WAY BEFORE THE MATRIX MOVIES were released people were already feeling more like a machine than human. I believe this is true; just look around and you will see individuals who are stuck in a rut that causes them to lose their zest for life. There are times I feel overwhelmed when I find myself in this cyclical pattern of sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work. Life becomes a repetitious pattern of events over and over to the point where one day is no different from the next. What helps me get through these periods of time is an active mind. Keep in mind my daydreaming was used as a defense to get through the dark periods of my earlier life; so now, when I feel myself getting into a rut I fire up the creative furnace of my brain and enter a fantasy land of hopes and dreams. I am aware this method may not be suitable for someone else; in that case, they would need to find a way to bring joy back into their life. Only existing day by day, I feel is not enough to experience life and I will add, living. THERE WAS A MAN I KNEW who would change jobs every time he felt he was getting into a rut. At first, I thought he was just being aggressive in trying to advance himself up the career ladder; but after a couple of different positions, I realized they were more of a lateral move instead of advancement. Within five years he had already changed companies 4 times. Each time he started a new job he was excited and gung ho about it; then as time passed on, you could see the life being drained out of him. Looking back at it I now wonder if he was experiencing some form of depression. It would be understandable if a person felt trapped or stuck in a place. Then that is the time therapy should come into play, instead of running away from the issue like this guy seemed to be doing by changing jobs multiple times. Taking in consideration the stress of changing jobs, I can only wonder if this also played a factor in his decision-making process. Let us face it; for some people it is easier to avoid such feelings and just change the environment instead. But there are some positions that one does not get a choice; they must deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Look what was going on in this film festival nominated comedic drama. WITH EACH CHILD AND BABY demanding all her attention Marlo, played by Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Atomic Blonde), had nothing left in her to deal with anything else. It came to the point her husband Craig, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love), suggested they get a nanny; not just a regular nanny, but a night one. What was a night nanny? Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) this film also starred Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049) as Tully and Ron Livingston (The Conjuring, Adaptation) as Drew. This movie was all about Charlize’s character and she did not disappoint, even gaining 50 pounds for the role. I enjoyed the story and most of the script because it came across as believable. There were no apologies about anything nor the painting of a happy picture when there really was nothing to be happy about; this was I believe a true portrayal of what motherhood entails for some women. Having sat through a rut of uninteresting movies this picture was a needed respite.
I was a witness to it though I did not know I was watching something significant taking place. Visiting a friend at her house, we were sitting and talking while her kids were playing on the floor. I was not aware something was brewing but her daughter got upset over her sibling grabbing a toy from out of her hands. The little girl slapped her brother and he began to cry. My friend verbally disciplined them, saying something I thought most parents would say to an unruly child; I did not pay much mind to it. But right after my friend said it she stopped cold, turned to me and said, “Oh no, I just turned into my mother!” My puzzled look was her cue to tell me what she just told her kids was the same line her mother used to say to her when she was young. Now I understood; she reached that point in time, whether she wanted to believe it or not, when she discovered she was turning into her mother. Haven’t many of us gone through the same thing? It does not have to be a verbal thing; it could be some particular action that you find yourself doing that one of your parents used to do. WHAT I find just as impactful if not more is the time when you first objectively see yourself in someone else. For me it happened at a birthday party for a friend. There was a guy there who must have been angry about something. We were sitting around playing a game and this person would get upset if someone on his team did not succeed in the task. His competiveness was not relatable to me but his expressed anger is what connected to me. I have to tell you it startled me when I realized I probably make the people in my life just as uncomfortable with the anger I carried inside of me. This happened years ago but wouldn’t you know it, there was something about the main character in this comedic drama that struck a chord in me. THOUGH no longer president of the association Ove, played by Rolf Lassgard (Under the Sun, The Hunters), made his daily rounds to make sure everything was in order. Trouble was all he saw when his new neighbor Parvaneh, played by Bahar Pars (When Darkness Falls, Dreams), and her family drove into his mailbox. This film festival winner is Sweden’s entry into the Best Foreign Film category at the 2017 Academy Awards. It totally deserves to be there because I thought the story and the acting were excellent. With Filip Berg (Eternal Summer, Deano and Nige’s Best Last Day Ever) as Ove som ung and Sofie Gallerspang (Monica Z, Innocent Mara-TV Movie) as Brud; I felt the writers did a beautiful job of intertwining the 2 story lines of past and present. The directing was a little heavy where one would almost feel they were being manipulated but Rolf was outstanding enough to make everything real in this picture. This was a well done picture now please excuse me as I go take a good look at myself in the mirror. Swedish and Persian was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
The outer layer is as fragile as a newborn eggshell. It takes a majority of energy just to maintain its shape. And similar to an Easter egg, one can put anything they want on the surface. The reason why it takes so much effort to keep things together is because just below the surface there is turmoil. Down there lives pain, bellowing and crying at all hours of the day. Sometimes it finds a way out and it obliterates the facade up on top. Only the utmost amount of force can pull back the outpouring of suffering and agony. Some time ago I went through a horrible traumatic event where I did not know if I could pull myself up and out of the house. Most of the life in my heart had been extinguished, yet I had to continue to make a living and teach my classes. Going through the day it took everything I had to focus on my work, pretend I was interested in what people were saying to me. The worst time was at night when I was teaching classes. In that environment I was the upbeat fun person. Ready with a joke or positive reinforcement, I had to be there for each member in my class. On the inside my body was crying out in pain; I just wanted someone to hold me and extinguish all my agony. Over time I may not have conquered all of the misery inside but I was able to manage it. I got through without permanent damage; I know I was and am one of the lucky ones. Laney Brooks, played by Sarah Silverman (School of Rock, There’s Something ABout Mary), was married to the successful author Bruce Brooks, played by Josh Charles (Freeheld, Four Brothers), and had a beautiful family. She had everything but something inside wanted something more. This film festival winning drama was the first time I saw Sarah doing a heavy serious role. I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised at her ability to carry off the role. She went beyond anything I imagined she was capable of doing in this type of genre. In fact, she was the standout by far though I was also impressed with Skylar Gaertner (Sleeping with Other People, They Came Together) as Eli Brooks. Sadly the script could not hold up with her performance. I found the dark story average and easily able to figure out. In addition there were a couple of times where I thought the story veered off then realized it needed to get back on track. Within the script there were times I felt some things were put in strictly for shock value; though I will say, when it involved Sarah’s character she was the closest to making it believable. If nothing else I did feel Sarah gave an honest portrayal.
2 1/4 stars
Depending on the day it could feel as if you have either a veil or shroud draped over you. A bright shining sun cannot penetrate the darkness that surrounds you. Each step may need all of your concentration to make the effort to lift your foot off of the ground from its footprint’s vice like grip. Depression lets the irrational thoughts win the battle over one’s rational thoughts. I have witnessed and experienced the darkness of depression. For each person the response to it can be so different. Some people will sleep away the majority of the day while others will focus on a particular food, consuming it way beyond the daily recommended amount. For those individuals in my circle, I know it is not productive to utter those generic platitudes such as ” cheer up” or “things will get better;” they serve no meaningful purpose. All I can do is stay in contact and be supportive. DEPRESSION was a trait estranged twins Maggie and Milo, played by Kristen Wiig (Girl Most Likely, Whip It) and Bill Hader (The To Do List, Saturday Night Live-TV), had in common. Though they had not spoken or seen each other in 10 years, they each were experiencing the same irrational act at the same time that resulted in them coming together. They would discover more about each other than they knew on their own. Though this film festival winning drama was filled with heavy subject matter, the director beautifully laced the scenes with a delicate to goofy humor. In addition, I have to give credit to the writer/director Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) for not letting the two leads fall into their shared Saturday Night Live type of performances. Kristen and Bill were absolutely amazing; in fact, I feel this was Kristen’s best performance. Their seemless chemistry was perfection. When 2 actors shine as brightly as these two did, it can make the rest of the cast look dull. Luckily that was not the case for Luke Wilson (Death at a Funeral, Legally Blonde) as Maggie’s husband Lance and Ty Burrell (Muppets Most Wanted, Modern Family-TV) as Milo’s former teacher Rich; they held their own in helping make each scene feel complete. The script was thoughtful, filled with subtleness and compassion; I never felt I was being fooled. There was one brief offshoot of the story that seemed unnecessary but it was only a minor complaint. Life is filled with happy and sad moments; for me, when I left the theater I was in a good mood because I had just seen a well done film.
3 1/3 stars
With a smoldering Brando vibe and a piercing, steely stare; make no mistake about it, this was Tom Hardy’s (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) picture. If he and his management team continue to make the right career choices like Warrior and avoid the wrong ones such as This Means War; Tom will be one of our top rated actors. He portrayed Forrest Bondurant, who with his brothers Howard, played by Jason Clarke (Death Race, Public Enemies) and Jack, played by Shia LaBeouf (Transformers franchise, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), ran a successful bootlegged liquor operation in Franklin County, Virginia during the depression. When corrupt special agent Charlie Rakes, played by Guy Pierce (The King’s Speech, Factory Girl), came into town; he rounded up the authorities to aid him in getting a cut of the brothers’ growing earnings. Where Tom played his character as a dark, simmering man with a deadly reputation; Guy’s character was an arrogant, mean, sadistic man who was fussy about keeping a pristine appearance. Both actors were amazing. Based on a true story, this was a graphic violent, bloody film; as we saw the brothers fight to maintain a hold on their operations. I, along with everyone else in the theater, sat absolutely still through the entire movie; the story never lagged. Both Tom and Guy were the major players on the screen. The issue I had with this otherwise great film was Shia LaBeouf. This boy could not handle the role given to him. It was so apparent when any of the other cast was in his scenes; he could not elevate himself to their level of acting. Despite Shia, this was one heck of an intense movie to view and I was serious when I said the entire audience sat still in their seats. None of us wanted to miss a single thing.
3 1/4 stars