I KNEW AS I WAS SWALOWING the ibuprofen that I had just taken my last ride on a roller coaster. It was a wild ride, I have to admit; there were loop and corkscrew turns, besides a death drop into a short tunnel that looked like it was too small for us to enter. The funny thing is out of the entire ride the worst part for me was the initial climb up. There is something about the roller coaster cars chugging up the incline while my back is pinned to the back of the seat that makes me uncomfortable. I think part of the reason is due to the height of the climb. At some point there is no visible structure around the cars, so it looks like we are balancing on a single set of tracks or a single track that makes me uncomfortable. I do not know if I am afraid of a strong wind pushing us over or that the passengers’ weight distribution is lopsided in one of the cars that makes it topple over, taking the rest of the cars with it. I just know I have never liked that part of the ride since I was a little kid. As we climbed out of the car, I had to hold onto the banister to steady myself as I noticed I had just gotten a headache. Also, my stomach was queasy. Hence, the drug and the realization my days of riding were over. I THOUGHT I WOULD MISS THE excitement and thrill of riding a roller coaster; but to tell you the truth, I actually do not feel any sense of loss or feelings of being left out while hanging out at the base of the attraction while my friends and family are enjoying the ride. I still marvel at the engineering technology of a roller coaster and enjoy hearing the screams from passengers who whiz by me as I am safe and comfortable on a nearby bench. I have a relative who is a senior citizen who still rides roller coasters. In fact, they have performed a couple of wedding ceremonies while on a roller coaster; it is true! They made arrangements with the park to have the entire wedding party ride the attraction. When they reached the pinnacle after the beginning climb, the park stopped the ride and my relative performed the service. Right after they pronounced them man and wife, the park started the ride back up and the wedding party completed the course. I appreciated the party’s excitement at the unusual venue; I find my thrills and excitement in different ways as well and one of them is watching a film like this action, crime drama. IN DESPARATE NEED OF MONEY, A husband turns to his adoptive brother for help. To get the funds, he would only have to be a participant in a bank robbery. With Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty, Stronger) as Danny Sharp, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Candyman, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Will Sharp, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Godzilla vs. Kong) as Cam Thompson, Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave, No Country for Old Men) as Captain Monroe and Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers, American Sniper) as FBI Agent; this film directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Transformers franchise) was small on talk and character development but big on thrills and crazy excitement. I was in the right mood to see this film because I only wanted to experience it, not think about it. The acting was terrific from the three main characters and though there was a repetitive quality to the script, the stunt driving and fights were wild. Essentially, the story was a series of intense events that followed one after another. As long as one is looking for a visceral experience, then this movie will provide the correct nutrients for excitement. And you might not have to take Ibuprofen, but I cannot guarantee one might need motion sickness medication.
FOUR MONTHS AFTER MY IDENTITY HAD been stolen, I received a notice from the government that my fraud claim was confirmed, and I was not responsible for any losses. It has been a long four months with me contacting different agencies, freezing my credit report and filing a police report. It all started when I received a notice from unemployment that I had been approved to receive benefits; a debit card was enclosed that I was supposed to activate to receive funds. I knew it was a scam since I was currently employed. Due to the pandemic, I had a harder time getting things accomplished to protect myself. There were the multiple calls to the Social Security Administration, where I had to wait on hold until their phone system would tell me no agents were available and to try back later. Once I finally was able to speak to a representative, I could not get an answer to my questions, like why they are dunning me for 4 payments they claim they sent to me. I asked them where were they sending it; if it was to that debit card I did not activate, why couldn’t they just pull the funds back? Still, I could not get a clear answer and was told I should just hold on to all the paperwork that was sent to me. MY ORDEAL, THOUGH IT WAS A hassle, was manageable for me. However, I did wonder how I would have handled it if I was older. It is weird how it just happens; that sense of vulnerability that enters our consciousness as we get older. When I was younger, I gave little thought to walking in the snow and ice during winter; now, I am hyper aware of where I am stepping on an icy wet pavement. Will I become easily confused in my senior years? Will I be an easy target for scammers? These are things I think about now. They had a news report recently of a senior citizen in a nursing home who was milked out of her savings to the tune of $500,000.00. She was befriended by an employee at the nursing home who would have her sign withdrawal slips for small amounts of money from her savings account. Over time the small amounts added up and left the woman very little to live on. It was heartbreaking to see and confirmed my fears that the elderly can be such easy targets. If I get to a point where I might become easily confused, I hope I would know to find an advocate for me, someone who would watch out for my best interests. If you care to see an example of what could happen, then watch this dark comedy, crime thriller. MARLA GRAYSON, PLAYED BY ROSAMUND PIKE (A Private War, Gone Girl), had a good thing going of being a legal guardian for those who could not take care of themselves. That is until she became the guardian to someone who had a couple of secrets of her own. With Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones-TV, X-men: Days of Future Past) as Roman Lunyov, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Paradise Hills) as Fran, Dianne Wiest (Hannah and her Sisters, Darling Companion) as Jennifer Peterson and Chris Messina (Away We Go, Ruby Sparks) as Dean Ericson; this Golden Globe nominated movie had an interesting premise. I felt the writers could have gone in a variety of ways to make their point. However, the way they chose I found horrible. I thought the script was mean spirited and ignorant. The only thing that kept me watching this film was the performances by Rosamund, Peter and Dianne. They were excellent; but I do not know how they kept this picture going, because there was no moral compass in the story and there really was no character that elicited any sympathy from me. If it wasn’t for the acting, I would have given this film a lower rating of stars.
1 7/8 stars
I DID NOT SEE THEM UNTIL AFTER we were seated for dinner. They caught my eye because of what they were wearing, identical matching outfits. We were guests at a wedding, and I knew the two of them were not related to me. I had to assume they were a mother and daughter; the little girl looked like she was 5 to 7 years old. They were seated at a table nearby, in seats that were directly in line with my field of vision. Their dresses were made of a soft fabric like crepe or chiffon, with a pattern of autumn colored leaves all over it. With capped sleeves and a rounded neck, they each had a gold necklace around their neck that had a single dropped pearl dangling from it; in their pierced ears there were matching pearl earrings. I tried not to stare but the more I caught glimpses of them the more I found them fascinating in a creepy sort of way. Now I do not want to come off as disrespectful but seeing them dressed and acting the same made me uncomfortable. I have never been one to fall in line to fit in with the majority; I prefer people expressing their individuality and being different without feeling like they must conform to a certain set of “rules.” Watching these two with they identical hair styles and makeup just seemed so weird to me. AFTER THE WEDDING EVENT ON MY DRIVE home, I spent some time thinking about that mother and daughter and my uneasiness with them dressing up to match each other. Having had some friends whose parents tried to raise them to be the same as their parents, I have always questioned the motivation behind it. Why did a mother or father want to have their child be just like them? Was it because that is how they were raised or maybe they wanted their child to be perfect, at least whatever they considered to be perfect? What I believe is children should be raised to be self-thinking, independent beings. Having spent many years feeling like an outsider, one could argue that has contributed to me wanting everyone to freely express their individuality. It is funny; I am remembering an incident with a friend who refused to go out to dinner with me until I had changed my clothes. He did not like what I was wearing, thinking it looked ridiculous on me. Because I did not want to argue I went ahead and put on a different shirt and pair of pants. I needed some of the gumption and fight the main character had in this film festival winner. WAKING UP TO FIND OUT SHE was sent to a place that was going to change and mold her to fit into a certain society, there was only one person Uma, played by Emma Roberts (The Art of Getting By, We’re the Millers), knew who could do such a thing; it was her mother. With Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Chloe, Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Yu, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Bloodshot) as Amarna and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil franchise, Shock and Awe) as The Duchess; this fantasy, sci fi thriller had some lofty goals. Visually, I enjoyed watching this picture; the sets and costumes, especially Milla’s, were wonderful. The cast was well-suited for the roles and worked well together. Unfortunately, I was able to figure out what was going to happen due to the script; it was a mashup of a few previous films in the same genre. There were some scenes that worked, but then others lacked focus. If this had been released (or maybe it was) at the theaters I cannot imagine it doing very well. However, seeing it at home made it more palatable for me. If nothing else, I certainly understood the message that was trying to be conveyed and commend the writers and director for trying to create something original. It was a shame it did not quite get to its high aspirations.
2 1/3 stars
THERE WAS A TEACHER AT MY SCHOOL who had a wooden arm. Every student knew it even if they did not have her as their teacher. She wore long sleeves year-round and she kept the hand portion of her fake arm covered with a glove. There was a rumor I had heard about a student in one of her classes. Upon being told to close the classroom window they had opened without permission; the student asked the teacher why, was she afraid of woodpeckers flying into the room? The student was expelled from school for 2 weeks. I am guessing most of you are shocked after reading about this teacher’s arm. It surprised me as well, since I live in a city that has a renowned rehabilitation center. Through the years the local news has reported on this institution’s latest cutting-edge, technological achievements. Patients from all over the world have come here to receive help and guidance from this rehabilitation center. I did not know the teacher’s circumstances on why she either chose or was given a wooden arm instead of some type of bendable prosthetic. Back in school there was a part of me that had always hoped I would get her for a teacher; so, I could see for myself how she navigated through the daily class routines. What can I say; I was curious. SINCE I MENTIONED THE REHABILITATION CENTER, there was one success story that never made it to the news. I was fortunate to watch one patient’s progress on one of my social media sites. I must tell you; it was an incredible journey to watch because this patient came to the center after an accident caused their inability to walk. Periodically, they would post a photo/video of themselves relearning how to walk with mechanical assistance. I never knew what type of injury they had; however, I remember their earliest videos would show them buckled into a nearly full body suit that was suspended from the ceiling and had electrodes attached all over it. There was one video where the patient was wearing the suit and had 2 people on either side moving their limbs to simulate a walking motion. Weeks and weeks went by before the patient was able to move one leg an inch with no assistance; the smile on their face was immense. At some point the suspended suit was replaced with one that was remotely controlled. The patient had to hold onto two parallel bars, as their legs would slowly shuffle one at a time forward. What a feat to witness; I originally thought I would be seeing a similar feat in this science fiction, action drama. NEW TECHNOLOGY WAS ABLE TO BRING Ray Garrison, played by Vin Diesel (The Last Witch Hunter, The Fast and Furious franchise), back from his untimely death. However, his memories were a different story. With Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) as Katie/KT, Sam Heughan (Outlander-TV, The Spy Who Dumped Me) as Jimmy Dalton, Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, The Hurricane Heist) as Martin Axe and Guy Pearce (Spinning Man, The Rover) as Dr. Emil Harting; this film based on a popular comic book was a typical Vin Diesel picture. It also included a typical Vin performance; even when the action was done in slow motion. The idea behind the story intrigued me; in fact, I enjoyed the enhancements made to Vin’s character. Yet, the writers did nothing new with the story line. There were big fight scenes and special effects; but they were all wrapped into a blah script that did not provide me with anything new. All I can say is this film was not horrible; it was just bland and mindless. You would think with all the technological advances that have been achieved in the world, the movie studio could have presented a better film.
1 ¾ stars