I WAS DEFINITELY IN THE MINORITY at the concert. Gratefully the venue had stadium seating; otherwise, I would have been ticked off with all the phone screens blocking my view. The place was packed with fans, and I was there with a couple of friends. As the band was performing, it seemed as if every person around me was watching the group through the screen of their phone as they were snapping photos and videos. Everywhere I looked there were people with their arms up, pointing their phone cameras to the stage. I sat there and wondered how many photos did a person need of their favorite band? It was crazy; instead of sitting there and enjoying the music, everyone was focused on capturing the musicians with their phones. It could not have been comfortable to hold one’s arms up for such a long time. I found it distracting because I did not pay good money to have these phones waving in the air. If I had been sitting on the main floor, I would have had a fight with the people in front of me if they had been using their phones. Why couldn’t people just allow themselves to enjoy the show and let it settle into their minds, to become a fond memory? CAPTURING AN EVENT ON “FILM” IS not exclusive to concerts; everywhere I look, there is someone snapping a photo. Restaurants are a popular location for people to snap pix of their food; I am not sure why they do it. Sure, some dishes look great; but unless one is going to try and reproduce it, I am not clear why one would want to have a photo of it. I know I am more old school, but I do not see the fascination of posting things about myself on social media sites. I am astounded with the amount of people’s video clips that show up on my sites’ feeds. People dancing, pranking, posing, dressing up and so on; it is like a different world for me. There are many individuals who, I believe, see this as a way to earn income and fame. The more outrageous antics are done, I think, with the hope of acquiring a bigger following. And once there is a bigger following then the next step is to find a way to monetize one’s site. I know someone who has been focusing on making a living by getting corporate sponsors or products to promote while flying to various circuit events. So far it looks like they are succeeding. I am not sure I can say the same thing for the family in this dramatic, science fiction mystery. A BROTHER AND SISTER ARE TRYING to keep the family horse business going despite unusual things taking place around their ranch. With Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah, Black Panther) as OJ Haywood, Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Alice) as Emerald Haywood, Brandon Perea (The OA-TV, Insurrection) as Angel Torres, Michael Wincott (Talk Radio, What Just Happened) as Antlers Holst and Steven Yeun (Minari, I Origins) as Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park; there were parts of this film that were bold and spectacular in a Hollywood way. I thought Daniel and Keke were outstanding, especially Keke; this was such a different role for her, and I was totally impressed. There was a lot going on in the story and to tell you the truth, if there was a lot of symbolism or meaning, it was lost on me. The first part of the movie dragged for me, taking some time before I felt I was engaging with the story. I still am not sure about the chimpanzee scenes and that is all I will say about that. Having some quality moments in this picture, I wished it connected more with me. Or maybe that is the point.
2 ¾ stars
IT IS ALL IN THE DELIVERY I discovered. There is something about a dynamic speaker delivering a message to a group. I saw proof of it when I was a reader at a wedding ceremony. Not that I want to brag, but there was a person before me who did a reading that had no feeling to it. More importantly, I did not feel any connection to what the person was saying regarding the couple being married. I looked around the church and saw some of the guests were looking down or whispering to each other. This made me more nervous than I already was since I was to be the next reader to go up to the altar to read a passage. Despite having practiced reading my passage for a couple of weeks, when it was my turn and I stood up, my stomach still trembled with nerves as I made my way to the alter. Once in position at the podium, I looked out at all the guests before taking a deep breath and began to read. I made a point to read slowly and look up at the audience from time to time. My biggest fear was put to rest when I did not fumble mispronouncing any of the words. After the ceremony, people stopped to tell me what a wonderful job I had done. In fact, one guest asked if I would be interested in becoming a reader at her church. The spoken word was alive and well and I felt good about my “performance.” SINCE THAT WEDDING, I HAVE PAID closer attention to speakers I encounter. Whether they are in person or televised, I notice the things they do or not do to engage with their audience. At a convention there was a seller in front of his booth who was talking about the products his company had developed. I happened to be familiar with the products; however, if I hadn’t been, I would not have stopped to listen to this presenter. He was monotone in his delivery, just standing still in one spot. It was a shame because the products were quite good. To make matters worse, this booth was next to another one that had a spokesperson who was dynamic and funny. Too bad their product was limited in its abilities; but you would not know based on all the attendees who were congregated around this booth to listen to the presenter. I could only imagine how the dry speaker next door was feeling with no one paying attention to him. Let us face it, having a spirited person as a spokesperson/leader is what can motivate people to want to be part of the experience they are talking about. There is a clear example of this in this Golden Globe winning, intense biographical drama. AS MORE INDIVIDUALS BECAME ATTRACTED TO what Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Black Panther, Queen & Slim) was telling them; the more concerned was the FBI. They needed to find someone to get close to Fred and his organization; but who would want to do such a thing? With LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You) as Bill O’Neal, Jesse Plemons (The Master, Game Night) as Roy Mitchell, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, The Deuce-TV) as Deborah Johnson and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Jimmy Palmer; this film festival winner grabbed my attention from the beginning and never let go. The entire cast of actors were remarkable in acting out their characters; however, Daniel and LaKeith were the big standouts for me. The script was both powerful and scary at the same time, to the point there were parts of this film that came across as a thriller. Taking the story as it was presented in this film, I could not believe what was being done to Fred Hampton. Not only was this an historical period of time being depicted in this picture; it was being told in a powerful and engaging way that I would soon not forget.
3 2/3 stars
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LEISURE afternoon ride because it was going to be my first. Mark and I were work friends; we had known each other for a few years. Our social activity together up until this point was sitting together at company functions or going out for drinks after work. One day we were talking, and I mentioned I had never ridden a motorcycle. Without hesitation, he said he rode one and asked me when I would be free to take a ride. We decided he would come pick me up on Saturday. It never occurred to me I needed a motorcycle helmet; but thankfully, Mark brought an extra one with him. Once he went over the safety instructions and told me how to convey a message to him, he had me get up on the bike to get used to it. The motorcycle was heavier than I imagined it to be. He placed the helmet on my head and adjusted the chin strap. With my jacket zipped up to my neck and my leather gloves snug on my hands, I wondered if I looked like Steve McQueen when he was on that motorcycle in the film, “The Great Escape.” WE STARTED OUT EASY WITH MARK sticking to the side streets around my neighborhood. Once I became comfortable, he headed out to the highway. I was not prepared for the bumps in the road which made me bounce off the seat; I kept squeezing my legs tightly around him. The roads he took from the highway were unfamiliar to me; but the scenery was beautiful through the forest we were in. At some point a strange sound came out of the motorcycle and it started slowing down. By the time Mark steered the bike off to the side of the road, the engine had died. He tried a couple of things to restart the motorcycle, but nothing worked. Reaching for his phone, he noticed he was not getting any cellular service for it; I tried mine but with the same results. I was starting to get concerned. Mark decided it would be best to push the bike further into the woods to conceal it, then we would start walking until we could call for help on our phones. While we walked, we started to talk more on a personal level, not the usual work conversation we did. The sun was setting and both of us were thirsty and tired. Luckily, we hit a spot where he could get a call out for help and a friend of his was coming to get us. I was grateful. After the weekend when I returned to work, there was a deeper bond that formed between us where we were no longer work friends; we were simply friends. The main characters in this dramatic movie took a different route. AFTER BEING PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE things quickly escalated in a series of events for Slim and Queen, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Widows) and Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship-TV, Nightflyers-TV). With Bokeem Woodbine (Overlord, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Uncle Earl, Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Mrs. Shepherd and Flea (Baby Driver, The Big Lebowski) as Mr. Shepherd; the story in this film had a familiar theme to it. However, the writers took the story and turned it into something else that totally grabbed me. The chemistry between Daniel and Jodie was thick and rich; I thought she was dazzling in the role. The script provided a clear path where one could connect to it and think about it further even after the picture ended. There were a couple of weaker scenes that did not work for me; but this would be only a minor complaint. My eyes were glued to the movie screen due to the incredible acting, directing and filming of this topical storied movie.
3 ½ stars
YOU can plan, contemplate and imagine every scenario but it will not make a difference. The first time you meet the parents of your significant other is a stressful experience. One wants to be at their best; perfectly dressed and groomed, remembering any stories you heard about them; in a way it is not so far removed from a job interview in my opinion. As to location I guess there are pluses and minuses to meeting the parents, either on your home turf or their surroundings. Personally I have experienced both ways and I prefer hosting parents instead of being their guest for the first meeting. At least for me when I do not have to focus on my surroundings I can be more attentive to the parents’ needs. When I have to travel to visit the parents I have to take into account my eating restrictions, my privacy and remembering my place as a guest. This takes a lot of energy to do, at least for me. On the plus side I can decide to leave which I could not do if the parents were visiting us. There is nothing worse than realizing early on you are not connecting with the parents for whatever reason but you still have to remain civil and pretend like everything is okay. They say when you marry the person you love you are also marrying their family. FROM a causal meal together to a weekend away, I have experienced a variety of different ways to break the ice. I honestly cannot recall ever feeling calm about the experience. In one relationship I wound up meeting the parents over the internet when a mobile device was shoved into my hands and I was told to say hello to their parents. Talk about not being prepared, I had to try and calm my nerves while making small talk which was never my forte. So while I am communicating back and forth I sit and wonder if I am sounding like a babbling fool as I try to come up with conversation points; heaven forbid there should me a dreaded moment of silence. However I would rather experience this over and over compared to what the boyfriend in this suspense horror film had thrust upon him. CHRIS Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario, Kick-Ass 2), was already nervous meeting his girlfriend Rose’s, played by Allison Williams (Peter Pan Live-TV, Girls-TV), parents because she did not tell them he was black. Upon arriving at her parents’ estate it turned out Rose’s parents Missy and Dean Armitage, played by Catherine Keener (Captain Phillips, Into the Wild) and Bradley Whitford (The Cabin in the Woods, The West Wing-TV), were very interested in him, a little too interested. Written and directed by Jordan Peele (Keanu, Key and Peele-TV), this mystery satire was a big shock for me in a good way. The satire was biting and edgy while Jordan built up the suspense in a creepy intense way. I thought the story was great along with the script. This was the type of movie that takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions; one only has to give in and go with it. Along with the fun visuals and the good acting coming out of Catherine and Bradley, this was a fun and exciting movie watching experience. I have to tell you I would do FaceTime or Skype anytime compared to this meeting of the parents experience.
3 1/3 stars