I DO NOT REMEMBER WHY I enjoyed eating an entire loaf of bread before dinner; I just knew it felt good. Even if I could bring details back from when I was doing it, I was too young to understand why I was doing it. The only thing I can remember is the comforting feeling that came over me while eating the bread; though, bread was not the only food I would excessively indulge in. Sometimes I would stop at one of the ice cream trucks that were always driving through my neighborhood with their tinkling bells and recorded music, like mobile pied pipers enticing every child within earshot. I would always order the largest chocolate ice cream cone and be able to finish it all during my short walk home from school. It is odd to me now how I could eat an entire meal despite having stuffed myself with these added carb and sugar laden foods. It was not until my later years in elementary school that I made the connection between my feelings and food. Whenever I was made fun of or picked on, I would immediately after school focus on what I could eat that would make me feel better. If I could not find something to eat once outside the school building, I would go home and if there was not much bread available, I would look for cookies in the pantry; and if there were none, I always knew my last resort would be to eat breakfast cereal right out of the box. DURING HIGH SCHOOL I BEGAN TO delve deeper into my eating habits. I was determined to change my appearance. I was able to do it despite having two major setbacks. Then in college, where I had several courses in psychology, I learned how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. To maintain my appearance, I cut out snacking between meals. With just that change along with my rule of no eating five hours before going to bed, I was able to keep weight off. Granted, I was no longer stuffing my feelings down by stuffing my face. One of the most important words I incorporated into my life was “balance.” During the weekdays I remained strict with my diet; however, on the weekends I was free to indulge in comfort food as long as it was not too excessive. I have a friend who understands my philosophy, but they are not there yet; they have not controlled the act of rewarding themselves with decadent type foods. For the main character in this drama, I understood what he was doing and deep down I think he understood as well. WITH HIS PROSPECTS DIMMING FOR A long life, a father wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter, who he has not seen in several years. With Brendan Fraser (The Poison Rose, Doom Patrol-TV) as Charlie, Sadie Sink (Eli, Stranger Things-TV) as Ellie, Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Insidious franchise) as Thomas, Hong Chau (Downsizing, The Menu) as Liz and Samantha Morton (The Messenger, Miss Julie) as Mary; this movie provided me with something I have not seen in a while; an immediate realization I was watching an Oscar worthy acting performance. Brendan was absolutely spectacular. I felt his acting gave the cast an extra boost because they were all excellent. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), I thought this was one of his better films. The script was slow and steady, taking place mostly in one spot; but the emotions tied up with the story and Brendan’s performance nearly took me into his world. Despite some predictability and the slow trickle of back story, I was fully engaged with the characters and understood what they were going through for the most part. I left the movie theater on a high for seeing such a well-done film that deserves to be recognized this awards season.
3 ½ stars
I TRIED MY HARDEST, BUT I could not figure out what the couple next to me was seeing. The man was telling the woman to look at the paint strokes in the painting and notice how they are pointing up to the god figure. I did not want them to know I was listening in to their conversation; but I honestly was trying to figure out what the guy was seeing because I could not find any type of god figure in the artwork. I had to wonder if the woman was able to make out what the man was talking about because most of the time, she simply nodded her head and said, “uh-huh” or “ah.” The painting was an abstract with bold sweeps of color all over the canvas. The man continued with his explanation of the painting, saying the artist was making some type of statement against the elitists. I had no idea what he was talking about and got bored with listening to him carry on about the art. I happened to be roaming through the art museum after seeing their new exhibit and stopped at this painting because I liked the way the colors blended into each other. WHEN I AM LOOKING AT AN art piece, I am not trying to figure out what the artist was trying to do or say with it. I am simply enjoying the feelings that the piece evokes in me. It may be the landscape in a painting or a chiseled arm in a sculpture or the subject’s face in a photograph; I stop to look at the art piece that moves me in some way. Maybe it is due to my brain’s wiring, but I have never been one to try and figure out creative things. Mechanical things are a different story; I like to know how a device or machine works. But books and art are a whole different thing for me. They are more personal. I feel everyone can have a different reaction to a piece of art or a book. It goes along with what I have always said; no one has the right to tell another person how to feel. I may be fond of a particular symphony, but my friend may hate it and that is perfectly fine. The reason I like science fiction films is because they are pure escapism for me; yet, I have a friend who asks me (in his words) why I watch that crap. He doesn’t like it, I am okay with it; but, when I try to tell him why I like them, he cannot understand it. I felt like him after I watched this well received motion picture. WHEN AN EASY JOB GOES WRONG, a group of criminals must figure out what happened and who caused the situation they were in. With Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead, Hotel Rwanda) as Curt Goynes, Benicio Del Toro (A Perfect Day, The Usual Suspects) as Ronald Russo, David Harbour (Black Widow, Hellboy) as Matt Wertz, Jon Hamm (Richard Jewel, Lucy in the Sky) as Joe Finney and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Gimme Shelter) as Doug Jones; this dramatic crime mystery was great to look at. The sets and costumes were spot on while the cast did an amazing job with their roles. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), the story was interesting, but I thought the script was poorly written. I became confused several times and by the last part of the movie, I felt like I was missing, or something was missing in the movie for me. An uneven feeling was what remained for me after watching this picture. There were times I enjoyed watching it, but other times I was sort of blah about it. I am just telling you how I felt about it; maybe there is something more in it for you.
2 ½ stars
THE ABUNDANCE OF LIGHTBULBS CREATED A continuous glow of light around the carnival. The Ferris wheel was the only attraction that almost reached the edge of darkness waiting above the glow. I could see the Ferris wheel was stopped and there was a man screaming he wanted to get out from the upper most car. He had broken through the car’s safely bar somehow and was hanging off the side, with one arm stretched out towards the closest metal beam. Barely visible to me were two small girls who were trying to pull the man back into the car. I had to close the book right at this point because the phone rang; however, the scary image of the man dangling out of the Ferris wheel car kept floating in my head. And that is the beauty of reading a book. Most of you know me as a person who watches multiple movies every week, but may not know I can escape into a book’s story the same way as when I am watching a film. The difference for me is when I am watching a good movie; I am falling into the visuals that are being presented to me. When reading a book, I am creating the scene based on the writer’s words; I am using my imagination to see what the author is describing to me. Both mediums are equally as powerful to me. THE EXPERIENCE OF WATCHING A FILM (prior to our current stay at home orders) is more of a physical experience for me. Keeping in mind I do not watch movies on my phone, tablet or computer; I either have to go to the movie theater or to my living room television if I want to see a film. When I travel, the options are similar with going to a theater or using the hotel’s cable options. With a book, the story’s characters almost always can surround me anywhere in the world; all I need to do is carry the book or tablet with me. I could be riding a bus, eating at a restaurant, waiting at the airport gate for my flight or (please excuse me) sitting in the bathroom; the possibilities are endless. It is such a wonderful feeling to disappear from my surroundings, by using my imagination as I read the author’s words, to recreate their vision all in my mind. Some of you may already know when a movie is based on a book; I prefer to see the film first before reading the book. One of the reasons is because I have all the characters’ voices in my head already when I open the book. In regards to today’s review, I have the book this film was based on sitting up on a shelf waiting for me. FOR YEARS BOOKBINDER MO, PLAYED BY Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy franchise), has been searching for a particular book. If he could just read its story he was certain he could find his wife. This film festival winning movie also starred Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Long Shot) as Capricorn, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Elinor, Paul Bettany (Avengers franchise, Journey’s End) as Dustfinger and Eliza Bennett (Nanny McPhee, From Time to Time) as Meggie. This family, adventure fantasy movie had all the right elements to be a fun old-fashioned thriller. Over the top characters, magical characters, big sets, everything was here except for the wandering script. The pacing was uneven as some scenes were great to watch while others were listless. I was disappointed overall with this picture; however, I was okay watching the film all the way through due to the heart and imagination at the base of the plot. Though this viewing did not pan out the way I would have liked, I am certainly looking forward to taking the book this film was based on off of my shelf to read.
2 stars — DVD
Always following quietly in my shadow is the child of my youth who lives inside of me. I never hinder him when he comes out to play. There are things he feels he never had the opportunity to do when we were one and the same, whether from his own fears or the environment around him that kept him dormant. But now he can experience the excitement of exploring a new place in the city with his friends or be able to take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood he grew up in, without having to race home to the safety behind the protective security door in the apartment building he called home. I never take for granted this little child that accompanies and helps me in my fitness classes, letting me feel that youthful spirit I kept hidden away for so many years. Being so familiar with my inner child would explain why it pains me now when I see a child who has been forced to be an adult, never getting the chance to experience what childhood was meant to be. Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers, Beastly) played 16 year old Agnes “Apple” Bailey. Transferred from one foster home to another due to her abusive addict mother June, played by Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Seven Pounds), Agnes ran away to find her absent father Tom Fitzpatrick, played by Brendan Fraser (Furry Vengeance, The Mummy franchise). She only knew of him because of an old letter she had in her possession. The first thing that struck me about this movie based on a true story, was the surprisingly good acting job Vanessa did with her character. It was not an easy role; a couple of times I found myself cringing in my seat. Rosario was excellent, I only wish there would have been more scenes with her in them. In a couple of decent supporting roles there was James Earl Jones (Finder’s Fee; Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins) as Frank McCarthy and Ann Dowd (Side Effects, Compliance) as Kathy. The story had a natural grimness to it where I felt the writer/director accentuated it, giving the movie more of a soap opera melodramatic feel. I felt the movie was a little too preachy and predictable; but luckily the acting and the fact that this was a true story kept me interested. Sitting in my seat during the credits that showed the actual people this movie was based on, I realized I was hearing the sound of sniffling coming from the people around me. I had to wonder how much of it was due to the movie or to them missing their inner child.
2 1/2 stars
One of the best objects for motivation is food. It does not necessarily have to be a comfort type of food like cookies or ice cream; could be a sandwich or a piece of fruit. During the week food is the escalator that helps me get through the day. If I am having a stressful time at the office I know it will not last long because I have set up an oasis where I will be taking in some food at a certain time. I may not want to go jogging on Sunday but I know if I want to treat myself to a chocolate chip cookie later, I have to go running now. There are certain foods I will eat simply because I want them to continue a memory I cherish. The smell of cinnamon quickly brings to mind cookies my mother used to bake, where the dough had to be rolled out and cut with heart and diamond shaped cookie cutters. Just before the cookies were put into the oven they would get sprinkled with a combination of cinnamon and sugar. Whether there is an absence or abundance of food it still can be a big motivator as this animated movie will show you. Will Arnett (When in Rome, Blades of Glory) voiced Surly, a squirrel who only looked out for himself in a park filled with other animals. After being banished by the park’s dominant animal the raccoon, voiced perfectly by Liam Neeson (The Grey, Taken franchise), Surly tried to survive in a city filled with humans, where he was to discover something that could change everything for all the animals back in the park. I understood the moral message the writers were trying to convey in this adventure comedy, though it was a weak effort. Part of the issue was creating a story and film to cover everyone’s tastes; it was too much and too predictable. There was no humor for adults, spending way too much time on flatulence jokes. The voices of Katherine Heigl (Life as We Know It, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Andie and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Bedazzled) as Grayson easily lent themselves to a cartoon character; but I did not find much excitement among the majority of the players. Compared to other animated films I have seen, this one was not much fun to watch. All I kept thinking about during most of the movie was what I would eat for lunch when I got home. There were a couple of extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
Anger can be just as constructive as it can be destructive. Some years ago I was riding in a car with a group of friends. We got side swiped by a car going in the opposite direction. The driver of our car got so angry he swerved into oncoming traffic, hoping to spin the car around and chase after the car that hit us. Instead we got rear ended and wound up on the curb. That is an example of anger being destructive. If it wasn’t for my anger, I do not think I would have pushed myself to become certified as a group exercise instructor. Knowing the feeling of being picked last in gym class, I was determined to create an environment that was accepting of all types of people and maybe more importantly, accepting of myself. Anger was a big motivator for top salesman Ted Riker, played by Michael Keaton (White Noise, Jackie Brown). He had no time for pleasantries or politeness; everyone in the company feared him. When he had to mentor newbie Jamie Bashant, played by Brendan Fraser (Inkheart, Bedazzled), it was similar to leading the sacrificial lamb to slaughter. But when hard nosed Ted met Jamie’s fiancee Belisa, played by Amber Valletta (Transporter 2, Gamer), a beat of life could be heard in his heart. Would that heart beat affect company sales? The best part of this movie was watching Michael Keaton. For me, he is one of the best when it comes to displaying crazy anger; it forcibly grabs one’s attention. Brendan, on the other hand, does not have a wide range to his acting; it seems as if he handles his recent roles all the same way: wide eyed, extra large gestures, not much depth. The other issue I had was with the story. Part comedy, part drama and part thriller; I would have preferred one genre to give this movie more focus. What kept me interested in this film was watching Michael letting loose, along with the couple of twists that took place. On a deeper level, I tend to be curious when I recognize anger in a person.
2 1/2 stars — DVD