UNTIL I STARTED BELIEVING THERE WAS a reason for everything, I found myself getting stuck in place many times over. Imagine being in a relationship, thinking all is good, then suddenly you get blindsided and you are alone. At that point you have a choice; either feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity or reflect on your actions that led up to the moment, to see if you are following some kind of unconscious pattern or fear. There was a time where I had the same experience being repeated in my relationships. At first, I would only focus on my feelings of hurt and anger. Until I started looking at common traits between the relationships and believing there was a reason this was happening to me, did I start to understand what had happened. A change took place and I found myself reacting differently to dates and relationships. With this new awareness, I found myself being able to also see the patterns my friends were getting into in their relationships. There were many times when friends would tell me about something their date said or did where I would tell them not to take it personally; their date was playing out some pattern of their own making that had nothing to do with them. ONE FRIEND IN PARTICULAR KEPT REPEATING the same pattern of behavior that caused her not to succeed in her places of employment. She wanted to do something specific that she felt she was best qualified to do. The issue was with each job, she did not take full ownership of her responsibilities. The result was she never got promoted. She would become resentful, letting it build up until she quit and looked for a new place of employment. This pattern was repeated several times and with each job she became more hardened and inflexible. I understood she wanted to do something different, but it did not make sense to me to be miserable in the meantime. It is like when I walk up to a store’s customer service counter and am met by a surly employee who is not helpful. I just want to say to the employee if they are so unhappy then quit. Being miserable and feeling bad will not get one to the place where they want to be; at least that is my way of thinking. Sure, it is easy to become cynical and disillusioned, but this is why I feel there are no accidents. Be present, be available and believe in purpose because once you do, you will have an easier go in achieving your dreams. I firmly believer this and think the main character in this comedy comes to understand this concept. DESPITE THE CONTINUAL REJECTION NOTICES JESSICA James, played by Jessica Williams (Booksmart, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), still believed she could be a playwright. She just needed to convince people of it. With Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, Love After Love) as Boone, LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, The Photograph) as Damon, Noel Wells (Mr. Roosevelt, Master of None-TV) as Tasha and Zabryna Guevara (Marley & Me, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Mrs. Phillips; this film festival nominee at first glance appeared to be a typical rom-com movie. However, the casting of Jessica and Chris turned this story into something new and fresh; I thoroughly enjoyed these 2 actors’ performances. The interactions between them was fun to watch, which made this viewing easier to sit through for me. The script had its predictable parts at times, but again due to the writing and delivery of the dialog, I did not mind how the story was playing out. The added benefit in seeing this picture was seeing a little of my old self make an appearance; gratefully only a short appearance.
2 ½ stars
THE QUESTIONING DIED DOWN AFTER A short time. It was a good thing since it was starting to annoy me. I had a friend who on the surface was a complete opposite of me; several of my friends would keep asking me why I was friends with him. I realized he came across as gruff to some people, with an air of indifference. Between the two of us we were different politically and religiously. We were complete opposites when it came to exercise and healthy food choices. Where I tried to exercise 5-6 days a week, he never did any physical activity where he would have to exert himself. In fact, the last time he actually exercised was back when he was a student in high school, where it was a mandatory requirement. I could see why my friends would think the two of us had nothing in common; however, they never took the time to really get to know him like I had done. Now granted, I did not push for all of us to get together and hang out. I do not know if you do this with your friends; but I tend to get together with my friends either on a one to one basis or in small groups. When there is a large group, I feel I do not get to catch up completely with friends’ lives. Also, the larger a group the more chances there will be personality conflicts. THOUGH IT APPEARED THERE WAS NOTHING in common between this friend and me; we got along great. There was a deep, sweet kindness inside of him that many people never got to see because they could not get past his abrupt manners. That was one of the things I liked about him; he would tell it like it is without soft-pedaling any of it. We would have these lengthy, philosophical conversations about a variety of topics that were stimulating to me. We did not always agree on things; but the key was both of us respected the other’s opinions. Neither him nor I had to accept each others’ opinions, but we both had respect for them. Not that I want to paint this perfect picture of two friends totally in synch, because there were times we got on each other’s nerves. The key to a successful friendship, at least according to me, is to be respectful, loyal and unconditional. One cannot pick out the pieces we like in a friend and discard the rest; they must accept their friend unconditionally and simple love them. If you care to see how this works, then feel free to watch this film festival nominated, comedic drama. WITH ONE NEIGHBOR LIVING ABOVE THE other, both men fell into a friendship that had its routines. That is until one of the neighbors was given hard medical news about his health. With Mark Duplass (Creep, The One I Love) as Michael, Ray Romano (The Big Sick, The Irishman) as Andy, Christine Woods (Stray, Adult Interference) as Doctor Hagen, Jen Sung (The Happytime Murders, Battle of the Damned) as Master Liu and Sierra Fisk (Piranha 3DD, The Concessionaires Must Die!) as Olive; this movie had a slow start. Not that this was entirely a bad thing because the acting between Mark and Ray was so solid, I was able to connect to the two neighbors during this slow part. The last half of the film made up for the beginning part. I felt the story and the script was done in a real and believable way that made the scenes convincing to me. The humor was gentle, never looking to create belly laughs for the viewer. In a way, I found the ending treated the subject matter in an authentic way that was touching and loving. And that was the beauty in watching this picture; one did not need to have experienced such a scenario to be moved by it.
NO MATTER WHAT TOOK PLACE, THE one thing you could not do was cry. At least that is what was instilled into every boy in school. Not that I remember someone ever telling me that exactly, but I learned right away after one tear broke free from my eye and slid down my face. The teasing and name calling started immediately before I could get up from the ground. I was not sure if I was purposely tripped while running in the schoolyard; but I fell face forward onto the asphalt, ripping my pants and scraping off the skin of my knees and the palms of my hands. If someone asked if I was okay, I did not hear them through the laughter. I did not take it personally since the same thing happened to anyone who fell. Though if you were a girl you did not get teased about crying. How or why that distinction took place, I had no idea; it was just acceptable or maybe it was tolerated better if a girl was crying instead of a boy. One of the worst labels a student could get was being called a “crybaby.” Getting that label would put you on a quick path to being known as a sissy, at least amongst the boys. FROM THE EARLY TRAINING THAT TOOK place in elementary school, many boys grew a veneer of toughness. Some of the male students tried out for a sports team, figuring what they lacked in striking an opposing stature would be filled in with their athleticism. For those of us who wouldn’t or couldn’t compete in sports, we were left to fend for ourselves. A disconnect grew between those boys who were successful in portraying a tough exterior and those who chose not to or could not display toughness which by the way translated into manliness. Growing up in that kind of environment made me feel like something was wrong with me. By the time I made it to college, I found myself feeling more comfortable around female students than male. What drove this home for me was when I went to a fraternity’s open house during orientation week. Their house was this old Georgian style home with two white pillars that framed the front doorway. Going on a tour of the house, I heard about the history of the fraternity and its illustrious achievements in sports and community outreach. I do not know how to say this, but all the talking points I was hearing had competitive undertones that turned me off quickly. It seemed to me they were only interested in accepting those students who could display a “macho” exterior; something I sorely lacked. After watching this film festival nominated drama, I am so glad I never tried to be a pledge. HOPING TO SUCCEED WHERE HIS FATHER failed, college freshman Zurich, played by Trevor Jackson (Superfly, Eureka-TV), was determined to survive his chosen fraternity’s hell week, no matter what he was expected to do. With Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Unlocked) as Frank, DeRon Horton (Dirt, Dear White People-TV) as Square, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Annabelle) as Professor Hughes and Steve Harris (The Rock, The Practice-TV) as Dean Richardson; there were times when I felt I was actually watching pledges during hell week. The acting was cohesive among the cast which made there trials more realistic. I thought the script was decent; however, I wished the writers would have dug deeper into the students’ mentality and backgrounds. There was a level of predictability to the story; yet, I had to wonder how true the hazing incidents were being inflicted on the pledges. Maybe because I do not define masculinity in the same way as these fraternity brothers did; but they certainly proved I made the right decision when I chose not to pledge a fraternity when I was back in college.
2 ½ stars
WALKING INTO THE SHOP, I WAS immediately hit with the smoky smell of burning incense. There was the soft sound of a small bell or chime tinging at random intervals. The middle of the store had a few free-standing bookcases; leaning up against the walls were shelves filled with a cornucopia of crystals, rocks and oils or lotions. My friend convinced me to go with him to this shop. Honestly, I did not know whether to call it a bookstore, rock shop or coffee shop; since there were a few tables and chairs huddled around a short counter, that had a coffee machine and filled pitchers resting on top of it. I did have to give him the exact time of my birth, down to the minute and time zone. When I asked him why, he told me he wanted us to go see an astrologer/psychic, who needed this information before he would sit with us. I was okay giving this a try, to see what they would say about me. My friend walked over to a man reading a book, sitting behind a glass case. He told the employee about our scheduled appointment and the man nodded his head towards an entryway that had strings of rainbow-colored beads hanging across it. We walked through, entering a dimly lit space. A PLAINLY DRESSED OLDER MAN CAME up and introduced himself to us. He asked for our names then wanted to know which one of us wanted to get our reading first. Before I could say anything, my friend volunteered me to go first; I did not object. The man led me to a 2ndroom that was better lit and had a round table in the middle with a white tablecloth covering it. Sitting down, the man pulled what looked like a folded map from a box on the floor next to him. He started unfolding it so he could press it out on top of the table. I saw my name written in a corner and a large circle drawn in the middle; it looked like a partially built bicycle wheel. The man did not waste any time as he immediately began telling me that the timing of my birth was unique. For the time I sat with this man, I was given a lot of information. For example, he told me I was a true Scorpion who had strong likes and dislikes. I was a loyal friend but if trust ever got broken, I would completely cut the person out of my life because once trust was broken it could never be completely repaired. There was a lot to take in, in such a short time. I would have enjoyed knowing what Walter Mercado would have said about Scorpions to compare the two, if I had only known about him. For those not familiar and those who are, you can now learn about him in this film festival documentary. AT A YOUNG AGE WALTER MERCADO was different. It started when someone saw him bring a bird back to life. Directed by Cristina Costantini (Science Fair, Awakening: After Parkland) and Kareem Tabsch (The Last Resort, Dolphin Lover), this movie was a loving tribute to Walter. As I said, I had never heard of him; but as I watched this film, I was amazed and fascinated with Walter’s life. From humble beginnings, Walter looked at things differently and certainly did not conform to standard perceptions. I enjoyed seeing the reactions from his fans, especially the scenes that included Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns, Hamilton) and Eugenio Derbez (Instructions not Included, Overboard). The story had elements of sadness, fun and joy that were complimented by the tight editing between archival footage, animation and interviews. At first glance, I would have said Walter was a real character; however, seeing this film and hearing about his story made me appreciate the things he was trying to do. Hugely popular for years, I now wish I could have heard him tell me about my horoscope. There were multiple scenes that had Spanish dialog with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
IF I DO NOT KNOW AT LEAST several guests at a social function, I feel like I am walking into uncharted territory filled with landmines. It is best to keep one’s guard up when attending such affairs, I have found. The reason I feel this way did not suddenly happen after attending one party; it took my going to several parties and experiencing the full force of passive aggressive guests before I came to this conclusion. Please hear me out before you reach a conclusion. When I do not know people at a party, I tend to be more reserved. I will circulate through the guests before I find a spot that I can claim for myself. As the evening progresses I will either strike up a conversation or a guest will come up to me. During our conversation, the person I am talking to will make an offhanded comment about another guest they tell me they know, maybe about something they are wearing or their physical features. I have learned when someone is expressing a negative comment about someone who is a stranger to you, they are trying to lay some type of groundwork to win you over to their “side.” Do not ask me why this happens but some people feel the need to win over total strangers as some kind of support while they are holding a grudge or feud with the individual. Maybe it is something about “strength in numbers;” I just don’t know. IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS THESE encounters at parties are not a big deal to me because more than likely I will never see these individuals again. However, it is a whole different ballgame when situations like this take place at one’s new place of business. Yuck, it is challenging to walk into a work environment where employees have chosen sides and you are the new neutral country in the middle of their war. The more vigilant employees will use every opportunity to tear down the employee they do not like, by making little comments to you about them. I used to sit next to someone at a job where every day I would have to listen to them make a snide remark about a fellow employee’s work or hygiene or mannerisms or some other such thing; it was exhausting for me. I had no opinion one way or the other; so, my defense was to simply respond with one-word exclamations, like “oh” or “really.” My philosophy was to let their talking go in one ear and out the other; I would form my own opinions. This is something I was trying to do while listening to all the hotel guests in this dramatic, crime mystery. HIRED TO FIND OUT HOW A millionaire received a fake jewel Detective Hercule Poiret, played by Peter Ustinov (Death on the Nile, Logan’s Run), found himself on a small island where a dead body showed up. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Daphne Castle, James Mason (A Star is Born, North by Northwest) as Odell Gardener, Nicholas Clay (Excalibur, Zulu Dawn) as Patrick Redfern and Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones-TV, The Painted Veil) as Arlena Stuart Marshall; this film festival nominee’s story was based on Agatha Christie’s novel. Just knowing that will tell you what you are in store for when watching this movie. The cast was eclectic and fun to watch; I enjoyed all the characters, especially the ones of Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg. With such a large cast there were several story lines to follow, but it was easy to do so. Out of the different movies made from Agatha Christie’s novels, I found this screenplay slightly tamer with several bland scenes. The setting was great, the actors were well versed; I only wished there was more suspense and dramatic flair. Still, I enjoyed trying to figure out who committed the crime.
SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS DO NOT UNDERSTAND why I don’t hang up the phone on unsolicited sales calls. I, in turn, ask them why they must be so mean to the people who are making these calls. These people are just trying to make a living, I tell them. When I get one of these calls, I do not let the person go through their whole prepared sales pitch; I tell them thank you, but I am not interested, ending by saying, “Have a good day/night.” If the person persists, I then tell them I am out of work so cannot afford to do anything extra. This white lie always stops the person from going on with their monolog. The reason I do this is because I do not know any of these people and their stories. They may hate what they do but are doing the work for a good reason, like paying for school or medical bills. Because I know I would hate making all those calls, I feel why should I be mean to them when I can just say no thank you and good luck. It is no hard sweat off of me. Besides, I feel people make choices; they could have easily chosen an illegal activity to make money instead of a steady job. So, I commend them for what they are doing to survive in this world. I WOULD RATHER DEAL WITH THOSE sales call people than with an unhappy employee. There is nothing that annoys me more when shopping than dealing with an employee who obviously is miserable and hating their job. I walk into a big box retail store and cannot find an item. Stopping an employee by saying “excuse me” and they do not acknowledge me right away, continuing to stock a shelf or look at their electronic device, drives me crazy. Or how about walking up to the customer service counter and seeing an employee with their elbow on the counter, resting their head in their hand; doesn’t that look inviting to you? I tangled with a checker at the grocery store once who argued with me regarding an item that wasn’t ringing up for the advertised sale price. Add in that I had a coupon and they tried to tell me I could not use it and I almost went ballistic. One of my big pet peeves is employees who are not properly trained and do not know the company’s procedures. With a sour look on their face that expresses their hatred for their job, why do I need to be the recipient of their angriness? If they do not like what they are doing, then they should try finding a different job. The main character in this film festival nominated movie decided he did not want to do what he was doing anymore; if you wish, see what he did in this action, crime drama. AGREEING TO DO ONE LAST JOB for his boss; Roy, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, Leave No Trace), was lucky he did not follow his boss’ instructions and decided to bring a gun with him anyway. With Elle Fanning (The Beguiled, Maleficent franchise) as Rocky, Jeffrey Grover (Dark Waters, Take Shelter) as Dr. Finelli, Christopher Amitrano (The Land, Sharkskin) as Jay and C.K. McFarland (Blind Fury, Beatdown) as Nancy; the story in this movie was a slow burn. Ben and Elle were excellent with their acting; I found them believable and intense in their own way. The script dragged in parts through the first half of the story. Luckily the acting and directing kept me following the characters. By the 2ndhalf of the film things seemed to go faster, especially coming up to the ending. I would have liked more back story to Ben and a little more variance in the drama level that stayed close to center a good portion of the time. Still, the performances and look of the film kept me engaged. And after watching this movie, I cannot say I had a horrible boss.
2 ½ stars
HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SOME PASSENGER side auto mirrors have the warning “OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” written on them? I always appreciated the warning and wish that warning would be written on many consumer products. I recently bought skin cream that looked like it was large enough to warrant the higher price. When I got home and opened it, I discovered half of the box size was added packaging. The bottle I took out, I kid you not, was the size of a kiwi; its box was the size of an energy drink can. I was not happy because first, the product was so small for the price and second, the packaging was wasteful and unnecessary; not all of it was even recyclable. This is why I wish that warning would be placed on stuff like this. How many times have you bought a packaged food item like a frozen meal or box of cookies, and when you opened it the stuff inside did not look like the picture on the front of the package? Don’t you find it annoying? And it is funny, when I bought the skin cream, on a friend’s recommendation; I thought the box was too light when I lifted it off the rack. I should have gone with my gut feeling that something was not right, that things did not appear, as they seemed. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I GONE AHEAD and done something even though my gut feeling was warning me? The only thing I can say about it is I am grateful I pay more attention to it now than when I was younger. It comes down to trust I believe; one needs to have the confidence to trust their instincts/feelings and act upon them. I remember a friend of mine who introduced me to their new boyfriend and I immediately got a negative vibe from him. As it turned out, my friend soon discovered what I had felt about the guy a few months prior wound up being accurate. The relationship soon ended after the boyfriend’s true self came out. We talked about the boyfriend afterwards and I found out my friend had gotten a weird vibe when they first met, but did not act upon it. My friend thought they had to be mistaken and did not trust their instincts. See? What did I tell you; it comes down to having confidence and that is something not everyone gets automatically. As an example, today’s film had such an interesting title and description that I decided to take a chance by watching it. FOR DECADES THE TIBETAN MONK WITH NO NAME, played by Yun-Fat Chow (The Replacement Killers; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has been protecting the sacred scroll. Seeking out someone worthy enough to replace him, the monk had a feeling about the man who picked his pocket. This film festival nominated action comedy also starred Sean William Scott (American Pie franchise, Role Models) as Kar, Jaime King (Sin City franchise, White Chicks) as Jade, Karel Roden (The Bourne Supremacy, Orphan) as Strucker and Victoria Smurfit (The Beach, About a Boy) as Nina. This fantasy film had an interesting title and premise. I enjoyed Yun-Fat Chow’s role the most but overall I felt this picture was a fantasy wannabe. The humor stayed mostly on the low end of the spectrum, as the special effects were dated. On the other hand this story came across as a hodgepodge of snippets from other movies; so, in a way the story was silly enough that made watching it easier for me. If we did not have a stay at home order in place, I do not know if I would have even reviewed this film. But I will tell you, I had nothing else going on so sitting and watching it was not the worse thing I had done all week. My gut feeling was correct about this fantasy film.
1 ¾ stars — DVD
IT WAS ONLY ONE FLASH OF light that caught my attention, but it opened up my eyes to a whole world of beauty. I was walking towards the garage when a millisecond of bright light appeared between 2 ornamental bushes. I was sure I had seen it despite its brief appearance in what appeared to be midair. The plants were a recent addition to my backyard, both seemed to be taking nicely to their parcel of land. I walked over to the bushes to see if there was something I had not noticed before. As I made my way across the lawn a slight breeze of air stirred up and that speck of bright light appeared once again. I walked up and like an apparition there was a large spider web that spanned the space between the 2 plants. It faded in and out depending on the breeze being able to push it into full sunlight. It was exquisite, looking like a fine piece of lace. Not wanting to disturb anything, I carefully stepped closer to get a better look. I had to squat down so the web would be at eye level; cocking my head slightly to view the web in front of a darker background, I saw tiny drops of moisture clinging to several strands of the web. It truly looked like a piece of art or an architect’s dream. UNNOTICED BY ME AT FIRST BECAUSE it was off to the side, closer to one of the bushes, perched a massive hairy looking spider. I stayed still as if I was playing a waiting game with it. There are friends of mine who would have freaked out upon seeing the spider; gratefully, they do not upset me. I look at spiders as the gatekeepers to my house, capturing loads of bugs to prevent them from entering my home. The spider did not move from its spot; only allowing the breezes to swing it slightly in the air, but it never once wavered from its spot. For some reason, I felt the garden had taken on a special allure. Here among the assorted plants and shrubbery there was a feat from one of Nature’s creatures, a latticework of silky luminous strands dotted with diamond chips of raindrops. If the sunlight had not hit the web at the exact time I was walking by, I might not have ever noticed I had a piece of art in my backyard. Part of me wanted to get a spray bottle of water to make more drops appear on the web; however, I decided not to and instead enjoyed the beauty that was in front of me. Part of this experience prepared me for the beauty that was found in this Oscar nominated, film festival winning biography. TIRED OF HIS SURROUNDINGS AND THE PEOPLE around him Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, played by Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), took the advice of a friend and moved out of Paris to be closer to nature. It was the best move of his life. With Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria, Homeland-TV) as Theo, Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, A Most Violent Year) as Paul Gauguin, Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Doctor Strange) as Priest and Mathieu Amairic (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Doctor Paul Gachet; this dramatic picture contained a stellar performance by Willem. I felt I was privy to the inner workings of van Gogh’s mind. Combined with the beautiful film shots and steady directing, this film’s story unfurled like a long, colorful pennant on a windy day. The whole cast perfectly fit their roles. If there was anything to question it would be the few scenes that dragged a bit; however, the dynamic acting coming out of Willem kept me invested in the story. I almost felt as if I was a visitor at an art gallery.
3 ¼ stars
NOTHING CAUSED ME MORE FEAR IN SCHOOL than having someone shout out that I threw like a girl. To get branded with those words would mean you were going to have an especially rough semester at school. I actually was pretty good in throwing a baseball, but I wasn’t so good when it came to playing basketball. Gratefully, I just passed under the radar whenever we would play basketball in PE class. There was always someone worse than me who would suffer the humiliation of getting the moniker for throwing like a girl. And once you were deemed with that label, no matter what you did in class afterwards was never truly appreciated by the other students. I recall at one point I wondered what the girls did in their PE classes to make fun of a student who was not proficient in a particular sport. Notice, I assumed the girls could be just as mean as the boys; I don’t honestly know why that was my way of thinking. There were a few girls in the school who were bullies. Based on the things I experienced, it was natural for me to think that anyone who showed a sign of weakness or inability would be an open target for verbal abuse. For boys, the quickest cut to another boy was telling him he was a sissy or acted like a girl. TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND NOW THROWING like a girl does not have the same connotation; too bad it took such a long time to evolve. Imagine how many boys could have been spared humiliation from their fellow classmates if they understood girls could throw a ball just as well as boys. I know a father who has a daughter who went to college on a scholarship because she was a top baseball pitcher in high school. During her summer vacation, she would attend baseball camp to perfect her pitches. Her Dad would update me on the locations she and her traveling teammates visited and how well she would do in the baseball game. There were a couple of times where she pitched a no-hitter. After hearing this, I wondered how many men would hope they could pitch as well as a girl? The question I would like to know is what is happening in the classroom? Has mankind expanded its thinking to the point where a male student is told he throws like a girl and the boy says thank you? NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES BEING told she could not compete with men Michelle Payne, played by Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies), knew in her heart she could compete with any man. She just needed someone to take her seriously. This dramatic sport film based on a true story caught my attention because of the movie’s title. With Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Paddy Payne, Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Darren Weir, Brooke Satchwell (Subdivision, Wonderland-TV) as Therese Payne and Magda Szubanski (The Golden Compass, Kath & Kim-TV) as Sister Dominique; this biographical story had some David and Goliath moments. Fundamentally the story’s arc was not that unusual; what sold me were Teresa’s performance and the action scenes. What was missing for me was seeing more back-story to the Payne family. The scenes that involved the siblings seemed ripe for a further in-depth look at the family. I never really got a sense on where Michelle got her drive. Despite my concerns, knowing this film festival nominated picture was based on a true story made the viewing of it more engaging for me. Also, seeing what Michelle went through to do what she loved was inspiring to me because I appreciated the fact that there essentially should be no preference for a woman or man to try and reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
2 ¼ stars
IT WAS ODD TO BE SITTING AT the wedding reception and seeing a different groom from what I expected. After dating a man for several years and having a tragic breakup, my friend met a man and decided to get married after a couple of months of dating. I never got the chance to meet him before the wedding. Having hung out with my friend and her previous boyfriend for the past years; suddenly now, I had to put all those memories and feelings aside to start out fresh with this new person who was a stranger to me. I had to hold up my end of the conversation while editing my thoughts, before they could be spoken out loud; so, I would not mention something from my friend’s past that included her old boyfriend. Without receiving any cues from her I did not know what was okay to say; I thought it would be best to be cautious and keep the talk light between us. I found myself from time to time over the course of the reception looking over at the newlyweds. Expect for being just as tall as her past boyfriend, I saw nothing else in common between the husband and ex-boyfriend. I knew there would be a learning curve until I would come to understand what made the husband tick. INTRODUCING A NEW PERSON INTO THE MIX is something that produces a bit of anxiousness in me. Whether I am the one or someone else is bringing in the new person, I immediately feel my guard going up as I survey the social landscape. If I am the one introducing someone to my friends and family, I spend a portion of my time wondering how people are reacting to the person I brought with me. Will they like him/her, will they get their sense of humor, will they tease them; these are things I think about as I make my introductions. This brings to mind the story I heard about the son who brought their girlfriend home to meet his family and the father, who was running late, came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist from showering, to say hello to the new girlfriend. I guess everyone reacts differently to being introduced to someone, especially when they know the new person may become part of their family. From all the stories I have heard and the times I have been involved in these “meet and greets,” I have never experienced what the people in this dramatic horror thriller went through when a new person became part of the mix. WITH RAW EMOTIONS PRESENT OVER THE breakdown of their parents’ marriage, the children were going to face the introduction of someone new into their family. This person was famous due to a tragic event. With Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Richard, Alicia Silverstone (Batman & Robin, Who Gets the Dog?) as Laura, Riley Keough (American Honey, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Grace, Jaeden Martell (It franchise, Knives Out) as Aidan and Lia McHugh (Along Came the Devil, American Women-TV) as Mia; there were elements to this picture that made me think the story would provide some scary thrills. First there was the filming of it; I liked the starkness to many of the shots and scenes. Next, Riley and Jaeden were the standouts for me with their acting. My issue with this film involved the script. Once again, decent elements but nothing tied up well with the script. I felt the story went nowhere and dragged at times. Plus, I am not a fan of open-ended stories; where the viewer doesn’t know if something is real or imaginary. Usually when I get introduced to someone, I learn something new. I left this film not sure what I had seen.
1 ¾ stars