IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LEISURE afternoon ride because it was going to be my first. Mark and I were work friends; we had known each other for a few years. Our social activity together up until this point was sitting together at company functions or going out for drinks after work. One day we were talking, and I mentioned I had never ridden a motorcycle. Without hesitation, he said he rode one and asked me when I would be free to take a ride. We decided he would come pick me up on Saturday. It never occurred to me I needed a motorcycle helmet; but thankfully, Mark brought an extra one with him. Once he went over the safety instructions and told me how to convey a message to him, he had me get up on the bike to get used to it. The motorcycle was heavier than I imagined it to be. He placed the helmet on my head and adjusted the chin strap. With my jacket zipped up to my neck and my leather gloves snug on my hands, I wondered if I looked like Steve McQueen when he was on that motorcycle in the film, “The Great Escape.” WE STARTED OUT EASY WITH MARK sticking to the side streets around my neighborhood. Once I became comfortable, he headed out to the highway. I was not prepared for the bumps in the road which made me bounce off the seat; I kept squeezing my legs tightly around him. The roads he took from the highway were unfamiliar to me; but the scenery was beautiful through the forest we were in. At some point a strange sound came out of the motorcycle and it started slowing down. By the time Mark steered the bike off to the side of the road, the engine had died. He tried a couple of things to restart the motorcycle, but nothing worked. Reaching for his phone, he noticed he was not getting any cellular service for it; I tried mine but with the same results. I was starting to get concerned. Mark decided it would be best to push the bike further into the woods to conceal it, then we would start walking until we could call for help on our phones. While we walked, we started to talk more on a personal level, not the usual work conversation we did. The sun was setting and both of us were thirsty and tired. Luckily, we hit a spot where he could get a call out for help and a friend of his was coming to get us. I was grateful. After the weekend when I returned to work, there was a deeper bond that formed between us where we were no longer work friends; we were simply friends. The main characters in this dramatic movie took a different route. AFTER BEING PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE things quickly escalated in a series of events for Slim and Queen, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Widows) and Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship-TV, Nightflyers-TV). With Bokeem Woodbine (Overlord, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Uncle Earl, Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Mrs. Shepherd and Flea (Baby Driver, The Big Lebowski) as Mr. Shepherd; the story in this film had a familiar theme to it. However, the writers took the story and turned it into something else that totally grabbed me. The chemistry between Daniel and Jodie was thick and rich; I thought she was dazzling in the role. The script provided a clear path where one could connect to it and think about it further even after the picture ended. There were a couple of weaker scenes that did not work for me; but this would be only a minor complaint. My eyes were glued to the movie screen due to the incredible acting, directing and filming of this topical storied movie.
3 ½ stars
SOME OF THE BEST CONVERSATIONS held are the ones between a pet and its owner. I am here to tell you there are a whole bunch of humans who could learn a lesson on communication, if they would watch and listen to owners talking to their pets. First off you would be hard pressed to find someone more compassionate and attentive than a dog or cat. I love both but I must say dogs have more facial expressions and possibly more empathy. Several years ago this happened but it is just as vivid in my mind now as it was when I saw it originally taking place. A friend of mine was going through a crisis; crying while curled up on their sofa. Into the room came their dog who took one look at its owner, came up to the edge of the sofa and jumped up onto a small open space by my friend’s feet. The dog walked behind my friend and plopped itself down between my friend and the back of the sofa, while putting a paw up on his shoulder. I was speechless as I saw the dog placing his head down on my friend’s back and its leg stretched out as far as possible into a hug. SO YOU CANNOT TELL ME OUR pets do not understand our feelings. Simply look into your pet’s eyes and you will find pure love and affection. It is an unconditional love that makes your pet greet you when you get home; even if you were gone for 2 minutes, to them it seems like it was hours. Maybe you have had conversations where you are sharing your feelings with your friend and everything you say elicits a response from them, telling you they experienced the same thing. They may feel they are being compassionate but that does not always produce such results. I know someone who no matter what you say to them they always respond with a story that is worse than the one you told them. It is like they are in competition with you to see who has the most serious ailment or hardship. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and that is where pets make the perfect attentive listeners. They never judge us; all they want to do is love us. Though I have been focusing on dogs and cats, this film festival winning drama will show you another pet that helps someone through a crisis. WITH HIS LIFE IN TURMOIL CHARLEY, played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, King Jack), finds comfort working at the rundown stables of owner Del, played by Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman). It is here he finds a true friend. Not since the movie My Friend Flicka have I seen such a beautiful connection being made between a boy and a horse. Charlie was nearly mesmerizing in his performance; one could feel his emotions and plight. With Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Bonnie and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn) as Silver; I thought the cast did a wonderful job in bringing this story to life. The minimalist script created a slow and steady unfolding story; it felt like I was watching a novel come to life. I am a sucker for a movie with an animal in it; despite that, this was a worthy piece of work with believable characters who showed a true slice of life. Be prepared to experience your emotions as you watch Charley’s and Pete’s journey.
3 ½ stars
WATCHING the irate customer badger the salesclerk over the rung up price for a box of cereal reminded me of myself. How awful; I saw myself in this belittling loud consumer. Having a storehouse of anger inside of me made me be a walking pressure cooker. One perceived wrong being done to me would set me off, always going over the top since I had a vast amount of anger readily available anytime. As the salesclerk remained calm, though I could see her eyes constantly scanning for a manager, I wondered how many people thought I was a crazy person. On a positive note, if you want to call it that, at least I could observe the situation and acknowledge I used to act that way; grateful that I dealt with my issues and was able to rise above the source of anger. Don’t people say recognizing the issue is the 1st step in the healing process? HAVING the opportunity to grow old allows one to reflect on the multitude of personas they wore in their life. Not too long ago I was talking with a friend, mentioning something about being a former participant in a local group. My friend was taken by surprise because they never pictured me in such an activity. Curious, they asked how that came to be and why I was no longer interested in it. As I shared that part of history with them, I saw myself back in that period of time. I felt like I was talking about a distant relative like a 2nd or 3rd cousin; you know, having a blood connection but far removed to the point where there is a different level of familiarity. One of the pluses of having this type of conversation and reflection is it provides one with validation to what they have become. This dramatic comedy offered me the opportunity to see separate versions of who I used to be. WITH a broken down car in her client’s driveway holistic practitioner Beatriz, played by Salma Hayek (Here Comes the Boom, Once Upon a Time in Mexico), was invited to stay for a dinner party. For some of the guests she was the entertainment. With a cast that included John Lithgow (Miss Sloane, Love is Strange) as Doug Strutt, Connie Britton (American Ultra, Friday Night Lights-TV) as Cathy, Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, Big Love-TV) as Shannon and Amy Landecker (Doctor Strange, A Serious Man) as Jeana; the acting in this movie was excellent. John was the perfect choice for that character. As the story started out I was interested in the activity, particularly once the guests arrived for I found the mix of them familiar ground to my experiences. There were different ways to look at the story; it was easy to plug in variations of the good vs. evil scenario, which I will leave for the viewer to explore. However as the story unfolded I found myself losing interest. There was something lacking for me to the point I was feeling less connected. Honestly my connection to this picture was the opportunity it provided me to reflect on portions of my former life. At the end of the movie I felt unsatisfied. I would have appreciated more intensity and more discussion of philosophies between the characters. Instead I wound up getting annoyed by John’s character (which I thought was intended) and not caring for the ending. This was a mixed bag for me, but I did enjoy the opportunity to do some reflection.
2 ¾ stars
They never had any reason to know each other during their high school years. The closest encounter was when they attended the same class during sophomore year. When it was time for them to graduate, both were excited about going to college because each one was hoping to find someone they could marry. For her she had no real desire to study in the liberal arts; she wanted to be a wife. He on the other hand was looking forward to studying business but was concerned if he could find a suitable wife in his economics and accounting classes. During high school neither did much dating for a variety of reasons; but with college looming, the idea of attending a school with an increased population translated into better opportunities for meeting someone. I did not know either of these individuals personally; we shared common friends. When I heard about each one’s similar story about going to college I did think it was an odd goal, but then again one of my main goals was to attend a college where no one else from my high school was planning to attend. Something that amused me a bit was the fact that I was hearing a similar story from a girl’s and boy’s perspective. I knew from history classes and discussions women many years ago were treated more like property than equals to their husbands. Life was hard; without a means of earning income and becoming independent, I can certainly understand the motivation behind finding someone to marry under the circumstances. It is always a good idea to be aware of how far things have progressed; so if you are in the mood for a wickedly fun history lesson then I suggest you watch this romantic, comedic drama. BASED on a Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice) story this film starred Kate Beckinsale (The Aviator, Underworld franchise) as Lady Susan Vernon, Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, Zodiac) as Alicia Johnson and Morfydd Clark (The Falling, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Frederica Vernon. Set in the 1790s I thought the acting, sets and costumes were all good. Kate especially did well with her memorable character. If you are a Jane Austen fan I feel you will immensely enjoy this movie. I had a hard time with the script. For me there were too many characters to keep track of; I found myself trying to figure out who was related to whom or what was the importance of such and such character. It was bothersome after a while. From my limited exposure to Jane Austen I found this story to be different from the others. There was an underhanded or stronger sense of manipulation from the main character that I don’t recall seeing in her other characters. There was a lot to enjoy about this movie; however, I may be in the minority but there were times where I had wished for the film to end. There is something to be said for seeing how things used to be and it is good to know when they are progressing in the right direction; I only wished this film was more entertaining for me.
2 2/3 stars 3 ¼ stars for Jane Austen fans