SEEKING APPROVAL FROM THOSE YOU LOVE is one of the strongest motivators one has at their disposal. Feeling good about your accomplishment is fine; however, having that “seal of approval” from someone else forms a stronger bond that can last for years. I remember to this day how I felt the first time I had to construct a diorama for a school project. The assignment was to recreate a scene from a book we were reading for class. My choice was an outdoor scene of mountains surrounding a secluded lake that the characters from the book would periodically visit. I had used a combination of materials, including rolled up pieces of plastic wrap for the lake. With a large assortment of colored markers and paints. I colored the pieces of cardboard I had cut out from a packing box, creating a mountain range with snow caps. For trees I used pipe cleaners that I would twist together to form the foliage over brown and black painted toilet paper cores. As I said before, I used a variety of things for this project. Once completed I was proud of what I had done. Family members praised my work which was both wonderful and expected; but, I really was hoping my teacher would shower her praise over my creation. She was a fantastic artist which made me value her opinion more than other people; gratefully she did not disappoint me. WHY I WAS REMINDED OF THIS memory was due to this musical movie. I have seen Elton John in concert a couple of times; once during his earlier years and the other recently. From the variety of acts I have seen live in concert, Elton was not a typical rock star. Many of them played off a certain sex appeal they were portraying. Male guitarists made it look like they were making love to their guitars; female singers would move in seductive ways. Elton was different; instead of trying to use sex appeal he went the spectacle route. The more flamboyant and outrageous he was the more his fans would scream for him. This is only my opinion; but because I was dealing with a poor self-image, I assumed Elton was also. Only when I could “dress up” in my workout clothes or suit did I feel better about myself. Seeing Elton dressed up in so many costumes led me to believe he was feeling the same way. Behind the façade there was a boy who wanted to be loved; I understood. If you wish to see what was going on behind the scenes, then feel free to watch this dramatic film about a music icon. FROM AN EARLY AGE ELTON JOHN displayed a gift for playing the piano. However, he was looking for something more. With Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood) as Elton John, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden (Cinderella, The Take) as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise) as Sheila and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise) as Ivy; the cast was well chosen. Standing above all of them though was Taron; he was incredible in his role, including his own singing. The acting and story drew me into this picture. I could not believe what I was seeing behind the scenes of so many memorable moments in Elton’s career. Granted I do not know how much truth was shown in this film, but nonetheless I enjoyed watching this movie for the most part. The one thing that did not connect with me was the use of fantasy scenes. A couple would have been fine, but I felt these scenes drained the emotional impact away from the story. It was amazing to see how so many of Elton’s songs’ lyrics lent themselves to the scenes. I would have preferred spending more time in the moment instead of turning the emotion into a fantasy scene. Whether one is a fan or not; one would be hard pressed not to be impressed with what Elton has accomplished in his life.
2 ¾ stars
THOUGH I HAVE EXPERIENCED THE FEELING, I have questioned my friends when they have experienced the same type of feeling. First, let me describe the feeling because you may have felt it yourself. It starts with a tingling sensation as if you were standing close to an electrical device, close to static electricity. The feeling sends a jolt to your heart; not like a shock paddle from an AED defibrillator, more like a squeeze to accelerate the heartbeat. A mixture of joy and excitement usually follows immediately. If that was not enough to send you into a euphoric state, your now heightened sense of sight and sound feed your heart with rich nourishment. I have felt this way when I have met someone for the first time and we immediately connect. The feeling I just described would be the most intense when meeting someone with the intentions of dating them. In a business setting I may be comfortable around someone, but it is not like my heart would get stirred up. I used to love going on first or blind dates because they were the ideal setting to experience that magical feeling. Once situated and comfortable with the feeling, I enjoyed the way the two of us would banter back and forth, barely pausing for a breath sometimes. THE REASON I WOULD QUERY FRIENDSi s to find out what triggers these feelings in us. Did it ignite from what they saw, heard or smelled; or was it the content of the conversation. Because I am more of a cerebral type of person, my catalyst was the content of our conversation. What the person was saying was my focus. For some friends it was the visuals; the way the person looked or walked. I would tease them by asking them how they would feel if the person cut or dyed their hair, if they were taller or shorter; something to see if it would trip them up. This may sound untrue to some of you, but I knew a person who only wanted to date blonde people. I would ask them what they would do if the person decided to dye their blonde hair a different color and they had to think whether it would be a deal breaker or not. There was someone else who only dated within their race and I would push back, asking what they would do if their phone conversations were positive before meeting them; would they stop from dating them? I have heard such a variety of ways people experience first attractions that I was not surprised initially by what I saw in this dramatic romance. FIRST, HE SAW HER THEN HE saved her; Daniel Bae, played by Charles Melton (Riverdale-TV, American Horror Story-TV), was already hooked. He just had to convince her now to feel the same way. With Yara Shahidi (Salt, Alex Cross) as Natasha Kingsley, Keong Sim (The Last Airbender, Olympus Has Fallen) as Dae Hyun Bae, Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Savages, The Taking of Pellham 123) as Samuel Kingsley and Jake Choi (Front Cover, Wolves) as Charlie Bae; this story started out sweet enough. The main leads worked well together, and I was curious to see where the story would go. However, as the movie progressed I felt the writers were not being realistic; there were scenes that were far-fetched to me. Then there were other places in the story that were predictable. It was as if the writers were using a blueprint from some similar, previous movie. By the time we got to the end of the film I had lost my interest in the two main individuals. It was obvious Daniel was experiencing that feeling I described above; I only wished I could have had experienced the same thing for this picture.
SHE WAS PERFECTLY CONTENT HAVING HER head resting in my lap as I scratched behind her ears. If I stopped for any reason she would tilt her head back to look directly at me, with an inquisitive expression on her face. It was as if she was asking me why I stopped; it was the cutest thing. She had met me at the door when I arrived for the party. I had never seen her before, only hearing about her existence from a friend a week prior to the party. There were already people milling about when I showed up; so, I do not know if she was waiting specifically for me or was greeting every person who walked in. I had learned years ago never to extend a hand facedown because it might be perceived as a punishment. Instead, I extended my hand faceup below her chin line. This way it would look like a treat or gentle gesture and allow enough time for her to sniff my hand. Once she completed the inspection of my hand she bowed her head, followed by pressing her snout under my hand as if helping me lift my arm back up. I scratched her head as she gazed up at me. It wasn’t love at first sight, but I was smitten by her. SO THAT IS HOW I SPENT a good portion of my time at the party. At some point the host came up to talk with me. As I continued scratching her head the owner told me I would be totally surprised to hear she was the perfect guard dog. I asked what happened that made him realize it. He proceeded to tell me about the time a burglar broke into the house, during the middle of the day while he was at work. Evidently the burglar did not notice the food bowl on the floor when he walked through the kitchen. He wasn’t sure of the details; but he felt his dog did not greet the stranger, instead must have been watching the burglar as they walked through the house. The only reason he believed it was because of the muddy footsteps the burglar left as he was walking through the place. When the burglar went to unplug the big screen television, the dog made her move and attacked his leg. She ripped through the pants leg and clamped down on the burglar’s calf. When the owner got home the burglar was quivering in the corner of the living room with the dog guarding him. The host was right; I was stunned by the story. Such a sweet-faced dog, it just goes to show you dogs can do incredible things. REACHING NEAR THE END OF HIS life Bailey, voiced by Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Marshall), was asked to find and protect his boy Ethan’s, played by Dennis Quaid (The Intruder, In Good Company), granddaughter in his next lifetime. Bailey would discover what life means to many different people. This comedic adventure drama also starred Kathryn Prescott (The Hive, Skins-TV) as CJ, Henry Lau (Final Recipe, Oh My Venus-TV) as Trent and Marg Helgenberger (Species franchise, Erin Brockovich) as Hannah. What sells this movie is the dogs; it is as simple as that. If you are not a dog person, then I do not expect you will enjoy this sequel. However, as a dog lover this film was a bit tedious for me. The script dealt with only two emotions, happy and sad, and kept things at a basic level. It also was manipulative in the way it spun the story. It was predictable with its good guy/bad guy scenarios; but luckily Josh’s vocal talent and the assortment of wonderful dogs kept me from getting totally bored.
1 ¾ stars
AS THE TWO OF US WERE WALKING through the forest we came upon a group of trees. They appeared to be dancing a can-can with their wide trunks hovering above their long-exposed roots. The way the trees’ leaves flickered from the wind made me think they could be feathers attached to wide-brimmed cloth hats. I let the image stay with me as we continued on the trail, towards the sound of water gurgling ahead of us. The ground was firm at our feet, barely allowing the tread of our shoes to remain behind. I was not sure if we would be returning on the same path. It was mid-morning and the vibrant sun had a difficult time piercing through all the foliage around us, as if trying to seek us out. At one point there were slender rays of sunlight crisscrossing around us; all I could think of was one of those magician boxes where the assistant was placed inside before the magician thrusted glimmering swords through it. Up ahead there was an opening where the trees had parted, allowing more light to filter down into an area. We made our way to it and upon arriving discovered a squirming brook. With flat rocks barely breaking the surface of the water, the brook looked like an albino snake in movement. All these things went unnoticed by my companion. EACH OF US HAS THE ABILITY TO see things in our own unique way. Where I can look across a canyon and see the outline of an ancient castle, the person next to me may look and see a single flower jutting out from a crack in the granite wall. Because of this variance, I am always curious to hear what other people think about places that I have visited. So much can be learned by seeing things through another person’s eyes, I believe. For me, this ability is essential for building solid relationships. When two people are in a relationship it is important to understand how your significant other will respond in situations. I was in a relationship where we had conflict between us because I would react to a situation opposite of them, then not understand why they were not being more supportive. After a year we parted ways because neither of us knew at the time how to look at something from a different perspective. I can now say that relationship had a profound affect on me, allowing me to experience healthier relationships. Speaking of profound experiences, this was my first contact with the author of The Hobbit and I had no idea the world around him had such a major effect on him creating the fantasy world in his books. ORPHANED AND POOR LEFT JOHN RONALD Reuel Tolkien, played by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road) with nothing of tangible worth except for his words. His words would travel around the world one day. This biographical drama also starred Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) as Edith Bratt, Colm Meaney (Alan Partridge, Layer Cake) as Father Francis, Craig Roberts (Just Jim, Submarine) as Private Sam Hodges and Laura Donnelly (Right Hand Drive, Outlander-TV) as Mabel Tolkien. Having no knowledge of J.R.R Tolkien’s personal life, I was stunned watching this beautifully filmed war drama. The story covered three distinct time periods. If broken apart, each segment was compelling; however, in visual form I was distracted with the jumping back and forth in time. I never felt a deep connection to the characters. With such monumental events taking place in the author’s young life, I wanted to know more about Tolkien. Now I am embarrassed to say this, but I have not read The Hobbit; however, after seeing this film and learning a little about his history I want to read the book.
2 ½ stars
I DID NOT KNOW THE TWO brothers when they were growing up. All I can assume from what I have been told was they grew up in the same home, in the same environment. If I was not privy to this bit of information I would never guess they were brothers, except they did share some common physical features. Two men who were so opposite of each other, I have no idea what happened to make them so different in many ways. One brother was jovial, the other was mostly serious. One easygoing who didn’t hold a grudge, while the other one was stubborn and hostile. They were not the only example I had of family members being so different from the same household; but I have to say they were an extreme example for me. Over time I have given thought and studies to the general psychological characteristics, feelings and behavioral traits of humankind; in fact, I thought I would have had a career out of it. Looking at these two brothers besides genetics, there must have been something going on in their environment that made them drastically different. Maybe a parent favored one over the other or one was being abused or bullied outside of the home; in either case, their differences caused a major rift between them that still lasts to this day. I AM NOT IMPLYING THAT THERE is something wrong with being different; I find it to be healthy and celebrate it. Imagine if each family’s members acted the same. The first thing that comes to mind is there would be no surprises. With everyone being the same, everyone would know what to expect. I also believe the family would have a narrower view of the world around them. I know a couple who live in such a self-built confined world, that they have become fearful of anything new. Now you could argue if they are happy and content then what is the big deal; however, I do not know if they are happy because I have never seen them display it. What I do know is they have missed out on so many events that I believe would have brought them joy. The bottom line for all of this is unless one lives and observes what takes place every day, one cannot truly know the reasons why people turn out the way they do. You can see for yourself if you choose to watch the two brothers in this film festival winning drama. GETTING ASSIGNED TO THE BIGGEST CASE of his career L.A.P.D. detective Diego Hernandez, played by Raul Castillo (We the Animals), was thrown a loop when the case included information about his dead brother. With Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank franchise, Elysium) as Detective Martinez, George Lopez (Valentine’s Day, Spare Parts) as Captain Gomez, David Castaneda (Sicario: Day of the Soldado; Standing Up, Falling Down) as Shotgun and Marlene Forte (A Haunted House, Real Women have Curves) as Susana; this movie screamed hope and desperation. I truly get it; the writers and studio wanted to create a franchise around a Latino avenger which would be fine. However, to create a poor script loaded with clichés and predictability was a major roadblock. The acting was nothing to talk about either. This type of story has been done many times before; I do not understand why the writers chose to go down such a conventional path. One guess I have would be the lack of funding for this picture. Every scene looked sparse like it was borrowed or already picked over from previous movies. The fight scenes were staged okay but here too they were kept to a brief, bloody moment. I felt bad for this film; besides poor sales, I cannot see any reason why someone would want to attempt a sequel.
1 ½ stars
I HAD A PAIR OF SHOES that I walked to death. Being extremely picky when it comes to shoes, I remember exactly where I was when I bought that pair of shoes; in a department store shopping for a gift. As I was walking around I wound up by the shoe department. On an endcap was a display of shoes that caught my eye. I liked the style and the fact they were on sale, so I decided to try on a pair. The minute my foot slipped into the shoe I immediately was taken by the comfort. This was something that doesn’t often happen to me when it comes to shoes. After I tried on the other shoe I walked over to a mirror to see how they looked on my feet. One glance and it was confirmed, the shoes were going to be mine. Normally I bring shoes home and wear them around the house for a couple of weeks to make sure they will not cause any discomfort; however, this pair of shoes I wore that night when I met friends for dinner. From that first day, I wore those shoes every day for every occasion. Even when the heels were worn down and the sole’s tread smoothed out into baldness, I could not give up those shoes. THERE ARE SOME THINGS, ONCE WE acquire them, we cannot let them go. I know this is a HUGE challenge for me. If I find something that brings me some form of joyfulness, I understand myself well enough to know I will never want to give it up. There are mementos around my house that I have had since childhood that still bring me joy to this day. A candy dish I played with as a kid; a plastic salad bowl that sat on our dining room table; even a pine cone that was given to me by a classmate in school when we got lost in a forest during a break in studies; each of these things represent a fond memory that I never want to forget. Maybe it is easy for you to remove yourself from your personal possessions; I have some friends who do a purge of their things every year to keep their homes sparse and clutter-free. I can do that on a smaller scale, but every time I try I get bogged down in the memories that float back into my consciousness from each item I see. On first meeting the home owner in this dramatic, horror mystery; I thought he had the same issue of not being able to detach himself from his possessions. MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM CITY DWELLERS to country homeowners appeared easy for married couple Annie and Scott Russell, played by Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, The Unborn) and Michael Ealy (About Last Night, Seven Pounds). It was not as easy for the man who sold the house to them. With Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose, Far From Heaven) as Charlie Peck, Joseph Sikora (Charlie Wilson’s War, Ghost World) as Mike and Alvina August (Bad Times at the El Royale, The Good Doctor-TV) as Rachel; the story seemed quite familiar to me, as if it had been done many times before. If the writers had taken a different direction, maybe this picture would have had more to offer; since the cast was quite capable. Instead, the script was awful, insulting the intelligence of the viewer. It seemed as if every other scene with Dennis focused on his sardonic, sinister smile while the couple continued to make lame decisions. I was so bored by this movie I kept hoping the house would just catch on fire to end the story. When I left the theater, I was mad I had given up my valuable time to sit and watch this ridiculous film.
1 ½ stars
EVERYTHING I SAW AND LEARNED LED me to believe dogs and cats were mortal enemies. From cartoons to movies, as far as I knew if the 2 of them saw each other they would fight until one got hurt or worse. As a kid everyone I knew who had pets always had only one species if there were multiple pets in the household. If a family had a cat they would only get another cat as a pet; the same held true with dog lovers. I had a parakeet; so, I would never have considered getting a cat, because in my mind cats ate birds. Do you remember Tweety and Sylvester? I rest my case; this is where I learned never to mix a cat and a bird. Then there was Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Since coyotes looked like dogs, I assumed dogs were not fond of birds either. I doubt I was the only one who thought this way; I am sure many kids around the same time were thinking the same thing about never mixing different species together. The same holds true for some of the movies I saw as a child where I would see a dog chasing a cat. NOW GRANTED THERE ARE ANIMALS WHO eat other animals for food. I remember seeing a movie that showed a lion going after a herd of wildebeests. It was obvious to me the wildebeests were afraid of the big cat. I translated that as hate. Did the wildebeests instinctively know from birth to fear the big cats or was it something they learned I wondered. I realized at an early age that humans do not come into the world knowing how to hate; they had to be taught on how to do it. I am not talking about hating a specific vegetable or fruit; I am referring to being taught that something or someone is no good, inferior, is bad. I learned about prejudice outside of the classroom, where some kids would make fun of me because I was not the same religion as them. There was a student in class who was quite vocal about his hatreds. He would bully those kids who did not fit into his beliefs. It was awful the way he would make fun of certain students, using their features as examples of what was wrong with them. I had thick curly/kinky hair when I was in school and he took great delight in calling me racist, horrible names. He did not have to be that way, but that is how he was taught. If only there had been someone who could have shown and taught him a different way; someone like the activist in this biographical, dramatic film. WHEN HER DAUGHTER’S SCHOOL CAUGHT ON fire and burned, civil rights activist Ann Atwater, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, What Men Want), was determined to find another school for her daughter and the other students to attend. There were people in the community who hated her idea. With Sam Rockwell (Vice, Mr. Right) as C.P. Ellis, Babou Ceesay (Free Fire, Eye in the Sky) as Bill Riddick, Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) as Floyd Kelly and Anne Heche (Wag the Dog, Six Days Seven Nights) as Mary Ellis; this historical story set in Durham, NC during the 1970s was brought to life by Taraji and Sam. They were dynamite in their roles to the point where I believed who they were portraying. The story was incredible and full of poignant moments that the writers could have taken and made them stand out. I wish they had done that because this historical event deserved a powerful script instead of the sanitized one in this picture. However, it did capture and keep my attention while showing a dramatic time that was brought on by hatred.
2 ½ stars
SURE, I WOULD LOVE TO OPEN a package of chocolate chip cookies and eat all of them up, but could I do it? Okay, maybe I could but do I really need to have so many at one time? As a kid I would try to take more than I needed, especially if I knew someone else was trying to do the same thing; but these days I am not such a greedy person. There is a periodical I get that has a section devoted to high priced homes across the country. When I see some of the houses listed I am constantly amazed at how much people will pay for a roof over their head; and isn’t that all a person is looking for, a roof over their head? One house had 6 bathrooms. I could not understand why someone would need so many and so much stuff inside when the house only had 4 bedrooms. Looking at the furnishings inside some of these places, I cannot imagine how much people must have paid for the items. My first thought is I wish I knew what the owners did for a living to afford such a place. Houses with a multitude of massively sized rooms that have offshoots of other rooms is something that makes no sense to me. Why does a person need so many rooms? THE ANSWER I COME UP WITH is they like to show-off what they have, or they are simply greedy. Wouldn’t average bathroom tiles do the same job as some exotic imported ones that were made of a rare substance? I remember being at a house where the owner was bragging about their dining room chandelier. It had fancy crystal pieces hanging all around the gold karat structure. I thought it was hideous myself but would never say that out loud. However, the bulbs were like any other bulbs; in my opinion, there was no reason to spend so much money on what basically was a light fixture. It just shows me people like to flaunt their money and believe they can never have too much money. Not that I am saintly or anything close to it, but I have always said I wish I was at a place where I did not have to think about what I was purchasing. I would like to know how that feels. And you know, even if I were to win the lottery I cannot see myself becoming this greedy individual who wants more and more stuff. I do not know if I could say the same thing about the people in this dramatic thriller. VINCENT AND ANTON ZALESKI, PLAYED BY Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me franchise, American Ultra) and Alexander Skarsgard (The Legend of Tarzan, True Blood-TV), had it all figured out. All that was needed was a little finesse and a second less of time. With Salma Hayek (Some Kind of Beautiful, Beatriz at Dinner) as Eva Torres, Michael Mando (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Better Call Saul-TV) as Mark Vega and Johan Heldenbergh (The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Broken Circle Breakdown) as Amish Elder; there was an element of excitement to this story. Jesse appeared for the most part like the same type of character, fast talking and fidgety, he has done before. I could not get over Alexander, however. He played an interesting character and his transformation was a surprise for me. Since I am talking about acting I will add Salma played a fun part and looked like she was having a good time with it. The script began strong for the first half of this film but after awhile I felt it was getting stuck in a rut. I wondered if the story was based on a true event but there was no mention. Do you need to pay full price to see this picture? Not really, you could wait for a bargain matinee and save some money if you like. I know I would have done it if I could.
2 ½ stars
INTENSITY HAS BEEN A PART OF ME as long as when I became aware of my shadow. Many people have described me as being intense; or I should say, those who know me well enough know the amount of intensity I can generate in myself. I have always had a strong single mindedness that is like a starving, aggressive dog who will not let go of a found bone. There was a time where I was acutely aware of people around me feeling the heat coming off me when I am intensely, laser focused on one thing. Now you would think there must not be many things that I find intense, but you would be incorrect to assume such a thing. Driving in a violent storm is something that I find to be an intense situation. With the wind jostling the car and rain pelting the windshield relentlessly; I find myself with my shoulders stiff by my ears and my grip turning into a vise around the steering wheel. I used to react in a similar way when I used to ride roller coasters. Now I avoid most of them because I already deal with enough stress and do not want to willingly put more tension on myself. MORE THAN LIKELY MANY OF YOU have experienced some form of tension in your life. The first thing that comes to mind is a doctor’s office or hospital. I knew a person who would get such a strong reaction every time they went to the dentist that they decided to stop going all together. I am sure this happens more now than it used to, but I quickly become uncomfortable anytime someone is heckling a performer. Sitting in the audience and suddenly some random individual talks back to the artist or yells at them and I immediately tense up. I remember sitting in a smallish type of venue, watching a comedian. At one of their jokes a drunken guy in the audience shouted out a derogatory remark to the performer; I immediately tensed up and started worrying about what would happen next. The reason being, I remembered at a rock concert where someone threw a beer bottle towards the band and they instantly stopped the show and left the stage. I held my breath to see what the comedian would do. He came back with such a classic retort that I still use it to this day; it shut the heckler up. From the experiences I listed I can add something new that made me tense and on the edge of my seat, this film festival winning movie based on a true story. KNOWN FOR ITS ELEGANCE AND ATTENTION to its guests the Taj Hotel was the focal point for a terrorist group’s message to get out to the world. This dramatic thriller starred Dev Patel (Lion, The Man Who Knew Infinity) as Arjun, Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex, Sorry to Bother You) as David, Nazanin Boniadi (Ben-Hur, Homeland-TV) as Zahra, Tilda Cobham-Hervey (One Eyed Girl, The Kettering Incident-TV) as Sally and Alex Pinder (Ocean Girl-TV, Angel Baby) as Butler Jamon. I cannot remember the last time I sat through a movie where I was swept up into a tense state by the action on the screen. The actors were well suited for this story and they delivered in my opinion. I am telling you now this was not an easy movie to sit through because there was violence, bloodshed and terrifying scenes. Honestly, I did not care if everything I was watching was true or not; the fact that the script kept me engaged and kept my eyes riveted to the screen made the experience memorable for me. I suggest you prepare yourself before you see this film and remember to take deep breaths.
IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN A CHILD does it, it can be cute. However, when an adult does it, there is nothing cute about it. What I am referring to is “denial;” making a statement that something is not true or the refusal of something requested or desired. I still find it amusing when you are visiting with friends or family and you hear a crashing/breaking sound coming from a different room. You run in and see a vase or candy dish in pieces on the floor. The only human in the room is a small child who is standing near the pieces, not moving. When you ask them if they broke it their first response is, “No.” You question further by asking who then broke the item and they say they do not know. So yes, I know that this is lying; but I get amused by the absurdity of it, and the fact that the child chooses to say no instead of telling the truth. In this scenario this would be a good teaching opportunity for the child, to explain the ramifications revolved around telling the truth as opposed to denying responsibility for something that happened. IT IS A GOOD LESSON THAT not everyone chooses to abide by. I recall an incident in school where a student was shooting paperclips at another student. For those of you who do not know how this is done, it is done by partially unbending the paperclip and using a rubber band wrapped around two fingers to form a pseudo slingshot to launch the clip. It can be quite painful to get hit by a speeding paperclip. When the student cried out from being hit the teacher looked up to see what was going on. The student picked up the clip from the floor and showed her the cause of his outburst. She asked the class who did it but no one (did you really think someone would admit it?) responded to her. The same student hit the other student again after things settled down and the teacher was once again distracted by her work. I have encountered a variety of adults who practice some form of denial. A parent who sees their painfully thin child refusing to eat a meal for no reason or an adult who complains they never have any extra money but daily receive packages of stuff they have ordered online. I could go on with examples but will let you see another one in this dramatic, film festival winning movie. LONG TERM FRIENDS FRANKY AND BALLAS, played by Josh Wiggins (Max, Mean Dreams) and Darren Mann (Even Lambs Have Teeth, Hello Destroyer), had everything going their way in school with both being popular and members on the swim team. But on Franky’s 17th birthday something took place that would totally change their world. This coming of age story also starred Maria Bello (Max Steel, A History of Violence) as Carly Winter, Kyle MacLachlan (The House with the Clock in its Walls, Twin Peaks-TV) as Ray Winter and Taylor Hickson (Deadpool, Deadly Class-TV) as Natasha Kohl. I have seen and read numerous coming of age stories; this one followed a similar path as they but with more scenery, in the figurative sense. The acting was good overall and came across especially for the young adults as authentic. This also included several scenes inside the school; they could have easily taken place during my time in school. In fact, a part of me started to tense up when watching a few of the intense spots of the story because I felt like I was back in high school. Considering I had not seen a trailer or advertisement for this film, I was pleasantly surprised that it kept my interest. There is no denying it.
2 ½ stars