WHEN IT CAME TO HEROES IT did not matter to me whether they were male or female. In reality as long as they were decent and kind, it was all that mattered to me. As for the ones I would watch or read about, if they were a good and exciting character, I was all for them. One of my favorite superheroes was Superman; I remember I had a large collection of his comic books, along with Batman. One of the earliest female characters I remember was Catwoman. I loved cats and thought she was quite cunning; she was a perfectly evil nemesis to Batman. From television shows I had crushes on Honey West and Emma Peel. I thought both women were tough and could handle themselves in a fight, though I would have to say Emma was the toughest female character I had ever seen. I would not be lying if I told you I had a crush on her. Watching her in a fight with her martial arts ability, being able to take down a man who was double her size, filled me with dreams that maybe I could become a martial arts fighter. But then, I saw Bruce Lee as Kato and in Fist of Fury and realized I was too overweight to be able to move as quickly as him. DURING MY YOUTH THERE WERE SEVERAL strong females who showed me there was no difference between men and women when it came to toughness. I had a relative who was a sergeant in the military, who had the strongest handshake I had ever felt. She did not back down from expressing herself and would call out anyone who she thought was not acting properly or doing their job. I remember one time we were at a store and the salesperson waiting on us was talking down to her, trying to get her to buy a different item that was more expensive than the one she had in her hand. She firmly expressed her feelings and told him to stop trying to sell her “crap” she had no use for. I may have mentioned this before, but in school there was a girl who was tougher than most boys. Granted she was one of the tallest students in our grade, but she was the first girl I saw throw a punch at a boy that made him cry and run away. I knew immediately to never get on her bad side. Though I have no idea what became of her, I must wonder if the true events that inspired this film had been taught to us in school, what kind of an effect would it have had on her and the other girls. KNOWING THEIR ENEMY HAD HORSES AND guns at their disposal, the general of an all-female unit of warriors was convinced her fighters would prevail. They had to if their kingdom were to survive. With Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Unforgivable) as Nanisca, Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad-TV, Shuga-TV) as Nawi, Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die, Captain Marvel) as Izoogie, Sheila Atim (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Bruised) as Amenza and John Boyega (Star Wars franchise, Attack the Block) as King Ghezo; this historical action drama starred a bulked up Viola Davis who was still able to deliver an amazing character with emotional depth. The movie started out slow for me; however, as it continued playing, I found myself sitting there in awe as the director beautifully laid out strong and memorable scenes, filled with intense fights and emotional depth. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that seemed too far-fetched to have been real; but I still found myself buying into the story. And just from an historical perspective, I am now fascinated about this African kingdom in the 18th/19th century who had this army battalion of women warriors. There were several scenes of blood and violence and an extra scene during the middle of the ending credits.
HOW I WISHED I COULD HAVE been a fly on the wall during their conversation. We had plans in place a few months ago, for all of us to get together at a relative’s house. The matriarch had agreed that we should test for COVID before coming over. I was a guest, so I was going with the flow believing it was a good idea. All was set; we tested and were on our way when we got a call from a relative. It turns out the person’s house we were going to refused to test and started a fight with the guests who arrived first. Even if I had not been forewarned, I would have known something was up because the tension in the room was as thick as foam insulation. Plus, several guests had red eyes which told me there had been tears flowing. Not to bore you with all the details, the most startling aspect of this entire event was how the matriarch sided with the person who refused to test. The thing that annoyed me was how the matriarch, when asked, said she never said she thought testing was a good idea. In fact, she was simply parroting whatever the non-tester was saying to us. There is one thing that I feel is extremely precious for each human being and that is their word. How this elderly woman could go back on what she said was something I found appalling. As I said earlier, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall to see how this relative convinced the matriarch to change her mind about testing. ON A SCALE OF THINGS, I wish I could have been privy to, this incident is far down the list. There are so many places I wish I could have seen or heard that I do not even know where to begin. For example, I would have been fascinated to have heard what was said at the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at their 1943 meeting in Tehran. I think it would have been beyond fascinating to see these three world leaders talking amongst themselves. Another place that I wish I could have seen and heard is the courtrooms where the woman’s right to vote was argued. Imagine what it must have been like to listen to the individuals who argued against the passing of the law; currently they would be ripped apart in the media. Or just recently the Olympic Games where the Russian female skater tested positive for a banned substance; I would have been so interested to hear the arguments on whether to let her skate or not. Hearing the backstory to famous events always piques my curiosity and this film based on a true story hit a bullseye with me. BELIEVING THEY COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE, a Norwegian couple go outside government boundaries to get two adversaries to talk to each other. Their idea could create a big change for the world. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Mona Juul, Andrew Scott (Pride, Victor Frankenstein) as Terje Rod-Larsen, Karel Dobry (A Knight’s Tale, Child 44) as Johan Jorgen Hoist, Tobias Zilliacus (The Hypnotist, Hospital-Daughter’s Mother) as Jan Egeland and Itzik Cohen (A Matter of Size, Fauda-TV) as Yossi Beilin; this movie based on a true story was a combination of being dramatic, thrilling and historical. I was fortunate to see the play this film was based on and loved it. This movie does a good job of sticking to the same storyline, but I felt there were a few scenes less engaging. However, the sets and dialog kept me zoned into the story. It is an incredible story that very few knew about back in the 1990s regarding the Palestinians and Israelis. There is little action in the traditional sense; so, if one is not a fan of history, they may not get as much enjoyment as I did watching this picture about an incredible event, made more incredible with the added layers of the story that have come to light.
GROWING UP I DID NOT REALIZE my neighborhood was idyllic, at least for me. But then, I would think any child who grows up in the neighborhood where they were born would think the same thing, as long as they haven’t experienced any type of trauma. I lived in a large apartment building that wrapped around a street corner, so there were 2 entrances for it. There was not one apartment on our side where I did not know the people living in them. In fact, when I had just started walking, I would go out in the hallway and get myself down 2 flights of stairs by sitting on my backside, to visit the neighbor on the 1st floor. The neighborhood was filled with kids my own age who became friends of mine. We would play outside all the time; every parent on the block knew each kid. One of our favorite games was hide and seek among the apartment buildings’ gangways and back porches. Looking back, I wonder how many steps/flights I would have done during a game. With my building we had 2 separate staircases connected by a cement backyard. The various stores in my neighborhood were all familiar with me and my family. I could walk into the drug store with a note from a parent and the pharmacist would hand over any refilled prescription medicine to me without any qualms. When I got older, I could be outside at nighttime with friends, and no one had a concern or fear. AT SOME POINT, I DO NOT remember when, the draw of the suburbs became strong and started pulling my neighbors from their homes to settle past the city limits. The same was true with stores. I remember a men’s clothing store that closed and was replaced by a shop that had black lights to illuminate some of their rock posters and T-shirts. Some people would call the place a “head shop.” I guessed it was because it was messing with one’s head? Where the neighborhood had a strong homogenous look to it, things started to change. I hope this does not come out as a judgement; it was an observation. The store signs in my neighborhood were backlit; in other words, three dimensional for the most part, either actual signage or individual letters. I noticed the new store signs coming in were more like banners or made with strong paper. In my mind they did not look permanent to me. Some of the stores began putting up signs in different languages which I discovered bothered some of the older residents in the neighborhood. Change may not always be easy for certain people; you can see it for yourself in this biographical drama. DURING THE TUMULTUOUS TIMES OF THE 1960s in Ireland, a family experiences something they had never imagined taking place in their small, friendly neighborhood. With Jude Hill (Magpie Murders-TV) as Buddy, newcomer Lewis McAskie as Will, Caitriona Balfe (Ford v Ferrari, Outlander-TV) as Ma, Jamie Dornan (A Private War, Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) as Pa and Judi Dench (All is True, Victoria & Abdul) as Granny; this multiple Oscar nominated film was directed and written by Kenneth Branagh. Based on true events from his childhood, he created a beautifully filmed and directed piece of work here. I loved watching this movie and thought the entire cast worked as one solid, magnificent unit. There was something about the way Kenneth filmed the characters in close or looking up at them that made the visuals stronger. Granted, the actors gratefully could emote without saying a word. The script was solid though there were twinges I felt of manipulation to pull at one’s heart strings. For me, I was able to relate to some of the neighborhood scenes, though I am not sure this would be universal across all viewers. However, it should not deter one from experiencing such a well-done picture.
3 ½ stars
IF I HAD NOT SEEN IT with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. I felt like I was watching the animal sidekicks of an evil, animated character. I was over at a friend’s house, who has five cats as pets. They are outdoor cats according to him. All of them are tabbies who are lean and muscular, at least in my opinion. Anytime I have been at my friend’s place, the cats have always been friendly towards me. This time my friend was telling me he had to take one of the cats to the veterinarian for some health issue. We visited until it was time for him to get ready. He had gone into the coat closet and pulled out a pet carrier. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple of cats sit up from their reclined positions, staring at the carrier. My friend started to walk over to one of those two cats. As he got closer to her, she let out this sound like a yelp. I do not know where the other three cats were, but they bolted in and joined the other cat to surround the cat my friend was nearing. It was surreal as they hissed and meowed at my friend, all the time keeping a tight circle around that one tabby. My friend turned his head towards me and said this happens each time he must remove one cat out of the pack. NONE OF MY PAST EXPERIENCES WITH cats ever included this scenario. I have seen cats hiss and cry, but that level of protection towards another cat is something I had never seen. Granted, I do not have any other friends or family who have five cats; but even then, I do not know if it makes a difference if a cat is an indoor or outdoor one. I have loved cats all my life; I can sit and watch them play for hours. There is one friend of mine who uses a laser pointer to get his cat to exercise. This cat will follow the red point of light all over the floor, the couch or chairs, even try to go up the wall to catch it. I have relatives who had one of the most docile cats I had ever known. This cat, I think, was part human because he knew when you were available to play with him or when you were sad, to come over and sit by you. I could lift him up and drape him around the back of my neck, where he would stay perfectly content while purring deeply in my ears. Like dogs, I think cats have distinct personalities. The artist in this biographical drama believes the same thing as I do. TAKING IN A STRAY CAT DID more for Louis Wain’s, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Courier) career than almost anything else. Some would say it was an obsession; others would say it would be his legacy. With Claire Foy (The Crown-TV, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) as Emily Richardson-Wain, Andrea Riseborough (The Grudge, The Death of Stalin) as Caroline Wain, Toby Jones (A Boy Called Christmas, The Mist) as Sir William Ingram and Sharon Rooney (Dumbo, Zapped-TV) as Josephine Wain; this film based on true events shined a little brighter due to Benedict and Claire. The mix of whimsical and serious scenes made for some variety, though some areas of the story could have used a deeper dive into them. I had never heard of Louis Wain, but I believe I have seen some of his work. The story itself appeared to have a lot of things to explore; I am not sure the script did it justice. However, from a historical and dramatic aspect, I stayed involved with the characters. And the cats were quite cute to boot.
I REMEMBER WATCHING IT BUT DID not actively seek it out. After school I would walk home and usually grab something for a snack before dinner. Since I was sitting and eating, I would turn on the television and channel surf the stations. What caught my eye was the fact there was a TV show filmed in black and white. As I sat there watching it, I was struck by the female lead’s physicality; she had an expressive face and she knew how to use it, besides the physical exertion she would put out in her movements. It fascinated me because I could not recall seeing a female on television who did this same type of comedy. I became enthralled by the show and began to make it a point that I got home in time to catch this show. The funny thing is, I thought I was watching a new show each week. It turned out they were repeats, that the original airing of the show was some years earlier. No matter to me, I got swept up into the lives of this couple with their neighbors and friends. I do not easily laugh out loud, but I found myself more times than not, laughing at the antics the female lead was getting herself in to every day. IT WAS MANY YEARS LATER THAT I discovered this woman who played that lead was a very shrewd businesswoman. I had seen her for many years on her various television shows and movies, besides guest starring on other TV shows. The things I knew about her were more in line with the fodder that gossip magazines put out; however, after doing some research I discovered not only was she a smart individual, but her husband was as well. After all this time I still can see one snippet of a scene from her classic television show and immediately recall the entire episode; it is as if I was there as part of the set, the memories are so crystal clear. What a remarkable life this woman led. At one time, approximately 60 million households tuned in to watch her on television. Can you imagine that? She commanded such an audience that evidently the retail establishment made changes simply to accommodate those shoppers that were fans of the show. These facts are historic and just think, I accidently stumbled on the show when I was a little kid, who wanted to watch something while eating my afternoon snack. Because of these memories, I felt I was transported back in time as I began watching this wonderful biographical drama based on true events. WITH ONLY ONE WEEK TO WRITE, rehearse and put on a weekly television show; there were so many things taking place that the viewing audience had no idea were happening. How the female lead not only survived each challenge but went on to become a legend in the process. With Nicole Kidman (The Goldfinch, Boy Erased) as Lucille Ball, Javier Bardem (Skyfall, The Sea Inside) as Desi Arnaz, J.K. Simmons (The Tomorrow War, Palm Springs) as William Frawley, Nina Arlanda (Richard Jewell, Stan & Ollie) as Vivian Vance and Tony Hale (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arrested Development-TV) as Jess Oppenheimer; this historical piece of Americana was brilliant in who was cast it turns out. When I heard Nicole was playing Lucy, I thought for sure she would not be able to handle such a larger-than-life character. I was wrong; I actually forgot it was her because she was so deep into character. Javier was a major surprise because he was incredible as Desi. Honestly, everyone was terrific in this film and though the dialog was tight and smart, I wished there had been a deeper delving into Lucy and Desi. At times, I felt as if the story was getting confused in what it was trying to say. Despite this I still am a fan of this film; it may partly be due to my fond memories of the show.
3 ¼ stars
I SAT THERE STARING AT THIS small electronic box in the middle of the table. Photos of the restaurant’s food options appeared and disappeared across the display screen along with the various advertisements. Besides the box in the middle of the table, there was a crystal cube sitting alongside it. Encased in the cube was a QR code that I had to point my cell phone camera at to download a copy of their menu onto my phone. Once I decided what to order, I waited for someone to come take it. While waiting I noticed across the way a bank of dispensing machines. A couple of them dealt with soft drinks that a customer could concoct various flavors into their soft drink. I tried reading the options on the lit screen, but it was too far away for me to see. I sat there, while waiting for my friend to show up, as my mind drifted to memories of other restaurants, I visited that relied solely on wait staff to hand out menus, describe the specials of the day, and bring drinks and food orders to the table. It seemed to me as if the human experience associated with dining out was being replaced by machines. MY FRIEND FINALLY SHOWED UP, SETTLING herself across from me in the booth. I had not seen her for a long time, yet she looked the same as far as I could tell. She had no issue navigating the electronic devices as she quickly decided what she wanted for lunch. We spent all the time before our food arrived, talking about our shared history such as the company where we both first met, updating on our family members we had heard so much about when we were working together and present jobs. The food finally arrived via a non-descript waiter. It was good to catch up with her; however, I noticed as we were eating that there was not much else to talk about except for things in the past. Her interests and mine were very different; so, me talking about movies would have fallen on deaf ears. Yet, I still enjoyed spending some time with her because of all the memories it stirred up. We had a fun time together when we worked together because we had a similar humor and reaction to the antics that used to take place around us. Still, by the time it came to pay the bill, I was glad we were done because I was “pulling at straws” to find something to talk about with her. I felt sort of the same regarding this action, science fiction sequel. NEARLY TWENTY LATER NEO, PLAYED BY Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, Destination Wedding), is a top video game creator. One game in particular resembles a part of his past life, hmmm. With Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento, Jessica Jones-TV) as Trinity, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Candyman) as Morpheus, Jonathan Groff (Hamilton, Glee-TV) as Smith and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bugs; this film’s saving grace was its humor, believe it or not. The abundance of references and video clips to the past films got to be a bit much, but at least they were entertaining at times. I found the story as murky as the visuals at time; I early on decided not to try and figure anything out, just go with the action. There were some good action scenes and visuals, but nothing that stood out to make this movie elevate itself over the previous ones. The draw for me here was the nostalgia factor and the writers certainly knew that would work. I recalled the feelings I had when I saw the first film; it was a revelation of new surprises. With this one, it was more of a “oh yeah, I remember that” type of experience. If one has not seen any of the other movies, they will probably be confused watching this one. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 ½ stars
AS GRANDMOTHERS GO, SHE WAS THE worst I had ever seen. I was a little kid when I met her, and I thought back then she was a mean person. There was never a smile on her face, nor did she ever want to play with us. I was good friends with her granddaughter; you would have thought she would have made an exception for me, though I quickly learned not to be around her. I still can remember playing outside and she came out with a bag of candy. She appeared surprised when she saw us before she came over to offer her granddaughter a piece of candy. I was sitting right there next to her, but the grandmother did not offer me a piece. Instead, she walked back to the entryway and remained there eating her candy. I felt sad that she did not offer me any candy; but I was not shocked because her daughter, my friend’s mother, acted the same way. This is why I was never asked to stay for lunch or dinner, despite my friend coming over to our house to eat. For the several years we were friends, I noticed more and more how my friend’s mother was so much like her mother. It made sense since children learn from their parents, whether the parents know it or not. WHERE THAT GRANDMOTHER WAS PASSIVELY TEACHING her daughter, I had a neighbor on the block who was molding his five children in his own likeness. I know this sounds almost God like, but the kids dressed like their father even. He was a scientist who always had a studious look on his face. With horn-rimmed glasses that 4 out of his five kids also wore, he was not a parent who you would find playing in the backyard with his family. When I saw him there, he was either building something or reading a book. His kids would either help him or they would be doing some type of activity such as reading, painting or constructing something on their own. They were polite, but not overly friendly; I remember the mother being the friendliest one out of the group. They went to the same neighborhood school as I did; but I rarely saw any of them in a class or hallway. I used to wonder what they could be doing because they were nowhere to be found until I discovered all their free time was spent in the school library. The only thing I could think of was the kids were being groomed to become scientists whether they wanted to or not. I had always wondered the same thing about the world class tennis playing sisters in this biographical sports drama. FROM THE TIME THEY WERE LITTLE Richard William, played by Will Smith (Gemini Man, Suicide Squad), had a plan that would make his daughters known around the world, whether they wanted it or not. With Aunjanue Ellis (The Help, Men of Honor) as Oracene “Brandy” Williams, Jon Bernthal (Baby Driver, Fury) as Rick Macci, Saniyya Sidney (Fences, Hidden Figures) as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton (Goldie, Godfather of Harlem-TV) as Serena Williams; this movie based on historical events was fascinating to me. Maybe it is because I am a fan of tennis; but I found the story fascinating. Granted, I do not know if everything I was seeing happened in real life; however, Will’s performance was so good that it kept me drawn into the story. At times, I thought there was too much tennis being shown that took away from the story and I also would have appreciated getting more back story when the girls and Richard were much younger. The other aspect I admired in this film was the purposeful way they stressed education and fun. Whether scenes were accurate or not, this was an engaging film and there is no denying the sisters are history worthy.
3 1/3 stars
I FELT SAD FOR HER PATIENTS, wondering what it must be like to have her as their therapist. She was a neighbor of mine and granted I did not know much about her, but I heard a lot of talk about her. From the few times I had interactions with her, I felt she had an edge. You know that energy that comes off a person that is stark and harsh, sensing it might shock you like static electricity? Well, she had it in spades. I never saw her smile; only having seen a sour look on her face. She had piercing eyes, but they did not look happy to me. They didn’t have that spark of life in them, only a brown dullness. When she said she was a therapist I was stunned because never had I felt a warm fuzziness from her. At least a sense of empathy; I could not imagine what time of “bedside manner” she must have had with her patients. I mean seriously, even her dog was not friendly. It was always barking at anyone who came near it and I knew it was not a friendly bark because the tail was not wagging. I had heard several things about her from other neighbors who had a run in with her. Some of the complaints were: she didn’t pickup after her dog, she never acknowledged any of them with a hello when their paths crossed on the street or at the grocery store and she took up two spaces when she parked her car. Seriously, I had no idea how she psychoanalyzed someone. MAYBE I AM GUILTY AS OTHERS by stereotyping what a therapist should look like; I am not sure. I do not believe I am alone in assuming certain people gravitate to certain professions. I remember riding the train into the city and having a conversation with the individual next to me. When I mentioned I was a fitness instructor, they looked at me and said right to my face, “You do not look like an instructor. Don’t they usually have muscles and are more on the slim side?” I was dumbfounded. All I did was give a slight chuckle and tell him there were no body requirements to teach fitness because we deal with the entire body, not just making muscles. I am not sure he got it, but it did not matter to me. It is funny because I make a point of telling a new class that I am not a typical fitness instructor; I do not just eat broccoli and tofu and live at the gym. I tell them I would like to sit at home, eating a pizza; but know I must balance out that desire by helping my body maintain all its functions. Then I add by doing this work now I hope I delay having to depend on someone or something to help me function in my daily life. If nothing else, I pride myself on being different and that is one of the reasons I especially enjoyed watching this dramatic thriller because that was the reason the main character was asked to help his country. DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD war, a British salesman was asked to go on a sales call to the Soviet Union. Hopefully he would be able to make a contact. With Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) as Greville Wynne, Merab Ninidze (My Happy Family, Jupiter’s Moon) as Oleg Penkovsky, Rachel Brosnahan (I’m Your Woman, Patriot’s Day) as Emily, relative newcomer James Schofield as Cox and Anton Lesser (Miss Potter, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bertrand; this historical film based on a true story was a good old fashioned suspense picture. I was attracted to the methodical pacing of the story as well as to the whole look of the film. The acting was excellent as I felt like an insider to that era’s crisis. Another reason why I enjoyed this film was specifically due to not having any special effects or product placements from a marketing department; I simply enjoyed hearing and watching a story, albeit an important story.
3 ¼ stars
IT IS ALL IN THE DELIVERY I discovered. There is something about a dynamic speaker delivering a message to a group. I saw proof of it when I was a reader at a wedding ceremony. Not that I want to brag, but there was a person before me who did a reading that had no feeling to it. More importantly, I did not feel any connection to what the person was saying regarding the couple being married. I looked around the church and saw some of the guests were looking down or whispering to each other. This made me more nervous than I already was since I was to be the next reader to go up to the altar to read a passage. Despite having practiced reading my passage for a couple of weeks, when it was my turn and I stood up, my stomach still trembled with nerves as I made my way to the alter. Once in position at the podium, I looked out at all the guests before taking a deep breath and began to read. I made a point to read slowly and look up at the audience from time to time. My biggest fear was put to rest when I did not fumble mispronouncing any of the words. After the ceremony, people stopped to tell me what a wonderful job I had done. In fact, one guest asked if I would be interested in becoming a reader at her church. The spoken word was alive and well and I felt good about my “performance.” SINCE THAT WEDDING, I HAVE PAID closer attention to speakers I encounter. Whether they are in person or televised, I notice the things they do or not do to engage with their audience. At a convention there was a seller in front of his booth who was talking about the products his company had developed. I happened to be familiar with the products; however, if I hadn’t been, I would not have stopped to listen to this presenter. He was monotone in his delivery, just standing still in one spot. It was a shame because the products were quite good. To make matters worse, this booth was next to another one that had a spokesperson who was dynamic and funny. Too bad their product was limited in its abilities; but you would not know based on all the attendees who were congregated around this booth to listen to the presenter. I could only imagine how the dry speaker next door was feeling with no one paying attention to him. Let us face it, having a spirited person as a spokesperson/leader is what can motivate people to want to be part of the experience they are talking about. There is a clear example of this in this Golden Globe winning, intense biographical drama. AS MORE INDIVIDUALS BECAME ATTRACTED TO what Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Black Panther, Queen & Slim) was telling them; the more concerned was the FBI. They needed to find someone to get close to Fred and his organization; but who would want to do such a thing? With LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You) as Bill O’Neal, Jesse Plemons (The Master, Game Night) as Roy Mitchell, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, The Deuce-TV) as Deborah Johnson and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Jimmy Palmer; this film festival winner grabbed my attention from the beginning and never let go. The entire cast of actors were remarkable in acting out their characters; however, Daniel and LaKeith were the big standouts for me. The script was both powerful and scary at the same time, to the point there were parts of this film that came across as a thriller. Taking the story as it was presented in this film, I could not believe what was being done to Fred Hampton. Not only was this an historical period of time being depicted in this picture; it was being told in a powerful and engaging way that I would soon not forget.
3 2/3 stars
ONE YEAR I HAD TO TAKE two history classes back to back, one was US and the other was European. The instructor for the US history class was an older man who, you will not believe, looked like Benjamin Franklin, but with shorter hair. He was balding on top with a ring of hair around the sides. When he wore glasses, they were small frameless lens that kept sliding down to the tip of his nose. When I first met him, I thought of Benjamin Franklin immediately; all he needed was a kite with a key tied to its tail. For some reason I equated his appearance with being a good teacher. From the class syllabus, I knew we had a lot of ground to cover regarding US history. The first class is usually devoted more to introductions and expectations; his was no exception. He went over what was expected of us, the testing he would be administering and his grading system. Nothing he said was out of the norm; though and this is just me, I thought his delivery was a bit dry. The 2ndclass I had with him laid the groundwork for what was going to be a grueling year; he was boring. Most of our time was taken up by him reading to us from a book. I could have done that on my own. There were no historical insights offered by him, very little debate initiated; the time always dragged slowly with this professor. THE FIRST DAY WALKING INTO MY European history class, the instructor who was standing near the door, bellowed, “Who might you be and where did your family originate from?” I was startled; but did not show it, telling him my name and where my ancestors came from. After attending my US history class, then walking into this one; wow, there was a stark difference right from the start for me. This instructor turned out to be a character. There were times he came into the classroom dressed up in clothing that was fashionable for the period we were studying. He regaled us with colorful, historical stories that mirrored what we were presently learning. I looked forward to coming to this class for the simple reason it was informative in a fun way. Compared to my other history class, you could not have asked for two totally opposite ways of teaching a class. I could see with my classmates’ interactions with the instructors that this European history instructor was teaching us to think and learn, not just memorize what was being told to us. This was such a preferable way of learning; almost as good for me as this historical, action adventure film. WITH ANCIENT CHINA BROKEN UP INTO several different kingdoms, a lone man arrives to give the king of the Qin empire the weapons from his dead assassins. It would take a special man to come anywhere near the king in his palace. With Jet Li (The Warlords, Fearless) as nameless, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Internal Affairs, The Grandmaster) as Broken Sword, Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love, Days of Being Wild) as Flying Snow, Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, House of Flying Daggers) as Moon and Daoming Chen (My 1919, Internal Affairs III) as the King; this film festival winning and Oscar nominated movie was gorgeous. One should not think of this picture as a typical “kung fu” or “marital arts” film; the fight sequences were so creative and visually stimulating that they looked like a choreographed ballet. The sheer size of the sets and cast was astounding; and yet, at the heart of the story there was a strong element of love. I believe the script was created from an element of historical truth; but I do not know by how much. Regardless, if the intention of the producers was to teach the viewers some history while entertaining them, then sign me up for next semester’s class.
3 ½ stars