BEING THE FATHER OF THE BABY was the only thing I knew about him, besides living with the baby’s mother. I knew nothing else like his job, his age or where he came from. I had seen photos of the baby and she was adorable, always with a great big smile on her face; who she looked like I could not say. There was going to be a large social event where we were both going to attend. The baby’s mother was excited to introduce the baby’s daddy to me, talking about him more than usual up until the time of the party. I got the sense she was proud of him and wanted to show him off to me; I was cool with it. When it was time to attend the party, I decided to wear my suit since the event was being held at a hotel’s ballroom. It was easy to get to the place and I was able to find parking in front, which I preferred instead of going into the parking garage. When I entered the ballroom, I was met with the sounds of a DJ spinning his music from atop a stage set up behind a huge dance floor. I made my way through groups of people until I found a familiar face. It was someone I had known for many years. We made some small talk, commenting on the decorations that were placed about the room. IT WAS JUST BEFORE THE WAITSTAFF came out with dinner’s first course, when I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder. I turned around to see the baby’s mother and I assumed father standing side by side behind me. I said hello to her and commented on how tall she appeared. She chuckled and had to show me the high heeled shoes she was wearing. I laughed then directed my attention to the man standing next to her who had been quiet this whole time. Extending my hand, I introduced myself. He took a hold of my hand and gave it a vigorous shake. The three of us fell into easy bantering, though I noticed the baby’s daddy was focusing all his attention towards me. At some point he insisted he buy me a drink at one of the bars that was set up in the ballroom. My gut was telling me to be cautious; I could not explain why I was starting to feel this way, but there was something about him that put me on edge. I knew the baby’s mother would ask me what I thought of him, but I decided that when the time came, I would try to focus on positive statements. However, time would show me that my gut feeling was right. I have been learning to pay attention to my gut feeling, which I believe one of the main characters in this action mystery was doing as well. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT RACHEL, PLAYED by Diane Kruger (In the Fade, Unknown), that made Mossad agent Thomas, played by Martin Freeman (The Hobbitt franchise, Black Panther), believe she would be the right fit for what the agency needed. But when Rachel delves deeper into her assignment, Martin begins to wonder if he had made the right choice. With Cas Anvar (Room, The Expanse-TV) as Farhad, Rotem Keinan (A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Exchange) as Daniel and Lana Ettinger (Live and Become, The Road to Where) as Operative #2; this drama started with a slow pace before the action was introduced. I thought the story was interesting, especially basing it in Tehran. The issue I had though was with the script; there was very little variance in the level of drama and excitement. I found this film turned into a generic, mediocre production. Diane really did a good job of acting as did Martin; but the rest of the cast was not memorable. When the beginning started out slow, I should have listened to my gut; but since there was nothing else to watch at the time, I took a chance. Several scenes with German, Persian, Hebrew, French and Kurdish spoken with English subtitles.
1 ¾ stars
I WAS FASCINATED WITH IT WHEN I was small, which was the last time I laid eyes on it. Years had passed; where, during this time frame, I became the recipient of a multitude of items from different relatives’ estates. Some were sentimental, others practical and some bordered on being an oddity—at least odd for my lifestyle. I treated each item with the respect it deserved and for the most part could recall a vivid memory I had associated with that item. However, this one particular article was something special because I remembered the relative who owned it. She was a kind and loving soul. There was never a time where she was not happy to see me. Keep in mind, this would apply to any of my relatives because that is how she felt about each and every one of them. She enjoyed being around family. Somewhere in my house I knew I had this piece of jewelry that she wore all the time. Venturing up into my attic I started to tackle each stacked box; I felt I was going back in time with every box I explored. It was not until I was halfway done, after laying hands on so many random non-essential things, I found this small black velvet jewelry case. Inside there it was, a vintage pink colored cameo broach. What made this piece so special to me was the fact the woman depicted in this piece had a resemblance to the woman who wore it. THE CAMEO WAS COOL TO THE TOUCH as I traced the woman’s profile with my finger. Memories flooded me as I stood in the quiet attic, surrounded by a multitude of discarded or half-forgotten items that were bequeathed to me. Among the items I had unearthed were coats, hats, baseball equipment and dinnerware. None of it stood out for me, though I could for the most part remember the relative who wore or used it. None of them provided the excitement I felt when I found this cameo. My relative loved this piece and wore it as much as possible. Whenever I got to visit with her, she would be wearing it. Throughout our conversations, her hand would quietly rise to allow her extended index finger to trace the profile of the woman in the broach. It was done almost in an absentminded way, as if she did not remember she had done the same thing earlier in our visit. Finding this jewelry in my attic was like finding a lost treasure. I felt the same way about seeing this exquisite, dramatic war film. WITHIN A SMALL WINDOW OF TIME, two soldiers must travel behind enemy lines and get a message to the commander of a battalion of troops, to halt his planned attack because the enemy was waiting for them. With Dean-Charles Chapman (Before I Go to Sleep, Game of Thrones-TV) as Lance Corporal Blake, George MacKay (Captain Fantastic, Pride) as Lance Corporal Schofield, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sergeant Sanders, Colin Firth (The Command, The King’s Speech) as General Erinmore and Pip Carter (Robin Hood, The Eagle) as Lieutenant Gordon; this film festival winning World War I story had the most brilliant filming I have seen in such a long time. After sitting through an abundance of poor or average pictures, this one grabbed me right from the start. The director worked at making the scenes all look like one continuous shoot; it was amazing…and at times exhausting, in a good way. Where we do not learn much about the characters, we certainly can feel what the actors are going through in the story. There was excitement, danger, thrills, sadness and horror all mixed within the script. I still cannot get over the amount of physical demands the actors had to endure throughout the film. I felt like I was watching a triumphant piece of work that had familiar attachments but seen in a whole new way. There were a few scenes that could be disturbing for some viewers and a few scenes with blood.
3 3/4 stars
It was one of the items I inherited from a broken relationship. Totally functional, it served a purpose. The item was a kitchen garbage can; it was made of some type of silver metal and had a foot pedal that when depressed would open up the lid. I never liked the way the lid opened because instead of width wise it lifted from the length side. Being of a rectangular shape the lid would plop down with a thud when the foot pedal was released. On top of it the lid did not match up seamlessly with the rest of the garbage can. Another irritating feature may have been my fault but I blamed the can. The plastic garbage bag I would fit inside the can never remained fitted around the rim of the can; after a certain amount of garbage was placed inside, the bag would crumble to the bottom of the can. It was not like I produced so much garbage, but I felt one bag should be enough to last me one week until my neighborhood’s garbage pickup day. Unless I was having a dinner party I never had a full bag. So after years living with this slightly annoying garbage can I recently bought a new one when the old one’s foot pedal broke. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy this new can better. It is quiet where the lid slowly descends to the bordering rim that locks in the kitchen garbage bag that has not fallen once. And I love the way the lid opens width wide so I can scrape an entire dinner plate clean of its crumbs without any escaping to the kitchen floor. Who knew such a small thing could bring me such pleasure. I am sure others have had a similar experience when swapping out an old product for a new one. But when I hear about people doing it to their long term significant others, I do not have an understanding of it. MARRIED for 30 years Inge, played by Ursula Werner (Stopped on Track, Madchenabend), did not know how to tell her husband she had started an affair with another man. This romantic drama also starred Horst Rehberg (The Policeman’s Wife, Verflixtes Missgeschick!) as Werner, Horst Westphal (Du Bist Dran-TV movie, Und Das Am Heiligabend-TV movie) as Karl and Steffi Kuhnert (The White Ribbon, Stopped on Track) as Petra. I thought the acting was excellent but what really kept me involved with this story was my curiosity about the subject. Personally I have not been exposed to situations like the one in this film festival winning movie, though I have had friends who did with their parents. I would like to know about the motivation that makes a person, after so many years being together, take a drastic change. This story seemed real to me; I enjoyed the mix of subtle humor and heart tugging scenes. To me this picture felt like it was depicting real life. All I can say after watching this film is the heart is such a curious creature to me. German was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars — DVD
It felt like I was taking a walk through history. They were giving me a tour of their home, pointing out numerous artifacts. I say artifacts because there was pottery, paintings, tapestries, along with dinnerware items such as bowls and spoons. All of it quite old and displayed everywhere. It was fascinating to me because I knew this person was able to trace their family back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition which started around the late 1400s. Think about that for a second; this homeowner knew about their family members for the past half a dozen centuries; it literally boggled my mind. My tour of the house was almost done but the best was being saved for last. We walked into a room that appeared to be part library, part den. Two walls of the room had rows of bookcases lined across, each filled with hardcover books. At the juncture where the two sides would have met there was an opening or let me say a small alcove. It wasn’t big enough for someone to freely walk into; however, it had enough space for this ornately carved wooden pedestal. As I was directed to it I was told it contained the family’s most precious item. Sealed in a glass box was an extremely old book. It was his great, great, great (I don’t remember how many times they said great) grandfather’s prayer book. This small plain looking book had been handed down from generation to generation. I stared at it imagining how many relatives must have held this book before it was sealed up. As they were telling me about the book’s history there was a twinge of sadness to their voice. I soon found out they were the last of their family; there was no one left to take possession of this treasured item at their death. SOMEWHERE deep in the Amazon was a sacred plant with healing powers. Two scientists would devote their lives to find this elusive miracle. It possibly could take their life. Starring newcomer Nilbio Torres as young Karamakate, newcomer Antonio Bolivar as old Karamakate, Jan Bijvoet (The Broken Circle Breakdown, Borgman) as Theo and Brionne Davis (Avenged, Gentleman Explorers) as Evan; this Oscar nominated and film festival winning adventure biography had a lush, beautiful look that was shot in black and white. For those familiar with the works of Werner Herzog, this film had a similar vibe to it. The original story took me a short time to understand due to the two separate story lines; but afterwards, I enjoyed the way the parallel stories created the world these characters lived in. You could tell the camera work was carefully thought out because there were shots that lingered for the perfect amount of time to convey the feelings. Even some of the camera angles were so well placed to add an extra sense of curiosity for the viewer that I almost wished English was spoken so I would not have to read any subtitles. But I want to say the subtitles in this drama were easy to read and I did not feel like I missed anything. I only hope this will not be the director’s last film. Spanish, Portuguese, Aboriginal and German were spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars — DVD
The more time spent with a person the less one notices any changes taking place. I have noticed this especially when it comes to the physical aspect of a person. In regards to the emotional and intelligence areas, you would think the longer you know a person the better you understand them; I certainly have believed this to be true. But I have to tell you the more I see and hear about people’s infidelity, transgressions and even crimes; the more I am at a loss for words because I cannot process it. What happens that causes a person in a long term relationship to suddenly start cheating on their significant other? Or these news shows that profile a married couple where one of them murders the other one? Stuff like this shakes my belief that 2 people can live happily ever after. I am the first to admit I have trust issues based on what has happened to me in my life; you think you know someone and it turns out you really do not, at least in my case. Though my philosophy may cause more hurt feelings for me, I choose to believe what people are telling me is true until they prove it otherwise. I cannot tell you how many times where I started dating someone who agreed with my definition of an exclusive relationship, yet I find out they had cheated on their previous partners. And do not get me started on some of the other things I have seen people do in a relationship; it can be frightening. LEFT for dead with a disfigured face Nelly Lenz, played by Nina Hoss (A Most Wanted Man, Barbara), with the help of Lene Winter, played by Nina Kunzendorf (Woman in Gold, Unspoken), not only survived the German concentration camps but also facial reconstruction surgery. Her goal was to find her husband Johnny Lenz, played by Ronald Zehrfeld (Inbetween Worlds, Barbara), who was no where to be found when the Germans took her away. This film festival winning drama was utterly captivating to me. With no prior knowledge about this mystery movie, I not only thought the filming of it was beautiful but that the script had elements of tenderness, longing and surprise. The story was set in Berlin after the war which I found made it more interesting to see how people were picking up the pieces of their lives while recalling past events. I thought the director did a wonderful job of letting the actors talk using nonverbal cues; luckily the actors were quite skilled in achieving this method of communication. I found this film fascinating and was surprised to find out my initial thoughts about the characters were not totally accurate. Maybe it is harder than you think to really know someone. German was spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars
I do not need to read a book to know how strong women can be. Televised wildlife programs showing fiercely protective mothers with their offspring are not needed since I was raised among powerful women. My maternal grandmother’s life was devoted exclusively to her children. She had neither the need for friendships nor any outside interests (except for movies); her mission was to take care of her children: my mother and her siblings. There never was a time where my grandmother did not have freshly baked or cooked food in her house. The only traveling she did was from her house to one of her children’s homes. This woman never uttered a bad word; her strongest showing of displeasure was uttering the word “feh.” In turn, each of her daughters was strong in their own way. When my leg was caught in the back door of the local bus; my mother held me up as she ran alongside the bus, screaming and pounding on the door until it stopped. When my aunt’s two youngest children each had a run in with a glass door, my aunt did not wait for an ambulance. She wrapped their bleeding limbs as she put them into her car and sped away to the hospital, where my cousins were stitched up without loss of limb. I was not surprised by these women and I was not surprised with matriarch Ester Stermer’s strength in this incredible documentary. However, I was amazed on what she did for her family. When explorer Chris Nicola was investigating a massive array of caves at the Polish/Russian border, he discovered signs of human habitation. Curious, he began to piece together bits of story and information that led him to the survivors from the cave. Mixing archival footage with reenactments narrated by the surviving family members, this story was unimaginable. During Word War II Esther Stermer led her family to these caves; where they lived underground for nearly two years, avoiding capture by Nazi soldiers. I understood why the director used actors to recreate scenes of the family’s journey; yet, I felt they were tamer than the survivors’ real experiences. Not that I consider this a fault, it just gave me a minor feeling of manipulative, dramatic effect. Seeing and hearing the survivors’ memories had more impact. So many people judge strength by how much weight they can lift or how far they can run and it is certainly a valid method. However, the strength of a protective parent really is a special gift.