I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why I should pay to have a cable repair person come out to replace the defective cable box the cable company shipped me. Customer service told me they could send me a new box and I could install it, saving the cost of a service call. If I had dropped, kicked or broken the box I would better understand the fee structure; however, they installed the box and after several weeks the box started to freeze up periodically. I would have to unplug it and count to ten before plugging it back in so it would reset itself. It is so annoying especially when it freezes up and does not record the programs I scheduled. It is annoyances like this that can drive me crazy. Even when I had my recent medical episode all I wanted medical staff to do was their job and follow through on their promises. IMAGINE TALKING TO THE nurse about your test results and she says she will call the test facility for more information per my request. She tells me she will call me the next day. After not hearing from her most of the next day I contact her late in the afternoon only for her to hear my voice and say she had my file right on her desk and she forgot to call the facility. I sit there and listen to her rattle off all the things she had to do during the day, less the one thing she promised to do for me. Are you kidding me? I do not know about you but if I do not do my job or at least follow through with what I tell someone it reflects on my performance review. How is it that I and my fellow employees are held accountable for our job duties but I see more and more workers’ lack of care or concern for their job responsibilities not being addressed by their employers? It can be so frustrating which is why I could totally sympathize with the grieving mother in this dark dramatic comedy. MONTHS HAVE GONE BY without any inkling of the police finding Mildred’s, played by Frances McDormand (Promised Land, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), daughter’s killer. Fed up Mildred decides to let everyone know what she thinks about the investigation. This film festival winning crime movie also starred Woody Harrelson (War for the Planet of the Apes, LBJ) as Chief of Police William Willoughby, Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Officer Dixon, Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea) as Robbie and Abbie Cornish (Geostorm, Sucker Punch) as Anne. Hands down Frances deserves a nomination this Oscar season for her unbelievable acting in this role. I know it is a cliché but she was a force of nature; I could not take my eyes off of her. She must have relished the twisted script with all the opportunities to embellish her character. I enjoyed the rest of the cast almost as much but felt Abbie’s role was minor. The one complaint I had about the script was the story arc for Officer Dixon; his development from the 1st to 2nd half of the film did not ring true to me. Honestly I felt the last part of the script quickly tidied up the events and the viewers were left somewhat hanging. Despite these few issues I still was swept up into Mildred’s plight and to tell you the truth, secretly wished I could act out like her whenever I encounter someone not doing their job.
3 ½ stars
I always assumed as we got older we would have fewer things to frighten us. It seems that is not the case, we just trade them in for other ones. These days I hear individuals say they are afraid of growing old or scared to drive at night. I can relate to the growing old one; I still have so many things I want to do that I may not be able to do as well when I get older. Is it proper to say an older person’s fears are more rational than a child’s? I do not think so because I believe a child just has less exposure to the ways of the world compared to a seasoned adult. Recently I was using public transportation and saw a mother trying to get their little boy into the train car from the station. He was crying and screaming it turned out because he was afraid of the sliding doors that opened by themselves. I could understand it if the child had never seen this before; he may have been scared the doors would close on him. I can remember the first time I encountered an escalator; it looked like a scaly snake slithering uphill. My fear was compounded by the warnings about sleeves getting stuck in the rolling arm rails and shoelaces in the moving steps. After seeing other people walking onto the escalator first and with a little coaxing, I finally stepped on one of the moving platforms and rode up to the top. Of course, once I was done I had to go back and do it again because it was so much fun. Fear has a way of holding us back from discovering something new. CIRCUMSTANCES would force young Arlo, voiced by Raymond Ochoa (A Christmas Carol, Pair of Knights-TV), to conquer his fears; they had to if he ever wanted to see his family again. This animated adventure had an interesting idea for a story; what if dinosaurs never became extinct? The writers could have taken this in so many ways, but ultimately I feel it became a secondary theme to them. Instead this story, geared towards children, was pretty much standard fare. It did not offer any surprises for me. However, visually this picture was one of the most beautiful and realistic looking CGI created films I have ever seen. I kept catching myself focusing on the landscapes, trying to figure out if they were actually real. Since I have seen enough of these types of films, this one was strictly straightforward minus the humor. In fact, I was sure one scene showed the main characters eating something that produced hallucinations; I wondered how parents would explain this to their children. For a Pixar studio movie this one was lacking for me. Hopefully this was an anomaly so I won’t become afraid of seeing any of their future films.
2 3/4 stars
I resent it when I am treated like a number or statistic by a large corporation. What happened where the corporate world felt it was not important to offer a personal touch when dealing with customers? At least that has been my experience. This point was driven home by the bank that had my mortgage. When I decided to refinance with them, I never imagined I would spend the following 6 months in corporate hell. From denying my application due to a mistake they made, to giving me three different dollar amounts I would need at closing; the only way I could get someone to listen to me was to show up at one of the bank’s branches and let my dark side out, making a scene. This is not my usual modus operandi but I felt no respect from them. The premise for this movie was set up in a somewhat similar way: large energy company pitted against a small town. Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo, The Adjustment Bureau) played Steve Butler, the company’s representative whose job was to buy up the drilling rights from the town’s homeowners. Joining him was his partner Sue Thomason, played beautifully by Frances McDormand (Almost Famous, Moonrise Kingdom). What the energy company expected to be an easy job was met with resistance from science teacher Frank Yates, played by Hal Holbrook (Lincoln, Into the Wild) and environmentalist Dustin Noble, played by John Krasinski (It’s Complicated, Big Miracle). With Matt and John having written the screenplay, I was hoping for a deeper developed story that provided more insight to both sides. Instead this movie was only a generic version of the proverbial David and Goliath story. The character of Alice, played by Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married, Your Sister’s Sister), rang false to me and changed the dynamics of the story, leading it to a poor ending. This film could have been better if they went with an edgier story; which would have made for a serious, dramatic movie.
2 1/3 stars
What a flashback I got while watching this animated movie. No, not that type of flashback; I am talking about when I went to see the circus with my aunt and cousins when I was a little boy. This film was just as fun but without the animal smells. As the third installment of this franchise, this one was the best one. The assortment of vibrant colors reaching across the screen was just beautiful. Starting where the 2nd movie left off, the furry friends were still in Africa. Feeling homesick for New York City, the group of animals hatched up a plan to get back home. Among the usual cast there was Alex the lion, voiced by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, Tower Heist); Marty the zebra, voiced by Chris Rock (Head of State, Down to Earth) and Melman the giraffe, voiced by David Schwimmer (Friends-TV, Six Days Seven Nights). Once the group arrived in Monte Carlo, the action went into high gear. New character Captain Chantel DuBois, voiced by Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day), was determined to capture Alex so she could mount his head on her trophy wall. I enjoyed the humor that was appropriate for young children, along with having fun lines written with the adult in mind. A madcap chase ensued as the animals traveled across Europe with Captain DuBois hot on their tails. Filled with excitement, laughs and thrills; this wonderful movie had everything to please a young child and a grown-up who was a kid at heart.
3 1/4 stars