood school added to their perceived strangeness. But despite that, the siblings never came out to play with any of the other kids in the neighborhood. I would see them in their backyard at times when I would cut through the alley to a friend’s house. They would be huddled around some object; I could not tell if it was a toy or some type of device. Other times I would see them spread apart, each doing their own thing like reading or exercising and when I say exercising I mean jumping jacks or sit-ups, some type of calisthenic activity. Keeping to themselves and all looking the same just made people feel uncomfortable. Without getting to know them, rumors started to pop-up in the neighborhood, such as they were a medical experiment, or they were doing something illegal. And of course, the kids in the neighborhood started whispering different remarks about them being inbred and mentally challenged. It was not until I was in college that I discovered via the local newspaper that the parents were scientists and each child was excelling in their schooling, from being PhD candidates to mathematical whizzes. I was shocked; on the surface they may have been odd, but they certainly had already achieved more than many of the families in the neighborhood. The family in this biographical, comedic drama might seem odd to you but wait until you see what they do. PASSIONATE ABOUT WRESTLING RICKY AND JULIA Knight, played by Nick Frost (The World’s End, Paul) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones-TV, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), taught their children everything they knew. However, when a once in a lifetime chance became available would their hard work pay off? This movie’s story followed a typical theme; but, the script provided some fresh takes on it. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, The Commuter) as Saraya Knight, Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk) as Zak Knight and Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) as Hutch; I thought the acting really sold the story, especially Florence’s and Jack’s. For me, Vince was the only one that I did not connect with since he was doing his same type of character that I have seen before. There were fun moments in this picture that kept the story from sputtering out. What added to my enjoyment was seeing clips of the actual Knights at the end of the film. One may think they are an odd bunch, but I salute them for finding something they can be passionate about and holding out for their dream.
I DID NOT CRINGE UNTIL SHE attempted to speak. She had assistance walking across the stage of the awards show; it was expected considering her frailty and advanced age. In her day, decades ago, she was a top billing major star. Now as I watched her trying to talk, it was obvious to me she was quite confused. I had no idea if the producers of the show requested her or her management team offered her; either way, I felt uncomfortable and sad. Growing old is harder when it is done in the public eye; I think about myself with the classes I teach. Will I know when it is the time to hang up my cycling and yoga apparel? Will I graciously retire when I realize, if I even realize, I am not teaching class at the same level as I have in the past? These are things I have given thought to as I have grown older. I look at some people who have obviously had extensive plastic surgery and wonder why they did it. There has never been a time I have seen an older celebrity and not known they had altered themselves simply by looking at their semi-paralyzed face or their skin stretched tightly like plastic wrap sealing a bowl of leftovers. What is it they are trying to do? ONE OF THE ANSWERS I CAN come up with is they do it because they still need to get adulation and compliments from people. I would like to know how having a wrinkled face would stop someone from admiring you. I went to a concert that was being held in a small movie theater; the headliner was a celebrity who was past his prime. What I mean is their voice could no longer handle their song catalog and their dance moves were reduced to a simple swaying side to side. He was only one of the musical acts; so, there were some people in the audience who had no idea who this man was and what songs he had sung that brought him fame. If it were me I could not get on stage and perform unless I categorically knew it would be at the same caliber as before. As I write this I am reminded about former celebrities who either do advertisements or shall we say low-brow projects. I always wonder if they need the money or they are so starved for attention. Regarding this film festival winning biography, I haven’t yet decided which one the comedy duo needed. AFTER THEIR FAME AND FORTUNE HAD dimmed in the world Laurel and Hardy, played by Steve Coogan (Philomela, The Dinner) and John C. Reilly (Holmes & Watson, The Sisters Brothers), decided they would re-capture it by doing a live tour. It didn’t matter to them that they were older and maybe not as wise. This comedic drama’s story was based on actual events. Without a doubt this picture’s fate was dependent on Steve and John. Gratefully, the two of them were stupendous. I might have to tip the scales more to John’s Oliver Hardy being more authentic, but it still would be a tight race between the two of them. With them front and center the other actors like Shirley Henderson (Transporting franchise, Bridget Jones franchise) as Lucille Hardy and Nina Arianda (Midnight in Paris, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Ida Kitaeva Laurel; though good, were more in the background for me. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this picture. Seeing some of the original comedy acts Laurel and Hardy used to perform and getting the back story on them was a treat. I thought the script and direction worked hand in hand to produce a well-rounded bit of comedic history. Make sure you stay through the credits to see actual clips of the two the producers reproduced in this wonderful film.
3 ½ stars
THE POOR THING HAD ONE EYE that did not close. Despite it and the lost finger on her left hand, she was a constant companion to the little girl. It was the little girl’s 2nd birthday when she received this doll that has never left her side since then. At meal time the doll had a place at the dining room table with her own little plate and glass, that the child would lift to the doll’s face to eat the imaginary food and drink. As far as I could remember the doll was always a part of our gatherings. After many years, the last time I heard about the doll she was residing on a shelf in the attic. It is amusing to me, but I never considered my toy soldiers as being dolls. In my mind they were soldiers and I was their commander. With the elaborate battle plans I would create, my soldiers were vital in keeping an open pathway to the pantry in our kitchen—go figure! From time to time I received superhero dolls as presents; but in my mind they were superheroes, not dolls. Isn’t it funny that back then we were taught dolls were only for girls? SINCE THAT TIME DOLLS HAVE BEEN marketed to both girls and boys. I remember a friend’s son used to play with a male doll that wore a railroad conductor’s hat and overalls. Besides that “revolutionary” evolution, dolls are now used in several fields of thought. They can be found in therapy sessions, criminal investigations, as well as physiology classes. There was a psychologist I used to know who regularly used dolls in her sessions with younger children. When a child was not yet at an age to articulate the actions and feelings they experienced, dolls were useful tools to find out what happened to the child. Dolls also had a role with the psychologist’s couple counseling sessions. Some kind of role playing exercises if I am remembering correctly. So, you can certainly see how things have changed in our perceptions of dolls; they are no longer simply toys for kids. And I am just now recalling, wasn’t there a recent winner of a television reality, talent show who did ventriloquism, making a doll talk and sing? I understand she has a blossoming career, with appearances and TV specials. With today’s movie you can see another way how dolls play a vital function in some people’s lives. AFTER A VISCIOUS ATTACK THAT DESTROYED his memory Mark Hogancamp, played by Steve Carell (Vice, Beautiful Boy), found a unique way to rebuild the life taken away from him. It was a particular set of female dolls that would lead him onto the road to recovery. This comedic drama based on a true story also starred Falk Hentschel (White House Down, Transcendence) as Captain Topf/Louis, Matt O’Leary (Frailty, Live Free or Die Hard) as Lieutenant Benz/Carl, Leslie Mann (The Other Woman, How to Be Single) as Nicol and Nikolai Witschl (Deadpool 2, The Magicians-TV) as Rudolph/Ruby. The story behind this movie seems incredible and amazing to me. My favorite part of this picture was the dolls; visually they were fun to watch. As for the script, I found it scattered all over the place. Steve did a decent job with his acting; but for such a story, the writers needed to dig deep down and bring out way more emotions than what I saw on the screen. For the dolls having played an important part in Mark’s life, they needed to have substance here; they came off as whimsical characters, in my opinion. Also, I was not sure the writers did justice to the topic of traumatic brain injuries. This biographical film was easily forgettable.
1 ½ stars
A PERFECT WORLD TO ME WOULD be one where everyone takes responsibilities for their actions. Maybe it is my imagination, but it seems people used to be this way some time ago. Now, it appears to me people are quick to place the blame on someone else. It reminds me of a little child who is standing next to a broken vase that they knocked onto the floor and when the child’s parent asks if they did it, the child immediately says no it wasn’t him or her. In a similar vein, one example I have seen many times is a shopper who accidentally brushes up to a store’s product and it falls to the floor. It might be a loaf of bread or an article of clothing, for example. The person sees what they have done; but just keeps on walking, pretending I guess the item magically levitated and floated to the floor. Would it have been so hard to pick up the item and put it back? In my opinion, a world filled with irresponsible people will only lead to a world of chaos. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO for all the time I have known them has never taken responsibility for their actions. They are involved with high finances that directly affect the company where they are employed. I listen to their work stories; which by the way, seem to always paint this person as the victim. What they do not know is I have a friend who works at the same company and when they tell me about something that involves this other employee, their version is totally different. It is baffling, but the only thing I can think of is maybe it is all about power for this employee. I am not privy to their work environment but possibly this person is afraid of their peers or maybe they all act the same way, who knows? Power can be quite addictive for some individuals. One taste of it can put a person on a path where responsibilities get steamrolled and left crushed on the side of the road. I can handle a person who is assertive with their actions; however, a person who is aggressive is a different story for me. In my experiences those who aggressively seek power will do anything to reach their goal and as far as I can tell have a lower moral consciousness. The only time I have an issue with individuals in this category is when their actions have a direct effect on my life. For some of us, when you watch the scenes in this comedic drama you may find yourself stunned. CIRCUMSTANCES FELL INTO PLACE FOR ONE individual to rise above all others and make choices that would affect a country and the world. This film festival winning biography starred Christian Bale (The Big Short, Hostiles) as Dick Cheney, Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals, Big Eyes) as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell (Beautiful Boy, Battle of the Sexes) as Donald Rumsfeld, Sam Rockwell (A Single Shot, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as George W. Bush and Alison Pill (Milk, Dan in Real Life) as Mary Cheney. If Christian does not get nominated for best actor this award season, then something is wrong. I never once watched him and thought that was Christian; he was 100% the character he portrayed and enough of a reason to see this film. The acting was fine overall, but the script was scattered; I did not know if it wanted to be a satire, drama, comedy or documentary. Some of the scenes were startling to me, but I could not tell if it was totally made up or not. If not, then I am more scared than I thought. What a feat to accomplish, driven by power.
2 ½ stars
THE TWO DID NOT KNOW EACH OTHER. They grew up in different cities and on the surface did not seem to have any similarities. I only knew of them because they were in one of my writing classes in college. The class was rather intense, where we were expected to turn in writing assignments on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday the professor would randomly choose a few students to read their papers out loud, so the class could have a discussion and critique session on the students’ works. After several weeks it became apparent to me and most of the class that these 2 students were focused on writing horror stories. As some of you might know, I am not a fan of movies that show a lot of bloody gore. As you might expect the same holds true for fiction stories. As the semester continued these two fans of horror started competing with each other; nothing overt, but each week their stories got gorier and gorier. It was as if they were in a battle to see who would be the “king of horror” as far as I could tell. I had a hard time listening to them when either one was chosen to read their stories to the class. I NEVER FOUND OUT WHAT WAS the impetus that drove those two students to compete against each other. Honestly, I have always had a hard time trying to figure out why people want to compete. This may be one of the reasons why I was never very good in several sport activities. I do not have that driving force inside of me to dominate and beat another person, just so I can be considered the best. The only person I am in competition with is myself. Overcoming one set of circumstances to get to where I am at today has been a fight every day. The way I look at it is this: my old self battles the new me, trying to push me back down to what I used to be. Hopefully I am making sense to you; but let me tell you, this struggle between the old and new me has been a major force that has pushed me to heights I thought I would never achieve in this lifetime. With my thinking I wonder if humans in general are predisposed to competing. I think the term is, “Survival of the fitness.” Another phrase I have heard is, “Only the strong will survive.” Is this a genetic thing? I do not know, but this historical drama will show you how fierce competition can be. RETURNING TO HER HOME IN SCOTLAND after her husband had died; Mary Stuart, played by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, The Lovely Bones), believed she could lead her people as their queen. The main issue concerning her belief was the fact there was already a queen on the throne from the House of Tudor and her name was Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie (I, Tonya; Suicide Squad). This biographical film also starred Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Tommy’s Honour) as Henry Darnley, James McArdle (The Chamber, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as James, Earl of Moray and David Tennant (Bad Samaritan, Doctor Who-TV) as John Knox. This picture was all about the acting and I thought both Saoirse and Margot were wonderful. Because of them I stayed engaged with this story that I believe took a lot of liberty with actual history. Those who enjoy history might like this picture more than non-history lovers. There were some scenes that were farfetched and almost a distraction. It was a shame because I think the writers might have been competing with the Game of Thrones series when they were writing this script.
2 ½ stars
BEING CHOSEN AS THE FAVORITE ONE does not necessarily make one’s life easier; the title can come with some pitfalls. At a previous job where I worked, there was an employee who was the favorite of the owner. Everyone at the company knew it. In fact, even if it was your first day you would soon realize this employee had a special relationship with the owner. Here is just one example of how the owner treated this employee differently than the others. During the holidays we used to receive a variety of gifts for the owner. He would always open these packages in his office, bringing out the shipping boxes for us to break down and recycle. I would say on the average he kept 75% of the gifts sent to him; the ones he did not, he would give to this employee right in front of the rest of us. Depending on what the item was, this employee would either leave it sitting on her desk (which used to annoy all of us) or take it out to her car to bring home. Not once did the owner offer a rejected gift to one of us. Now, I did not care whether I got a gift or not; but I, like everyone else around me, felt it was not fair and was certainly not a morale booster. AS TIME PASSED SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES grew resentful of the “favorite” employee. When anyone would bring in a taste treat of food; if they were going around and offering pieces of it as opposed to putting it out in the kitchen, they would bypass this one employee. Actually, they would wait until the person was away from her desk then go around passing out their food items, so as to avoid the favorite one altogether. I could not say for certainty if this type of treatment was proper because as far as I knew it was not this employee’s fault. Now if there was something going on between the two of them, I had no knowledge. Let me say this though, it seemed from time to time she used her favorite role status to her advantage. For example, there was never a problem for her to leave early from work; but for the rest of us, the owner would always resist our requests while trying to make us change the day or the time, so we would not have to leave early. It came to a point where I just stopped thinking about it; it wasn’t worth the energy. And when I say energy this biographical, comedic drama will give you an idea of how much energy it takes to deal with such things. USING HER POSITION AS THE QUEEN’S CONFIDANTE Lady Sarah, played by Rachel Weisz (My Cousin Rachel, Disobedience), enjoyed exerting her power over others. But that show of power could be quite enticing for anyone who wanted some of the same. This film festival winning movie starred Olivia Coleman (The Lobster, Hot Fuzz) as Queen Anne, Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes, Magic in the Moonlight) as Abigail, and James Smith (In the Loop, The Iron Lady) as Godolphin. I was so intrigued with this story that I had to do some research about Queen Anne. It quickly became apparent to me that the writers took a basis of facts and elaborated on it to funny extremes. The three actresses were dynamite with the conniving, the wickedness and humor of the script. As much as I enjoyed this aspect of the movie and its super acting, I felt some scenes were unnecessary. There were several that felt like they were added to give this picture an artistic flair; it only slowed the story down for me. All in all, I cannot say this will be a favorite of mine this Oscar season, but I still had a good time watching it.