THOSE WHO YOU HAVE BEEN FRIENDS with you for a long time hold an extra special place inside of you. I believe this whole heartily because these individuals are the safe keepers of your history. Think about it, your relatives may be familiar with you; but their version is in a different context, based more on family rankings. Your friends may know you in a different light. All of this falls into the analogy I use to describe friendships. Drop a pebble into a still pool of water and look at the rippled rings that spread out from the drop point. The closest and smallest ring represents your inner circle, your closest friends. Each ring moving away from the center point is wider and bigger, encompassing those friends that know you but not in as intimate details as the inner circle friends. At some point the rings of water switch to represent your acquaintances and so on and so on. Your close friends, at least for me, are the ones who can verify your history because they have lived it with you. They also can be reminders of your past. ONE OF THE MANY GIFTS FRIENDS have is the ability to remind us to have fun. I look at my life and notice as I have gotten older it has been a challenge at times to experience fun times. When I was a kid much of my time was devoted to having fun; but as I entered the adult world (at least I believe I am in the adult world) I had to take on more responsibilities. I look at the people around me and realize I am not alone in this situation. It seems as if our responsibilities can consume us if we do not schedule time to have fun. Maybe you have experienced this predicament where you feel like all you do is sleep, eat and work; I have numerous times. With my day job, teaching classes, writing reviews, maintaining the house along with the rest of life’s “chores;” I can get lost in them. This is why I make plans to meet up with my friends from time to time. Granted with all the things I need to handle during the week, I pretty much have to use weekends to meet up with friends; which means I might have to set a date to get together several weeks out. I know it might seem odd to call a friend to make a date 2 months ahead, but it is important that fun remains a part of my life. If you watch this adventure comedy you will understand why. CONSUMED WITH WORK DURING A critical time at his company Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor (Jane Got A Gun, The Impossible), could not take time for himself. That is until an old friend appeared one day. With Hayley Atwell (Captain America franchise, Ant-Man) as Evelyn Robin, Bronte Carmichael (Darkest Hour, On Chesil Beach) as Madeline Robin, Mark Gatiss (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who-TV) as Giles Winslow and Oliver Ford (Star Wars franchise, Johnny English) as Old Man Winslow; this movie was ripe to be sweet and charming. I thought the special effects were beautiful of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. A mixture of the script and directing of the cast caused me to lose interest during the first half of the film. It was a surprise to me because based on the trailers I thought I would have fun throughout the picture. It turns out it was not until the second half that I enjoyed watching this story. It is all about fun and at least I got to experience it partially during this viewing; I guess it is better than not having fun at all. Wouldn’t you agree? There was an extra fun scene during the credits.
2 ½ stars
There are some things we think we have let go of but they have only settled somewhere in the still pools of our mind. They live submerged, below the surface while consciousness sails above it. A person cannot say their life is unaffected by it taking up residence inside of them because while it lives in the unconscious depths, it asserts its presence onto random decisions that one makes in life. Not only have I seen the results of this arrangement but I have experienced it myself. There was a person I knew who was in an abusive relationship. Once they were able to disentangle themselves from the abuser I noticed several decisions they made came from a weak position. In other words, they never gave enough credit to their true abilities; as if they were not worthy or good enough for something better. I had to point it out and encouraged them to seek out help since their psyche had been beaten down for so long. As for myself there was a period of time where I had to endure emotional trauma. The way it affected me was through migraine headaches. I would get these at the same period of time like clockwork. Now I know other individuals who suffered from re-occurring nightmares, where they could not understand why they were getting them. I shared the information I got from my schooling, where we were taught that the main character of a dream is a representation of ourselves. It really is amazing what the mind can do to a person. PSYCHOLOGIST Peter Bower, played by Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Pianist), stumbled onto an odd discovery about his patients; they all had something in common. Written and directed by Michael Petroni (The Book Thief, Queen of the Damned), this mystery thriller had the good fortune of having Adrien in the lead role. I thought he brought intensity to the story that was at best average. The reason I say this is due to the idea of it; this picture felt like a light version of a theme that had been done several times before. Included in the cast was Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Event Horizon) as Duncan Stewart and Robin McLeavy (The Loved Ones, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Barbara Henning. The movie as a whole had a good look to it that matched the emotional darkness on display. However, I felt drama was lacking in the scenes; there could have been a heightened level of it given to the characters. This movie kept my interest for the most part, even though it started out slow. I also was surprised with the turn of events in the story. I would have to say this is not a film that one needs to run out and see; instead, it would work just as well waiting to see it in the comfort of your home.
Sitting up on a shelf in the pantry sits a platter that has special significance for me. There is nothing special about it if one is just looking at it. With its edges bordered by two small bands of gold and burgundy that have formed minute cracks over all these years and a multi-colored rosette at its center, this platter reminds me of the home I grew up in. It was only used on special occasions, being the vessel that carried out the main course for all sitting around the dining room table to devour. Besides this platter I have two other items in my possession from my childhood; a pair of scissors and a candle holder. I know what you must be thinking, such random items. You are correct they are random but each one of them comes with very distinct memories from my youth. Since then I have lived in several places yet, what I believe would be true for most people, that first one’s memories are the most vibrant in my mind. So much had happened there that formed the person I am today. From the neighbors to my friends from the block, it was essentially growing up with an extra large family. Was I sad when the time came to move out from it? You bet it was, however it never left from inside of me. Certain things I did to the next place were done in such a way to mimic those things left behind. Looking back, the transition may have started out hard but it was not as traumatic as it was for the sisters in this comedy. Coming home to visit their parents sisters Maura and Kate Ellis, played by Amy Poehler (They Came Together, Parks and Reactions-TV) and Tina Fey (Muppets Most Wanted, Admission), discovered the home they grew up in was up for sale. Before the house was to be sold the sisters decided they had to do something that would create an everlasting memory. There is no denying Tina and Amy work extremely well together; they have so much history between them. Besides them and some of their old cast mates from SNL like Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Grown Ups franchise) as Brinda, there was Dianne Wiest (Footloose, I Am Sam) and James Brolin (Catch Me if You Can, Marcus Welby, M.D.-TV) as Deana and Bucky Ellis. All the actors were fine for this picture. But I have to tell you this movie was a mixed bag. There was a mixture of fun zaniness, witty sarcastic dialog and off the wall humor; however, there were stretches where things became crude and silly. I did not think the story was all that original. It was easy to figure out what sight gag was about to happen or joke told. Because of who the two main stars were, this film needed a much stronger script. I did not have a problem leaving the theater after the movie ended.
One of the more important acts a parent can instill in a child is the love of reading. There is an art in reading a book to a child. As the words get spoken, images begin to form and take shape in the little one’s mind. Stimulating the brain this way, sets the foundation for an active imagination to grow in the child. A blanket once draped around the shoulders becomes a cape that enables the child to fly from room to room. Spreading that same blanket out on the floor then repeatedly lifting it up and down in waves turns the living room floor into a choppy sea filled with a school of gigantic whales. Once the blanket goes still it becomes the launching pad for today’s rocket launch. Who hasn’t as a kid carried around some item that was special only to them? For me it started out with a stuffed monkey for several years and then my attention was drawn to retractable ballpoint pens. They were my fleet of spaceships that were constantly firing at each other by me clicking and unclicking them. Memories of my childhood, that had been lying dormant, flourished up into my consciousness while watching this sweet and joyful family comedy. COMING from Peru to England Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, I’m not There), found shelter with a lovely family. Mary and Henry Brown, played by Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, Blue Jasmine) and Hugh Bonneville (The Monuments Men, Downton Abbey-TV), agreed to take in the bear for one night. What could possibly go wrong? This movie was an absolute treat, harking back to a civilized and charming time. I mean this in two ways: as a story line and as a movie watching experience. It was obvious this was a group effort because the entire cast from the characters Sally and Hugh played to Mrs. Bird and Millicent, played by Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise, Mamma Mia) and Nicole Kidman (The Railway Man, Rabbit Hole), all played their parts to the hilt; you could see they were having so much fun. In turn, I had a great time watching this picture; it had drama, comedy, excitement and suspense that was appropriate for all age levels. Even the special effects that created Paddington were seamless to the point where I actually believed he was standing right there in every scene. I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this film and not getting a smile on their face. It was such a good time for me and when it was done and over I walked out of the theater with my childhood memories playing out before my eyes.
3 1/3 stars
Within the opening scene of this film, I thought the title was aptly chosen. Little did I know the story was going to take me to a different place from what I had imagined. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) played self-destructive Joe Scott, a movie star on the cusp of being considered too old for the film industry. With the news of his childhood friend’s death, Joe reflects on old memories as he prepares to go back to his boyhood home and attend the funeral. In flashback we see a younger Joe, played by Harry Eden (Oliver Twist, Pure), in scenes that laid the foundation for Joe’s future path in life. I found the acting believable and quite good in the dual story line. Also, I was fascinated how the story took a startling turn of events and connected the past with the present. A well done movie that I enjoyed and admired in its depth of story telling. This was the type of movie where afterwards, I sat back and took a look at some aspects of my life to see how they led me on my current path.
2 3/4 stars — DVD