MOST INDIVIDUALS CONSIDERED HIM THE LIFE of the party and I suppose to the untrained eye he was; however, there was something about him that did not set right with me. If I were asked to describe him in one word, I would have used the word “manic.” When he was “on” there was no off switch; he would remain the focus of attention for the entire night. Whether it was a couple of people or a large party, he was always set to put on a performance. I will say he could be quite funny at times, but sometimes people just wanted to chill out and not be forced to play his fall guy or enthusiastic audience member. I use the word enthusiastic because if you did not play along to his style of humor, he would be quick to pounce on you; of course, in a humorous way just to get more laughs out of the situation. Whenever we were at the same event, I always made sure I was off to the side, somewhere on the edge of his peripheral vision. I discovered if I was not in his direct line of fire, which mostly was everything in front of him, I could get by without being pulled into his show. THE AMOUNT OF ENERGY HE WOULD expend during his performances was not natural; I was convinced there had to be something fueling him on, because rarely was there anyone who could do such a feat without artificial help. In a period of 2-3 years of his over the top personality, I noticed a change taking place in him. His complexion had drained into paleness and his weight loss had become noticeable. You might recall my philosophy of there being no accidents, there is a reason for everything? I was at the right place at the right time when I made a comment to a close friend of his about the physical differences I had noticed. It was as if I had the key to open up her feelings because she teared up as she told me how concerned she was about her friend. It turned out my suspicions were correct because she said she was certain he was addicted to a street drug. I did not take any pleasure in being right; a coat of sadness enclosed me as I tried to comfort her. She explained she was trying to convince him to seek out help but all he would do is promise her then continue on with his day. I felt sad for her and him, telling her she could not do it alone; it would take a major near-death experience or sudden change in the way people respond to his antics. To give you an idea of what it felt like being around him, I was getting the same feelings I used to experience back then as I watched the main character in this film festival winner. BEING THE FRONT PERSON TO A PUNK rock band required a great deal of energy. Luckily for Becky, played by Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man, The Handmaid’s Tale), she had an unlimited amount of help from the things she would ingest. With Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) as Crassy Cassie, Dan Stevens (The Guest, Beauty and the Beast) as “Dirtbag” Danny, Agyness Deyn (Clash of the Titans, Sunset Song) as Marielle Hell and Virginia Madsen (Dune, Burn Your Maps) as Ania Adamcyzk; this music drama’s prime focus was Elisabeth’s performance. She was eerily excellent in the role which only made me uncomfortable to watch what was happening to her through the story. The script did not do her any favors because I felt many scenes were repetitive. It was not until the last third of the movie where I felt fully engaged with what was taking place. Honestly, there really were not any surprises in this story; but, with Elisabeth’s convincing performance I could not look away from the train wreck that was taking place right before my eyes.
IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG, I was unaware of it as the driver of the car tried to cut me off. It was after work while I was driving home. There was a car ahead of me that was trying to make a left turn across oncoming traffic. I checked my rearview and side mirrors along with turning my head to check my car’s blind spot. With no car in sight I drove into the right lane to avoid getting stopped behind the left turning car. As I was passing the car on the left, I heard a car honking; it was a car from behind that was racing up towards me. Once I passed the turning car I drove back into the left lane; however, that was not good enough for this honking car. The driver sped up and got in front of me where he immediately slowed down to a stop. With cars on my right I was stuck behind him. Since I had no idea what was happening, I quickly looked for an out. There was a break in the oncoming traffic; so, I swerved into their lanes to get around the stopped car. He must have been shocked by my actions because he had a delay in his reflexes which was all I needed to speed away. I did see him start to follow me; so, at the earliest opportunity I swerved onto a side street and turned off my headlamps. I cut into an alley and backtracked towards my office to take a different route home. I ALREADY HAD A SUSPICIOUS NATURE and this episode accentuated it. For the next several weeks I kept an eye out for that car. Gratefully, in the middle of my panic I did look at his license plate and remembered the starting letters and numbers. As I drove home, I was constantly checking my rearview and side mirrors. The problem I was running into was the fact this driver’s car and color were popular. Every time I saw black colored car of the same model in my mirror I panicked. I did not know whether I should turn off the road immediately or quickly speed up to make sure he did not get close enough to recognize me; I was driving myself crazy. This route was the fastest one for me to get home; but if I was going to be anxious and nervous driving it every day it was not worth it. Due to this I could totally sympathize with the main character in this suspenseful, mystery horror film. AFTER LEAVING HER CONTROLLING HUSBAND AND his subsequent death by suicide Cecilia Kass, played by Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale), thought she would finally feel free of him. However, she still had this nagging feeling as if she was being watched, especially when little mishaps started taking place. With Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster, Going the Distance) as Adrian Griffin, Harriet Dyer (Down Under, Love Child-TV) as Emily Kass, Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Straight Outta Compton) as James Lanier and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, Don’t Let Go) as Sydney Lanier; this movie was a real thrill ride. Elisabeth was outstanding in the role; the range of emotions that poured out of her was easily felt. I rarely jump in my seat from a scene in a movie; but I did while watching this picture. I thought it was ingenious to take the original story and flip it. There were a couple of scenes that were hard to believe; however, having committed myself fully to the story it did not matter much to me. I loved the buildup of suspense and again, the intense acting skills of Elisabeth which made this film a must see in my opinion. If one has any bit of a suspicious nature; this film could easily heighten it. There were a few scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 1/3 stars
I WAS NOT RELATED TO EITHER THE bride or groom, nor any of their family members. Based on what I saw during the reception I was glad. A friend of the bride brought me as a guest; that was the only connection I had to anyone. The wedding was held in the ballroom of an old, majestic downtown hotel that looked like a movie set from a long-lost era. All the exits were nestled into archways with lit sconces on each side. Both the ceremony and reception were held in the room, except when all the guests were ushered out into an antechamber for drinks and appetizers. While we were in that space the hotel staff set up the ballroom for the reception with dining room tables and a dance floor. It was during the reception that I witnessed the fathers of the bride and groom trying to “one up” each other. When one Dad gave a toast the other one had to jump up and give a toast that was better than the one from the other Dad. By better I mean gushing with superlatives of love and affection that really were meant more for the guests than the bride and groom. IT DID NOT STOP WITH THE speeches. On the dance floor the two fathers always stayed within eyesight of each other; if one was twirling his dance partner around then the other would start to do it. When one Dad dipped his wife down for a romantic kiss, the other Dad quickly sought out his wife and brought her to the dance floor to do the same thing. I sat in my seat observing all of this, wondering why no one hadn’t stepped in to tell the 2 fathers to grow up. Believe me I was not the only one who noticed their competitive behavior towards each other. The expressions on their wives’ faces said it all; it was a look of disgust. Yet, neither one did anything about it as far as I could tell. Though they did not look alike facially, one could easily mistake one Dad with the other because they were acting so much alike. They had the same annoying characteristics; the same hand gestures and they both were acting like children. It was as if each was the other’s doppelganger. At least they were harmless where I did not have to worry for my safety, unlike the ones in this horror thriller. VACATIONING BY THE BEACH WAS SUPPOSED to be a relaxing time until Jason, played by Evan Alex (Kidding-TV, Mani-TV) went missing for a short time. His mother Adelaide, played by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Queen of Katwe), already had a bad feeling about the place even before this incident. With Winston Duke (Black Panther, Person of Interest-TV) as Gabe, Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale-TV) as Kitty and Shahadi Wright (Hairspray Live-TV) as Zora; these actors did a heck of a job with the script. Lupita was so outstanding that I would not be surprised if she gets multiple nominations this awards season. The script was both fresh and new, having a mix of humor and horror which I have always found hard to do. I must commend writer and director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu) both on his writing and directing of this film. The scenes were done thoughtfully and skillfully in the same way that Alfred Hitchcock did his pictures. There were a few things done in the story that I felt went over my head, though I was aware Jordan was making social commentary. Maybe another visit to the theater to watch this movie would help me; but in the meantime, there were enough things going on in the story that kept me thinking.
3 ¼ stars