I WAS SURE I WAS ON my way to becoming a tycoon or at least thought of as being cool. There was no one I knew in my elementary school who was starting a business, but I was doing it. I do not remember how the idea came to me unless I considered the time spent selling candy and lemonade on the street corner, in front of my apartment building. My stand was a success; candy being the number one seller. What I used to do was set up the stand, a folding card table, early in the afternoon. I had two pitchers of lemonade and an assortment of candy pieces and bars. I would buy a bag of hard, fruit flavored candy that was individually wrapped, pour them into a bowl and sell each piece for a nickel. Right there, I was making a nice profit. When I was close to running out, I would have a friend of mine go to the store to buy another bag of hard candy and candy bars, which I priced a little more than the regular price. We would only buy the bars that were on sale; that is how I was able to make a profit on them. HAVING GOTTEN A TASTE OF SUCCESS from my lemonade stand, gave me the confidence to start selling school supplies to my fellow classmates. I had a relative who was a manufacturer’s representative to a variety of companies that made school supplies. Their garage was completely shelved and fully stocked with all kinds of school items. Every new school year my cousins and I would go over and go “shopping” through the garage to get our school supplies. I must have asked my relative if I could take extra items, but I do not remember. There was no way I would have just taken them without permission; so, maybe I told him I wanted extra for friends? With my schoolbag loaded, I started asking classmates if they wanted to buy colored markers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and other assorted things. When students saw the variety of different colored markers and crayons, I sold out of everything in two days. I thought for sure I was on my way to becoming a great businessman. The added benefit to me was the fact students were now seeking me out to see what I had available. In my brain, I took this to mean I was now “popular.” Due to my history, I felt a connection at first with the main character in this dramatic, comedy romance. HE WAS THE ULTIMATE PROMOTER OF himself. So, when student Gary Valentine, played by newcomer Cooper Hoffman, saw the school’s photographer’s helper he was convinced she would fall in love with him. With newcomer Alana Haim as Alana Kane, Sean Penn (Flag Day, Milk) as Jack Holden, Tom Waits (Seven Psychopaths, Short Cuts) as Rex Blau and newcomer Will Angarola as Kirk; this film festival winner and Oscar nominee was a disappointment. I thought Alana did a decent job for a newcomer and the established actors were good; but it did not matter because I thought the script was littered with distractions. The only actor that stood out for me was Bradley Cooper. There were scenes that fell flat for me because they were hard to believe in. Despite this movie being tagged as a comedy, I did not find anything funny. Sure, there were a couple of precarious predicament scenes, but what it came down to for me was the actors seemed too young for their roles outside of the school scenes. I periodically lost interest, though I enjoyed the soundtrack. I also appreciated the story line of first love and of the would-be actor trying to get ahead; but things did not comfortably fit well for me in the end. With its Oscar nominations, I almost felt as if I was being hustled as I watched this picture.
2 ½ stars
THERE IS A FINE LINE, I discovered, between sympathizing and topping. I am the first to admit that I used to not know the difference but have been working on it. It turns out, I am not the only one who was challenged in this area. There is an acquaintance of mine who consistently tries to “one up” me when it comes to issues of health. When we are talking and I mention an issue I am experiencing, such as a slight dizziness when I first get up from a reclined position, he will then proceed to tell me how he suffers from the same infliction; but invariably his condition is always worse than mine. If I said I had trouble sleeping, he would tell me how he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep because of all the times he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Or he would describe to me how horrible his mattress is, that he cannot get comfortable on it. No matter what I say, he is always quick to tell me how much worse it is for him. I must tell you this gets annoying pretty quickly; it is not a contest to see who can out complain the other. I THINK OF THIS MAN WHEN someone is sharing their personal information/issue/concerns with me. If nothing else, I try to listen to the person to see if they are asking me for advice; sometimes, a person just wants a sympathetic ear or sounding board to help them figure out their feelings. When appropriate if I have had a similar experience, I may share that information with them. If they choose to ask me how I handled it, I will tell them. Sometimes I will tell them I had a similar experience and offer my advice on how I handled the situation, avoiding any comment with the word “should” in it. I do not know if you experience this; but when two people are sharing their issues and there is an even “give and take” of emotions and feelings, it is a beautiful feeling. There is a sense of healing taking place when I have experienced such a thing. Sometimes hearing what another person has gone through or done about their predicament has provided me with new insight and perspective. Not that I am saying it is a situation where you hear someone’s story, and you think things could have been worse for you; but I guess that can play a part in one’s perspective. Either way, it cannot hurt, and the proof is in this Oscar nominated drama from Japan. HAVING ALREADY ACCEPTED THE POSITION OF director, there was no choice allowed when it came to providing Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima (License to Live, Tokyo Rendezvous), with a driver for his cherished red Saab automobile. The long drive could become a challenge. With Toko Miura (The Girl in the Sun, Weathering with You) as Misaki Watari, Reika Kirishima (Norwegian Wood, Godzilla: Final Wars) as Oto Kafuku, newcomer Park Yu-rim as Lee Yoon-a and newcomer Jin Dae-yeon as Kon Yoon-su; this film festival winning movie was an experience for me. I was not looking forward to its 3-hour running time, plus I experienced a bit of confusion when the opening credits took place well after the story had begun. With that being said, I was surprised how the confusion cleared up as I slowly was brought into this adult story that was based on the written short story. It was fascinating to watch adults be thoughtful and curious as the cast dealt with their various emotions. The play Uncle Vanya written by Anton Chekhov strongly influences this picture. Not having read it, I felt I was at a disadvantage. However, as the scenes progressed, I appreciated the way the director allowed the actors to explore their emotional baggage. As I said this film was made for adults and it did a wonderful job of exposing the depth of human feelings. Spoken Japanese and Korean sign language were used with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
LOVE CAN MAKE A PERSON DO things they never thought of doing before. I know because not only have I seen it in action, I have been a participant. Back in my college days, I used public transportation to get to school, 1 bus and 2 trains to be exact. Taking it every day to and from school, I noticed most people stand in the same spot each time they are waiting for the train to pull up to the platform. With this knowledge in hand, I used to run through the station to get to my 2ndtrain; so I could get to the same train car where I knew a passenger was who I had been having a casual conversation with for a few weeks. I made it look like I just happened to enter the same train car, making sure to take a couple of deep breaths to slow my racing heart down before getting on to look for them. My intention was to ask them out for a drink at some point, depending on how things progressed. Some of you may think these antics, in the name of attraction/love, are a bit crazy; while others may think what I was doing was no big deal. I at least knew my actions, compared to some of the stuff I have seen people do, were more on the mild side. RECENTLY THE NEWS REPORTED ON A man who lost thousands of dollars (we are talking in the mid five figure range) to a woman he had never seen in person. This is an example of something way extreme for me. The man had met the woman online and the two struck up a “friendship” according to the man. They would exchange photos that depicted family members, home and town. As time went on the man was getting emotionally attached to this woman who had started to share stories of a more personal nature; things about her mother’s ailments, her kids’ schooling, the difficulty she was having paying some of her bills ever since her husband had been killed. I am sure you can see where this is going; the man offered to loan her some money. She protested she could not accept his money, but the man was persistent. They finally agreed that it would be okay for him to send her a “little” money and to consider it an early birthday gift for herself. For the next few months, the woman would share a variety of hardships she was facing, including trying to save up money for an airline ticket to come visit him. By that point the man had handed over most of his savings; the airline ticket was the last thing he sent her money for because once she received it, she deleted her accounts and disappeared. Such a crazy and sad story; but I know this happens when love is in the equation. Simply look at what the man did for love in this Oscar nominated film. ESCAPING THE OPPRESSION OF HIS COUNTRY’S government, a Syrian refugee agrees to become an art piece so he can travel to Europe to be with the woman he loves. However, it was not as easy as that, he soon found out. With relative newcomer Yahya Mahayni as Sam Ali, newcomer Dea Liane as Abeer, Koen De Bouw (The Prime Minister, Professor T.-TV) as Jeffrey Godefroi, Monica Bellucci (The Matrix franchise, Malena) as Soraya Waldy and Darina Al Joundi (Sisters in Arms, The Tower) as Sam’s mother. This film festival winning drama presented an original, fascinating story line that I found refreshing. The acting was excellent as was the filming of this picture. I felt there were a variety of ways a person could interpret what the writers were intending, that I am not sure if I comprehended some of the ideas coming from different angles. Whether one perceives the story as a political, a marketing, a love or satirical one; I think there is something to gain by watching this thought-provoking film. There were several scenes where Arabic and French were spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here. DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film. GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.
1 ¾ stars
THE MEMORY IS JUST AS VIVID now as when it was created decades ago. An amusement park that was in the heart of the city. I was there with a large group of relatives. Everyone was in line to go on a water ride; where a long boat would take you through a tunnel, where at the end there was something like a big freight elevator, that lifted the boat several stories high to the top of a water slide. I was not even in school yet; but I remember I was afraid to get into the boat. At some point a relative lifted me up and placed me in a seat on the edge side of the boat; I cried because I was afraid, I thought I was going to tip the boat over. The boat rocked from side to side which only made me more terrified. By the time we got to the freight elevator contraption, I was nearly uncontrollable. There was a loud clicking sound being made while the boat was rising in the air. Through the metal bars of the scaffolding, I could see the park guests walking around, looking like worker ants to me. When the boat reached the top, it paused. The only sound was of me wailing. Slowly the front of the boat started to tip down and before I realized what was taking place, the boat rushed down the water slide, where it made a huge splash hitting the water. My cries immediately turned to gleeful laughter; I absolutely loved it and wanted to ride the boat again. THE MEMORY OF THAT INITIAL RIDE has stayed with me all these years. I was with family, we spent the whole day at the park, I had an ice cream that had a hard chocolate coating on the outside; it was a beautiful and fun filled day. Imagine if one day I no longer could recall this memory? Would it be floating somewhere in my brain where it would randomly flash itself one day into my consciousness for a moment? I think about this from time to time and have been for many years. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I always want to document with a photograph a noteworthy activity I am participating in so that I will never forget it. When I was little, I thought our brains could only hold a finite amount of memories. I wanted to somehow purge myself of the sad ones. After many years and seeing those I know deal with forgetfulness, I am even more determined to continue to create new, happy memories. I have seen what happens when the brain becomes engulfed with the diseases of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In seeing this romantic drama, I only have admiration for what the main couple had to deal with in their lives. AFTER RECEIVING A TROUBLING DIAGNOSIS, A long term couple embark on a road trip to visit those from their past. With Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) as Sam, Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, Spotlight) as Tusker, Pippa Haywood (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Scott & Bailey-TV) as Lilly, newcomer Nina Marlin and Ian Drysdale (Tulip Fever, Genius) as Paul, this film festival winner won me over with the acting skills of Colin and Stanley. They were able to take a script filled with simple, daily life occurrences and create a quiet powerful piece. The story was touching and for those viewers who know individuals suffering from memory loss, this picture will affect you deeper; though, those unaware will still feel the emotion rising off the script. If it was not for the powerful acting, several scenes in this movie would have gone slowly. Gratefully, I appreciated all the work the actors and crew put into this beautiful film. I believe I will remember this movie for a long time.
IF I HAD BEEN IN HER situation, I would have been the picture of gloom and doom. Her attitude was something that needed to be bottled and sold at a store for all of us who could not move on from “bad news.” An acquaintance of mine was a successful businesswoman. She had her own business with 8-10 employees. Her company turned a profit every year; nothing exorbitant, just small and steady. After several years, she met a man and started dating him. He was a “big” talker who had all these ideas to get rich quick. One of his ideas on making her company bigger was to buy a competitor and merge the companies. At first, she simply acknowledged his plans, telling him she would have to think about it. But as time went on and he kept providing her all these statistics on how to increase her business, she started to believe him. He promised he would look out for her as he submerged himself into the negotiations. She was falling in love with him and in turn, trusted him. During the process he updated her on the offers, telling her she would need a bigger staff to handle all the business they would be getting after the merger. You know where this story is going, don’t you? I won’t bore you with all the details; instead, I will get to the outcome. The companies merged and remained successful, except her boyfriend embezzled thousands of dollars to the point where the business failed, and she had to file bankruptcy. IF THAT HAD BEEN ME, I would have become a wild man. She did everything she could to get the money back; but with limited resources and he had spent the money, she had to walk away from him and the business she had started years ago. She was sad about the loss of both her company and her boyfriend who turned out to be a swindler. I think it was a few weeks before her sadness began to turn to ambition and she started thinking about what she would like to do next. This is the reason I admired or maybe I should say, appreciated her gumption. If that had been me, I would have wallowed in the depths of sadness and depression for months and months. I know at some point I would have been in the throes of a massive rage that would nearly consume everything around me. Regarding the loss of her company, I do not know what things she had control over. I think I am paranoid enough to have scrutinized every document, invoice, bill and payment before approving anything. My lesson that I still need help learning is, I cannot control the things that are not in my control. The main character in this comedic drama is someone I could admire for not letting life’s challenges permanently weigh him down. NO MATTER WHAT FATE FELL UPON him, each turn of events gave David Copperfield, played Dev Patel (Hotel Mumbai, The Wedding Guest), the ability to find a way to get his life in order and do what he was meant to do. With Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland, House-TV) as Mr. Dick, Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Snowpiercer) as Betsey Trotwood, Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars franchise, Game of Thrones-TV) as Jane Murdstone, Peter Capaldi (World War Z, Doctor Who-TV) as Mr. Micawber and Aimee Kelly (The Duke, Wolfblood-TV) as Emily; this film festival winning modern take of the Charles Dickens’ classic was warm and charming. I thought Dev and Tilda were outstanding in their roles. The way the story was filmed provided more levity than I had expected; it was such an easy and enjoyable film to watch. If you are a Dickens fan, I feel you will want to see this picture even with its updated flavor on the story. Those not familiar with the story would still enjoy the fancifulness of the production and the positive message.
AS MY EYES SLOWLY OPENED, I saw something large and white outside my window. Getting out of bed, I walked over to the window and saw the whiteness was part of a glacier. Overnight our cruise ship headed to Glacier Bay and now in the morning light, it looked to me like we were blocked by white cliff mountains. I quickly dressed and went out on deck to see as much as possible. The silence was noticeable; the ocean water was still except for a periodic shudder from time to time, as if the water had gotten a chill. Admittedly, the image of the Titanic crossed my mind; however, our cruise ship was sitting in place as it slowly turned like a clock dial, to give the passengers as much of a view as possible. The slow spin and silence were lulling me into a calmer state when suddenly I thought I heard a bolt of lightening crack the air apart. To my left, a portion of a glacier snapped off and was falling into the ocean. Many of the passengers on deck oohed and aahed as they watched with me this “baby” glacier slipping under the surface, only to rise back up in a horizontal position. I remember reading in one of the tourist books that this act of ice breaking away from the glacier was called calving. Just as quickly as the silence was broken by the falling ice chunk, it reverted to its peaceful quiet place. HAVING EXPERIENCED SUCH AN EVENT SPURRED me on to plan another trip back to Alaska. For this next trip, I wanted to go to places I had not seen before; so, I researched cruise lines to see what my options would be. I found one line that incorporated a land portion that sounded intriguing to me. Because I am someone who does not take advantage of all the cruise line offers, such as eating volumes of food or participating in group activities, I see cruise ships as floating hotels. Instead of me packing and repacking from city to city, my room travels instead. After choosing the cruise line and picking out the extra excursions, my date was set to return to Alaska. I was so looking forward to my trip and the possibility of getting some incredible photo shots that I bought an extra rechargeable battery for my camera. Everything was falling into place; however, there was one thing I had not planned. As my cruise departure was looming closer, the news started reporting on a mysterious virus that was getting people sick to the point of killing them. Every week there were more and more instances of people getting sick until states and countries were telling its citizens to stay home. I spoke with the cruise line and after a time I realized I would have to put off my trip until it was safe. After watching this documentary, I am not sure I will ever see Alaska again by boat. AS PEOPLE WERE STARTING TO GET deathly sick, an unknown virus made its way onto a cruise ship. At the time, it would turn into the largest outbreak outside of China. This film festival winner was directed by Hannah Olson (Baby God, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.-TV series documentary). Using passengers’ and crew members’ personal video clips; this simply made film packed a powerful punch. Not knowing what we know now, seeing the individuals on the Diamond Princess cruise liner struggle through the beginning stages of what was to become the COVID-19 virus was horrifying. I could not even imagine how I would have handled myself if I had been in their situation. As a movie watching experience, I cannot say this fulfilled everything I expect in a film. At times I felt I was watching people’s video clips posted online. However, I do not want to take anything away from the delivery method which was intimate and personal. Because of everything I saw in this picture, I must tell you I am hesitant to begin traveling in such a way again.
I LIVE IN A CITY WHERE there has been an increase in the number of shootings. It is hard to listen to the newscasters’ reports on these incidents, especially when it involves innocent bystanders. I hope this does not come out badly; but my thinking lies more along the lines of, if it is two criminals shooting at each other, I am not as concerned as when it is with innocent people. Recently, we have had a rash of drive by shootings that involved children. Several of the altercations had children either sitting in the back seat of a car or playing on the front steps of their home. Maybe I am wrong; but when I hear the stories about a child sitting in the back of the car, I do not believe they are the intended target. A car pulls up to another vehicle and starts firing weapons all over the other, then speeds away; tells me the real target is someone related to the child a/k/a the driver. I find it horrific and sad that young life gets extinguished so easily. Whether it is revenge, or some initiation thing doesn’t matter; the point being, too many people are being killed. It is like they are collateral damage. What I find viler is if the shooters know there are children around and simply do not care. What does that say about our humanity? THE OTHER PART OF THIS DRAMA that I find disgusting, is when these shootings take place in broad daylight. I have seen the news reports where they show a house lined street or a busy intersection that was the scene of the crime. The police are canvassing the area, asking everyone if they happened to see anything regarding the killing. Every report that I unfortunately have come across states there were no witnesses. All I want to say is, “really?” It is as if there is a code of silence through the neighborhood; none of the citizens can offer up any tips or advice. I do not get it; but I can assume there has to be some type of fear that was pressed into anyone who might have witnessed something. For all I know it may be gang related or retaliation for some past transgression. If that is the case and to my earlier point; let the two find an empty spot that is void of life and they can blow each other’s brains out. I have always said children are born innocent; it is adults who teach them to hate and be prejudiced. The four brothers in this action, crime drama had a mother who taught them well. WHEN A CRIME WAS COMMITED AT the neighborhood store, four brothers decide to take matters into their own hands to solve the mystery. With Mark Wahlberg (Patriots Day, Instant Family) as Bobby Mercer, Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and Furious franchise, Black and Blue) as Angel Mercer, Andre 3000 (Semi-Pro, The Shield-TV) as Jeremiah Mercer, Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound, On the Road) as Jack Mercer and Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Lt. Green; this film festival winner was an old fashioned thriller. I enjoyed the whole cast, especially seeing younger versions of actors I have gotten to know on the big screen. The idea of the story was good; however, I felt the script could have used another rewrite. Though it had some good quips in it, the focus was in this case too narrow. There were some scenes that were steamrolled quickly to get to another scene. I also must tell you there was a lot of violence in this picture and I in no way am promoting or condoning this type of action. With that being said, I thought this film was an easy watch and distraction, filled with some excitement.
2 2/3 stars
THE OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE FOND memories the past year has been a challenge for many of us. The ability to be with friends and family was hampered because of the restrictions placed due to the pandemic. I realized this when I tried carryout food from an unfamiliar restaurant for the first time. When I walked into the place to pickup my order, I was struck with the similarities the place had with a restaurant I used to go to when I was growing up. There were orange, fake leather booths along the walls with various sized tables in the middle of the room. They even had the same kind of lighting hanging down that I remembered when I was a kid. They were oversized, circular colored paper lanterns that gave off a subdued warm glow. I was so surprised by the restaurant’s interior that I felt like I had been transported back to my youth, sitting in a booster chair at our neighborhood restaurant. Adding to my memories, was the food I had ordered. When I brought it home and opened all the packages, the aromas and look of the different foods reminded me so much of the food I enjoyed years ago. It was almost like I was having an out of body experience. It was this that made me realize how much I missed not socializing with friends and family over food, let alone just doing things together. THAT NUDGE OF A MEMORY LED me down a path filled with nostalgia. One weekend I bought one of my favorite childhood cereals. When I was little, I would pour the cereal in a bowl, then fill the bowl up with milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I wanted the milk to sweeten up from the sugar that was a major ingredient of the cereal. My favorite thing to do after I had eaten all the cereal was to ladle the remaining sweet milk into my mouth. If I did not have the time, I would just drink the milk right out of the bowl. Weirdly, I can still remember the commercials that aired back then that were for my favorite cereals; favorite meaning any cereal that had sugar. Besides visiting the foods of my childhood, I started going through my photo albums; yes photo albums, that date back to when the only option to take a photograph was the use of a roll of film. There were so many memories stored in my photo albums that the past months seemed to go by faster and easier. And just as things are beginning to open back up around me, I find this documentary to watch that reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes. BEFORE THERE WAS SUCH A THING as streaming or YouTube, there was a blue and yellow store that was filled with every movie you could ever have imagined. It was my 2ndhome. Narrated by Lauren Lapkus (Jurassic World, Orange is the New Black-TV), directed by Taylor Morden (Here’s to Life: The Story of the Refreshments, Project 88: Back to the Future Too) and written by Zeke Kamm (My Life as a Teenage Robot-TV, The Weird Al Show-TV); this film festival winner was such a treat for me to watch. I cannot tell you how many times I would stop at a Blockbuster store to rent a film. The largest number of movies I rented at one time was 10. If you are at all familiar with the Blockbuster store, then you will enjoy seeing this movie. For those who are not familiar, chances are you will get bored with parts of this picture. There was a repetitive quality to the script, where celebrities like Kevin Smith and Jamie Kennedy were essentially saying the same thing about their experiences going to a Blockbuster store. Still, I had a good time remembering all the things I would do in search of a movie to rent. And I am not going to lie here, but if the opportunity presented itself to me, I would absolutely love to visit this last Blockbuster store.
2 ½ stars
IF I HAD LIVED FURTHER DOWN the hallway of my college residence, I would have certainly failed all my classes. At the opposite end of the hallway lived a student who played loud, heavy metal music when he had to study. He did listen to it other times; but during the week, he would play it at the same specific time which I found out was when he had to study. There would be no way I could study, let alone read a book, with such a distraction. When I studied, I had to have it quiet; the same goes for when I read a book for pleasure. I had a friend who could read while the television was on. If that was me, my ears would be picking up snippets of conversations while I was trying to read, causing a distraction for me. I admire people who are not bothered by such distractions. There were some students who liked to study together in small groups. They would congregate in the building’s lounge, fitting themselves around one of the tables or plopping themselves down in a corner filled with beanbag chairs and throw pillows. I would see them huddled together passing around bags of chips and pretzels along with a couple of thermoses filled with what I suspected to be something stronger than a soft drink or coffee. There would be no way I could be part of their study group because I would be constantly distracted. THE WEIRD THING IS WHEN I AM cooking or baking, I like to have some sound playing in the background. Either music or anything on the TV, I like it playing in the background because for some reason it keeps me calm. I always wondered if it is a creative thing, where people who are “making” something like to have a multiple of their senses getting stimulated at the same time. I cannot remember the artist’s name, but there was one I read about who loved to have music playing anytime they were painting. On the other hand, only based on the movie I saw, I believe Vincent Van Gogh preferred silence while painting so he could feel everything around him. It comes down to different creative people experience distractions in different ways. I cannot imagine what it would be like for, let us say, a sculptor trying to create something while having a distraction nearby. There used to be an artist who lived on my block who would always wear noise cancelling headphones whenever they were outside working on a project. With me speaking of distractions, after seeing this Oscar nominated and film festival winning movie, I cannot believe what the main character went through while selling out concert halls. THE PERFORMANCE OF ONE SONG WAS all that it took for the United States government to hopefully find a way to stop the singer Billie Holiday, played by Andra Day (Marshall), from ever singing again. With Leslie Jordan (The Help, Will & Grace-TV) as Reginald Lord Devine, Miss Lawrence (Star-TV, Empire-TV) as Miss Freddy, Natasha Lyonne (Honey Boy, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tallulah Bankhead and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, The Predator) as Jimmy Fletcher; this dramatic music biography must be watched simply because of Andra’s performance. Known more as a singer, this starring role of hers made me think I was truly watching Billie Holiday. Overall, I enjoyed watching this film, though it needed a tightening up on the direction and another rewrite of the script. The reason I say this is because there were such a variety of characters that at times the intensity in Andra’s performance waned. Other than that, I cannot get over the life Billie was living through while trying to simply sing for a living. A deservedly Oscar nominated performance that needs to be seen to be believed.
3 ¼ stars