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Flash Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

THERE WAS SOMETHING SAFE, NURTURING and comfortable about growing up in an apartment building. I never felt like I was missing out on anything by not living in a single-family home. My earliest memories contain the assortment of wonderful neighbors who lived in our building. Before I could even walk I learned how to crawl down 2 flights of stairs to one neighbor who always welcomed me into their home and gave me cookies. I know, you must be thinking I was trained like Pavlov’s dog for those cookies; but honestly, I was not. When I grew older no one had to teach me to open doors for people carrying in groceries or packages; all of us in the building did it to help each other. We lived on the top floor so I got to use the landing of the wrap around staircase as my personal playroom. The same could be said for our back porch; I was always outside on it either playing or reading a book. In fact, I had a little table and chairs set out on the porch; so, you could say I had my own personal, outdoor deck.      FROM ONE NEIGHBOR OF OURS I learned important history lessons about war and concentration camps. She was a survivor who shared her story with me whenever I would ask her a question. Her son was one of the musicians in the building. While he would practice playing his accordion, there was another neighbor who played the drums; add that to my piano lessons and we covered a variety of musical genres. I would love coming home and hear the music playing as I walked up the flights of stairs, accompanied by an assortment of cooking smells that wafted through the hallway at various times. There was never a need to worry about running out of something, like a food ingredient or toilet paper, because everyone in the building was willing to borrow from each other. Something that I feel that was truly valuable for me was learning at an early age how to conduct myself in public. Everyone was polite and friendly which was a wonderful example to show me how to interact with people. It was a time before texting so we each had face to face conversations and I learned how to listen. I cannot say that is an attribute that everyone has in them these days. Living in an apartment building was wonderful training on how to deal with people. Everyone worked at finding amicable solutions to any issues that would arise. We were our own special neighborhood inside of our apartment building.      FROM OSCAR WINNING DIRECTOR Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, The Music of Strangers), this film festival winning documentary showed me a neighborhood that had similarities to my childhood home, but I did not know existed. Debuting on television in Pittsburgh 1967, it soon became a national broadcast. I have never seen the show so my enthusiasm about this film may be more than someone who was familiar with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. What struck me about Fred Rogers was his gentle kindness and progressive thinking. I was amazed at the quiet way he would make a relevant statement about an event taking place in the world. Learning about the history of the show along with the personal information about his actual and television family, it was quite apparent there was a genuine love and affection for each other. Here you have people from all walks of life who worked together in a civil and respectful way. I must tell you if Fred was alive and wanted to run for office, I would vote for him based on having seen this movie; what a wonderful picture about a beautiful human being.

 

4 stars

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Flash Movie Review: Upgrade

UP UNTIL WORKING AT A fitness center I never encountered an individual who received replacement body parts. I was fascinated by the first person I met because it was something different and unique. They had their hip replaced with metal, ceramic and hard plastic parts that mimicked their original hip, except now they had no pain. I listened as they told me how soon they were up and standing after the surgery. The reason they joined the health club was to continue their rehab exercises, besides taking advantage of the health benefits of working out daily. Prior to the procedure they could barely walk without experiencing pain, due to arthritis and deteriorating bone joint. Keep in mind this was a long time ago, so back then these replacement procedures to me were out of a science fiction story like Star Trek or the Six Million Dollar Man. You have a broken bone or a bad knee? No problem, just come in and get a new one installed; it really is amazing, isn’t it? From that first person I have met so many other people who have gone through surgery to get replacement parts for their body.      IF ONLY THERE WAS A WAY to increase brain cells I would certainly go through the procedure. As I am going thru the aging process I feel as if my brain doesn’t react as swiftly as it did in my younger years. Maybe it is my imagination, but I know there are times it takes me longer to process new information. Some time ago I bought a set of DVDs to learn a couple of different languages. Not that I was expecting to become totally fluent in the new language, but I had hoped I could at least understand what a person was saying to me and reply. I have watched some of the DVDs multiple times but I tend to get frustrated when I replay the same ones over because I had forgotten some of the phrases from the last time I watched the DVDs. What if there was a way to upgrade the brain’s language skills? Simply based on the medical marvels I have seen at the health club and in the news, who knows what is in store for humans regarding having their bodies upgraded. This film festival winning dramatic, action science fiction movie may provide the answers to some of your questions.      DOING HIS BEST TO LIVE LIFE without the need for current technology Grey Trace, played by Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus, Spider-Man: Homecoming) was confronted with a tough decision after becoming the victim of a crime. To regain the life he once had, he would have to succumb to an experimental treatment. With Richard Anasasios (The Dressmaker, Cut Snake) as Wan, Rosco Campbell (Winchester, Underbelly Files: Chopper-TV mini-series) as VR Guy, Betty Gabriel (Get Out, The Purge: Election Year) as Cortez and Benedict Hardie (The Water Diviner, The Light Between Oceans) as Fisk; I found the story took what could have been a typical science fiction genre and gave it a new clever twist. Though there was blood and violence the action was terrific, especially because of Logan’s physical acting. He kept reminding me of Tom Hardy to the point I left the theater thinking I had seen Tom. I appreciated the way the director kept things moving; there was nothing too frenetic where I could not follow the players. Once again I have to say the fight scenes with Grey were amazing. Set in a near future (?) setting, it was fun to see a blend of old and new gadgets throughout the story. Who knows what the future holds for us as a species; this movie certainly showed both the positive and negative aspects to an advanced society.

 

3 1/4 stars         

Flash Movie Review: Child of God

A HANDFUL OF STRANGERS STOOD AROUND videotaping a man on fire. The man was in a car accident that caused the car to catch on fire. A passerby saw what was happening and raced over to the burning man. He grabbed his coat and began slapping the accident victim, to snuff out the flames. Luckily the fire department showed up in time, extinguished the flames and rushed the victim to the hospital. It was reported later that the man survived with the help of the good Samaritan. The group of strangers captured it all on their phones. This was a true story that was reported recently here on the news. The idea of people being more concerned about filming an accident, to either share or post on one of their media sites, instead of helping a person in need is something I find appalling. There was a time where people would help those in need. It eventually diminished as more people withdrew, preferring not to get involved. I have seen this very thing on public transportation, where an altercation takes place and the nearby passengers scurry away from it. I could see if they ran to get help, but now people just want to leave as fast as they can.      WITH THE INCREASE IN VIOLENCE BEING reported currently I believe this isolation preference or desire is a contributing factor. It is so much easier to ignore a problem than deal with one. However, when the problem is a human being there can be consequences if the troubled person continues without getting some type of helpful treatment. The recent tragedies that have taken place across the country I find especially horrific. The shooting takes place, the news reports it, people question how it could happen and more times than not the parent of the perpetrator states their child was a good kid. Excuse me but I have a hard time with such a statement. It makes me wonder if the parent has been an active participant in the child’s life. One of the conversations I have been on posed this question: did we always have these troubled individuals around us and we just now are hearing more about them or are people getting crazier (someone else’s words)? I honestly did not have an answer. If someone begins displaying odd behavior traits I believe it needs to be investigated. I remember as a child there were a couple of people in the neighborhood who were labeled “crazy.” Luckily, they were harmless but I do not recall anyone questioning it. It appears the same thing was taking place in this film festival winning crime drama.      AFTER BEING KICKED OFF OF HIS bankrupt property Lester Ballard, played by Scott Haze (Midnight Special, Thank you for Your Service), had to figure out how to survive. His method took him further away from rational thought. Written and directed by James Franco (The Disaster Artist, Spring Breakers), I found this DVD disturbing. Scott was excellent in the role but I had the hardest time understanding him. It seemed like the other cast members Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four; O Brother, Where art Thou?) as Sheriff Fate, Jim Parrack (Battle Los Angeles, True Blood-TV) as Deputy Cotton and Brian Lally (As I Lay Dying, L.A. Confidential) as Greer had no such issues. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s (The Road, All the Pretty Horses) novel I assume the story is better in print form; as a movie I felt the story dragged on. It certainly was thought provoking for me as the scenes turned darker and darker. But I must tell you I wanted the film to end; not because of the subject matter, but due to it not being entertaining. There still are parts of this story lingering in my mind; for example, is Lester the result of people’s inactions?

 

1 ½ — DVD   

Flash Movie Review: The Rider

I HAVE NOTHING BUT ADMIRATION for someone who spent their entire life working to achieve one goal. During a social engagement I was talking with one of the guests who happened to be a plumber. From the conversation we were having, he expressed how he always wanted to be a plumber ever since he was a little boy. While the other kids were playing at the public swimming pool, he was in it trying to figure out where the water was going in the vents by the side of the pool walls. Another time his parents caught him trying to take apart the kitchen sink and drain with his children’s tools. I found it interesting to meet someone who had only one goal and did not care what other people said about him. He did say his parents were not thrilled that he dropped out of college so he could devote all his time to learning his craft. Seriously, one must give him credit for knowing what he wanted to do and then pursue it to make it happen. How many of us wind up in a job that we either dislike or have no investment in it?      THINKING BACK TO THE DIFFERENT paths I was on for a career choice, it amazes me that I settled into a position that nurtures me. At one time I wanted to be a full-time fitness professional; like the people you see on the infomercials who have trademarked an exercise method. While that was going on I still had dreams of being either a writer, psychiatrist or veterinarian. All of this superseded my earlier career hope of being an international DJ. Remembering all of this, all I can say is I certainly had eclectic tastes. Do I have any regrets that I did not achieve one of these as my sole profession? Not really, as you can see I had varied interests back then; I never devoted all my time towards one path. On the plus side I presently continue to get much joy out of teaching fitness/yoga classes and writing these movie reviews. I realize not everyone experiences joy from what they do, so I am quite grateful. And if and when the time comes where I can no longer do one of them I cannot imagine I will feel lost. These things are only a part of me, they do not define all of me; unlike the main character in this dramatic, film festival winner.      AFTER A SERIOUS HEAD INJURY Brady Blackburn, played by newcomer Brady Jandreau, had to find a way to redefine himself since he was being told he could not do what he loved. Based on a true story this film was made up of newcomers; there was Tim Jandreau as Wayne Blackburn and Lilly Jandreau as Lilly Blackburn. Written and directed by Chloe Zhao (The Atlas Mountains, Songs My Brothers Taught Me), I was at first thrown by this movie. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a documentary or a drama. There was a simple pureness to everything in this picture. From the landscapes to the script to the acting; there was no additional fillers. I cannot say there was action in the story; it was more like a slow burn. Add in the close-up shots and they only intensified the emotional level which I found compelling. The sport depicted in this picture was something I truthfully never gave much thought to before; however, I believe this was an honest and real depiction of these riders. I guess I have only seen the top players on television since this story showed a whole different side. The story to me was haunting and I can only imagine how it must feel being told you cannot do what you love.

 

3 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: RBG

HE WAS AN UNASSUMING GENTLEMAN. Usually dressed in dress slacks, open collared cotton shirt and gym shoes; he usually went unnoticed by the customers. To them they assumed he was someone’s dad or grandfather who was spending the day at the office. Little did they know he owned the whole company and that is why I admired him. There are some people who wear their job/career while others do the work. I know someone who owns a hair salon; they must always have their hair done just right, besides keeping up with a youthful appearance. In other words, plastic surgery is one of their options. I may not agree surgery is necessary but I understand where they are coming from. As far as they are concerned they are the face of their salon. Years ago, I worked for the owner of a company who thought he had to have the best of everything to show how successful his company was doing. I was not buying his logic; he was pompous and greedy. He had a new expensive car every year, ate at the finest restaurants in the city and had his shirts all custom made. As far as I could tell none of it represented his wholesale company.      MY EXPERIENCES HAVE SHOWN OWNERS who are not focused on appearances tend to be the hardest working people at the company. They are driven and want their company along with all its employees to be successful. The individuals who put themselves first before their company do not have the passion and more importantly the compassion needed to succeed. I get a kick out of meeting a person who looks nothing like I imagine that person would look like in a job position. There was a woman I was introduced to who was the person who calculated the fuel quantity for passenger jets. She had to decide how much fuel each jet needed based on distances, taking into consideration weather conditions. As she was telling me this I was surprised simply because it entailed such calculations and her persona was one of a free spirited, feet not on the ground individual. To me I could have seen her being an artist or potter, not essentially a mathematician. I was basing this just on her actions around me, by the way. There was a game I used to play years ago at restaurants and such, where we would make up stories about the people we would see; you know, like guessing their job or hobbies. If one of those strangers was Ruth Bader Ginsburg; taken out of context, I would never have guessed she was a supreme court justice let alone a lawyer.      THIS FILM FESTIVAL WINNING DOCUMENTARY directed by Julie Cohen (American Veteran, The Sturgeon Queens) and Betsy West (Constantine’s Sword, The Lavender Scare) was a joy to watch. I am not talking from a political standpoint, but simply because I learned things I did not know that were historic. The things Ruth did as a lawyer were extraordinary. I honestly feel every woman at least needs to be aware of Ruth’s accomplishments. As a fitness instructor I was so impressed with her workout regime; we are talking about a woman in her 80s who is doing yoga planks and lifting weights. I am aware this film is somewhat like a love letter to Ruth, but putting that aside, I found the different stories interesting. For being such a soft spoken, diminutive individual; she certainly has an inner strength and strong belief system that people ½ her age have not reached. There are more things I could say about the various scenes in this movie, but I would rather you experience the surprise I did learning about such a vibrant human being.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Finding Your Feet

I AVOID HER LIKE THE PLAGUE; that is how strong I feel about her. When I am at the grocery store and she is there, I will not go into her checkout line. Please understand I know she is doing her job; but I find it irritating that she must look at every single coupon I have cut out of the newspaper, match it to the corresponding product on my receipt before she will scan it. That is what the scanner is supposed to do; if I did not purchase the product the coupon would not work! You would think I am taking the money straight out of her pocket. One time I had words with her because I had a coupon for a free box of pasta that happened to be on a two for one sale, buy 1 box and you get a 2nd box free. So technically with my coupon I would be getting both boxes free, right? She told me I could not use my coupon because the item was on sale. I told her that did not make sense and to scan the coupon. Do you know I had to hold up the line of people behind me before she begrudgingly gave in and scanned the coupon, which the scanner took by the way.     I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY SOME people internalize their job position then laud it over other individuals. When I travel to other fitness centers I can immediately tell by the way the instructor walks into the room whether they think they are “special” or not. Some instructors I have met have this attitude that I find to be narcissistic; they want everyone to look at them as if they are the oracle for everything that has to do with fitness. Taking a class from a person like this is no fun for me. It is interesting because I wonder if that instructor is so wrapped up into their job label that they cannot have fun even outside the classroom. There was a summer job I had years ago where the owner’s wife walked around the company as if she was royalty. She barely spoke to any of the employees. I mean really, so she was the wife of the president/owner; where was it written that she could not be civil and polite? When I come across people who act like this I cannot imagine them ever having a good time because they are so busy putting on their façade. The same thing was happening to the wife in this dramatic comedy.      IT WAS BAD ENOUGH FINDING out her husband was cheating on her, but to leave the life she was accustomed to would turn out to be even harder for Lady Sandra Abbott, played by Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Harry Potter franchise). This film festival winner also starred Celia Imrie (Imagine Me & You, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel franchise) as Bif, Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street, Absolutely Fabulous-TV) as Jackie, Timothy Spall (The Party, Mr. Turner) as Charlie and David Hayman (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Sid & Nancy) as Ted. I have to tell you the cast was over qualified in this romantic comedy. The script did okay trying not to make everything appear like a cliché, but I felt it needed more drama. This was sort of like a happy-go-lucky type of story; however, the actors were so polished it appeared as if the actors were not even acting. They were living the lives of their characters. With the style of directing and the way the script was written, this film wasn’t trying to be something it was not; it was simply being a light British comedic romance.

 

2 ½ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Lean on Pete

SOME OF THE BEST CONVERSATIONS held are the ones between a pet and its owner. I am here to tell you there are a whole bunch of humans who could learn a lesson on communication, if they would watch and listen to owners talking to their pets. First off you would be hard pressed to find someone more compassionate and attentive than a dog or cat. I love both but I must say dogs have more facial expressions and possibly more empathy. Several years ago this happened but it is just as vivid in my mind now as it was when I saw it originally taking place. A friend of mine was going through a crisis; crying while curled up on their sofa. Into the room came their dog who took one look at its owner, came up to the edge of the sofa and jumped up onto a small open space by my friend’s feet. The dog walked behind my friend and plopped itself down between my friend and the back of the sofa, while putting a paw up on his shoulder. I was speechless as I saw the dog placing his head down on my friend’s back and its leg stretched out as far as possible into a hug.      SO YOU CANNOT TELL ME OUR pets do not understand our feelings. Simply look into your pet’s eyes and you will find pure love and affection. It is an unconditional love that makes your pet greet you when you get home; even if you were gone for 2 minutes, to them it seems like it was hours. Maybe you have had conversations where you are sharing your feelings with your friend and everything you say elicits a response from them, telling you they experienced the same thing. They may feel they are being compassionate but that does not always produce such results. I know someone who no matter what you say to them they always respond with a story that is worse than the one you told them. It is like they are in competition with you to see who has the most serious ailment or hardship. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and that is where pets make the perfect attentive listeners. They never judge us; all they want to do is love us. Though I have been focusing on dogs and cats, this film festival winning drama will show you another pet that helps someone through a crisis.      WITH HIS LIFE IN TURMOIL CHARLEY, played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, King Jack), finds comfort working at the rundown stables of owner Del, played by Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman). It is here he finds a true friend. Not since the movie My Friend Flicka have I seen such a beautiful connection being made between a boy and a horse. Charlie was nearly mesmerizing in his performance; one could feel his emotions and plight. With Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Bonnie and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn) as Silver; I thought the cast did a wonderful job in bringing this story to life. The minimalist script created a slow and steady unfolding story; it felt like I was watching a novel come to life. I am a sucker for a movie with an animal in it; despite that, this was a worthy piece of work with believable characters who showed a true slice of life. Be prepared to experience your emotions as you watch Charley’s and Pete’s journey.

 

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Isle of Dogs

RETIRING BACK TO BED I could see the eyes looking up at me from my pillow. As I came to the edge of the bed there lying in my spot, with the covers pulled up to his neck, was our dog. He looked up at me as if to say, “Is there something I can help you with?” I grant you he looked totally comfortable and in place, but c’mon; he already had his own bed to sleep in. Anytime I had to get up in the middle of the night he would immediately jump into our bed once I was out of the room; he was such a character. Dogs have such a beautiful outlook on life I believe. They give unconditional love, get such pleasure in the most mundane of things like a stick or used sock and can be such great companions. To return the favor whenever I would say “doggie massage” our dog would immediately plop down on his side so I could give him a body massage.     ANOTHER ASPECT OF A DOG’S LIFE is their ability to instinctively protect a person. However some dogs may have their priorities a bit confused; ours felt the need to protect us from small children. It was the weirdest thing. If we were walking outside and a small child was nearby our dog would stop and stare at them. A low warning growl would be heard despite our pleas to relax. We could never figure out what his deal was about small children. Right now my neighbors got a 2nd dog who is a real cutie. Anytime I walk out the back door and she is in the backyard she quickly crouches down into play mode, with her butt in the air and her upper torso stretched out down on the ground. Her front paws directly out in front of her in anticipation. She waits until I call out her name then bounds over to the fence for me to pet her; unless I am wearing a hat, then all things change. She does not like me in a hat because she will bark at me non-stop, staying just out of reach behind the fence. Despite that quirk I still am quite fond of her which explains why I understood the reason the owner risked his life to find his dog in this film festival winning movie.      AFTER THE MAYOR BANNED FROM THE city all dogs Atari, voiced by newcomer Kofu Rankin, was willing to risk his life to find his best friend. Written and directed by Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) this adventure comedy was so much fun to watch due to the creative animation. If you saw Wes’ movie Fantastic Mr. Fox then you are familiar with this style of stop-motion animation. With Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Why Him?) voicing Chief, Edward Norton (American History, Pride and Glory) voicing Rex, Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Groundhog Day) voicing Boss and Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) voicing Duke; everyone blended perfectly into the well thought out detailed script. I found the story quite relevant and appreciated the way Wes incorporated humor into the political scenes. Now the script is not without a couple of dings; there were a few times where I felt the story dragged a bit. It did not hinder my enjoyment because the visuals were just so much darn fun. I honestly do not know if small children will understand the whole concept of this picture, but I cannot imagine their curiosity will not be piqued. Even if you are not a dog lover I feel you will still appreciate the love between a boy and his dog.

 

3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

THE PHRASE “TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL the broth” came to mind as I sat there listening to everyone’s opinion. I was a volunteer at a citywide event and wound up being placed into the set up crew’s group; we were responsible for preparing the ballroom for guests, decorating and preparing the auction tables. Thirty minutes had passed already and we still did not have a game plan in place. I felt frustrated as I observed several individuals vie to become the leader of our group. It was obvious, at least to me; no one would back down and allow one of them to take charge. It was a shame because time was ticking away before the doors would open for the event. After remaining in my seat for a few more minutes I had heard enough; I got up and started carrying the items for the auction over to several tables set up in the corners of the room. I heard someone yell out to me but I did not acknowledge them until I came back to the group. They wanted to know what I was doing so I simply said putting things out so we do not look like (fill in the blank). I made my point and it was strong enough to knock some sense into those leader wannabes.     IT FLOORS ME ON HOW many people proclaim themselves to be generous, a people’s person; who want to do the best for everyone, yet think of themselves first. I have seen it happen in so many places besides what I mentioned above. From companies to non-profit organizations to government, you will always find someone who cares more about how they are being perceived instead of doing the right thing. I have to say when it comes to government officials I am the most offended by their actions. These individuals are for the most part elected into their positions and yet they come in with their own personal agenda. The phrase about putting their “stamp of approval” on an issue tells me they want to take credit for everything and agree with it. To me a good politician is one who can approve something they are not a fan of, but realize it is the correct procedure. In my city we are dealing with a politician who put his relatives on the payroll though they are not necessarily qualified. Who benefits from it? Trust me you will be asking yourself many times that question as you watch this satirical, film festival winning comedy.     UPON THE DEATH OF DICTATOR Joseph Stalin, the members of his cabinet were free to explore their deepest desires. It would be a battle of wits to see who would climb to the top and take over the Soviet Union. With Steve Buscemi (Norman, 30 Rock-TV) as Nikita Khrushchev, Simon Russell Beale (Into the Woods, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Laurenti Beria, Jeffrey Tambor (The Accountant, Arrested Development-TV) as Georgy Malenkov and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Hitman) as Maria Veniaminovna Yudina; this movie produced smiles and laugh out loud results. The acting was formidable from the cast, especially Steve and Simon. I do not know how much of the story was based in truth but I have to tell you everything I watched seemed plausible, even when scenes were close to buffoonery. The sets had an authentic look that added a layer of excitement, while the script was filled with fun one-liners that one needed to pay attention to as they flew by. Who knew in the middle of such dismal times one could find humor among the events.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Party

SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH no one to talk to was making me uncomfortable. There were at least a dozen people sitting around the long table, but I did not know any of them. I was supposed to meet a friend at this gathering but after I arrived at the restaurant they texted they were still stuck at work. Since I was already there I tried to make the best of it. The group met once a month at this particular restaurant but throughout the year they planned different cultural events; my friend and I thought it would be something worth checking out. After I was seated and introductions were made all around, it became apparent to me that everyone there knew each other. I was the odd man out. Some of the individuals sitting around asked me a couple of questions like where I was from and what did I do for a living, but afterwards their attention was drawn back to their friends or people they already knew.     THOUGH THIS WAS NOT THE type of venue where I would bring something, I should have brought my old standby anyway. There is this little bakery I know that has been open more than 50 years. It is sort of like an old world type of place where they bake a variety of items. One in particular is my favorite and whenever I bring them to a gathering the folks there gather around and talk to me about the item. Light and airy, shaped into curved oblong commas, they have a sprinkling of sugar on top. I know a majority of people would bring a bottle of wine; I prefer bringing baked goods. It is difficult to attend a party where you hardly know any of the guests and I have found this item can break the ice with most people. Personally I quickly withdraw from a party when I see guests have gathered into their own little cliques. It reminds me of the divisions that were in place in high school. And since I am not a drinker, when guests at a party start acting silly from too much alcohol I wrap things up and say my goodbyes. Nothing worse than being at a party with an out of control guest; so I better warn you the guests at the party in this dramatic comedy are one intense group.     ON THE NIGHT JANET, PLAYED by Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral) throws a dinner party her husband Bill, played by Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies), waits until the guests arrived before making an announcement. This film festival winning movie also starred Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent, The Green Mile) as April, Emily Mortimer (Match Point, Lars and the Real Girl) as Jinny and Cherry Jones (The Perfect Storm, The Village) as Martha. Hands down Patricia was the star of this film, though the rest of the cast was excellent; she stood out for me. I am sure part of it was due to the acidic script. The direction was fine but as the story unfolded I never quite felt engaged with any of the characters. At one point it just seemed like a lot of chaos was taking place; I found myself wanting to tune out. It was too bad, because I enjoyed the picture being filmed in black and white along with some of the wicked lines in the script. By the time the movie was over I was glad I was not invited to this party.

 

2 stars

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