THOUGH SHE APPEARED TO BE AN OLDER woman, I would never ask her age. She had been taking my yoga class for several weeks, bringing her own yoga mat and a bottle of water. Maybe I am stereotyping; but she had long gray hair pulled back into a ponytail that trailed halfway down her back, looking like a former hippie. Every week while I lead the class into warming up poses I provide a little distraction by listing celebrity birthdays for the week. One of the reasons I do this is to break the ice with any new participants who have that “new kid on the block” mentality, coming to class for the 1st time. I will ask the class if they know so-and-so, wait if anyone guesses what the celebrity did to make he/she famous, then reveal their age. So, this one week after I went through my list of celebrity birthdays, the older woman piped up it was also her birthday. I and the rest of the class wished her well. She then said she was happy to say she was 82 years old. I knew she was an older individual but honestly, I would never have guessed that was her age. She told us she loves yoga and has been doing it for decades; what an inspiration. I WAS JUST AS FORTUNATE IN the work world to have met people like that woman in my yoga class. They loved their job, so they stayed employed way past their retirement age. At one of the companies I worked at, the owner came to work every day. He was always busy and kept this up way into his 90’s. There certainly is some truth in finding something you love or are passionate about to feel successful. I had a relative who would always say they were not going to work, they were going to play because they enjoyed what they did at their job. You know how some people are married to their work; where all they think and talk about is their job? Well they do not necessarily love what they do; they have formed an identity for themselves based on their occupation. The individuals I have referred to each have their identity in tack; they just want to continue what they do because they love it. I feel this way about doing my movie reviews and hope I can continue doing them for a long time because they bring me such joy. The same thing can be said about the main character in today’s comedic, crime drama. FORREST TUCKER, PLAYED BY ROBERT REDFORD (The Natural, Truth); was good at what he did, besides getting immense joy out of it. The only downside was the consequences would be steep if he had a misstep. With Casey Affleck (A Ghost Story, The Finest Hours) as John Hurt, Sissy Spacek (The Help, Coal Miner’s Daughter) as Jewel, Danny Glover (Proud Mary, Back in the Day) as Teddy and Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths, Down by Law) as Waller; this film festival nominee was based on a true story and what a story! Rumor has it this will be Robert’s last acting role. If it is he at least can end his chapter on a high note with this role. It was such a treat to watch him and Sissy, two seasoned actors, play off each other. The story started out slow for me but continued building itself up to a point where I was enjoying watching the mixture of emotions that took place on screen. It was obvious Robert was having a good time doing this character since it came across fully. I must give everyone who worked on this film credit; this will sound cheesy but if there was any labor involved in the making of this picture it was a labor of love.
I HAVE BEEN RACKING my brain out trying to figure out how I feel connected to this film. With the past year accomplishing something in the box office rankings that had not been done for 59 years (the top 3 grossing movies in 2017 were headed by females), I was looking forward to this female lead story. Now if you think about it, what does this statistic say about a society that divides acting between men and women? You know I treat the Oscar telecast as a high holiday, but I have been curious about this division. What would happen if they only had one category for best acting in a lead role? I do not see where acting skills should be judged by the person’s gender. If one is a great actor then they are and it has nothing to do with whether they are a woman or a man. Yet I understand from the dawn of time men and women have been separated and treated differently. And I have to tell you I find it amusing when one sex ventures into what is perceived as the other sex’s domain, such as car racing, knitting or hockey. ANOTHER ASPECT THAT NEEDS to be addressed in this conversation about the division between women and men is the personal perceptions people place on others. Maybe this happens less so now but I can remember hearing parents telling their child not to act a certain way. I am not referring to misbehavior, but to things that are steeped in so called gender characteristics. Examples like “don’t be such a sissy,” “act like a lady” and “you cry like a girl” come to mind. Who decided that certain traits were to be exclusive to one gender is what I would like to know. When it comes to my music I am attracted to big vocals, most of the time female voices. Not because they are women but because that combination of range and power mixed in the right combination is pleasing to my ears. With acting I simply want a dynamic performance that helps sweep me away into the film’s story. From the lead actress’ recent work I expected a strong character to shine in this action thriller. AFTER COMPLETING HER ASSIGNMENT by killing her target Mary, played by Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, Person of Interest-TV), discovered something in the man’s apartment that would change her life. With Billy Brown (Star Trek, Race to Witch Mountain) as Tom, Danny Glover (The Color Purple, 2012) as Benny, Jahi Di’Allo Winston (The Upside, Feed the Beast-TV) as Danny and Neal McDonough (Timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Walter; the idea for this story seemed interesting to me. Sadly this movie was put together in all the wrong ways, so my interest level dropped significantly close to the start. I thought the script was generic, put together like a child’s puzzle. There really was nothing new about it; in fact, I think there was a movie similar to this one years ago. For this picture the only thing that held my interest was the soundtrack. I mean how can you not like Tina Turner singing Proud Mary? The action was dull, the acting was plain, the script was tired and there was nothing new in it to illicit an emotional response from the viewer. All I want to say is this; with this female lead picture, I hope it is not an indication of what is in store for female actresses in this year’s crop of films.
1 ½ stars
THE main dinner entrée was being passed around the table, leaving wisps of steam in its path. Each guest was putting a portion of it on their plates. However halfway around the large oval table one guest reversed course and sent the platter back from the direction it had traveled. The guest on the other side who did not get a chance to take some of the entrée did not say a word. It only took the platter traveling backwards a couple of places before a guest asked everyone seated around the table if they had gotten the main course. Half the people around the table said no and the platter made its way around to the rest of the guests. By the way all the guests were related to each other. THAT guest who reversed course was a sister to the woman she snubbed sitting next to her; they do not speak to each other. As the meal progressed there was an uncle who was telling his brother-in-law what he should have done differently in raising his children. A few seats down from him was a relative who had no filters and after they took their first bite into the main entrée they announced to anyone who would listen that the food was overcooked. If that was not enough, sitting next to this individual was a cousin who was complaining to another cousin about a relative who was not in attendance who they felt had awful taste in clothing and was too heavy to wear that type of clothing anyway. To an outsider who was privy to this circle of relatives they would view all of the guests as vipers. However, not all families show their true colors to outsiders. The family in this dramatic comedy was no different. CELEBRATING his first Christmas without his wife all Walter, played by Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Shooter), wanted for the holiday was to have all of his children with him without any arguments. Considering his kids he may have wished for too much. With a cast that included Kimberly Elise (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, For Colored Girls) as Cheryl and Gabrielle Union (Think like a Man franchise, Top Five) as Rachael, the two actors that stood out the most were Mo’Nique (Precious, The Parkers-TV) as Aunt May and J.B. Smoove (We Bought a Zoo, The Sitter) as Uncle Lonnie. These 2 characters could easily be spun off into their own film. As for this picture there were some fun scenes along with a few touching ones. I do have to say if Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove were not in the movie I would have been bored more than I experienced. The reason being was the story followed a formula for family dysfunctions. Or maybe I am just used to these types of events. Lol But seriously it was easy to figure out the punch line to the gags and jokes. For lighter fare this movie would be fine to watch if you want to chuckle or laugh, but this film does not reveal anything special. I cannot say you would get coal in your stocking for going to this comedy but maybe you might want to wait for a holiday sale.
2 ¼ stars
There are people among us pretending they are somebody else due to embarrassment or envy. They want nothing to do with individuals who know their history. Within this group you find folk who were guided into taking on a different persona by a parent or mentor. I knew a few people who transformed themselves into someone different. There was one man who grew up in my neighborhood who went to the same schools I did, bought food from the same local grocery and drug stores and even participated in the same summer camp program. However, it apparently was not enough for him. Out of nowhere he started talking with an accent as if he had spent sufficient time in a foreign country and took on their language. He stopped shopping in the neighborhood and began buying only designer clothing. I never understood the change in him but he never wavered from his new veneer. Within my circle of friends I had a friend who had a mother that acted in a couple of television commercials. She was quite the dramatic character and always pushed her daughter towards acting, even though her daughter had no desire to do it. My friend was constantly being dragged either to auditions or fittings for some, what I thought at least, unusual looking clothing. Thinking about them now, I can only imagine how much energy must have been devoted towards maintaining their transformations. UNCOMFORTABLE and despondent emerging pop star Noni, played by Gugu Mbatha Raw (Belle, Larry Crowne); found herself sitting on the edge of the balcony outside her penthouse suite. Driven by her mother Macy Jean, played by Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, Barney’s Version), Noni felt she had no other way out until police officer Kaz Nicol, played by Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails), tried talking her off the ledge. This film festival nominated drama was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball). Having first becoming aware of Gugu in the film Belle, I thought she did an admirable job of acting for this role. There was an easy chemistry between her and Nate. Including Danny Glover (The Color Purple, 2012) as Captain Nicol, I thought everyone’s acting was quite good overall. The script had its moments of real raw emotion that the actors were able to accentuate. Unfortunately the story did not offer any surprises; it was predictable for the most part. There was a familiarity to this film which I realized had to do with it having a similar story to the movie The Bodyguard. Starting out strong, I wished this picture would have stayed more unique and not try to be something else.
2 3/4 stars