FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, I have been keeping track of my friends’ and family members’ experiences inside a movie theater. I wasn’t interested in hearing about the movie as much as hearing if everyone in the theater was following the safety protocols. Though I have been fully vaccinated for a few months, my comfort level was low for sitting inside a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. From the comments I received, the movie theaters were sticking to their policy of blocking out the seats around the one the patron picked. In every hallway there was a little stand set up that had sanitizing wipes for people to take to wipe down their seat. My friends also told me all the employees were masked and the water fountains were blocked off from use. Since there was no way to know who was vaccinated, I heard there was a mix of masked and unmasked people sitting in the theater. I knew I would not be comfortable going into a crowded theater; so, I ruled out Friday and Saturday as an option to go to the theater. I also knew there would be no way I could go to an opening weekend release of a film that had gotten a lot of positive buzz and/or was being labeled as a blockbuster. After accumulating this information, the past several weeks, I decided to look for a movie I could go to on a weeknight. IT TOOK ME A COUPLE OF weeks to find a film time that would fit my schedule, but it finally happened last week. The movie was playing right after work; I knew I would be able to get there in time if that theater chain was still showing 20-22 minutes of previews like they were doing pre-pandemic. I had chosen a seat on the aisle in the last row. When I purchased the ticket online, I was the only person scheduled to see the film at the time; I was feeling better about the whole movie going experience. The fact that it has been 16 months since I have been in a movie theater, I was hoping to see a recently released summer picture. However, that was not the case; I was going to see a sequel that had been out for a couple of months. Luckily, I enjoyed the first movie enormously; so, chances were good that I would enjoy the sequel. I look at sequels like baked desserts. One can make the same dish several times and either one time the item doesn’t taste as good as the others made before or something unknown happens that alters the outcome of the dessert. It is a mystery to me. Regarding this dramatic, horror science fiction sequel; it did not disappoint me in the least. FORCED FROM THEIR HOME, THE ABBOTT family discovers there are other horrors taking place in the world besides alien creatures. With Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, Into the Woods) as Evelyn Abbott, Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck, Andi Mack-TV) as Regan Abbott, Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight, In the Heart of the Sea) as Emmett, John Krasinski (The Hollars, 13 Hours) as Lee Abbott and Noah Jupe (Honey Boy, Ford v. Ferrari) as Marcus Abbott; this sequel matched the intensity of the first film. Kudos to John in his directing because I enjoyed the way the tension got built up, along with the incredible acting with extra credit for Emily and Millicent. Like the original movie, the dialog was sparse in this one; yet, I did not find myself ever getting disengaged from the story. The only difference to tell you the truth, was the fact that there was no element of surprise in the discovery of the aliens. Having said that, I feel viewers who did not see the first movie would still enjoy this one just as much as I did. For all my nervousness about going to the theater, this was the perfect picture to welcome me back to my former home away from home.
3 ½ stars
EVERY TIME I WALKED INTO THEIR house; I was always hit with a mix of different smells. One time it could be cedar, vanilla and dust; well at least I thought it smelled like dust. Another time I would smell a combination of wet grass, sawdust and sandalwood. I always wanted to know where these scents were coming from, but it was impossible to narrow it down to a specific spot in their house. You see, there was so much stuff packed into their house, it was hard to decipher which one item or more were emitting the aroma. Not that their house was messy, it was not. Everything had a place; it was just their house had more places than any other house I had visited. I liked visiting this couple because there was always something new to find whenever I would be allowed to play in one of their children’s rooms, when I was a small boy. One time, when I was playing in their basement, I found a stack of old newspapers that were brittle and yellow. Looking at the dates, I realized they had been keeping these papers for over 30 years. I asked them why and they said that it was proof of the historical events that happened in our lifetime. It did not make too much sense to me, since the newspapers were disintegrating from age. AS THE COUPLE GOT OLDER, MORE types of different smells floated through the house. For some reason the inside of the house did not look as bright as it did when I was younger. Maybe the paint had dulled over the years or the lights and lamps were dimmed with age. Or maybe, the house was darker because there was more stuff in it; I really wasn’t sure. Not that it stopped me from visiting the two; I still enjoyed my visits with them. Though I have to say their cooking skills diminished greatly. Whenever we were having a meal with them, there was always some food dish that was either not cooked long enough or burnt. I remember one time there was a plate of my favorite, chocolate chip cookies. The bottoms were nearly black from overcooking and when I tried to bite into one, my teeth could barely break the cookie apart. All I could taste was the overcooked parts; they were so bitter and strong that I could not taste any chocolate. Now despite these, let us say, inconveniences; I still enjoyed spending time with them and listening to their stories. They had such interesting things to talk about and I was always a willing participant to hear what they had to say. I felt the same way about the married couple in this horror, mystery thriller. FOR THE MANY YEARS LORRAINE AND Ed Warren, played by Vera Farming (The Departed, Bates Motel-TV) and Patrick Wilson (Young Adult, The Phantom of the Opera) had experienced demonic forces, the possession of a young man would unleash a force they had never seen before. With Ruairi O’Connor (Teen Spirit, Handsome Devil) as Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland-TV, The Valley-TV) as Debbie Glatzel and John Noble (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Running Scared) as Kastner; this latest installment of the franchise started out with an interesting story line. I thought Vera and Patrick really sold this film because the script was too blurred in its message. At times I found myself being confused with what timeline I was watching, and the scary thrills were just not there for me. Then suddenly a scene would start that grabbed my attention because it was frightfully intense. If Patrick and Vera were not in this movie, it would have received a lower rating; it already had a tired feeling to it. Hopefully the next installment will go back to its roots where it made a name for itself.
IT HAS BEEN A LITTLE OVER one year when we first heard about this new virus spreading around the world. Everywhere I looked there was news about people getting sick and being hospitalized due to this unknown virus. Without the knowledge, all these recommendations were coming out on how to protect oneself: such as avoid touching the face, eyes, mouth, physical human contact and common surfaces. Up until this point, I was going to the movie theaters on a weekly basis. With all this information and warnings coming out, I started questioning whether it was safe to continue going to the movie theaters. Less and less people were there each week. Since it was the tail end of winter, I felt I could stay safe wearing a mask and my winter gloves. It certainly was weird to walk into a theater and see no one at the concession stands. The self-serve beverage machines all had big yellow X’s taped across them and there were no employees behind the candy counter. My ticket was on my phone; so, when I got near the ticket taker, I extended my arm out all the way to avoid getting any closer to him. Funny, he did the same thing with his barcode reader pointed towards me. I WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHEN I walked into the movie auditorium. Not sure what to expect, I picked a seat on the aisle all the way back; so, I could avoid having people walking past me. It turned out, I did not have to worry because only 2 other people showed up, taking seats at the bottom row on the opposite side of the theater. I thought about removing my mask but decided to play it safe by keeping it on. There were ceiling fans slowing turning above, but I had no idea what the air quality was like in the theater. In an odd sort of way, I enjoyed having few people sitting in the theater with me. I did not have to be annoyed with the talking, texting and milling about of people that I typically experienced in the past. For two weeks I continued my schedule of going to the theater, despite the COVID news becoming more ominous. There was talk that our governor was going to order our state to be shut down. I wondered what I would do without a first run movie to review, from the theater. The last week before the shutdown was ordered, this film came out at the theaters. I debated with myself if it was a good idea to go since the news was getting worse; I decided to take a pass on this action, science fiction mystery and stayed home. It was a good call. FINDING THEMSELVES IN A MEDICAL FACILITY, five young adults were the test subjects in a study to determine what was their special powers. The doctor running the study said it was to protect them, but something did not feel right about the place. With Maisie Williams (Then Came You, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rahne Sinclair, Anna Taylor-Joy (The Witch, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Illyana Rasputin, Charlie Heaton (Shut In, Stranger Things-TV) as Sam Guthrie, Alice Braga (Portrait of a Thief, Elysium) as Dr. Reyes and Blu Hunt (Another Life-TV, The Originals-TV) as Moonstar; this film festival nominee was the movie studio’s attempt to create an origin story about the X-Men. This movie dragged on for a good portion of the time. Though I enjoyed seeing Maisie and Anna in a different type of role, the script was poorly written. I thought the few special effects were meager. In fact, there was blandness to this picture, both visually and mentally. I am glad I did not pay to see this, and have it become the last movie I saw in a theater before our lockdown.
1 ½ stars
ONE THING I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND puzzling is the wide range of guiltiness that resides in each human. I am talking from one extreme to the other; where one person shows no guilt for doing something that is morally wrong, to someone else who feels guilty over something that has nothing to do with them. There was a period, earlier in the year, where it seemed as if every time I watched the news a domestic crime took place. A father and son were arguing and the father stabbed his son with a knife, two cousins were at a family dinner where they got into a fight and one of the cousins shot the other, and a son killed and chopped up his mother because she would not give him money for cigarettes; these were some of incidents the news was reporting. In all cases I could not see the slightest inclination of a sense of guilt from any of the perpetrators. I was dumbfounded; where in the world did these individuals think their behavior was acceptable? When I see or read about such things, it makes me wonder if the ability to feel guilt is a learned thing or part of a human’s genetic makeup; I find it baffling. TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THE differences, I now will question someone when they apologize for something where they had no part in the cause and reaction. A friend of mine was always saying he was sorry whenever I was talking about something that happened to me. We could be walking side by side and I suddenly dropped something I was carrying in my hands. He would apologize to me. I asked him why he was saying he was sorry; did he slap the item out of my hands? Each time he apologized for something unrelated to himself, I would question him on it. It took some time before he broke the habit and as a result, I found out why he was doing it. He told me when he was younger, he felt there was nothing he could do that would win his father’s approval; it caused him to constantly feel bad about himself. We talked about this for some time as I tried to help him see the goodness inside of himself. Unless he did something that caused a person distress, he had nothing to feel sorry or guilty about. I explained it was one thing to feel empathy for a person, it was another to say you are sorry. If you are curious about the levels of guilt then you might be interested in watching this film festival winning, dramatic crime movie. EARNING A LIVING WAS GETTING HARDER for Wilfred James, played by Thomas Jane (The Thin Red Line, The Mist). There was a way he could solve his problems; however, his wife was standing in the way. With Molly Parker (The Wicker Man, Deadwood-TV) as Arlette James, Dylan Schmid (Horns, Once Upon a Time-TV) as Henry James, Kaitlyn Bernard (The Professor, The Healer) as Shannon Cotterie and Neal McDonough (Timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Harlan Cotterie; this horror film based on a Stephen King story provided a steady pace of gloom and doom. I thought Thomas did an excellent job of acting as his story unfolded. There was more suspense than horror in my opinion, though there were a couple of icky scenes. What I enjoyed about this picture was the avoidance of the usual scare tactics; the script and direction really focused on the main character’s decline. Also, the sets and location shots helped in creating a sense of isolation for the viewer. Guilt is certainly something that can have an affect on the human mind and body; this movie proves it.
2 ¼ stars
I WAS FORCED TO LISTEN TO a parent and son negotiate over a candy bar. This is one of the downsides of waiting in line at the grocery store. The son had been whining and crying over something as they lined up behind me. I did my best to ignore what the two of them were saying to each other; however, when the young child said he would behave if he could get a candy bar, my ears perked up. Right at that point, I decided the child was being manipulative. And to my surprise, the parent agreed and let the son pick out a candy bar. Who was the adult, I wondered? This would never have worked when I was growing up. I was surprised the parent agreed; but then again, there is little that surprises me these days. Having seen and read stories about the parent/child connection, I have gone from being in awe to being horrified based on a parent’s actions. There was the case of the parents giving their younger son for Christmas, the shotgun their oldest son used to kill himself. What kind of message are the parents giving their child? I know I have mentioned this before, but there was that trial where the parent was being accused of hanging their 2-year-old child out on the fire escape of their apartment building. Unconditional love evidently is not always a given when one brings a child into the world. NO MATTER HOW MANY NEGATIVE STORIES may be told; gratefully, there are just as many positive stories that come out. I remember reading about a family swimming in the ocean where their young child was attacked by a shark. The father did not hesitate as he went up to the shark and started punching it in the head until its mouth opened enough to get the child out, while still alive. Another story was reported of a mother who saved their child from drowning by keeping them afloat long enough to get them back safely onboard their pleasure boat that had drifted far away from them. I have always been puzzled with the way some parents are willing to sacrifice their lives for their children, while others are at the opposite end of the spectrum; in other words, they take away the lives of their children. Is it something a person is born with or is it something a person learns upon the birth of their child? I do not know but either way, what I saw in this dramatic, horror story moved me. SEEING WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE SPREAD of an epidemic, a father desperately seeks out a safe place for his infant baby daughter. This film festival winning movie starred Martin Freeman (The Hobbit franchise, Black Panther) as Andy, Simone Landers (Grace Beside Me-TV) as Thoomi, Susie Porter (The Monkey’s Mask, East West 101-TV) as Kay, Bruce R. Carter (Here I Am, Last Cab to Darwin) as Willie and Kris McQuade (Ned Kelly, Strictly Ballroom) as Etta. For this genre of story, this script was such a different take that pleasantly surprised me. I thought Martin’s and Simone’s acting were outstanding. Typically, this type of story is filled with blood and gore; however, that was not the case with this picture; it was thoughtful and moving, allowing the drama to flourish with a brewing layer of tension. I am not sure the writer’s intended this, but I found parallels between parts of this story with current events. The extra bonus to this film was the outdoor scenes of the Australian countryside; there were some beautiful shots done by the camera people. For those of you who are into this genre of movies, you might be disappointed. However, I would ask that you give this film a chance if for nothing else to see a parent’s love for their child.
MY DECIDING TIME USUALLY TOOK PLACE by the third date, but there never was nor would I have ever professed my love for them by that time. Even if the three dates had been the best time of my life, I would never be at a point where I would say such a thing to someone I had only recently met. So, you can imagine my surprise when my friend told me the guy, she had met, expressed his love for her by their 3rddate. Before I uttered my shock, I did ask her how she felt when he said that to her; just in case she did not find it odd like I did. Gratefully she thought it was weird and it made her uncomfortable. I told her to end things immediately; I had seen enough movies and news stories to know things could easily spiral into dangerous territory. When I expressed my concerns, she agreed and said she was not going to talk or go out with him anymore. If he should call, she would tell him she does not feel their relationship can go any further. I told her to be prepared to block him on her phone and social media platforms, because you just never know how these things will go. THE CLOSEST I EVER GOT TO feeling uncomfortable in a new dating situation was when, after 2 dates, the person asked me how our relationship would work. When I looked at them with a confused expression and asked to explain what they meant, they wanted to know where we would have “quality” time within my work schedule, because they were already feeling like I did not have a lot of time to spend with them. I know, this was after having only 2 dates; can you believe it?!?! Right then and there I told them I did not see us having any quality time together, with a wish of good luck in their search for someone who would be a better fit. Compared to some of the horror stories I have heard, I know I was lucky that this example was one of my weirdest experiences. A friend of mine met someone online and fell into an emotional relationship with them for several months without ever meeting each other in person. I do not remember the details because it was such a foreign concept to me; however, I do recall how my friend found out the individual was married with children. I am sure most of us have or know someone who has experienced this same scenario; however, the one in this horror thriller was new to me. THE OFFER OF $1000.00 FOR ONE day’s work was to good to pass up for Aaron, played by Patrick Brice (Leave Me Like You Found Me, The Overnight), who could really use the money. All he needed to do was follow the subject and film them, no matter what they were doing. This film festival winner also starred Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister, The One I Love) as Josef. Mark shared the writing credits with Patrick who also was the director of this suspenseful movie. What I liked about this story was the way the suspense got built up. It felt to me like pieces of the story were being put together in a puzzle. The two actors were so natural in their roles that at times, I wondered if they were adlibbing their dialog. As for the script itself, I found it somewhat predictable or maybe it would be better if I say, it made the characters do some stupid things at times, that I found hard to believe. I did catch my breath however at the twists in the story. This was a simple barebones production that provided a decent punch for the viewer. It also was not an endorsement for answering any ads.
2 ½ stars
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN’T HURT YOU is an idiom I totally understand. Being uninformed or ignorant of something means you do not have to worry or fret about it and I am all for that! For example, if I am feeling poorly I only want to hear someone’s advice if I ask them. I do not want someone to tell me I could have this or I might be suffering with that, because my mind will latch on to their comments and I will start wondering if I am indeed suffering from that infliction. There are already so many things in the world that are scary; why would I want to purposely add something more? What makes this more relevant is what the world is experiencing currently with the COVID 19 pandemic. Listening and reading all the stories that have been coming out has been overwhelming to say the least. I cannot remember what year in school we were taught about germs, bacteria and viruses; the unseen things that could harm us. As adults we understand the risks involved when trying to live our daily lives, but what about babies and young children? I cannot imagine how hard it must be especially now for a parent to explain to their young child why they cannot go outside to the park or go get ice cream. How do you tell them they cannot see what could harm them? EVER SINCE I SAW THE NEWS FOOTAGE of the water buffalo trying to save her baby from a crocodile, it has never left my memory. A baby water buffalo was at the edge of a river, sipping a drink of water. All of a sudden a crocodile popped up from underneath and clamped its jaws around the calf’s leg. Without hesitation the mother water buffalo charged the predator repeatedly until the crocodile let go of the calf. It was incredible to watch. That instinct to protect is something I have seen across the whole animal kingdom. Most humans have the same instinct; however, I have seen incidents where the adult did not have that drive or let me say the awareness of the situation. For the ones that acted on instinct, I was amazed as I saw an adult beat off a coyote that was attacking the family pet. In fact, recently the news showed a mother clinging onto the side of her car as a man was trying to carjack it with her baby still in the back seat. There are so many things we do not see coming but our instincts take over to save our loved ones. The mother in this mystery horror thriller is a prime example. WAITING FOR HER HUSBAND TO RETURN FROM the war Grace, played by Nicole Kidman (Bombshell, The Goldfinch), needed help with the raising of her children and the upkeep of the house. The servants she hired could not understand the special rules she insisted they follow because they did not see anything unusual about the place. With Fionnula Flanagan (Four Brothers, The Guard) as Mrs. Mills, Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World, 28 Days Later) as Charles, Alakina Mann (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Fungus the Bogeyman-TV) as Anne and James Bentley (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Nero-TV movie) as Nicholas; this film festival winner was the perfect spooky story to take my mind off the scary stuff going on around me. Nicole was such a strong force throughout the story; I was quickly pulled into their plight. I thought the directing and acting was a perfect combination in creating a tense story without any hi-tech special effects, creating an old-fashioned horror film. For me, watching this movie was a needed respite from the scary stuff that is currently going on around the world.
THE STORY SHE WAS TELLING DESCRIBED a world that was unfamiliar to me. Right out of school she got married and moved to her husband’s family’s lands up in the hills of Kentucky. The trip did not take them long, which allowed her to see her new home in the daylight along with several of his relatives who were stationed as lookouts. Being in love had an extra benefit here because she did not mind one bit that the home standing in front of her looked abandoned. Her husband, who had no training, built the house and it showed. There was no running water; instead, there was a pump in the back of the house. She would grow to hate the pump, especially in wintertime. Keep in mind; we are talking current times, not a date back in the 1800s. The only heat sources in the house were 2 fireplaces and a potbellied stove. She eventually got used to the house; though she mentioned she had a hard time sometimes coping with it in winter. There would be mornings when the bucket of water they kept in the bathroom for washing would be nearly frozen. Being a city person, I could not comprehend that in this day and age; people would be living in that type of situation. Her story started only 50+ years ago. DUE TO THE STORY SHE TOLD, I was careful when I decided to visit Kentucky. You may think I am paranoid but the image of her husband’s relatives sitting with rifles along the road has always stayed with me. All I could think about was whether her husband’s family was in some type of feud with another family, akin to the story of the Hatfield and McCoy families. When I visited the state I only went to large metropolitan areas. I actually had a wonderful time while delving into the history of those areas along with sampling the local cuisine. The state was picturesque which provided me with many photo opportunities. Driving down the road seeing several horses trotting across an enclosed pasture made me pull over to take a photograph. The things I was seeing were so far removed from the things my friend told me about regarding her time living in the state. The two worlds were so opposite. Granted I was simply a tourist who zeroed in on the sights I wanted to see; it is not like I didn’t know every state has more than one version of itself. I was fortunate and lucky during my stay in Kentucky, unlike the main character in this film festival winning dramatic thriller. WHEN A WRONG TURN LEAVES SAWYER, played by Hermione Cornfield (Fallen, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), in the back woods of a country road; she quickly realizes her education won’t necessarily get her to where she needs to be. With Jay Paulson (Black Rock, Mad Men-TV) as Lowell, Sean O’Bryan (Olympus Has Fallen, Vantage Point) as O’Doyle, Micah Hauptman (Everest, In Stereo) as Hollister and Daniel R. Hill (Above Suspicion, Hunter’s Moon) as Buck; this story resonated with me because of my friend’s time in Kentucky. Does this mean those with no connection to the state should not view this film? Not necessarily because the performance by Hermione was worth watching. The script was pretty generic but I appreciated what the writers did regarding the character Sawyer. There were scenes that did not make sense to me despite the predictability of the script. Except for Hermione, the other characters were a bit too stereotypical for me. What I enjoyed about this picture was watching the story arc to Hermoine’s character Sawyer. For some reason this movie reminded me of Winter’s Bone, though at a much lower level. An added bonus for me was enjoying some of the outdoor scenes of Kentucky and remembering my friend and her story.
THERE IS A BLURRED BOUNDARY LINE when it comes to whether someone is being serious or simply kidding around. I had a friend who enjoyed crossing this line. He had a wicked sense of humor and was quick with the comeback. It was that humor that saved him many times from getting into a verbal fight with someone. Long ago I gave up asking him to try and tone down his remarks, explaining what he thought was funny may not translate to another person. If someone mentioned something about a new article of clothing they were wearing, he would always remark with a negative comment; something along the lines of, “Was it on the clearance rack?” or “Did you buy it to wear at a funeral?” He would then say, “only kidding” followed with complimenting them profusely which in my opinion always came across as being fake. There were times where I was near enough to witness his interaction with an individual and could see in the stranger’s face they thought he was rude. I learned over the years that just saying “I’m kidding” after an off-putting remark doesn’t always cut it. Especially if the person you are saying it to you does not even know you and your humor; it really turns into an uncomfortable situation. NOW I BET YOU ARE ASKING yourself why am I friends with such an individual and trust me, I have asked myself the same question at times. Though we have history together, I learned many years ago not to react to his catty comments. After awhile of not getting a reaction out of me from his remarks, he stopped doing it to me. Believe it or not, he did have some good qualities I value in a friendship; so, I put up with his behavior. It would be nice if we could cut out the things we don’t like about a person, but that is not the case. The way I feel about unconditional love is the same way I feel about friendships; one has to accept the entire person or not. For example, I had a friend who constantly cancelled plans we made together. I would reach out to see if they wanted to get together for lunch or dinner and they would be all enthusiastic about it. Then, a day or two before we were to get together they would cancel on me. Once or twice I can understand; but after several times I switched things up and told them to let me know when they wanted to get together. I am still waiting for that invite. In my world, that person is more of an acquaintance to me then a friend. For the friends in this comedy horror, I would be fine if we were not even acquaintances. STUCK OUT ON A YACHT IN THE middle of the ocean, it didn’t take long for three best friends to get sick of each other. With Munro Chambers (Turbo Kid, Godsend) as Jonah, Christopher Gray (Christmas All Over Again, The Mist-TV) as Richard, Emily Tyra (Code Black-TV, Flesh and Bones-TV) as Sasha and Brett Gelman (The Other Guys, Lemon) as the Narrator; this film festival winner had an intentional snarky edge to it. There were a couple of scenes that got my attention, but I am afraid that was it for me. Except for the twist in the story, I was bored through the majority of this movie. There was nothing noteworthy about the acting and at times, I felt some of the action was ridiculous. Several scenes had blood and violence in them, with one of them starting early in the story. It is not easy to pull off a comedic horror picture; I did not experience either of them in this movie. Maybe the writers were joking around but I felt like the joke was on me after I spent the time watching this movie.
1 ½ stars
I SAW THE REQUEST POSTED ON ONE of my social media sites. The person was asking for suggestions and recommendations on food delivery services. They wanted to place an order for food to be delivered to an elderly couple, who did not have the ability to leave their home during the state’s shelter in order. Besides the generosity of this person’s request, the other thing that impressed me was the immediate response they were getting from so many people. As I read through the comments, I discovered this request started because the person’s first choice of a delivery service cancelled the order because they could not fulfill it due to several items being out of stock. What struck me about this was the fact the response was coming from a major grocery store chain. I soon discovered, based on the posted conversations going back and forth, that the items out of stock were some basic household items, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables. This struck me as odd since those items, at least in my experiences, have never been out of stock; especially, the household items which are produced by several different manufacturers. I wondered how long it was going to take this person to find all the items they needed to send to the elderly couple; I hoped it was not going to turn into the type of scenario where they were trying to beat the clock before the elderly couple went hungry. LITTLE DID I KNOW READINGTHOSE comments were only going to be a prelude to what I would encounter when I went to buy groceries. The first thing I noticed when I was walking inside the grocery store was the amount of people who had scared looks on their faces. They were walking up and down the aisles staring forlornly at the empty spaces that popped up periodically along the shelves. The magnitude of the situation did not hit me until I discovered there were no bananas or sweet potatoes to be found anywhere; I could not process this fact. Later on I found out the reason for the absence of these two items was because parents were buying them up to mash into food to feed to their babies. Continuing on my way through the store, I saw polar opposite examples of people’s compassion during a crisis. In one aisle I saw a shopper with a cart brimming over with items. Each item was in multiple amounts, for example 5 bottles of salad dressing. Unless they were buying for multiple families, I felt they were being greedy during these scary times. Soon after I saw a shopper in the checkout line who had 4 loaves of bread in their cart. They were talking to the person behind them and whatever was said, I saw this shopper take one of the loaves out of their cart and hand it to the person behind them. Wow, it looked like an act of kindness. Similar examples to the ones I just mentioned can be found in this film festival-winning movie from South Korea. PASSENGERS ON A BULLET TRAIN BOUND FOR a resort town are confronted with the fact they may not make it due to the zombies that got on board. With Yoo Gong (Finding Mr. Destiny, A Man and a Woman) as Seok-woo, Yu-mi Jung (A Bittersweet Life, Psychokinesis) as Seong-kyeong, Dong-seok Ma (The Outlaws; The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) as Sang-hwa, Su-an Kim (The Battleship Island, Memories of the Sword) as Soo-an and Eui-sung Kim (Wiretap, Six Flying Dragons-TV) as Yon-suk; this action horror thriller was a complete surprise to me because of its heart. With any zombie movie, one gets the idea of what is going to happen; however, with this story, I found the script added depth to its characters. The different side stories of individual people allowed me to become more engaged with their plight. Add in the skillful action and this picture turned out to be a mirror to the times we are living in presently. There were scenes that showed blood and violence; but I did not find them to be the usual gory type one finds in horror films. Whether it is unseen viruses or zombies, both bring out people’s true natures. Korean was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars — DVD