I COULD BUY MYSELF PAINT, BRUSHES AND CANVAS; but that would not mean I am an artist. Even if I had an abundance of confidence, I could not pretend to be a painter if I had never done it before. Now, that is me; however, there are people who start or try something new and decide they are an expert in that field. I can see someone being passionate about a new-found skill and immersing themselves into it, but I would not consider them an expert. For example, someone discovers they have a knack with numbers. They decide to pursue it, taking all the math classes they could through their school years. Gaining as much knowledge as possible, they open the possibility of becoming a CPA, actuary or pursue their love of math into a teaching position. I commend such an individual because they represent one of my philosophies: do what you love, and the rest will follow. What this means is if a person can find something that they are passionate about and pursue it into a lifelong career; then everything in their life, including money, will fall into place for them. This is a beautiful thing when it happens; but one needs some self-awareness. YEARS AGO, I WAS RENTING AN apartment in the city. I decided to paint the rooms, so I went out and bought a few cans of paint, choosing colors I felt would complement each other. I did what I felt was my best, being careful not to have any paint drips or streaks on the walls. It took me several days to finish the project because I was going slow since I had never painted before. When I finished I was pleased with the results. After I put the place back in order, I invited a few friends over to see my new apartment. One friend brought someone with them who after hearing I had done the paint job began to tell me the things I did wrong. The way she was talking I thought she was a painter or interior decorator. After listening to her comments, I asked her where she went to school for interior decorating. Imagine my surprise when she said she had no schooling for decorating; what she learned came from the magazines she read. I stood there and thought this woman had a lot of nerve critiquing my painting efforts; who was she to tell me what I should have done differently? I may have been fooled by her but that was not the case with the main character in this dramatic action thriller. WHEN HER CLOSE FRIEND WENT missing Gloria’s search, played by Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin-TV), found her at the mercy of a drug lord. She would have to do things she had never done before. With Ismael Cruz Cordova (In the Blood, The Pastor) as Lino, Cristina Rodio (The Condemned, Red Hook Black) as Suzu, Damian Alcazar (Herod’s Law, The Crime of Padre Amaro) as Chief Saucedo and Ricardo Abarca (Motel Acqua, Cumbia Ninja-TV) as Poyo; I had a hard time believing this story because of the poorly written script. Gina did a good job of acting, but the rest of the characters were a bit cartoonish for me. The drug gang could have been more threatening, and the initial reason Lino became attracted to Gloria was ludicrous to me. Considering everything Gloria encountered I did not believe a person in that situation could have performed all the things that were shown in the movie, particularly the way the story ended for her. If the writers would have instilled a more threatening atmosphere with more grit, this film could have been better. After the picture ended I left not believing what I saw and not believing I had to sit through it.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS RATHER COMICAL AS my friend was the intermediary between me and her friend. I was talking to my friend on her cell phone while her friend was on my friend’s landline. The two of them had each just seen the same movie and had different reactions to it. With phones in hand my friend called me up and peppered me with questions and comments. I actually found it an interesting experience because I was seeing the movie again thru someone else’s eyes. Some of the questions made me rethink my interpretation of the story as I tried to piece together the scenes that originally led the three of us to different conclusions. The process was a positive one; I felt it expanded my mind to accept more possibilities for what was the meaning behind the story. We all stayed on our phones for approximately 20 minutes, going back and forth with our ideas and thoughts about the film. By the time we said our goodbyes none of us had changed our opinions; we in fact agreed that each of our points were valid. It would have been nice if we could have asked the writers what they were trying to achieve. AS YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED I enjoy seeing a movie that makes me think. However the bottom line for me is that I am at least being entertained; this is how my star rating system is set up. The story doesn’t have to always make sense nor do the production values have to be a work of art; all I care about is wanting the movie to take me away. I have walked out of some films where I had to mull over what I had just seen on screen. Why did the character do this particular thing or why did the writer add this plot twist can linger with me for some time. If I can reach a conclusion that appeases me then the picture was a total success; but if I walk out of the theater confused and still lost in the story, then as time goes on the lower my enjoyment level drops. You must agree it doesn’t feel good to have sat through a movie for a couple of hours and not feel some sense of satisfaction afterwards. Well I have to tell you I still do not know what I saw in this dramatic fantasy adventure. BIOLOGIST LENA, PLAYED BY Natalie Portman (Jackie, Black Swan), agrees to be part of a team to investigate an unexplained phenomenon in hopes of explaining what happened to her husband. With Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, LBJ) as Dr. Ventress, Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Anya Thorensen, Oscar Issac (Star Wars franchise, The Promise) as Kane and Benedict Wong (The Martian, Doctor Strange) as Lomax; this film played out more like a mystery to me. I will say I was intrigued with it as the story kept my interest for the most part. The acting was excellent and I thought the production values were excellent. The visuals both in their unusualness and simplicity were a good counterpoint to the puzzling story. One of the issues I had with this picture was the characters; they were pretty much stereotypical and I did not see much depth to them. By the end of the movie I was confused to the point where I felt I witnessed something extraordinary, but I just could not explain what I had seen. My guess is there will be a lot of discussions in store for those who go see this film.
2 ½ stars
A FIXTURE OF THE establishment for so many years, most people coming in to the place simply look past him. They do not know what an impact he has had on the business over the years, but I do. Unassuming, close to being an introvert, he is politely quiet; he only engages in a conversation if you start it. I have only seen him dressed in neutral colors and if there happened to be a logo on any of his clothing it usually was from one of the local sport teams. Despite his, shall we say meek appearance; when it comes to a life or death situation he becomes a whole different person. Out of everyone who works with him, he has saved the most lives. You could try to argue it is because of his work schedule that he is at work when there are more people coming into the place, but it would not stick because the employees agree he doesn’t waste a second nor second guess himself when an alert is announced over the loudspeakers. TO ME HE IS an unsung hero; he doesn’t look for accolades or monetary gain when racing to save someone’s life. He is not the only unsung hero I know; there are others who have made a difference and are some of the most unassuming individuals you could ever know. In fact I know a couple of unsung heroes who are not even human. There is a person I know who was saved by his dog. He and his family were sleeping one night when an electrical fire started in one of the lower levels of their house. Since they were all upstairs they did not get woken up by the smoke or noise. However the family dog went into action by jumping up on the parents’ bed, barking and pulling at the blanket. All the family members woke up with a start and immediately smelled the thickening smoke from below. Calling 911 they quickly gathered together and made their escape. Who knows what would have happened if their dog had not run into their bedroom to wake them up. If you want to learn more about other non-human unsung heroes then feel free to watch this animated, adventure comedy. WANTING TO DO MORE with his life Bo, voiced by Steven Yeun (I Origins, The Walking Dead-TV), can only think about breaking free of his restraints. Little did he know he would play a part in the very first Christmas. This film festival winner included Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, Tomorrowland-TV) voicing Dave, Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live-TV, Shrink-TV) voicing Ruth, Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Mary and Zachary Levi (Shades of Ray, Chuck-TV) voicing Joseph. This movie was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand I did not mind the animation or the idea behind the story; however the script kept bouncing back and forth between slapstick, goofy scenes to holier reverent action. I found it odd. On one level I thought the script could have been narrowed in scope to focus on one aspect of the story. In a weird way there were times I felt the writers were disrespectful of the story. Also I got bored in a couple of places. Granted most viewers could easily figure out the ending of the story, but why couldn’t the writers add either more consistency or excitement into the story? I think my telling of the dog that rescued the family would have been a better idea to make a movie about than this picture.
Along with the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the same could be said for worth. Let us say you have a person who donates a kidney to save another person; how could you put a price on the kidney? To the person getting it I would think they are getting a priceless gift. Let me go to the other extreme and tell you I have seen situations where I had to wonder what type of value the perpetrator was offering to society. I could give some examples but all of them are ugly to talk about here. During the real estate boom houses were skyrocketing in price, but they were only worth that price if someone was willing to pay it. Value/worth I find is a subjective process. The thing I would like to know is when did the worth of human beings decrease in value. Before it became an issue, I remember watching players on a sports team continue playing even though they had incurred an injury. Growing up I rarely heard about someone getting a concussion. Being involved with companies from around the world for my job, I stay aware of any reported safety abuses of employees that could affect the company’s balance sheet. This is my thinking only but I feel due to society becoming more of a disposable one, along with the need to have immediate gratification, companies had to adjust their thinking. Businesses need to find the fastest way to bring a product to market and make sure it is still a profitable venture. This drive for profits and quickness can lead a company to look at how they could cut down on their expenses to make more money. I think most of us were aware of this film’s story about the worst United States oil disaster to ever take place. What you might not know is how the spill came about; see for yourself what took place in this action film. BASED on true events the floating oil platform Deepwater Horizon was on the verge of striking black gold a/k/a oil. What the owners would soon find out is sooner is not always better. Starring Mark Wahlberg (Daddy’s Home, Lone Survivor) as Mike Williams, Kurt Russell (The Art of the Steal, The Hateful Eight) as Jimmy Harrell, John Malkovich (Burn After Reading, Empire of the Sun) as Vidrine and Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Andrea Fleytas; this dramatic thriller needed a short time before kicking into gear. Action was the number one feature of this picture and I have to tell you it was intense through and through. I felt I was on an amusement park ride as the scenes flowed and ebbed from drama to action. There were some cheesy scenes in the script along with some lines that were sappy; but the underwater scenes, explosions and building fear factor rode over everything to make this an exciting movie watching experience for me. I do not know how much was true in the movie but the bottom line (do you like that business reference?) for me was a feeling of shame and horror on how little the human factor played into the business model for a potential successful business venture.
Anger is an emotion that will always find a way to get out of your body. Some people get ulcers, others numb themselves with alcohol; all due to anger. Prior to getting into fitness, my anger was stronger then me. If someone upset me, my anger was explosive; fueled by years of rage that I had stored inside. One of my coping devices back then was stuffing my anger inside by eating volumes of food. This method led to even more issues that I will save for another time. I am eternally grateful that fitness replaced eating as my coping mechanism. The method used by Majo Tonorio aka Filly Brown, played by Gina Rodriguez (Our Family Wedding, Go for It!), in this musical drama was rapping. She had a lot of reasons to be angry. With her mother Maria, played by Jenni Rivera (Addiction de Salsa – TV), in jail; her father Jose, played by Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Young Guns) unwilling to help; Filly had to find a way to help her mother. Just starting to make a name for herself as a hip-hop artist, Filly was offered a contract that would expand her reach, while at the same time helping her mother. But what would it cost her? Gina and Jenni had the strongest characters to play in this story and their acting met the challenge. They each had a powerful presence on screen. I liked the main story of Filly and wished the writers would have given more of their attention to her character. The side stories cluttered up the true essence of the main plot. I felt I was watching a movie where the writers had a checklist of generic scenarios they wanted to make sure were included into the story. This film portrayed a character’s healthy attempt to control her anger and she earned my support in her endeavors.