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Flash Movie Review: The Favourite

BEING CHOSEN AS THE FAVORITE ONE does not necessarily make one’s life easier; the title can come with some pitfalls. At a previous job where I worked, there was an employee who was the favorite of the owner. Everyone at the company knew it. In fact, even if it was your first day you would soon realize this employee had a special relationship with the owner. Here is just one example of how the owner treated this employee differently than the others. During the holidays we used to receive a variety of gifts for the owner. He would always open these packages in his office, bringing out the shipping boxes for us to break down and recycle. I would say on the average he kept 75% of the gifts sent to him; the ones he did not, he would give to this employee right in front of the rest of us. Depending on what the item was, this employee would either leave it sitting on her desk (which used to annoy all of us) or take it out to her car to bring home. Not once did the owner offer a rejected gift to one of us. Now, I did not care whether I got a gift or not; but I, like everyone else around me, felt it was not fair and was certainly not a morale booster.      AS TIME PASSED SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES grew resentful of the “favorite” employee. When anyone would bring in a taste treat of food; if they were going around and offering pieces of it as opposed to putting it out in the kitchen, they would bypass this one employee. Actually, they would wait until the person was away from her desk then go around passing out their food items, so as to avoid the favorite one altogether. I could not say for certainty if this type of treatment was proper because as far as I knew it was not this employee’s fault. Now if there was something going on between the two of them, I had no knowledge. Let me say this though, it seemed from time to time she used her favorite role status to her advantage. For example, there was never a problem for her to leave early from work; but for the rest of us, the owner would always resist our requests while trying to make us change the day or the time, so we would not have to leave early. It came to a point where I just stopped thinking about it; it wasn’t worth the energy. And when I say energy this biographical, comedic drama will give you an idea of how much energy it takes to deal with such things.      USING HER POSITION AS THE QUEEN’S CONFIDANTE Lady Sarah, played by Rachel Weisz (My Cousin Rachel, Disobedience), enjoyed exerting her power over others. But that show of power could be quite enticing for anyone who wanted some of the same. This film festival winning movie starred Olivia Coleman (The Lobster, Hot Fuzz) as Queen Anne, Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes, Magic in the Moonlight) as Abigail, and James Smith (In the Loop, The Iron Lady) as Godolphin. I was so intrigued with this story that I had to do some research about Queen Anne. It quickly became apparent to me that the writers took a basis of facts and elaborated on it to funny extremes. The three actresses were dynamite with the conniving, the wickedness and humor of the script. As much as I enjoyed this aspect of the movie and its super acting, I felt some scenes were unnecessary. There were several that felt like they were added to give this picture an artistic flair; it only slowed the story down for me. All in all, I cannot say this will be a favorite of mine this Oscar season, but I still had a good time watching it.

 

3 stars

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Flash Movie Review: The Front Runner

NO MATTER WHERE ONE PLACES THE “BAR” there is always someone or something to cause it to be raised. Just look at the evolution of television. We started out with the Riccardo’s from I Love Lucy; they were not allowed to sleep in the same bed, despite being married to each other on the show and in real life. The censors would not approve them being filmed in the same bed. From that point in time there were a few television shows that had partial nudity if it was in the context of a documentary or historical event. The show that comes to mind is the mini-series Roots. Things took a bigger change in the 1990s when the TV shows “NYPD Blues” and “Once and Again” had episodes that contained nudity. For some viewers this was a big shock. Let me also add while this evolution was taking place there was another one going on that pertained to language. Scripts started showing up with slang and curse words in the dialog. I can still remember my shock hearing a TV character uttering a curse word; it took me by surprise even though I was a user of the word. Little did any of us know the explosion of nudity and swear words would be amplified upon the arrival of cable television.      HONESTLY, I HAVE NOT GIVEN IT A lot of thought, but I wonder if there might be a connection between this viewing evolution, which by the way has led to reality shows, to blurring the lines between personal and professional lives. The reason why I am bringing it up is from my observations on how people focus their attention on other people’s personal lives. Look at some of the reality shows where people are being filmed 24 hours a day or the dating and swapping partner shows; I have no interest in such things. Two things I learned growing up; first, curse words were just adjectives. Derogatory words about race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality were the “bad” words. Secondly, if no one is being hurt, held against their will or abused; I do not care what they do in their private life. This fascination with people’s personal lives is weird to me. With the aggressiveness of photographers and reporters, there evidently is a market to sell intimate stories about celebrities and such. People judging and making decisions essentially about strangers is a waste of time and money, in my opinion. The reason I have been pondering this is due to today’s biographical drama. As I was watching it, it occurred to me that the events in this film were the beginning of people’s obsession with other people’s personal lives.      APPEARING TO BE RIDING A WAVE OF popularity Senator Gary Hart, played by Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman, Eddie the Eagle), had his eyes set on the White House. A simple photograph would cause a detour in his campaign. This film festival winning movie also starred Vera Farmiga (Boundaries, The Commuter) as Lee Hart, J.K. Simmons (I’m Not Here, The Bachelors) as Bill Dixon, Mark O’Brien (Arrival, Bad Times at the El Royale) as Billy Shore and Molly Ephraim (Cricket, Last Man Standing-TV) as Irene Kelly. Set in the 1980s, what I found the most curious was the idea that Gary’s election campaign was the beginning of tabloid journalism. In fact, it was this aspect of the script I found the most interesting. I did not think the script otherwise was well written; it seemed as if events were broken down into cause and effect without much time spent on learning about the characters. I think a political junkie would enjoy this picture more than the average moviegoer. Maybe it is due to my disinterest in a person’s personal life, but I did not find this film very exciting, sordid details and all.

 

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Hate U Give

EACH OF US I BELIEVE CARRIES a daily pill box container inside of us. I can see each of those little squares holding a small aspect of our personality, those things that make us, us. Not in a split personality way, but I feel we all have different personas we need to wear depending on the situation. I know when I teach my class I am a different person than when I am a credit manager at work. In fact, there have been many people in my classes who are stunned when they hear I am a credit manager. It is funny because several of them said the same thing, that I seem too nice to be in that position. Think about it; when you accompany your significant other to one of their work functions, don’t you act a certain way? I am willing to bet most of you who do, are conscious of what you say and how you act in front of your loved one’s fellow employees and superiors. It always stuns me when an employee’s partner winds up stinking drunk and makes a scene in front of everyone.      NOW THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO act the same no matter what environment they occupy; damn anyone who doesn’t like the way they act. I used to be one of those people; I would say I was an extreme version of who I am now. There is this game where players must guess which answer you would choose for each scenario that gets presented to you. I had to stop playing because everyone knew exactly how I would react in each situation. I firmly believe everyone needs to be true to themselves. Where I used to make sure people knew I did not like them; now I can be civil and lessen my exposure to them if I can. I will not kid you, it takes some finesse. There just are some individuals who are not nice; feel free to put in any other adjective, since I erased them during my editing of this review. I am no longer an “in your face” type of person; however, if need be I have that aspect tucked inside of me. And that is what I meant about we have a pill box container inside of each of us. To show you an example, there is an incredible one inside of this film festival winning, crime drama.      AS THE SOLE WITNESS TO A SHOOTING Starr, played by Amanda Stenberg (The Darkest Minds, The Hunger Games), knew if she revealed herself people’s perceptions of her would forever change. She did not know if she was that strong to do such a thing. Also starring Regina Hall (Girls Trip, Scary Movie franchise) as Lisa Carter, Russell Hornsby (Fences, After the Sunset) as Maverick “Mac” Carter, Anthony Mackie (Captain America franchise, The Hurt Locker) as King and Issa Rae (A Bitter Lime, Insecure-TV) as April Ofrah; this movie took me away to another place. The story, which was completely current and important, blossomed with the well written script and amazing acting skills of the cast. Amandla would be someone to watch for because she was beautiful in her role. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the script went from a humorous spot to an intense moment, to finally end up in a thoughtful place. It felt as if the writers and director precisely dissected the story to present a complete picture to the viewer. Though the story may be something you have already seen on the news; I found this picture presented a different take on it and I am here to say my eyes were glued to the movie screen.

 

4 stars      

Flash Movie Review: Loving Pablo

IS A PERSON JUST BEING GOOD to you enough to have a relationship with them? I have always had a curiosity about the things that are important to a person seeking and being in a love relationship. One of the things that piqued my curiosity was seeing news reporters interviewing the love interest of a person who had recently committed a crime or was in an altercation. Hearing the girlfriend say her boyfriend has always been good to her after he had just been accused of bludgeoning a man to death was the oddest thing to me. Let us say it was true, that he was kind and respectful of her; is that all one needs to fall in love? There seems to be more similar examples currently than I can recall years ago. A husband is stunned when he finds out his wife has been embezzling money from her place of employment for years. Behind the husband and reporter, parked in the driveway of the couple’s house, was a brand new expensive car. I find it all bizarre; how can someone only focus on certain aspects of an individual and base their affection solely on those features? I know I cannot do it.      IN MY WORLD ACTIONS HAVE AS much importance as words; in other words, it is not just what a person says that will cement my feelings towards them. I think anyone can say anything and I have been in relationships where the person said things they knew would pull at my heart strings. And the words did; however, there were things they did that did not earn my trust. I had friends who had warned me, but you know how that goes; unless they are in your shoes, you feel your friends are not able to see the whole picture. It is funny because I have been in their place where I expressed my concerns about friends’ love interests. There was one person who was a user, who only cared about himself. Yes, he would do these sweet things for my friend that made her heart swell; but he had no empathy and was a cheapskate. If the opportunity came up where she asked me for my opinion I would tell her exactly what I thought. The one thing I would not do is tell her what she “should” do; I knew she would have to figure out what worked for her. Also, I remained respectful around him. My motto is, “I do not have to accept anything, but need to respect it.” And when it comes to this biographical crime film, no truer words have been spoken. If not, one could find themselves getting killed.      DESPITE BEING COLOMBIA’S MOST NOTORIOUS DRUG LORD there was something about Pablo Escobar, played by Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) that made journalist and anchorwoman Virginia Vallejo, played by Penelope Cruz (The Counselor, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), fall in love with him. It wasn’t long before everyone knew. This film festival winning action movie also starred Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie, The Magnificent Seven) as Shepherd, Julieth Restrepo (At the End of the Spectra, Moria) as Maria Victoria Henao and Oscar Jaenada (The Shallows, Cantinflas) as Santoro. It goes without saying that Javier and Penelope were a perfect match since they are married to each other. I enjoyed the two of them in this story and picked up a couple of things I did not know about Escobar. However, the script was too superficial; I would have preferred if the writers went deeper into the characters. Instead there were scenes of blood and violence which were expected, but I felt there had to be more to this story than what was shown.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Monsters and Men

THIS HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO, but I had a relative who was caught in the middle of a riot. He was a hands-on business owner, working at his store nearly seven days a week. I cannot remember the details if he knew there was going to be some type of trouble in the neighborhood or he simply got caught in the middle of the protesters, but he was working at the time the riots broke out. The protesters were throwing debris at storefront windows, overturning vehicles and setting fire to trash piles. He was afraid his store was going to get looted or worse, destroyed because he stocked alcoholic products. The store meant everything to him since it was his livelihood and the only thing he knew how to do. He made up his mind he would lock and barricade the doors, staying in the place until things calmed down. His family was distraught with the news when he called them; pleading with him to get out, but he refused. As far as he could see there was no one coming to calm the crowds down and he could not ask any of his employees to put themselves in danger by staying with him. He did not leave the store for three days.      ALL DURING THAT TIME THE ENTIRE family feared for his life. As far as any of us were concerned the people rioting were all bad and our relative was an innocent victim. I was too young to understand the reasons behind the crowds taking to the streets and damaging property. Looking back at that incident I realize two things: there had to be some legitimate reasons why people were angry and secondly, there were some individuals who saw an opportunity to wreak havoc in the neighborhood. When a violent act or tragedy takes place, people witnessing it may only see things at face value. They may not be interested with someone else’s concerns. Maybe that is part of the problem; it certainly seems more so these days from what I have seen and heard on the news. This may sound trite, but I find it so true; “You don’t know someone until you walk in their shoes.” Or what is that other saying that goes, “There are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.” With more and more people responding to disagreements/conflicts with anger, thinking the louder they shout the more they will be heard, it is no wonder the world seems more like a scary place. This dramatic, film festival winner reminded me there is more to a story than what one sees for themselves.      THE KILLING OF A BLACK MAN by a Brooklyn police officer affected more than those who knew the two men. Starring Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, White Girl) as Manny, John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Love Beats Rhymes) as Dennis, Kelvin Harrison Jr (The Birth of a Nation, It Comes at Night) as Zyric, Jasmine Cephas Jones (Blindspotting, Mistress America) as Marisol and Giuseppe Ardizzone (Boardwalk Empire-TV, Gotham-TV) as Officer Jim Gambini; I found the story gripping throughout the movie. This was writer and director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s first full length feature film and I found his script and direction new and fresh, considering the subject matter has been done before and is a current issue in society. I found the acting to be this raw realness that added to the tension I felt throughout the picture. This movie has the ability to allow the viewer to look at the bigger picture, pushing the boundaries beyond face value. Living near a city where violence occurs on a weekly basis, this story could have easily taken place here.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

BEING INQUISITIVE BY NATURE YOU CAN imagine how I must have felt when I saw for the first time a world globe. I spent time attempting to memorize the capital city of each country. My interest in other countries was sparked early on due to several of my friends having relatives in foreign places. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a couple of them during one of their visits to the states and was fascinated how the words they spoke had an accent. As time went on I found myself gravitating to conversations I heard when I was out and about, to guess where the person came from based on their accent. Whether it was an accent associated with a part of the US or one from a foreign land, I wanted to learn a few simple words from each place. Some of my friends tell me it is rude or demeaning to attempt to say a few words in a person’s native tongue, but I disagree. I feel not only can it be an icebreaker with a stranger, but it shows my interest in getting to know the individual. For this reason, I have learned greetings in several different languages.      NOT ONLY ARE THE WORDS IMPORTANT that we use, it is the way we say them. In my daily life I talk on the phone with many individuals from different parts of the world. I do not think I am alone when it comes to forming a picture of them in my mind based on the person’s voice. With my own experiences people have asked me if I grew up in a different part of the country based on my speaking voice. I do not hear an accent and feel like I have a newscaster’s type of speech. What I really get a kick out of is when the image I have of a person is so different from their actual appearance. I remember a customer I used to speak with on the phone, who came to my office once to deliver a payment. Based on his voice I had the image of a tall, brawny type of man. He had this baritone belly laugh that reverberated over the phone line. Though I was expecting him, when he walked into my office it took me a second to figure out who he was supposed to be. He was a short wiry man, with a receding hairline; nothing like I pictured. At least I did not share my thoughts with him, unlike the characters in this comedic film festival winner that is based on a true story.      BECOMING THE FIRST BLACK POLICE OFFICER in Colorado Springs, CO; Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington (Monster, Malcom X), wanted to prove himself to the other officers. He found a way to do it; however, he could not be seen because he was a black man. This comedic crime film also starred Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, Logan Lucky) as Flip Zimmerman, Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Last Five Years) as Patrice Dumas, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Chief Bridges and Ryan Eggold (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Blacklist-TV) as Walter Breachway. I felt this was one of director Spike Lee’s (Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever) best films. The story was outrageous, but Spike and the writers truly blended uncomfortable and humorous scenes together to form a solid piece of work; that includes the juxtaposition of movie clips chosen to accentuate the message. I found everyone gave a solid performance, especially Adam and Topher Grace. This picture demonstrated the importance of words, no matter how they were spoken.

 

3 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Puzzle

THIS WEEK I WAS LOOKING AT a recipe for a cherry tomato tart. It was in the newspaper and it sounded interesting to me. As I was reading the list of ingredients and directions I visualized how I would prepare it. I need exact measurements listed when it comes to cooking and baking; I am not one of those people who can eyeball a recipe and put a dash of this or a pinch of that into the mix of ingredients. With this tart recipe there was one direction that caused me to have second thoughts. After I was supposed to cook the onions, butter, parmesan cheese and spices in a pan on the stove; I was to pour the mixture into a pie crust. Here is where I got tripped up; the recipe then said to place the cherry tomatoes on top of the mixture and overfill it because the mixture will settle down as it is baking. How much is overfill is my question. For me taste is not the only thing that is important in a food dish, it also is the look of it; it must be visually appealing to me. The way foods fit together on a plate means something to me. In fact, it is more; the way things fit together in everyday life mean something to me.      THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO use their closet as a repository. Their clothes hang haphazardly with no continuity; work and play items mingle together, so they must search all through their closet when seeking one particular item. Maybe I am showing my OCD tendencies, but calmness comes when wardrobes are grouped for specific functions. Even with relationships, isn’t the goal when dating to see how each of you fit together as a couple? There are some people who meet and easily fit their lives together as if they had been together for years. Others find themselves in different spots yet have the awareness of how things could be. I would like to say being in a relationship is like starting a garden. One needs patience first of all and an idea of what they want their life to look like as they grow older. Then they need to choose the foliage and the placement of it to fully maximize its growth. A person would have to have commitment to their garden, tending to its needs and requirements. It is the same way for a relationship; working to see how each piece fits together to continue its growth. This dramatic film festival winner does a beautiful job in showing the viewer how things can fit together.      AGNES, PLAYED BY KELLY MACDONALD (No Country for Old Men, Goodbye Christopher Robin), had no idea what she needed to spark her into living life. She would find it in a simple birthday gift. With David Denman (Logan Lucky, The Gift) as Louie, Irrfan Khan (The Lunchbox, Jurassic World) as Robert and Austin Abrams (Brad’s Status, Paper Towns) as Gabe; watching this movie was like taking a leisurely walk through a garden. I thought Kelly and Irrfan were completely devoted to their characters and did a wonderful job of acting. The story quietly unfolded in a way that matched the game that was being played; at least that is how I interpreted it. There were a few passages where I felt a lull taking place, but then the script would move out of it. I especially was fascinated with the dynamics that played out between the characters. The director really spent the time needed on each character to allow them to develop before our eyes. Though I was left with a couple of unanswered questions; for the most part, I enjoyed the way the pieces of the story were put together in this lovely film.

 

3 stars           

Flash Movie Review: Eighth Grade

ALL IT INVOLVED WAS WALKING ACROSS the street, but it meant so much more to me. My elementary school that I had been attending for 9 years, if you include kindergarten, was across the street from what would be my high school in the fall. Where the elementary school was half a block long, the high school filled out the entire city block. Though it was an old building my classmates and I were excited to become freshmen, because for whatever reason we felt we would be independent. Not being a closed school campus, we could go out to eat lunch, though all of us were curious about the lunchroom; there was none in our elementary school. Before the end of the school year and our graduation, a field trip was arranged for the 8thgrade students to take a tour of the high school. We walked over in groups and one of the first things I noticed was how everyone in the high school looked older. You would think a span of 1-4 years would not make a big difference in a person’s appearance, but for some reason the way the students were dressed, their demeanor and size made them appear so much older to me.      THERE WAS ONE POINT WHERE OUR elementary school teacher left my group to go talk to someone while we were about to get a tour of the gymnasium. We were told to remain in the hallway outside of the gym until she came back. Several of us strained to get a look of the gym through the narrow windows of the gym doors. Suddenly we heard a pinging sound and then a student behind me let out a yelp. When we turned to look who was behind us we found a group of high schoolers blocking the hallway as they threw pennies at us. I had no idea what was going on. A few of the boys in my group yelled at the high schoolers, making threatening gestures towards them. As suddenly as it had started they stopped flinging pennies at us, turned around and walked away into the echoes of gleeful laughter. This was my introduction into high school. Little did I know it was only a prelude to what was in store for me. The summer before the school semester started I spent fretting over what kind of high school was I going to, away from the safety evidently I felt in elementary school. This film festival winning comedic drama’s story is as authentic as it can be, in depicting the transition from 8thgrade to high school.      DEALING WITH HER INSECURITIES INTROVERTED 8thgrader Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher (Bad Behavior; McFarland, USA), looked to high school as the place that would give her a chance to overcome her fears. There was the fact that her classmates were also going to the same school. With Josh Hamilton (Francis Ha, Kicking & Screaming) as Mark Day, Emily Robinson (Behold My Heart, Transparent-TV) as Olivia, Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Gabe and relative newcomer Catherine Oliviere as Kennedy; I fell in love with Elsie’s performance. She was utterly believable with the wonderful script given to her. I feel everyone could relate to some aspect of this story; there were parts where I smiled along with others where I was cringing because I knew exactly what Kayla was experiencing. The writer truly tapped into the fears, dreams and hopes of every type of student who is about to enter high school. I especially enjoyed the subtle ways the director had the cast convey feelings without the need to verbally communicate them. This picture gets a grade of A on its report card, even without the throwing of pennies.

 

4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Blindspotting

IF YOU HAVE AN INNOCENT LOOKING face chances are you will go through life with less obstacles on your path. I believe this to be true because I learned it in school. At the time I was not cognizant of such a thing, but I was a quick learner. There were certain students in school who would always get in trouble with their teachers, some rightfully so. One look at these students’ faces and you would immediately blame them for disruptive behavior in class. I on the other hand had an innocent looking face or to be more exact, could put on an innocent looking face. At the time I did not realize I had this capability. You see I could not only keep a straight face, but if needed put on a great smile accompanied by deep set dimples. There was a period of time where I was mischievous in the classroom. I would throw paper clips at students’ heads who were sitting in front of me. They would turn around to see who threw it but would not be able to tell which student did it. First, no one would say anything and second, I would look as if I was engrossed in our class assignment. Having this new-found awareness and watching the teachers taught me “looks” plays a big part in a person’s perceptions of someone.      WHAT I DID NOT TELL YOU about the paperclip story has to do with the student who sat next to me. If my paperclip throwing started accusations being thrown at random classmates, the teacher would single out this student next to me. Because he had a face that spelled out trouble he was the first choice a teacher would pick to reprimand, simply based on his looks. As I said earlier I was not aware of this type of discrimination early on, but I soon realized it was taking place all around me. I even witness it today in my own fitness classes. If a person who is overweight walks into my class,  some members will give them a certain look that I have learned means they think the person is lazy and out of shape. Without knowing a thing about the person, members around will make judgments and be somewhat stand-offish. It is so rude of the class participants. Pretty much anywhere I go I can find you examples of people making such rash judgments; but there is no need for me to do it, let this film festival winning comedic drama show you.      WITH ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT ON his probation Collin, played by Daveed Diggs (Wonder, Black-ish-TV), wanted to make sure nothing would happen that would land him back in jail. His best friend Miles, played by relative newcomer Rafael Casal, seemed to think it was all a joke. With Janina Gavankar (White Orchid, The League-TV) as Val, Jasmine Cephas Jones (Mistress America, Titus) as Ashley and Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, Grace and Frankie-TV) as Officer Molina; the script for this movie tackled a familiar topic in a whole new way. Kudos to Daveed and Rafael for writing such a piece. I thought the acting was excellent and enjoyed how the comedy and drama easily blended together. It was important that it did that because I feel viewers would have gotten more uncomfortable with the film and stop thinking about what was taking place on screen. I did not care for the last portion of the movie and thought a particular rap scene could have had more impact without the rhyming. However, I will say I give them credit for doing something different. This film grew on me the more I thought about it. As they say never judge a book by its cover.

 

3 ¼ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Whitney

HAVING NOWHERE TO GO FOR the holiday a friend invited me to come celebrate with her and her family. Normally I decline such invites simply because I do not want to be the outsider at a family function. Some families are close-knit to the point where they have a shorthanded way of communicating with each other; sharing inside jokes, memories and/or conversing about family matters. I would feel out of place in this type of situation. Since I knew some of my friend’s relatives I agreed to go to their family dinner. I picked up a box of candy on the way to my friend’s house, so we could go together to her parents. Once we arrived I was warmly greeted by her parents and sister. I found it amusing when I was introduced to the different relatives who were present because I already knew about some of them from the stories my friend shared with me. Let me just say she has some crazy characters in her family and those are her words. In total there were approximately 20 relatives made up of aunts, uncles, cousins and some cousins with children; it was a full house. My friend’s parents had put up folding tables and chairs to accommodate everyone.      IT IS ONE THING TO HEAR stories about people; it is another thing to actually sit down with them and share a meal. We had gotten through the appetizers and soup portion of the dinner before a verbal fight broke out between a couple of relatives. An uncle remembered a past incident a certain way and an aunt remembered it a different way. They were bickering back and forth as the main course was coming out to be served. The hostess asked the 2 combatants to settle down which surprisingly they did rather quickly. However, within 5-10 minutes the two were back at it, yelling at each other. Unfortunately, more relatives got involved so there was this crescendo of angry voices trying to out shout each other. I sat quietly as I ate my meal; I was not about to let a good meal go to waste. It was a bit surreal I admit; but on the other hand, I found it interesting to see these relatives swearing and calling each other names. My hope to stay out of the melee was dashed when one of the aunts tried to get me to agree with her point of view. It was then that I became uncomfortable and wanted to leave this family dysfunction. In a way I had the same reaction while watching this film festival winning documentary.      WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), this musical biography traced the life of Whitney Houston. I thought Whitney had an incredible voice, even buying some of her music. But once she started her decline I lost all interest in her. This is just my thing; once a celebrity becomes unprofessional in some way, I have no reason to support them. It doesn’t matter if they are gifted or incredible with what they do; once they cross that line I am done with them. This is where I was with Whitney. Seeing this documentary was eye opening in some respects. The use of past TV and movie clips were entertaining as were some of the interviews. Whether the director was getting honesty out of the interviewees is questionable; but for my needs I thought the director did a beautiful job in telling a story, albeit a tragic one. From watching this biography, I felt every person involved had a hand in Whitney’s extinction. In a way this story was not so different from other sad stories of dead celebrities; the difference here was we were able to see Whitney wanting to dance with someone, but most dancers were not suitable partners.

 

2 ½ stars      

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