FEW OF MY FRIENDS LIKED THE candy pellets that came out of the candy dispenser I carried around in my pocket. I had a couple of different kinds; one had Popeye’s head on the top and the other had the head of a dog. When you tilted the head back the mouth would open to reveal a candy pellet, for you to slide out and pop into your mouth. Whenever I went to the candy store I always picked up a couple of packs of pellets to reload my dispensers. As time went on and my tastes changed, I stopped carrying around my candy dispensers; I placed them in a desk drawer and soon forgot about them. Fast forward to years later and on one of my social media sites I have a follower who is a big fan/collector of the same kind of candy dispensers I used to have when I was younger. From seeing the things this follower has been posting, I discovered there is a world of people who enjoy these candy dispensers. And here I thought when I was younger I was the only one who liked them. I will say from the time I had them they certainly have increased the amount of different heads on them. THOUGH I KNOW NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE in my follower’s posts, I felt some kind of connection. It is the type of connection one feels when they discover someone they do not know has the same like/dislike of a particular thing. It immediately forms a connection between the 2 individuals because they have something in common that they can now use to build on a relationship. The best example I can show is my movie review site. The people who comment on my reviews were unknown to me for the most part. All of a sudden we started a dialog that was born in our mutual love of movies and in turn a comfort formed that allowed an easy sharing of each other’s life stories. Growing up, I had a variety of interests that were not shared by those around me. I can remember during the 7th or 8th grades meeting a couple of new students who had similar interests. It was not only an immediate connection, but it was the start of a deep friendship. In a way it was like finding someone who spoke the same language as you after being misunderstood by your peers for years. From the beginning of this film festival winning, dramatic thriller I found myself connected to the main characters. BEING NEW TO THE AREA DID NOT make a difference to the connection that quickly formed between Casey Caraway and her neighbor Jonas Ford, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) and Josh Wiggins (Max, Walking Out). Their connection would be tested beyond anything they imagined. With Joe Cobden (Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow) as Elbert Ford, Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Wayne Caraway and Colm Feore (Chicago, The Chronicles of Riddick) as The Chief; this story drew me in due to the connection I mentioned previously. The acting came across truthfully and at times powerfully. I felt Bill’s performance was authentic and intense, especially because I was getting a physical reaction from his character. The story line had a similar flavor to past movies of the same genre; however, I was surprised with the twists in this one. The filming style added to the despair felt in the story; there was a simple and direct style that made the characters come across in a raw, sometimes desperate, way. The story may cause uneasiness with viewers in the beginning, but it would be worth staying to see what happens and you never know, there may be a connection that forms with you.
2 ½ stars — DVD
REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy. NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie. LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.
1 ½ stars
THE SCHOOL I ATTENDED COVERED ALL the grades from kindergarten to eighth. Despite all classes being in the same building, there was a definite division between grades. I started in kindergarten and remained a student at the school until I graduated from eighth grade. The school building never went through any type of remodeling while I was a student, except for the playground. This will be hard to believe; but when I started at the school, the playground was divided into 2 spaces, side by side. One space was smooth, looking like a paved road; the other consisted of gravel. The younger grades were assigned the smooth surfaced playground, while the older students had to take the graveled playground. During my sixth year, when I would have to switch to the gravel side, the school removed the gravel and paved the ground. Though both spaces looked the same the younger kids knew not to go over to the newly paved space; it was still meant for older students. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but what this school policy did was to teach the younger kids that there was a reward waiting for them when they got older. IT WOULD START IN FIFTH GRADE, students trying to befriend older ones. Those who already had an older sibling in a higher grade had an easier time fitting into the older crowds. I had a neighbor who was a couple of grades ahead of me. Anytime I caught a glimpse of him on the newer playground space I would try to come up with an excuse to go talk to him. Looking back at it now, it seems silly; all of us wanted to be treated like we were older, more adult-like students who did not want to be referred to as kids anymore. Girls would consider it a major achievement if they could call a student from a higher grade their boyfriend. It was almost like an obsession; for every grade one advanced, their previous grade was added to the disdain they had for anyone younger. And if anyone had a friendship with a younger student, it was kept a secret. I firmly believe all of this was the catalyst in the formation of cliques. At my school, there was no greater moniker to have than being labelled the “cool” kid. Cool would encompass a variety of traits; but it did not matter, if other students considered one cool then life at school would be good for them. An example of this can be found in this adventure comedy. BEING INVITED TO A PARTY WAS the first step in attaining cool status for Max, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and his two friends. However, if they did not want to embarrass themselves, they would need to take a crash course on what cool kids do at a party. With Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Teachers-TV) as Lucas, Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Thor, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party) as Hannah and Midori Francis (Ocean’s Eight, Younger-TV) as Lily; this film had a lot of profanity being spoken in it. At first because it was being said by elementary school kids, it was funny; however, as the story progressed it lost its shock value and seemed to be the only comedy focal point in several scenes. The three boys were excellent together and did provide a few laugh out moments in the story. I appreciated the way the writers tackled the topics of first love and evolving friendships; they were written with authenticity. For the most part I was entertained by this movie; however, I did wonder if kids today have more pressure placed on them to fit in and be considered cool.
2 ½ stars
THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE IT I have found is to smile, nod your head in agreement and slowly try to remove yourself from them. I cannot guarantee it will always work but it usually will lessen the conversation time and hopefully the person will get bored and move on. Now I am not passing any type of judgment on the individual; they are free to do whatever they want to themselves. I just do not have the patience to listen to someone who is drunk or stoned. What bothers me more is when I feel like I am a captive audience to their utterances. For some reason if a person, who is under the influence of something, enters a train car or bus more than likely they will make their way to me. There must be something about me that attracts such individuals; it is like those people who do not like pets and when they walk into a house that has a pet, the animal makes a beeline to them. The only thing I can do when this happens to me on public transportation is either walk to a different train car or try and move to a different seat on the bus. However, this does not always work. USUALLY AT WEDDINGS OR OTHER SUCH gatherings, I can gracefully extricate myself from the intoxicated person and disappear into the other mingling guests. But guess what happens sometimes? That person winds up sitting at my table. Ugh, it is so annoying when one is trying to enjoy their meal and you have a fellow guest acting silly or nonsensical at the table. I have only experienced this a couple of times where a drunken guest gets so smashed that they hurl whatever they have in their stomach. If it were my celebration I would order a taxi to take the individual home; because trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting at a table full of guests with food and have one person sitting there with soiled clothes, about to pass out. I know there are some people who find amusement in the antics of an inebriated or high individual. Granted some people feel their artistic talent gets accentuated with the help of drugs or alcohol; I honestly don’t know one way or the other. All I know for certain is that I felt like I was being held captive to the meanderings of the drunken and high main character in this comedy. LIVING LIFE BY HIS OWN RULES had given writer Moondog, played by Matthew McConaughey (The Dark Tower, Serenity) some notoriety in the areas he traveled. It didn’t matter if people did not understand as long as they had fun. Also starring Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Nocturnal Animals) as Minnie, Snoop Dog (Future World, Unbelievable!!!!!) as Lingerie, Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman, Baywatch) as Flicker and Stefania LaVie Owen (The Lovely Bones, Krampus) as Heather; this movie was torturous for me. Matthew as far as I could tell was doing schtick that quickly got tedious. It felt like he was just exaggerating characters he had played before. Or maybe, it was his own persona that he created that he was portraying. I felt the script had no structure that simply went from one event to another with no connections. Even now I have no idea why this movie was given approval by the studio; though, at one point I wondered if this was based on a true story and we would eventually get to a poignant spot that would make sense of the whole story. No such luck; instead I sat there bored out of my brain watching the nonsense on screen. Sitting through this movie was like being cornered by a drunken person who has no regard for my personal space.
1 ½ stars
IT IS MY MAIN GROCERY STORE that I have been going to for over 10 years. Though the store is one of the grocery chain’s larger format stores, I can quickly navigate through the aisles with efficiency. After so many years I pretty much know where everything is located, and I must tell you that is the reason I do not mind shopping for groceries. I am such a routine person that I find calmness when I can go on automatic and not have to think about what I am doing; I am talking about the more mundane chores we do as adults. Pushing my shopping cart to the exact products I need to buy is a wonderful thing. I do not have the patience to wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, as I try to find something. It is such a waste of time. Another thing I try to do is go food shopping late at night when there are less people in the store. During these times I can be in and out of the store with several bags of groceries in under 15 minutes. When I walk in I know what to expect. THE DATE WAS OCTOBER 10TH, A date I will never forget because that is when everything changed for me. My grocery store was closed for a short time after they spent months remodeling. The closure was to fully restock all the shelves and have their “Grand Reopening” celebration. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into a strange place. All the aisles had been redone; I did not know where anything was as I struggled looking for some semblance of normalcy. My bread was no longer in Aisle 2 as well as my cereal was now hiding somewhere else. I was distraught. Ok, maybe I am being a little too dramatic here; but I was not comfortable having to go up and down aisles, trying to find the stuff on my grocery list. In time I knew I would learn all the changes and go back to putting myself on automatic, to quickly make my way thru the store. I do not think I am the only person who does this, but don’t others like to know what to expect when going into a situation? Whether it is the grocery store, sporting event or instructional session; there are times where a person wants to know what they are getting into before committing to it. That is usually the case with this actor’s movies; you know what to expect from him. BEING TOLD HIS SON DIED OF A drug overdose was not something Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Widows), believed; he knew his son was not a “druggie.” Nels was determined to find out how his son died, and he was not going to let anyone stop him. This dramatic action thriller also starred Laura Dern (Wild, Wild at Heart) as Grace Coxman, Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Kim Dash, Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched) as Trevor “Viking” Calcote and Domenick Combardozzi (Miami Vice, The Family) as Mustang. These days you know exactly what you are going to get when you see Liam Neeson in a film. He played the same type of character here as he has done before; an uber masculine, macho man who doesn’t appear to have the lethal skill set needed for the character but does. The only difference with this script compared to the others Liam has recently been in is this one had an element of dark humor. It wasn’t bad; but I thought there needed to be more of it, to tell you the truth. I was confused by Liam’s character; how did he get to be such a menace in this film, there was no back story. Still the story was not so different that it would stand out. I expected as much when I bought my movie ticket.
2 ¼ stars
I COULD BUY MYSELF PAINT, BRUSHES AND CANVAS; but that would not mean I am an artist. Even if I had an abundance of confidence, I could not pretend to be a painter if I had never done it before. Now, that is me; however, there are people who start or try something new and decide they are an expert in that field. I can see someone being passionate about a new-found skill and immersing themselves into it, but I would not consider them an expert. For example, someone discovers they have a knack with numbers. They decide to pursue it, taking all the math classes they could through their school years. Gaining as much knowledge as possible, they open the possibility of becoming a CPA, actuary or pursue their love of math into a teaching position. I commend such an individual because they represent one of my philosophies: do what you love, and the rest will follow. What this means is if a person can find something that they are passionate about and pursue it into a lifelong career; then everything in their life, including money, will fall into place for them. This is a beautiful thing when it happens; but one needs some self-awareness. YEARS AGO, I WAS RENTING AN apartment in the city. I decided to paint the rooms, so I went out and bought a few cans of paint, choosing colors I felt would complement each other. I did what I felt was my best, being careful not to have any paint drips or streaks on the walls. It took me several days to finish the project because I was going slow since I had never painted before. When I finished I was pleased with the results. After I put the place back in order, I invited a few friends over to see my new apartment. One friend brought someone with them who after hearing I had done the paint job began to tell me the things I did wrong. The way she was talking I thought she was a painter or interior decorator. After listening to her comments, I asked her where she went to school for interior decorating. Imagine my surprise when she said she had no schooling for decorating; what she learned came from the magazines she read. I stood there and thought this woman had a lot of nerve critiquing my painting efforts; who was she to tell me what I should have done differently? I may have been fooled by her but that was not the case with the main character in this dramatic action thriller. WHEN HER CLOSE FRIEND WENT missing Gloria’s search, played by Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin-TV), found her at the mercy of a drug lord. She would have to do things she had never done before. With Ismael Cruz Cordova (In the Blood, The Pastor) as Lino, Cristina Rodio (The Condemned, Red Hook Black) as Suzu, Damian Alcazar (Herod’s Law, The Crime of Padre Amaro) as Chief Saucedo and Ricardo Abarca (Motel Acqua, Cumbia Ninja-TV) as Poyo; I had a hard time believing this story because of the poorly written script. Gina did a good job of acting, but the rest of the characters were a bit cartoonish for me. The drug gang could have been more threatening, and the initial reason Lino became attracted to Gloria was ludicrous to me. Considering everything Gloria encountered I did not believe a person in that situation could have performed all the things that were shown in the movie, particularly the way the story ended for her. If the writers would have instilled a more threatening atmosphere with more grit, this film could have been better. After the picture ended I left not believing what I saw and not believing I had to sit through it.
1 ¾ stars
AT WHAT POINT DOES YOUR TOLERANCE for disruptive behavior end? I can go for a while depending on the situation, but then I am done. Let me give you an example: there was a friend of mine who enjoyed going to the movies with me. I thought I did as well until she started talking during the film. Once or twice I am okay with, especially if they did not hear a line of dialog; but, asking questions and talking during the show is totally unacceptable in my world. She would ask me things like, “What do you think will happen?” or “I do not think that dress looks good on her.” Really?!?! This is a reason to open your mouth and talk during a movie? I thought not responding would stop the talking, but that was not the case. She kept up the chatter even after I pointblank asked her to stop it. Because she was a good friend, I had a dilemma on my hands. Do I stop going to the movies with her or find a different option? My solution was simple (at least I thought so); I told her she was more than welcome to join me, but she could not sit next to me because of the talking. She tried by sitting a few seats away from me, but after a couple of times she lost interest in going with me and I was okay with it. THOUGH I AM STILL FRIENDS WITH that person there is someone else whose friendship I chose to end. We knew each other for several years. Since I was the only one with a car, a lot of our time together was down in their area. In those years they only ventured up towards me a few times, using public transportation or a car share. Everything was fine between us, always having a good time together. Then one time I asked if they wanted to see a theatrical production at a theater that was located near me; they agreed to see it. I checked on ticket availability and called them back later in the week. We decided on seats and I said I would go pick them up. They asked again the name of the theater and when I told them they asked if it was located up by me. Saying yes, they said they were not going to go “all the way” up there just to see a play. I realized right then this was a friendship of convenience on their part; it was okay for me to go down to them, but to come up to me was too hard? Since this was not the 1st time, I made the hard decision. Granted, not as hard as the decisions made in this dramatic movie. HOLLY BURNS, PLAYED BY JULIA ROBERTS (Wonder, Secret in Their Eyes), had everything set to celebrate the holidays. But then her son Ben, played by Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea), unexpectedly showed up from rehab. This film festival winner also starred Courtney B. Vance (Space Cowboys, Office Christmas Party) as Neal, Kathryn Newton (Blockers; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Ivy and Rachel Bay Jones (God Friended Me-TV) as Beth Conyers. This film stayed alive because of the wonderful acting done by Julia and Lucas. Their chemistry together blazed across the screen. There seems to have been a few recent films that have dealt with addiction, which put this story at a disadvantage. There was not something to set this script much apart from the others that were done, except for allowing the actors to wring out as much feelings and emotions as they could, and they did. Nonetheless, this picture kept me engaged with its tough choices.
THOUGH I WOULD LIKE EVERYONE to act in an honest and ethical way, I am sure there is a lot that goes on in the business world that would shock me. Not just big corporations, I am sure it trickles down to small shop owners. I have a couple of friends who ran a medical practice and I used to get surprised by the things they told me they encountered during the average work day. Drug salespeople were constantly dropping in hoping to catch a quick meeting with the doctor. If they could not meet on their first attempt, some would try to bring in lunch for the staff. I assume they were hoping they could entice the doctor to meet them over a meal. There was one salesperson who would stock their cabinet with trial size packages of the drug they were representing; however, they always either pushed back their competitor’s product to the back of the shelf or even took some of it away. Through my friends’ years at the medical practice I was astounded by the amount of free products the drug reps would try to leave at the office. I had to wonder if the drug company eliminated the free trial size portions would they lower the prices of their drugs. THE PAST WEEK A FORMER pharmaceutical executive was sentenced to prison for fraud. I think the verdict is just since he broke the law; but this is the same person who raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750.00. Now I am all for everyone making a profit but gouging the public is simply wrong. The percentage of that price increase covers the price of inflation for centuries. Granted having the product billed as a lifesaver makes it worse, but I would feel the same way if a company increased the price of their bread by some exorbitant price. The difference is they would never do it because one can always buy a loaf of bread from a different company. People in business who only think of themselves and are willing to sacrifice the consumer to get ahead are no different in my opinion to those malicious email attachments seeking your bank information. And as a side note the latest statistics show those emails increased by 300% in the last quarter of 2017. Despite the crooked and unethical things I have mentioned, I was shocked by what I saw in this action crime comedy. WANTING TO BE THE FIRST to come to market with a brand new drug medical executive Richard Rusk, played by Joel Edgerton (Red Sparrow, The Great Gatsby), was willing to do anything to succeed. This would put his employees in a precarious predicament. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Elaine Markinson, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Queen of Katwe) as Harold Soyinka, Thandie Newton (Crash, 2012) as Bonnie Soyinka and Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!) as Sunny; I felt the cast choices were way better than the roles they were given to play. The script started out promising to me but as time went on I thought the addition of multiple story lines and the under developed characters bogged it down. I actually do not recall anything funny in this film. Instead I thought the story was a generic version of several “chase” films I have seen before. Even with the acting I felt Charlize was the most authentic; I can only assume David wanted to do something totally different, but it did not work for me. This movie has to make one wonder if all involved producing it were sampling the drug that was coming to market in this story.
1 ¾ stars