NOT TO BE MORBID; BUT IF I should suddenly die, I want someone to be able to step in for me and know exactly what needs to be done. I have this mindset at work and have shared my thoughts with my co-workers. To the employees in my department, I have told them if I should get hit by a bus and don’t make it, they will have no problem taking over the things I handle. As far as I am concerned this is just common sense. It does not make sense to me to keep things hidden from co-workers or loved ones, as a matter of fact. I worked at a company where a long-term employee died, and no one knew how to do this person’s job. He was a supervisor/buyer who had established vendor contacts; however, none of their names were written down anywhere. He just knew their names and how to reach them, without ever looking them up. Well, after he was gone his co-workers had no idea which vendor to call for which product nor what discounts were available for each of them. The company went through a rough patch with its customers because there were times it did not have the right product in stock, or they were completely out of something for a customer. I thought if I ever get into a managerial position, I would never want something like this to happen with me. SADLY, THE BUSINESS WORLD IS NOT the only place where I have seen such a predicament take place. I cannot tell you how many couples I know where one handles all the money matters and the other has no idea or interest in it. Personally, I could never be in such a situation not knowing what bills come in and what needs to be paid. This one couple I know both work; one handles all the bills and the other has their paycheck deposited directly into their mutual checking account. After the billpayer determines how much is needed to pay the weekly bills, they give their spouse the remaining cash not used back from their deposited check. I don’t know about you; but I could not handle such an arrangement and it has nothing to do with trust. With a career in credit, I have always been particular about my bills being paid on time. I would need to know how much money was available and how it was being distributed. It would be scary for me to wake up one day and have everything suddenly fall into my lap without me having any prior knowledge of it; just like what happened to the women in this action, crime drama. WITH THEIR HUSBANDS HAVING BEEN CONVICTED and sent to jail, the gangsters’ wives were left trying to figure out how to pay the household bills. They would have to work together and come up with some type of plan to bring in money; though, it would not be easy considering their husbands’ line of work. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) as Ruby O’Carroll, Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Claire Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Unbroken) as Gabriel O’Malley and Bill Camp (Midnight Special, 12 Years a Slave) as Alfonso Coretti; each actor could have made this a worthwhile film. Unfortunately, the script and direction were off target here. There was no character development; which in turn, made the lack of acting stand out even more. I only connected to Elizabeth Moss’s acting skills; Melissa and Tiffany paled in comparison. Part of the blame must fall on the directions they were getting; it appeared as if they were going thru the motions without the emotions. Of course, not having any history attached to each of their characters did not help the situation. In turn, I did not believe what was taking place in several scenes. In a way it looked like the writers did not know what the director wanted and visa versa. Better communication between them, I’m thinking, would have turned this film into a powerful statement on female empowerment.
1 ¾ stars
THESE ARE JUST MY OBSERVATIONS BASED on the people I have encountered; I am not judging any of them, only fascinated with their perceptions of life. This is what I have seen: people who are born into wealth have a different outlook of the real world. One of the first things I noticed was everything is disposable to them. Where I will try to repair something that is broken, they will throw it away and buy another one. If I had this type of mentality, a quarter of the things in my house would be tossed out into the garbage. I do not know if I have the right to say these individuals lack a sense of appreciation for everything they have, but I have seen several occasions where perfectly good things that could be easily repaired, even by me, get trashed as if they were used tissue being tossed into the garbage. Another aspect I find interesting is their choice of cars. It seems to me they buy their cars based on name brand instead of comfort; though I guess the more expensive a car the more it is geared for comfort. I knew someone who never test drove the car before purchasing it; they would only sit in it for a minute while in the showroom then make a decision. IT SEEMS TO ME AS IF wealthy individuals lack the understanding of what the average person deals with on a daily basis. Maybe this example will explain it and keep in mind this was before car sharing was available. When I was explaining to a person that I take public transportation to the airport to avoid paying the parking garage rates to leave my car, they asked why I didn’t just take a limo instead. I had to explain to them that would defeat the purpose of saving money by not taking my car. They thought it was too much of an inconvenience to go through all of that when one could easily order a limousine. Does this help explain what I am trying to say? There was another individual who chided me for my choice of restaurants when I need a quick meal. They could not believe I would “waste” my money by eating at a fast-casual place; to them, they compared it to me being fed dog food. Can you believe it? So, therefore I feel people born into wealth have a different set of tools in dealing with everyday life. See for yourself in this dramatic, mystery horror film. DR. FARADAY, PLAYED BY DOMHNALL Gleeson (Peter Rabbit, About Time) had not been in the mansion since he was a little boy; but upon his arrival strange things began to happen. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Caroline Ayres, Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Never Let Me Go) as Mrs. Ayres, Will Poulter (Detroit, We’re the Millers) as Roderick Ayers and Josh Dylan (Allied, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again) as Bland; this movie was all about the atmosphere of the settings. The camera angles, the sets, the acting; all were done to create this spooky environment. The acting from everyone was wonderful; but once again, the script was the weak spot. I thought the story dragged through the first half and because the film is being labeled a horror movie, I thought it would have some level of scariness; it did not. Instead there was some suspense, but the writers and director could have really made this picture one intense suspenseful piece of work. There was an old decaying mansion, a troubled family and a small-town doctor; this was a perfect set-up, especially with the fine actors. Instead, I found an odd mix of events that was not engaging me.
2 ¼ stars
WHAT I AM ABOUT TO tell you actually happened to me, but you will still not believe it. It was going to be our 3rd or 4th date, I cannot remember exactly, and I was being asked to come over for dinner to their place. Not being familiar with the different types of wine I offered to bring a dessert which is more my speed. I can still remember the apartment building; it was two stories tall and “L” shaped, broken up by a couple of courtyards. Finding the name on the directory I rang the bell and waited to be buzzed in past the security door. The hallway had a ceramic tiled floor made up of small black and white tiles that formed mini flower patterns. As I was walking up to the 2nd floor I could hear the creaking of the steps beneath my feet. Waiting at the opened door we greeted and I was ushered into a hallway with ivory painted, stucco walls. The hardwood floor looked recently polished. I did however notice some small thing by the baseboard, but did not have time to get a good look as we walked into the living room. THOUGH THE ROOM LOOKED LOVELY with a big bay window with a classic wooden radiator cover underneath it, there were a few peanut shells on the floor; how odd I thought. The shells were quite visible so I could not understand why they had not been picked up. Well I got my answer no more than a minute after I sat down at one end of the couch. A squirrel appeared at the entrance to the room but stopped and remained still as its gaze locked onto me. I remember whispering there was a squirrel in the house but the reaction I got from them was not what I was expecting. They leaned over to a candy dish on the coffee table in front of us and lifted the cover. Inside, the bowl was full of peanuts in their shells; like the kind you get at a baseball game. I was so taken aback as the squirrel was tossed a peanut that I did not have time to stop myself from uttering an expletive. After apologizing to my date, I listened as they explained the reasons why they fed the squirrels in the neighborhood. As if I needed proof I was shown the kitchen where they kept the back door open so the squirrels could come in. Oh and the floor had broken peanut shells all over it; it was disgusting. I barely ate and as soon as we were done eating I ended the evening. Some animals need to stay out of the house; just look what happened in this adventure comedy. WHEN THE NEW NEIGHBOR THOMAS McGregor, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Goodbye Christopher Robin, About Time), moved in next door Bea, played by Rose Byrne (The Meddler, Insidious franchise), hoped he would get along with her friend Peter Rabbit, voiced by James Corden (Into the Woods, The Lady in the Van). Thomas had other ideas. This adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic story had wonderful special effects; it sounds corny but the animals were so animated and real looking. The script however was not as good. At one point I felt I was watching a Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon because it was somewhat mean spirited. I felt the innocence and mischievousness of the Peter Rabbit character was taken away in this animated film. It is a shame because I really enjoyed James Corden as Peter. And if it means anything, after watching this movie I still had a bad attitude about squirrels.
The far reaching white expanse was marred by deep fissures that revealed touches of crystal blue running water. It almost looked like the ice had tears rolling down due to the frigid temperatures. The brightness reflecting off of all this ice made it difficult to shoot photos from my perch inside the helicopter. Once we landed on the ice I had the opportunity to take pictures but only if I left the warmth, comparatively speaking, from inside the chopper. As I stepped outside the still, frigid air settled on me like a bear hug. I felt my blood reversing course to go back and protect my internal organs, leaving my extremities to stiffen up from the cold. To take pictures I had to remove my gloves and I knew my fingers would quickly turn to rock solid stumps. The only way I cold function was to quickly snap multiple photos at a single time, alternating with the taking off and putting on of my bulky gloves. I grew up in a place that had 4 seasons, so I was used to the winter months; however here in Alaska, the cold seemed more intense. Maybe it was because there were no man made structures around just wide open spaces with the occasional rolled up snow drifts and broken ice chunks. Where I was visiting in Alaska there were no human inhabitants; I could not even imagine human life venturing to this area. Pristine and untouched, yet silently able to extinguish life with its icy breath it was all the more reason why I found this dramatic adventure film something special. CLOSE to death from a bear attack Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, The Departed), was determined to stay alive in the unforgiving cold frontier. He had a special reason to reunite with his expedition. Inspired by true events this thriller was a monumental production. Included in the cast was Tom Hardy (Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road) as John Fitzgerald, Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner) as Bridger and Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Ex Machina) as Captain Andrew Henry; everyone deserved extra credit for the contribution they made to this incredible film. Both the directing and cinematography were outstanding. I especially admired the camera angles that were used in the shooting of multiple scenes. Honestly I do not know how the cast and crew survived such a long film shoot in such an inhospitable locale. There were a few cringeworthy scenes that included blood; I found myself squirming in my seat. Set in the 1820s this was a raw yet beautiful picture; the original soundtrack was a perfect accompaniment. At one point I had to keep reminding myself that the film studio would not want to lose anyone to the brutal elements so there had to be some protection set up for everyone. I have to tell you watching this film was like a workout for me; bundled up in my seat staring and cringing in disbelief.
3 1/2 stars
At some point in time you come to the realization that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. Was it after you went through your checklist of pluses and minuses, it fit into your time frame or it fulfills a desire? It is interesting, I recently read a survey that listed the top deal breakers in a relationship. The top four reasons were disheveled/unclean appearance, lazy, too needy or lack of humor. Any one of these would be what I call one of my red flags; I tend to pay close attention to the cleanliness of someone’s teeth and fingernails. The way I tend to define whether a relationship has potential or not to be long term is to look at the things that bother or annoy me. I just ask myself if this is something I can live with and if it is then I remain engaged in the relationship. Here is an example: being a credit manager, I do not know if I could be with someone who was not financially conscientious. If they had little regard to paying their bills or bouncing checks, I think over time it would build up and bother me too much. Since love is an all encompassing thing, one cannot choose the parts they like and discard the rest. So I understand where the act of committing may take time. The only time I can see where this will turn into a problem is when the person is making a commitment based only on the positive attributes of a loved one. MOVING from Ireland to America was the hardest thing Eilis, played by Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Hanna), ever had to do in her young life. That was until she settled in Brooklyn, New York where she met Tony, played by Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines, Beneath the Harvest Sky). This film festival winning drama was a perfect throwback to those old fashioned dialog driven movies Hollywood use to make. The romantic story was exquisite in the way it simply laid out the story of a young Irish immigrant finding her own in a foreign country, besides her journey growing into a mature woman. I thought the acting was outstanding from the main characters and supporting ones such as Julie Walters (Driving Lessons, Harry Potter franchise) as Mrs. Kehoe and Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Unbroken) as Jim Farrell. The scenery and costumes especially stood out for me in this 1950s period piece. Another aspect I particularly admired was the strength of the main character. I think many of us are used to having some type of trauma move the story and it really was not the case in this film. If I were to go through my checklist of things that create an Oscar worthy film, this one would certainly fit the bill.
3 2/3 stars
It drives me crazy when a computer function does not work. On the monitor a small warning pops up and tells me the procedure failed; then has the nerve to make me press the “okay” button like I have a choice. I want to say no, it is not okay now fix it. The way I look at it I want computers to correct themselves if they are so smart. Now intelligently I understand they cannot think for themselves, but it certainly seems we are going in that direction. With the variety of electronic devices we use these days, some of our computers know more about ourselves than our family or friends. Instead of typing we can talk to our computers, use sign language and maybe soon facial recognition. Just this morning on the news I saw a report of a robot with a human face that has over 40+ pulleys underneath so the robot can provide visual facial cues besides verbal ones. I have to tell you it creeped me out a bit. Maybe it is because of all the science fiction movies I have seen; but the smarter computers are becoming the more concerned I am of their power. There is all this talk about artificial intelligence; do you ever think there will be a time where a computer will refuse one of our requests? It is a frightening thought and this dramatic science fiction film does not make me feel any better about it. WINNING a company contest computer programmer Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken, About Time), won a week at the company CEO’s remote private residence. Upon his arrival he discovered he would be testing a new form of artificial intelligence never seen before and her name was Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (Seventh Son, A Royal Affair). This film festival winning movie quickly drew me in with its crisp sleek look. I enjoyed how the scenes blended in with the soundtrack to create a buildup of tension. The acting was excellent from everyone, particularly by Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year, Robin Hood) as Nathan. He had a commanding presence on screen. For the majority of the film the script kept my interest; there were only a few parts that seemed to deflate and slow down. For such a modern and relevant story, there was an exciting old fashioned type of cat and mouse mystery game going on which was captivating. This picture had the type of science fiction story that could be considered closer to reality than fiction, which was a scary thought to me. I kept thinking about this movie after it was over. After you see this film you may get a better understanding about my fears when it comes to smart computers. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood.
3 1/4 stars
Appearing not so dissimilar from the uniqueness of an individual’s fingerprints is a person’s pain threshold. I am curious to know what determines someone’s tolerance to pain. Is it genetic, environmental or mind over matter; I have seen people’s reactions go from one extreme to the other. One friend of mine is hypersensitive to any type of discomfort; a pinprick will cause them to let out a loud wail. Another friend could be in pain but one would never know by looking at them. If anything they may not walk as fast as they normally do; but if you did not know, they would appear to be having an average day. Though I am not comfortable comparing one person’s reactions to pain to another, I can appreciate those individuals who overcome intense suffering. One of the places where I have witnessed a person’s courage on display has been at the health and fitness centers where I have classes. Seeing people battle back from serious health issues, some involving major surgery and/or artificial limb replacement, has been humbling. I have watched with awe as I have watched them struggling to walk a single lap around the indoor track or try to lift a 2 pound weight to their chest. Every single one of them is a hero to me. INCREDIBLE and heroic would not have been terms used to describe Louis Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell (Starred Up, 300: Rise of an Empire), if he had not transformed himself from a wild hooligan into an Olympic athlete and U.S. Air Force bombardier. However, it was because of those earlier experiences that enabled him to survive not only the sea but a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. This film festival winning biographical drama was directed by Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Salt). Based on Louis’ life, his story was bigger than this movie. I felt Angelina had a good eye for blocking scenes and I understood she worked at getting a PG-13 rating for this film. However, I believe she was too reserved in bringing Louis’ story to life. For what he endured I thought there would have been more emotional intensity to the scenes. There were times where I felt things were dragged out longer than necessary; I was starting to get bored. This may have been part of the reason I did not connect with Jack or newcomer Takamasa Ishihara who played Watanabe a/k/a The Bird; they could have been pushed harder to deliver a stronger performance. I recently saw a television special about Louis and from it I knew his story would have been challenging for any director to do it justice. Angelina gave it a good try but I felt this movie needed more of everything.
2 1/2 stars
The conversation seemed to be going well. There was a rhythm established where we started to volley thoughts and questions back and forth. I have always considered the absence of questions being asked as a red flag. In conversations I am a stickler for making eye contact, for I gain added insight when I can look into their eyes while we are talking to each other. The dinner date was going well but there was a voice in the back of my head that was critiquing my performance. There was an onslaught of questions chipping away at my confidence. Why did I immediately say indoors without asking their opinion, when the host asked if we wanted to dine indoors or out? I detest eating outdoors; having to fight bugs, car exhaust and pedestrians walking by. Why didn’t I order a plain entree instead of something that I had to tell the waiter to either remove or exchange parts for something different? If I could have only gone back in time like they did in this comedic drama I know I could have made a better impression. When Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Dredd), was told by his father, played by Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Love Actually), that all the men in their family had the ability to travel back in time, he had to find out for himself. Discovering it was true, Tim set out on a journey to find himself a girlfriend. He would also discover things change when one goes back in time. This fantasy film had a sweet and sentimental story; I was thoroughly entertained by it. I thought everyone did a wonderful job with their characters, especially Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Vow) as Mary. The role was perfect for her style of acting. Since this film festival winning movie was a fantasy, I was not so concerned with the way Tim traveled in time or if it was hokey. They were easily forgivable because I found the entire story had an easy flow and kept me engaged. Imagine if we could go back and do things over from our past; it would make life easier. But since it is make-believe, I have to remember to embrace and live in the moment.