DURING MY SPACE EXPLORATIONS I DISCOVERED planets far from earth that were inhabited by peaceful beings. The inhabitants of one planet did not walk; they were able to float above the ground effortlessly. Everyone was dressed in a similar fashion with a long, flowing robe-like outer coating that refracted light to form a non-stop palette of colors. I considered their heads to be egg shaped with large dark eyes and no hair. Because they were a peaceful race, there were a couple of other species from other planets that wanted to conquer them. Due to this threat the peaceful ones, as I called them, had to build up their defenses. I was in charge of the space ships that in actuality were different writing pens I collected; however, they were able to shoot out death rays from the tips. The pocket clip part of the pen is where the captain and their crew flew the ship, so I addressed my warnings to that part of the pen. I could spend hours flying my pens through the house as they took on evil forces, defending their home planet. Sometimes I had to fly through space dust or debris which was the mist from a can of air freshener. IT WAS NOT UNTIL MY HIGHER LEARNING days that I paid more attention to space. Oh and of course Star Trek and Star Wars pushed me into that direction. To this day I enjoy science fiction/fantasy movies and books. I feel a certain connection to them because they have always presented a different reality to the dark one I was experiencing at times. Within science fiction stories it seemed as if a planet was being threatened, all the inhabitants would come together to defeat the threat. There was something about having diverse beings coming together that I found attractive. At the time, I did not realize it was what I was wishing for in my reality. Feeling like an outsider or just different growing up, the idea of an all accepting society fascinated me. I think that is why when I was a kid fantasizing about space I always had planets filled with peaceful beings. Add in the story lines from Star Trek and I was sure there was a safe haven somewhere in space. It is funny that a few of my friends to this day can tell when I am spacing out and the reasons for it. None of my fantasies however had the type of intensity that I saw in this dramatic, biographical space film. IN A RACE WITH THE SOVIET Union to achieve glory in space, the United States embarked on a radical idea that had never been done before. It would take a certain type of person to be a part of what could become an event of historical proportions. This film festival nominated movie starred Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, La La Land) as Neil Armstrong, Claire Foy (Breathe, Unsane) as Janet Armstrong, Jason Clarke (Everest, The Man with the Iron Heart) as Edward Higgins White, Kyle Chandler (Manchester by the Sea, Argo) as Deke Slayton and Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Den of Thieves) as Jim Lovell. The beauty of this film was the way the director allowed scenes to tell the story without dialog; some of the film shots were beautiful. Now add in the acting skills, especially form Ryan and Claire, and I for the most part was taken away by the story. There have been a variety of space films but for some reason I found the intensity of this one to be tangible. Everything felt authentic and real. Though my imagination made traveling to space an easy process, I got on board for this historical event, space story.
3 1/2 stars
THOUGH SHE APPEARED TO BE AN OLDER woman, I would never ask her age. She had been taking my yoga class for several weeks, bringing her own yoga mat and a bottle of water. Maybe I am stereotyping; but she had long gray hair pulled back into a ponytail that trailed halfway down her back, looking like a former hippie. Every week while I lead the class into warming up poses I provide a little distraction by listing celebrity birthdays for the week. One of the reasons I do this is to break the ice with any new participants who have that “new kid on the block” mentality, coming to class for the 1st time. I will ask the class if they know so-and-so, wait if anyone guesses what the celebrity did to make he/she famous, then reveal their age. So, this one week after I went through my list of celebrity birthdays, the older woman piped up it was also her birthday. I and the rest of the class wished her well. She then said she was happy to say she was 82 years old. I knew she was an older individual but honestly, I would never have guessed that was her age. She told us she loves yoga and has been doing it for decades; what an inspiration. I WAS JUST AS FORTUNATE IN the work world to have met people like that woman in my yoga class. They loved their job, so they stayed employed way past their retirement age. At one of the companies I worked at, the owner came to work every day. He was always busy and kept this up way into his 90’s. There certainly is some truth in finding something you love or are passionate about to feel successful. I had a relative who would always say they were not going to work, they were going to play because they enjoyed what they did at their job. You know how some people are married to their work; where all they think and talk about is their job? Well they do not necessarily love what they do; they have formed an identity for themselves based on their occupation. The individuals I have referred to each have their identity in tack; they just want to continue what they do because they love it. I feel this way about doing my movie reviews and hope I can continue doing them for a long time because they bring me such joy. The same thing can be said about the main character in today’s comedic, crime drama. FORREST TUCKER, PLAYED BY ROBERT REDFORD (The Natural, Truth); was good at what he did, besides getting immense joy out of it. The only downside was the consequences would be steep if he had a misstep. With Casey Affleck (A Ghost Story, The Finest Hours) as John Hurt, Sissy Spacek (The Help, Coal Miner’s Daughter) as Jewel, Danny Glover (Proud Mary, Back in the Day) as Teddy and Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths, Down by Law) as Waller; this film festival nominee was based on a true story and what a story! Rumor has it this will be Robert’s last acting role. If it is he at least can end his chapter on a high note with this role. It was such a treat to watch him and Sissy, two seasoned actors, play off each other. The story started out slow for me but continued building itself up to a point where I was enjoying watching the mixture of emotions that took place on screen. It was obvious Robert was having a good time doing this character since it came across fully. I must give everyone who worked on this film credit; this will sound cheesy but if there was any labor involved in the making of this picture it was a labor of love.
IF YOU ARE LIKE ME AS I believe many of you are in this respect, you don’t like spending your money on something that winds up not giving you satisfaction. I cannot tell you how many times I have read a glowing restaurant review, gone to the place and wound up disliking what I ordered. In this type of scenario, I am more disappointed than upset and willing to give them another try if everything else about the place was a positive experience. What annoys me to no end is buying some product that does not perform as advertised. Several years ago, I bought a bookcase I saw in a catalog. I knew I would have to assemble it, but I was willing to do it since it was exactly the style I wanted to get. When the box came I was surprised that it was not as heavy as I had expected it to be. Taking out the pieces to put together, I discovered the wood used was extremely light in weight, either some type of pressed board or plywood. As I was tightening one of the screws, it made a split in the wood I had to glue back together. To say I was upset would be an understatement. WHAT I FIND MORE TROUBLING IS the number of items being made today that are of a poorer quality. It is as if everyone is making disposable products that are not built to last. A friend of mine bought air filters; when he unpacked and tried to install them into his humidifier they did not fit. Somehow the dimensions were off rendering them useless. Another friend of mine bought a coffee table from a furniture store. The first time they delivered the table it had a crack in it. The 2ndtable they delivered had a stain on the marble and get this, customer service told her that it was just the natural colorization of the marble. They were not going to take the coffee table back until she threatened to get the Better Business Bureau involved, can you believe it?!?! With everything going up in price, it goes without saying, each of us expects to get something for our money. Even at the grocery store, I use the store’s app that is supposed to automatically discount certain items when they get scanned at the checkout counter. More times than not it doesn’t discount the item; I then must go to customer service to have them refund me the difference. I should have done the same thing and asked for a refund at the movie theater, when I saw this action, crime comedy film. WHEN PERSONAL EMAIL ACCOUNTS ARE GETTING hacked and exposed for all to see, the townsfolk band together to look for the culprit. They wanted to administer their own version of justice. This film festival nominated movie starred Odessa Young (Looking for Grace, The Daughter) as Lily, Hari Nef (Mapplethorpe, Transparent-TV) as Bex, Suki Waterhouse (Insurgent, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Sarah, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, For Colored Girls) as Nance and newcomer Abra as Em. On some level I believe I understood what the writers were trying to do with this story. I could see where they were making a statement about mob mentality, obsessions, electronic dependence and a generation’s culture; but, the presentation in this film was excruciating to watch. Maybe this was a dark, comedic satire but because I lost interest as the story unfolded I did not care. There was blood and violence that turned me off further. I saw some advertisements that mentioned this film is in the same vein as Heathers and The Purge; I wish I could purge my memory of this picture and get my money back.
1 ½ stars
I DO NOT KNOW HOW IT happens, but I almost consider it a strange phenomenon that takes place between two people in a love relationship. Prior to forming their union, each of them was an independent adult with their own livelihood and own place to live. What takes place does not happen quickly but over time, where one of them takes on the identity of the other. In my experiences I have noticed more women doing it instead of men. I have been told that people in a long-term relationship start to look like each other, but I am not referring to this. What I have discovered is the wife or husband starts to lose the ability to have thoughts independent from their spouse. There is a woman I know who did this very exact thing. Prior to getting married she was not a prejudicial person or at least I thought not. She married a man who I knew had prejudices and in time she took on the same prejudices. Her speech changed where she started to quote her husband most of the time as a response to any conversation she was part of; it was the weirdest thing to me. It was as if her brain stopped functioning and she became a parrot, I am sad to say. THERE IS THAT SAYING ABOUT “OPPOSITES attract” and there is some truth to it. Personally, I believe a thriving relationship needs both similarities and diversity. I simply do not understand how a person relinquishes the things that are part of their make-up and live in the shadow of their partner. Think about the cliché “Behind every man is a strong woman.” This is true, but I wish to add it can also be reversed where the strong one is the man. I know a couple where the wife is in the forefront while the husband takes care of things in the background. Since I have a strong personality I have always been most comfortable with someone who is similar. I will never forget this one relationship I had to end because they started to take on my likes/dislikes and preferences; let me tell you it was freaky. All I am saying is I find it odd when this phenomenon or maybe I should say personality trait takes place with one person in a relationship. If you want to see a fascinating example, then feel free to watch this film festival nominated drama. HAVING SUPPORTED HER HUSBAND’S CAREER her whole life Joan Cattleman, played by Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Albert Nobbs), was on the verge of seeing his ultimate success, becoming a recipient of the Nobel Prize. The event would offer more than prize money to them. With Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies, Glengarry Glen Ross) as Joe Castleman, Christian Slater (True Romance, Mr. Robot-TV) as Nathaniel Bone, Max Irons (The Host, Woman in Gold) as David Castleman and Elizabeth McGovern (Once Upon a Time in America, Downton Abbey-TV) as Elaine Mozell; this movie’s strength was all due to the acting between Glenn and Jonathan. They were so good together that it made up for the porous script. I enjoyed the story but found some events taking place without much backstory. They were great for drama but almost seemed out of the blue. If it wasn’t for the acting I may have had a different experience watching this picture. Glenn had such penetrating screen presence there were times I felt I was feeling her smolder. Oh, and I will say I found the ending a bit too convenient. But despite my complaints I still stayed engaged all the way to the end of the story, even though I never had such an experience in my relationships.
I WAS RECENTLY TOLD ABOUT A man who came home one day to find a note left by his wife on the kitchen table. Written on the piece of paper were the words, “I can’t do this anymore.” That is all that she had written. He looked around the room and everything seemed to be in its place. After checking the rooms on the first floor of their house he nervously walked upstairs to the bedrooms. Each one was empty; he could not understand what was going on. The only clue that was provided to him was the closet door in their bedroom was ajar. He walked over to it and saw some of her clothes were hanging up, but there were a lot of empty hangers on the clothes rack. She must have left he thought, so he walked out of the bedroom to check the utility closet where they kept their luggage stored and saw a piece was missing. His mind simply went numb; he had no idea why his wife suddenly picked up and left him. He tried calling her cell phone, but a recorded message said it was now an invalid number. This was just crazy he thought; there was no sign or even discussions about being unhappy in their 22 years of marriage. He had no idea how he was going to tell his two adult children that their mother had disappeared. THE STORY I JUST TOLD YOU actually took place and in case you were wondering the wife eventually did call her husband to apologize for leaving him that way. However, she did want a divorce. When this story was told to me I could not believe someone who had been married for all those years could do such a thing to their spouse. There is nothing worse than not getting an explanation for someone’s actions. What I was curious about was why the wife waited so many years to make a change. I did not think she just suddenly became unhappy in the relationship, right? Wouldn’t you have thought if she was unhappy she would talk to her husband or at least a therapist at some point, instead of staying married for all those years? There was a term a professor of mine used to use in my college sociology class; it was “holy deadlock.” It meant the couple stayed together for financial or religious reasons as an example despite not wanting to be in the relationship. This dramatic comedy can show you an example of it. WHAT STARTED OUT AS AN EMAIL became the catalyst for what Annie, played by Rose Byrne (Peter Rabbit, This is Where I Leave You), had been missing for a long time. This film festival nominee also starred Ethan Hawke (First Reformed, Maudie) as Tucker Crowe, Chris O’Dowd (Molly’s Game, The Program) as Duncan, Jimmy O. Yang (Crazy Rich Asians, Patriots Day) as Elliot and Azhy Robertson (Furlough, The Americans-TV) as Jackson. What set this romantic comedy apart from others I have seen was the script. The usual silly jokes and stereotypical situations were not included; the writers let the actors play in the real world. I thought the acting between Rose an Ethan was honest and real, a bit magical in fact. Add in Chris’ great sense of timing and facial expressions and the three of them were wonderful to watch. Now there were some parts of the movie that dragged slightly for me, along with a couple of scenes that seems uncompleted; however, it was a pleasure to witness people dealing with what life had to give them. This movie spoke to me and I appreciated it.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON’S THIRD LAW states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I would add: And some of the reactions come with consequences. As I thought about the next sentence I was going to write, I want to preface it by saying I am embarrassed. However, upon further consideration I decided I am not going to be embarrassed; I am simply stating how I feel about certain things. So here goes; I take pleasure in seeing someone getting their just dues. For example, a driver who cuts me off and speeds away, getting stopped by a police officer who gives the driver a speeding ticket. Or I love at the supermarket when a shopper starts walking faster to get ahead of me in line to check out and winds up getting stuck by the shopper in front of them who needs a price check on an item. Because they ran ahead of me I went to a different line and wound up getting checked out before them. It is little things like this that makes me believe in karma. My only hope is that those selfish individuals learn from their actions; but from how many times I still witness such behavior, I do not think the lesson gets taught. ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE stories is about a friend of mine who took such rude behavior to the next level. He was a big, brawny guy who could appear imposing to people. In a parking lot if a driver sneaked into a parking spot he was waiting for, he would pull right up behind the driver and park his car to block them into the spot. The driver would jump out to yell until they got a look at him. He on the other hand would calmly stare and tell them because they took the spot he was obviously waiting for, they could now sit and wait for him to finish his shopping. Or they could apologize, get back into their car, and he would move to let them out to go find a different parking place. Every person my friend did this to always chose the apology option. I wish I had the guts to do such a thing; but since I do not come across as a “tough” guy, I must take satisfaction in believing a rude person will get their “just desserts.” In the meantime, I at least can take pleasure in seeing justice being done in this action, crime thriller. WHEN A TRAGEDY STRIKES CLOSE to home Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington (Fences, The Magnificent Seven), comes out of his quiet existence to contact his old partner Dave York, played by Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, The Adjustment Bureau). Problem is, Dave thought Robert was dead. This film festival nominee also starred Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, Straight Outta Compton) as Miles Whittaker, Bill Pullman (Lake Placid, Independence Day franchise) as Brian Plummer and Orson Bean (Being John Malkovich, Innerspace) as Sam Rubinstein. As far as I was concerned this movie did exactly what I expected it to do; it was a good people vs bad people story. Denzel was excellent as Robert which was the first time he ever reprised a character. If you have not seen the previous film or television show this picture is based on, it is okay. The story was simple and to the point. I thought the action scenes were terrific, especially one that took place in a car sharing ride. Though the script was predictable, I was surprised by the twist in it. If you are so inclined in watching justice being served, this is the film to watch as Denzel delivers it.
2 ½ stars
THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO thrive on experiencing things that are fresh and new. It can be anything across the board from electronic devices to food. I, myself, enjoy trying new food items; though I must preface it by saying as long as the food falls into one of my acceptable categories. I have mentioned before I am a marketer’s dream because I am willing to try a new type of potato chip or ice cream. On the other hand, I could not care less if my car has the newest hi-tech gadgets; I tend to drive my cars until they die, hopefully after a long life of mileage. There was a relative of mine who had to have a new and fully loaded car every year; that was their thing. A friend of mine, on a yearly basis, would clean out their closet and replace it with that year’s latest fashions. The amount of clothes they donated to charity was astronomical. My final example is a couple of friends that absolutely amaze me. They are willing to try any food and food combination; the more exotic the better. Where I find something I like at a restaurant and order it each time, they will constantly order something different each time. You would not believe what has gone into their mouths. WHEN IT COMES TO MOVIES, I enjoy seeing something that has not been told before. Now granted there are a lot of films that have similar themes; but the writers added a twist to them that I appreciated. As you know as long as the picture entertains me I am cool with it. You probably have noticed many of my reviews will mention how the story is predictable; it is something I have seen before. If the writers did nothing new to it I wind up getting bored. I cannot tell you how often this happens to me; in fact, a member in one of my classes asked me why I just don’t leave the theater before the movie ends. This is something I never do or could ever do. If I am going to review a film then I need to see it from beginning to end. Where I have friends who only want to see a certain genre of films; I see pretty much anything, more so now that I review them. Also, I will travel far distances if there is a movie I want to experience that is not playing anywhere near me and that is exactly what I did to see this fantasy comedy. DISCOVERING A NEW-FOUND SUCCESS by changing the sound of his voice Cassius Green, played by Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Short Term 12), started his climb up the corporate ladder as a telemarketer, to the dismay of his friends. Set in an alternative time in Oakland this film festival nominee also starred Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Detroit, Jermaine Fowler (Superior Donuts-TV, Friends of the People-TV) as Salvador, Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, Free Fire) as Steve Lift and Omari Hardwick (For Colored Girls, The A-Team) as Mr __. Let me tell you I was impressed by first time writer and feature film director Boots Riley. This story was different and twisted in a satirical way. I enjoyed the irony and fantasy for the most part until the last portion of the movie. There were some “far out” scenes and towards the end they became lost on me. The message as far as I could tell I got, but the execution of it I found silly. If nothing else credit must be given to Boots Riley for doing something new; it worked for a majority of the story and I am all for individuals who are willing to take a risk on something new.
2 ½ stars
IF THERE IS SUCH A survey then I do not know about it. I am curious to see; when asked, how many children want to grow up and be like their parents? Back from my school days I remember reading a book that focused on parents who were toxic. Several of the families that were discussed in the book were shocking to me. There was a set of parents who had two sons. The older son committed suicide using a shotgun. For Christmas the following year, the parents gave their remaining son the same shotgun as a gift. What sort of message do you think that mother and father were trying to convey to their only remaining child? I still remember this example from all these years and have wondered from time to time whatever happened to that younger son. My guess would be he never wanted to grow up and be just like his parents. Now on the other hand, this past week I read that Heinrich Himmler’s daughter died recently. He was the architect of the Holocaust and she became known as the “Nazi Princess.” She denied the existence of the Holocaust, even after visiting a concentration camp. It sounds like she chose to grow up and be like her Dad. ANOTHER ASPECT ABOUT THE CHILD/parent relationship I find fascinating is the similar traits that get established. I am not talking about the physical features; my interest is in the mannerisms, such as speech patterns, movement and quirks. I knew a family that had 2 children. Assuming both kids were treated equally, only the older child had the same mannerisms as the father; the younger one had no similar traits to either parent. This makes me wonder if there is something genetic that scientists have not discovered yet. Of course, I have considered learned traits; but certain things show me that may not always be the case. I have wondered if a child who has the same tastes in food as a parent was trained to be that way or maybe they came to their own decisions based on their own taste buds. Possibly they received the same genes as their parent when it came to their perceptions of flavors. The whole parent/child relationship thing is such a minefield in many ways. It reminds me of this line I heard a psychiatrist say once, “Just because they birthed you does not mean you have to love them.” I certainly thought of this while watching this comedic drama. DUE TO HER FATHER BEING kicked out of his nursing home Laura, played by Vera Farmiga (The Commuter, Up in the Air) was forced to drive cross country to drop him off at her sister’s place. Little did she know there were going to be some unexpected stops. This film festival nominee starred Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind) as Jack Jaconi, Lewis MacDougall (A Monster Calls, Pan) as Henry, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future franchise, The Addams Family franchise) as Stanley and Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man, Blue Jasmine) as Leonard. The acting was good overall but Christopher’s was exceptional. I enjoyed the dynamics that were created between him and Vera in this story. There were a few powerful scenes between them. Unfortunately, the script did not provide something new to this estranged family story that I have seen done before. It was not too hard to figure out where the story was going most of the time. Adding in the repetitive scenarios of Laura being upset, I soon found myself getting periodically bored at times. This movie is proof that a family’s dysfunction can be handed down from generation to generation.
2 1/3 stars
THERE WAS ONLY ONE WAY TO describe him and that would be surly. You hear that word and imagine it refers to some gruff, mean-spirited man. I know it could also be a woman but I mostly have heard males being described this way. In any case, who I am referring to is a little boy. I know what you are thinking; how could a young child act like this already? Well I really do not have an answer for you. The only thing I could come up with is the child has a defiant personality. You may be familiar with such a child; whatever you ask or tell them they always will do the opposite. The boy I described earlier was such a child. No matter what you wanted him to do he would always do the opposite. If you asked him to tie his shoe, he would say no. If you asked him to smile for a photo, he would look away or stare blankly at the camera. It was quite annoying to say the least. At some point the child’s parents started saying the opposite thing they wanted to happen, so the boy would essentially do want they originally wanted him to do. I agree it was a bit twisted. SO YOU SEE THIS IS WHY I said there has to be some type of defiant issue a/k/a child/parent dynamics. Now I was not privy to the details about what took place behind closed doors; but I had to assume there had to be in some form an issue of dominance. Speaking about my childhood years, predominantly the teenage years, I kept my hair long for years just because I was constantly being told to cut my hair. I liked my hair but the reason being used for me to cut my hair was that it would look better; better for who I would reply. Maybe everyone goes through a stage growing up where they want to start to exert some independence. I totally understand it; but at some point, when do these remarks or should I say suggestions begin to be a power struggle? Can you imagine being told at say 30 years of age to wear your hair differently or change your makeup because the person would prefer you do it that way? I feel it is a test of dominance and if you want to see what I mean, then get ready to watch it in action in this film festival nominated drama. LIVING AT HOME AND FEELING like she was being taken for granted laid the groundwork for Moll, played by Jessie Buckley (War & Peace-TV mini-series, Rosamund Pilcher’s Shades of Love-TV series), to quickly become enamored with the recent stranger who came to town, who the citizens thought was a murderer. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Crusade of Jeans) as Pascal Renouf, Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes franchise, Calendar Girls) as Hilary Huntington, Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous, One Chance) as Clifford and Shannon Tarbet (A Promise, Virtuoso-TV movie) as Polly; the story took a little time to sink in with me. I will say I thought the acting was excellent in an intense way. Jessie and Geraldine really stood out for me. The story was this twisted suspense that drew me in by its uneasy feeling script. There were unexpected twists in the story that just made me enjoy this movie more. I also thought the writer did an excellent job of creating an atmosphere of doubt; both in the characters and viewers. One would be hard pressed not to place themselves in such a situation. This really was a fresh, thrill ride of a picture that was worth watching even if someone told you not to go see it.