THE SOUNDS FROM CONVERSATIONS AROUND ME blurred into a curtain of white noise. I was not focused on any of them, only aware of the background noise they created. Instead, I was pulling travel brochures out of my knapsack, that I had picked up at the hotel before taking myself out to lunch. The restaurant was a local establishment I had read about and was curious to check out. Whenever I travel out of state, I always try to eat at least one meal at a restaurant that is not part of a national chain. When I walked into this place I could smell the smokiness of barbeque in the air. The hostess had placed me in a booth by a window; I not only had a view to their outdoor patio, but I also had a wide view of the dining area inside. There was a constant flow of activity, from patrons walking in and out to the wait staff keeping up with the flow of meals coming out of the kitchen. I liked looking at the different food dishes being ordered; it was a way for me to see what was popular on the menu. After I decided and gave my order to the waitress, I delved into my reading material. IT WAS DURING THE TAIL END of my meal when I realized that curtain of white noise had dissipated. Looking up from my brochures I noticed a good portion of the restaurant patrons were looking at the front entrance. Standing at the door was a couple with a child. It did not hit me immediately, but pretty darn close that the patrons had stopped talking to stare at this couple. There was nothing I could see that was unusual about the couple. I was hoping they were not staring for this reason, but I knew deep inside it had to be the only reason the diners would have looked up and stopped talking to each other. The couple was biracial. Their child had a mix of features from both parents; dark cocoa skin, soft tightly curled brown hair and light-colored eyes. I was stunned that a biracial couple would draw so much attention. Why would anyone care? I do not have the answer, but it was not until the couple was being led to a table that the other patrons resumed their conversations. What in the world would they have done I wonder, if the main character from this action, adventure fantasy came into the restaurant? AN ANCIENT SORCERESS KNOWN AS THE Blood Queen, played by Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil franchise), was plotting her revenge on mankind. Her plan included an unusual offer. With David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, The Green Hornet) as Hellboy, Ian McShane (Hercules, John Wick franchise) as Professor Broom, Brian Gleeson (Logan Lucky, Phantom Thread) as Merlin and Sasha Lane (American Honey, After Everything) as Alice Monaghan; this reboot was filled with blood and violence. In fact, that pretty much says it all about this picture. I found the script lifeless. What I assume was supposed to be humorous remarks bordered on vitriol. There was nothing fun or exciting in this film except Milla’s character. She was the only character that I cared about. I have never read the graphic novels but compared to the original movie, this one was a waste as far as I could tell. In all honesty, watching this film was like seeing a high school production that had not gone through its technical week. I felt different scenarios were shown but never carried all the way through to conclusion. All I can say is it was hell sitting through this film.
1 ½ stars
IT SIMPLY TAKES ONE EVENT, OCCURRENCE, meeting or altercation to change a person’s life. I fortunately and unfortunately had a profusion of them. Having seen the aftermath of a boy’s torture and killing of a cat steered me down a path to save and protect the animal population. Seeing a fellow student hoisted up to a locker room window, to be flung out, made me avoid the locker room the rest of the school year. After a couple of kids made fun of my religious beliefs, I avoided any talk about religion with anyone for years. Being on the receiving end of physical abuse made me untrusting and avoid any physical contact with another human being. I could go on, but I think you get the point; the things that happen to us when we are kids can have a lasting effect on what we become. Sadly, for some of these individuals they wind up living their entire life without realizing they have not reached their full potential; that there is more to their life besides fear, sadness and anger. For others, that single event led them on a road of exploration to discover their full capabilities. Can one consider all these scenarios a game of chance? I USED TO WONDER HOW DIFFERENT my life would have turned out if I knew then what I knew now. If I had been an active participant in my PE classes I might have been on one of the school’s sports teams. If I had not been sideswiped by the abuse, maybe I would have let my guard down a bit upon meeting new people and be open to new experiences. One never knows and cannot spend most of their time wondering about “if”. That word “if” can be truly debilitating to a person. “If I had only done…”, “If I went…”, “If I had taken…”; any of these types of musings will drive you crazy. Trust me, I know of what I speak. The most valuable thing I learned is not to sit and dwell on all the “ifs” in your life. I am a firm believer there are no accidents; there is a reason for everything. It is this belief that has allowed me to stop dwelling on the past and realize everything that happened to me led to who I am presently. Once I came to this realization I experienced a sense of freedom that allowed me to finally live my life. After all I have said you still wish you could go back and repeat your life, then you need to first take a look at this comedic fantasy. THERE WAS A REASON COMPANY OWNER Jordan Sanders, played by Regina Hall (Girls Trip, The Best Man Holiday), never let her guard down nor cared about her employees’ feelings. She was about to find out why. This romantic film also starred Issa Rae (The Hate U Give, A Bitter Lime) as April Williams, Marsai Martin (Blackish-TV, Goldie and Bear-TV) as little Jordan Sanders, Justin Hartley (This is Us-TV, A Bad Moms Christmas) as Mr. Marshall and Tone Bell (Dog Days, Whitney-TV) as Preston. The cast was well chosen for this story and did an admirable job of acting. There were a few humorous scenes and some funny lines; however, I did not get heavily involved in the story. The reason being this story had been done before and done a whole lot better. I found the script uneven as it jumped around from one emotional level to another, without any connections. It was a disservice to the actors where I did not see any chemistry being developed. I appreciated what the writers were trying to say, but something must have happened that made them veer off course.
IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses. IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film. THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
I FOUND SOMEONE I COULD RELATE to and it was an elephant. Don’t laugh; this little elephant was a character I not only could sympathize with but identify with because of what he was going through in his young life. It was on a Saturday and I remember we took the train down into the city. A theater there was doing a weekend showing of the animated movie Dumbo. As we walked around the corner and I saw the movie theater, I got upset because of all the people lined up trying to get into the theater. I thought for sure all the tickets would be sold before we got up to the box office. By downtown standards this theater was one of the smaller ones which was part of the reason for my fears. All I knew about this little elephant was its ability to fly and I desperately wanted to see it for myself. Flying was something I dreamt about and was hoping I could learn something from Dumbo. As you can see at a young age I was already heavy into fantasy, looking to create a different reality around me. I could not stop fidgeting as we slowly made our way up to the box office. WITH TICKETS IN HAND WE FOUND seats in the theater; I could not have been more excited. When Dumbo was being made fun of, I felt his pain. I was overweight and endured similar name calling. If I could I would have jumped into the screen to defend Dumbo and let him know he was not alone. I was visibly upset as I sat in my seat. And then suddenly, my sadness and pain disappeared in a puff of air, that I felt from Dumbo’s large ears when they flapped to give him flight for the first time. Seeing that little elephant rise up into the air was pure magic for me. I was told I had big ears, so I wondered if it was at all possible I could teach myself to use my ears along with my flapping arms to allow me to lift off the ground. There in that movie theater I had found someone like me; I wanted to do everything Dumbo could do. If I was ever afraid or uncomfortable I could simply fly away from the situation, soar above any of the pain or name calling I was experiencing. After all these years, I now have the opportunity to see my flying friend once again in this live action, fantasy film. WHEN CIRCUS OWNER MAX MEDICI, PLAYED by Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-TV), bought a pregnant elephant; he never imagined the birth of a baby elephant could change his life so drastically. This family movie also starred Colin Farrell (The Beguiled, The Lobster) as Holt Farrier, Michael Keaton (American Assassin, The Founder) as V.A. Vandevere, Eva Green (Based on a True Story, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Colette Marchant and Alan Arkin (Argo, Going in Style) as J. Griffin Remington. While watching this picture I had a visceral reaction to what was being shown on the movie screen. Except for the variety of fanciful visuals, I thought this movie was an abomination. How did the movie studio okay a story that was dark and so not kid friendly? I was completely shocked by the script and found absolutely nothing fun or joyful in this picture. There were little glimpses of a possible pleasurable scene but for the most part the script and over the top soundtrack drowned any hope of enjoyment. Days later I still was confused how this film got made of such a classic iconic character from animated history. Unless you want to punish your child or yourself, there is no reason to go see this poor version of the classic tale.
1 ½ stars
HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness. I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel. AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.
3 ½ stars
IT WASN’T UNTIL ONE OF MY first paying jobs where I finally felt I had a sense of hope. Up to then I was sure I was being judged more on my looks. At this job an older employee befriended me, helping me get accustomed to the work environment. One day towards the end of the work day he came over to my work area to fill out his paperwork. I have no idea how the subject came up but at some point, he was telling me the differences between two female employees, who I happened to be friends with each one. I thought maybe he was fishing for information, but I had nothing to offer him. He explained to me why he would not date one of the two women. I still had no idea why he was telling me this; but the thing that intrigued me was the fact he was talking about the female that many of the male employees felt was the more attractive one. This employee came to work everyday with her makeup just right and her hair always styled as if she was prepped for a photo shoot. She was skinny and wore what appeared to be very expensive clothing. This guy’s comments were so counter to anything I had heard before; by the way, most of the other male employees made sexist and rude remarks about this “prettier” employee. THE OTHER FEMALE EMPLOYEE WAS THE opposite. I would refer to her as being low maintenance. Her clothing was more comfortable looking than fashionable. She usually wore her hair in a ponytail and rarely wore makeup. You may be wondering what I found so fascinating about that male employee’s comments about not being interested in dating a woman like the other female employee. What surprised me was him saying he would prefer being with someone like the non-makeup employee because she was funny and witty, had a hearty laugh and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I wasn’t sure how to process some of his comments; however, the fact he was not focusing on superficial things is what gave me hope in the dating world. Not looking like any of the men in advertisements, besides not being athletic; that someone would be more interested in a person’s qualities was something I had not seen among my peers. Most people I have listened to tend to comment about a person’s looks before they will mention anything with more substance. The main character in this comedic fantasy would certainly understand me. WAKING UP FROM A HEAD INJURY cynical Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise), found herself in a hellish position; she was in the middle of what appeared to be a romantic comedy. None of it was part of her real life. With Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games franchise, Love and Honor) as Blake, Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect franchise, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) as Josh, Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake) as Isabella and Betty Gilpin (True Story, Glow-TV) as Whitney; this romantic comedy started with a solid idea for a story. The cast was fun to watch, especially Rebel flourishing in her element. There was nothing that warranted out loud laughing, but there were scenes that made me chuckle. This is a fantasy so one needs to let go with part of their reality to get something out of this picture. The message was right on and I enjoyed the satirical touches that were sprinkled into the script. Could this have been a better written film and allow Rebel to do more? Sure, but for a light stroll through an alternative reality, this movie was okay. Notice nothing was mentioned about the looks of this film.
2 ¼ stars
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ITEMS I have sealed in plastic bags, hoping they may become valuable someday. Neither of them was expensive; I think the most I spent was $6.00. One thing is a set of unusual stamps and the other is a coffee mug shaped like a character from a popular television show. When I bought them years ago I thought immediately they would attract attention; but honestly, I have no idea if they will ever be worth something. You see I do not have that gift for finding a treasure at a thrift store or auction. There is a television show devoted to people bringing in their old possessions, to see if they have something worth a lot of money. I am not that type of individual; most of the things in my house have more sentimental value than monetary. There are some people who have a knack for spotting a bargain; I think I fall more into this category. Part of the reason for this is because I have a knack for finding and using coupons to apply to the item. However, put me in an antique or thrift shop and all I see is used stuff. Sure, I may find something I want; but, it is based on an emotional level not a practical one. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO is skilled when it comes to finding things of value. The things he has shown me have totally amazed me. When I look at, for example, a silver serving piece such as a large fork, I see a metal item that is fancy looking. The individual I mentioned can dig through an entire crate of metal serving pieces and pull out the only one of value. I am not kidding you; he even showed me the item. It was a large metal fork with an ornately carved handle and three tines which were wide at the bottom then narrowed down to fine points. He paid less than $5.00 for the fork. When he got home he looked up and discovered this was a special fork from a particular manufacturer. Double checking online he learned the fork was selling for approximately $120.00. Maybe the dollar amount isn’t a big deal to you, but you must admit the percentage between the price difference is huge. He did the same thing with an oil painting where he paid $11.00 and found out it was worth over $500.00. Another person gifted like him was the doctor in this science fiction, action adventure. FINDING A PORTION OF A DISCARDED OLD cyborg was a stroke of luck for Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, Big Eyes). There was more than luck involved when he brought her to life. This romantic thriller also starred Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner franchise, CHIPS) as Alita, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog) as Chiren, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) as Vector and Ed Skrein (Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Zapan. Visually, this film was a feast of technical marvels. The fight scenes were intense with great special effects. The acting was also well done, even when the actors were transformed by CGI effects. Where I had high hopes for this picture based on the trailer, the script let me down. I found having a female hero led to a more sensitive story line; but the script was predictable, and the dialog was hokey at times. This picture was based on a graphic novel series that was unfamiliar to me; so, for those who know it or are into this type of genre, they might enjoy this movie more than me. It was obvious the producers are hoping for a sequel based on the ending scenes. I would be interested in seeing it but only if they get a better script.
2 ½ stars
WHEN I WAS A MUCH YOUNGER BOY I thought there were many differences between men and women. Maybe it was the times, the environment or the teachings; but outside the physical characteristics both sexes were treated differently. I never understood why the color blue was designated as a masculine color and pink a feminine one. I was taught to open doors for women and to give up my seat on the bus or train for a woman who is standing. Rarely do I see either of these things being done these days. If a female drops something it was ok to pick it up for her; however, if a male dropped something it was okay to ignore it. To pick something up for another male was akin to telling them they were weak and puny. Seriously, this is what I was led to believe. And of course, there is that thing about showing emotions, especially sadness and tears. Heaven forbid you are watching a sad movie in your film class and tear up; your classmates will pounce on you for being a weak sissy. These are only a couple of the things that I encountered in my youth; I am glad I grew up. HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I see today: both women and men saying ignorant things, both sexes displaying prejudices, men and women competing on the same team and both capable of being poor drivers. In other words, in my small world I see very little difference between men and women. As such, I treat them the same. If either sex drops something I will pick it up for them. In my fitness classes I do not even see males and females; I see people working hard and doing their best. With the participants in my classes ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old, I see the younger generations have a different mindset about the opposite sex than the older members. It is encouraging to me because I believe everyone should be on equal footing and treated equally. In the locker room the only negative remarks I have heard about the opposite sex have come from older men. In my opinion there is a lack of respect on their part, based on their comments. I do not think they have a clue that their attitude is part of the problem. For all I know they may not even know what a woman needs and who knows, maybe the same thing goes on in the women’s locker room and they don’t know what men need. This was not the case for the woman in this dramatic, romantic fantasy. NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE WORKED Ali Davis, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, No Good Deed), never felt like she was being treated fairly at her job. Could it be because she was the only female sports agent? This remake of the male version also starred Josh Brener (The Internship, The Belko Experiment) as Brandon Wallace, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) as Will, Max Greenfield (The Big Short, About Alex) as Kevin Myrtle and Brian Bosworth (The Longest Yard, Three Kings) as Nick Ivers. I do not know when this movie was completed but a part of me had to wonder while watching it if it was purposely written to appeal to our current events between the sexes. I felt the script had holes in it causing me to be bored. If it was not for Taraji’s valiant effort to get as much as possible out of the script, I would have been even more bored. Gratefully her acting kept this picture alive, along with the few scenes that I found humorous. I do not know how much you will gain from watching this film; I think you would learn more from one of my classes.
THE MAN’S FACE ON THE PAGE of my business magazine looked familiar to me. I stared for a moment and felt I knew him but not at his present age. Reading thru the accompanying article it turned out I was right; we had been friends in elementary school. He had the same wavy hair and dark eyes except the hair was silver gray instead of black. From what I read he was an executive officer of a venture capital firm. I was completely shocked because, at least during our time in school, he was quite conservative; you could say he was not a risk taker at all. The idea of him now putting capital into startup companies surprised me. It seemed like a total contradiction and for some reason it amused me. We hadn’t had any contact for decades, so my perceptions were based solely on a younger version of himself. If someone were to have asked me what I thought he would be doing when we grew up I would have said sales or marketing; it just seemed he had the type of personality that would cause a person to say he was a “people’s person.” FROM READING THAT ARTICLE ABOUT HIM, I started thinking about other people I had known for a long time. I looked at my perceptions of the person compared to the career they had chosen. In some cases, it was obvious to me there were many who had a good fit between their job and personality. There were some who surprised me because they did not do very well in school; yet, they were now employed doing some technical work that I thought would have been way beyond their capabilities. In fact, one was a scientist; working on testing the strength of a new compound. This person used to cheat on their exams when we were in school. I am sure I mentioned this before but there are several of my former classmates who were stunned to find out I teach in the health and fitness industry. Having been an overweight geek who flunked PE twice; no one, including myself, would have imagined that I now conduct yoga and cycle classes. It really is amazing to me how we all wind up in our chosen career paths. I guess it goes to show you one can never underestimate what a person wants to do in life. This was certainly true for the main character in this family adventure fantasy. NONE OF HIS CLASSMATES WOULD BELIEVE Alex, played by Louis Ashbourne (Alice Through the Looking Glass; Noddy, Toyland Detective-TV), was the one to save the future. How could they, he did not believe it himself. This film festival winning movie also starred Denise Gough (Robin Hood, ’71) as Mary, newcomer Dean Chaumoo as Bedders, Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower, Doctor Foster-TV) as Lance and Angus Imrie (Pond Life, Kingdom-TV) as young Merlin. This fun film reminded me of those live action fantasy films from the 70s and 80s. It had a sweet charm to it that I found enjoyable. The script was written with the young teen in mind, but it also provided amusement for the adult. The story was an updated version of the King Arthur and the round table tales and I liked the blending of the old and modern takes. There was nothing extreme in this picture; everything was kept within a safe parameter. This movie may not win any major awards; but for a couple of hours of light entertainment, this film was an easy viewing for me.
2 ½ stars
ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PARENTS in life, for each one brings a different version of love. There are some people who have an abundance of love that they share with children, besides their own. They may not be there when you fall and scrape your knee or when you ride your bicycle for the first time without training wheels; but, they leave their handprints on your heart. I feel fortunate that I grew up with a few extra mothers in my life. You may have had one or two yourself or just as easily an extra dad since either gender provides equal amounts of love. One of my extra mothers was a neighbor who lived in our building. She lived a couple of floors below us which resulted in me learning how to get down flights of stairs earlier than other kids. Before I could walk I would crawl to the edge of the staircase, turn myself around on the edge and begin crawling down backwards. After navigating the two flights of stairs I would crawl to the door of her apartment and pat my palm on it. I never knew how she always heard me when I thought about this years later, but she would open the door every time with a big smile on her face. She always had time to play with me and for those times she didn’t, she would sing to me. THERE WAS ANOTHER WOMAN WHO WAS like an extra mother to me. She was a friend of the family who had grown up with one of my parents. She was quick to give me a deep hug that made me feel protected and safe. Though she did not know how to bowl, she loved coming to the bowling alley, taking pleasure in simply watching us try to get a strike. Her house always had the exact types of food you craved on any particular day; for example, if you wanted something sweet she had cookies or if you wanted something salty she would have pretzels. When I was little she would always write an amusing poem inside my birthday cards. Despite decades having past I still have vivid, fond memories of these women who were prominent in my life. They each had their own families; yet, I was treated as part of the family because that was the type of love they each had inside. And to a child, having that type of extra love is like a fresh coat of paint on the walls of their heart. WITH THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE and jobs scarce during the depression Michael Banks, played by Ben Whishaw (I’m Not Here, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), had little time to watch over his children. Though things looked bleak, there was an opportunity for someone special to step in and help; that someone was Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Into the Woods). This comedic family fantasy also starred Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Looking for Maria Sanchez) as Jack, Emily Mortimer (The Bookshop, Harry Brown) as Jane Banks and Julie Waters (Billy Elliot, Harry Potter franchise) as Ellen. Taking the original movie and moving the characters thirty years forward allowed for a whole new generation of characters to populate this theatrical musical film. I thought the acting was excellent, though Emily’s version of Mary Poppins seemed to have more of an edge to her. This picture was fun to watch but I feel those not into theater may think it is over the top. For me this updated story did not have the magic of the first movie; but part of my warm feelings came from the nostalgic aspect I have towards the original film. Besides, having another encounter with Mary Poppins is always a welcome visit.