THE FIRST TIME I SAW SHERLOCK Holmes he was sitting in a chair with a pipe in his hands. I did not know anything about him but was intrigued by that funny looking pipe that looked like a weird letter “S.” The only reason I was watching him was because I thought I was watching a movie about a hound. I was lying on the floor of our living room with an oversized pillow and a blanket, waiting for one of my favorite television shows to start. Every Saturday afternoon there was a program that had a host who would talk about a movie before playing it for the TV audience. I did my best to always be home at the time it aired since I loved watching movies. Seeing this most curious man on television talking in such precise detail, not that I understood everything he was saying, piqued my interest; I had never heard anyone talk like he did. Why was he saying “elementary” to his dear Watson; elementary was a school. Everything about him was odd to me simply because I was a little kid and had never seen anyone like him before. As the movie played, I found myself being pulled into the story; he was secretive like a spy, liked dressing up in disguises and was good at figuring out puzzles. In my mind that is how I was able to relate to him. FROM WATCHING THAT FIRST MOVIE, I made a point to see every film about him. Both at the school and neighborhood libraries, I started checking out the books the movies were based on; I could not get enough of Sherlock Holmes. And it is funny, with every book I read all I could see was Basil Rathbone as Sherlock. Don’t get me started on the trauma I went through when I realized Basil was simply an actor portraying the detective. Due to having been exposed to his exploits, I fell in love with reading all kinds of mystery detective stories. I flew through each Hardy Boys book I could get a hold of, along with some Nancy Drew books I found at a relative’s house. There was a short period of time where I was carrying around a magnifying glass, just on the chance some mysterious event would take place and I needed to search for clues. I toyed with the idea of getting a hat like the one Sherlock wore in the movies; but the first time I tried it on, I looked silly as it was bigger than my head, coming down to cover part of my ears. From all of Sherlock’s books and movies I have done, I had no idea he ever had a sister. What a surprise it was to see her in this dramatic, crime adventure. IT MADE NO SENSE THAT HER mother would suddenly disappear from their home and leave Enola, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Stranger Things-TV) to fend for herself. Enola was determined to find a clue or something that would explain what happened to her mother before her older brother shipped her off to a finishing school. With Henry Cavill (Justice League, Night Hunter) as Sherlock Holmes, Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Adrift) as Mycroft Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella, The King’s Speech) as Eudoria Holmes and Louis Partridge (Paddington 2, Medici-TV) as Tewkesbury; this film was such a joy to experience. The characters were perfectly cast with Millie Bobby Brown as the standout. This was my first-time seeing Millie and I found her fresh with a good sense of comedic timing. Being a tad too long, the script had its flaws; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of mystery and politics to make the story relevant. This is despite being set in England during the 1880s. It would be a complete mystery to me if the movie studio does not produce a sequel to this fun and exciting film.
IT DROVE ME CRAZY HOW SHE could idolize such a person. Because of it, I had a hard time trusting her. She was his administrative assistant, so I could cut her some slack for being loyal. However, he was such a self-centered individual who only cared about himself to the point where he inflicted harm on the company, we were all working for, that I could not respect him or her. How did she not see this, I always wondered? He would have her place orders for his accounts before he even had a confirmation from the customer; there were several times the customers did not place their orders and we wound up getting stuck with the product and having to pay for it. I found his behavior appalling because with each order placed, he would get a commission; it did not make a difference if we got paid for the order or not. I was positive she had to know or at least figure out that some of his orders were bogus. The worst thing he would do was place an order to ship out but redirected it to a different account that was not credit worthy, claiming he had the wrong account number. Sometimes we could get the order back; but a lot of times we would have to use a collection agency to retrieve the item or payment. IN MY DEALINGS WITH HIM THERE were times I 100% knew what he was telling me was not true. No matter what I would say to him he always had an answer ready, with many of them putting the blame on some other employee. I would then check with the other employee to verify the facts and more times than not the employee had no idea what I was talking about. This would turn into a vicious cycle of he said/she said on his part, to the point where I would become confused and frustrated. I could not understand how upper management could allow such behavior to continue that was damaging to the company. And that is the thing I had the hardest time understanding; why would an employee allow harm to take place against their employer? Besides the financial hit, there was the matter of the company’s reputation being harmed. Imagine a customer getting an invoice for something they did not order; wouldn’t you question that company’s operations and motives? I know I would and would feel less trust towards such a company. Trust is an invaluable asset that a company should never allow an employee to damage. It was unbelievable what was being done to trust in this dramatic, political thriller. INGRID JESTER, PLAYED BY FRANCES McDORMAND (North Country, Moonrise Kingdom), could not understand why her fellow activist went for a drive through Belfast without telling her. For that reason, she refused to leave until she found out what happened to him. With Brian Cox (Remember Me, Troy) as Kerrigan, Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Lord of the Rings franchise) as Paul Sullivan, Bernard Archard (Krull, The Day of the Jackal) as Sir Robert Neil and John Benfield (The Best Offer, Speed Racer) as Maxwell; this film festival winner had a documentary feel to it at times; that is how good the acting was from the cast. The story was intense, and I thought the pacing was for the majority close on the mark. For me, I felt the script did not go deep enough with the suspense and emotions. There were moments where it seemed as if the scenes were void of dramatic depth. I noticed this especially with Francis’ character. The twists and turns that took place in the script kept me invested in what was taking place and I was to some degree experiencing a level of anger due to what the main characters were experiencing.
2 ¾ stars
EACH OF US HAS EMOTIONAL NEEDS such as love, growth and significance. If one begins to feel empty, there is usually a negative feeling ready to fill the void. During those times where I was feeling alone, as if I was the only one of my kind, I filled my emptiness with food. Coming into the house with grocery bags filled with some of my favorite foods would provide me with a short-lived euphoria of comfort. At one point I was eating frozen pizza 2 to 3 times a day; that is how intense I was reacting to the emptiness. My attempts at love kept failing because of my lack of love for myself. It took a lot of hard work and discipline to recognize what I was doing with food and deciding to make some changes. All considering, based on what I have seen regarding what people use to fill a void, I am grateful I only used food to fill the emptiness inside of me. During my period of change it always fascinated or maybe I should say troubled me that this void inside constantly needed to be filled. When I experimented with things I thought might fill it, I never found myself reaching a level of comfort. I certainly got an understanding of what it meant to be “comfortable in one’s own skin.” WHILE I WAS ON MY JOURNEY of self-discovery, a friend of mine was being forced into one. She had been married for 20-25 years when I first met her. She had a great sense of humor and a personality to match. Yet, there was something I saw in her eyes that troubled me. It was a look that was familiar to me. During the life of our friendship I watched as her personality, humor and self-worth faded away. She would never talk about it; but I could see when she said anything about her husband, the life in her would die down like a campfire at the end of an evening. It was painful to see the life being sucked out of her and no matter what I said to her, nothing worked. It was not until a couple of years later when the door opened a crack and she revealed the pain she was in from her loveless marriage. Her outlet was to delve into the world of crafts. It was shocking to know the pain she was going through was producing some incredible pieces of art. Using arts and craft as a springboard, she found her way back to herself and became strong enough to leave her husband. It turned out her husband was abusive to her. Not feeling loved by him opened a gateway where her self-worth spilled out. Gratefully she filled her void in a healthy way, unlike the main character in this film festival winning, romantic drama. STUCK IN A LOVELESS MARRIAGE KATHERINE, played by Florence Pugh (Little Women, Fighting with my Family), realized what she was missing when she felt an attraction to a hired hand. That discovery started Katherine on a path of filling the void inside of her with darkness. With Cosmo Jones (Hunter Killer, The Marker) as Sebastian, Paul Hilton (Doctor Faustus, Eternal Beauty) as Alexander, Naomi Ackie (The Corrupted, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as Anna and Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Boris; this film grabbed my interest from the beginning. The reason for it was Florence Pugh. She was such a presence in the story; I could not stop watching her in the role. Set in rural England during the 19th century, the story started out slow and deliberate. The scenes appeared authentic and only added to the shifting moods that took place through the script. I will say at times the script drifted off track, but for me this was not a glaring issue because of Florence’s acting. With the present situation regarding the ability to see films, this one filled a void in me for well-done movies.
3 ¼ stars
THE WHOLE MISUNDERSTANDING COULD HAVE BEEN avoided if I had only known he was in a foul mood. Such a simple thing to do and it would have made a world of difference. I had texted my friend to see if he was free to talk. Getting an affirmative response, I called him with the intention of catching up since it had been some time since we last communicated. The conversation started out in the usual way with each of us updating the other on our family members. Having known each other for years, our extended families have trickled down to be part of our conversations with some familiarity. At some point I commented on something he said but did not get a response. I thought maybe he did not hear me. When there was a break, I repeated myself. There was dead silence for a few seconds before he made a comment that had an edge to it. You might know what I mean; where the comment could be taken two different ways based on the tone of the speaker’s voice. It took me by surprise and I did not know how to reply. Deciding to push past it and not assume the comment was negative, I continued on with the conversation. IT WAS NOT TOO MUCH LONGER before I felt he was hitting me with another comment that could be taken two ways. This time I called him on it, asking what he meant by saying what he said. He replied with “What do you mean?” which is a pet peeve of mine. He had heard what I said, so why answer with a question? I went ahead and explained to him what I heard and why I responded the way I did. He then took my words and turned them back at me with what I heard to be a condescending tone. One thing led to another until we wound up being irritated with each other. We quickly ended the call; I was left feeling ticked off and confused. I tried wrapping my brain around what had happened but could not find a solution. My feelings were hurt. It was not until later that night where he called back to explain what was going on with him. It turned out he was in a bad mood because of something that had nothing to do with me. His negativity spread into our conversation, where he misinterpreted things I had said to him. We hashed it out so we could clear the air between us. The bottom line was realizing the need to express one’s feelings in order to become a better communicator. This was a conversation the main couple needed to have in this romantic, war drama. TRAVELING TO HAMBURG FROM ENGLAND TO JOIN her husband Rachel Morgan, played by Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) was surprised to see the amount of devastation the war had done. It was even more shocking to discover she would be sharing a home with its German owner. With Jason Clarke (Pet Sematary, Everest) as Lewis Morgan, Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, The Kill Team) as Stephen Lubert, Flora Thiemann (Nelly’s Adventure, Sputnik) as Freda Lubert and Kate Phillips (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Susan; this period piece had a strong cast that worked well together. I thought the filming added drama to the story which turned out necessary due to the cliché filled, predictable script. Despite Keira’s ability to command an audience, the script did not allow for the addition of depth to the characters. I would have also appreciated if the writers included more history into the events that affected the characters placing them on their current paths. With this film based on the same titled book, I have to believe the novel offered a better story than the one in this post World War II setting.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS AT A FAMILY (NOT MINE) GATHERING where I first saw how people judge others based on the work they do. Maybe this happens more than I am aware of because the individuals I was in contact with were not so blatant about it. With this family, they had no problem showing their disapproval; I could see and hear it. We were mingling together in the living/dining area of my friend’s parents’ house. I knew the family well, so I was included on the guest list. My friend’s parents were throwing a graduation party for their youngest child. It was a casual affair where most of the food items were finger foods. Everyone my friend introduced me to was pleasant. I do not want this to come out as judgmental; but let me just say some of the guests were impeccably dressed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as I could tell. At some point one of my friend’s sisters walked into the house with her boyfriend. They had only been dating a few months and this was I found out, the first time the family was meeting this new man. I thought all was going well until one of the relatives asked the boyfriend what he did for a living. When he told them he was an electrician, you could see everyone’s smiling veneer melt away. The tone of voice the relatives were now using were filled with disdain; I was stunned. WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH BEING an electrician, I wondered? You would have thought the boyfriend said he was a mass murderer; it was the oddest thing to see. As if on cue, the relatives nearby him slowly moved further away. I swear it looked as if the relatives had just come upon a grizzly bear in the forest and were quietly and slowly backing away, so as not to disturb it. I was not the only one to have witnessed this; my friend saw what was going on and decided to, at that moment, introduce me to the sister and boyfriend. He was a nice guy as far as I could tell, and it seemed as if he had a good sense of humor. Personally, I never care who my friends and family are dating; all that matters to me is that the person is good to them and loves them. Whether they are a stock trader, a sanitation worker or a zookeeper; none of that matters to me. If my friend or relative loves them and feels good about it, then I will support them always. I think that is one of the reasons I found it challenging to connect to the characters in this dramatic, comedy satire. BORN INTO WEALTH AND BELIEVING SHE was better than most Emma Woodhouse, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), felt she could not find her equal in love. At least, not in her small town. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Beast) as George Knightley, Bill Nighy (Sometimes Always Never, About Time) as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Everest) as Harriet Smith and Myra McFadyen (Mamma Mia! franchise, Rob Roy) as Mrs. Bates; this movie based on Jane Austen’s novel was hard for me to get into in the beginning. The costumes and scenery were immaculate which helped me pass the time. I also thought Bill Nighy was perfect in his role. Set in England during the 1800’s, it was not until the 2ndhalf of the film where I felt things were better connected. My guess is fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this picture immensely. I on the other hand felt it really had nowhere to go; it was somewhat predictable. And for some reason, I could not connect at all with the main actress’ character; what a surprise based on what I mentioned earlier in this review.
2 ½ stars
I THOUGHT I KNEW BETTER BUT all I accomplished was the wasting of time. Plans were in place for all of us to meet at the theater to see the performance followed by a question and answer session. The theater was in a part of the city that was unfamiliar to me. Because I was going to be driving near a couple of places I had wanted to get to, I figured this would be the perfect time to get everything accomplished at once before showtime. Going to my first stop was an easy experience; there were only a couple of short traffic delays and I found a parking space close by the store that had an item on hold for me. Once I was done there and back in my car, I headed out to the next destination. Unfortunately, I did not make the same good travel time because I got stopped by a slow-moving freight train at a crossing gate. Have you ever noticed when you are in a hurry, delays always seem to last longer? Well, that is how I felt waiting for that train. When the crossing gate finally rose up, I tore across the tracks and raced to my next stop, where I only needed to drop off my donation. In hindsight, this was not my best decision. FINALLY REACHING MY DESTINATION TO DROP off my donation and there was not one available parking spot anywhere. I could not believe it. For a second, I thought about double parking but luckily, I spotted a police car slowly coming down the street to check the parking meters. I decided to drive around the block to see if a parking space would open. Gratefully, as I was about to skip the donation place, I saw a car parked ahead of the place with its reverse lights on. I pulled up behind it and waited for the driver to pull out of the space. My turn signal was on, I was ready to take the spot; but the driver wasn’t moving. I felt like I was waiting for an eternity; I tapped on my horn and must have woken up the driver because their car finally exited the spot. In less than a minute I was in the spot and running into the donation place. I just had to place my package in the donation bin, run back to the car and get to the theater. There was no way I could stay at the speed limit and get to the theater before the start of the show. When I finally got there, I wound up having a miserable time; I missed the opening and spent the rest of the time replaying my route in my head, to see what I could have done differently. I experienced the same type of feeling sitting through the replayed scenes in this action crime film. ONCE WORD WAS OUT THAT DRUG dealer Mickey Pearson, played by Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, The Beach Bum), wanted to sell his operations; a cast of unscrupulous characters decided to take advantage of the opportunity. With Charles Hunnam (Crimson Peak, The Lost City of Z) as Ray, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, Downton Abbey-TV) as Rosalind Pearson, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Robot & Frank) as Matthew and Colin Farrell (Dumbo, The Lobster) as Coach; this movie’s story was too cluttered for me. I did however enjoy several scenes for their inventiveness and dark humor as well as enjoying most of the cast’s performances. However, not being a fan of tweaking and replaying events over, I was getting bored with the possibilities being shown. It diffused and made the drama less strong in my opinion. I was able to handle the violence on display; but, the constant, repetitive foul language quickly got old for me. The idea behind this story could have been communicated in a better way; instead, as scenes were being replayed, I sat and wondered what would have happened if I had gone to a different movie.
2 ½ stars
SOME FAMILIES LIVED IN APARTMENT BUILDINGS like mine did, while others lived in houses; but it did not mean anything to any of us. Everyone was treated the same. I never thought a family had to be rich to live in a house; though, I remember some of my friends thought this one kid was snobby because his family owned a local food company. I remember seeing one of their products at the grocery store and thinking how weird it must have been for that kid to see his last name on all the containers stacked across one of the grocery store’s shelves. Outside of that, I do not recall anyone using their family wealth to make people think they were better than anyone else. It was in school where I learned about socio-economic classes; that people were categorized as being upper, middle or lower class. The concept was odd to me because I could not understand why the amount of money a person had was important. I never considered someone being better because they were wealthier. They could have a lot of money but still be a horrible person; there would be no way I would ever think they were better than someone who barely could cover their rent, as an example. IT WAS NOT UNTIL AFTER MY school years where I saw how people treat other people, they deem poorer. I was at a wedding where I saw the bride’s mother treating the staff poorly. She was talking down to them as she grilled them on what they “needed” to do for her. Up until that point I had not seen this side of the mother who had always appeared pleasant and giving. Now, I was seeing this aggressive woman telling the staff if they wanted to get paid, they needed to make such and such happened immediately; it was an ugly scene. Another time I was teaching at a health club where the cliental came from all types of backgrounds. There were working class folks, retirees, business owners; you get the picture. I am not one to stereotype a person; but out of these different backgrounds, I could tell which person considered themselves to be above other people. They always dressed up for exercise class, wearing the latest fashion trends in clothing, tons of jewelry along with wearing make-up and perfume. You would think they were going out for the night to a social event. I found the whole concept perplexing. However, in this comedic drama I understood it better because the times were different back then… or were they really? EXCITEMENT FLOODED THROUGH DOWNTON ABBEY WHEN a letter was received, announcing the King and Queen would be coming for a visit. The family and staff would discover things they never knew before. With Michelle Dockery (Anna Karenina, Non-Stop) as Lady Mary Talbot, Matthew Goode (Stoker, Official Secrets) as Henry Talbot, Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, Sense8-TV) as Lucy Smith, Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van, Quartet) as Violet Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern (Once Upon a Time in America, The Chaperone) as Cora Crawley; I first have to tell you I have not seen the television show that this film was based on. The movie was beautifully filmed and scored, with wonderful set designs and costumes. This made for a perfect period piece film. Now the fact I am not familiar with the characters, I felt I was at a disadvantage; I did not know the history of each character, so did not feel as connected as most of the audience did in the theater. Story wise the plot was easy and fun to follow. For me, it seemed as if there were such a variety of story lines that nothing felt fully developed to the point where I could make a connection. There definitely was a soap opera quality to this picture, where I could see why it made for a popular television series. I am glad I saw this movie but did feel I was more of a bystander than a guest at the party.
2 ¾ stars 3 ½ stars – fans of the TV series
I DID NOT CRINGE UNTIL SHE attempted to speak. She had assistance walking across the stage of the awards show; it was expected considering her frailty and advanced age. In her day, decades ago, she was a top billing major star. Now as I watched her trying to talk, it was obvious to me she was quite confused. I had no idea if the producers of the show requested her or her management team offered her; either way, I felt uncomfortable and sad. Growing old is harder when it is done in the public eye; I think about myself with the classes I teach. Will I know when it is the time to hang up my cycling and yoga apparel? Will I graciously retire when I realize, if I even realize, I am not teaching class at the same level as I have in the past? These are things I have given thought to as I have grown older. I look at some people who have obviously had extensive plastic surgery and wonder why they did it. There has never been a time I have seen an older celebrity and not known they had altered themselves simply by looking at their semi-paralyzed face or their skin stretched tightly like plastic wrap sealing a bowl of leftovers. What is it they are trying to do? ONE OF THE ANSWERS I CAN come up with is they do it because they still need to get adulation and compliments from people. I would like to know how having a wrinkled face would stop someone from admiring you. I went to a concert that was being held in a small movie theater; the headliner was a celebrity who was past his prime. What I mean is their voice could no longer handle their song catalog and their dance moves were reduced to a simple swaying side to side. He was only one of the musical acts; so, there were some people in the audience who had no idea who this man was and what songs he had sung that brought him fame. If it were me I could not get on stage and perform unless I categorically knew it would be at the same caliber as before. As I write this I am reminded about former celebrities who either do advertisements or shall we say low-brow projects. I always wonder if they need the money or they are so starved for attention. Regarding this film festival winning biography, I haven’t yet decided which one the comedy duo needed. AFTER THEIR FAME AND FORTUNE HAD dimmed in the world Laurel and Hardy, played by Steve Coogan (Philomela, The Dinner) and John C. Reilly (Holmes & Watson, The Sisters Brothers), decided they would re-capture it by doing a live tour. It didn’t matter to them that they were older and maybe not as wise. This comedic drama’s story was based on actual events. Without a doubt this picture’s fate was dependent on Steve and John. Gratefully, the two of them were stupendous. I might have to tip the scales more to John’s Oliver Hardy being more authentic, but it still would be a tight race between the two of them. With them front and center the other actors like Shirley Henderson (Transporting franchise, Bridget Jones franchise) as Lucille Hardy and Nina Arianda (Midnight in Paris, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Ida Kitaeva Laurel; though good, were more in the background for me. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this picture. Seeing some of the original comedy acts Laurel and Hardy used to perform and getting the back story on them was a treat. I thought the script and direction worked hand in hand to produce a well-rounded bit of comedic history. Make sure you stay through the credits to see actual clips of the two the producers reproduced in this wonderful film.
3 ½ stars
THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT is to not have hopes or expectations. Sounds simple but it really is not. I have learned to avoid placing expectations on people’s behaviors. We all react to situations in a different way; one is not better or worse than the other. Trouble starts when an individual makes statements that use the word, “should;” something like, “You should have known…” This actually was a hard lesson for me to learn, where I would react to what I thought a person should have said or done. It took me a long time to realize no one has the right to tell me how to feel, that I am the only one responsible for how I am feeling. However, as we each go through our daily life there are things that crop up that disappoint us. For example, going to a particular restaurant to get your favorite dish and it winds up they are out of it. Seeing an article of clothing that you feel is perfect for you, only to find it does not look good on you or does not do what it was advertised to do. Things like this can cause us to feel disappointed; we had our mind set for one thing, but then the reality did not match our expectations. THE PAST HOLIDAY IS SOMETHING I look forward to because the movie studios release what they believe will be their heavy Oscar contenders and audience blockbusters. Every year I spend most of the day at the theater watching one movie after another. This year was no different and in fact, I was extra excited because a couple of limited release films were opening at a theater near me. I studied the movie times to figure out what would produce the maximum viewing experience. This also was taking into consideration the duration of the movie trailers; the average amount of time devoted to them is around 20 minutes. I was starting the day at one theater to watch three films then drive to another theater to finish up with 3 more. After finding a parking spot at the 2ndtheater I walked in to discover the films I needed to see were all sold out for the present time slots. Even rearranging start times did not help me; there was only one movie available and I had no desire to see it. The reason being, I saw the trailers and the main star does the same thing for every movie with no discretion towards the scripts. I was so disappointed and after watching this comedy I was even more disappointed that I wasted my time on this picture instead of one of the ones I had on my list. ONLY ONE DETECTIVE COULD FIND THE CULPRIT who was threatening the queen of England and that was Sherlock Holmes, played by Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home franchise, Get Hard). With the help of his trusted friend Watson, played by John C. Reilly (The Sisters Brothers, Life After Beth), the two would have to work fast to save the queen. This adventure crime film was one of the worst movies I have seen the past year. How it got saved to be released during the holiday season was baffling to me. There was nothing funny since the jokes were noticeable a mile away and were of the lowest level of anything remotely humorous. I was bored out of my mind and angry that I had to pay to be subjected to this mess. Will has done the same schtick in his comedies for so long that his actions and acting must be on autopilot. Notice I did not list the rest of the main actors because I did not want to embarrass them any further.
1 1/4 stars
THE TWO DID NOT KNOW EACH OTHER. They grew up in different cities and on the surface did not seem to have any similarities. I only knew of them because they were in one of my writing classes in college. The class was rather intense, where we were expected to turn in writing assignments on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday the professor would randomly choose a few students to read their papers out loud, so the class could have a discussion and critique session on the students’ works. After several weeks it became apparent to me and most of the class that these 2 students were focused on writing horror stories. As some of you might know, I am not a fan of movies that show a lot of bloody gore. As you might expect the same holds true for fiction stories. As the semester continued these two fans of horror started competing with each other; nothing overt, but each week their stories got gorier and gorier. It was as if they were in a battle to see who would be the “king of horror” as far as I could tell. I had a hard time listening to them when either one was chosen to read their stories to the class. I NEVER FOUND OUT WHAT WAS the impetus that drove those two students to compete against each other. Honestly, I have always had a hard time trying to figure out why people want to compete. This may be one of the reasons why I was never very good in several sport activities. I do not have that driving force inside of me to dominate and beat another person, just so I can be considered the best. The only person I am in competition with is myself. Overcoming one set of circumstances to get to where I am at today has been a fight every day. The way I look at it is this: my old self battles the new me, trying to push me back down to what I used to be. Hopefully I am making sense to you; but let me tell you, this struggle between the old and new me has been a major force that has pushed me to heights I thought I would never achieve in this lifetime. With my thinking I wonder if humans in general are predisposed to competing. I think the term is, “Survival of the fitness.” Another phrase I have heard is, “Only the strong will survive.” Is this a genetic thing? I do not know, but this historical drama will show you how fierce competition can be. RETURNING TO HER HOME IN SCOTLAND after her husband had died; Mary Stuart, played by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, The Lovely Bones), believed she could lead her people as their queen. The main issue concerning her belief was the fact there was already a queen on the throne from the House of Tudor and her name was Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie (I, Tonya; Suicide Squad). This biographical film also starred Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Tommy’s Honour) as Henry Darnley, James McArdle (The Chamber, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as James, Earl of Moray and David Tennant (Bad Samaritan, Doctor Who-TV) as John Knox. This picture was all about the acting and I thought both Saoirse and Margot were wonderful. Because of them I stayed engaged with this story that I believe took a lot of liberty with actual history. Those who enjoy history might like this picture more than non-history lovers. There were some scenes that were farfetched and almost a distraction. It was a shame because I think the writers might have been competing with the Game of Thrones series when they were writing this script.
2 ½ stars