I AM USED TO WAITING IN LINE at the drive thru lane of a restaurant; but I was not prepared to do it at a funeral home. As I arrived at the funeral home, I saw there were several cars lined up as if they were preparing for the procession to the burial ground. Pulling into the lot behind the last car an employee of the funeral home, who had been standing off to the side, walked up to me to explain how to proceed through the visitation. I was to follow in single file, as one car at a time will pull underneath the porte-cochere. The occupants can then get out of their car and walk up to the locked, double glass doors of the lobby to pay their respects to the grieving family, who will be standing behind the doors with the casket. After the respects are paid, I was to return to my car and drive out of the parking lot. The last thing the man said to me was that there was not a sign in book; instead, I could go online to the funeral home’s home page and leave a comment for the family. I thanked the gentleman, closed my car window and waited for my turn. AFTER FIVE MINUTES, I WAS ABLE TO move forward one car length ahead. Outside my driver’s side window there was now a TV monitor that was set up on a stand. There was a slide show of photos rotating that showed different time periods in the life of the deceased. From birth to their first birthday part, their school years through college and family trips; I sat and watched the photos appear and disappear, providing me with a glimmer of what their life was like. I had lost track of time, as it became my turn to pull underneath and pay my respects. Getting out of the car, I walked towards the glass doors; the only thing I saw at first through the reflective glass was the open casket. It seemed to be floating in midair. As I got closer, images of the grieving family began to appear through the reflection as if they were materializing before my eyes. Out of the family members standing, the father looked the worse. I could not tell if what I was seeing was distorted by the reflective glass; but the father looked like he was in a state of shock. The solid stone expression on his face never changed. With lifeless eyes and a neck that looked like it had been replaced by a spring, he simply kept nodding his head up and down while staring directly ahead. It looked like he was missing a part of himself; similar to the way the main character did in this mystery drama. WHEN HER DAUGHTER DID NOT COME home it was up to Debra, played by Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, American Sniper) to be in charge of raising her grandson. She only needed someone to raise her. This film festival nominated movie also starred Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver, Elvis & Nixon) as Bridget Callahan, Kentucker Audley (Funny Bunny, The Middle Distance) as Brett Tobeck, Christina Hendricks (Good Girls-TV, The Neon Demon) as Katherine and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Terry. Set in rural Pennsylvania, this acting by Sienna and Christina was outstanding. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; but with the acting and directing I fell into the events taking place while becoming emotional attached. This was a quiet film where some of the characters needed more emotional depth. However, the performances of the actors made up for any deficiencies. This was both such a heart wrenching and triumphant story that Sienna navigated with expert skill.
3 ¼ stars
WHEN I HEAR ABOUT AN ALTERCATION that took place in the city, I shudder when I see the victim was doing something I used to do. And when I say something, it literally refers to nothing unusual; for example, me just walking to my car. There was a period where I would go down into the city to the dance clubs and bars. Now you might think this was strange for me since I did not drink alcohol, but I wanted to dance and watch music videos. Sometimes I would drive, other times I would take public transportation. Depending on how the evening was going I could be dancing at the club until they closed, or I could be there for an hour before making my way home. My point is I might be walking alone to my car at 3 in the morning. I knew to be cautious or at least aware of my surroundings, but I was not fearful. Granted, on side streets I would always walk down the middle of them. Riding public transportation never was a concern for me. Whether I was on a bus or train, I never thought something could go wrong; at least, not to the extent I read and see in the news. MAYBE I WAS LUCKY THAT NOTHING befell me back then; however, there were several times when I was scared. Once while walking down the street in the afternoon a guy came up to me and asked for a cigarette. When I said I didn’t smoke he started yelling and calling me names. I tried to walk away but he kept shoving me. Not until he pushed me into a plate glass window did he take off running. I used to replay that scene over and over in my head, imagining different endings where I would come out victorious. Another time I was walking to my car after dinner and noticed a small group of teenagers walking towards me. I made a quick decision and turned into a building’s walkway, despite not knowing where it would lead. Luckily, I wound up in the alley just as I heard their laughter echoing out from the walkway. Quickly I ran down the alley until I found another walkway through a building that lead me back to the street, where I ran all the way to my car. Again, as I made my way home I fantasized different scenarios where I was a boxer or martial arts expert who quickly subdued my assailants into submission…or unconsciousness. The only difference between me and the main character in this dramatic comedy is I never acted on it. AFTER BEING MUGGED BY A MOTORCYCLE gang Casey, played by Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour, The Social Network), looked for a way to defend himself. He found his answer at a karate school. With Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Disobedience) as Sensei, Imogen Poots (Green Room, Frank & Lola) as Anna, Steve Terada (Crank, Memoirs of a Geisha) as Thomas and Phillip Andre Botello (Pledge, Road Wars) as Kenneth; this film festival nominated movie was wickedly dark, violent and funny. At first, I felt Jesse was doing a repeat of some of his previous roles, but he hit the mark as a timid man on the spectrum. At least I took him to be a person on the spectrum. I am a little familiar with Alessandro’s work and I especially admired him in this role as the owner and head of the karate school. Between my laughter and shock there were a few bumps in the road inside the script, where it became predictable. However, I was enjoying the performances too much to let the predictability bother me. Again, I want to stress this was a real dark comedy with blood and violence. Despite it, I did wonder what would have happened to me if I had joined a karate school.