NO MATTER WHERE I BUMPED INTO him, I always knew what to expect. He would address me with a nickname he made up back when we were classmates. Next, he would ask me if I was still in touch with a classmate of ours before he would make a snide comment about them. I stopped asking him to not make any comments about them but every time we ran into each other, he still made sure to say something. These days I simply do not react to his comments; instead, I ask him something different to switch the subject. Whenever I have bumped into him, I am reminded how I disliked the pettiness and backstabbing that took place amongst the school’s cliques. He was an instigator who enjoyed all that drama. Because he never failed to make a comment about someone we knew, I believed he was trying to get me to join him in badmouthing people from our past; to what purpose, I had no idea. I did find it puzzling that after all these years he had not changed one bit; he was obnoxious back in school as he was now. It was as if he had never grown up and I had to wonder if he had any friends still from our school days. IT WAS INDIVIDUALS LIKE HIM THAT pushed me to apply and accept enrollment in an out of state school. Many of the students I grew up with were applying to our state’s university’s main campus. I decided to send out applications to schools from a few states nearby and some that were close to the coasts. As luck would have it, I wound up at a university where only 2 other fellow classmates planned on attending and if they were there, I never saw them. One of my goals for going out of state for school was to reinvent myself. Due to the experiences I had in my schooling, I did not want to repeat it out of state; so, I worked on myself internally. This meant I had to look back and exam painful experiences, hoping to find an inner strength that would help me not to repeat similar scenarios in my new surroundings. I wanted to return home as a grown-up essentially; someone who past classmates would have a hard time recognizing. I will be honest; it took a lot of work to push out the built-up anger and resentment. Not that it is all gone now, but I know I have been traveling on the right path based on former acquaintances’ reactions when meeting me now. I can see similar work was done by the main actor in this film festival nominated thriller because I did not think once he was Harry Potter playing another character. DESPITE BEING CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED, ANTI-APARTHEID activist Tim Jenkin, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man), was determined to get out of his prison cell and continue his fight. With Daniel Webber (Australia Day, Thumper) as Stephen Lee, Ian Hart (Michael Collins, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) as Denis Goldberg, Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, One Eyed Girl) as Leonard Fontaine and Nathan Page (Underbelly-TV, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries-TV) as Mongo; this movie based on a true story was made better by Daniel Radcliffe’s acting. The story itself was given a typical script, but thanks to Daniel and his fellow inmates, I found myself getting pulled into the activist’s plight. There was some unevenness to the directing; but there was no skimping on the parts that needed to be thrilling. The script did not delve deeply into the characters; but for a good old fashioned “prison break” story, this picture can be proud it was able to break out of the pack from similarly themed films.
2 ¾ stars
DURING A SOCIAL FUNCTION, I WAS introduced to a guest who had recently started an exercise regimen to get back into shape. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance who knew about each of our fitness journeys. Our conversation only lasted a few minutes; but when it came time to separate, I could not remember his name. I simply said it was nice to meet him and wished him luck on reaching his fitness goals, before I moved on. For the next couple of minutes, I tried to reconstruct the beginning of our conversation when we had been introduced, hoping I would recall his name; it did not work. I was annoyed because I could remember every detail about him, from the color of his socks to the buckle of his belt, but not the name. I found it weird that sometimes I can easily remember a person’s name and other times I have no clue. Considering the fact, I teach multiple classes and work with a multitude of employees at my job; I have retained a long list of names in my memory banks. I would like to know what factors trigger my brain to remember a person’s name. ONE WAY I CAN RETAIN A PERSON’S name is if they have the same name of someone I already know, or their name is similar to a well-known celebrity. However, there are a variety of things that hinder my ability to memorize names. If a person avoids eye contact during a conversation, it is likely I will not remember them. Another cause for me not to retain names is if the person does not hold up their end of the conversation. I feel if a person does not ask any questions, then there is little reason to converse with them. In these types of circumstances, I have found the individual is forgettable. The art of conversation appears to be under siege to me. I do not want to sound judgmental; but what is the point of carrying on conversation with a person who does not ask questions or engage with you? I must assume they are not interested in either me or the topic being discussed. Usually, I will converse on multiple topics and ask open ended questions to help both of us start up a conversation. If this doesn’t produce anything then I end my time with the person and gracefully remove myself. The reason I am telling you about this is because for the first time, when I sat down to write my review of this animated, adventure comedy I could not remember the story or several of the characters. DURING AN ARGUMENT BROTHER AND SISTER Charlie and Marla, played by Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, American Gothic-TV) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), suddenly found themselves transported to an animated world where they would discover the true meaning of family. With Jim Gaffigan (Away We Go, Chappaquiddick) voicing Del, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man) voicing Rex Dasher and Dan Navarro (The Book of Life, American Dad-TV) voicing Viking Leader; this film was one long series of product placements. I did not mind the non-animated scenes; but after that, I found the script to be one long bore. There was no humor, adventure or fun musical numbers; in other words, this was a generic version of the Lego films. At 7:00 pm on a Friday there were a total of 3 people in the movie theater and that is including me. I do not know what the film studio was trying to do, but this picture was that one holiday gift that came broken and was not worth fixing, so it gets thrown away. With an extra scene during the credits, the studio really wants to do a sequel? If I were you, I would not engage with this poor example of an animated movie.
1 ½ stars
Can a child really understand the meaning of the words hate and love? The power of these 2 words is too heavy for a young mind to wrap itself around I believe. I used these words as a child, telling anyone who asked I hated peas and I loved chocolate. What I was really conveying was my preference in tastes; it had nothing to do with my emotional relationship to these food items. I did not know any better though I understood the affect it had on a person when I would tell them I loved or hated them. Before you say anything I really never told a person to their face that I hated them, though I wanted to say it to one particular babysitter who used to sit for me. Now through all the years of dating, seeing and being in relationships, besides becoming more mature; I understand all the nuances associated with love and hate. Some of the terminology I have used and heard would be things like not fond of, do not like, prefer not being around, enjoy your company, comfortable around you and so on. To me love and hate are strong words; I am careful about saying love because I do not want it to become a generic version of itself. I want love to have importance so when I tell someone I love them they know I mean it completely. As for the word hate I really do not use it much except for extreme circumstances like telling someone I would hate to have to do something like surgery or sit on a tour bus for 8 hours. So when I see other people displaying hate I have to take a step back. I find it sad that hatred these days seems to be in vogue; that it is becoming acceptable for someone to display their hatred. For this reason I found this dramatic thriller horrific. AGREEING to go undercover to infiltrate a radical white supremacy group FBI agent Nate Foster, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man, Victor Frankenstein), did not realize how much he could lose. Based on true events this story was disturbing. Maybe I am reacting on more of a personal level but the amount of hatred on display was absolutely frightening to me. What pulled me through was the strong acting from the cast which also included Toni Collette (Krampus, A Long Way Down) as Angela Zamparo, Tracy Letts (Indignation, The Big Short) as Dallas Wolf and Sam Trammell (The Fault in Our Stars, True Blood-TV) as Gerry Conway. I have to give credit to Daniel since he is so closely associated to the Harry Potter franchise, that he can transform himself into these interesting roles he has a knack in choosing for himself. Overall I thought the script was good but there were times where some of the characters came across more like a cartoon in their extremeness. I found this crime film gripping in a chilling way. Partially because of the times we presently live in, to see such hatred and know that there are people out there who act the same way was scary for me.
There was a time where they were used for something more important than displaying jewelry. I do not know if it is a passing fad or a new trend but I have seen them being stretched with round rings of a metal or plastic nature. Maybe it is still being done now but I remember some children would have small tubes stuck in their ears to help them with their hearing. Hearing used to be important and there was an art to being a good listener. Yes, being a listener was an important and admirable quality in a person. From a comment I recently read on one of my reviews and seeing this film, it dawned on me that fewer people take the time to listen these days. I cannot tell you how many times I have introduced myself and the person either doesn’t remember or gives me a different name within our initial conversation. The comment I was referring to earlier mentioned wherever you go there are always people just looking down at their phones, not interacting with anyone around them. I can do one better; having met someone at a movie function we texted back and forth to set up a time to get together. After a few texts back and forth I decided to call them because I get more out of having a conversation than a series of abbreviated words and emoticons. The voice message I left was the last communication between the two of us; I never heard from them again. I ask you, why are people so afraid to talk to one another. Being able to talk and express feelings can be therapeutic and healthy, just see what happens in this dramatic comedy. DESPERATE and alone Hank, played by Paul Dano (Prisoners, Ruby Sparks), was about to end his life until he saw a body that had washed ashore. This film festival winning adventure picture had one of the most unusual story lines I have ever seen. With fellow cast mates Daniel Radcliffe (Now You See Me 2, Harry Potter franchise) as Manny and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Kill the Messenger) as Sarah; I initially sat in my seat perplexed by what I was watching on screen. As the uneven story progressed I started to understand what was going on and wound up enjoying this film. The acting was not only good but interesting; that is all I can say about it. There were parts that were humorous, parts that were touching and all finely threaded to keep the message on track. I do not know if this is a film for everyone, though I will say the story was certainly original. Instead of telling you this picture was more like an independent art film; I think it would be better to say this movie was not a mainstream one. If memory serves me correctly I believe at its showing at one of the film festivals some of the audience was cheering while others walked out. I chose to go see this film and listen to what it was trying to express.
Unlimited possibilities wait for many rousing from their nightly sleep. For them their day begins with a blank canvas; they let the day lead in what activities and events will be chosen. It is a random process that involves some level of spontaneity. Imagine the freedom one experiences when they are not tethered to a schedule or list of chores for the day. It has been so long that I actually cannot remember if I have ever experienced that type of freedom, to wake up with the attitude that whatever the day brings would be fine. If I do not have a list of things I need to handle for the day, I at least have a mental plan of what I want to accomplish. I have mentioned before that people can set their watches by me; I am most comfortable when I am on my internal schedule. It frees me up from taking time out to make decisions since all of them were made when the schedule was created in my mind, so I can go on automatic. I know when I wake up the first thing I do is eat breakfast; aware no matter the time, when the clock reaches the noon hour it is time for me to prepare for my 2nd meal. Now the downfall to being this way is when something unexpected happens. An example would be my daily ride to the office. I take the same route every day, knowing when I have to get into the right lane to avoid being stopped by cars trying to turn left or aware where I have to swerve slightly to avoid a pothole. If something like a stalled car or broken railroad crossing backs up traffic and causes a detour, I am thrown off my schedule. Honestly, it is rough for me when things don’t go as planned which is why I can relate to the magicians in this action thriller. AFTER lying low for a year the magicians called “The Four Horsemen” reappear for a spectacular magic trick. They were not expecting their trick to take them halfway around the world. The returning cast such as Jesse Eisenberg (American Ultra, The End of the Tour) as J. Daniel and Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers franchise, Infinitely Polar Bear) as Dylan Rhodes were joined by new characters Lula, played by Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield, The Interview) and Walter Mabry, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings). There were the same spectacular magic tricks in this comedy but I missed the way they were explained as in the previous movie. The scenes were flashy but I did not like the camera work; some scenes were too frenetic for me. I could have handled all of this but because the script was such a mess I soon became bored with the story. There wasn’t the same sense of tense danger or excitement as the first film. In my opinion the writers tried to do too much to make this sequel “bigger” and it just did not work. I recently saw last weekend’s box office results and have to assume the movie studio was not expecting the results they got with the final figures.
1 ¾ stars
When you are in the middle of it, you feel larger than your silhouette. Love has a way of blending into all of your actions, giving them a little extra boost of energy. It may be the bounce in your step, the burst of flavors in your mouth from your first bite into your meal at a cozy care, to the feeling of calmness coming over you every time you think of that special person. Sadly, just as love can fill one up to extreme proportions its absence can be devastating. The loss of love can siphon so many things out of a person; things you thought were impenetrable. Simple acts like bathing or walking now feel laborious. Though there is no visual wound, you feel there is something missing in your life. I have experienced both sides of this equation; you know, those high highs and low lows of love and lost. I am not alone in this situation; I see the signs of it all around. There is the person who took their beloved dead pet to have it stuffed and preserved; so it would always appear sleeping in their now cold bed that sat next to the bedroom nightstand. I read an article in the newspaper about a company that will take the ashes of your loved one and turn them into a stone you can wear like jewelry. I have even seen people wearing bracelets and pendants that contain small amounts of ashes in a secret compartment; I understand those individuals that want a reminder of their loved one. Love and lost love certainly produce strong reactions in us. RESCUED from a miserable life Igor, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings), had the utmost respect for Victor Frankenstein, played by James McAvoy (X-Men franchise, Wanted). The two men’s shared interests would drive them to create an everlasting life. This dramatic horror film took the original Frankenstein story and turned it around to be told from Igor’s perspective. Okay, I could deal with the change since I do not mind looking at things from a different point of view. The script favored Daniel who made a believable character. However that is all the script did because I found the story to be more of a caricature of the original. There was no heart (no pun intended) to this story; most scenes were dull or silly to me. At least the sets and special effects added some value to this picture. I liked the whole idea as I said, but I just felt it could have been told better if they kept the focus more on the matters of the heart. The writers could have slimmed down the script and created a compelling story that might have possibly been a companion piece to Mary Shelley’s story. The loss of my time was all I experienced instead. There were a few scenes with blood in them.
1 3/4 stars
Just imagine if everyone would express exactly what they felt or thought. I would be more comfortable hearing the truth instead of some flimsy throwaway type of phrase. How would you react to the 2 following comments: “Why did you cut your hair to look like that?” or “I miss the way your hair outlines your face now that you cut your hair.” I have to admit I do find amusement in people’s comments sometimes; especially those folks who are passive aggressive. An example would be someone I had not seen in a long time coming up to me to say they haven’t heard from me, they missed me. When they say that to me I ask them why then didn’t they just pickup the phone and call me. Let me ask you, how many times have you gone on a date when the person tells you what a good time they had meeting you and will call you later in the week to set up another date? You do not hear from them so you call and leave them a message. And guess what, they still do not call. I do not get it; I wish they would just say they are not interested or they don’t think we make a good fit. Heck, they can say they don’t like my looks; I am not going to take it personally because they barely know me. People can be so funny at times. WITH everyone believing he murdered his girlfriend Merrin Williams, played by Juno Temple (Killer Joe, Afternoon Delight); Ig Perrish, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings), would now have to face the townsfolk with the unusual horns that had mysteriously sprouted up on his head. He soon discovered the horns had a strange effect on people. Based on the best-selling book, this dramatic fantasy had a bizarre premiss as a story line. However, I was game since I have been intrigued with Daniel’s movie role choices recently. He did not disappoint me in this picture, carrying it off quite nicely as a matter of fact. Actually I thought the whole cast worked well together including Max Minghella (The Ides of March, The Social Network) as Lee Tourneau. Where this film lost me was the script; it tried to do too much, not sure if it wanted to be a drama, fantasy, mystery or horror film. There were some scenes that worked well thanks to the actors; but then other times things would just go flat. One other thing to mention, I believe the idea for this story had been done a couple of times before. Just as I like my conversations to state the bottom line, so do I wish my movies would do the same thing in what they are trying to tell me.
The most casual of settings with a group of people mingling about the room. There was sporadic laughter in the air that mixed in with chattering voices spanning across the musical scales. Standing at the beverage table you made eye contact with the person next to you, who was in the middle of tasting their drink. An exchange of greetings easily flowed into talking about who you knew at the party to likes and dislikes to world topics; each subject discussed seemed to peel away layer after layer of nervousness until you felt completely at ease in your own vulnerability. You had not expected to meet someone at the party but you sensed something special was happening. Your body felt as if it had been injected with a dose of pure caffeine that was making your blood speed through your body, rushing up to your brain to form bubbles of joy. Things were moving smoothly and you were even happy to say you were single when asked if you were seeing anyone. In turn you asked them if they were dating and the most dreaded words you could have imagined plopped out of their mouth: “Yes, my boyfriend was not able to make it here tonight.” You felt your heart pop inside of your chest, eliminating the rarified blood of anticipated happiness. Of course, you avoided showing disappointment in your face and as the night progressed the 2 of you continued conversing as if nothing dramatic had happened–at least in your mind. When you were asked if you wanted to exchange contact information and hang out sometime, not only did you immediately say yes; you exclaimed you would enjoy being friends with both of them. Did you really think that was possible? THIS was a similar dilemma Wallace, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings), faced when he met Chantry, played by Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, Fracture), at a party. This award winning film worked well because of the cast. Each of the characters were interesting and the actors, including Adam Driver (Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Allan, played off of each other in a realistic way. The script for this comedic drama was essentially good; however, parts of it were predictable which slowed down the action for me. I will say I have been impressed with Daniel’s film choices, because it never crossed my mind I was watching Harry Potter in this romantic movie. Take it from someone who has been there, I was glad I was not the one having Wallace’s predicament in this cool film with the indie vibe.
2 3/4 stars
There seems to be a strong curiosity prevalent through society regarding the early years of an individual’s life, before they became noteworthy. The person does not even have to be real; just take a look at the success of the X-Men or Star Trek prequels for example. I admit I fall into this category of people who are fascinated with the younger years of a person. This is one reason why I enjoy looking at old photographs of friends and family. For a prominent person like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein, I like to delve into that person’s childhood to see if there was some special moment that put the individual onto their life path. I do not know, but maybe my fascination has to do with examining my own life experiences to see the choices I made to get to the place I am at presently. Besides prequels, I have a fondness for movies that show a good story on the early history of famous people. With my interest in literature and poetry, this dramatic film festival nominated movie intrigued me. Based on true events the story was about the college years of some of the most renowned people of the beat generation. The time was 1944 when a murder had a connection to the poets Allen Ginsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, December Boys); Lucien Carr, played by Dane DeHaan (Lawless, Lincoln); Jack Kerouac, played by Jack Huston (Outlander, Boardwalk Empire-TV) and William Burroughs, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, The Mechanic). Having only seen a few news footages of these writers, I thought the acting from Daniel, Ben and Michael C. Hall (Gamer, Dexter-TV) as David Kammerer was especially good. The movie had a dark stylized look that gave added authenticity to the story. There were a few passages that were slow for me and a couple of times I was simply confused. What kept me interested was the fact I was familiar with these writers, having read some of their works; so, some of you may not have the same interest level as mine. I would have preferred a deeper exploration of the characters because I think it would have helped the viewers who have had little exposure to these individuals. With that being said, I was entertained during a majority of the film, but was wondering how these writers would have told the story.
2 3/4 stars