THE QUESTIONING DIED DOWN AFTER A short time. It was a good thing since it was starting to annoy me. I had a friend who on the surface was a complete opposite of me; several of my friends would keep asking me why I was friends with him. I realized he came across as gruff to some people, with an air of indifference. Between the two of us we were different politically and religiously. We were complete opposites when it came to exercise and healthy food choices. Where I tried to exercise 5-6 days a week, he never did any physical activity where he would have to exert himself. In fact, the last time he actually exercised was back when he was a student in high school, where it was a mandatory requirement. I could see why my friends would think the two of us had nothing in common; however, they never took the time to really get to know him like I had done. Now granted, I did not push for all of us to get together and hang out. I do not know if you do this with your friends; but I tend to get together with my friends either on a one to one basis or in small groups. When there is a large group, I feel I do not get to catch up completely with friends’ lives. Also, the larger a group the more chances there will be personality conflicts. THOUGH IT APPEARED THERE WAS NOTHING in common between this friend and me; we got along great. There was a deep, sweet kindness inside of him that many people never got to see because they could not get past his abrupt manners. That was one of the things I liked about him; he would tell it like it is without soft-pedaling any of it. We would have these lengthy, philosophical conversations about a variety of topics that were stimulating to me. We did not always agree on things; but the key was both of us respected the other’s opinions. Neither him nor I had to accept each others’ opinions, but we both had respect for them. Not that I want to paint this perfect picture of two friends totally in synch, because there were times we got on each other’s nerves. The key to a successful friendship, at least according to me, is to be respectful, loyal and unconditional. One cannot pick out the pieces we like in a friend and discard the rest; they must accept their friend unconditionally and simple love them. If you care to see how this works, then feel free to watch this film festival nominated, comedic drama. WITH ONE NEIGHBOR LIVING ABOVE THE other, both men fell into a friendship that had its routines. That is until one of the neighbors was given hard medical news about his health. With Mark Duplass (Creep, The One I Love) as Michael, Ray Romano (The Big Sick, The Irishman) as Andy, Christine Woods (Stray, Adult Interference) as Doctor Hagen, Jen Sung (The Happytime Murders, Battle of the Damned) as Master Liu and Sierra Fisk (Piranha 3DD, The Concessionaires Must Die!) as Olive; this movie had a slow start. Not that this was entirely a bad thing because the acting between Mark and Ray was so solid, I was able to connect to the two neighbors during this slow part. The last half of the film made up for the beginning part. I felt the story and the script was done in a real and believable way that made the scenes convincing to me. The humor was gentle, never looking to create belly laughs for the viewer. In a way, I found the ending treated the subject matter in an authentic way that was touching and loving. And that was the beauty in watching this picture; one did not need to have experienced such a scenario to be moved by it.
IF HE HAD NOT SAID ANYTHING to me, I would not have given it a second thought. My friend was expressing how his dad could never make the parent/teacher conferences because of his work. I was not aware it bothered him since there were many students who came to these meetings with only one parent. When I mentioned this to my friend, he told me he just wanted his father to show up once to one of his school functions; that his dad worked all the time. I thought about this for a minute and realized I might have only seen his father once or twice at the most through all the years we have been friends. Mentioning this to my friend, he told me his dad only thought about his job and how he could advance himself. According to my friend his dad was driven by this one thought; he did not think of anything else but what he could do to get promoted and earn more money. I felt sad for my friend; it was like he had an absentee father because within our conversation my friend told me his dad missed family birthdays, anniversaries and even some holiday get togethers. There was nothing I could say to make him feel better. THE THINGS HE SAID TO ME about his dad were not unfamiliar to me; I have known several people, including myself, who were driven by a single-mindedness to reach their goals. When I started teaching fitness, I pretty much put myself on call to make myself available when anyone needed a sub to teach their class. Rarely would I ever request a sub; I felt it was my job, so I needed to be there to teach class. There were many occasions when I could not join my friends and family in a celebration because it was my time to teach. I know my one mindedness had an affect on my relationships. Some of the people I dated ended our relationship with the excuse I was not easily available to them. At the time it was hurtful to hear because I could not see things through their eyes. I felt they were essentially asking me to choose between them and my job. Now granted, though fitness was my part time job I treated it with the same importance as my full time one. There were instructors who did not have an issue taking off time from teaching whenever they felt like it; I could not do it, that is how driven I was with teaching. After many years, I now finally understand I was not seeing the big picture of my life; I was out of balance. It was the same, I felt, for the main character in this musical comedy. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED TO LARS CRICKSSONG, played by Will Ferrell (Downhill, Holmes & Watson), then to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. His singing partner and family were certainly aware of his drive, even if they did not understand it. With Rachel McAdams (A Most Wanted Man, Game Night) as Sigrit Ericksdottir, Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, The Guest) as Alexander Lemtov, Mikael Persbrandt (In a Better World, The Hobbit franchise) as Victor Karlosson and Pierce Brosnan (Some Kind of Wonderful, Mama Mia! franchise) as Erick Erickssong; this movie could have used some fine tuning. I am not a fan of Will Ferrell; for me, he was doing a role that he has been doing since his Saturday Night Live days. There was nothing new or fresh about his character. On the other hand, Rachel was impressive; her comedic timing, acting and possible singing voice hit the right notes for me. Dan Stevens was another standout for me; he was crazy good in this role. There were patches where the story and script were amusing; but then there were times where things felt flat. Gratefully these 2 actors hit the right notes and made this movie easier to watch for me.
2 ½ stars
THERE WAS ONLY ONE BRIGHT SPOT for me in that transitional period between summer vacation and the new school year. It was the day when I would get my new school supplies. Up until that day, I loved the freedom of summer vacation. In the early years, I had to endure summer camp programs. There were some I enjoyed but most of them did not interest me. My biggest accomplishment out of all my camp experiences was building a wooden coat rack that I painted in vibrant colors. Once I outgrew the summer camp phase, I was free to hang out with my friends every day. The only part of the day when I was indoors was at lunchtime; otherwise, if I was not playing with my friends, I was either climbing trees or riding my bicycle. As we rolled into the month of August, I started counting the days before I had to go back to school. I also counted how many days until I could go pick out my new school supplies. In one of my earlier reviews, I told you about my obsession with pencil sharpeners; they were always the first item I would pick out at the store. Next item to find were spiral notebooks; I always tried to get left-handed ones because the wire spiral always got in my way when writing. All that was left to get afterwards were pens, pencils and a pencil bag/box to store them. TIMES HAVE CERTAINLY CHANGED AND I NOW understand why all school kids are wearing backpacks. The list of items children must bring to school currently is unbelievable to me. A friend of mine showed me the list she received from her son’s school and I could not get over what has become the responsibility of the child, or should I say of the parents since more than likely they are paying for it. Besides the pens, notebooks and such; the child must bring a box of facial tissues, three rolls of paper towels, a container of cleaning wipes and a ream of computer paper. These along with the rest of the items on her list I found perplexing; since when did the responsibility of facial tissues and paper towels fall on the child? Every company and store that has a bathroom provides these items for their employees and customers; but schools no longer provide, what I consider, these essential items?!?! Are school districts’ budgets so deep in debt that they cannot afford such standard things? I feel the educational system deserves enough funds to properly provide all the tools to create the best learning experience for each child; teachers have such an important role that they should not have to go without or worse, spend their own money to provide items that the class needs. What is wrong with this picture? This crime comedy might explain one of the issues. DETERMINED TO MOVE TO THE TOP POSITION a school district in New York would spare no expense to make their goal a reality. The only problem was they did not know what they were paying for. With Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner, X-Men franchise) as Frank Tassone, Allison Janney (Hairspray, Mom-TV) as Pam Gluckin, Ray Romano (The Irishman, The Big Sick) as Big Bob Spicer, Welker White (Eat Pray Love, Cedar Rapids) as Mary Ann and Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Miracle Workers-TV) as Rachel Bhargava; this story inspired by true events excelled due to the wonderful cast. Everyone fit well into their character and carried the script that needed help in the beginning. The story started out slow for me and though I enjoyed the dark humor/satire, things did not pick up until we got near the midpoint. Not that the first half was boring; it just needed a little more punch and back story to come up to the level of the 2ndhalf of the film. The story as depicted was outrageous; I cannot imagine what that school district could have done for the students if it had known what was going on.
THE TRIP WAS ALREADY PAID FOR and I guess there was also a hope that a change of venue would smooth things out. Our relationship had gone into a tailspin just prior to our planned vacation. We had a discussion about whether it made sense for us to even go on a trip since we were experiencing hurt feelings and mistrust; but at the last moment, we decided since we were both miserable we might as well be miserable in a warmer climate instead of being stuck at home in the middle of winter. Honestly, I was good with the plan if for no other reason I would not have to shovel snow for a week. The other reason we agreed to continue with out plans was because we had already purchased tickets to see one of our favorite performers, who had a scheduled stop on their concert tour in the same place. How ironic then when we got there we found out the concert had been cancelled due to illness. Without the concert being something to look forward to, we had a miserable time. There was nothing else to look forward to on the trip and though we tried to patch things up, my pain would not heal. We flew back home with little conversation between us; 2 years of a relationship had come to an end. IN SOME OF MY PAST RELATIONSHIPS, there were times where an outside event had a strong impact on the two of us. Negative or positive, the fact we were experiencing it together helped clear the air of any grievances we happened to be experiencing at the moment. I do not exactly know why a strong outside event can have such an impact, but my guess is the handling together of a tough or let me say eye opening situation forges a bond between the 2 parties; it will either help solidify the bruised relationship or it will become a wedge to totally pry apart the individuals. I had a friend who was in a relationship that had the usual give and take. At one point they were going through a low point that extended beyond their usual durations. Sadly, an older relative that the 2 were quite fond of passed away. Their death brought the two back together in a stronger way, like never before; at least as far I as I had seen. As of today they are still together and appear as happy as ever. Seeing what was happening with the couple in this comedic crime action film, I was not sure they would get to the same place. WITH THEIR RELATIONSHIP BREAKING APART AFTER a few years together, a couple find themselves on the wrong side of the law when a bike messenger crashes down onto their car’s windshield. The only way they can save themselves was to find out who killed the messenger. With Issa Rae (The Photograph, Little) as Leilani, Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Stuber) as Jibran, Paul Sparks (Midnight Special, Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Moustache, Anna Camp (The Help, Pitch Perfect franchise) as Edie and Kyle Bornheimer (Marriage Story, The Big Wedding) as Brett, what made this film watchable and enjoyable was the connection between the two leads, Issa and Kumail. Their timing was in synch as was their believability. I thought they carried the weak script and did the best they could with it. There were several goofy scenes that did not make much sense, along with coming together in a choppy way at times. However, I was forgiving since the time spent was a short distraction from being at home and watching Issa and Kumail go through their scenes sometimes got a chuckle out of me.
2 ¼ stars
THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls. THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy. ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.
HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SOME PASSENGER side auto mirrors have the warning “OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” written on them? I always appreciated the warning and wish that warning would be written on many consumer products. I recently bought skin cream that looked like it was large enough to warrant the higher price. When I got home and opened it, I discovered half of the box size was added packaging. The bottle I took out, I kid you not, was the size of a kiwi; its box was the size of an energy drink can. I was not happy because first, the product was so small for the price and second, the packaging was wasteful and unnecessary; not all of it was even recyclable. This is why I wish that warning would be placed on stuff like this. How many times have you bought a packaged food item like a frozen meal or box of cookies, and when you opened it the stuff inside did not look like the picture on the front of the package? Don’t you find it annoying? And it is funny, when I bought the skin cream, on a friend’s recommendation; I thought the box was too light when I lifted it off the rack. I should have gone with my gut feeling that something was not right, that things did not appear, as they seemed. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I GONE AHEAD and done something even though my gut feeling was warning me? The only thing I can say about it is I am grateful I pay more attention to it now than when I was younger. It comes down to trust I believe; one needs to have the confidence to trust their instincts/feelings and act upon them. I remember a friend of mine who introduced me to their new boyfriend and I immediately got a negative vibe from him. As it turned out, my friend soon discovered what I had felt about the guy a few months prior wound up being accurate. The relationship soon ended after the boyfriend’s true self came out. We talked about the boyfriend afterwards and I found out my friend had gotten a weird vibe when they first met, but did not act upon it. My friend thought they had to be mistaken and did not trust their instincts. See? What did I tell you; it comes down to having confidence and that is something not everyone gets automatically. As an example, today’s film had such an interesting title and description that I decided to take a chance by watching it. FOR DECADES THE TIBETAN MONK WITH NO NAME, played by Yun-Fat Chow (The Replacement Killers; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has been protecting the sacred scroll. Seeking out someone worthy enough to replace him, the monk had a feeling about the man who picked his pocket. This film festival nominated action comedy also starred Sean William Scott (American Pie franchise, Role Models) as Kar, Jaime King (Sin City franchise, White Chicks) as Jade, Karel Roden (The Bourne Supremacy, Orphan) as Strucker and Victoria Smurfit (The Beach, About a Boy) as Nina. This fantasy film had an interesting title and premise. I enjoyed Yun-Fat Chow’s role the most but overall I felt this picture was a fantasy wannabe. The humor stayed mostly on the low end of the spectrum, as the special effects were dated. On the other hand this story came across as a hodgepodge of snippets from other movies; so, in a way the story was silly enough that made watching it easier for me. If we did not have a stay at home order in place, I do not know if I would have even reviewed this film. But I will tell you, I had nothing else going on so sitting and watching it was not the worse thing I had done all week. My gut feeling was correct about this fantasy film.
1 ¾ stars — DVD
AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED the best way to learn about someone is to talk to her or him face to face. Words are important, but seeing a person’s eyes and hearing the inflection in their voice are just as valuable. Before dating incorporated online activity, one had the choice to call the person on the telephone or arrange to meet somewhere. Don’t laugh but earlier times involved writing a letter. I enjoyed talking on the phone to someone I was interested in initially, because I felt it allowed both people to feel more comfortable. There wasn’t the added pressure of deciding what to wear or making sure the breath was good or the hair was not sticking out or checking to make sure there was no food stuck between any teeth; for some people these were important details. In my younger days when I went out on a date it usually involved sharing a meal to start off the conversation. Restaurants provided extra subject matter to a conversation, especially if the conversation had lulls in it. On a first date I tried to avoid doing an activity with a set time like a movie or concert. The reason being it did not provide a space to continue any type of meaningful conversation, not to say there always needed to be; but to sit in a dark theater for a couple of hours with someone I barely knew seemed weird to me. HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THOSE in the dating world now. And I cannot even imagine how dating will look once states begin to open up. Let me start prior to the pandemic; there are more options now for those who want to meet someone than when I was starting out in the dating world. With online dating services and apps a person can see whom they would like to meet. I remember talking with a friend about an online dating service and telling him a good bio is the catalyst to get someone to click on your profile. Some people prefer using the apps where they simply swipe to the left of right to show interest in another person. The thing I wonder about is what is going to happen now once the stay at home orders are lifted; how will an individual be able to meet someone? Looking at the children of my peers, I cannot imagine what a person would have to go through to date someone. Would the two individuals have to take their temperatures or answer a series of questions? It is going to be a whole different world and that is why I enjoyed watching this film festival winner’s take on the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac. KNOWN FOR WRITING GRADE A SCHOOL PAPERS for a fee, high school football player Paul Musky, played by Daniel Diemer (Family Pictures-TV Movie, Sacred Lies-TV), was willing to pay anything to have fellow student Ellie Chu, played by Leah Lewis (Station 19-TV, Nancy Drew-TV), write a love letter to a girl he was interested in. Writing about love was not Ellie’s forte. With Collin Chou (The Matrix franchise, The Forbidden Kingdom) as Edwin Chu, Alexis Lemire (The Art of Murder-TV Movie, Truth or Dare-TV Movie) as Aster Flores and Wolfgang Novogratz (Assassination Nation, Sierra Burgess is a Loser) as Trig Carson; this romantic comedy spun a fresh take on the old story. I though the cast was excellent, especially Leah and Daniel. Despite having a few misfires in several scenes, there was a certain charm and sweetness to this picture. Also, I enjoyed the humor that was infused into the story. This film can stand proudly in the way it delivered a solid movie watching experience and who knows, someone may learn the importance of the written word.
AT PRESENT MY SUPERPOWER IS THE ability to withstand high heat. However, when I was a little kid I wanted to be able to fly like a bird. A lot has happened between those two superpowers. I would consider myself an introspective person, maybe more so as an adult than my younger self. Though I would have to say, I tend to look more at the negative aspects of my life than the positive. Not to say I am a “doom and gloom” type of person, but I used to spend the earlier part of my life wondering how things would have turned out if I did such and such differently. You may be familiar with the phrase, “What would have happened if I had only…” This phrase really is two-faced. On the one hand, it gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate a past event and learn from your mistakes; however, it can also be a baseball bat to whack across your head as you beat yourself up for doing something that you later had misgivings on. There are still a couple of events that happened decades ago that I dwell on from time to time, wishing I had acted a different way in the situation. I guess some demons remain to remind me on how not to react a certain way. THROUGH MY CHILDHOOD I DO NOT recall a superhero who had the ability to travel in time except for Superman when he flew around the earth at high speed, to reverse its rotation and turn back time. At the time I simply thought it was a cool trick, never delving into the true implications of such a feat. Imagine though if you had the ability to travel in time. You could go to the future to see how a decision you made turned out or you could travel back in time to correct something you thought you could have done better. I know one of the things I would enjoy doing is going back in time to see the older generations of my family in their younger days. Wouldn’t it be wild to see how one’s great or great, great grandparents met? I also wonder if the future would look similar to what I used to see on the Saturday morning cartoon show about the Jetsons. Having seen what could happen from that Star Trek episode about going back in time and how one moment of interference would change the world completely (I certainly am watching a lot of television during this stay at home order), I have to say the ability to time travel really is an incredible superpower. If you don’t believe me you might want to check out this comedic, science fiction film. JUST AS HE WAS GETTING CLOSE TO figuring out the science behind time traveling young scientist James, played by Jonas Chernick (Blood Pressure, The Border-TV), was visited by his older self from the future with a message for him. The message was to stop what he was doing. This film festival winning movie also starred Daniel Stern (Home Alone franchise, City Slickers) as Jimmy, Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Hover) as Courtney, Frances Conroy (Joker, Six Feet Under-TV) as Dr. Rowley and Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Listener-TV, Corner Gas-TV) as Officer Walker. This story appeared as one of those typical time traveling adventures; however, there was a bit of fresh air in the script. First of all, it was great to see Daniel Stern in top form with his character as well as Frances Conroy adding another memorable character to her stable. There were some slow moments in this movie and a few predictable scenes. But you know, it did not bother me too much because I was enjoying the performances and the humor. I especially liked the way the story ended. If nothing else, this film provided me with some entertainment during this time and time really is something I am more aware of presently.
2 1/3 stars
THE SERVING PLATTER LOOKED LIKE IT HAD an old roadmap embedded into it. All roads led to a happy memory. At the bottom of a china hutch, I found wrapped in an ancient dishtowel a large oval serving plate. I remembered it from when I was a little boy. It had gold filigree outlining the rim and center of it. Tracing the gold was a thin dusty rose-colored line; in the center, there was a bouquet of flowers of which some were of the same rose color. The roadmap I referred to was created from years of use, especially due to the washing of it. Fine ghost like crooked lines, crisscrossing all across the plate; gave the appearance of abandoned roads. I can remember sitting down for dinner at family gatherings where this platter would hold the main part of the meal. There were times it held brisket of beef or roasted chicken or slices of turkey during the Thanksgiving holiday. When I was really young I could not hold it up by myself as it was being passed around the dining room table; the relative next to me would have to hold it or sometimes even place the food on my plate after I pointed out to them which pieces. THOSE FAMILY DINNERS WERE A SOURCE OF immense joy to me. Getting together with my cousins was always a highlight. The conversations around the table were usually lively and animated. Relatives would be laughing all the time, even when they were in the middle of a heated discussion. I can still remember that time where a relative brought a gelatin-molded dessert (gelatin mixed with other food items like nuts or fruit set into a mold) to the table. When it was unmolded it plopped on the plate and slid off onto the table. This dinner platter is something I will always associate with good food. Especially during holidays, I do not remember one time where the platter was not being used for serving. As a former large person, the food certainly was the catalyst for me having a good time among my relatives. It was during these gatherings where I really learned what it meant to have and be part of a family. Beside myself I know others must have gained valuable memories at these meals and I am sure the dinner platter played a part in them. So now, my dilemma is what to do with this decades old dinner platter. How could I possibly part with it? I would feel the same way if I were the main character in this dramatic, film festival winning comedy. WHEN THE READING OF HER GRANDFATHER’S will took place, the last thing Cynthia, played by Jillian Bell (Rough Night, Office Christmas Party) expected to get was an old sword. What in the world would she do with such a thing? With Marc Maron (Almost Famous, Glow-TV) as Mel, Jon Bass (Molly’s Game, Loving) as Nathaniel, Michaela Watkins (The Back-Up Plan, Thanks for Sharing) as Mary and Dan Bakkedahl (The Heat, Veep-TV) as Kingpin, this was an odd film for me. The script came across in such a way that it appeared as if the cast was doing improvisation. I will say each actor did a good job of portraying a wacky/kooky type of character. Some of the dialog had witty comments and comebacks. There was a loose feel to the scenes, which made the satire stand out more. As for the story it was farfetched and at times the absurdity of it bored me. And as the story wound down, I felt the ending lost momentum and did a quick job to finish things up. This was a strange picture that at times looked amateurish and goofy, but then at times had quick biting repartee.
IT WAS OUR PASSION FOR WORKING out that sparked our friendship. Meeting at the house of mutual friends, I knew immediately he was into fitness. My first clue was the food he had on his plate. From all the choices available at the buffet table, he chose the items with the least amount of carbs. Also, he was wearing a light colored T-shirt that was stretched to the max across his chiseled torso and bulging biceps. It was over at the table set up as the bar, where I made a comment about his plate of food. He, in turn, asked where was my plate. When I explained I stop eating 5 hours before going to sleep, I could tell my comment piqued his interest. From there we got into a discussion about health and exercise, sharing our journey into fitness. I shared stories about witnessing the effects brought on by family members’ poor health and how I started questioning the things I was doing that might trigger into action those same poor genes I shared with them from the family gene pool. It turned out we had a similar history that motivated us to take better care of ourselves. Before the evening was over, we both had a good sense of each other and agreed to hang out at some point. FROM THAT RANDOM MEETING AT THAT party, we wound up becoming pretty good workout buddies. When time permitted we would meet at the health club and become each other’s coach and spotter. It must have been 6 or 8 months later when he got the news that would change his life forever. On a routine doctor visit it was discovered he had a serious disease. Because he was so fit, he did not notice the early symptoms. From that point on things changed, as you would expect. He still met me at the gym but not as often; not because he did not want to, but because he was busy getting his house ready to sell. Upon getting the news, he decided he did not want to live and die in a cold climate. Instead, he planned on moving to a warmer city on the west coast. He still kept close to his workout routine but the times did not mesh with my availability. By the time we were in the middle of the autumn season, he had sold most of his furnishings, grew a beard and bought a house. Though he hadn’t finalized the sale of his current house, he wanted to get out and start enjoying the days he had remaining in a warm climate. I was impressed with his matter of fact actions in completely uprooting himself to seek out comfort for his remaining days. I don’t know if I would have the same courage as him or the main character in this dark comedic drama. UPON RECEIVING DIRE NEWS ABOUT HIS HEALTH Richard, played by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Black Mass) changed the way he was teaching his classes and also the people around him. With Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister, Rachel Getting Married) as Veronica, Odessa Young (Assassination Nation, The Daughter) as Olivia, Danny Huston (The Aviator, The Constant Gardener) as Peter and Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Dirty Grandpa) as Claire; this film festival nominee had a decent cast of actors. Johnny was ok but he did not provide me with something new that I had not seen before. The script had an occasional glimmer of hope, but I felt it lacked in developing the characters. There were several chances for this story to well up into an emotional peak but I felt the writers wanted to play it safe. So instead what was left for the viewer was a repeat of actions and emotions; as if, the writers wanted to not only numb the main character but the audience as well.