I WAS SO YOUNG THAT I cannot recall what my age was when I saw this Jules Verne movie for the first time. Funny, I can see myself sitting in front of the television and I know it was a Saturday afternoon, because there was a TV show that showed a movie every Saturday afternoon. It was rare I ever missed a show. Because this happened so long ago, I do not have a full memory of the entire movie; however, I have 2 vivid images in my mind that have stayed with me all these years. The first is a massive sea monster that traumatized me when it appeared in the film. I do feel this sea monster is the reason I have always been squeamish anytime I have seen an octopus or squid. The other image that has stuck with me is a vessel that could travel underwater. Because I had never seen a submarine at that age, this vessel fascinated me when it appeared in the movie. Seeing the passengers walking inside of it as it traveled under the water made me want to join them. You may be wondering if I ever played with toys in the bathtub and the answer would be yes. However, my playing mostly involved flying saucers, rockets and boats. I never thought about a vehicle that traveled under water. THE REASON I AM TALKING ABOUT this memory is because soon after seeing that film, we went on a family outing to the science and industry museum in the city. One of the attractions there was an actual, full-size submarine. The connection was made; here in real life was the vessel that had first appeared in the fantasy movie I had just seen. I was beyond excited and pleaded to go inside the submarine. How did the film’s story know about submarines? It was some years later when I read the Jules Verne book that I realized he was aware of underwater vessels before most people. Through the years, I have seen movies where something in them had not yet entered the minds of the general public. When I come across situations like this it always amazes me how the writers can predict the practical use or the appearance of such an item or situation before it is part of our reality. You will understand better if you watch this dramatic romance considering what is taking place currently around the world. A few days before I watched this picture, I heard about a survivor of COVID 19 whose sense of smell and taste had not returned. THERE WAS TROUBLING NEWS CIRCULATING ABOUT people losing their sense of taste. This was distressing for Michael, played by Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey), to hear because he was a chef at an upscale restaurant. With Eva Green (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Susan, Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman, One Hour Photo) as Jenny, Denis Lawson (Star Wars franchise, The Machine) as Boss and Stephen Dillane (The Hours, Darkest Hours) as Stephen Montgomery; this film festival winning sci-fi movie was eerie and upsetting to watch because of what is going on around us presently. Putting aside the parallels between this story and present reality, I thought Eva and Ewan were well suited for each other. Their acting was excellent with its wide range of emotions. The story created this foreboding feeling that did not leave me; I kept hoping things would get better for the characters. I will say a part of me felt something was lacking in the script. There were scenes that did not feel complete for me and I felt unsettled by the ending. Of all times to watch this film; one must wonder if the writers had some inside knowledge or ability to see the future because I certainly felt the impact of this picture.
2 ½ stars
THINGS STARTED CHANGING AROUND THE 4th and 5th grades. Prior to those times the girls and boys usually played together during recess and after school. I remember when we all came back to school after having the summer off, to start the 4th grade. Something was different I soon noticed. Where we used to do things as a group, there now were smaller groups that had broken off. The girls were not as interested in some of the activities they used to participate in with the boys. They also seemed smarter to me because they usually were the ones to get the highest scores on our tests. I can still picture this one boy during our study time who instead was fiddling with the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of him. She was annoyed and asked the teacher to make him stop. During this time, I found myself in a dilemma. With the girls forming different interests and moving into smaller groups from the boys, I had to split my time between the two. I would hang out with the boys for a while, until they started getting too aggressive in their games or sports; then, I would move over to my friends in the girls’ clique. It became a challenging time for me. DURING MY SCHOOL YEARS I HAD A few real close friends. As we grew up we still maintained a closeness even when we started branching out into different interests. I was spending more time with one friend whose interests closely matched up to mine. Through several years we were there to support each other during the rough patches. I wound up going out of state for college and it was during these years things started to change for me. We stayed in close touch but where we used to get the same reaction to a situation, now there was a difference. It was not until I returned home where I came upon a reason for what I felt was a disconnect. The reactions they were displaying were identical to the way they reacted when we were in elementary school and high school. They were complaining about the same things that took place years ago. I tried explaining if the same reactions were producing the same unsatisfactory results, then maybe it was time to change the reactions. I could see by their expression this fell on deaf ears. Sadly, it was the fork in our road where we grew in different directions. I was reminded of this while watching the two childhood friends in this romantic comedy. IT HAD BEEN YEARS SINCE CHILDHOOD friends Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, played by Ali Wong (The Hero, American Housewife-TV) and Randall Park (Aquaman, Ant-Man and the Wasp), had seen each other. Could looking at the past bring them forward into the present? With James Saito (Pearl Harbor, While We’re Young) as Harry, Michelle Buteau (Isn’t it Romantic, Sell By) as Veronica and Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, 47 Ronin) as Keanu Reeves; this rom-com was an easy watch. The script offered a mixture of family dynamics/traditions with modern thoughts and current topics. I did not experience any laugh out moments; for me, the story simply kept me engaged as the characters went through their paces. However, I did find myself getting amused by several of Marcus’ lines. The connection between him and Sasha came across as real thanks to the acting from Ali and Randall. Also, there was nothing in the movie that surprised me per se, except that I found Keanu’s performance wild. It was just pleasant to sit back and let the story play out in this picture. I would not consider this picture memorable; however, I appreciated the fact it got me thinking about some of my childhood friends.
2 ½ stars
The melody rolled out of the radio sitting on my desk and I felt I had just been transported to a spacious open aired room draped with flowing veils. It only took a couple of beats from the song before my ears focused on the music like a new born baby to its bottle. The classic musical piece had been used for years by a multitude of ice skaters at the Olympic Games. Hearing it at my desk had an immediate effect on me; the tight shouldered stress I was experiencing literally collapsed inside of me and I was left in a peaceful oasis. I have many reasons to be grateful that I have all of my senses. Though I may not always be appreciative of them each day, there certainly are times where they are prominent in my consciousness. On vacation at a national park as I stand by a cliff looking out into a centuries old canyon, I am absolutely grateful I have my eyesight so I can see such a spectacular sight. Now I am not sure there is actual scientific proof, but it seems when a person loses one of their senses the remaining ones reach for a heightened state of awareness. I think about the various musicians and composers who have lost their sight or hearing yet they still create incredible music. It is as if they are hearing a combination of notes that reside in a different range than the average listener. There is another example I just remembered about a world famous chef from my city that had to deal with tongue cancer. Can you imagine what that must have been like for him? This film festival winning movie will show you what could happen when one of our senses disappears. JUST as Susan and Michael, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire) and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars franchise, Jane Got a Gun), begin to get to know each other a plague starts to form that robs humans of their senses. This romantic drama was also classified as a science fiction film. I do not know if I would list it as such because it really was not what the average person would consider as a sci-fi story. This movie captivated me; I thought Eva and Ewan were wonderful together. Even the supporting cast like Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Gladiator) as Jenny and Denis Lawson (Star Wars franchise, The Machine) as Boss did a good job of acting with their roles. The story was unique for me; I found myself imagining what I would do as some of the scenes started to play out. Granted there were some slow parts throughout the film, but my curiosity was strong enough for me to want to see what was going to happen next. Seeing the loss of a sense could be a rather bleak experience; I appreciated the fact that I could watch this DVD.
2 ½ STARS — DVD
After a friend became grossly ill from eating sushi some years ago, I stopped eating or thinking about the food. How surprised I was after viewing this documentary, I was not only hungry, but I had a new appreciation for this delicacy. It was amazing to see master sushi chef Jiro Ono talk about his life’s work on attempting to make the perfect piece of sushi. Now you may be thinking what the big deal was about this one individual, surely there were many chefs who wanted to create the best piece of sushi. The difference was 85 year old Jiro was the first sushi chef ever to obtain a 3 star rating from the Michelin guide. Mr Ono’s 10 seat restaurant was underground by a Toyko subway station; where reservations had to be made months in advance. I was intrigued by the single focus he had his entire life, to devote himself to creating sushi. With two sons in the business, Jiro tried to instill his strict work ethic into his sons, though he had no plans on retiring. The filming of this movie was simple with an easy flow to it. We were witnesses to every aspect of Jiro’s daily life; from fish market to preparation, all the way to how he serves his guests. I was fascinated by the entire process. Though it is unlikely I will start consuming sushi, I certainly will wonder how much thought went into those pieces the next time my friends order it. Japanese with English subtitles.
3 1/3 stars