AMONG THE VARIOUS GENRES OF books sitting on my bookshelves are some hidden treasures. Whether they are paperback or hardcover books, I consider them all part of my family; is it weird to think that way? It is hard for me to get rid of a book either by donating or giving it away. Once I am done reading it I put the book back on the shelf where it belongs, in alphabetical order. The only time I would consider donating a book is if I did not like anything about it. However, the chances of that happening are slim since I am careful on what I purchase in the first place. Rarely noticed by anyone who happens to be over to my place are several books that are especially valuable to me. I have older novels that are first editions; some from famous authors I have even studied in school. There are also books that were signed by their author. Maybe to someone else they would not care one way or the other; but for me, I tend to think of my books as my children. THE EXPERIENCE OF HOLDING a book in my hands is something I still value and enjoy. I know there are audio and E-books, but they do not provide the same experience for me as reading from an actual book. Sitting curled up in a chair or reclining on a sofa, I love being able to disappear into the book’s story and forget about my surroundings. Because I put such a high value on the experience of reading; whenever I meet someone new and discover they do not do any reading for pleasure, I judge them with a more critical eye. During my school years when I was tutoring, I was a big proponent of reading; always telling my students about books and the benefits reading provides. Now I know everyone does not think the same way as I do about books and I am okay with it. Granted when I see someone bending back a page to mark where they stopped reading, I cringe inside. Or when they use the inside covers or back pages for jotting down random notes, I feel my heart being stabbed; it used to be hard for me to watch someone even doing such a despicable (oops, I am being judgmental) act. So, I want to let you know it took some effort on my part to contain myself once I found out what the friends in this dramatic crime film wanted to do. ALL ONE NEEDED TO SEE the valuable book collection at the university’s library was to make an appointment. There was only one librarian in charge of the area and she appeared to be an easy target. This film festival winner starred Ann Dowd (Hereditary, Compliance) as Betty Jean Gooch, Evan Peters (X-Men franchise, American Horror Story-TV) as Warren Lipka, Blake Jenner (The Edge of Seventeen, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Chas Allen, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as Spencer Reinhard and Jared Abrahamson (Hello Destroyer, Travelers-TV) as Eric Borsuk. I had no idea this movie was based on a true story; I found it odd that they had the actual people being interviewed about what was taking place in the scenes. The story was off the wall; however, I found myself being drawn into the lunacy of the crime caper. For the time Ann was on screen I found her to be the most believable character; though I did feel the 4 actors portraying the friends gelled once the story got going. For this movie it took me a little time to get into it; but once I discovered the story involved valuable books, I wanted to see what was going to happen to them.
2 ½ stars
FOUR years attending the same school taught me more about social dynamics than any of my classes. I am not sure this applies to every school; but going into high school I was not prepared for the pecking order that was established for the student body. It could easily have been called a caste system because there were the “haves and have nots.” Within a short time one group that quickly formed were the popular kids. This class was made up of jocks, cheerleaders and anyone who the majority of students deemed beautiful or handsome. From my experience this was the alpha group. STUDENTS with the best grades, who did not qualify for the alpha group, formed their own clan known as the “brainiacs” aka smart students. Now this group used their collective intellect to thwart the jock group as a counterbalance to their top status. This group tended to be more receptive in allowing classmates to join them. If one was not fit for either of these two groups then there was a lower status group known as the “good students.” Though not as high in status, the students in this group never got in trouble, did nothing to standout in an inappropriate way or clash with any of the other groups. Continuing down the food chain so to speak there is the group referred to as the stoners. For anyone displaying behavior associated with drunkenness or high on drugs, this was their group. They did not care about the status of the other groups, barely acknowledged them or did not care at all. There are sub groups and such but down at the bottom were the leftovers in the student body and they were considered the losers. The kids in this group had to be on guard because they could be easy targets for any of the other groups. The toughest part of this caste system was trying not to carry it with you as your time served was ending. ALREADY not feeing connected to her fellow classmates Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Begin Again), at least had one good friend. However that was not going to be enough considering her brother Darian, played by Blake Jenner (Everybody Wants Some, Glee-TV), was a star football player. This coming of age comedic drama was not like the other films that have been done in this category. With Woody Harrelson (Out of the Furnace, Now You See Me franchise) as Mr. Bruner, Kyra Sedgwick (Gamer, The Closer-TV) as Mona and Hayden Szeto (The Unbidden, Chop Shop-TV) as Erwin; this cast not only performed well together, they appeared authentic in a modern way. My experiences both helped and hindered my involvement into the story. On one hand I understood the dynamics perfectly, but then some of the scenes did not seem real to me only because I had never encountered them when I was in school. There were a couple of times that my disbelief took over which lost the scene for me. However the acting was sharp as was the script; so I was able to get back on track with the story. Having seen this movie only confirmed my belief that high school is not meant for the weak.