LATELY, I HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH several resumes, looking to fill a position at the office. The first thing that will make me discard a candidate is when there are words misspelled. I figure if they cannot take the time to proofread their work, what quality of work will they provide for the department, in turn the company. There was one resume where according to the candidate, they started at their first job before they started high school; they did not catch the error in the start dates they listed. For those that pass the first step in the interview process, I look for stability; would the candidate be a good fit into the department and would they enjoy the position/work. I firmly believe if a person doesn’t like what they are doing at work, then they need to look for a new position either at the company or at a different one. I cannot tell you how many times I am at a store and see at least one employee who looks disengaged or bored. Worse is when you have to deal with an employee who is not happy a/k/a rude. Asking a worker where an item is in the store and they just motion with a head nod and say, “over there,” is rude and shows poor customer service. They obviously do not care about the company that employs them. I DO REALIZE THE PERSON WHO is employed could actually be a great worker; but they were not the right person for the right job. When I do a face to face interview, I want to learn if the candidate is a visual or audio learner, is a self-starter or prefers being told what to do, along with their ideal work environment. If a person is not capable of multitasking and the job requires it, they would not be a good fit. In turn, they could become frustrated or annoyed and that is not a path to becoming successful. The employees I hire I want to be the best they can be and to be happy. For many of us who work in an office or plant, we sometimes spend more time with our co-workers than with our own families. And speaking of families, I have worked at a couple of family owned businesses and in my experiences they have their own set of unique challenges. Sometimes you get next generation personnel who love their family business and want it to be the best. Other times you get individuals who feel entitled and rest on their family’s name. I think the main character in this film, Santa Claus, is at a crossroads regarding his position in this comedic, action crime movie. A GROUP OF HIGHLY SKILLED ROBBERS descend on the estate of a wealthy family just when Santa is there to leave presents. With the thieves on Santa’s naughty list, this Santa is going to leave them something more than just a lump of coal. With David Harbour (Black Widow, No Sudden Move) as Santa, John Leguizamo (Summer of Sam, Moulin Rouge!) as Scrooge, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, American History X) as Gertrude, Alex Hassell (Suburbicon, The Tragedy of Macbeth) as Jason and Alexis Louder (Copshop, The Tomorrow War) as Linda; this was a fun, twisted spin on the Santa Claus character. David was the standout of the cast, with John Leguizamo close behind him. The story is a mix of Bad Santa, Home Alone, and Krampus in a way, but had some differences too. Several characters were close to cartoonish, with some delivering cheesy lines. I liked the sweetness factor in the script and appreciated how the writers mixed those scenes into the violent ones. Make no mistake, there is a lot of blood and violence on display in this picture; however, the craziness factor acts like a salve to smooth out the contrasts. And to tell you the truth, I think this Santa would be fun to host someday.
I KNEW AS I WAS SWALOWING the ibuprofen that I had just taken my last ride on a roller coaster. It was a wild ride, I have to admit; there were loop and corkscrew turns, besides a death drop into a short tunnel that looked like it was too small for us to enter. The funny thing is out of the entire ride the worst part for me was the initial climb up. There is something about the roller coaster cars chugging up the incline while my back is pinned to the back of the seat that makes me uncomfortable. I think part of the reason is due to the height of the climb. At some point there is no visible structure around the cars, so it looks like we are balancing on a single set of tracks or a single track that makes me uncomfortable. I do not know if I am afraid of a strong wind pushing us over or that the passengers’ weight distribution is lopsided in one of the cars that makes it topple over, taking the rest of the cars with it. I just know I have never liked that part of the ride since I was a little kid. As we climbed out of the car, I had to hold onto the banister to steady myself as I noticed I had just gotten a headache. Also, my stomach was queasy. Hence, the drug and the realization my days of riding were over. I THOUGHT I WOULD MISS THE excitement and thrill of riding a roller coaster; but to tell you the truth, I actually do not feel any sense of loss or feelings of being left out while hanging out at the base of the attraction while my friends and family are enjoying the ride. I still marvel at the engineering technology of a roller coaster and enjoy hearing the screams from passengers who whiz by me as I am safe and comfortable on a nearby bench. I have a relative who is a senior citizen who still rides roller coasters. In fact, they have performed a couple of wedding ceremonies while on a roller coaster; it is true! They made arrangements with the park to have the entire wedding party ride the attraction. When they reached the pinnacle after the beginning climb, the park stopped the ride and my relative performed the service. Right after they pronounced them man and wife, the park started the ride back up and the wedding party completed the course. I appreciated the party’s excitement at the unusual venue; I find my thrills and excitement in different ways as well and one of them is watching a film like this action, crime drama. IN DESPARATE NEED OF MONEY, A husband turns to his adoptive brother for help. To get the funds, he would only have to be a participant in a bank robbery. With Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty, Stronger) as Danny Sharp, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Candyman, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Will Sharp, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Godzilla vs. Kong) as Cam Thompson, Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave, No Country for Old Men) as Captain Monroe and Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers, American Sniper) as FBI Agent; this film directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Transformers franchise) was small on talk and character development but big on thrills and crazy excitement. I was in the right mood to see this film because I only wanted to experience it, not think about it. The acting was terrific from the three main characters and though there was a repetitive quality to the script, the stunt driving and fights were wild. Essentially, the story was a series of intense events that followed one after another. As long as one is looking for a visceral experience, then this movie will provide the correct nutrients for excitement. And you might not have to take Ibuprofen, but I cannot guarantee one might need motion sickness medication.
VISITING A TOWN OUT OF STATE, I was walking down a cobblestone road while gazing into various shop windows. I was surprised by the number of shops devoted to witches. Granted most of them appeared to be geared towards tourists, with trinkets and baubles filling up their display windows. There was one store that was devoted to magic wands, nothing else. How were they making a living, I thought. I could not help wondering what the residents thought of all, what I considered to be, this gimmickry. What I really would have loved to have known was what the former residents from the late 1600s would have thought if they could have seen all the establishments, signs and statues devoted to witches and witchcraft. The reason being back in the late 1600s people were burned at the stake for being considered witches in this area. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Maybe I am a bit nerdy to think of these things, but I have always been fascinated with the wide changes that occur in perceptions/reality. Whether it an inanimate object or human being, it does not matter to me. And honestly, I think many of you would be surprised to learn about some of them. NEAR WHERE I GREW UP AS A kid, there used to be a garbage dump. Pretty much it was a non-descript place with tall fences around it. The village leaders decided to create a hill from the trash. Now the place is a destination stop for anyone who wants to go sledding or tobogganing. Except for the older residents no one would have a clue that underneath the grassy turf the entire hill was made from garbage. I get the same kick out of discovering what some celebrities did for a living before they were discovered. For example, James Bond’s Pierce Brosnan was a professional fire eater at a circus. Christopher Lee the actor worked for the intelligence service. And Danny DeVito was a hairdresser for corpses. I am sure some people would think my career path has some extremes in it and maybe it does, but nothing that would match the few examples I listed here. Another aspect I enjoy about the wide differences found in life is when a movie uses an historical figure in the early stages of their life. For example, the writer Herman Melville was a harpooner on a whaling ship, then in his last decades he was a customs inspector. My curiosity in this subject of contrasts/differences led me to view this crime, horror mystery film. AFTER A CADET WAS FOUND DEAD, West Point Academy hired a detective to solve the mystery quickly in order to protect the image of the academy. Appearances were quite important. With Christian Bale (The Fighter, American Hustle) as Augustus Landor, Harry Melling (Harry Potter franchise, The Old Guard) as Cadet Edgar Allan Poe, Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Captain Hitchcock, Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Superintendent Thayer and Fred Hechinger (News of the World, The Woman in the Window) as Cadet Randolph Ballinger; this picture had a wonderful atmospheric look to it. With Christian and Harry blending perfectly with their characters, I was drawn into the story that was a slow burn. Everything was well placed and thought out; however, things took a turn that threw me for a loop. I did not care for how the story finished up. It seemed rushed and not as believable as the rest of the movie. Luckily, the cast kept me engaged through this rough spot; but I still found the ending odd. However, I still got a kick out of watching Edgar Allan Poe before he became famous. There were several scenes that had blood on display.
2 ½ stars
THOUGH MY STUDIES DID NOT NECESSARILY cover the psychological makeup of actors, I have seen enough live theater performances to tell when the cast members are enjoying themselves. I do not know if I can explain it properly, but there is a feeling in the air that is like carbonated liquids, with a touch of electricity that sparks the performance. Recently, I was in New York City and attended a couple of Broadway shows. One of the theater productions was a big, old-fashioned musical with a large cast of actors and dancers. The curtain rose and within five minutes the actors went into a big musical number. The male lead was the last one to join in; but once they did, the rest of the performers kicked it up a notch to match the lead’s energy level. Later, the same thing happened when the female lead had her first big singing and dance number. There was so much activity taking place on stage, I did not know where to look first. But no matter who I was focusing on, everyone was vibrant, filled with high energy. I could feel that energy coming out into the auditorium. Do you know those times when you are standing somewhere and can tell when someone has come up behind you? It is in that same vein, but to the umpteenth power of intensity, where I can feel the actors’ joy. GRANTED, A LIVE PERFORMANCE IS DIFFERENT than watching it on film; however, there are times when I am sure the actors are having a great time filming their story. An example that comes to mind are the Marvel superhero films. For me, there is an enthusiasm that comes across the screen, just like the screen presence comes across from an actor. There is a film I will be reviewing shortly, with Emma Thompson, where the energy was infectious coming off the cast. It added an extra layer of enjoyment in my viewing of the picture. Another way of looking at this is to think about a party you have attended. When everyone is experiencing the same type of fun and joy, the party is always more memorable; or at least remembered fondly. When there are guests at a party that are not experiencing the event in the same way, there is a disconnect. I have been to a couple of small events where there was a guest who was not participating in conversation and laughter. It puts a damper on everyone’s experience, in my opinion. Luckily that doesn’t happen in this dramatic crime comedy sequel. LONG TIME FRIENDS MEET AT ONE of their friend’s estates on a Greek island for vacation. Added to the list of guests is the world’s greatest detective which was fortuitous because there was going to be a murder. With Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, No Time to Die) as Benoit Blanc, Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) as Miles Bron, Kate Hudson (Fool’s Gold, Almost Famous) as Birdie Jay, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, My Spy) as Duke Cody and Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) as Andi Brand; this movie was a fun viewing experience. The cast was well chosen and not only blended well together but were all deeply into their characters. The script was not as sharp as the first film and at times seemed to be veering off subject; however, the distinct different characters involved smoothed over the rough patches. There were places where I felt this picture was trying to be an Agatha Christie story, except going a more outrageous route. The standouts for me were Janelle and Dave; I felt they had the strongest presence on screen. Still, even with its flaws this was a decent addition to this budding film franchise.
THOUGH MY FRIENDS WERE NOT THRILLED having their older sibling attending the same school, I did not mind it at all. When the sibling was a brother, it usually worked out even better for me. I had one friend whose brother was two grades above us. If they saw each other in the school hallway, they rarely acknowledged each other. However, if I was by myself the older brother would nod his head in acknowledgement whenever he saw me. For me, at least in my mind, he was a pseudo-bodyguard. There were times when I would purposely walk alongside of him anytime, I saw a bully nearby. Just for the fact he was older, the bullies would not take a chance on starting something with me as long as he was near me. Not like he was some type of tough guy himself; he just was older and bigger and that was enough to curtail someone from picking on me. This is the reason I said it was a better situation when the older sibling was male instead of female. Some bullies did not hesitate to harass the older sister besides me if we happen to be walking alongside of each other. WHEN I ENTERED COLLEGE, I LIVED on a floor where everyone else was either in a higher grade or a grad student. At first, I was intimidated; however, it turned into a fortuitous arrangement. The older students treated me more like a mascot than a freshman. What I mean by that is they rather enjoyed by naivety. For some, I think they enjoyed hearing about my trials and tribulations of freshman life; for others, they found comfort in being a mentor for me. Either way it was an added benefit for me. I was able to navigate freshman orientation faster and easier due to the helpful hints I received from the students on my floor. I was especially grateful to find out that the physical ed requirement could be bypassed if I told the university personnel I could not swim. This way, I would be placed in a remedial swimming class and not have to participate in a variety of sports activities I could not do. My floor turned into a highlight for me; I was hanging out with graduate students who were becoming nuclear engineers, accountants and pharmacists. I do not know what they thought about me, but I considered a couple of them like an older sibling who was watching out for me. It was a peaceful year compared to what I endured through my high school years. It is one of the reasons I was intrigued to watch this action, crime adventure film. CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO SET UP HER own detective agency, the only customer who asked Enola Holmes, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla franchise, Stranger Things-TV), for her help was a young girl. The case would turn into something that was bigger than the two of them. With Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Night Hunter) as Sherlock Holmes, David Thewlis (Harry Potter franchise, Wonder Woman) as Grail, Louis Partridge (The Lost Girls, Paddington 2) as Tewkesbury and Susan Wokoma (The Loneliest Boy in the World, Cheaters-TV) as Edith; this sequel proved movie studios can match or exceed the original movie if they set their minds to it. This picture was a fun film watching experience. Though I am not a fan of breaking character to talk to the audience; the plot twists, humor, and pacing were a perfect blend of excitement. Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter (reprising her role) made for a strong troika in acting. The only downside I found in this mystery was the ending part. It was a bit confusing for me; but at that point I did not let it bother me. Based on this film, there is no reason why this story line cannot become a long-lasting movie franchise. There was an extra scene early in the ending credits.
3 ½ stars
IT WAS NOT MY FINEST MOMENT, but I also had not slept for two days. My only time in a hospital was filled with torturous nights on an awful hospital bed. The bed looked like a jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces were poorly cut, leaving small gaps between the sections. It was capable of folding and bending in multiple positions; none of them provided any relief for me, since the so-called mattress was as thick as the foam you would find around a dinner plate that had been packed for shipping. It was beyond uncomfortable. Add in the nightly wakeup visits from the nurses to take my vitals and I was more like a zombie than a human being. On the third night I had had enough. I told the night nurse that I was making a bed for myself on the floor using the cushions from the sofa in the room. She said she could not approve it, but I did not care. I told her I did not want to be woken in the middle of the night, just to have my temperature taken; I needed sleep if I was expected to get better. Seeing my determination, she thought better of disagreeing with me. Well, at least that is what I assumed. After she left the room, I got ready for bed. Placing the couch cushions on the floor up against the sofa; I grabbed my pillow and blanket and settled on top of the cushions, in a fetal position. Sleep enveloped me in a matter of seconds. I FELT A HAND ON MY arm that was rousing me up from a deep slumber. As my eyes slowly opened and adjusted to the darkness, I saw the silhouette of a nurse kneeling next to me. She said I could not sleep on the floor, to please get back in bad so she could take my vitals. I asked her what time it was and when she said 4 am, I unleashed a volley of swear words that were fueled by a well of anger that had been stored inside of me ever since I was admitted into the hospital. The look on her face told me I was scaring her, but I could not stop myself. She quickly got up and raced out of the room, forgetting her clipboard that was still on the floor. I immediately felt bad, but it only lasted seconds before I rolled over and sunk back into a deep sleep. Later that morning, the day nurse walked in, asking if the ogre was receiving guests. I sheepishly looked up at her. For the next several minutes, she explained the importance of me sleeping in the bed and the need to monitor my fever. She offered I place the sofa cushions on top of the bed, but only if I lift-up the rail guards on the sides to prevent me from rolling off. She was being so kind to me after my poor behavior; she reminds me of the nurse in this crime drama. WHEN A COUPLE OF HER PATIENTS die unexpectedly, a nurse takes it upon herself to find out if there is something going on within the hospital that is contributing to these deaths. With Eddie Redmayne (The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Danish Girl) as Charlie Cullen, Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Molly’s Game) as Amy Loughren, Noah Emmerich (Little Children, The Americans-TV) as Tim Braun, Nnamdi Asomugha (Crown Heights, Sylvie’s Love) as Danny Baldwin and Devyn McDowell (Jerry and Margo Go Large, Annette) as Maya Loughren; this film based on a true story started out slow, but with the wonderful performances of Jessica and Eddie, kept picking up steam as the story unfolded. Having no recollection of the events that this story was based on only made this picture more gripping for me. However, there were several scenes that seemed awkward to me, deflating the building tension. Luckily, the actors worked well together to keep the story going. I only wished the writers would have injected more drama and depth for the actors to incorporate into their performances. Still, this was an incredible story to follow.
SHE WAS TOUGH ON ALL OF us; there was nothing we could get away with when we were around her. My friend’s mother was a single parent who worked a full-time job and still was able to keep the household and her children in shape. When I say she was tough, believe me. I remember anytime we would go out after dinnertime, she had a curfew set for my friend that was earlier than the city’s stated time. No one was allowed to wear shoes inside the house. She would tell us she did not need any extra work vacuuming up after us. One of my strongest memories was the sound of her voice when she would yell out for my friend to come to her. Because she was short, she would call my friend to come into the kitchen and grab some item from one of the higher cabinet shelves. Despite her tough exterior she had a good sense of humor, accompanied by deep belly laughter. Even at my young age, I admired her because I knew it could not be easy being single with four children. And none of her kids ever got in trouble at school, which looking back now, was a major accomplishment. FOR MOST OF MY YOUTH, I only had strong female figures around me. Maybe it was due to the times, but both with my friends and family it was always the women who made the daily decisions. They would be the ones to decide what the family would be doing on the weekend; or whose house we would go visit for the holiday. This was not just my perceptions because my friends were experiencing the same thing. Most of the dads in the neighborhood had 9-5 jobs. So, I understand the mother taking responsibility during the week, but it seemed as if it always continued through the weekends. There was this one time where there was a small group of parents visiting at someone’s house. All the women were sitting around the kitchen table discussing current events, politics, upcoming trips and such while the men were sitting in the den watching television. This image has stayed with me all these years due to one of my early sociology classes. In class the discussion was about matriarchy and patriarchy, defining and identifying them. I realized I had grown up in a matriarchy. Sure, the men for the most part were the major breadwinners, but it was the women who sat on the seat of power. If you are curious to see how a strong woman acts, then feel free to see the main character in this action, crime drama. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN easy road trip to their new home, turned into a ride of terror for this single mom and her two kids. With Queen Latifah (Chicago, Hairspray) as Brenda, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (The Ride, Fast & Furious franchise) as Reggie, Mychala Lee (The Greatest Inheritance, Truth Be Told-TV) as Kelly, Shaun Dixon (Velvet Jesus, Dhar Mann-TV) as Cam and Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Descendants) as Hammers; this was all Queen Latifah’s movie. Channeling her Equalizer character, she was the mother who needed to protect her family. I liked the idea to the story and appreciated the effort the writers put in to make this film an intense thriller; however, so much of what was shown was generic pablum. At times, I felt the scenes were ridiculous because they seemed too far-fetched. It was too bad because the injustice aspect was a decent message to convey, but the script got bogged down into standard fare with no flair. I will say I did appreciate the fast pace and the well-orchestrated fight scenes. If one wants to see an example of a tough woman, that might be enough reason to watch this picture. However, do not expect much in the story.
1 ¾ stars
I COULD ONLY SIT THERE AND listen to my friend list the reasons why he did not think he wanted to do another date. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other. He had been busy going out on several dates with different women. Some of the women he had just met for the first time, the rest were repeat dates. From my past experiences, I knew the first date was just an introductory one, where the two of us would be barely scratching the surface of a meaningful conversation. I always considered it an exploratory time, where one learns about the likes and dislikes, along with a touch of historical information. My friend was describing a recent first date, where they met at a restaurant for lunch. He thought the conversation went easy for both because there was never an awkward lull. Not having a lot in common was not necessarily an issue for him; but what bothered him the most was the fact she would talk with her mouth full of food. He said it was hard to look at her while she was talking with food getting mashed up inside her mouth. Honestly, as I sat there with an image of her full mouth in my mind, I do not know if I could have handled it either. THE NEXT DATE MY FRIEND TALKED about was someone he had gone out with twice. From what he was telling me, it sounded like they had an enjoyable time; however, he mentioned how he disliked her hair. I asked if it looked dirty or unwashed, but he said no. He did not like the fact it was cut super short. I did not know how to reply to him. For me, hair is a non-issue; I do not care whether it is short or long, only if it is dirty and greasy would it ever be an issue for me. I queried my friend about the short hair, so I could get a better understanding because everything else sounded like the two of them were clicking together. What I wanted to say was, “What is wrong with you?!?!” However, I tried in my own way to express how unimportant the length of a person’s hair is when it comes to compatibility. It is funny and I am sure I mentioned it before; a big turn off for me was always if they had dirty fingernails and/or food stuck in their teeth. Outside of that, everything else was easily navigated in the getting to know process. The thing I learned that I felt was important was the fact one cannot go into a relationship with a mindset that you would be able to change the other person. Just see what can happen in this comedic drama when one party thinks they can change the other one. HAVING HAD THE PERFECT FIRST DATE Sheila, played by Kaley Cuoco (The Wedding Ringer, The Big Bang Theory-TV) only wanted to repeat the perfection of their first date over and over. She could only do this because she had a time machine at her disposal. With Pete Davidson (The King of Staten Island, Bodies Bodies, Bodies) as Gary, Kevin Corrigan (Unstoppable, The Departed) as Phil the bartender, Deborah S. Craig (A Nice Girl Like You, The Outfield) as June and Rock Kohli (Law & Order-TV, Inside Amy Schumer-TV) as Amit; this action crime movie had a perfect pairing with Kaley and Pete. They were so enjoyable to watch; I felt they were really into their characters. I liked the idea of the story, and it started out on a good note; but as time went by, I felt the script was in a repetitive loop that got boring for me. It truly felt as if the film was in a rut. I would have liked to have seen some changes taking place earlier in the plot. When all is said and done, I am glad I got a first date with this picture; but there would be no reason to have a second.
FOR SEVERAL YEARS ALL I HEARD her talk about was her “dream” car. She did talk about other topics, but if we were walking down the street and her “dream” car was driving by, she had to stop walking and watch the car as it passed her by. Yea, it was a bit obsessive, but who was I to judge; I had my own fixations. The car, I must admit, was sharp looking. It had sleek lines with a large distinctive grill that had the automaker’s logo smack in the middle of it. I particularly liked the colors I had seen it in; each one appeared to alter slightly, depending on how the light was hitting it. After hearing my friend talk so long about this car, she finally had saved up enough money to put a large down payment down for it. I was thrilled for her. Lucky for her, she found an auto dealer who had the exact car she wanted, both in color and features. She was approved for the loan and with all the paperwork signed, she had a short wait before she could pick up her new vehicle. I looked forward to getting a ride in it and see things for myself. THE CAR WAS EVERYTHING SHE IMAGINED; I could not be happier for her. She picked me up and we went tooling around the neighborhood before heading out on the highway. I must admit, the car was impressive. It was not until after the first time she had to drive in the rain, when I got the call. She was besides herself, sobbing into the phone. When she went to turn the windshield wipers on, the radio came on instead. Without the wipers working, she had pulled off to the side of the road to ride out the showers. I offered to come keep her company, but she declined. Instead, she planned on driving straight to the dealer once the weather lightened up. Later in the day after the storm had passed us, she called to tell me the wiper malfunction was fixed, she was going back home. Over the span of the next few months, she had other issues with the car. There was a recall concerning possible brake failure, the door locks did not always lock, and her sunroof had a leak. She was horribly upset, and I could tell her dream of owning this car was deflating. It was when she received the second recall notice that she had had enough and decided to get rid of the “lemon” car. I was sad for her because I knew how much the car meant to her, but the reality did not match up with her dream. It was a similar situation for some of the main characters in this dramatic, crime horror movie. A MOTHER AND FATHER COULD NOT believe it when they received the phone call that their missing daughter had been found. Upon rushing to meet her, it did not trouble them that their daughter was now talking with a heavy accent. With Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games, The Novice) as Esther, Julie Stiles (Save the Last Dance, Silver Linings Playbook) as Tricia Albright, Rossie Sutherland (Hyena Road, The Expanse-TV) as Allen Albright, Hiro Kanagawa (The Age of Adaline, The Man in the High Castle-TV) as Detective Donnan and Matthew Finlan (My Fake Boyfriend, Jingle Bell Princess-TV movie) as Gunnar Albright; this prequel surprised me. I could not remember much from the previous film, but it turned out it did not matter. As long as one suspends belief, the story was suspenseful and tense. It was so good to see Julie Stiles and to see her in this role. I felt Julie and Isabelle made this film exciting to watch and that is despite the scenes of violence and blood. From the slight memories I have of the original film, I believe I enjoyed this one more.
WHAT IS THAT BREAKING POINT THAT pushes a person to partake in illegal activities? I have been curious about it for a long time due to two experiences I witnessed. Many years ago, I worked at a retail business that was privately owned. The president was the son of the owner, who had died a few years before I was hired for the shipping and receiving department. The vice-president was the president’s brother-in-law. From what I saw, they seemed to be good friends who worked well together. Each one could easily fill in for the other, anytime one was out of the office; they both knew all aspects of the business. Or at least I thought so. After working there for a couple of years and getting promoted, I became more involved in the mechanics of the business. I would work a couple of Saturdays a month and it was not unusual for either of the men to stop by the store. One Saturday the president came in and asked me to join him in his office. I was perplexed, wondering if I had done something wrong. Once in his office he told me he fired his brother-in-law for stealing. I was completely in shock. How in the world could a relative, who had been working there for years, steal from his sister’s husband?!?! I wondered if that is how he was able to pay for his expensive clothing and cars? I STILL THINK ABOUT THAT VICE-PRESIDENT from time to time, curious whatever happened to him. It was never shared with us at the store whether the president took the vice-president to court or if there was any jail time involved. Since I had never encountered anything like it before, my mind swirled with scenarios that were originally created on television shows. Did the vice-president have to give everything back? Did he steal because of some drug habit? Did one of them plot to kill the other? It was hard for me to make any sense out of it. I wanted to know, when was that moment when the vice president decided, he was going to steal merchandise or cash from the business and his relative. I remember back in school we had a transfer student who was friendly, who never got in trouble at first. Fast forward two years, and he turned into this student who would steal cigarettes and smoke them behind the school. It was not long before he got caught stealing clothes. Once again what was going on in his environment that made him steal. Though I am not condoning it, I at least got a glimpse of the process in this dramatic, crime thriller. WITH THE AMOUNT OF DEBT WEIGHING her down, a caterer was offered a business proposal that sounded too good to be true, to make decent money. All she would have to do is go shopping. With Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, Happiest Season) as Emily, Theo Rossi (Army of the Dead, Sons of Anarchy-TV) as Youcef, Bernardo Badillo (Sully, Revival) as Javier, Jonathan Avigdori (Snowfall-TV, Fauda-TV) as Khalil and Gina Gershon (Cagefighter, American Dresser) as Alice; I cannot remember being more impressed than I was watching Aubrey in this role. She was incredible with acting, going through a variety of emotions and actions. There were times I could feel what she was feeling in the scene; that is how good she performed. The script was original and current; I did not find any unnecessary dialog. Plus, I enjoyed the way the separate story lines were able to intermingle without missing a beat. After the movie was done and I was driving home, I kept thinking about Emily’s story and wondered what I would have done in a similar situation. There were a couple of scenes with blood and violence.
3 ½ stars