I FELT SAD FOR HER PATIENTS, wondering what it must be like to have her as their therapist. She was a neighbor of mine and granted I did not know much about her, but I heard a lot of talk about her. From the few times I had interactions with her, I felt she had an edge. You know that energy that comes off a person that is stark and harsh, sensing it might shock you like static electricity? Well, she had it in spades. I never saw her smile; only having seen a sour look on her face. She had piercing eyes, but they did not look happy to me. They didn’t have that spark of life in them, only a brown dullness. When she said she was a therapist I was stunned because never had I felt a warm fuzziness from her. At least a sense of empathy; I could not imagine what time of “bedside manner” she must have had with her patients. I mean seriously, even her dog was not friendly. It was always barking at anyone who came near it and I knew it was not a friendly bark because the tail was not wagging. I had heard several things about her from other neighbors who had a run in with her. Some of the complaints were: she didn’t pickup after her dog, she never acknowledged any of them with a hello when their paths crossed on the street or at the grocery store and she took up two spaces when she parked her car. Seriously, I had no idea how she psychoanalyzed someone. MAYBE I AM GUILTY AS OTHERS by stereotyping what a therapist should look like; I am not sure. I do not believe I am alone in assuming certain people gravitate to certain professions. I remember riding the train into the city and having a conversation with the individual next to me. When I mentioned I was a fitness instructor, they looked at me and said right to my face, “You do not look like an instructor. Don’t they usually have muscles and are more on the slim side?” I was dumbfounded. All I did was give a slight chuckle and tell him there were no body requirements to teach fitness because we deal with the entire body, not just making muscles. I am not sure he got it, but it did not matter to me. It is funny because I make a point of telling a new class that I am not a typical fitness instructor; I do not just eat broccoli and tofu and live at the gym. I tell them I would like to sit at home, eating a pizza; but know I must balance out that desire by helping my body maintain all its functions. Then I add by doing this work now I hope I delay having to depend on someone or something to help me function in my daily life. If nothing else, I pride myself on being different and that is one of the reasons I especially enjoyed watching this dramatic thriller because that was the reason the main character was asked to help his country. DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD war, a British salesman was asked to go on a sales call to the Soviet Union. Hopefully he would be able to make a contact. With Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) as Greville Wynne, Merab Ninidze (My Happy Family, Jupiter’s Moon) as Oleg Penkovsky, Rachel Brosnahan (I’m Your Woman, Patriot’s Day) as Emily, relative newcomer James Schofield as Cox and Anton Lesser (Miss Potter, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bertrand; this historical film based on a true story was a good old fashioned suspense picture. I was attracted to the methodical pacing of the story as well as to the whole look of the film. The acting was excellent as I felt like an insider to that era’s crisis. Another reason why I enjoyed this film was specifically due to not having any special effects or product placements from a marketing department; I simply enjoyed hearing and watching a story, albeit an important story.
3 ¼ stars
PIZZA IS ONE OF my favorite foods; I love pizza. Except for 2 pizzas, one from an independent stand alone restaurant and one from a national chain, I have not met a pizza I did not like. For me pizza is that type of food that can be eaten at any meal and then some. Cold pizza in the morning is just as good to me as a fresh out of the wood burning oven kind for lunch or dinner. With some friends or family members I have no problem ordering one large pizza for the 2 of us since we have similar tastes in toppings; and if not, we can just ask to add or subtract the differing topping off one side of the pizza. On the other hand there are some people I go out with where they have to get their own pizza because there is nothing I like about their topping choices and they will not strip their pizza down just to a basic cheese so we can share it. RECENTLY I WAS OUT to dinner with a friend who ordered a pizza that looked like an abomination to me. It was a chipotle pizza with sausage and ranch dressing, extra ranch dressing I might add. Yuck, it looked horrible but here is the thing; they only know I do not like those toppings because I do not make a scene. I do not grab my neck with both hands showing the universal sign for choking or start gagging just as the pizza is placed on the table. Do you know why I do not make a scene? It is because they have just as much right to love their pizza toppings as I do with my choices. I am not going to taste their pizza and get indigestion or heartburn; their pizza has no affect on my choices in pizzas or how my body interacts with it. Seriously who am I, or for that matter who is anybody, to force their personal tastes on another pizza lover. I say go ahead and dig into whatever pizza makes you happy; I am not here to judge you. I am glad you have love in your heart for pizza because our ability to love is one of our greatest assets. IN THE MIDDLE OF the cold war during the 1960s, the United States had a secret laboratory where they had in their possession something the Soviet Union desperately wanted to get. No one knew there was someone working at the lab who was also interested in this special cargo. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth), this film festival winner starred Sally Hawkins (Never Let Me Go, Maudie) as Elisa Esposito, Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Midnight Special) as Richard Strickland, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Gifted) as Zelda Fuller, Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, LBJ) as Giles and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Steve Jobs) as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler. Everyone in the cast did an outstanding performance; Sally and Michael truly are a gift to filmdom. I was absolutely taken away into this beautiful and meaningful film. Almost every scene allowed the viewer to have an emotional response and I loved the message that I interpreted from the script. It should be obvious I was totally into this dramatic, adventure fantasy and all I ask of you is if you plan on seeing what I feel will be a multiple award nominated picture this season then go into this movie with an open heart.
“ACT LIKE A LADY,” what does that exactly mean? I always found it an odd comment because I had never seen or heard about a primer that explained how girls and boys were supposed to act. Sure I remember when I was a child boys played with toy soldiers, guns and baseball bats; while girls played with stuffed animals, tea sets and dolls. There was a young girl who enjoyed playing with trucks, the bigger the better. I can still remember the odd looks some adults would give her as if she was doing something wrong. I used to babysit some of my female relatives and play house with them; it never occurred to me to tell them boys don’t play house or host a dinner party. If that is what they wanted to play or if they wanted to play cards I did not care. However, I was aware that out among my friends I could be teased for it. FAST forward to current times and there now seems like there is a push by people, companies and such to praise women, to show how progressive they have become. Now do not get me wrong, I am all for putting a spotlight on anyone who deserves it; however, some of these campaigns ring false to me. A company has formed a women’s group to promote female employees; yet they still do not get the same pay scale as their male counterparts. A film comes out with a strong female lead but studio executives still treat some of their female staff in an inappropriate way. It bugs me when people assign a label to their friends or co-workers. For example statements like, “my black friend” or “my gay co-worker;” do we really need to classify an individual? Isn’t a friend just your friend or does one choose their friends to fit a specific category? For those who want to try and classify the main character in this action thriller you will have a hard time figuring out what to say. SENT to Berlin to retrieve a secret list MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, played by Charlize Theron (Dark Places, Mad Max: Fury Road), was a target even before she landed. Based on the graphic novel series “The Coldest City” the cast also included James McAvoy (X-Men franchise, Split) as David Percival, Eddie Marsan (Sherlock franchise, Ray Donovan-TV) as Spyglass, John Goodman (Love the Coopers, Kong: Skull Island) as Emmett Kurzfeld and Toby Jones (Captain America franchise, Tale of Tales) as Eric Gray. Hands down this was Charlize’s film all the way. She simply was a beast in this picture. The fight scenes looked graphically real and Charlize must have gone through intense hand to hand combat training because it showed. I had read afterwards she did over 90% of all the stunts. The soundtrack was an important part to the script, but here is the downside to it. The script was confusing and not as strong as it could have been. I did not mind the jumping back in forth in time but would have preferred less of it. Regardless I felt this was at times an intense, mysterious, all out thriller that did not need to be defined as a male or female film; it was an equal opportunity battle. There were scenes with blood and strong violence.
They bulge out like wide fish eyes skimming the sea’s surface of ceiling tiles. You see them everywhere now, those security cameras encased in smoky dark glass globes. Some places do not even bother making them inconspicuous; they hang up the actual cameras on the walls or have them dangling down from the roof like machine gun turrets. It seems no matter where you turn someone is watching you. Generally it does not bother me; what do I care if someone is watching me pump gasoline into my car or buying kitchenware for a dinner party. However, I just heard on the news this week some financial institution is working on a payment system that only requires the payer to send a selfie of their face. Yuck, the idea turns my stomach. There are already too many people taking selfies or videotaping themselves and everything around them, that I do not need to see more people doing in now. If you do not think security issues are taking a bigger role around you just look at all the crime and detective shows on television; so many of them use high tech surveillance devices that it boggles the mind. If you look at this on an international scale, high tech methods seem to be the norm when it comes to espionage and warfare. Imagine those government officials who worked at a time where being a spy was a more physical job, where one had to secretly tail a suspected individual instead of through the internet. For you Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew readers, you know what I am talking about; for everyone else, see how it was done in this dramatic biographical film. RECRUITED by the CIA to negotiate the release of a captured U2 spy plane pilot by the Soviet Union; insurance lawyer James B. Donovan, played by Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), did not want his morals compromised by the clandestine operations and negotiations unfolding around him. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln), this film festival winning drama once again showed why Steven is a master storyteller. The way the story started out in an unassuming way then began building on top of itself; the viewer had no choice but to be drawn into the exciting tension. Along with Alan Alda (The Aviator, Tower Heist) as Thomas Watters Jr and Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl, Angels and Insects) as Rudolf Abel, who could be nominated for best supporting actor as Rudolf Abel, the acting was outstanding. The way the filming was shot allowed small scenes to be just as important as the major dramatic ones. I truly felt as if I was getting a glimpse into a past world where all of this type of spy work was the norm during the cold war. As I walked out of the theater and into the lobby I am sure who ever was behind the security camera above my head saw my wide satisfied smile.
3 1/2 stars
I called it a goal; my friends said it was an obsession. When I planned this movie review site I decided I wanted to do one movie review a day for the entire year. No matter what holiday, in sickness and in health, even on vacation; I planned to write a new film review each and every day for 365 days. And you know what, I did it. Trust me when I tell you it was not always easy. I remember leaving many social functions to race home and get a review posted. Even after working all day then teaching at night, my classes would even ask me what movie I was reviewing that evening and I would tell them only the title, for they would have to wait until I got home to write it. I never considered this an obsession, though I could see where some people would question my sanity. It was more like a challenge and I wanted to be able to say I posted movie reviews for an entire year. After reaching my goal I have to be honest I was relieved. It was getting to me especially on weekends; trying to figure out the logistics to post reviews, going to movies, meeting friends and family for a meal or activity was driving me to exhaustion. That is when I decided to take the weekends off from writing and if something came up during the week where I could not get a review posted to not beat myself up for it. So you see I do not think I have an obsession, though I know there could be a fine line between it and reality. DURING the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union a battle was brewing over a chess match between American chess prodigy Bobby Fisher, played by Tobey Maguire (Labor Day, Seabiscuit), and world chess champion Boris Spassky, played by Liev Schreiber (A Perfect Man, Fading Gigolo). Based on a true story this biographical drama had a compelling story that revealed more than I remembered about the chess games. I thought the acting was spot on, including Peter Sarsgaard (Black Mass, Flightplan) as Father Bill Lombardy; however the script was somewhat flawed. Where I wanted to sympathize with Bobby’s plight, I felt the script made him out to simply be an arrogant, hard to get along with hole. The scenes were setup in such a way to provide a good dose of tension, but as the movie progressed I grew tired of Bobby’s rants. Maybe they did happen in real life, but I did not find enough background story to the characters. It just seemed as if we were seeing the same “craziness” over and over with little explanation. At the end of the film I came away wondering where Bobby placed on that fine line between an obsessive genius and insanity.
2 3/4 stars
She could be so vindictive even while serving you buttered toast. I do not want to say she was untouchable, but she was essentially the only one who knew how to operate the outdated billing system at the company. By today’s standards she would have been written up by her manager multiple times; I was one of her victims having been on the receiving end of a spiteful attack. I had done nothing wrong in my dealings with this one customer; however, while she was on the switchboard she added some extra lines to the message the customer left for their salesperson. She made it look like I had been verbally abusive with the customer. Luckily I kept detailed notes about all my accounts, so her plan did not hit me full force. I will tell you I was furious and spent a long week dealing with my anger at her, devising imaginative plots of revenge. Each plan I came up with became more outrageous as my anger increased, even though I knew I would not act on any of them. But do you know what I did instead? I took my anger and started working harder at my job, soliciting more conversations from my contacts, to strike up a sense of familiarity between us. As time passed my efforts paid off and I was promoted to a bigger position. I became that employee’s boss. You are probably thinking I made her life a living hell, but I did not. Though I remained wary of her, I kept close tabs on her since we had to work together. Sort of the same thing the 2 agents had to do in this action adventure film. DURING the cold war a new threat emerged that could become more powerful than the United States or Soviet Union. CIA agent Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill (Immortals, Man of Steel), and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror, The Lone Ranger), would have to work together if they were to succeed in their mission. Based on the 1960s television series there were parts of this film that were fun and entertaining. With a slick stylized look to the movie I enjoyed some of the banter that took place between the two agents. However, I did not care for the story much; it seemed choppy and uneven to me. The fight scenes only seemed to enhance this point; I did not like the way they were filmed for the most part. Throughout the picture it appeared to me everything was being laid out as an overture to what would become the main movie, the possible sequel. This felt like a trial run of a story so I will try to keep an open mind if the film studio decided to do another one.
2 1/2 stars