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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
THERE COMES A TIME WHERE A child realizes their parent is only human. Some children reach this conclusion with hardly a notice while others discover it in a flurry of drama. There was a kid in my old neighborhood whose parents were born and raised in a different country. They spoke English with a heavy accent which I did not know kept them from socializing with the other families on the block. I rarely saw them for the years I lived there. Their son, I knew, felt embarrassed by them. Though I could understand his reasons why, I did not agree; English was not their first language, so who cared if they spoke with an accent? There was another family in the neighborhood where I remember the exact time their child realized their parents did not know everything; it was during a study session, where a small group of us were studying for class. When we got stuck trying to figure out one problem in our study guide my friend asked his parents. They came in and looked at what we were trying to solve. After a few minutes reading and re-reading the problem they told us they did not know. That was the moment we realized parents did not know everything. WHERE I FELT THE SADDEST for a kid was when they had a parent who was not fully functioning in reality. During the middle grades there was a new student who had recently moved into the neighborhood. Come to find out it was their 13thmove in 9 years. The fact that they could keep up their studies while moving back and forth across the country was amazing to me. None of us believed the excuse given for all the moves; we could tell there was some embarrassment about it. Now there was a girl I knew whose mother had serious mental health issues. If this had happened presently I believe she could have received the proper care; but back then she was constantly going between her house and a mental health institute. Some of the kids would call it an “insane asylum.” I felt bad for her because sometimes her mother had to be removed from their house strapped down on a stretcher, with the ambulance lights piercing the night sky. All the neighbors knew what was going on without peeking out their front windows. I am sure it was not easy for anyone, especially when one needs their parent to act like a parent. This film festival winning drama brings a new definition to what is a parent and a home. ALL THEIR NEEDS WERE BEING met as war veteran Will, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, Hell of High Water), was raising his daughter Tom, played by Thomasin McKenzie (The Changeover, Shortland Street-TV), in the middle of a national park, that they called home. Written and directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog), this movie was exquisite. The story slowly rolled out allowing the actors to shine with the sparse script. Ben and Thomasin were beyond good; they brought realness and rawness to their characters, making them come alive. With Dana Millican (Lean on Pete, Portlandia-TV) as Jean and Jeff Kober (Sully, Sons of Anarchy-TV) as Mr. Walters, this was a film for adults. I absolutely enjoyed the experience which included the viewers at my showing. All were adults and not one of them looked at their cell phones the entire time the movie was playing. The filming was beautiful with the story being set in Portland, Oregon and I felt the director took full advantage of the surroundings to let the actors truly discover themselves. This picture was a magnificent way to show a relationship between a father and daughter.
I KNEW MY FRIEND HAD an older brother but there was not a trace of his existence in the house. The parents never talked about their older son; there was not a photograph to be found anywhere and what I assumed was his bedroom was instead an office. My friend did not talk much about his brother; his memories of growing up were mostly of them fighting. For some reason they never got along; but then again, the brother also fought with the parents according to my friend. I never questioned what happened to the brother because it did seem like a sore spot for all of them. The only information I was given was when the brother turned legal age he packed up a bag and moved out of the house. He never gave a forwarding address or phone number; he did not want to have any contact with his parents or younger brother. I felt sad for the family. It did not seem as if the parents were these terrible, violent individuals who beat their kids. On the contrary, I found them to be always warm and loving. It was just weird to have 2 children raised in the same house who had completely opposite reactions to the family dynamics. THERE IS A SCIENTIFIC, CULTURAL AND philosophical debate on what has a stronger influence on human behavior, nurture or nature. Nature would involve genetics and other biological factors, what we are born with; while nurture involves the environment around us, either prenatal or during a lifetime. As long as I can remember I have had a curiosity about the similarities and differences between siblings. My friends who had siblings were a constant source of discovery for me as I became aware of each of their traits. There was one friend who was social and outgoing; his younger brother was a practical jokester who was always getting into trouble. Then there was a family who lived down the street from me who had 4 children. Each child was a replica of the other; they were all smart in school, wore similar dress and shared the same mannerisms. I used to think the parents must have raised them in a controlled environment so that each one would be the same. It never occurred to me that they might have been all wired with similar traits. From seeing this film festival winning documentary, my curiosity has been fired up further because of the brothers’ unbelievable story of what happened to them. BECOMING A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE was the catalyst for strangers Eddy Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran to have the story of their lives re-written in ways they never imagined. Directed by Tim Wardle (One Killer Punch-TV movie, Lifers: Channel 4 Cutting Edge), this movie could have easily been classified as a mystery thriller. The story was so unimaginable I sat in my seat in a state of shock. The fact that things took place happenstance made these three men’s story more incredible. At first, I was slightly put off by the re-enactments, but it quickly waned as the story began to twist and turn into the 2ndstory that was lying beneath. The interviews interspersed into the story accentuated the storytelling factor; I found myself becoming a detective as the boys’ history was being revealed in chunks. There was this whole ethical factor that came up for me that lingered beyond the end of the picture. I have to say this was a stunner of a movie that adds fuel to the debate on whether nurture or nature has a stronger influence on human behavior. It just was troubling for me to be a witness to the events that took place in the lives of these three men.
3 ½ stars
EVERY TIME I BUY A newspaper I believe I am doing my part in preventing the publisher from shutting down. I know it is a fallacy, but I have to believe it is true. The convenience store used to have their racks full of newspapers; now if I do not get there early enough the few papers they do get are already gone. It makes me sad because I prefer reading a newspaper instead of looking at an electronic screen. So, I want to believe my little contribution will help sustain newspapers through my lifetime. I have a similar belief when it comes to my personal banking. There is no way I want a debit card; it is that simple. Yet anytime I need to use a teller the first thing they ask me is to swipe my debit card. When I say I do not have one they give me this look as if I am a much older version of a Rip Van Winkle character. I want to believe that I am not alone, that there are others like me who prefer doing their banking the old-fashioned way and by that, I mean the banks still need to keep their branches open with tellers. WHEN IT COMES TO BELIEFS I believe I am not alone; each of us has a set of beliefs. The ones I just mentioned are not based on any facts which fits into the definition of belief. It is a state of mind where a person thinks something is true despite having evidence to prove it. For me my beliefs are based in feelings, not facts. An example would be the route I take to work. I believe it is the fastest way to get to my office; however, if someone shows me a different way that is faster, then I will no longer believe my route is the fastest. Remember there was a time where people believed the earth was flat; it took science to show them that was not the case. I consider beliefs to be multifaceted; some people refer to them as opinions, others define them as faith. It seems to me beliefs assist us in finding order in the world or put another way, they help explain the world around us. This does not mean I expect others to have the same beliefs; in fact, I would be offended if someone tried to foist their beliefs onto me. They are a personal matter as far as I am concerned. To see how beliefs can affect a person, feel free to watch this film festival winning, dramatic thriller. IN THE MIDDLE OF PREPARATIONS for his church’s celebration Reverend Ernst Toller, played by Ethan Hawke (Born to Be Alive, The Magnificent Seven), experiences a crisis of faith. With Amanda Seyfried (The Big Wedding, Dear John) as Mary, Cedric the Entertainer (Larry Crowne, Barbershop franchise) as Reverend Joel Jeffers and Victoria Hill (December Boys, Macbeth) as Esther; this thought provoking movie posed a variety of topical issues. Written and directed by Paul Schrader (Raging Bull, The Walker), I found the acting to be excellent. Not in a flowery or over the top type of way, but simply an adult driven script that infused the characters with realness. I felt the way the picture was filmed complimented the script, set in upstate New York, beautifully. My major complaint about this movie concerned the lead up to the ending. I did not like the element of fantasy that was introduced nor the way the story ended. It was a letdown for me because I believed the script was going to maintain a consistent flow to its conclusion. You might think differently because you have a different set of beliefs and that is okay.