Between the people slightly in front an arm was thrust towards me so I shook hands with it. I did not have time to see who was attached to the arm so I asked the person alongside me. It was a city politician who was walking the parade route. Funny this was now the 4th handshake I have had with a political figure. You can learn something from a person’s handshake; I still remember the feelings I experienced when I shook the previous hands. One politician’s handshake was more of a squeeze instead of a shake; he was tightly wound in my opinion. Another politician’s handshake was firm but respectful who deliberately made eye contact, exuding confidence. The most I have been able to say to them was something about being glad to meet them. I think my handshake conveys my feelings; it is direct and firm most of the time. If I happen to get a negative feeling from a person I keep the handshake light and less firm so I can remove myself quickly. Besides politicians the only other celebrities I have met were a couple of directors who came to the screenings of their movies. I have seen actors at different locations but I am not the type to go run up to them and carry on about meeting them out in public. However what I really would enjoy is being able to sit down with them for coffee or dinner and just have a conversation that goes beyond the surface. This would apply to anyone from any facet of life who I admired. I can only imagine how it must have felt for the journalist in this biographical drama. WHEN the phone rang at his office Ed Myers, played by Giovanni Ribisi (The Rum Diary, Ted franchise), could not believe who was calling him. The gentleman on the line said he was Ernest Hemingway. Based on a true story I had never heard of this event. The first thing I have to tell you is I thoroughly enjoyed watching the outdoor scenes in this film festival winner because they were shot in Cuba; talk about timing as the United States has moved away from its previous policy towards the country. Starring Adrian Sparks (The Manhattan Project, The Purge: Anarchy) as Ernest Hemingway and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Mary Hemingway; I thought the acting was good, especially from Joely and Giovanni. Set during the late 1950s in Havana, Cuba the idea to film this story sounded like it would be a dramatic win-win situation. Now I did like this movie but I felt it did not do real justice to the characters; the script kept things too simple so some scenes came across manipulative and over-dramatic. The actual experience was more important than what was told in this picture; but I have to tell you, I would be just as excited as Ed Myers if I were to meet the person who I felt changed my life.
2 2/3 stars
The absence of a reason or answer could fester in the heart and cause an abscess. Sadly I have had experience in this area. We had been dating for several months and it was somewhat startling to me how well everything was flowing between us. The times I spent at their studio apartment were almost magical because it never felt like we needed our own space throughout our times together for entire weekends. It was as if the walls of the apartment faded back into muted curtains of gauze, allowing us to nest into a secret protected area away from the hubbub of the world outside that was whining against the floor to ceiling windows. Then one day everything came crashing down. I was at home when I received their phone call; we had plans to get together later in the evening. They apologized and told me they could not do this anymore. When I asked what they meant, all they said was they could no longer be in this relationship and they hung up. I wondered if there was something I did as I poured over all of the memories I had stored from the two of us, searching for some type of answer. I did reach out to them to try and get an explanation but all of my attempts went unanswered. This was traumatic for me and so that is why I feel the way I do; the hurt will linger as long as there is no conclusion. Another example of the added pain to unanswered questions can be found in this dramatic film. AFTER a tragic, life altering occurrence Sarah and Phil, played by Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies, In Time) and Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde franchise, Old School), spiral out of control unable to help each other during their crisis. This film festival nominee had some intense moments, thanks to Olivia and Luke. I felt it was one of Olivia’s best performances to date. With Giovanni Ribisi (Ted franchise, Saving Private Ryan) as Tim and Ty Simpkins (Insidious franchise, Jurassic World) as Adam, the story was not easy to watch in some parts due to the heavy subject matter. The whole cast contributed to making this a believable film for me. Another thing I liked about this picture was the way they kept the dialog down to a minimum in several scenes. I felt it made them more powerful in conveying the emotions. Now there were a few scenes where I found the actions taking place were somewhat odd, wondering if it was created for added effect. I do want to add that some viewers may feel uncomfortable; not for any physical altercations per se, but for the authentic portrayal of a family in despair.
DISCLAIMER: The description and actions described below do not describe actual people. Any resemblance to an actual individual is purely a coincidence. In addition, the scenarios and/or people do not represent any health club members who presently attend any of my fitness classes. The fitness center was situated on the border between an upper and lower class neighborhood. This produced an eclectic mix of people with different reasons for joining the health club. There were factory workers, executives, family members of organized crime figures; you name it and more than likely they attended the club. I had a large morning class that consisted of policemen, housewives, doctors and students. There were a couple of attendees who never came to class without being in full makeup and their hair in perfect place. The part I had a hard time with was the strong perfume they wore that always wafted just above everyone like a rolling bank of thunderclouds. Besides the assortment of members, the staff was just as diverse. There was one trainer that literally looked like a beast; they were so muscularly pumped up, one had to wonder how they could even bend their limbs. One trainer was engaged to marry another trainer, but one month before the wedding called it off and eloped with the fitness floor manager. Oh, I have to tell you about the aerobic instructor who was a chain smoker. They never understood why no one would stand close to them when they taught class. It was because the stench of cigarette smoke would ooze out of their pores and choke the front row of members; it was utterly nasty. So you see I had excellent training to understand this comedy film. FITNESS club owner Trevor, played by Guy Pearce (Lawless, Memento), was hesitant to let his trainer Kat, played by Cobie Smulders (The Avengers franchise, How I Met Your Mother-TV), work with new wealthy client Danny, played by Kevin Corrigan (The Departed, Pineapple Express). He had good reason to think it. This film festival nominated comedy offered an odd offbeat take on the health care industry. At first glance I thought some scenes were unrealistic; but the more I thought about it the more I realized any of the situations could be feasible based on the things I had seen at the different health clubs where I taught. I still did not get a good handle on Danny’s character until later in the movie. There were a few spots where my attention waned which I attributed to the uneven script. Also, I have to say I did not find the acting that great; the characters never seemed fully developed to me. As an overall experience I did not mind watching this film, but maybe I was grateful I did not have to teach a class there.
2 1/2 stars
I may have seen a few sides to the face of hate, but I am well aware there are many more to it. The word hate, depending on how it is used, can be such an evil term. Sure I use the word when I am stating my feelings about a certain food or about the cold weather conditions; however, it would take on a whole different level of meaning if I were to direct the word towards a fellow human being. While participating in a peaceful march I saw how ugly hate could be from the small group of protesters yelling at us. Hate was the fuel that motivated the high school students who tried to lock me in a locker. While walking down the street a couple of guys used their hate to shove me into a store’s plate glass window. I have always said no one is born with hate; it is something that has to be taught to them. Ugly and insidious, hate thrives on conflict as it continually attempts to plant roots into communities, towns, cities, nations; anywhere on the planet to build dividers within mankind. THIS biographical film festival winner’s story depicted the events that lead to a historical moment in time; a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that led to the securing of equal voting rights for all citizens of the United States. David Oyelowo (Interstellar, Red Tails) had the task of portraying Dr. Martin Luther King in this drama and he did a masterful job of acting. Carmen Ejogo (Pride and Glory, The Purge: Anarchy) played his wife Coretta Scott King. Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) was an interesting choice to play President Lyndon B. Johnson. Honestly it took me a moment to figure out which president he was playing because he did not have the looks or mannerisms I expected. This movie was beautifully filmed; I thought the use of darkness with its small palette of colors added strength to the emotions of the scenes. I thought the directing was well done, even though there were a couple of brief parts that seemed out of place to me. As a movie watching experience this picture was powerful; however, there were several scenes filled with ugliness that were hard to watch. Even if you are fortunate enough that you have never been a victim of discrimination or hatred, I cannot imagine anyone not being moved by this well done film. It has been said that history is a tool that teaches the younger generation. With that being the case, I feel it would be beneficial to see this movie and remember what hatred has and still does to us.
3 1/2 stars
Many have heard the line, “Do it because he/she is your family.” And even if we really do not want to do it, we do to keep the peace. What if the relative did something that had dire consequences, if you did not participate? Chris Farraday, played by Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Boogie Nights), found himself in such a situation. His brother-in-law became involved in a drug deal that went bad and if Chris does not make good on the deal with the brutal drug boss, Tim Briggs played by Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, The Rum Diary), the brother-in-law would be killed. Farraday left that type of life behind, now married with two children. The story was set up to provide us with conflict, time limits, action and thrills. The issue was the execution of it. Wahlberg is not a great actor and tends to be the same character in each of his movies. With lifeless eyes and monotone diction, he does not have screen presence that pops out at the viewer. This movie had some exciting scenes and is fine for those who just want to sit and see some action. Nothing great, nothing horrible; it is like settling for a fast food burger when you really wanted filet mignon.