I USED TO SIT QUIETLY BACK and watch his buddies try to emulate him. There were three of them who would follow him all around the school. I will admit he had a certain swagger that made the other students in the school move out of his way. To me, he was just a big bully. His friends knew better than to ever contradict anything he said or did; they went along like sheep following a shepherd. I came close to becoming one of their prime “victims” for abuse and entertainment. One of the friends for a short time did focus on me, hoping to start a fight to impress his friend. I knew better than to get involved when any of them were together; it would have been a lose situation for me all around. Until I built up the courage to fight back, I would daydream about the different ways I could hurt this one friend. I wanted to be someone else who could intimidate a person just by my looks, meaning muscular and tall. When I saw who was getting picked on from this group, I noticed it was usually a more introverted student who did not necessarily look like most of the student population. Let us face it, if someone was wearing something considered unusual, that could not be found in any current fashion magazines or commercial advertisements, they usually would become an easy target. THERE WAS ONE STUDENT IN PARTICULAR who was this group’s favorite prey. The poor student did not have a chance; he was short with a slight build, who had unruly hair and wore what looked like hand me down clothes. The level of abuse that was inflicted on him ranged from a single shove into a locker door to punching him in the stomach followed by spitting on him. No boy ever came to his defense, only a couple of girls would try to defuse the abusive acts. One day we were sitting together in the bleachers and talked about our similar experiences with bullies. He said he wished he could have one day where he could take revenge on all those who attack him. I asked what type of revenge, curious to know if it was like my own thoughts on how I could get even. Throughout the class period we joked about the things we would do, each time getting more and more outrageous with the means we would use to get even with our abusers. I would be lying if I did not say one of us wished we could do what the high school student found herself doing in this comedic, horror thriller. AFTER BEING THE TARGET FOR SEVERAL fellow students, a mystical dagger transforms Millie, played by Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Big Little Lies-TV), into a different person, who only has one thing on their mind. With Vince Vaughn (Fighting with My Family, Term Life) as The Butcher, Celeste O’Connor (Wetlands, Selah and the Spades) as Nyla Chones, Misha Osherovich (The Goldfinch, History-TV) as Josh Detmer and relative newcomer Emily Holder as Sandra; this movie had more entertainment value than I would have imagined. I thought Vince and Kathryn had great screen presence and really dug into their characters in a campy and fun way. Vince especially did a good job to stay on the edge of being a real character instead of a caricature of one. The script was part satire and part homage to slasher films. Now there were a few bloody scenes, but they were quick to pass. For those who wished they had fought back the bullies in their life, this film may tickle your past fantasies of fighting back in a very dark way. The one part that doesn’t seem to have been addressed in reviews is the fun way the writers showed attraction goes beyond the surface.
WHEN MY CO-WORKER SAID HE wanted to stage a walkout, I thought it was a poor idea. Not that I had any negative thoughts about a walkout, it was my co-worker’s reason that I felt was not a cause the rest of us employees would want to participate in. He was upset that he did not get a raise in his salary and that we were not getting a holiday bonus for the year. His salary had nothing to do with me, so there would be no reason for me to join his protest. As for the holiday bonus, sure I would have liked getting one; but it was a gift from the owner, not something that was expected in my paycheck. If my co-worker had a valid reason to start a protest, I might have been a part of it; but what he presented to me was not enough for me help stage a walkout. My refusal did not stop him from trying to entice the other workers to join his protest. There were several employees who were quick to say yes to him. Personally, I felt they would have said yes to anything just to get out of doing their work. But they did not make up a large enough group of employees that could cause a work stoppage. I was glad for it. SEVERAL YEARS LATER, I FOUND MYSELF helping a friend with her walkout. She was a newly certified schoolteacher and was looking forward to having her own class to teach. Here it was her first year at the school and the teachers’ union had set a date to hold a strike. She was upset about it because though this was her first-time teaching, there was no way she could cross the picket line. The teachers’ demands were valid, and I agreed with their cause. Besides better wages for teachers, they wanted to see an increase in school funding. However, I understood my friend’s predicament. Not wanting to sway her decision, I offered my support but did not tell her what I thought she should do. If the strike dragged on, she was afraid it would take a toll on her finances. If she chose to cross the picket line, she knew she would be labeled a “scab” and it would probably stick with her for the duration of her teaching at that school. Then there was the concern of how the striking teachers would treat her once everyone was back in school. She decided to join the other teachers and luckily the strike did not last long as both sides quickly came to terms that were satisfactory. If you are curious about the purpose and function of a walkout, this dramatic film festival winning movie has an amazing example. HAVING EARNED TOP GRADES IN HIGH school Paula Crisostomo, played by Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids franchise, From Prada to Nada), had never cut a class. That was about to change when she saw what was taking place at the school. With Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, 12 Strong) as Sal Castro, Yancey Arias (Bella’s Story, Revenge-TV) as Panfilo Crisostomo, Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) as Francis Crisostomo and Efren Ramirez (Mad Families, Crank: High Voltage) as Bobby Verdugo; this film based on a true story was an utter surprise to me. I had never heard of this high school and its significance in history. Taking place in East Los Angeles during the 1960s, I thought the directing was well done. The script was good even if it seemed as if it was purposely keeping things simple. There was an element of predictability, but it was okay simply because I was making an assumption about the outcome of the story. This was a no-frills production, but it packed a solid wallop of history in an engaging way.
2 ½ stars
AS I WAS DRIVING HOME RECENTLY, I came up to a busy intersection. On three of the four corners there was a group of protesters; each one was protesting a different cause. One group was formed into a circular group that wedged itself by the corner of the curb, while another group lined itself along the curb of both intersecting streets. Each had signs they were holding and if they were shouting anything I did not hear, because I had the radio playing loud in the car. One group had children in it who were standing still as best they could while holding up their signs. What struck me was the fact that the children looked way too young to understand what was written on their signs. This reminded me of an encounter I had with a group of protesters. I was participating in a peaceful march and this group of protesters were shouting obscenities at us. The things they were saying were vile and hateful. The fact they were there just to protest essentially our existence was bad enough; but that they included their children in it was horrifying to me. Here were small kids holding up signs that had evil verbiage that they probably did not even understand. I found it shameful and sad. These people were teaching those children how to hate someone is what it boiled down to in my opinion. I AM NOT THE TYPE TO QUESTION a person’s right to protest; however, I have a hard time when a protester doesn’t understand or care why they are protesting. There was a student who sat next to me in class who always participated in any protests that were being held on campus. Once I asked him about a protest that was going to take place and he could not explain the reasons behind the protest. I started to think he just wanted to get out of class by attending any protest that took place at the school. The only protest I participated in at school was when the school tried to ban the showing of a controversial film on campus. It was peaceful and orderly as we lined up in front of the dean’s offices. From that protest a compromise was agreed upon for the movie to be shown at an offsite location right next to the campus. I know in the scheme of things this one event was not a political or life altering experience and that is okay. The example is still valid; if you do not like the way something is being handled, get out there and make a change. Just see what the group of high school students tried to do in this dramatic movie based on a true story. TIRED OF THE RESTRICTIONS PLACED ON the bathrooms and not being treated equally, a group of students decide to stage a protest. With Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids franchise, Sleep Away) as Paula Crisostomo, Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, American Hustle) as Sal Castro, Yancey Arias (Live Free or Die Hard, Bosch-TV) as Panfilo Crisostomo, Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) as Francis Crisostomo and Efren Ramirez (The Pool Boys, Crank: High Voltage) as Bobby Verdugo; this film festival winner told a story I had never heard before. Based in East Los Angeles during 1968, I thought the directing was excellent in the way it laid out the story to the viewer. There was not a time I was not interested in what I was seeing. The script was adequate, though I felt it was a bit overdramatic at times. As some of you may know, I always enjoy when there are clips shown of the actual people the actors portrayed and this film did not disappoint me. For such a powerful message/event, I have to say I cannot get over I had never heard about this event before and I wonder why.
2 ¾ stars
THE DANCERS ON THE DANCE FLOOR looked to me like one large flower with its petals spreading apart to reveal its stamens; except in this case, the stamens were a man and woman swirling around each other. The people around them moved to the outer edges of the dance floor to give the couple plenty of room to “perform.” The event was a holiday party that was being held at a hotel’s ballroom; everyone was dressed up for the evening. This couple had been dancing together for decades and was not the least shy about being the first ones on the dance floor. Watching them dance, I had to wonder if they had either asked the DJ to play a certain song or hand him one that they brought along with them to the event. They were flawless as they let the music guide them around the floor, perfectly in synch at all times. Where some people dance to be seen; I did not sense that in this couple. They genuinely seemed to be enjoying each other as they ebbed and flowed into a variety of dance steps and movements, letting the music flow through them and come out of their feet. As I continued to watch them, I recalled a time when I used to go out dancing almost every weekend at a club. THERE WAS A PARTICULAR SPOT I liked to stand in, at this one club, where I could see everyone on the dance floor. It was an elevated area that had a long ledge made of steel to match the walls around the dance floor. From this point, I had the crowded bar to my back while I could lean on the ledge to scan the never-ending flow of people coming on and off the dance floor. After a time, I was able to recognize certain “dancers” who stood out for various reasons. There was one guy who danced to be seen. Rarely did he ever pay attention to his partner because he was too busy looking for approval from everyone around him. There was another dancer who enjoyed themselves despite rarely being able to dance on the beat. This was a person that intrigued me because I wanted to find out what they were hearing that caused them to miss the beat. What I loved about the dance floor with its dancers was seeing the utter abandonment many displayed in just letting their bodies move to the music and enjoying themselves. They were not looking for approval, acceptance or acknowledgment; they simply wanted to dance. For those interested, you can see what that looks like in this musical comedy. DURING THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS INTERVIEW HIGH school student Quinn Ackerman, played by Sabrina Carpenter (The Hate U Give, Horns), saw an opportunity to increase her chances for acceptance. The only issue was she would have to learn how to dance. With Keiynan Lonsdale (The Finest Hours; Love, Simon) as Julliard Pembroke, Liza Koshy (Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, Freakish-TV) as Jasmine Hale, Briana Andrade-Gomes (Suicide Squad, The Next Step-TV) as Trinity and Naomi Snieckus (Saw: The Final Chapter, Mr. D-TV) as Maria Ackerman; this movie’s motivation was all due to the dancing. Though I enjoyed the dancing scenes, the story was in step with better made dance films such as Footloose and Flashdance. There was some fun, humorous scenes; but overall, the story was predictable, and I am sad to say, the acting was only average. Now despite all of this, I would not say watching this movie would be a total waste of time; however, for those who are not interested in dance, you will find this film keeps stepping on the wrong beat and on your feet.
2 ¼ stars
ONCE YOU GET SHOVED DOWN INTO that dark place it is hard to convey any of your feelings to anyone. I not only have seen this but I have experienced it. There was a boy in my class that was naturally quiet. I could count on one hand the amount of times I heard him speak in class. Honestly, I cannot say whether he was a good or poor student; he did not stand out which in itself was okay. The first time I had an inkling something was not right was in the locker room. He was in the same row as me, so I was a witness to what had happened to him. While changing out of his gym clothes, two students came up from behind and shoved him into his locker (he was slight of build) and slammed the door shut. As the two students guffawed at their antics a student a few lockers over told the two to knock it off and to go back to their lockers. The student walked over to let the boy out of his locker. Tentatively stepping out, he thanked the fellow student and continued dressing. I kept glancing over to see if he was okay but his expression never changed; it was sort of like a blank stare while he kept looking into his locker as if he had lost something in it. I DREADED THE TIMES WHEN THAT student was not in class because I was the next likely one to be targeted by those bullies. It is a horrible thing to say, I know; but the two of us were on the bottom end of the pecking order that made up our boys’ gym class. It was as if each of us on the low end had this mentality of “every man for himself.” No one amongst us would ever bring it up in conversation and speaking for myself, I never talked about it to anyone. Even with my friends who were in the same class, I would not bring it up. I cannot tell you why that was the case; I only know there was a sense of shame and embarrassment attached to the abuse and bullying each of us had to endure. When I hear in the news about a student committing suicide, I have to say I can understand the reasons why when the act is a result of bullying/abuse. At that age I feel students do not have all the skill sets to cope with such an act of violence so they retreat into themselves. An example of this can be seen in this dramatic, film festival winner. ONE-YEAR MELINDA SARDINE PLAYED BY Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper, Charlie’s Angels), had lots of friends and was doing well in school; the next year, no one is talking to her and her grades are failing. How did one year make such a difference? With Elizabeth Perkins (Must Love Dogs, This is Us-TV) as Joyce Sordino, Allison Siko (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV, CryBaby Lane-TV movie) as Heather, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Mr. Neck and Steve Zahn (War for the Planet of the Apes, Rescue Dawn) as Mr. Freeman; watching this movie was an eye opening experience. Seeing a young Kristen Stewart, I can now appreciate what directors see in her. For such a young performer with sparse dialog, she easily was able to express her emotions and feelings. Despite the script being predictable, my attention to the story did not waiver. Maybe because I could identify with some of the scenes, I found myself feeling closer to Melinda’s story; and speaking of the story, it was an important one that needed to be told. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits that was as equally important.
AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED the best way to learn about someone is to talk to her or him face to face. Words are important, but seeing a person’s eyes and hearing the inflection in their voice are just as valuable. Before dating incorporated online activity, one had the choice to call the person on the telephone or arrange to meet somewhere. Don’t laugh but earlier times involved writing a letter. I enjoyed talking on the phone to someone I was interested in initially, because I felt it allowed both people to feel more comfortable. There wasn’t the added pressure of deciding what to wear or making sure the breath was good or the hair was not sticking out or checking to make sure there was no food stuck between any teeth; for some people these were important details. In my younger days when I went out on a date it usually involved sharing a meal to start off the conversation. Restaurants provided extra subject matter to a conversation, especially if the conversation had lulls in it. On a first date I tried to avoid doing an activity with a set time like a movie or concert. The reason being it did not provide a space to continue any type of meaningful conversation, not to say there always needed to be; but to sit in a dark theater for a couple of hours with someone I barely knew seemed weird to me. HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THOSE in the dating world now. And I cannot even imagine how dating will look once states begin to open up. Let me start prior to the pandemic; there are more options now for those who want to meet someone than when I was starting out in the dating world. With online dating services and apps a person can see whom they would like to meet. I remember talking with a friend about an online dating service and telling him a good bio is the catalyst to get someone to click on your profile. Some people prefer using the apps where they simply swipe to the left of right to show interest in another person. The thing I wonder about is what is going to happen now once the stay at home orders are lifted; how will an individual be able to meet someone? Looking at the children of my peers, I cannot imagine what a person would have to go through to date someone. Would the two individuals have to take their temperatures or answer a series of questions? It is going to be a whole different world and that is why I enjoyed watching this film festival winner’s take on the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac. KNOWN FOR WRITING GRADE A SCHOOL PAPERS for a fee, high school football player Paul Musky, played by Daniel Diemer (Family Pictures-TV Movie, Sacred Lies-TV), was willing to pay anything to have fellow student Ellie Chu, played by Leah Lewis (Station 19-TV, Nancy Drew-TV), write a love letter to a girl he was interested in. Writing about love was not Ellie’s forte. With Collin Chou (The Matrix franchise, The Forbidden Kingdom) as Edwin Chu, Alexis Lemire (The Art of Murder-TV Movie, Truth or Dare-TV Movie) as Aster Flores and Wolfgang Novogratz (Assassination Nation, Sierra Burgess is a Loser) as Trig Carson; this romantic comedy spun a fresh take on the old story. I though the cast was excellent, especially Leah and Daniel. Despite having a few misfires in several scenes, there was a certain charm and sweetness to this picture. Also, I enjoyed the humor that was infused into the story. This film can stand proudly in the way it delivered a solid movie watching experience and who knows, someone may learn the importance of the written word.
COMPARED TO MY FRIENDS, I FELT lucky I did not have to experience it until I was 12 years old. For that was the year I experienced my first funeral. It was at that point where I felt like an adult for the first time. Up until then I was living my life in a carefree way, with no responsibilities or serious life events to experience. There was attending school, piano lessons, taking family trips and playing alone or with friends; my schedule was filled with these activities. After that first funeral things started to change for me. I became aware of sicknesses and diseases that were life threatening, besides my own mortality. If I am being perfectly honest, a part of me resented having to think of these things. I was content being a kid and had no desire to deal with adult situations. Not that I was living an idyllic life as Peter Pan, but I just wanted to stay a kid. And this was despite having friends who had lost loved ones at a much earlier age than myself. It turned out there was going to be something else coming down the road towards me that would cement my status into the young adult world. A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY SIXTEENTH birthday I got my first job. Opening my 1st pay envelope and seeing a check made out to me was thrilling. In this case I was okay being treated and feeling like an adult. I had a weekly schedule that consisted of at least 2 days of work after school and a full day Saturday and/or Sunday. The schedule would fluctuate depending on which employees were available to work a shift. It seemed so adult to me. I would get a kick out of telling my friends I could not join them because I had to go to work, so I could get a paycheck. My experiences were not that unusual from most other people. All of us at some point make that change from being a kid to becoming an adult. For some, it might get triggered by a friend or family member; for others, it may take place during a trip to a foreign land or a hospital. I am not saying the transition will be easy. If you want to see for yourself, watch what happens to the main character in this science fiction, action adventure film. THE OPPORTUNITY OF A SCHOOL TRIP to Europe was perfect for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland (The Impossible, The Lost City of Z). He would finally get the chance to spend time with his classmate MJ, played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake it Up-TV), and tell her how he felt about her. However, he did not take into consideration a phone call from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Glass). This story for this movie picks up a short time after the Avengers: End Game film. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Prisoners) as Quentin Beck/Mysterio and Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, The First Purge) as Mary Parker, this picture was a good transition point for future Marvel movies. The script was light and fun, along with a good amount of humor. Tom and Zendaya were an ideal pairing and I could see them growing into these roles in upcoming installments. When I compare this film to other superhero ones, this one comes up a little short with the “wow” factor. Though I smiled, chuckled and teared up a bit; I was not totally transported into the story. The script could have used a rewrite to firm up the plot because I felt the villain and the story surrounding them needed to be more intense and scarier, for one thing. Also, the whole idea for the villain was weak compared to past Marvel stories. This still was absolute fun to watch and you want to certainly see the 2 extra scenes during and at the end of the credits. Oh, and typical to these films there was a Stan Lee sighting.
3 1/4 stars
IN YEARS LONG PAST, PARENTS WERE either cool or nerds. There was the family who had a mother that liked to dress up like her daughter. It was funny, where no one noticed the daughter’s attire; most people would not forget what the mother was wearing if they happened to see her in the neighborhood. On the other hand, there was another family that had a mother who seemed to be stuck in an era long past; she dressed and looked like an old movie to me. Mothers by the way were not the only ones who would stand out to the kids in the neighborhood. Living a couple of blocks away from me was a father who rode a motorcycle. To a young kid this dad seemed ultracool dressed up in leather jacket and pants with a matching black helmet. Another father in our school district would always tell these “dumb” jokes that made most children groan. It did not matter what our parents did for a living; every child tended to judge other parents solely on their looks and actions. The only time a parent would be considered mean was when they would not let their child come out to play. That was the extent of our feelings about parents. CURRENTLY THE NEWS HAS HAD SEVERAL stories about adults who have or have attempted to commit crimes against children. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen or read news alerts about an adult who tried to lure a child into their vehicle. Recently there was a verdict in a trial where the parents had kept their children locked in cages in the basement of their home. It is stories like these, that reaffirm my belief that people should be required to have a license to have a child. One needs a license to drive a car; so, why not have a test for adults to see if they are fit to have a child? I am not going to go into my rant again about parents who bring their young children to violent/sexual R rated films, just because they want to see the movie, or they do not want to pay for a babysitter. In fact, I am uncomfortable sometimes when I go to review a children’s animated film by myself. The reason being it looks odd to the families sitting around. There I sit, an older man without kids, at a children’s film. I have gotten some curious looks from the parents. They should see the adult in this movie if they want something real to worry about. AFTER SUE ANN, PLAYED BY OCTAVIA SPENCER (The Shape of Water, Hidden Figures), agreed to buy alcohol for a group of underaged friends; she felt it would not be safe for them to be driving and drinking. She offered the young adults her basement as a place to party and she was going to be the best host. With Diana Silvers (Booksmart, Glass) as Maggie, Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers, Cape Fear) as Erica, McKaley Miller (The Standoff, Hart of Dixie-TV) as Haley and Corey Fogelmanis (Girl Meets World-TV, PrankMe-TV) as Andy; this horror thriller needed to thank Octavia for starring in the key role. She was so good in the role that she creeped me out a bit. With that being said, the other aspects of this movie did not live up to the trailers. There were holes in the story where I questioned the validity of the situation; at other times, I thought the script was being lazy and generic. This could have been a real knuckle holder, but instead it only provided me with a glimmer at times of something that could have been frightening. Sue Ann and this movie had something in common; they were both troubled.
2 ½ stars
THERE SHE SAT AS IF WAITING for her prime minister to enter and update her on world events. I would only see her in the communal dining area of the facility. Her hair perfectly coiffed was never out of place, though it did look like there was a thin layer of shellac coating it. Many of the residents would be dressed in a variety of clothing; it could be sleepwear or casual, one never knew what they would be wearing when they came down to the dining room. However, she was always immaculately dressed. Every blouse was tucked in, every button closed and everything always looking like it was just pressed at the cleaners. I asked one of the attendants about her, since I never saw anyone interacting with her. They told me she had been well off financially, but presently she was getting assistance from the state. I was curious why no one talked to her and was told when she became a resident of the nursing home she treated everyone as if they were her servant; except for pointing to things she wanted, she never acknowledged any of the other residents. I guess in her former life she only traveled in circles with other wealthy individuals. SOME PEOPLE FIND THEIR CLIQUE AND refuse to ever stray from it; for others, it is decided for them whether they want it or not. I never understood the power of a clique until I was in school. Each clique had a certain level of importance which brought them specific benefits. The jocks, as one clique was known by, were on the top of the food chain. Because they had the ability to bring massive glory to the school based on their team record, they pretty much had free reign across all school lines. Sure, there would be one teacher who would assert their authority over a jock; but it would rarely take hold for long. Theater students had their own language in a way. They were not afraid to show their emotions, which did not always work to their advantage. Though I wanted to be part of a group simply for survival purposes, I never quite fit into one category. It is the same in my adult life. Being part of a clique for me feels like I must stifle other aspects of my life. I dislike being typecast or pigeon-holed simply because I participate in a particular activity. Because of this I felt I understood what the two leads in this comedy were facing. WITH THEIR TIME ABOUT TO END on their high school years, best friends Amy and Molly, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, Last Man Standing-TV) and Beanie Feldstein (The Female Brain, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), realize they have one day to experience the fun side of high school life and not be the book nerds that everyone believes them to be. With Jessica Williams (Delivery Man, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) as Miss Fine, Jason Sudeikis (Colossal, We’re the Millers) as Principal Brown and Lisa Kudrow (The Opposite of Sex, Friends-TV) as Charmaine; this coming of age, friendship genre story had some fine moments. It was a story that we’ve seen before; however, I found the two female leads endearing. The humor was raunchy at times, but I still enjoyed it and the way the humor could be both verbal and/or physical. Kaitlyn and Beanie worked well together, coming across as two best high school friends. After a point I did feel as if the story was becoming monotonous; at least the soundtrack kept me entertained. With this being the director’s first time out, I appreciated the pacing and telling of the story. The only other thing I have to say is this picture did bring back memories of cliques from my school years.
2 ½ stars
ALL IT INVOLVED WAS WALKING ACROSS the street, but it meant so much more to me. My elementary school that I had been attending for 9 years, if you include kindergarten, was across the street from what would be my high school in the fall. Where the elementary school was half a block long, the high school filled out the entire city block. Though it was an old building my classmates and I were excited to become freshmen, because for whatever reason we felt we would be independent. Not being a closed school campus, we could go out to eat lunch, though all of us were curious about the lunchroom; there was none in our elementary school. Before the end of the school year and our graduation, a field trip was arranged for the 8thgrade students to take a tour of the high school. We walked over in groups and one of the first things I noticed was how everyone in the high school looked older. You would think a span of 1-4 years would not make a big difference in a person’s appearance, but for some reason the way the students were dressed, their demeanor and size made them appear so much older to me. THERE WAS ONE POINT WHERE OUR elementary school teacher left my group to go talk to someone while we were about to get a tour of the gymnasium. We were told to remain in the hallway outside of the gym until she came back. Several of us strained to get a look of the gym through the narrow windows of the gym doors. Suddenly we heard a pinging sound and then a student behind me let out a yelp. When we turned to look who was behind us we found a group of high schoolers blocking the hallway as they threw pennies at us. I had no idea what was going on. A few of the boys in my group yelled at the high schoolers, making threatening gestures towards them. As suddenly as it had started they stopped flinging pennies at us, turned around and walked away into the echoes of gleeful laughter. This was my introduction into high school. Little did I know it was only a prelude to what was in store for me. The summer before the school semester started I spent fretting over what kind of high school was I going to, away from the safety evidently I felt in elementary school. This film festival winning comedic drama’s story is as authentic as it can be, in depicting the transition from 8thgrade to high school. DEALING WITH HER INSECURITIES INTROVERTED 8thgrader Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher (Bad Behavior; McFarland, USA), looked to high school as the place that would give her a chance to overcome her fears. There was the fact that her classmates were also going to the same school. With Josh Hamilton (Francis Ha, Kicking & Screaming) as Mark Day, Emily Robinson (Behold My Heart, Transparent-TV) as Olivia, Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Gabe and relative newcomer Catherine Oliviere as Kennedy; I fell in love with Elsie’s performance. She was utterly believable with the wonderful script given to her. I feel everyone could relate to some aspect of this story; there were parts where I smiled along with others where I was cringing because I knew exactly what Kayla was experiencing. The writer truly tapped into the fears, dreams and hopes of every type of student who is about to enter high school. I especially enjoyed the subtle ways the director had the cast convey feelings without the need to verbally communicate them. This picture gets a grade of A on its report card, even without the throwing of pennies.