REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy. NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie. LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.
1 ½ stars
MAYBE YOU WOULD NOT GET ANNOYED; but I do when meeting a person for the first time, who is trying to by funny. Humor is and always has been my go to safe spot, so it is not like I am against someone being amusing; however, if I do not know the person I need time to learn about them. The part that bugs me is when the person says something odd, but then says they are only kidding followed up with them saying no, they are not kidding then back to saying they’re kidding. I had this one conversation with this man who tried to make every topic a joke. If it was a straight forward joke where they laughed afterwards, then I would have gotten the message, but that was not the case. They would say something with this deadpan delivery and expression, where I had no idea if they were joking or not. Then they would start the kidding, no kidding cycle; I must tell you that got old fast. In a few minutes I was tired from the confusing signals and politely excused myself. The funny thing though is I love sarcasm and this person was attempting to be sarcastic, but it fell flat. IN A SIMILAR VEIN A PERSON who exaggerates without using humor can be problematic for me as well. This would be someone who enjoys using the words: best, biggest, most expensive, etc. I never know if their statements are true and wonder what they are using as a comparison. At a party I was sitting with a small group of guests. One person was dominating the conversation in my opinion. As I listened it became apparent to me they were either bragging or believed they knew the best places to shop and eat in the country. I so badly wanted to ask what made it the best place but honestly, I was not interested. If they had simply talked about a particular restaurant or store I would have been curious to hear about it; but add in one of those words I listed earlier, and I start to feel like all they are doing is bragging to a crowd. Before you think I am a horrible guest, let me say I totally enjoy hearing people tell their stories. Maybe I do some editing of them quietly in my head as I navigate thru their version of humor and/or exaggeration; but overall, I still like a good story and the main characters in this mysterious crime drama had me paying close attention to their story. HAVING ONLY RECENTLY MET, STEPHANIE SMOTHERS and Emily Nelson, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, Table 19) and Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adeline), were fast becoming friends. So, when Emily asked Stephanie if she could pick her son up after school, Stephanie was eager to please. She was not expecting Emily to disappear and not come back. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, The Bachelorette-TV) as Sean Townsend, Andrew Rannells (The Intern, Bachelorette) as Darren and newcomer Ian Ho as Nicky Nelson; this dark comedic crime story was a blast to watch. Anna and Blake were so good together I would like to see them together again in another film, they had a great chemistry that shined on the big screen. There were a couple of holes in the script, but I did not care; there was so many twists and surprises that kept the story going. I also thought the use of humor added a whole fresh element. Little did I know I was entering such an entertaining experience with this picture, where I got the humor and enjoyed the outrageousness.
3 ¼ stars
The two had grown up in the same small city, got married and had adequate jobs. Upon first look their life together looked fine. Truthfully there was nothing wrong except their dreams and hopes eventually outgrew the city. Each of them wanted something more. They knew it was time to make a change; so they pared down their belongings and moved out of state to a large metropolitan city. Going from a quaint colonial style house to a 2 bedroom walk up apartment was an adjustment; but it was worth it because their new city could support their dreams. After finding jobs and settling into the rhythm of their new life they explored the city, started doing volunteer work and signed up for various meet up groups; all in the hopes of expanding their social network. As time went on one of them was earning some success at their job, advancing up the ladder as they say. The other did not have such luck and started to feel they were reaching a dead end. With all the expenses of living in a big city compared to their hometown, quitting a job was not in the cards just yet. The two maintained a strong supportive bond between each other, but their shared responsibilities started to go out of alignment. As the one was gaining financial success the other only had incremental raises. The financial divide kept growing to the point where a discussion ensued about remaining in the city. Where one was finally reaching some of their life’s goals, the other felt the city could not offer them what they needed to succeed. It was a conundrum. HOPING to find success Bobby Dorfman, played by Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour, Now You See Me franchise), left his home in the Bronx and moved out to Hollywood. It could not hurt having an uncle out there who was a famous agent. Written and directed by Woody Allen (Midnight in Manhattan, Magic in the Moonlight) this comedic romance had a spectacular look to it. The 1930s décor and style made this film a real treat to watch on the big screen. The perfect accompaniment to the visual aspect was the soundtrack; I thoroughly enjoyed the jazzy music. Starring along with Jesse was Steve Carell (The Big Short, Freeheld) as Phil Stern, Kristen Stewart (American Ultra, Still Alice) as Vonnie and Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adaline) as Veronica. Though I enjoyed all of them I have to say if they ever decide to do a film biography of Woody Allen then they need to cast Jesse. Using Woody’s words Jesse was perfectly cast in this film. There were parts in this movie where Woody was doing narrations and when the scene moved to Jesse talking it was almost identical in speech. The script was fun with some excellent lines in it, though I did find it somewhat predictable. For a Woody Allen comedy this was more like a light version. I felt there could have been more to mine in the story. It was great film to watch and listen to; I just wish it would have succeeded more in telling a good story.
2 ¾ stars
Since I have seen it happen before I wonder or more accurately worry that the memories in my mind will slowly dissipate like deflating balloons, ever drifting downward towards a black abyss. I have read the latest studies about diet and exercise; I hope following them will, if the air in my memories has to leave at some point, at least slow down the leakage. When it comes to remembering loved ones both deceased and alive, I know there are many different ways people honor and maintain their memories of the person. Some make visits to the cemetery to replace previously left flowers with new ones. Other people make a donation to a charity or acquire something of significance to remind them of the person. I am not a believer in cemeteries or burials so my methods of remembering may not be conventional. I believe I have mentioned before the ceramic vase I have that is my memory about a deceased friend; for another friend I bought a few shares in the utility company that services the city of my friend’s birthplace. Every 3 months I receive mail that provides an update about the company. In the brochure there are always pictures of the city that remind me of my friend, keeping their memory active in my mind. The city looks beautiful and one day I hope I can go visit it to walk around the neighborhood where they grew up. Recently while talking with a relative, when they asked what I would want done with my ashes, I mentioned a few places I would like some of my ashes to be spread. With a straight face they asked if I expected them to do a year long tour of all the cities I wanted them to visit. Maybe I will have to narrow my list down; at least I would not ask them to visit a place like the beach that was in this dramatic, horror thriller. WHEN visiting a faraway secluded beach that had special significance for her family Nancy, played by Blake Lively (The Age of Adaline, Green Lantern), wanted to take in the location’s beauty. Sadly the place could become her last memory. This movie was pretty much all about Blake’s character; the other actors such as Oscar Jaenada (Cantinflas, The Losers) as Carlos and Brett Cullen (Red Dawn, Person of Interest-TV) as Nancy’s father were very minor characters. Luckily, Blake put in a strong performance that kept me interested in the story. Now as for the story, it was farfetched almost to the point of silly. However, for cheap thrills and good tense moments this picture provided these elements along with a couple of bloody scenes. Honestly I do not feel one has to run out right away to see this film; but if you have some free time with nothing to do, then this movie would do. If nothing else I thought the scenery was gorgeous; I would not mind seeing such a place in person. For now that is the most vivid memory I have of the movie, but it is not like I am going to frame my movie ticket to keep the memory alive.
2 3/4 stars
Others may find it morbid, but among my close friends it is not unusual for us to tell each other we want to be the one to go first. I am not referring to queuing up for an amusement park ride; I am referring to dying. Before you say, “eeewwww,” let me explain. We are like family to each other; some of us have been friends since elementary school. When one of us says he/she wants to be the first to go, we are saying it would be awful to watch someone else go through the process. It is this way because we love each other so much. Some of us had relatives who lived for a long time that we saw go through the aging process and it was not always easy. On the other hand we have seen through the years some incredible things. We also have talked about what we would like to see in the future. Imagine if one of us could live for a very, very long time. Surely there would be great strides made by mankind; I still have a hope to see a flying car in my lifetime. However, to know you will be seeing everyone you know and love die before you would be a tough thing. I have some friends who are in relationships who hate to even see their significant other ill; they would rather be the one with the illness. Life would take on a new meaning if one never became sick or grew old. ADALINE Bowman, played by Blake Lively (Savages, The Town), stopped growing old. No one could know so she had to keep moving throughout the years, never allowing anyone to get close to her. She had not expected Ellis Jones, played by Michael Huisman (Wild, World War Z), to be so persistent. This dramatic romance presented an interesting quandary both to Adaline and the viewer. I thought the movie was beautifully filmed. The different time periods were well represented. The cast received some heavy hitters in the form of Harrison Ford (Blade Runner, 42) as William Jones and Ellen Burstyn (The Fountain, The Exorcist) as Flemming, which tried to get the rest of the cast to act better. For the most part there was no issue for me with the change in time periods; however, I did tire of the narrator early on. There were a couple of slow and predictable parts to the story. As long as one was able to suspend their belief in reality, then the story could provide a charming tale that would draw the viewer into its world. I may not be wiser but after seeing this intriguing drama I have different thoughts about aging.
2 2/3 stars