THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD stop the color in my face from draining. I was in a state of shock. It was an hour before I was going to get off from work and the owner of the company had called me into his office. I knew him better than some of the other employees because I worked both in the retail and wholesale parts of his company, when I wasn’t in school. In fact, when he opened a 2ndstore in a large shopping mall out in the suburbs, I helped set up the shelves with stock. So, when he asked me into his office, I did not think much of it. When he closed the door behind me as I walked in, I knew something was different. As I sat across from him, he began to tell me about the inventory being off, that items were coming up missing. I thought maybe he wanted me to take a bigger part of the inventory process, but that was not the case. He asked me if I had seen anything odd going on. I told him no and that I was surprised to hear such a thing. My face had not turned white up to this point; however, when he said he wanted to talk to my parents I could feel my face changing. He said he was asking the same of the other employees who were also in high school. EMBARRASSMENT, FEAR AND ANGER WERE THE predominant feelings coursing through my body as I sat there. Despite not having any knowledge about the missing stock, I was angry that I was being considered a suspect. Logically I knew it made sense for the owner to question his employees; but I still felt like I was being accused of something I had no part in. It was an awful feeling. My mind was showing me a series of movie scenes depicting courthouses, jails, tearful testimonies; my imagination was running amok. The other thing that came to mind was the possibility I might be considered an accomplice because I was friendly with the other employees. The anger portion I was feeling was due to the idea one of my friends, who I had been working alongside with for over one year, could be a thief. It was all upsetting to me, and I did not know how my parents would take the news about them having to come in to talk to the owner. All this hassle and confusion just because I essentially was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The magnitude of my situation didn’t come close to the main character’s situation in this dramatic film based on a true story; but I understood what he had to be feeling. LIVING ON DEATH ROW, ONE DOESN’T get hopeful; even when your Harvard educated lawyer is willing to fight for your life. With Brie Larson (Captain Marvel, Short Term 12) as Eva Ansley, Michael B. Jordan (Creed franchise, Black Panther) as Bryan Stevenson, Jamie Foxx (Robin Hood, Ray) as Walter McMillian, Rafe Spall (The Big Short, The Ritual) as Tommy Chapman and Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four; O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as Ralph Myers; the story in this film festival winning movie was horrifying to me at times due to the injustice and discrimination that was taking place. The acting was strong and solid from the cast; in fact, they really carried the story along. For most of the time I took the script to be truthful; however, there were a couple of scenes, especially one close to the end, where I felt it was the writer’s option to make something up to pull in the audience deeper into the story. Besides that, I still cannot get over what Walter had to go through for all those years.
WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A quick and smooth trip to the movie theater, turned into a mini-obstacle course of delays for me. After checking for seat availability online, I discovered I needed to change my evening plans and go to an earlier time to see this superhero film. Racing out of work I drove to the first stoplight on my route where I saw a sea of cars across the intersection, all with their brake lights glowing steadily stretching down for almost two blocks. I could see in the distance the faint flashing of railroad crossing lights; so, I knew the gates had to be down for a freight train. My decision had to be quick; either wait in line and hope for the best or quickly come up with a different route to the theater before the stoplight changed. Just as I was about to switch on my turn signal I saw the faint glow of headlights coming towards me in the opposite lanes of traffic; the train must have passed, and the crossing gates were up. I decided to take my chances by getting in line with the rest of the cars and hope everyone would drive the speed limit…and get out of my way. THE PUBLISHED TIME FOR THE MOVIE had passed, but I knew the theater showed a lot of film trailers. I had gotten stuck behind a driver who was trying to turn left without their turn signal on. My anxiousness was bubbling up to the point I was about to get out of my car to stop traffic. I did not, but instead finally found enough space between passing cars for me to drive around the car in front of me. Once I made it to the theater I took the first parking space I could find and ran to the box office. There was only one couple in front of me when I walked into the lobby to purchase my ticket. This couple was peering at the computer screen in front of them deciding where to sit for the same movie I was going to see. If you have never picked seats for a movie when buying your tickets, it is not rocket science. Unless you are on a 1st date, it should be an easy process. These two people were having a discussion on which would be the best seats to watch the movie. I made my presence known by clearing my throat which stimulated the couple to choose seats. If there had not been 28 minutes of previews for this film I would have missed the beginning of the movie; one cannot afford to miss it. TROUBLED BY FLASHES OF HERSELF IN unfamiliar places from a different world, it was those images in Vers’, played by Brie Larson (Room, Free Fire), mind that were the links for her to finally understanding herself. With Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn (Robin Hood, Darkest Hour) as Keller, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Yon-Rogg and Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, Fast Girls) as Maria Rambeau; this science fiction superhero film is the first time a female is playing the lead character. I am not familiar with the Captain Marvel comic books, but I felt the script was geared towards our present time with women empowerment. Brie was a great choice for the role; however, I felt that same script restricted her character. My favorite part of the movie was when Brie’s character was on Earth. With a great soundtrack, good humor and phenomenal CGI work on Samuel; these things made up for the scenes in outer space. Those scenes looked too much like a cartoon and did not have the dazzling display of CGI work I have seen in other outer space, action adventure pictures. With the multiple story lines, the scenes seemed to quickly jump across the screen at times. I felt with a little editing and polishing up of the script I would have been taken back to the Marvel universe I have enjoyed in the past. This was a good start for this origin story, just not great. I did not have to rush like a maniac to get to this showing. From the standard extra two scenes during the middle and end of the credits I technically had all the way until the opening date of the 2nd part of the Avengers film to see this movie.
THE ONLY PEOPLE who were embarrassed by the couple’s accents were their children. To everyone else the mother and father talked that way because they were European. As far as I knew there was no derogatory intent by saying someone was European, Asian or by some other region of the world. For me I was intrigued with the fact that a friend would have a living relative from a different country; since most of mine had come to the United States either at birth or were dead by the time I was born. Some of the children were able to speak to their parents in their native tongue but they only wanted to do so when no one else was around. It is funny though; by the time these kids reached the grade levels were a foreign language was required in school, they usually got top grades. I would be lying if I did not say I was a bit envious since I struggled with the language I chose to learn. THERE COMES AN age in a child’s life where I think it is natural for them to feel embarrassed at times by their parents’ actions. I think it is just a generational thing, like styles of clothing or genres of music. Each generation wants to own something unique to them that was not from their parents’ generation. Hanging out at a friend’s house, it was not unusual for a parent to come check on us. However, some parents would ask questions or try to fit into our conversation. At this point the parent’s child would do or say something to try to get their parent to leave. I remember one parent who would come into the basement where we were listening to music and try to dance to it. This always produced a groan from their son or daughter. In the scheme of things, compared to what was shown in this dramatic film based on a true story, dancing around would be the very least thing to be embarrassed about. GROWING UP IN a constant state of change and disarray had effected the children of Rex and Rose Mary, played by Woody Harrelson (War for the Planets of the Apes, Wilson) and Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry, Demolition), in ways that would last for a lifetime. This biographical film also starred Brie Larson (Free Fire, Room) as Jeannette, Ella Anderson (The Boss, Mother’s Day) as a young Jeanette and Max Greenfield (The Big Short, New Girl-TV) as David. The story was so bizarre to me that I wondered if the scenes I was seeing really happened in the life of this family. I thought the acting was wonderful, especially from Woody and Brie. At first I was not too crazy about the jumping back and forth in time method, but realized at some point it made better sense to tell the story that way. It emphasized the way the adult versions were acting in their scenes. The issue I had with this picture was the latter part; it seemed as if things were tied up in a quick and easy way. Having not read the book, it just came across as not having the realness of the other parts of the story. I almost want to say it was being painted with a happier ending just to please the movie goers. The book I am willing to bet is more intense than this film. Not that anyone needs to be embarrassed with the final product here; the story still is unbelievable and in my opinion sets a different standard for defining a dysfunctional family.
2 ¾ stars
THEY knew it was one of my favorite musicals which made them think of me. A relative of theirs was performing in a local, community production; so they offered me the extra ticket in their possession. I am a supporter of the arts, enjoying a variety of venues available all over my city. Normally I would jump at the chance to attend a staged production; however, when it comes to certain plays or musicals I tend to be more cautious. The reason is because those few productions that are my all-time favorites I pretty much have committed to memory; every note, dance move and set design. Going to see anything less than a spectacular production would disappoint me. Do not get me wrong, I have tried many times. I could be sitting on an old rickety, folding chair in some small community center’s space pretending to be an auditorium and if everything is on point I am over the moon with joyous excitement. However if an errant musical note is played or a singer is off pitch it ruins the entire experience for me. ULTIMATELY it is a trade-off I suppose; if a person is willing to gamble and hope for the best they will go for it. But I have a question for you; let us say strawberries are one of your favorite things to eat. You eat them fresh from the garden as well as using them in your baking and making of smoothies. How satisfied would you be to eat something that uses artificial flavoring to make it taste like strawberry? If I had a choice between homemade chocolate chip cookies or store bought packaged ones, I would always go to the homemade ones first. I am not knocking the manufactured ones; heaven knows I have never turned down any type of chocolate chip cookie, but there are just times where I want the real thing. I could say the same thing about this action crime thriller. MEETING at an abandoned warehouse a group of people came together to make a deal to buy and sell guns. It would have helped if some of them had prior training on how to shoot a gun. This film festival winner was executive produced by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, The Departed). Starring Brie Larson (Room, The Spectacular Now) as Justine, Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network) as Ord, Cillian Murphy (Inception, In the Heart of the Sea) as Chris and Sharito Copley (District 9, Maleficent) as Vernon; I thought with this much talent the story would have been interesting to watch. The film had a 70s retro look which was fun. As the movie started it appeared there was going to be a sense of mystery to the story. Little did I realize the only mystery was why the movie studio allowed the script to remain in its present form. Essentially if it was not, it sure felt like over ½ of this film was one big shootout. Most of the dialog contained slang words; I was so bored I wanted all of the characters to kill each other and end the picture. If the writers were trying to do a parody on gun violence it was lost on me. And if they were hoping to create an homage to Martin Scorsese, the writers and director failed in my opinion. This was a pseudo action thriller filled with violence and strong language. You have been warned.
1 ¾ stars
SITTING in the semi-darkened theater waiting for the movie trailers to begin, I was wondering how many different film variations of King Kong I had seen. I believe I saw every one of them and I could even include the robotic one Bette Midler used in one of her concerts, where she played the Fay Wray character who was sprawled out across King Kong’s palm. Thinking about these different versions of the big ape, we really have come a long way from the 1st one to the latest one I was about to see. Of course I was basing it on the movie trailers I had recently seen. Recalling the earlier Kong versions, I can still remember how fake looking he was in the oldest movies. My guess is the writers needed to fine tune their script to keep the audience engaged with the story since an unrealistic looking gorilla would quickly become boring. SPEAKING of story lines I wondered what the writers would do to keep me interested in this umpteenth time of me watching a King Kong film. More often than not I have noticed when a movie comes out with a well known character that has played before the script is updated to reflect current times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is a bust. I can remember a group of classic horror monsters like Frankenstein and the Mummy being part of a series of movies that were based in comedy, starring comedians and comedy duos. Personally I found them ridiculous; taking such classic horror characters and placing them in a genre of films that no one would ever consider for them, diminishes their scariness in the public’s eyes. With these thoughts in mind the movie theater lights became dark and I sat back in my seat to see what Kong was up to these days. FLYING over the Pacific Ocean, bound for a newly discovered uncharted island, a group of scientists and soldiers did not know they would be disturbing the inhabitants to the point of making them angry. This action adventure fantasy succeeded because of the special effects. From all the different versions of King Kong I have seen on film, this was the best looking or should I say the most realistic version of King Kong. The fight scenes were exciting, especially the opening one. If this film had not been so technically advanced I would have been bored by the script. With Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, I Saw the Light) as James Conrad, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Preston Packard, Brie Larson (Room, Short Term 12) as Mason Weaver and John C. Reilly (Carnage, Step Brothers) as Hank Marlow; I only found Hank’s character interesting. Samuel was doing his identical acting thing, so no surprises there. However I was surprised how stiff Tom and Brie were with their characters. This was partially due to the script that offered no insights, along with the direction that kept them one dimensional. Only John C. Reilly and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Monuments Men) as Bill Randa offered any interest among the cast. If you are into visual experiences then you would want to see this picture inside a movie theater. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
There is this saying that tells you if you get stuck with lemons then make lemonade. Sadly my lemonade tends to taste like apple cider vinegar, not all the time but enough where I tend to expect it. In my circle of friends we tend to say, “They were born with a lucky horseshoe up their rear end,” to describe someone who is charmed. I have one friend who on the average wins a prize 75% of the time for all the sweepstakes and raffles they have entered, it is uncanny. On the other hand I know I am more likely making a cash donation to the organization. For example there was one time I went to teach a yoga class and when I walked into the club, the front desk told me all classes were cancelled due to a power outage. I did wonder why no one bothered to call me to let me know; but there was no reason to point it out to my fellow employees. So I decided to use the restroom before making the trip back home. It could not have been more than a minute or two, but by the time I came back to the front lobby I was informed the tornado siren had gone off and no one was allowed to leave the building. We were all stuck in the building’s windowless hallway for 20-25 minutes. Gratefully it turned out to be a false alarm but there was no lemonade to be made that night by me. But do you know what, all of that along with any other similar situation I may have had did not matter after I saw what was taking place in this extraordinary drama. FIVE year old Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay (Before I Wake, My Mother’s Future Husband-TV movie), was loved and nurtured by his Ma, played by Brie Larson (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now). In their tiny space that Ma named Room, Jack had no idea there was a whole world outside of the windowless shed they were locked in all these years. Less than halfway through this film I already knew what rating this movie deserved and I meant deserved. Part thriller, part suspense, part horror, part intense drama; this was a movie watching experience that took me away. Brie and Jacob were so unbelievably real that I could not stop tearing up through sections of this picture. Even the supporting cast actors like Joan Allen (Death Race, The Contender) as Nancy and William H. Macy (The Sessions, Pleasantville) as Robert were important players in the story. Based on the bestselling book, I have nothing negative to say about this amazing film. The directing did such a beautiful job of taking the viewers through this hilly, rough terrain of a script. The bottom line about this movie is this: it will be a major Oscar contender. I hope everyone gets to see this film.
Those needs, wants and expectations sure can trip you up in the middle of your relationship. A want is like a desire; such as I want a caramel apple dipped in chocolate. I do not need it but I certainly would not refuse one if it happened to cross my path. A need is defined as a condition requiring supply or relief; for example, telling a person to stop yelling at you would qualify as a need. Now about expectations, this one can really play havoc in your relationship. The dictionary defines expectation as a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen; you could even say a hope. But I have to tell you if you get into a relationship where you have silent expectations, it will knock you for a loop. I know a couple where the wife is a fast decision maker and the husband is opposite; he has to mull things over and over. Where the wife is ready to replace their refrigerator at the first sign of trouble, her husband has to wait and think it over; wondering if he could fix it or find someone who can, the cost, the time looking for a fridge if they have to and his list goes on and on. This could turn into a frustrating moment for both of them. Now I know in the scheme of things this type of disagreement is more of a trivial matter; however, there are times where two people can veer off of their shared path due to mixed expectations or needs. If you do not believe me just watch what happens in this drama. WHILE vacationing Tim and Lee, played by Jake Johnson (Let’s Be Cops, New Girl-TV) and Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister Cinderella Man), discover an old bone and gun on the property. Reacting differently to this find caused the two of them to experience a different vacation from the other during their trip away. What drew me into this story was the dialog; I found it to be honest and real. With a large cast that included Brie Larson (Short Term 12, Don Jon) as Max and Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Kingdom of Heaven) as Ben, I found every character had something to offer to the story. Now about the story, I enjoyed how it let the viewer be a witness to the different implications and events, letting us imagine the possibilities that could happen. The cast really worked well together, coming across as believable and I mean this as a compliment, typical. There were a few parts in the story where I had to question the validity of the action taking place. I was not sure if I was reacting that way because I could not relate to it, not having experienced it in my life. On the plus side I enjoyed the way this film made me think about it even after it was done.
2 2/3 stars
All the details were double checked, everything was in order for your spectacular trip abroad. Part of your itinerary was having dinner at a famous restaurant; in fact, you had to rent a car to visit the eatery. When the day finally arrived, the weather did not cooperate; it was dreary and damp. The incredible views the restaurant was known for were now shrouded in a gray, misty fog. At least you had the meal to look forward to that food critics had fawned over. Long story short, the food was a disappointment. Leaving the restaurant you decided to take a walk. As you reached an intersection the sound of a small bell tinkling got your attention. A bicyclist, riding with a basket of bread loaves, passed in front of you. He parked alongside a building. The aroma coming off of the freshly baked bread made your taste buds yearn. The small golden crusted loaf you purchased weighed heavy in your hand. As you walked away you took your first bite and the thick forgiving dough filled your mouth with the most wonderful taste. At the same time you took notice of your surroundings and realized there was a gap in the sky where the low hanging sun looked like it separated a venetian blind to peer out. A single ray of sunshine lightened the street you were on. From out of the drabness wooden shutters bursted into color, the cobblestones of the street wet with condensation glistened and the hanging baskets of flowers from windowsills took a last sigh before nightfall. It lasted only a moment but you were at the right place at the right time to see it. I had the exact same feeling after seeing this superb film festival winning movie. After weeks of sitting through several mediocre movies, this film made up for all of my long hours of sitting in a movie theater seat. Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now, 21 Jump Street) and John Gallagher Jr. (Pieces of April, Jonah Hex) played foster care facility employees Grace and Mason. Their daily roller coaster ride of emotions would reveal similarities they shared with the young adults, affecting their own personal relationship. The brilliant filming of this movie made each character real with feelings. I thought the acting was amazing from everyone including Rami Malek (The Master, Larry Crowne) and Kaitlyn Dever (Bad Teacher, J. Edgar) as Nate and Jayden. I was so totally immersed into the story that I forgot the characters were actors. There were several scenes that looked like I was viewing actual news footage, that is how convincing this complete film was for me. This movie represented that perfect moment I have been waiting for all year. A couple of brief scenes showed blood.