“BECAUSE I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And immortality.” What I just wrote came from a poem by Emily Dickinson. I know of her but very little of her poetry. Like many artists Emily’s work was not fully known or appreciated until after her death. Some say she was one of the greatest American poets. One of the best pieces of advice I received was, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” In other words, focus on the things that stimulate, excite and connect with you; everything else will fall into place afterwards. I do not think artists craft their trade with the idea they will become wealthy from their works. They do it because they simply love it. Yet even with that much love there are artists who suffer with their personal demons. There was a famous pianist who could draw the emotions out of any musical piece he played. Sadly he started to believe his fingers were made of glass and became afraid they would break if he continued to play the piano. DESPITE any type of turmoil I cannot imagine what the stress level must be if one is trying to earn a living from their craft. Just from the little I do with these film reviews and my teaching fitness and yoga, if I did not have my full time job there would be no way I could survive. Presently this site generates no income and my pay for classes is at an hourly rate. When I started these two activities each fulfilled an emptiness I had inside of me. Seeing people feel good about themselves after class was a revelation for me since I spent most of my life unhappy with my physical self. Writing my reviews nourishes the creative side of my brain that had been lying dormant for many years. As I watched this biographical drama I was surprised to see Emily experienced similar issues. STARRING Cynthia Nixon (James White, Sex and the City franchise) as Emily Dickinson, Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, Zero Dark Thirty) as Vinnie Dickinson, Duncan Duff (Wild Target, Burke and Hare) as Austin Dickinson and Keith Carradine (Nashville, Our Very Own) as Edward Dickenson; this film festival winning movie follows the life and death of Emily. The excellent acting, especially from Cynthia and Jennifer, was brilliantly on display in several scenes. As I said I am not that familiar with Emily’s life, so I was fascinated with her determination and fears. It was such an interesting contrast between the beauty of her poetry and the darkness inside of her. Interestingly there were many scenes that looked dark, staying authentic with the available light source only coming from lit candles. Due to some scenes shining while others were dim, the movie had an uneven feeling to it. I felt the cause of it was from the direction; the pacing was slow in many parts. There were times I became bored because after seeing a wonderfully acted scene a dull one would take place. I think those who are familiar with Emily and her work will enjoy this film more than I did. If for nothing else this picture worked because I left wanting to read Emily’s poetry.
2 ½ stars
It is something many of us avoid talking about with each other. There are a few, the more practical ones, who at least took some steps to prepare for it one day. The thing about it though, is each of us learns about it at a young age and then we forget about it or push it to a far corner of our brain. However, no matter what you do to avoid it, it stays put like an exotic island in the ocean of your soul. The first time I experienced a death it was short and quick; they went into the hospital and died within 24 hours. When the next time came along it was ugly and drawn out. Their body was like a burning candle; it slowly melted away over time as the image of their skeleton became prominent. Because of that experience I pushed any thoughts about my own mortality deep down away from my conscious mind as best as I could. As the years roll by, if we are lucky, the beauty of our youth starts looking like a well-worn frayed, baggy sweater. Friends and family begin talking about what they would like to see happen for their final years. As I said if they are lucky to have lived a full long life. Maybe I should not say this but have you ever noticed how it sometimes takes someone’s early death to make someone else start to have more appreciation for their life? Can one say death is the ultimate reality check? UNFOCUSED and self-destructive James White, played by Christopher Abbott (Martha Marcy May Marlene, A Most Violent Year), did not know what to do when his mother Gail, played by Cynthia Nixon (5 Flights Up, Sex and the City franchise), had to battle a serious illness. It would be easier to run away. This film festival winning drama was one of the hardest movies I had to sit through in a long time. Not because it was bad or anything like that, it was due to it being so authentic. One had to hand it to both Christopher and Cynthia; their acting was outstanding. Granted the script was geared mostly to their characters; the other actors such as Scott Mescudi (Project X, Need for Speed) as Nick and Makenzie Leigh (The Slap-TV, Gotham-TV) as Jayne were fine but their characters were secondary. I am not sure how the general movie audience will react to this film; it is not the type of movie one leaves and wants to go out for a good time afterward. There were times I actually wished the story would end because I was watching some tough scenes. The theater I was in was utterly silent at the end of the film; everyone quietly filed out. I cannot imagine anyone who sees this film will not be moved in some way. In fact, this movie could certainly make one appreciate their life more.
3 1/4 stars
Living amongst them daily I am not always conscious of their significance. It is when someone is over to my place and asks about something hanging up on a wall or sitting on a surface that I experience the memory associated to that particular item. To the average person my home looks like a hodgepodge of different pieces of art and objects; but to me, each one has a story about my life. There is a large woven basket that sits next to an easy chair that I bought from a little non-profit store in Charleston, South Carolina. All the items in the store were made by disadvantaged women from third world countries, who were trying to improve their lives my selling their wares. That alone was enough reason for me to buy something at the store; however, I wanted something to remind me about the fantastic road trip I was taking through the southern United States. On a coffee table sits a turquoise vase that was originally placed on layaway by someone I was dating some time ago. I called the store and paid for it, asking the salesperson to call the phone number on the receipt and tell them the vase was accidentally knocked off the shelf and broke into pieces. It was a few minutes after the store must have called them when they called me to complain about the store’s incompetency. I never let on I knew, keeping the vase for a couple of months, until I wrapped it up and gave it to them for the holidays. I was greeted with several words I cannot print here. So you see I love having all of the things around me and their memories. I do not know how I could ever part with them, just like the couple in this dramatic movie. AFTER many years living in their Brooklyn apartment with the great view Ruth and Alex Carver, played by Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) and Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me, Driving Miss Daisy), felt it was time to downsize and move to a place more conducive for an older couple. They soon discovered there were challenges to moving 40 years worth of stuff. I wished I would have enjoyed this film more because the two actors separately were wonderful, though I did not feel much chemistry between them. The script was lame; quite predictable and cliched; the two actors needed more depth to their characters. It was a shame because I enjoyed the flashback segments of a younger Ruth and Alex at the beginning of what would be their long term relationship. And obviously I appreciated the acknowledgement of one’s memories associated to inanimate items. Too bad the memory I have of this picture is not very good.
1 3/4 stars
When you need crazy intensity who better to get then Woody? The role of Los Angeles dirty cop, David Douglas Brown aka Date Rape Dave, was perfectly cast with Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Messenger). I could not think of another actor who could have brought the intensity the way Woody did for this character. As I watched this movie, I cringed with anxiety every time it looked like Woody, as Officer Brown, was about to explode with dark, fiery emotions–that is how good he acted in this role. Not only was I tensing up, but almost every character in the movie was when interacting with this police officer. For example, his former wives Barbara and Catherine, played by Cynthia Nixon (The Babysitters, Sex and the City) and Anne Heche (Volcano, Cedar Rapids) were excellent as they had to tread carefully around their explosive ex-husband. This movie was all about the acting, unfortunately sacrificing the story, letting it sink into a mess. The story was set in 1999 Los Angeles, where scandal had befallen the police department and Dave Brown already had an outrageous reputation. When he was recently filmed severely beating a citizen, officer Brown’s life spirals out of control, while the police department tried to figure out how to get out of the mess. If you are a fan of Woody Harrelson, you definitely want to see him in this movie.
2 2/3 stars