Whether you say a fly or speck when you say, “I wish I was a fly on the wall,” don’t you find yourself saying it more these days? Among my friends I have noticed an increase in its usage. Could it be because there are more incredulous things we see happening around us? I am sure many parents wish they could do it when their children start going out with friends and dates. The reason we wish we could be a fly on the wall is because we do not want our presence known. Now what if one could blend in with the people around them? I appreciate it when I can just be part of the crowd. In the fitness world when instructors go to other instructors’ classes they usually let them know before class. I prefer not to; I just want to be part of the class and let the instructor do their thing without focusing any energy on me. There have been times where the instructor knows I am in class and I can tell they are trying too hard to make the class perfect. They push for total class participation; they go through whatever list of helpful reminders constantly; in other words, they lose the fun factor to their class because they are focusing on doing everything properly instead of just working along with the members. Another example would be some of my friends’ relatives. My friends wish I could actually see for myself what they can only describe to me about their family members because it sounds too far-fetched to me. So you see there are occasions where it would be advantageous to blend in. CELEBRATIONS were taking place all over London due to the Allied victory in 1945. For that night Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, played by Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method, Dracula Untold) and Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Side by Side), want to go outside and be part of the festivities just like everyone else. Their night would not go as planned. This film festival winning romantic drama was lucky to have Sarah and Bel as the princesses. They added a charm and silliness to this film. I also enjoyed seeing Emily Watson (Everest, The Book Thief) and Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Importance of Being Earnest) as the Queen and King. Whether there was a kernel of truth to this story or not, I thought the idea was an excellent one. Unfortunately the script became redundant, where I felt the princesses were getting in the same predicaments but just in different locations. Also the goofiness after a while turned me off; I could not imagine some of the scenes ever happening to the sisters. However this simple story was easy to follow and it allowed me to imagine what it must have been like for the princesses to not be part of all the royal pomp and circumstance of the crown and just be regular girls for a night.
2 1/4 stars
Advice given that was so simple and easy to remember; I can still hear it after all these years. I was talking to the wife of a married couple about what kept their marriage together. She said there were times you just had to keep quiet and not complain when you sometimes had to do something you really did not want to do. This was not earth shattering by any means; but it really resonated with me. I now cringe when I think about all those times where I used to complain about going to a restaurant I did not like or going out with “their” friends who I found annoying. There really was no reason I needed to let everyone know I did not want to be there. Whether it is the passage of time or maturity, I am so glad I do not act out like that anymore. I understand the importance compromises and sacrifices have in every relationship. Dating someone who enjoyed country western dancing meant even though I felt like a lopsided goofball while two-stepping, I kept doing it so I could be their dance partner. It is funny as I just wrote that I was remembering a couple I knew who got divorced because the husband did not like his wife being away from home as much as she was for her job. She was a flight attendant who was doing this even before they got married. Separation can be tough for any couple; imagine those individuals who are in a relationship with someone in the military. If you want to see an example from a long time ago you can see it in this autobiographical film. MISTER Brittain, played by Dominic West (The Wire-TV, Pride), believed Oxford was no place for his daughter Vera, played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, A Royal Affair). Though she had dreamt of going there, Vera would find her heart being distracted by a young man and the impending war. This film festival nominee was based on Vera Brittain’s memoir; I have not read it yet. However, after seeing this beautifully filmed period piece I want to read her book now. It was interesting to see the effects of World War I through a woman’s point of view. The cast which also included Kit Harington (Game of Thrones-TV, Pompeii) as Roland Leighton and Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Smoke-TV) as Edward Brittain were all especially good in this romantic drama. I will say the story started out a bit slow and predictable for me; however, Vera’s acting skills kept me involved in her plight. The look and feel of this movie was gracefully lush and when I found out it was based on a true story, I only had more fondness for Vera’s incredible life. There were brief scenes that had blood in them.
There were so many things I used to believe in. I believed I could still see colors on a black and white monitor. I believed a relative of mine really could pull nickels and quarters out of my ears. I believed love would last forever. No matter the size of the boat, I believed I could sink it the moment I stepped foot on it. Whether maturity or life experiences released my hold on those beliefs, I still have some I keep with me now. What goes around, comes around is something I truly believe in. Another belief I have, that there are some people who have pure evil inside of them; they do not have anything good. When I believe I am right about something, I will fight non-stop until someone can prove me wrong. Granted as I get older I devote less and less energy to defending my beliefs; I think this is where one would use the phrase: we agree to disagree. Life is too short, so I now pick and choose my battles. I think beliefs can motivate people to be better human beings; however, it can also cause stagnation in them too. PULLED from the audience at a magic show Pepper Flynt Busbee aka Little Boy, played by Jakob Salvati (Red Widow-TV, Esacpe from Tomorrow), was asked to move a bottle across a table without touching it. The magician asked Pepper if he believed he could do it. Pepper said yes and the bottle began to move. With this new found discovery Pepper believed he could now stop World War II and bring back his father; all he had to do was believe in himself. This comedic drama set in the 1940s had some strong themes it wanted to tackle. A few touched upon in the story were bullying, faith, war and love. Each individually would have been more than enough to create a solid film here; however, what the writers did instead made for a messy mix. The cast which had Emily Watson (The Book Thief, Belle) as Emma Busbee, Michael Rapaport (The Heat, Men of Honor) as James Busbee and Kevin James (Hitch, Here Comes the Boom) as Dr. Fox was a bit eclectic; I felt there was a disconnect between them. The major flaw in this film was the soundtrack and the unbelievable heavy-handed way the writers pounded the story into our heads. With syrupy dramatic music rippling in the background, I felt I was being forced fed emotions the writers wanted me to experience for the scene. It was way too manipulative and only made me lose interest in this picture. I think the writers should have had more faith in the public and let them decide how they wanted to react to the story.
1 2/3 stars
Searching through several sources I did not find where the word “different” was defined as being a bad thing. Some of the items I read said different was not being identical or alike in character or quality, to be separate or distinct; I did not find anything that conveyed a negative connotation. What I found troubling was when being different evoked hatred. Unaware of what started this phenomenon or even when it began; I just found it to be vulgar and ignorant. One of the scary aspects of this different/hatred connection is when an individual is filled with hatred. I hate sauerkraut but that hatred does not fill my veins up, fueling me to go off on someone who likes that shredded jellyfish looking stuff. It is disturbing to witness someone treating a person with disrespect simply because they are different. In my previous review I talked about being a disposable society; I was referring to manufactured products. What struck me in this movie, based on a true story, was how people could be considered disposable. The script for this film festival winner began when the writer saw a painting she found odd. Her exploration into the creation of that artwork spurred her to develop this amazing story. Matthew Goode (Stoker, Watchmen) as Captain Sir John Lindsay was the father of an illegitimate, mixed race daughter named Dido Belle Lindsay, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Larry Crowne, Odd Thomas). Soon to command a ship in the royal navy, Sir John Lindsay had to leave his daughter with his aunt and uncle, Lady and Lord Mansfield, played by Emily Watson (The Book Thief, War Horse) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Lone Ranger). The presence of Belle would be a concern for Lord Mansfield who happened to be the chief justice for the British courts. Why this beautifully told drama was special was due to the story being set in England during the 1700s. Slaves were a commodity that could be bought, traded or discarded. The richly detailed scenes and the way the story unfolded swept me in, filling me with emotions. I believed in the characters due to the strong acting from the cast, which also included Miranda Richardson (Empire of the Sun, The Crying Game) as Lady Ashford and Sam Reid (The Railway Man, Anonymous) as John Davinier. With strong elements I found it surprising how the story was still able to convey a certain delicateness. Still fresh in my mind after the movie ended, my thoughts lingered on how we have advanced as a society. However, I am very much aware there is still a deep hatred prevalent towards those who are different.
3 1/3 stars
Words can provide us things like comfort, excitement, hope and tenderness. In written form we absorb the word’s meaning, allowing it to color a thought or infuse intensity into our feelings. We hear words and the sender’s inflection assists in molding the words to our heart and mind. As adults we have the skills to be resilient when words get lobbed over with the intent to hurt us. I knew this person who always tried to establish himself as the smarter person in every one of his conversations. Personally I felt he was extremely book smart but had little common sense. His favorite thing to do when having a discussion with anybody was to answer their talking points with “And your point is?” I always found it offensive. Now notice if he would have said, “I do not understand what you mean,” it would have taken on a kinder, respectful approach. There were individuals who would not let his comments bother them, they had a solid confidence that was honed by years of experience. However, a child may not be capable because their identity has not been fully formed. There are people who have skewed expectations when it comes to children and you will see an ugly example in this dramatic movie. Ryan Reynolds (Smokin’ Aces, The Proposal) played successful author Michael Taylor . An upcoming family celebration was forcing Michael to go home and visit his parents Lisa and Charles Taylor, played by Julia Roberts (Notting Hill, Closer) and Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Hunter). Though Michael was looking forward to seeing his mother, he would prefer avoiding his father who always seemed to be disappointed in him. This movie had 2 sides of the story that flipped back and forth. The side I found better was the one with Michael as a child. I wished the writers would have made the whole movie about this time period. The part that dealt with the adult Michael was okay but I felt a stark difference between the two. Granted the cast was excellent, including Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, The Book Thief) as Jane Lawrence, but their portion of the script was weak compared to their formidable acting skills. Overall I remained interested in the entire story and noticed I was getting a fearful reaction from Willem Dafoe’s character. It really is something when I can sit here today and still remember all those words that scarred me as a young boy.
2 1/4 stars — DVD
Some people determine their wealth based on how many books they have in their possession. I can absolutely understand the concept. Books are portals that let me visit different lands, times and people. Sitting in a crowded subway car does not bother me; knowing that as soon as I crack open the cover to my book, I will be off on an adventure down to a place such as the Amazon River. Another benefit that comes with books is the opportunity to share them with someone else. One of my favorite date nights is going to a bookstore, where we split up and seek out books we think the other person would enjoy reading. I consider the act of reading aloud to someone to be a sweet, loving gesture. You can now understand why the title to this dramatic movie, based on the best selling novel, intrigued me. The book thief in this story was a young girl named Liesel, played by Sophie Nelisse (Monsieur Lazhar, Esimesac). Set in Germany during the early stages of World War II, Liesel was sent to live with foster parents Rosa and Hans, played by Emily Watson (War Horse, Breaking the Waves) and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise). As the horrors of war took place around her, Liesel’s love of books provided a safe haven for her and the people around her. Though I have not read the book, after seeing this film festival winner I have the urge to read it now. Besides the wonderful performance from Sophie Nelisse, I thought Geoffrey Rush did a great job with his role. The chemistry came across as lovingly real between the two of them. I did have some confusion on the circumstances that led Liesel to her foster parents, however. There were several other scenes that seemed rushed or without much emotional depth. This can be attributed to the script, for I found it to be uneven. Having the story told from a child’s perspective was something I found different then other films that dealt with the subject of Nazi Germany. One thing I found odd was the use of a narrator, especially towards the latter part of the movie where I felt the story was being quickly rushed to wrap things up. I liked parts of this film but the thing I really enjoyed was being reminded of a saying I used to hear when growing up–no one can ever rob you of an education. A few scenes had German spoken with English subtitles.
2 1/2 stars