I WASN’T AWARE GROWING UP THAT everyone essentially looked the same. Sure, there was different hair and eye colors and I had more poundage on me than most of the kids in the neighborhood who were my age; but essentially, there was nothing blatantly out of the norm. Everyone was or appeared to be in the same socio-economic class. It was not until the middle school years when changes started taking place in the neighborhood. A family had moved in that caused a slight ripple in the fabric of my world. The children were dressed differently compared to the other children in school. It was not like a traditional garb from a foreign country or religion; their clothes were not things you could find in any of the local stores in the area. Instead, the clothes looked homemade. Not that this was a bad thing; it simply made them standout from the other students in school. What I remember most were the lunches they would eat. Where most kids ate a sandwich or brought a cold leftover from home; this family’s siblings had what I would refer to as exotic foods. They had little cups that had various dips in them, along with salad ingredients. Rarely did I ever see them eat a sandwich made with white bread. I wasn’t judging them; I was just curious about their food choices. As far as I knew, no one ever made fun of them. THE FAMILY REMAINED IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD for only a few years. I thought they were fortunate because as the neighborhood continued changing, people’s attitudes started to have a hostile edge to them. I experienced some of it because I was overweight; but there were other students in high school who became targets of students who had extreme views. Their behavior was abusive, and I call it abuse because it always had either a mental or physical angle to it that was always hurtful. There was one student who was short with facial features that were too big for their face. They could be walking down the hallway between classes and get smacked in the back of the head by an unknown assailant. I was called names and experienced physical altercations. School started feeling like a competition; if you could get through the day without being abused or called a nasty name you were a winner. All of this was due to the apparent differences between each of us. The way I saw it, one had to fit into the majority; otherwise, they would be banished to the outskirts of social interactions. It is a topic that remains relevant today, even for the unique family in this animated, comedic family movie. TIRED OF EXPERIENCING HOSTILITY FROM THEIR neighbors, the Addams family found what appeared to be an abandoned building in an idyllic location. However, their differences would eventually leave their mark on the citizens. With Oscar Isaac (Life Itself, Star Wars franchise) voicing Gomez Addams, Charlize Theron (Long Shot, Atomic Blonde) voicing Morticia Addams, Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, The 5thWave) voicing Wednesday Addams, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) voicing Pugsley Addams and Nick Kroll (Uncle Drew, My Blind Brother) voicing Uncle Fester; I stumbled upon the Addams family when I found a book of Charles Addams’ cartoons on a bookstore shelf many years ago. There was a darkness to them; however, it was always displayed in a kind and quirky way. The cast in this film was excellent with voicing their characters. However, I found the script to be mild and not funny at all. Many of the jokes were corny and predictable, though the animation was fine. There was nothing new on display and by the time the script dealt with the true focus of the story, it was quick and lackluster. By that time, I did not care much about the picture as I had to fight from nodding off. I wish the writers would have followed the television show’s theme song and produce something less bland.
FOR YEARS I THOUGHT I WAS JUST a suspicious person, but it turns out I was being instinctive. I used to get teased because out of all my friends I was usually the last person to trust someone. I have no explanation why I was always cautious around new people; maybe, just the things I experienced in life. Though I never thought about this before, I wonder if there is a connection to my biggest pet peeve: telling me you will do something then not doing it. Now ever since I can remember I always would say, “Trust is something a person earns; it is not given out freely.” There is something about a person being “super” sweet that makes me leery. I tend not to trust someone who is always happy; who never shows any other emotion besides happiness. In college I had a friend who grew up in a family where no one talked about their feelings. No matter what was going on in their lives their standard answer was, “I am fine,” or “All is good.” My friend would tell me about some of the issues taking place in the family but on the surface, no one would have ever guessed there was turmoil. THROUGH THE YEARS MY CAUTION AROUND sweet people served me well. There was a woman I used to work with who was on equal footing with me at the company. She appeared to be everyone’s friend; passing out homemade cookies and lending an ear to anyone who wanted to talk. I was not convinced, so I remained careful but cordial around her. She must have thought I was a challenge because the more I kept my distance, the more she would pour on the sweetness. One day she came up to me and asked if I wanted two tickets she had to a concert, because something came up and she would not be able to use them. I thanked her but declined. I do not know if this caused something but as time went on I noticed some of the work information she would give me was incorrect. If I had not been paying attention and checking her work, I would have been turning into my boss the wrong data. It came to a point where I had to confront her, by showing the incorrect information she had given me. She denied making the mistakes, trying to in a kind way blame someone else in her department. I did not believe her and felt good that I had never given her my trust. The same thing took place as I watched this dramatic mystery. RETURNING A LOST HANDBAG TO ITS OWNER found Frances McCullen, played by Chloe Grace Moritz (Let Me In, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), in a position of making friends with the sweet owner of the bag. A sweet older woman named Greta Hideg, played by Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Happy End). Their budding friendship would come with some conditions. This movie also starred Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave, The Guest) as Erica Penn, Colm Feore (Chicago, The Prodigy) as Chris McCullen and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, The Heavy) as Brian Cody. I thought casting Isabelle in this type of role was inspirational, since I consider her an excellent actress. Do not get me wrong; she and Chloe were wonderful, but the script was silly. There were things taking place that I felt were ridiculous. Without any character development the whole story seemed odd. It is too bad because there were a few scenes and surprises that were well done. The only other thing I can say about this picture is it reinforces my belief to be careful around someone who is heavy-handed in doling out the sweetness.
As I walked into the backyard I could see him out the corner of my eye, crouched down and staring intently at me. He did not move until I called out his name. Immediately after hearing me he sprung up and bounded over to the fence that separated our two yards. He was the youngest of my neighbors’ three dogs and knew he would be getting a back rub once I called out his name. I have even seen him get down on all fours as soon as he hears me pull my car into the garage, for he knows I will be coming out the side door and giving him a back rub. While I was massaging him the neighbor happened to come outside to do some yard work. We talked briefly; he caught me up on the latest news around our neighborhood. He also told me they were thinking of putting up a privacy fence around their yard but they wanted to check with me first and see what I thought about it. I told him I did not have a problem but their dog might get upset; we both had a good laugh over my comment. I have to say I have been very fortunate with the neighbors who live around me. We are respectful and mindful of each other; asking each others’ opinions before undertaking a major project or at least letting others know about repairs that could be intrusive for a short time. I have been lucky that I have not experienced any drama, violence or even out of control loud parties when it comes to my neighbors. There is no way I could live in the type of neighborhood that was in this movie. WITH their house on the verge of being sold Mac and Kelly Radner, played by Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, The Interview) and Rose Byrne (Spy, The Meddler), only needed 30 more days before the sale would finally close. Unfortunately a lot can happen when a sorority moves in next door to you. This comedic sequel followed a similar game plan to the first film which involved a fraternity instead. I liked what the writers were trying to do here and credit them for allowing Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment, Dirty Grandpa) as Teddy Sanders to shine with his comedic timing. He surprised me with how well he did in this picture. The trailers unfortunately showed several of the highlights in this film so my reactions to the scenes were somewhat subdued. Most of the humor was made up of sight gags; however, I felt the writers could have gotten more punch out of the story if they would have given more focus to Teddy’s household skills. It seems like Zac’s recent film roles make sure he is in some form of undress during them; maybe the movie studios are hoping it will give them better reviews. Fans into that will not be disappointed with this film. My disappointment was due to the story being pretty predictable and similar to the previous film.
2 1/3 stars
The discovery shocks your system and obliterates the minutia floating in your mind. You only have one focus and that is to find the thing you lost. It is such a horrible feeling when you lose something, I know. I stopped to pick up my paycheck at one health club that was on the way to my cycle class. Parking in their lot I locked the door of my car with the remote lock on my keychain then stuffed the keys in my coat pocket. I ran into the club, stopped at the front desk to say hello, got my check and went back outside. This was all in a matter of minutes. As I was walking towards my car I started to fish my car keys out from my pocket, but there was nothing there. This did not immediately register in my brain because I knew I had put my keys in my coat pocket. I took off my glove and tried again but the pocket was empty. Now my brain fired up with these thoughts: where were my car keys, I had to get to class, my workout clothes were locked in the car, and how I would get the car door open. I retraced every step with my head hung over as I continuously scanned the ground for my keys. Just before I had to turn into the front doors I saw an indentation in the snow. At first glance I thought someone did not pick up after their pet since it was dark against the white snow, enough said. Looking closer it was my keys; they must have fallen out as I was running into the club and I did not hear them drop in the snow. Because of the adrenaline rush by the time I walked into my class I was already exhausted. I do not know how the main character kept going in this science fiction action film. WITH the earth experiencing 4 waves of alien induced calamities Cassie Sullivan, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, Hugo), had only one thing to do and that was to find her brother Sam, played by Zackary Arthur (Transparent-TV). This adventure film was lucky to have Chloe star in it. Also, it was good to have Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, Pawn Sacrifice) play Colonel Vosch. That is all I can say about this dull movie. I sat through most of it trying to figure out which scenes reminded me of previous movies; this was a boring experience. The special effects were nothing special as was the story. Maybe the idea was good but the writers did nothing to distinguish themselves from the previous YA movies of the same genre. Even after reading this you still want to see this picture you better hurry because I believe it will be quickly lost in the mix and I personally would not be upset.
1 2/3 stars
There is a lot of history that can be found in my collection of clothes. I still have this habit I have been trying to break, where I keep clothes even if I do not wear them anymore. From my years where I was struggling with my weight, I was fluctuating between sizes. Back then I had this thought that I should keep the clothes that do not fit because there could be a point in time where they would fit again. So you see no matter what size I was back then I could always find a pair of pants and a shirt that fitted me. I have been the same size for some years now, but I still have these old clothes hanging in closets, in the attic and in the basement. Once in a while I come across an article of clothing that has a story behind it. There was this copper metallic looking pair of jeans I bought just to annoy someone who kept telling me how I should dress. I still have a navy blue, pullover sweater that got its hole in the back when I lost my footing on a mountain trail and slid down until a big rock stopped me. When I am going through my clothing I can look back now with aged eyes at some of the things I had done and wonder what the heck was I thinking back then. I would like to say one gets wiser with age but that may not always be true. INTERNATIONAL celebrity Maria Enders, played by Juliette Binoche (Chocolat, Godzilla), needed time to wrap her head around the idea of starring in a revival of a play she did 20 years ago that made her a star. The only difference this time was the role offered to her was the older character. This award winning drama had genuine power due to its cast. Juliette was outstanding in the role as her character had to face changing times; it was a universal theme that was relatable. The biggest surprise for me was Kristen Stewart (Still Alice, The Runaways) as Maria’s assistant Valentine. This was one of Kristen’s best performances and keep in mind I have not been impressed by her for some time. Rounding out the major players was Chole Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, If I Stay) as Jo-Anne Ellis; she was wonderful, also. The actors were provided with a good amount of substance from the somewhat lengthy script. I felt there were a couple of places that could have been edited out. With some spectacular scenery, good acting and an interesting subject; I felt this movie had some of the good qualities of a fine aged wine. There were several scenes that had French and German spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/3 stars
You may know some who are being shoved to it, kicking and screaming. I personally continue to look for alternative routes to avoid its constant creep towards me. There are some people who run head-on to that point of time where they will finally be considered a grown-up. What is wrong with them? Yes, I know there are many advantages to being an adult; I am not knocking it. I really wish the knowledge I have now in my adult life had come earlier when I was younger. Now you have to admit all those responsibilities that come with being a grown-up can be daunting at times. At some point a majority of us will have to take on the duty of paying bills, maintaining a livable space and cleaning it; though I do not know what all the buzz is about cleaning, the space just gets dirty again. For those who want to have a family, they then extend themselves into child rearing; it never ends! Oh for those times where one could be free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, not having to be accountable to anyone. Looking at the world around us, I have to tell you it really takes courage these days to be an adult. THOUGH she was highly educated Megan, played by Keira Knightley (Begin Again, Anna Karenina) did not have much motivation. When her boyfriend Anthony, played by Mark Webber (The Memory Thief, Scott Pilgrim vs the World), surprised her at a friend’s wedding by getting down on one knee to propose to her, it was too much for Megan to handle. She found herself shortly thereafter at a convenience store where 16 year old Annika, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, If I Stay), and her friends were hanging out looking for someone to buy them alcohol. The two women would start a friendship that would change their lives. Directed by Lynn Shelton (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister) this comedic romance had good potential. Lynn let the actors tell the story in a straightforward way that seemed real to me. The acting was good and I really enjoyed seeing Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back, Seven Psychopaths) playing Annika’s dad Craig. One of the issues I had with this film had to do with the story; there were parts that were too far-fetched for me. I was sitting in my seat thinking that could never happen. Though I enjoyed Lynn’s earlier films, this movie was slow moving. Maybe it needed more exploration of the characters but I felt scenes were starting to repeat themselves with nothing new added. How ironic that I found myself looking at the screen and thinking will these people just grow up already.
2 1/4 stars
I believe everyone has at one time experienced some form of injustice. There are all kinds of injustice; some more powerful than others. How many of us have felt we were unfairly treated by someone in a customer service role, either in person or on a toll free number? I would guess nearly all of us. This type of scenario has more to do with poor training than some form of discrimination. Speaking from personal experience, more times than not if you end the conversation and try again later for someone different they may be able to resolve your issue. You just need to get the person who is better trained. Now there are some forms of injustice that are more serious. The guy walking down the street, minding his own business, when a small group of young adults push him down as they walk by, just because they did not like the way he looked could make you angry. However, there is little you could do without becoming a victim yourself; so you wait until the punks are far enough away to go over and help the fallen man. Having seen more than my share of injustices, I am intimately familiar with the anger that wells up inside and the frustration that takes over because there is not a damn thing I could do to stop it. HAVING left his former ways behind him Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli, The Great Debaters), could not sit back and watch the mistreatment of young Teri, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (If I Stay, Let Me In). His actions would not go unnoticed. I have to give credit to Denzel for putting in a strong performance. In the recent past I felt he was showing us he could act instead of simply acting and in this crime thriller he was very much his character Robert. The other excellent performance was by Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Noah) as Teddy. Visually I found this crime film interesting to watch with its great camera angles; it was a plus for the dynamic fight scenes. Unfortunately the story could not keep the good parts together. With a slow build-up, I found things were getting sillier as the movie progressed. There were some unanswered questions I had by the end of the film which left me somewhat unsatisfied. I can only assume the movie studio is hoping for this to become a franchise. Not that I want to judge the idea unfairly, but if the studio wants to go forward they would need a better script next time. There were several scenes with blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars
You know it is a real love when the person looks past your perceptions of yourself and focuses on what they see in you. It may have started as an infatuation but as time lengthened the love inside of you branched out to form a bond with the other person. The connection taps into each of your reservoirs of dreams and hopes, where the common ones blend together as the single ones wait for that spark of support that will fire them up towards reality. Love brings a person startling powers. Alone, individuals would not willingly place themselves in a situation that would be painful or harmful. However, when in a relationship love spurs the person to take on or at least try to take on their significant other’s pain or suffering. I have had a couple of relationships where the person had an accident or became ill and had to be hospitalized. It was awful to see them incapacitated and in pain. I felt helpless, wishing there was something I could do to ease their agony. It was during those times that I discovered love grows stronger in a health crisis. TRAGEDY would not change the feelings Adam, played by Jamie Blackley (The Fifth Estate, Snow White and the Huntsman); had for Mia, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie, Hugo). A gifted cellist, Mia was on course to follow her dreams when an automobile accident occurred, placing her in a coma. Adam could only hope his love would bring her back. Based on the novel, this dramatic movie had several elements that had the potential to create a moving story. The cast which included Mireille Enos (Gangster Squad, World War Z) as Mia’s mother Kat, Joshua Leonard (Higher Ground, Men of Honor) as her father Denny and Stacy Keach (Nebraska, American History X) as Gramps did the best they could with the script. Ultimately it was not enough because this picture fell flat as the scenes seemed forced and manipulative. The chemistry between Chloe and Jamie never felt strong to me; it only made things worse. One of the big issues I had was the way the story jumped from current time to past memories. They never provided an opportunity for the characters to become more than one dimensional. Compared to this past summer’s movie, “The Fault in Our Stars,” this film was a poor alternative. What made this a less enjoyable experience was the crowd at the theater; it was predominately 13-15 year old girls who were vocal throughout the movie. Geared towards them I just sat in my seat and wondered what would happen to them when they grew up and discovered love in the real world.
1 3/4 stars
It will all depend on what type of experience you had in school to see what you found scary in this horror film remake. If you were poplar, smart, participated in some type of sports activity or involved in any type of club, chances are you will find the bloodshed and killings mortifying in this movie. But if you were picked on, bullied or did not quite fit in with the majority of your classmates; the actions of the students in this drama will be scarier for you. For those of you who read my review of the original film back in the beginning of November 2012, you know this movie has special meaning for me. My high school years were rough; the first week I was punched in the stomach because I was the only student in class who knew the composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Things only got worse for me afterwards. So, I had some hesitation to see this updated version. Chloe Grace Moretz (Hugo, Let Me In) took on the iconic role of Carrie White, the shy quiet student who discovered she had a special talent. I thought Chloe did an admirable job in the role. The issue I had with her version had more to do with the script. I understand I am comparing this film to the original but I feel I should mention it. With this script Carrie came across as being slightly aggressive. Where Sissy Spacek portrayed confusion and shock regarding her special power; this Carrie seemed to relish her secret gift. It gave the gymnasium scene a different attitude in my opinion. Julianne Moore (Don Jon, What Maise Knew), who I think is a wonderful actress, did a crazier version of Carrie’s zealously religious mother Margaret White. The rest of the cast did not stand out for me compared to Julianne and Chloe. I think part of the reason had to do with their characters. Seeing the mean teasing being done to Carrie caused an immediate reaction inside of me. My body kept tensing up as my brain tried going numb, just as it did in high school when I would see one of the bullies walking towards me. If you have never seen the original movie, you might be interested in seeing this one. To be honest with you, I still prefer the original one directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables). There were several scenes where blood was shown.
2 1/2 stars
They walk together in pairs or groups, wearing dark berets upon their heads. I have only seen them a couple of times since they made their presence known in my city. Consisting of volunteers, they are a group of people who hope by being seen they can provide a layer of safety for residents and visitors. I understand and appreciate any non-judgemental person who wants to make their place a safer one. The same goes for people in any type of work that benefits humanity; I am in awe of their desire and dedication to help people feel better. This was one of the reasons the first Kick-Ass movie did so well. Where that movie focused on a couple of ordinary people portraying themselves as superheroes, without the super powers; this action comedy delved into the aftermath of being a hero. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Savages, The Illusionist) once again played Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass. Inspired by the birth of ordinary citizens donning costumes to fight crime, Dave sought out Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (Hugo, Let Me In), to join him and form a crime fighting duo. Little did they know at the same time Chris D’Amico/Red Mist, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Role Models), was reinventing himself to become the world’s first super villain. Part of his mission was to get revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his father. Sadly I cannot tell you what name Red Mist chose for his evil persona, because if I were to put it in print I would be slapped with an obscenity charge. Things were not any better with the story; I found parts of it were mean-spirited. Where the first film was fun and hopeful, this one was vulgar and boring. I cannot believe I am going to say this but the best part of the movie was Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, In Living Color-TV) playing Colonel Stars and Stripes. He brought life to his character. Hit-Girl’s fight scenes were the only other part I enjoyed in this dreadful dud. There was such a good opportunity here to extend the first film’s story and make a decent sequel, with the same endearing characters. Instead they grew up and turned into less interesting people. I have to blame this on the writers. A couple of brief scenes had blood in them.
1 2/3 stars