THE QUESTIONING DIED DOWN AFTER A short time. It was a good thing since it was starting to annoy me. I had a friend who on the surface was a complete opposite of me; several of my friends would keep asking me why I was friends with him. I realized he came across as gruff to some people, with an air of indifference. Between the two of us we were different politically and religiously. We were complete opposites when it came to exercise and healthy food choices. Where I tried to exercise 5-6 days a week, he never did any physical activity where he would have to exert himself. In fact, the last time he actually exercised was back when he was a student in high school, where it was a mandatory requirement. I could see why my friends would think the two of us had nothing in common; however, they never took the time to really get to know him like I had done. Now granted, I did not push for all of us to get together and hang out. I do not know if you do this with your friends; but I tend to get together with my friends either on a one to one basis or in small groups. When there is a large group, I feel I do not get to catch up completely with friends’ lives. Also, the larger a group the more chances there will be personality conflicts. THOUGH IT APPEARED THERE WAS NOTHING in common between this friend and me; we got along great. There was a deep, sweet kindness inside of him that many people never got to see because they could not get past his abrupt manners. That was one of the things I liked about him; he would tell it like it is without soft-pedaling any of it. We would have these lengthy, philosophical conversations about a variety of topics that were stimulating to me. We did not always agree on things; but the key was both of us respected the other’s opinions. Neither him nor I had to accept each others’ opinions, but we both had respect for them. Not that I want to paint this perfect picture of two friends totally in synch, because there were times we got on each other’s nerves. The key to a successful friendship, at least according to me, is to be respectful, loyal and unconditional. One cannot pick out the pieces we like in a friend and discard the rest; they must accept their friend unconditionally and simple love them. If you care to see how this works, then feel free to watch this film festival nominated, comedic drama. WITH ONE NEIGHBOR LIVING ABOVE THE other, both men fell into a friendship that had its routines. That is until one of the neighbors was given hard medical news about his health. With Mark Duplass (Creep, The One I Love) as Michael, Ray Romano (The Big Sick, The Irishman) as Andy, Christine Woods (Stray, Adult Interference) as Doctor Hagen, Jen Sung (The Happytime Murders, Battle of the Damned) as Master Liu and Sierra Fisk (Piranha 3DD, The Concessionaires Must Die!) as Olive; this movie had a slow start. Not that this was entirely a bad thing because the acting between Mark and Ray was so solid, I was able to connect to the two neighbors during this slow part. The last half of the film made up for the beginning part. I felt the story and the script was done in a real and believable way that made the scenes convincing to me. The humor was gentle, never looking to create belly laughs for the viewer. In a way, I found the ending treated the subject matter in an authentic way that was touching and loving. And that was the beauty in watching this picture; one did not need to have experienced such a scenario to be moved by it.
IT WAS OUR PASSION FOR WORKING out that sparked our friendship. Meeting at the house of mutual friends, I knew immediately he was into fitness. My first clue was the food he had on his plate. From all the choices available at the buffet table, he chose the items with the least amount of carbs. Also, he was wearing a light colored T-shirt that was stretched to the max across his chiseled torso and bulging biceps. It was over at the table set up as the bar, where I made a comment about his plate of food. He, in turn, asked where was my plate. When I explained I stop eating 5 hours before going to sleep, I could tell my comment piqued his interest. From there we got into a discussion about health and exercise, sharing our journey into fitness. I shared stories about witnessing the effects brought on by family members’ poor health and how I started questioning the things I was doing that might trigger into action those same poor genes I shared with them from the family gene pool. It turned out we had a similar history that motivated us to take better care of ourselves. Before the evening was over, we both had a good sense of each other and agreed to hang out at some point. FROM THAT RANDOM MEETING AT THAT party, we wound up becoming pretty good workout buddies. When time permitted we would meet at the health club and become each other’s coach and spotter. It must have been 6 or 8 months later when he got the news that would change his life forever. On a routine doctor visit it was discovered he had a serious disease. Because he was so fit, he did not notice the early symptoms. From that point on things changed, as you would expect. He still met me at the gym but not as often; not because he did not want to, but because he was busy getting his house ready to sell. Upon getting the news, he decided he did not want to live and die in a cold climate. Instead, he planned on moving to a warmer city on the west coast. He still kept close to his workout routine but the times did not mesh with my availability. By the time we were in the middle of the autumn season, he had sold most of his furnishings, grew a beard and bought a house. Though he hadn’t finalized the sale of his current house, he wanted to get out and start enjoying the days he had remaining in a warm climate. I was impressed with his matter of fact actions in completely uprooting himself to seek out comfort for his remaining days. I don’t know if I would have the same courage as him or the main character in this dark comedic drama. UPON RECEIVING DIRE NEWS ABOUT HIS HEALTH Richard, played by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Black Mass) changed the way he was teaching his classes and also the people around him. With Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister, Rachel Getting Married) as Veronica, Odessa Young (Assassination Nation, The Daughter) as Olivia, Danny Huston (The Aviator, The Constant Gardener) as Peter and Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Dirty Grandpa) as Claire; this film festival nominee had a decent cast of actors. Johnny was ok but he did not provide me with something new that I had not seen before. The script had an occasional glimmer of hope, but I felt it lacked in developing the characters. There were several chances for this story to well up into an emotional peak but I felt the writers wanted to play it safe. So instead what was left for the viewer was a repeat of actions and emotions; as if, the writers wanted to not only numb the main character but the audience as well.
I DO NOT WANT TO SAY IT is funny, but it is interesting the way things get put into perspective when a person discovers they have a disease. With certainty I can tell you I would probably “space out” for a time before coming back to reality. When I had a health scare over a year ago, I remember getting the news in a phone call while I was at the movies. After hanging up and walking back into the theater, I spaced out and could not recall what I had just seen when the film finished. Later, I came out of my daze and planned a course of action. That is the thing about disease; it can motivate certain people to stop procrastinating about some things in their lives. I do not know if it was due to the movie The Bucket List, but ever since that film I now hear people talk more about their bucket lists; what they have on it and what they hope to accomplish before they die. There was a time when conversations about death and dying were not discussed; I can remember being told no one wants to talk about something so unpleasant. These days more and more individuals convey their desire to do something right away because one never knows what tomorrow will bring. IN MY WORLD I WAS FORTUNATE that diseases did not come to the forefront until I was an adult living on my own. I remember a mother dealing with a fatal disease while continuing to raise her young children. There also was a friend of the family that found out she had a debilitating disease. After going through multiple tests, she decided to pack up her house and move to a climate that would be kinder to her body. She wound up living her life as comfortably as possible. I just do not know what circumstances take place to make a person either fight back their disease or ignore it and live the rest of their life as stress free as they can. There is a gentleman I know who upon hearing his diagnosis decided he did not want to do any further testing or remedies. He felt the treatments would greatly reduce his quality of life. An acquaintance of mine is furious with her sister because the sister had health issues she ignored for almost one year. By the time she finally went to the doctor her disease had spread further than it needed to go. No one can judge another person on how they react to getting distressful news; one can only support them. See how it is done in this dramatic comedy. ALL MARTHA, PLAYED BY DIANE KEATON (The Family Stone, And So it Goes), wanted to do was live her life out peacefully when she decided to move to a retirement community. Her neighbor Sheryl, played by Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom), did not see it quite that way. With Celia Weston (Dead Man Walking, After.Life) as Vicki, Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why-TV, Paranormal Activity 4) as Chloe and Charlie Tahan (I Am Legend, Charlie St. Cloud) as Ben; this movie had a cast that deserved a better script. The message was right but the delivery of it was embarrassing. I did not see anything creative or new in the story; all the antics were predictable, and I have to say pretty lame. There were a couple of times where I even cringed due to the level of ridiculousness in the scenes. I do not know if it is funny, sad or ironic that this cast wound up in this picture. The reason I say this is because I am sure none of the actors would want this movie to be the public’s final memory of their acting career.
1 ¾ stars