I WAS SHOCKED WHEN I WAS told their daughter was going to join us for our lunch date. Normally, I would not be bothered by this type of news; but this was only our 3rddate. I barely knew them and now I was being introduced to their daughter? It seemed weird to me and I was feeling uncomfortable about it. I chose to keep an open mind and try to “go with the flow” as they say. Maybe they felt they were a bad judge of character and wanted their daughter there to see if there were any red flags associated with me, I wondered. After only having two dates, I thought they were nice; but I hadn’t really formed a firm opinion about them. It was a bit ironic because I took the fact, they were so quick to introduce me to their daughter, as a red flag. We had agreed to meet at a Chinese restaurant after I was told their daughter was a vegetarian. When I arrived at the chosen time, they were already there and seated at a table. The daughter looked like she was in high school which for some reason made me a little more nervous. Once the introductions were done and I was seated, the daughter was quick with the questions for me. I felt like I was on an interview. By the time our meal was over, I felt this was our last date; with the line of questions and her dominating the conversations, I knew this was not a good match. FROM MY DATING EXPERIENCES, I HAVE met a variety of my dates’ family members, but most of them were not introduced to me until after we had been dating for a few months. Mothers and grandmothers were especially fond of me for the most part. Luckily, I only had a couple of experiences which involved going to see their family members out of state. In those cases, I would only agree to the visit if we could stay in a hotel. I did not want to get into the position of not only meeting the relatives for the first time but having them put me up for the night. It was important to me to have a place where we could have downtime and relax without having to be on our best behavior or worse, they reverting to being a child in the presence of their parents, in their childhood home. That is why I still cannot understand why the main character agreed to see the parents in this dramatic thriller. BARELY KNOWING HER BOYFRIEND, A YOUNG woman, played by Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy), agrees to travel with him to visit his parents who live on a remote farm out in the country. Her only requirement was to make sure she got back home in time before she had to get to work. With Jesse Piemons (Judas and the Black Messiah, The Irishman) as Jake, Toni Collette (Hereditary, Knives Out) as Mother, David Thewlis (Harry Potter franchise, Wonder Woman) as Father and Guy Boyd (Body Double, Foxcatcher) as the janitor; this film festival winning movie’s saving grace was the cast. I thought the acting was terrific and that is despite the engorged script. For me, the first part of the film was boring what with all the talking between the two main characters. The story did not pick up for me until the parents’ scenes began. Now I will say I thought the build up of tension in the script was good; however, it dissipated at times when I was sitting and trying to figure out what was going on in the story. Maybe the book this picture is based on is better; but you might want to reconsider spending time with this family.
BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SUCH A long time, guests became familiar with the picture frame that I had turned around on my sofa table. The photo in the frame was too painful for me to see after our breakup; it showed a happy couple and it happened to be one of the few photographs where I thought I looked good. We had been a couple for several years before our relationship disintegrated in a horrible fashion. Many of my friends and family asked me why I still kept the framed photo on the table, but I was not able to provide them with a sensible answer; I could not get rid of it, but I did not want to look at it either. The funny thing is no one ever asked me about the painting I had hanging on the wall that was just as painful for me to see. The reason being this painting was bought as a prelude to the two of us moving in together. We both fell in love with the artwork and we decided we wanted it to be the first thing we would buy together for our “home.” I could not part with the painting, despite the pain, because what was depicted in the art piece was a vivid memory I had from my childhood. Luckily or gratefully, I had the painting hanging in a room that I did not go into often. As months passed the shock in seeing the painting became less and less difficult to see. THE PHOTOGRAPH AND PAINTING WERE not the only items that remained from a past relationship. My house has a variety of things that came out of the love I had for someone. There was the small, stuffed animal I was given with the memo that it would watch over to keep me safe. I recently found a plaque that was done in needlepoint that I had stuffed in a drawer. When I saw it, I immediately was able to remember the place, the occasion and the meal (yes, the food) we ate when I was given the plaque. Ever since I can remember, I always had or designated something that represented everything I experienced with a significant other. It could be a song, something bought, or something made, and I would deem it the repository for all the memories that were created during the time the two of us were together. Imagine my surprise when I watched this romantic comedy and discovered I am not the only one. DESPITE BEING BLINDSIDED FROM BEING DUMPED by her boyfriend Lucy, played by Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Bad Education), could not get rid of the little mementos she acquired during their time together. The problem was she was running out of room, both physically and emotionally. With Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers, Stranger Things-TV) as Nick, Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Blindspotting) as Max Vora, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Good Boys) as Amanda and Phillipa Soo (Here and Now, Hamilton) as Nadine; the thing that sets this movie apart from others in the genre was the cast and written dialog. Geraldine and Dacre stood out for me; her because of her delivery of lines and him because of his screen presence. The two of them did a wonderful job of acting that felt real to me. The story followed a generic line but there were a couple of times where I was surprised by a twist thrown into the plot. Overall, this was an easy and amusing film to see at the theater. Though if I would have known, I would have come with a variety of items to donate to the gallery or better yet, offered to open a satellite location.
2 ½ stars
UNTIL I STARTED BELIEVING THERE WAS a reason for everything, I found myself getting stuck in place many times over. Imagine being in a relationship, thinking all is good, then suddenly you get blindsided and you are alone. At that point you have a choice; either feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity or reflect on your actions that led up to the moment, to see if you are following some kind of unconscious pattern or fear. There was a time where I had the same experience being repeated in my relationships. At first, I would only focus on my feelings of hurt and anger. Until I started looking at common traits between the relationships and believing there was a reason this was happening to me, did I start to understand what had happened. A change took place and I found myself reacting differently to dates and relationships. With this new awareness, I found myself being able to also see the patterns my friends were getting into in their relationships. There were many times when friends would tell me about something their date said or did where I would tell them not to take it personally; their date was playing out some pattern of their own making that had nothing to do with them. ONE FRIEND IN PARTICULAR KEPT REPEATING the same pattern of behavior that caused her not to succeed in her places of employment. She wanted to do something specific that she felt she was best qualified to do. The issue was with each job, she did not take full ownership of her responsibilities. The result was she never got promoted. She would become resentful, letting it build up until she quit and looked for a new place of employment. This pattern was repeated several times and with each job she became more hardened and inflexible. I understood she wanted to do something different, but it did not make sense to me to be miserable in the meantime. It is like when I walk up to a store’s customer service counter and am met by a surly employee who is not helpful. I just want to say to the employee if they are so unhappy then quit. Being miserable and feeling bad will not get one to the place where they want to be; at least that is my way of thinking. Sure, it is easy to become cynical and disillusioned, but this is why I feel there are no accidents. Be present, be available and believe in purpose because once you do, you will have an easier go in achieving your dreams. I firmly believer this and think the main character in this comedy comes to understand this concept. DESPITE THE CONTINUAL REJECTION NOTICES JESSICA James, played by Jessica Williams (Booksmart, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), still believed she could be a playwright. She just needed to convince people of it. With Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, Love After Love) as Boone, LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, The Photograph) as Damon, Noel Wells (Mr. Roosevelt, Master of None-TV) as Tasha and Zabryna Guevara (Marley & Me, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Mrs. Phillips; this film festival nominee at first glance appeared to be a typical rom-com movie. However, the casting of Jessica and Chris turned this story into something new and fresh; I thoroughly enjoyed these 2 actors’ performances. The interactions between them was fun to watch, which made this viewing easier to sit through for me. The script had its predictable parts at times, but again due to the writing and delivery of the dialog, I did not mind how the story was playing out. The added benefit in seeing this picture was seeing a little of my old self make an appearance; gratefully only a short appearance.
2 ½ stars
THERE IS NO DENYING IT FEELS wonderful when someone is so into you. To receive constant attention and affection simply makes you feel special. I should know because I have experienced just such a relationship, where I was on the receiving end of a steady stream of compliments, affection, little gifts; among other things. It started out by meeting at a café mid-afternoon; I remember I had cinnamon tea because we both were commenting on how good it smelled. We were making small talk when they complimented me on my smile. I said thank you and stopped myself from returning the compliment because I wasn’t ready to go there yet. It was more important to me to find out about what things move and excite them. We stayed at the café for an hour or so, sharing a couple of our past life events. When we were leaving I found out they took public transportation to the café, so I offered to drive them home. You would have thought I was offering them a free car, they were so excited and happy. I was going the same direction and I thought it was the polite thing to do. FROM THAT POINT IN TIME THINGS began to accelerate. We would text back and forth throughout the week. Some of the texts I received came with selfies. None of the photos were inappropriate but I could tell they were set up to be somewhat flirtatious. I admit when it comes to relationships I tend to go at a slow and steady pace instead of quickly jumping in all the way. We had maybe 5 or 6 dates before they commented that they were falling in love with me. Whoa, only after 5-6 dates?!?! That seemed awful fast for me and it sent up a red flag. After several weeks does a person honestly know enough about someone to express their love? I could see saying something like, “…you have the qualities I find myself attracted to” or “I am feeling more comfortable around you,” but to profess their love so soon does not feel right to me. In my younger days I would probably be thrilled and find myself going right into a relationship; but, as I have grown older I have become aware of people who misdirect their love. They are in love with being in love. The object of their affection just needs to somewhat fit into a blueprint they created in their mind and off they go. An example can be found in this comedic, dramatic romance. THE HIGHLIGHT OF GLORIA’S, PLAYED BY Julianne Moore (Still Alice, The Kids are All Right), week was going out to the clubs to dance. When she danced she felt free and that freeness attracted recently divorced Arnold, played by John Turturro (Barton Fink, Fading Gigolo). Her personality was intoxicating to him. This movie also starred Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct, Micky Blue Eyes) as Fiona, Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde, Meet the Fockers) as Veronica and Michael Cera (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Person to Person) as Peter. This remake was fortunate to have Julianne starring in it; she did a wonderful job with the character. I enjoyed watching the way she conveyed Gloria’s feelings without having to hit the viewer over the head with them. If this had been cast with a less experienced actress I do not think my interest would have held up. The reason being is the script was too sanitary for me; everything seemed to fit into a prescribed place which prevented any surprises taking place. I can see where a viewer would quickly fall in love with Julianne; but as for the rest of the story, one may hold off a bit before expressing their feelings.
2 ½ stars
I know I should not have chuckled to myself as I passed the car parked at the side of the road. The driver was sitting in it with the window open, nodding his head up at the police officer standing outside. Not knowing exactly why the driver was pulled over, I had my own reasons why I was glad he was stopped by the police. Back around a 1/2 mile or so the driver not only cut me off, forcing me to slam on my brakes when he whipped into my lane of traffic, but he then extended his middle finger at me when I honked at him. So when I finally came up to see he was pulled over by the police I had to chuckle and just think it was karma. I wish I could say it was wisdom on my part but I think it has more to do with growing older and less desire to get even or retribution against someone who I felt wronged me. The concept of karma fits well into my mindset at this age since I already believe each person is responsible for their actions. For example, if a person had been told they need to change some of their habits for better health, it is their choice on what type of quality they want for their life. So yes I believe it was karma that caused that speeding driver to get caught by the police. If you want to see another example of karma just watch the main character in this romantic comedy. CHARLIE, played by Terrence Jenkins (Think Like a Man franchise, Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming), avoided any type of romantic relationships; he preferred no commitments with the women he dated. Believing his friends’ bet would be an easy win, he agreed to find a woman to date for 30 days while avoiding any type of commitments with her. With a cast that also included Paula Patton (Deja Vu, 2 Guns) as Sherry and Cassie Ventura (Step Up 2: The Streets) as Eva, I thought the idea for the story was okay. If the script could have been expanded, avoiding the generic formula it used to create its story, this movie would have had more opportunities to display deeper thought into what was going on. Instead I found the story was predictable with a script that did not favor the actors. It was almost odd that the first part of the movie seemed different to the last half, which I enjoyed more. For me the last half had more heart if that makes any sense. The thing that attracted me to this film was the issue of karma, though I am not sure how many people would even think to focus on it. There was not much in this movie to warrant spending money on a full priced ticket. Brief scenes during and after the credits.
1 3/4 stars
The rules for dating as far as I can tell are constantly changing. I use to wish for a handbook to make the process easier. From my experiences I feel the underlying reason for all of the confusion these days is mistrust. It seems as if very few people take another person at face value. There was a time where most dates did not have an issue getting picked up at their home. I do not know if it is partially because of the internet or all the different crime shows on television, but a majority of people prefer meeting at some type of public establishment. Now I actually agree with this logic; I’m all for meeting someone out publicly for the 1st time. Here is the thing though; even after a couple of dates I noticed some individuals balk at the suggestion of being picked up at their home or coming over to mine. There have been times when I’ve offered such an arrangement but sensed their uneasiness at the suggestion. I get the sense they feel I have an ulterior motive in offering such a thing. It is just weird to me; but I never force the issue. Now there is something else that I find perplexing; maybe you have noticed it yourself. Those friends that go from being single to being in a relationship quickly become outdated on the latest dating rules; it is as if their set of rules expired over night. You can query them, asking them how they knew their date was the right one; but to no avail, everyone has a different answer. When you think about it, it is amazing how people wind up being in a loving relationship. If you do not believe me just take a look at the women in this comedic romance. Alice, Robin and Meg; played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, Black Mass), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect franchise, Bridesmaids) and Leslie Mann (The Other Woman, This is 40); each had different reasons for dating. It only became more confusing when love was introduced into it. Based on the best seller, the cast also included Anders Holm (The Intern, The Interview) as Tom and Jake Lacy (Carol, Obvious Child) as Ken. Though I have not read the book, I did get the idea the story was meant to shine a light on the dating world from a feminine perspective. I thought Leslie and Rebel were better when it came to acting skills. Honestly though, I did not think this movie did anything different; I was constantly getting bored with the story. In fact, the trailer for this film showed the best parts; throughout the movie I never connected to any of the characters. Now here is the funny thing, I could see where the story could have taken a bigger risk and delve deeper into the characters but the script was not geared to do it. After seeing this film I am just as confused about dating and love as I was before.
1 3/4 stars
I wondered if things would have been different if I had redefined the term “best friend?” Having spent many years moving in and out of the dating pool, I never wondered if any of the people I dated would become my best friend. I was always confused when I heard someone say they married their “best friend” because I never considered such a thing regarding my best friends. There are a couple of individuals that I have been friends with since elementary school and though I dated one in 8th grade, now as adults we are still close but just not in that way. In fact when I think about it, I am not sure I would consider someone I am dating to be a friend. For me that category for friends and dates has different definitions. Where both involve love, compassion and humor; I do not list physical intimacy under the friend’s category. Maybe I am wrong but I consider dates to be a different type of relationship. Sure I want to be able to laugh and be vulnerable with them but in my mind they represent a being who shares heightened awarenesses with me. I have always said a love relationship is one where the two of you are walking down a winding road that goes through hills and valleys. There will be times where one will have to push or pull the other one along, but they always are shoulder to shoulder as they continue on their path without any judgements, only unconditional love and respect for each other. LAINEY, played by Alison Brie (Get Hard, The Five-Year Engagement), could not be faithful to anyone she dated. Jake, played by Jason Sudeikis (We’re the Millers, Saturday Night Live-TV), was an avid womanizer who could not make a commitment. The two, who knew each other back in college, found themselves at the same self-help group and vowed to maintain a strictly platonic relationship with each other. This could easily become a complicated situation. The script for this romantic comedy was uneven for me. Jason and Alison were the best out of the cast in my opinion; I especially liked Jason’s comedic timing along with several funny lines. Some scenes worked well but there were a couple that seemed far-fetched or simply odd for me. For example, there was a scene that involved modeling clothing to get an opinion that I had to question if that would actually have happened in real life. Some of the jokes were “cute” but there really was nothing that warranted out loud laughing. Another reason why I did not feel connected to the characters may have to due with the fact that I could not relate to either of them since cheating is not part of my makeup. I do not think this film warrants making a date for the movie theater.
Once upon a time kindness came from the heart. Without fanfare or expectations, it is something that can be random as it arrives unfettered. Simple acts like opening a door for someone or helping a person pickup the spilled papers from their briefcase, these acts need not be elaborate or expensive. I remember a time when drivers were not as aggressive, where the kindness of strangers played a part in everyone driving from point A to point B. Another area that I feel really has changed from years ago is the dating experience. Back then it was less calculated or maybe I should say not as risky. With the internet, people now can investigate a potential date. I remember a co-worker who would go online to checkup on a prospective date. They had to have a high credit score before they would go out with them. From the stories I have heard plus my own experiences, meeting a person can be a challenge. Some of the “rules” out there are to always meet in a public place, let someone know where you will be, never go home with a stranger on the first meeting; there really are many land mines dotting the dating landscape. My story is not unusual; after a few dates I received a phone call that they were in dire need of $300.00 and would I loan it to them. I apologized to them that I did not have the available funds and asked about their friends. They had a ready excuse but in my mind I felt it was odd to ask me after only 4-5 dates. Imagine, I never heard from them again. I chalked it up to me being one of the lucky ones. HURTING from a painful breakup with her boyfriend Dave, played by Morris Chestnut (The Call, The Perfect Holiday); Leah, played by Sanaa Lathan (Out of Time, Something New), appreciated the kindness extended to her from the stranger standing next to her at the cafe. When she bumped into him again Leah wondered if he was to good to be true. This dramatic thriller had a story that was done many times before. I thought the cast, which also included Michael Ealy (Think Like a Man, Seven Pounds) as Carter, did a good job where I enjoyed a couple of suspenseful scenes. However, this was not enough for me to enjoy this film. The redundant silly script was not believable with all of its cliches and predictability. The only thing that I felt saved this picture from crashing down was the whole good vs evil setup. I sensed this from the audience sitting around me at the theater. Just as an online profile may be better than the actual person, the trailer for this movie was head and shoulders above the actual film. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood.
1 3/4 stars
If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. But what happens if they do not come back? Let me tell you what happens; the vacated space in your heart will become listless for a time. Your memories go through a transformation that softens the hard edges, like water continuously running through a forming canyon. There may be times where a particular memory morphs with fantasy to create a totally new experience. You believe what you are recalling even though it never really happened. Remember that time where the two of you were supposed to celebrate your anniversary but they could not get away from work? Though at the time you were upset, you now look back at it with fondness because they made it up to you with a spectacular day. Never mind they were never really at work but out with friends and just did not want to tell you. Now you can say what you want, but unless you work really hard on confronting, dealing and expunging your anger over your breakup; your anger will always find a way to come out. And it may happen in the most inappropriate of ways. I know about these things because anger used to be a close friend of mine. One time my bathtub got stopped up and for some reason I bought this plastic pump contraption. I tried putting it together to make it work, but it only frustrated me and I exploded with anger, taking a hammer to it until it was in a million pieces. Just like the character in this dramatic film. LOCKSMITH A. J. Manglehorn, played by Al Pacino (Danny Collins, The Godfather franchise), lived a quiet life with his cat. Well, quiet only when he was not breaking his furniture. What made this film festival nominee attractive to me was seeing Al Pacino teamed up with Holly Hunter (The Piano, Raising Arizona) playing bank teller Dawn. The two of them were wonderful and I wished they had more screen time together. This was the issue I had with this film; the story needed to spend more time on them, instead of spending time with A. J.’s son Jacob, played by Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Argo). His scenes seemed to be filler for the story; though I knew they were trying to make a point about Manglehorn. It all came down to the script in my opinion. The directing was fine but without a strong script I was never fully invested in the story. To me it seemed like it was never really going anywhere until the very end. Who knows maybe down the road I will look back at this film and like it more than I really did.
2 1/4 stars
From time to time I enjoy reading the advice columns in the newspapers. I am not really sure why; maybe to get a reality or non-reality check on my life. The questions that fascinate me the most are the relationship ones where I think the answers are obvious. For example, a woman wrote that her husband sends text messages to a neighbor who has repeatedly said she wished she had a husband like that. When she asks her husband what he is texting he always says, “Nothing, why should you care?” The wife says it makes her uncomfortable and somewhat insecure. I know when it come to relationships I can be naive in some aspects of it because once I give my trust to the person they have 100% of it. I never question or imagine their actions have ulterior motives. Since I could never cheat on or lie to them, I cannot imagine they would ever do it to me. I certainly do not consider this a character flaw, but from experience when it happened it shocked me beyond belief. Friends have told me I need to get my head out of the clouds and pay better attention. Though I do not think I could do it, I have seen where some of them have set up a plan to try and catch their significant other cheating on them. Because I have seen it with my own eyes, this comedy seemed perfectly plausible. STRUGGLING actress Maria Laura “Mala” Medina, played by Aislinn Derbez (The Vineyard, Los Heroes del Norte-TV), accidentally fell into a second career when friends started hiring her to hit on their boyfriends to see if they were cheaters. Everything appeared to be going smoothly until Mala showed up at an audition for a TV show, where the producer knew about Mala’s side business and had an unusual request of her. The premise to this story seemed absolutely plausible to me since I have seen this type of thing being done within my circle of friends. The cast seemed well suited to the story; besides Aislinn there was Mauricio Ochmann (Message in a Bottle, El Senor de los Cielos-TV) as Santiago and Papile Aurora (The Air I Breathe, Pulling Strings) as Kika. I really do not have any major negatives to say about this film; it was pretty straight forward and easy to figure out. If anything I would consider this movie light fare. Some of the scenes were predictable but with an engaging cast I did not mind sitting through the picture. I suggest you consider this film simple fluff. You do not have to commit to it for the long term; you can visit it at a later date. The movie was spoken in Spanish with English subtitles.
2 1/3 stars