I HAD NO OPINION ONE WAY or the other about the movie coming to campus until the university decided it could not be shown. All I knew about the film was that it had received a lot of notoriety due to the plot and one of the main actors and that it was coming to our campus to raise funds for some cause. Once word got out about the university’s actions, I became curious about the picture and wanted to go see it. I just did not want to get involved with the politics behind the student organization’s reasons for choosing this particular movie, nor the university’s reasons to ban it; I simply wanted to see what all the hoopla was about concerning this film. The week the university came out against the movie, students started to protest around the campus. They demonstrated in front of the Dean’s residence, holding up signs as they walked back and forth in front. At one of the college buildings, a group of students held a sit-in. Having never been involved in the middle of a protest, I found the experience not only curious, but a fascinating study in camaraderie. With my background, camaraderie appeared to be based more on like kind physically instead of being based on a common idea. Here in college, the protesters were an array of humanity coming together for a single purpose. The outcome from the demonstrations and protests was the university allowed the film to be shown at a satellite, off campus venue; both sides were happy with the results and I got to see the movie. I KNOW I AM STATING THE OBVIOUS, but protests have taken on a wider array of actions since my college days. The news recently showed a man riding a horse down a city expressway to bring attention to a cause. I live near a city that experienced violent protesters who came out after a judge’s rule in a famous court case. A friend of mine has had to work at home because the office building where they work was damaged during the protests. A 70 year old retail shop that I used to frequent often was shown on the news, where its front windows were smashed and had over half of their inventory stolen; it was so sad to see as the owner said he may not be able to recover from the damages and close the business. I firmly believe everyone has the right to protest; but to the point where violence and damage occurs, I cannot condone such actions. There is something to be said for the “power in numbers” that to me makes a protest successful. I saw it when I was in college and now, I have seen its strength in this historical film festival winner. SUCH A SIMPLE ACT THAT WAS defiant became the catalyst to a peaceful movement during the 1950s in Mobile, Alabama. With Jeffrey Wright (The Goldfinch, Only Lovers Left Alive) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Ralph, CCH Pounder (Home Again, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV) as Jo Ann Robinson, Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Coretta Scott King and Iris Little Thomas (Above the Rim, Malcolm X) as Rosa Parks; this drama captured me because of the way it dug into the background of the after events that surrounded Rosa’s refusal to give up her bus seat. The cast was excellent and worked well together in my opinion. As I was watching this film, I was struck by the role money played into the events; previously, I did not recall that aspect of the event playing as important of a role as it did in this picture. It made for a riveting watch at times. Not only did this movie teach history, it also provided a blueprint for creating a peaceful protest.
HOW FAIR IS IT when an employee who has inside information acts on it? I do not feel it is right. At a company I used to work at there was an employee who worked in a division that assisted the human resources department. This person was involved in the yearly creation of the company’s calendar that listed which holidays the company would be closed. By the time the calendar was distributed the employee had already picked the most popular days to schedule their vacation time. For example they would always take the day after the company’s scheduled closure for the Christmas holiday. As for the holidays that were celebrated on Mondays, this person would pick either the Friday before or Tuesday after to extend the weekend out. Other employees in the department would get upset and rightfully so in my opinion. Limited on how many employees could schedule time off in one department, no one else got the opportunity to extend their holiday celebration or take an extended weekend vacation. WITH THE ONSET OF instant news I have seen so many examples of individuals or groups of people using the knowledge they were privy to for personal gains. I am willing to bet there is a lot more that goes on that we have not heard about. And I am sure it was taking place way before the internet came into existence. Now I am not one to claim I walk a high moral ground, but I feel people who take advantage of other people solely because of their position are immoral. They may gain in financial ways but as a human being they fall down a couple of rungs on the evolution ladder. There is that old saying, “what goes around comes around” and I would like to believe that is true; however, I am sure there are some people who skate through life untouched by their misdeeds. I can see where believing in karma allows one to let go of the negativity of such actions, knowing the “crooked” individual will face consequences in their lifetime or the next one. If you are curious to see what can happen to a person then may I suggest you see this dramatic crime film. DEDICATED TO HIS PROFESSION as a lawyer Roman J. Israel, played by Denzel Washington (Fences, The Equalizer), uses a piece of information to make a change in his life. It possibly could turn into more of a change than he anticipated. This film festival winner also starred Colin Farrell (The Beguiled, The Lobster) as George Pierce, Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) Maya Alston and Amanda Warren (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Mother!) as Lynn Jackson. I had trouble connecting with Denzel’s character because I could not figure out if he was shy or socially undeveloped or on the spectrum for autism, despite Denzel doing his best. The script which was written by Dan Gilroy (Kong: Skull Island, Nightcrawler), who also directed this picture; did not help in developing Denzel and some of the other characters. Another thing for me was the lack of explanation on the connections between the characters. I am afraid I became bored with this movie at times. Considering the cast I felt there could have been more drama than the uneven script allowed. Maybe those involved in producing this film had knowledge about the characters, but they did not share it with the viewers.
HEARTBREAKING was all I could think about as I listened to the news reporter. I do not remember all the details since it happened some time ago, but I vividly retain the feelings I had back then while seeing a picture of the family car before tragedy struck. The mom and dad were driving in the car with their children when they got caught in a flash flood due to the heavy storms experienced in their area. As the car started to float off the road and head towards the river, the parents were trying to gather up the kids to get them out. Here is where my memory is a little fuzzy; the car was starting to sink and the father found himself in one of the worst scenarios possible. Two kids still remained in the car as more of it was sinking below the surface. He had to dive underwater and work at releasing the children from their car seats, I believe. Frantically he had to return to the surface for air and swim back down to the vehicle. Unfortunately he was only able to save one of the 2 kids. I cannot imagine the feelings of guilt the dad must have suffered; it had to be a life altering experience that would not be easy to reconcile. THERE are many times where one has to make a decision that will not bring the best outcome. I have made many decisions that if I could do all over again, I would have chosen a different path. What is that saying people use in these types of situations, hindsight is 20/20? The phrase I tend to use is, “If I knew then what I know now…” Maybe there is some truth to that saying about, “with age comes wisdom.” No matter how old the father was in this horror mystery movie, I do not think any of his decisions were easy. WITH unknown terrors lurking out their door a father, mother and their son seal themselves up inside of their house. Their daily routine would be disrupted when there was a pounding at their door. Starring Joel Edgerton (Loving, The Gift) as Paul, Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Alien: Covenant) as Sarah, Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Birth of a Nation, Mudbound) as Travis, Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year, Martha Marcy May Marlene) as Will and Riley Keough (The Runaways, American Honey) as Kim; this story was more of a psychological thriller to me. The viewers never really saw the terror that was being afflicted across the land. I thought the script started off well enough in building up the tension, assisted with the able acting from the cast. Visually this film had a natural darkness to it, literally and figuratively; things were kept simple from the dialog to the sets. One could really get a feel for what this family was experiencing. My issue with the script came in the latter part of the movie; I felt confused on where the writer was taking the story. By the end of the film I still had some questions I wish would have been answered; in fact, I would not be surprised if some viewers were left feeling dissatisfied. This picture presented some tough choices for the characters and in turn, could present the viewer with their own dilemma if they were in a similar situation.
2 ½ stars
Addiction is defined as an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something. When I hear the word addicted or addiction I immediately think of something harmful like drugs or alcohol. It would never occur to me to think of something that could be detrimental to a person. However, if I think about the above definition what would you say about a person who grew up only wanting to do one activity; let us say running or shopping. Now I knew someone who would get at least one package every day delivered to their house for things they would purchase online; can you imagine? There was one room of the house that you could barely see the walls because the boxes were stacked so high. Would you say this person was addicted to shopping? My answer would be yes. Maybe I am not the one to talk about this since some of my friends think I am addicted to movie watching; like that is a bad thing if it were true? But seriously, I wonder what takes place in an individual to sway them to a particular activity if they already have a predisposition to addiction. I do not know why but after seeing this movie I started thinking about different activities and you know, there are so many ways you can consider them being an addiction. If I remember correctly there was a news report about a person who was addicted to plastic surgery. They had gone through at least a dozen different procedures for different parts of their body and face. I cannot fathom it let alone what the cost must have been. It is a curious subject that plays out in this movie. THIS film festival nominated drama was about jazz musician Chet Baker, played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Good Kill). Also starring Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Pride and Glory) as Jane/Elaine and Callum Keith Rennie (The Butterfly Effect, Fifty Shades of Grey) as Dick, I thought the acting was quite good. I had no idea Ethan could sing or play the trumpet; but if not him, he certainly was convincing to me. Set in the 1960s this film had a real retro look for the era and I admired the way it was filmed. The script moved back and forth between different years of Chet’s life; since I am not familiar with him, I did not mind the switches. Also, I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack besides witnessing his place in music history. Due to the coincidence of this being my 2nd musical film this week, there is a tendency to compare the two. I have to say both films had excellent acting, but I felt more engaged to this film. Hopefully I am not biased because I am more familiar with jazz music then country. I think this story was more authentic and had a film style that better matched the music genre. You may not get addicted to the story or music but there was enough here to keep you interested about his life.
I may have seen a few sides to the face of hate, but I am well aware there are many more to it. The word hate, depending on how it is used, can be such an evil term. Sure I use the word when I am stating my feelings about a certain food or about the cold weather conditions; however, it would take on a whole different level of meaning if I were to direct the word towards a fellow human being. While participating in a peaceful march I saw how ugly hate could be from the small group of protesters yelling at us. Hate was the fuel that motivated the high school students who tried to lock me in a locker. While walking down the street a couple of guys used their hate to shove me into a store’s plate glass window. I have always said no one is born with hate; it is something that has to be taught to them. Ugly and insidious, hate thrives on conflict as it continually attempts to plant roots into communities, towns, cities, nations; anywhere on the planet to build dividers within mankind. THIS biographical film festival winner’s story depicted the events that lead to a historical moment in time; a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that led to the securing of equal voting rights for all citizens of the United States. David Oyelowo (Interstellar, Red Tails) had the task of portraying Dr. Martin Luther King in this drama and he did a masterful job of acting. Carmen Ejogo (Pride and Glory, The Purge: Anarchy) played his wife Coretta Scott King. Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) was an interesting choice to play President Lyndon B. Johnson. Honestly it took me a moment to figure out which president he was playing because he did not have the looks or mannerisms I expected. This movie was beautifully filmed; I thought the use of darkness with its small palette of colors added strength to the emotions of the scenes. I thought the directing was well done, even though there were a couple of brief parts that seemed out of place to me. As a movie watching experience this picture was powerful; however, there were several scenes filled with ugliness that were hard to watch. Even if you are fortunate enough that you have never been a victim of discrimination or hatred, I cannot imagine anyone not being moved by this well done film. It has been said that history is a tool that teaches the younger generation. With that being the case, I feel it would be beneficial to see this movie and remember what hatred has and still does to us.
3 1/2 stars
Finding an outlet to let go of life’s daily irritations is the way to stay sane in today’s world. Maybe it is just me but it seems as if everybody has shorter fuses these days. I can easily rattle off a variety of incidents where I find myself becoming irritated. There is the person in the theater texting during the movie; the driver who cut me off to be the last one to cross the railroad crossing before the gates came down and I had to sit for over 10 minutes as a freight train went by; the person at the help desk who was of no help in trying to locate where my cashed check was applied; I can go on, but the point is I find a way to release the collection of negative emotions that simmer and boil inside of me. The first thing I do is tell myself I cannot control those things that are out of my control. This has served me well for many years; there is no reason to devote energy to something I cannot change. If that doesn’t work I always have my reliable backup and that is watching a movie. Mmm, I hope no one assumes I must be teetering on the edge based on the amount of films I view weekly. I know what I would become if I did not have a way to release pent-up stress or anger and I have a pretty good idea what the world would look like if everyone held on to their negativity. They would be doing what the people were doing in this horror thriller sequel. ONCE a year the government made all crimes legal and let the citizens participate in an annual purge of the population. Frank Grillo (The Grey, Warrior) played the character Sergeant, a mysterious man who instead of killing people wound up helping mother and daughter Eva and Cali Sanchez, played by Carmen Ejogo (Pride and Glory, Alex Cross) and Zoe Soul (Prisoners), survive the night. This action film was filled with violence and blood. If this movie was to be a true parody or satire, I did not get the full effect because the story made little sense. Sure one could comment on the disparity between the wealthy and poor people depicted in this film but the script had no substance to assist in such a discussion. I found the movie played more like one long video game, just scene after scene of chases and violence. It became a boring experience for me. What I found scarier was the mother who was with her underaged son, sitting near me in the theater. Why would someone bring a child to see this brutal film; what kind of lesson was she trying to teach him?
1 3/4 stars