IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME to realize dreams are not written in stone. They are more like clouds; they do not necessarily have definitive edges and they are never static. Part of living my life is having dreams hanging ahead of me. Think of it like a carrot hanging in front of a horse. I am always trying to make my way towards my dreams. Having lived in rental apartments for most of my life, my dream of home ownership was a large one that had a hold on me. Working two jobs for extra income was tolerable, because I knew there would be more money to devote to building a hefty down payment for a house. It took me some years to reach this dream, but I finally did it. Another dream of mine was to have a brand-new car. The only cars I had to drive were used ones. One of my earliest cars cost $500; it had over 90,000 miles and a houndstooth interior. So, after driving many hand me down autos, I was able to buy a new car. Seven weeks later while parked in front of the post office, a man backed into my car while trying to get out of his parking spot in front of mine. My front bumper was dented and my thrill of having reached my new car dream evaporated in front of me. FROM MY SUCCESSES AND FAILURES IN achieving my dreams, I never judge someone else’s dreams. I may feel the person will have a tough challenge to get to their dreams, but I would not discourage them from trying at least. An acquaintance of mine contacted me about fitness. They wanted to change careers from finance to fitness. Partially based on their comments to my questions, I felt they were not completely aware of the work needed to become successful and earn a decent living. All of their questions I answered to the best of my ability without any judgement. I, also, did not gloss over anything; expressing the work it took to meet club members’ and clients’ needs. When I reached my dream of being a fitness instructor, I had no idea of the amount of preparation and planning it took to conduct a safe, fun class. The training and studying were nearly overwhelming for me. Learning about all the safety protocols alone was a monumental task. However, from a kid who flunked PE class twice to becoming a fitness instructor; I never let the naysayers discourage me and that is why I was rooting for the main character in this musical drama. THOUGH SHE HAD A GOOD VOICE, the idea of Rose-Lynn, played by Jessie Buckley (Beast, The Tempest), moving from her home in Glasgow to Nashville to become a country singer sounded crazy to most; but, that wasn’t going to stop Rose-Lynn from fighting for her dream. With Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise, Mama Mia!) as Marion, Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, Martian Child) as Susannah, Jamie Sives (Let Him Talk to the Greek, Valhalla Rising) as Sam and Craig Parkinson (Four Lions, Control) as Alan; this film festival winner took me by surprise. Not spending much time listening to country music, I was moved by the songs and vocals, which were provided by Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves. The acting from Jessie and Julie came across with depth and emotion; I was brought into their world. I will say there were periods of time where I had a tough time understanding the dialog when the Scottish brogue got thick. Yet, it did not distract me enough to lose my connection with the story. There have been previous films about a nobody becoming a somebody; however, there was a freshness to this picture that made me smile and tap my toes to the beat.
3 ½ stars
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO the packaging. The other culprit would be the marketing side. From the movie trailers I saw, the entire time I thought this film was another one based on a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It had all the trappings of being one with its love being lost then found again, adding in a crisis or a child; they all seem to follow a formula at least in their movie versions. Let me say I have not read any of his books so I do not know how they compare to the movies. Imagine my surprise after sitting through this picture to discover it was not one of his stories. The entire time I sat in my seat I could have sworn the story came from Nicholas. Oh, the other thing I want to mention is that I am not knocking down Nicholas’ ability as a writer; it is just the recent movies of his books have not been entertaining or well done in my opinion. To this day I think the most successful of the films has been The Notebook and wasn’t that back around 2004? I CANNOT SAY I WAS DISAPPOINTED when I found out the story was not associated with Nicholas Sparks, simply because I had low expectations when I walked into the theater. It would be akin to me being offered a tater tot and discovering they were made with shredded cauliflower instead of potato. If you happened to have seen the trailer for this film the film clips were precisely the kind the movie studios use to market a new Nicholas Sparks movie. I have noticed his films all seem to be the same story or at least idea now. From my experiences each of his pictures must have a scene that will make the audience members tear up. As far as I am concerned just because a script can make you feel sad doesn’t mean it is a wonderful, entertaining movie. Adding a sad scene into a story is like adding butter onto your oatmeal; it helps make it more palatable for the eater. In the case of this movie the oatmeal was at least 2 days old. WHEN COUNTRY MUSIC STAR LIAM Page, played by Alex Roe (The 5th Wave, Hot Summer Nights), returned home after being away for almost a decade; he had to come face to face with the woman he left at the altar. She did not come alone. This dramatic, musical romance also starred Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, La La Land) as Josie, John Benjamin Hickey (The Taking of Pelham 123, The Bone Collector) as Pastor Brian, Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man, Rated) as Billy and Tyler Riggs (Angels in Stardust, Boomtown) as Jake. The only positive things I can say about this film are I enjoyed the songs and this story would appeal to a narrow group of fans within the romance novel genre. The acting was almost non-existent though the character Billy was cute. I felt the directing and editing were poorly done; there really was not anything in this script that would come across as a surprise to anyone who ever saw a romance picture in their life. This was such a boring movie that I actually had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Honestly everything about this film made it seem as if it was made for a 2nd tier cable movie station; I could not get over how lifeless the characters were as if there was not a director on set to direct them to act. If you feel you are missing a dose of Nicholas Sparks’ words then maybe this film would satisfy your needs. I recommend you take your money instead and buy yourself a new romance novel.
1 ½ stars
Currently there is nothing built strong enough to contain one’s feelings. No matter where they get buried or stuffed, feelings always find a way to get out. Some people use food as a way to keep their feelings at bay; others utilize drugs or alcohol to try and numb the emotions bubbling inside of them. I admit there was a time where I would take my feelings and hide them deep inside of me, where no one could ever find them. They were stored in my heart, where the door was sealed by hatred. To show my true feelings was something I associated with getting hurt. It took a lot of work to realize it was okay to express how I felt; that no one had the right to judge another person’s feelings. When this DVD arrived at my home this week I chuckled since my two previous reviews had to do with the music world and now there was going to be another review of a musical film. In actuality, music played a minor role in this story. Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man franchise, Contagion) played country music star Kelly Canter. Pulled out of rehab early for a concert tour by her manager/husband James, played by Tim McGraw (The Blind Side, The Kingdom); Kelly’s sponsor Beau Hutten, played by Garrett Hedlund (Troy, Four Brothers), locked horns with James. He was concerned the pressure would be too much for Kelly to handle, in her vulnerable condition. I am not a big fan of country music, but I enjoyed the songs in this dramatic film. The surprise came from Garrett and Leightom Meester (Monte Carlo, Gossip Girl-TV) as former beauty queen Chiles Stanton. They were terrific playing two singers trying to break into the music business. Though the acting was solid with everyone, they did not have much help from the cliche ridden script. It was easy to spot each turn of events which did not allow any room for one to be surprised. If you are a fan of country music, you might enjoy seeing this film. For everyone else there is the chance you will become bored. At least that is how I felt about it.
2 stars — DVD