I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them. UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film. A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.
2 ½ stars
MAYBE I AM BIASED BUT FROM the people I have met, those that told me they had a wonderful time in high school were more than likely part of a clique or group. I am not saying that as a negative or positive; it is simply my findings. When someone is part of a group, they immediately have a social structure in place where they can find support, friendship, kinship, and a variety of other attributes. But if one is not part of a group, they could have a tougher go of it through their school years. Trust me, I should know. It was not until my junior year before I found a group of students that I would hang out and do things with, in and outside of school. Before you think I was a hermit or something when I started high school, I want to state I did have friends throughout my years in school; the only difference early on is none of us were part of a group. We did not participate in sports activities, let alone any other sanctioned groups of the school. I was on the school paper one year, but after that nothing else. PART OF THE REASON I DID not want to be part of a group/clique was due to the ones I did see when I started high school. There was a sport, a cheerleader, a druggie, and an academia (brainiac) group, along with a few others. The most lethal group to me was the “popular” group. Freshman year I saw two older girls get in a fight that was vicious. They were scratching, slapping, and ripping each other apart until a teacher came and broke them up. The reason I knew they were part of a popular clique was due to hearing a couple of junior students talking in the lunchroom. It turned me off from wanting to be part of a group. Also, my high school was one of the smaller ones in the city; maybe if it had offered more options of interest, I would have had a different mindset. It is easy for me to say this now, so many years later; but back then I always had an issue being part of a social pecking order, where one is supposed to look and act a certain way. I always gravitated to those who embraced their individuality. Maybe it would be easier to explain if I suggest you watch this comedic drama. AFTER BEING IN A COMA FOR 20 years since her high school senior year, a former cheerleader who was hoping to become the prom queen, wants to return and win her crown. With Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect franchise, Isn’t it Romantic) as Stephanie, Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys, The Beguiled) as young Stephanie, Mary Holland (Happiest Season, Keeping Company) as Martha, Sam Richardson (We’re the Millers, Hooking Up) as Seth and Zoe Chao (Downhill, Love Life-TV) as Tiffany; this movie’s saving grace was having Rebel Wilson as the lead. If you like her style of comedy, she gave it her best with the little the script provided her. Besides being predictable, there was only a couple of times where I chuckled at a scene. For the most part, the script tried to do too much and wound up doing little. There were scenes that were not believable, some that were touching, others that tried to be funny; yet all together they did not blend well with each other. At times, the musical numbers seemed to have been created because the writers did not know which way to go next. Overall, there is not much here to make the viewer want to go back and experience their high school years. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ¾ stars
EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling. THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama. ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.
EVERYTHING I RESEARCHED WAS TRUE ABOUT my travel destination. The weather was perfect for me when I disembarked from the plane, in the 80s with a gentle breeze. I was almost overwhelmed with the about of vegetation everywhere. There were flowers along the streets, blooming bushes in front of buildings, tall hedges surrounding homes; the place was so colorful, like an artist splashing different colored paints all over the place. I arrived at my hotel and was not disappointed. The lobby had live trees that received sunlight from the large geometrical skylight in the roof. There was artwork, paintings, and sculptures, from local artists that was placed throughout the lobby. After checking in and getting the key to my room, I rode the glass elevator up to my floor. The room was clean and bright, with a view overlooking one of the hotel’s swimming pools. On the bed was a couple of cut flowers that gave off a lovely fragrance; I could not have been happier. Because I did not know if it would be hard getting seated at the hotel’s main restaurant, I had made reservations because I knew I was going to be hungry when I landed. BEFORE I HAD ARRIVED, I WAS told what foods to stay away from; so, I did not have as many choices of food as I had hoped for. It was okay since I tend to like simple foods. It turned out the restaurant was full; I was glad I made reservations. When the waitress handed me the bill, I decided I would pay for it in cash. I also wanted to break the large bill so I would have enough change for tips and small purchases. After sitting there for several minutes, I wondered what was keeping the waitress from bringing back my change. I finally had to ask another server to find her. When she finally came back, I asked her for the change from my payment. She acted like she did not know what I was talking about. I described how much my bill was and the payment I gave her, that I was expecting change back. She said she would go check and when she returned, she had my change. I was ticked off but chalked it off to a one-time thing. However, this same thing happened to me at a couple of other restaurants. My second day there a monsoon hit the place and the hotel lobby flooded; I could not leave my room for a few hours. When I finally was able to get to the lobby, a staff employee was standing by the entrance to the pools. He said they were closed due to the staph infection that had occurred after the flooding. I was not done; throughout my visit I was constantly being asked for money. By the time of my return flight, I was ready to go; my trip was not relaxing. That is what the main character should have done in this dramatic horror science fiction film, go home at the first sign of trouble. GETTING AWAY FROM THE TRAGEDY SHE had been enduring back home, a woman retreats to a quiet estate in the country. During her first walk on the grounds, she encountered a man with no clothes. With Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Lost Daughter) as Harper, Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Geoffrey, Paapa Essiedu (Gangs of London-TV, I May Destroy You-TV) as James and Gayle Rankin (The Greatest Showman, Glow-TV) as Riley; this movie directed and written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) left me confused. I thought the acting was wonderful, with Jessie having a commanding screen presence. The filming was shot beautifully throughout the English countryside. However, I felt the script was too ambiguous; I did not quite know what was going on. Individual scenes were well done, but I could not tell you what this movie was about, except maybe it has to do with guilt or man’s relationship to females. I feel if one must work hard to try and make sense of a movie, then it is not entertaining.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS A TERRIBLE STORM WITH high winds and snow piling up quickly. I remember I stayed home because there was no way I wanted to venture out into the cold, let alone with a blizzard taking place. A friend of mine who I had talked with earlier in the day was driving out to visit his son who was in college, out of state. I mentioned how the weather was not going to let up according to the latest news reports, but he insisted he had to see his son who was performing in the school’s play. Asking if there were multiple performances, my friend said this was the only performance and he had to be there for it. I asked him why; what would be the harm if he missed this one performance; his son would surely understand based on the horrible weather, I added. My friend said he had never missed one of his son’s performances and he was not going to let that happen now, especially since his son was getting close to graduating. He told me how important it was to him, to be there and support his son who was working on attaining his dream. I could not fault him on being such a loving and supportive parent; that he was willing to take such a risk in this awful storm just to be there for his child. It was quite admirable. A SHORT TIME LATER, AN ACQUAITANCE of mine was telling me what she was planning for her son’s high school graduation. Because the school wanted to maintain their safety precautions, it decided it would hold the big celebratory senior dance at the school. According to her, many of the students were disappointed they were not going to a “fancy” location. The mother felt sad for her son so decided to get herself on the decorations committee. I was stunned when she told me about her ideas for the dance; she was going to decorate/build a setting that would look like the courtyard of a Spanish or Mexican house. She wanted some type of fountain in the center, even if it turned out to be the punchbowl, with Spanish moss and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling and walls. Using large picture frames, she thought about inserting class photos or scenic ones depicting exotic locations. Listening to her descriptions, I could see it in my head. When I asked her if she had enough free time, she said because of her job she would have to do the bulk of the work at night and weekends. I found it touching that she was willing to sacrifice most of her free time to provide a special setting for her son and his graduating class. Here are two parents who would do anything for their child and now I find the mother in this action, adventure drama doing everything she can for her child. HOPING TO SEE HER MISSING DAUGHTER, a soldier agreed to participate in a life-threatening mission. All she would need to do is skate across a frozen lake. With Noomi Rapace (The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine) as Caroline Edh, Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki, Agent Hamilton-TV) as Nylund, Dar Salim (The Devil’s Double, Game of Thrones-TV) as Malik and Aliette Opheim (The Deposit, Alone in Space) as Forsberg; I found the story curiously intriguing. Noomi was excellent and I think that was a large part why I stayed engaged with this movie. The idea behind the story was new and different, which grabbed me quickly. On the other hand, the execution of it was typical. There was a bit unevenness in the directing, along with some predictability; however, I stayed interested in the story because of the acting and variety of tense scenes. If nothing else, this movie is watchable just to see what a mother would do for her child.
2 ¼ stars
THERE WERE SEVERAL MISSED NOTES, BUT I continued sitting there with a smile on my face. The little girl was playing a song on the piano; something that was unfamiliar to me. Her mother had asked me to sit down and listen to her daughter play, adding she believed her little girl had a gift for playing the piano. That is not how I would have described her piano playing, but I understood she was proud of her daughter. After the girl was done playing, I applauded and complimented her. She thanked me then headed out of the room. I turned my attention back to the little girl’s mother, who was sitting there with the biggest smile on her face and her hands clasped together by her heart. I hoped she was not about to do something that I find annoying, but my hope was quickly dashed. She said, “Isn’t her piano playing exceptional?” I ask you, how could I sit there and not say something complimentary about her daughter’s playing, even if it wasn’t true?” And that is exactly what I find annoying; parents bragging about their children and expecting guests to agree with them. Why put guests in an uncomfortable position by seeking out compliments from them? What guest would not say something favorable about a parent’s child? To me the whole thing is a setup. EARLY ON, I REALIZED EVERY PARENT thinks their child is special and unique. There is nothing wrong with that; I only hope they create a supportive and loving environment for their children. Bragging to me shows a sign of insecurity in a person. Fishing for compliments tells me the person does not have enough confidence to believe in themselves. That is why I find bragging about children distasteful. It puts the child in a compromising position, where they are pressured to perform. I recall the years I took piano lessons, I never asked anyone to listen to me play. In fact, I avoided going to the piano recitals my teacher would hold with all his students. It is funny, I am just remembering a few scenes from the talent reality shows I have seen. Standing on stage is a 20- year-old who is singing off key. The performance was dreadful; yet he felt he did a wonderful job. His parents encouraged him to audition because they said he was such a good singer. I am all for supporting a child’s dreams; but how far does it go when there is an obvious lack of talent. As the judges critiqued the singer, I wondered if the parents had been fair towards their child. Heck, even the parents in this dramatic, horror sci-fi film did not want to brag about their child even though their child was indeed extraordinary. AS THEIR DAUGHTER WAS HEADING TOWARD adolescence, it was only a matter of time before her special talent would get her noticed. This was something the parents were trying to avoid; no one needed to know about their daughter as far as they were concerned. With Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman, The Beach Bum) as Andy McGee, Ryan Kiera Armstrong (The Tomorrow War, Black Widow) as Charlie McGee, Sydney Lemmon (Fear the Walking Dead-TV, Helstrom-TV) as Vicky McGee, Michae Greyeyes (Kissed by Lightning, True Detective-TV) as Rainbird and Gloria Reuben (Lincoln, Who We are Now) as Captain Hollister; this updated version of the Stephen King novel started out poor and remained there. I found Zac to be an odd choice for his character. He was too young looking and his lines were dull. The script tried to freshen up the original story and truthfully there were a few scenes that worked; however, I was bored watching this picture. I liked the musical soundtrack, but obviously that was not enough to draw me into the story. With having an unusual character in the script, one would hope there would be some high exciting drama. Sadly, this flaming film shined as bright as a low ember.
1 ¾ stars
A FRIEND OF MINE ASKED ME to accompany her to a family wedding. I like dressing up from time to time, so I was happy to join her. She told me the ceremony and reception were both being held at a downtown hotel; so, this was going to be a large wedding. I had met several of her family members, but I was also familiar with others solely based on the stories she would tell me about them. We drove into the city and dropped off the car with the hotel’s parking attendant. Entering the hotel lobby, there was a pedestal signboard that listed the day’s events being held in their meeting and ballrooms. Her cousin’s name was the third one down, showing the wedding was being held in the Crystal Ballroom. I stopped to ask a hotel employee who directed us to a set of escalators that would take us up to the room. When we came to the top of the escalator, there was an open area around us that had small high-top tables with guests milling about. A bulbous older man came up to us and gave my friend a big bearhug. He then extended his hand out to me to shake. When I grasped it, I had to suppress the urge to recoil back from him because his hand was wet. He must have sensed something in me because he asked me to excuse him, he had just licked his hand clean from a messy appetizer. I was speechless for a second before he burst out laughing; he said he was just kidding and introduced himself to me. I wanted to run from him and go wash my hand. AFTER THAT FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH HER relative, I still was not prepared for what laid ahead. We mingled among the guests, and I was enjoying meeting the faces to match the stories she had told me about them for all these years. There was the aunt who loved her drinks, who would start dancing no matter where she was standing. She also did not need any music when she danced. At some point, a cousin came up to us and her first question was asking if the two of us were dating. Answering her cousin with a no, my friend grabbed my hand, and we made our way to where the ceremony was taking place. We got through it with no more interruptions from her relatives; however, once the dinner started all chaos started to take over. I felt like I was in the middle of an avant-garde movie, where the cast was experiencing psychotic episodes. The night consisted of a fight, guest passing out, foul language, unbearable long speeches; in other words, something like what I saw in this latest installment of the movie franchise. A COLLEGE GRADUATION PARTY BRINGS EVERYONE together at Madea’s, played by Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Alex Cross) place for a celebration. How soon before things get out of control when it comes to Madea’s family? With Cassi Davis (Daddy’s Little Girl, House of Payne-TV) as Bam, David Mann (Computer Love, Meet the Browns-TV) as Mr. Brown, Jennifer Gibney (Agnes Browne, Mrs. Brown’s Boys-TV) as Cathy and Isha Blaaker (The Flight Attendant-TV, Red Riding Hoods-TV) as Davi; this dramatic, comedy romance was consistent with all the other films before it. If you have never seen a Madea movie, then you might find something entertaining if you look for it. I did not find anything new except the characters had a larger vocabulary. There was a decent message buried in the script; but when weighed against everything one must sit through to get to it, it did not seem worth the wait. There were a few lines and a couple of scenes that were amusing; but not enough to maintain my attention. I am glad I did not have to go to the movie theater to see this picture because if I had, I might have become one of those crazy guests from the wedding I attended.
1 ¾ stars
I DO NOT THINK I AM CRAZY, though some of my friends and family think so because I soak prescription medicine bottles. The reason is to remove the labels before I recycle the bottles. Several of my friends think for the small size of the bottles it is not worth it to recycle; I beg to differ. But here is the thing, I do not force my recycling beliefs on those around me. If a package can be recycled into another item, I feel I am doing my part to protect our world’s natural resources. If by my recycling there is one less plastic product sitting in a garbage dump or floating in the ocean, then I feel quite good about helping protect the planet. I do not berate anyone if they choose not to recycle their products; I can only hope they see by my example a mindset that does not take much effort to do. If I am drinking water from a plastic bottle at someone’s house, I ask them if they recycle. If the answer is no, then I tell them I will take the bottle home with me to recycle it. I do not pass any judgements on the person, nor do I make a big deal out of it to embarrass the host in any way. I am simply doing my thing, as they say. THE WAY I ACT ABOUT RECYCLING, where I do not berate or force people to follow, came about from seeing how a couple of individuals were acting about their beliefs. One person had signed up with an organization to become a sales rep for their exclusive home products. This person constantly talked about how wonderful the company benefits were and how they were able to make more than their agreed upon salary. At meals, get togethers, emails and phone calls; they also made a point of asking me to sign up and work under them. It came to a point where I started avoiding them because what they were describing to me was a pyramid scheme. The only way I could make more money was if I could get individuals to sign up under my name; the more people you convince to join the organization, the more money you make. And of course, with the discount salespeople get for the company’s product line, this person’s house was filled with every product from air fresheners to toilet bowl cleaners. I was forced to watch how well one of the cleaning products worked on their kitchen counter; it was no different than the cleaner I use at home, and I did not have to pay shipping for mine. Can you imagine having to listen to this stuff every day? It would be like living with the main character in this comedic drama. FIGHTING WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER THEIR charging policy for television broadcasts took on more importance when Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Another Year), saw how much money the government paid for a painting by Francisco Goya. With Heather Craney (Vera Drake, Child 44) as Debbie, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Dorothy Bunton, Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, The Children Act) as Jackie Bunton and Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Downton Abbey) as Jeremy Hutchinson QC; this film based on a true story was a treat. First the acting prowess of Jim and Helen was mesmerizing. The story was incredible and the whole cast made this film a non-stop piece of entertainment. I enjoyed the curves the script threw, and the way Jim delivered his words with timing perfection. Because the true story was so outrageous, I at times wondered how much liberty the writers took in writing the script; however, it was not enough to take my attention away from the all the scenes. Finally, to show you the sign of a good actor, I was getting annoyed by some of Kempton Bunton’s actions.
3 ½ stars
I HAVE LEARNED NOT TO THINK I have heard all the comments and thoughts about a particular subject. After hearing and reading all the different comments about vaccines that inject microchips into our bloodstreams and medical tests that only use lemmings for test subjects, very little can surprise me these days. I do not know if this a good or bad thing to tell you the truth. In my work position, I have heard so many excuses from customers that owe the company money, that I never react to what they say to me. Maybe it is true, maybe not; it does not phase me anymore. Not to delve into any political discussion, but hearing someone actually say members of a political party are buying and selling babies for some demonic ritual; how does someone carry on a discussion with a person who believes this to be true. In yesterday’s review, I mentioned the appalling behavior of individuals who believe the school shootings at Parkland and Sandy Hook were a hoax; it just does not stop does it with these extreme thoughts/comments. WHEN I WAS MUCH YOUNGER, I knew a couple of people who were survivors of a German concentration camp. They both had a series of numbers tattooed on their forearms. I remember talking to one of them about her time in the camps and could not believe what she was telling me was true; it was so horrific; I was too young to take in the scope of the situation she was living in. She remembered always being cold and shivering to the point where captives would huddle together to try and share any type of warmth in a brutal environment. Looking at this tiny, weakened woman, I recall thinking to myself how in the world did she survive such a place and, how could people be so evil to set up a systematic way of eliminating a large group of humans. Her stories stayed with me and when I finally went off to college, one of my professors was one of the foremost experts on Nazi Germany. He was a German man with a thick accent. He was the author of the textbook assigned to us for the class. I remember he always tried to shock us during his lectures, providing us with personal insights into the Nazi culture, to the point I wondered if he had been a German solider. His stories about all the atrocities and actions that took place during the war made me think I was getting a firsthand look at everything that took place back then. That is until I watched this movie based on a true story. KNOWING HIS STORY ABOUT HIS TIME in a concentration camp would produce negative reactions, a survivor decides to tell it anyway in the hopes of finding his true love. With Ben Foster (Leave No Trace, Hell or High Water) as Harry Haft, Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Game Night) as Schneider, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, The Last Vermeer) as Miriam Woesoniker, Peter Sarsgaard (The Lost Daughter, Loving Pablo) as Emory Anderson and Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, The Comedian) as Charley Goldman; this drama was an intense and riveting viewing experience. Ben’s acting was mind blowing, including the 62-pound loss for part of the story. As for the story, I was stunned upon discovering what he had to do to survive. My only negative comment is I wish the script had not jumped back and forth as much. I felt the emotional tension would have benefitted with more time spent in each era for a longer duration. The current story paled compared to the older era, in my opinion. Despite this and the fact this is based on a true story, I was locked into this biographical sports story and Ben’s performance. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence.
3 ½ stars
IF I GET SICK FROM A MEAL I had at a restaurant, I just will not go back there ever again; but I would not say I am afraid of the place. There is a person I know who keeps the temperature in their home to a cold setting, to the point where I am uncomfortable. Anytime I am invited over I know to dress warm. Now for many years I was afraid to go into any type of locker room, due to what I saw and experienced through my school years. Whether it was the locker room at a friend’s tennis club or at a company I worked for or at a place where I was a guest fitness presenter; I was always anxious and wary whenever I had to walk into a locker room. Sure, I see the irony in this since I am a fitness/yoga instructor; but that fear was always there. In fact, at one health club all the instructors were assigned specific lockers and mine was in the corner of an alcove. I could not use it because I felt too exposed and vulnerable stuck in a back corner. I had to talk to the fitness director and tell them I would not be able to teach there if I had to keep the locker; I needed one that was on an aisle in a more public area of the locker room. The director agreed to move me after I shared with him some of the abuse I had received in my younger days. THE REASON I MENTIONED THE PREVIOUS examples is because with all of them I was able to make a choice on how to manage the situation. I think about my elementary school years and the only drills we had periodically were fire and tornado drills. There was nothing else that was pressing enough where the students had to go through training drills. Presently, the amount of school shootings I have heard about is horrific. School entrances with metal detectors, training drills regarding an active shooter in the building; it is frightening to me. And what I find worse is all the hollow bluster politicians spew out on how we need to change things to prevent such heinous acts from ever happening again. Let me add a special appalling ugly aspect, the people who deny that these brutal crimes ever took place. What is wrong with humanity where we are at such a low level of consciousness and empathy? What about the students who survive? Do you ever hear anything about how they are being taken care of after being part of such an awful act? They do not have a choice; they still must get, you would hope, an education. Please see what I am talking about by watching this tough drama about the aftermath of a school shooting. THE WORLD LOOKS SO DIFFERENT FOR Vada Cavell, played by Jenna Ortega (Scream, Jane the Virgin-TV), after she survived a school tragedy. The question is how she can move forward when everything looks so overwhelming. With Maddie Ziegler (The Book of Henry, West Side Story) as Mia Reed, Niles Fitch (St. Vincent, This is Us-TV) as Quinton Hasland, Will Ropp (The Way Back, The Unhealer) as Nick Feinstien and newcomer Lumi Pollack as Amelia Cavell; the acting from this young cast was emotional and authentic. Kudos to the writers for creating a script that came across in such a real and honest way. I was pulled into the story right from the start and thought Jenna was outstanding in the role. While watching this film, I was thinking about the shootings that took place at Parkland and Sandy Hook and could only imagine what the intensity level must have been for the students and their families. If this picture is only showing a fraction of the reality, then how can anyone in a position to make change sit and do nothing, let alone deny such things had even happened?
3 ½ stars