ALL I KNEW ABOUT HIM WAS he had not been feeling well for some time. He was more of an acquaintance to me than a friend; however, we had friends in common. I had seen him enough times to form an impression about him; he was a jokester/comedian type of guy. It appeared to me he enjoyed shocking people by making shocking comments and telling outrageous stories about himself. Whenever we were at a gathering together, I always knew exactly where he was located by the amount of laughter I would hear. Up until hearing about him not feeling well, he worked on being the center of attention at every party. I, nor anyone else I knew, never heard what news he received about his health; but I had to assume it was not good news because of the change in his behavior. From being a talker and comedian, he shied away from the limelight suddenly. When I would see him at a party, he was nothing like he used to be. Instead of telling jokes and stories, he could be found sitting somewhere having a quiet conversation with one or two people. The other thing I noticed was the way he started taking things to the extreme. In other words, if he had the opportunity to drink, he would drink to excess. If drugs were available, he would be the one who did not care how much of it he ingested. I HAVE KNOWN SEVERAL PEOPLE WHO upon receiving bad news about their health acted in a similar way; but I also have seen others who acted in an opposite way. There was a woman I knew who did nothing different than what she did before hearing about her illness. She went on with her life as if the information was non-essential as commenting on the weather. I have wondered at times what would I do if I suddenly received bad news about my health. A couple of years ago when I contracted E Coli, the doctors were doing tests and zeroing on an internal organ that had a suspicious look to it on X-ray. I remember telling everyone in my inner circle the news along with explicit instructions never to ask me about it. When I got updated, I would notify them; but up until that point I did not want to discuss or think about it. Gratefully, everything worked out fine; but I must tell you, there was one point where I thought I was going to give up and not care about anything. Something like what happened to the main character in this romantic, dramatic comedy. NO MATTER WHAT SHE DID IT seemed as if every decision went wrong for Kate, played by Emilia Clarke (Me Before You, Game of Thrones-TV). She did not care because she really should not have been alive. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor) as Tom, Emma Thompson (Late Night, Saving Mr. Banks) as Petra, Boris Isakovic (White White World, Absolute Hundred) as Ivan and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Crazy Rich Asians) as Santa; the cast helped elevate the formulaic story. I thought Emilia did a wonderful job because I did not see her once as her character from Game of Thrones. Also, I felt she and Henry worked well together. If you have seen an ad for this movie you probably are aware the soundtrack is filled with George Michael songs. Some of them worked in the story, but others felt out of place for me. The story, for the most part, was predictable; but I did not mind. This was an easy film to watch and whether the execution of it was a bit stale, it still was touching and enjoyable.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS AT LEAST FOR 8 weeks I kept hearing about this recipe I was told I had to use for an upcoming dinner party. This all started in a conversation I was having with a friend. I mentioned I was having a couple of people over for dinner and she told me I needed to try a recipe she had made many times. All I told her was I would let her know once I figured out the details for the dinner. By the time I got home later that day she had already emailed me the recipe, repeating all the compliments she had told me she had gotten from making this chicken dish. I printed out the recipe and placed it with the other ones I was considering. Would you believe the next day I received a follow up email from her, asking what I thought about her recipe? I could only imagine what she felt when I replied I hadn’t looked it over yet; it was weeks away still before I had to make a decision on what I wanted to serve. You would have thought that would have been enough for her to let go of this for a while, but it did not. UP UNTIL THE DAY I NAILED down the things I wanted to make for the dinner party, I kept hearing about all the wonderful compliments my friend had gotten on this easy dish. When I finally looked over the list of ingredients, I had to admit the chicken dish sounded good. How could it be bad with items like honey and barbeque sauce in the recipe? When I told my friend, I was going to make her dish, you should have heard the glee in her voice; you would have thought I had just signed a multi-million deal with her. It was pretty funny. From all the things she had said and my own expectations, the day of the dinner party I was excited to cook and serve her chicken dish. As she stated it was not hard to make and the assortment of spices mixed together formed a wonderful aroma throughout the house. As the guests began to arrive they too noticed the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. When we were all seated and everyone was served I tasted the chicken dish. I was disappointed with it. There was something about the texture that was unappealing to me, as if all the ingredients did not thoroughly combine. My disappointment in this dish was similar to my disappointment in this action, adventure fantasy story. DELVING INTO THE CRIMINAL WORLD IS where a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Rules Don’t Apply), discovered his true talents, besides making new friends. This offshoot adventure story to the Star Wars franchise also starred Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Beckett, Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV) as Qi’ra and Donald Glover (The Martian, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Lando Cairissian. Everything was in place here to create a thrilling, exciting story. However, none of it reached the epic proportions it needed to carry off this story. There was little chemistry between Alden and Emilia, which I believe failed due to Alden. Because most people are familiar with the older Han, one needed to have an actor who could display the emerging traits Harrison Ford brought into the character. Also with bringing in Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, In the Heart of the Sea) after dismissing the first director, I felt he was not the best choice to give this movie the spunk it needed to engage all viewers. Yes, I am a big fan of Star Wars; but I thought this picture was a misfire. My memories of the previous films allowed me to enjoy this movie; but I just did not go wild over it.
2 ¾ stars
A wise person holds back from taking action on their first impressions. I wish I could say I am quoting from a well known scholar, but I cannot; it is from me. Not to say I am wise because in the past all I did for the most part was react immediately upon my first impression of a person or place. I believe I have said this before but I now consider first impressions to be a photograph to be stashed in one’s pocket, to let it sit as you let time pass to see if your first impression matches the current one you have of that individual. Maybe because I believe a person’s true colors find a way to seep out of them that I hold myself back from acting, but I have been rewarded with some positive relationships that at first looked like I was dealing with a not nice person. I had a relationship with someone who at first glance appeared to be vain and conceited. This was my first impression of them from a party I had attended where they were a guest also. It was not until a couple of more encounters where I saw their true disposition and I have to tell you it surprised me. They were actually kind and good natured, that first impression I had was their default image or persona whenever they felt uncomfortable in a new environment. I guess we all have some form of defense we turn to when we are dealing with our emotions. DESPERATE to find work Lou Clark, played by Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV), was relieved when she was offered the job to be a caregiver for Will Traynor, played by Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games franchise, The Quiet Ones). Her relief turned to dread upon meeting the caustic man. Based on the bestselling novel, this film festival winner got the right chemistry when they cast Emilia and Sam for the leads. I found them believable and felt they made a solid connection together with their characters. Also starring Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, Game of Thrones-TV) and Janet McTeer (Malefiecent, Tideland) as Stephen and Camilla Traynor, the acting worked in this dramatic romance. I would be curious to hear how the book compares to this film because I found the script to be manipulative, steering the viewers to tearful checkpoints. However, what surprised me was one of the topics that came up in the story that is controversial these days. It was interesting to see where it would wind up going in the script. From the showing I attended that was close to sold-out, the responses I heard afterwards were all positive. I would agree because of the acting being so good and the intriguing idea behind the story. So what if a couple of tears welled up in my eyes; not enough to warrant wiping them away with a tissue unlike others seated around me, it did not alter my first impression of the movie. This was a love story with a twist.
2 ½ stars
There is one individual I still have heated debates with that rarely end in mutual agreement. That person would be me; I am my own harshest critic. I doubt I am totally alone in this regard. There are times where I have gone back and forth about something before acting upon it. I have to look at the pluses and minuses for each option available to me; this is why it has been hard for me to immediately reply yes when someone asks me if I want to do something. The time where I really beat myself up is when I react quickly before thinking things out. This past weekend I was out with a group of people. There was a lot of people coming and going where someone in one group knew someone in another, so there was a lot of introductions going on. Two people unfamiliar to me joined our group. Things went at a pleasant pace with laughter and jokes. At the end of the evening these two individuals started saying their goodbyes to everyone. There was something about one of them that looked familiar to me and before I could drop my filter in place to process my thoughts before uttering them, I said something to them I intended to be a compliment. The look on their face told me it was not received that way. I wanted to kick myself for even saying anything; I should have kept quiet. At least I only beat myself up mentally, nothing like what was done in this science fiction adventure. GROWN-UP resistance leader John Connor, played by Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), had a plan to save his mother Sarah, played by Emilia Clark (Game of Thrones-TV, Dom Hemingway). He would send Kyle Reese, played by Jai Courtney (Divergent franchise, The Water Diviner), back in time to protect her. However Kyle was not prepared for what he found when he got there. This addition to the earlier Terminator films was all about the special effects. An older Arnold Schwarzenegger (Escape Plan, The Expendables franchise) played the Guardian and in what was to be an epic scene had to fight his younger self. Sound confusing doesn’t it; well do not worry you are not alone. The script became tedious as it kept using time jumping for an excuse to move the story along. It made me lose interest in this picture. Since Arnold could not do all the action stunts, his character had to use parody for comic relief. In an odd way I felt the writers were counting on viewers to be nostalgic about the story, so they spent less time thinking things through before writing them down. They could have used my mulling over abilities. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
2 1/3 stars