THE AROMA OF ELEPHANT dung was one of the strongest memories I took away from the circus. I only went to the circus once when I was around 6 years old. To get to our seats we had to walk down a long aisle where the floor was covered in sawdust. Once we were seated I was able to see three rings set up in the arena, with the middle one much larger than the other two. I was excited to be there because all I wanted to see were the tigers. To start the show a tall man dressed in a tuxedo with a top hat walked into a single spotlight that then followed him to the large ring; his amplified voice reverberated throughout the massive arena. From one end of the arena several spotlights pierced the dark and lit up a parade of elephants walking in single file as they made their way around the arena. As they passed where I was seated one of the elephants defecated. Because it happened at the far edge of the arena none of the circus performers noticed what happened, so it remained there for the entire show. MAYBE THAT IS WHY I never wanted to go to the circus after that time. The only type of circuses I will go to today are the ones that are animal free. Even if that elephant had not altered my feelings about the circus I would not go to a circus that used animals for entertainment. For the type of circus events I have attended I get to see humans doing unhuman things; this is the way I describe it, because the performers are doing such spectacular things they almost look as if they are not of earth. There is one particular company that travels around the world, pitching a massive tent in an open space, where the performers are dressed in a variety of costumes and makeup. This is my favorite event to see because at one time I can witness people from all different walks of life, from all different parts of the world, come together and create something magical. I do not know how someone could say anything negative about such an environment. OUT OF WORK AFTER the company he worked at went bankrupt Phineas Taylor Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman (Pan, Logan), had an idea. It was an idea that sounded crazy but he did not care what people said, he was willing to take the chance. This musical, dramatic biography also starred Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) as Charity Barnum, Zac Efron (Baywatch, Dirty Grandpa) as Phillip Carlyle, Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, K.C. Undercover-TV) as Anne Wheeler and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Despite the Falling Snow) as Jenny Lind. The look of this film was wonderful; I thought the sets and costumes were a perfect fit. As for the music written by the same writers who did La La Land, I thought it was much better in this picture; I can actually remember a few of the songs. Sadly despite the decent acting the script failed this film. You got these big, beautiful song and dance numbers connected with a weak script that lacked emotion. I felt a disconnect between the drama of the singing with the acting parts. There was such a timely message to the story that I wished would have been explored more in hopes of connecting everyone together. I would not say this circus movie reminded me of the smelly circus I went to as a kid, but this film could have used a bit of air freshener to make it a better show.
2 ¼ stars
When I read Reese Witherspoon (This Means War, Legally Blonde) reached out and offered her friend Robert Pattinson (Twilight franchise, Remember Me) use of a remote home of hers, to keep the paparazzi away during the rough time he was having with his cheating girlfriend; I wanted to check out this movie where the two actors worked together. Based on the popular novel by Sara Gruen, Robert portrayed Jacob Jankowski the former veterinarian student that dropped out of Cornell when his parents were killed, leaving him penniless and homeless. With no family or attachments to hold him back, Jacob one night snuck onto a passing train while he was walking the rails. No ordinary freight train, this was the train of a traveling circus owned by the unpredictable August, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, The Three Musketeers). The circus’ star attraction was August’s wife Marlena, played by Reese Witherspoon (This Means War, Legally Blonde). For me, the star of this movie besides Rosie the elephant was Christoph; perfect playing a maniacal, jealous, ruthless character. Robert did a good job with his role; gratefully I did not see any of his Twilight’s Edward acting in this role. Though Reese looked the part, I found her acting was sadly lacking. This may explain why there was little chemistry between her and Robert, something that was needed to carry this beautiful story along. I thought the film looked wonderful, giving a true sense to the period of time the story took place. It was nice that Reese and Robert maintained a friendship after this movie was made; I just wish they could have had more sparks between them, to keep up with Christoph.
2 2/3 stars — DVD