NOT TO BE MORBID; BUT IF I should suddenly die, I want someone to be able to step in for me and know exactly what needs to be done. I have this mindset at work and have shared my thoughts with my co-workers. To the employees in my department, I have told them if I should get hit by a bus and don’t make it, they will have no problem taking over the things I handle. As far as I am concerned this is just common sense. It does not make sense to me to keep things hidden from co-workers or loved ones, as a matter of fact. I worked at a company where a long-term employee died, and no one knew how to do this person’s job. He was a supervisor/buyer who had established vendor contacts; however, none of their names were written down anywhere. He just knew their names and how to reach them, without ever looking them up. Well, after he was gone his co-workers had no idea which vendor to call for which product nor what discounts were available for each of them. The company went through a rough patch with its customers because there were times it did not have the right product in stock, or they were completely out of something for a customer. I thought if I ever get into a managerial position, I would never want something like this to happen with me. SADLY, THE BUSINESS WORLD IS NOT the only place where I have seen such a predicament take place. I cannot tell you how many couples I know where one handles all the money matters and the other has no idea or interest in it. Personally, I could never be in such a situation not knowing what bills come in and what needs to be paid. This one couple I know both work; one handles all the bills and the other has their paycheck deposited directly into their mutual checking account. After the billpayer determines how much is needed to pay the weekly bills, they give their spouse the remaining cash not used back from their deposited check. I don’t know about you; but I could not handle such an arrangement and it has nothing to do with trust. With a career in credit, I have always been particular about my bills being paid on time. I would need to know how much money was available and how it was being distributed. It would be scary for me to wake up one day and have everything suddenly fall into my lap without me having any prior knowledge of it; just like what happened to the women in this action, crime drama. WITH THEIR HUSBANDS HAVING BEEN CONVICTED and sent to jail, the gangsters’ wives were left trying to figure out how to pay the household bills. They would have to work together and come up with some type of plan to bring in money; though, it would not be easy considering their husbands’ line of work. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) as Ruby O’Carroll, Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Claire Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Unbroken) as Gabriel O’Malley and Bill Camp (Midnight Special, 12 Years a Slave) as Alfonso Coretti; each actor could have made this a worthwhile film. Unfortunately, the script and direction were off target here. There was no character development; which in turn, made the lack of acting stand out even more. I only connected to Elizabeth Moss’s acting skills; Melissa and Tiffany paled in comparison. Part of the blame must fall on the directions they were getting; it appeared as if they were going thru the motions without the emotions. Of course, not having any history attached to each of their characters did not help the situation. In turn, I did not believe what was taking place in several scenes. In a way it looked like the writers did not know what the director wanted and visa versa. Better communication between them, I’m thinking, would have turned this film into a powerful statement on female empowerment.
1 ¾ stars
BEING A WITNESS TO an employer degrading an employee, yelling for all to hear, then immediately turn around and become this kind, solicitous salesperson for a consumer is enough to turn my stomach. The transformation seemed effortless, nothing like what I saw Dr. Jekyll go through to become Mr. Hyde from the movie. There are different labels like “two-faced, backstabbing and double-dealer” to describe a person who acts one way to one person then a different way to someone else. I worked at a company where the owner loved to be out in front with the shoppers. If you were able to hear him you would think he was the warmest, most helpful man you ever met. It was a façade because as soon as he returned to his office in the back he acted like he was king of the world; I am not exaggerating when I tell you he would have an employee from the warehouse clean his hairbrush. I know, it was totally disgusting and believe me he had the employees doing a lot more things for him. NOTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE I worked there many years ago. Presently what is going on in the world is no better with people in power harassing those with lesser power. I know I mentioned the historian and moralist Lord Acton before, but what he said is just as relevant now as it was in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Maybe the last sentence is not as true today or maybe it is me with wishful thinking. Yet there have been so many instances where the head of some company or organization is the perfect figurehead for their place but in their personal life they are different or even opposite. Can you imagine the president of let us say a shelter for abused victims being caught abusing their spouse? Experiencing that sense of power tends to make a person feel infallible; it turns out that is not always the case. AS THE MUSEUM IS ABOUT to launch a new exhibit its chief art curator Christian’s, played by Claes Bang (The Bridge-TV, Rule No. 1), personal life begins to fall apart. This Oscar nominated and film festival winning comedic drama also starred Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, The One I Love) as Anne, Dominic West (Chicago, The Forgotten) as Julian, Terry Notary (Planet of the Apes franchise, Kong: Skull Island) as Oleg and Christopher Laesso (The Bridge, Darkland) as Michael. The thing that impressed me about this film was the script; there were several themes taking place at the same time, yet they were not confusing. I will say however the script was too long; it needed some editing to bring down the running time of this DVD. There were also some scenes that I found foolish, where I felt they would not have happened like that in real life. It was interesting how the writers were able to incorporate some topical themes into the story, where I was still thinking about this movie for some time after. With the competent actors, interesting story and thought provoking scenes; I found this movie to be an interesting choice for Sweden to have submitted to the Oscar committee. English, Swedish and Danish were spoken in this picture with English subtitles.
3 stars — DVD
“YOU should write a book about it,” is a comment that has been directed to me numerous times. The reason has less to do with my writing ability and more with the incredible to outrageous stories I have been involved in or told. I will avoid using pronouns to protect the individuals. There was one person I was involved with whose family history played out like an evening soap opera, television show. One family member was going to be elected to a high political position until their views deviated from the people in power. The person I knew was sent out of the country to avoid any fallout, but to also get a better education. Spending many years traveling the world instead of coming back home, they told me about some of their experiences in foreign lands that I have not even seen done in a movie. One of these stories involved a stalker and a secret intelligence agency; that is all I can say about this individual. RECENTLY I was involved with someone who had a story to tell me every time we got together. One of the stories was accompanied with photographs; however, they could only show me a select few because they were brought in to oversee a secret government operation. The first photo they showed me was of them standing in front of a posted sign out in the jungle. I immediately knew why they had to be secretive about their whereabouts. Another photo showed how they were transported to this secret location; essentially it was a cargo bay with portable toilets and folding chairs nailed to the floor. It was so not part of my little corner of the world that I did not even know how to respond to any of it. I could go on with so many other encounters I have had that I could actually fill up a whole book. However if I do that then I cannot tell you whether it was worth seeing this biographical drama about a man who was the real boxer behind the famous film character Rocky Balboa. KNOWN as the “Bleeder of Bayonne” boxer Chuck Wepner, played by Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, Ray Donovan-TV), was a hometown hero even before there was a movie called Rocky. With Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, Mad Men-TV) as Phyliss, Naomi Watts (St. Vincent, Diana) as Linda, Jim Gaffigan (17 Again, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) as John and Ron Perlman (Poker Night, Hellboy franchise) as Al Braverman; I had never heard about this boxer. Everyone in the cast did a wonderful job of acting. Liev however stood out for me because he was so good in his role, but be prepared there was a lot of blood shown. Not being a big fan of boxing, I was glad that the actual act was secondary to the story. As for the story it was engaging with surprise. The sets, costumes and dialog captured the era; it was interesting to watch the arc of Chuck’s story line. If I had to choose one particular thing that increased my interest in this film it would have to be the connection to Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky movie. I think it helped that this was included into the script because it produced deeper emotional intensity to the story. There are so many people in the world that need to have their story told; I was satisfied that this one came to the big screen.
It was chosen because of the way it caught your eye. Perfectly sculpted with a dimple at the top and one on the bottom, its skin looked as if a skilled craftsman had polished it to a fine high gleam. As you brought it up to your face you caught a faint, sweet aroma just seconds before you bit into the beautiful apple. Anticipating the juicy flavor of the fruit to flood your mouth, suddenly a sharp bitterness cut through and stabbed your taste buds. You glanced down as the receding apple came back into view and there, just below its gorgeous surface, was half of a cancerous, dark brown mass. Horrified you spat out the partially pulverized putrid pus. How far removed was this scenario to an experience you may have had when you discovered a person’s true nature; where on the surface everything looked wonderful but you soon see below their ugliness? We could sit here for days if I were to share with you some of the experiences I had in my personal life. However, since this is a movie review site let me tell you my feelings about those celebrities who reveal their real colors. I have mentioned before there are a couple of movie stars that are persona non grata in my family; we will not see any of their films. When I discover an actor has done something offensive it saddens me. I am not comfortable buying a movie ticket to their films because I feel, by purchasing that ticket, I am condoning their behavior and that is not the case. You would think recognition, money and adulation would be enough to be a respectful human being. WRITER Philip Lewis Friedman, played by Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Express, Saving Mr. Banks), was anxiously waiting for the publication of his 2nd novel. Self-centered, obnoxious and just plain rude; his publishers would have a challenging time selling copies of his new book. This film festival winning drama had a crack team of actors for its cast. Besides Jason there was Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, Mad Men-TV) as Ashley Kane, Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies) as Mike Zimmerman and Krysten Ritter (Confessions of a Shopaholic, She’s Out of My League) as Melanie Zimmerman. The acting on the whole was wonderful. With a smartly sometimes humorously written script, I appreciated the way the characters evolved throughout the story. The issue I had with this movie was the way things played out. I felt the writer did not know what else he could do so he ended it. Perhaps you will find something more than I did. Outside of that this film provided an in-depth peek into the lives of some real characters.
2 2/3 stars
Starve the fighting and feed the relating when it comes to being in a relationship. I am never too old to learn from my past experiences and if there is one thing I have learned, it is never go to sleep angry. Communication is vital if a relationship is to survive in my opinion. I have seen couples where they think they are in love; but when they verbalize what they love about their significant other, I cannot relate to it because they are not attributes I look for in another person. There was one couple that loved the type of presents they would get from each other. Every gift was bought from high-end stores and they were primarily jewelry and electronic items. There was another couple that was very much into their appearance; I am talking the every hair in place, no room for wrinkle type of looks. I could only imagine what would happened to them as they aged. For me kindness and support are needed for a healthy relationship. I have always said relationships take work, but after seeing this original comedic drama I feel I need to rephrase it by saying it takes work until it becomes part of you. COMMUNICATION was sorely lacking as the marriage of Ethan and Sophie, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister) and Elizabeth Moss (Get Him to the Greek, Mad Men-TV), was falling apart. Hoping to salvage their relationship the couple agreed to their therapist’s, played by Ted Danson (Big Miracle, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation-TV), suggestion by going on a retreat to see if they could rekindle the love they once had for each other. At the beautiful secluded cottage recommended by their therapist, Ethan and Sophie would discover much more than what they had lost. Watching this film festival winning movie was like inhaling the first breath of fresh air after being deeply submerged in a pool of water. The story was original, curious and thought provoking. I honestly can say I am not sure I understood what I was watching but I did not care because the whole idea behind the story was fascinating to me. Mark and Elizabeth did an excellent job playing the troubled couple; I found them believable and enjoyed the subtle differences that were required of them. The script was smart and mature; presenting a realistic view of two adults struggling to find what was missing in their relationship. Without any fanfare or advertising as far as I could tell, this indie like film came out of nowhere to shine in a week that had been filled with some dreary movies.