SHE SPOTTED ME AS I CAME through the door and did not take her eyes off me all the way down the staircase, until I finally took a seat. In that short amount of time she had already figured me out. The trainer came over to introduce herself to me and explain what was expected of me. I was prepared but still had some trepidation. You see, I had never done this before and did not want to embarrass myself right at the start. After going through the instructions, the trainer took me over to meet her. She was taller and much bigger than me, with a long mane of auburn hair. I was told to extend my hand slowly with the palm facing up, so as not to startle her. She started to pull back, but the trainer told her in a quiet, soothing voice that everything was ok and that I was nice. I felt weird standing there with my arm stretched out waiting for her, I guess, to see if she would begin to trust me. It seemed like a long time but evidentially she took a step forward and lowered her head down to sniff my hand. I remained still for a moment before I began scratching her under the chin and softly tell her she was a good girl. That was the extent of our interaction for the day; I was to return tomorrow for our second session. AFTER MY INITIAL INTRODUCTION I THOUGHT I would have been more relaxed but that was not the case. When I returned the next day, she was walking in a large circle until she spotted me and came to a stop; her gaze locked onto me as I walked down the stairs. The trainer was standing near her and motioned me to come over. I took it as a good sign that she did not back away as I joined them. Today’s lesson was to teach me how to clean her feet and if time permitted, I would get a riding lesson. The trainer handed me some type of brush with what looked like a metal claw sticking out of it; I was to use this to clean her feet after the trainer demonstrated it for me. The process was easy, and I got the hang of it rather quickly. Afterwards there was enough time, so the trainer instructed me on how to mount her and get in the saddle. Having never done this before, it took a couple of times before I could do it. I am sure that was enough for my horse to know I was a novice. And sure enough, once I got settled into the saddle, she took off in a trot with me bouncing up and down atop her back. No matter what the trainer told me to do, the horse was not buying it and did what she wanted to do. I was just grateful she did not try to knock me off her. Through my lessons I gained a deeper appreciation for horses, which explains why I enjoyed this dramatic, award winning film. CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED FOR A VIOLENT crime Roman, played by Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow, Rust and Bone), was enrolled into a prison program that involved the training of wild mustangs. Roman would soon discover he met his match. With Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Henry, Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The ’Burbs) as Myles, Gideon Adlon (Blockers, American Crime-TV) as Martha and Connie Britton (American Ultra, Nashville-TV) as psychologist; this film based on true events told a straight forward story in a simple and surprisingly beautiful way. The filming was eye catching and Matthias’ acting was incredibly intense to the point one could not take their eyes off him. There was a smoldering intensity that boiled and simmered throughout the story. I thought the script was well written as it carried the story between periods of silence and action. This was a quiet and thoughtful movie filled with majestic animals and touching moments.
3 ¼ stars
I HAVE NOTHING BUT ADMIRATION for someone who spent their entire life working to achieve one goal. During a social engagement I was talking with one of the guests who happened to be a plumber. From the conversation we were having, he expressed how he always wanted to be a plumber ever since he was a little boy. While the other kids were playing at the public swimming pool, he was in it trying to figure out where the water was going in the vents by the side of the pool walls. Another time his parents caught him trying to take apart the kitchen sink and drain with his children’s tools. I found it interesting to meet someone who had only one goal and did not care what other people said about him. He did say his parents were not thrilled that he dropped out of college so he could devote all his time to learning his craft. Seriously, one must give him credit for knowing what he wanted to do and then pursue it to make it happen. How many of us wind up in a job that we either dislike or have no investment in it? THINKING BACK TO THE DIFFERENT paths I was on for a career choice, it amazes me that I settled into a position that nurtures me. At one time I wanted to be a full-time fitness professional; like the people you see on the infomercials who have trademarked an exercise method. While that was going on I still had dreams of being either a writer, psychiatrist or veterinarian. All of this superseded my earlier career hope of being an international DJ. Remembering all of this, all I can say is I certainly had eclectic tastes. Do I have any regrets that I did not achieve one of these as my sole profession? Not really, as you can see I had varied interests back then; I never devoted all my time towards one path. On the plus side I presently continue to get much joy out of teaching fitness/yoga classes and writing these movie reviews. I realize not everyone experiences joy from what they do, so I am quite grateful. And if and when the time comes where I can no longer do one of them I cannot imagine I will feel lost. These things are only a part of me, they do not define all of me; unlike the main character in this dramatic, film festival winner. AFTER A SERIOUS HEAD INJURY Brady Blackburn, played by newcomer Brady Jandreau, had to find a way to redefine himself since he was being told he could not do what he loved. Based on a true story this film was made up of newcomers; there was Tim Jandreau as Wayne Blackburn and Lilly Jandreau as Lilly Blackburn. Written and directed by Chloe Zhao (The Atlas Mountains, Songs My Brothers Taught Me), I was at first thrown by this movie. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a documentary or a drama. There was a simple pureness to everything in this picture. From the landscapes to the script to the acting; there was no additional fillers. I cannot say there was action in the story; it was more like a slow burn. Add in the close-up shots and they only intensified the emotional level which I found compelling. The sport depicted in this picture was something I truthfully never gave much thought to before; however, I believe this was an honest and real depiction of these riders. I guess I have only seen the top players on television since this story showed a whole different side. The story to me was haunting and I can only imagine how it must feel being told you cannot do what you love.
3 ¼ stars
SOME OF THE BEST CONVERSATIONS held are the ones between a pet and its owner. I am here to tell you there are a whole bunch of humans who could learn a lesson on communication, if they would watch and listen to owners talking to their pets. First off you would be hard pressed to find someone more compassionate and attentive than a dog or cat. I love both but I must say dogs have more facial expressions and possibly more empathy. Several years ago this happened but it is just as vivid in my mind now as it was when I saw it originally taking place. A friend of mine was going through a crisis; crying while curled up on their sofa. Into the room came their dog who took one look at its owner, came up to the edge of the sofa and jumped up onto a small open space by my friend’s feet. The dog walked behind my friend and plopped itself down between my friend and the back of the sofa, while putting a paw up on his shoulder. I was speechless as I saw the dog placing his head down on my friend’s back and its leg stretched out as far as possible into a hug. SO YOU CANNOT TELL ME OUR pets do not understand our feelings. Simply look into your pet’s eyes and you will find pure love and affection. It is an unconditional love that makes your pet greet you when you get home; even if you were gone for 2 minutes, to them it seems like it was hours. Maybe you have had conversations where you are sharing your feelings with your friend and everything you say elicits a response from them, telling you they experienced the same thing. They may feel they are being compassionate but that does not always produce such results. I know someone who no matter what you say to them they always respond with a story that is worse than the one you told them. It is like they are in competition with you to see who has the most serious ailment or hardship. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and that is where pets make the perfect attentive listeners. They never judge us; all they want to do is love us. Though I have been focusing on dogs and cats, this film festival winning drama will show you another pet that helps someone through a crisis. WITH HIS LIFE IN TURMOIL CHARLEY, played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, King Jack), finds comfort working at the rundown stables of owner Del, played by Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman). It is here he finds a true friend. Not since the movie My Friend Flicka have I seen such a beautiful connection being made between a boy and a horse. Charlie was nearly mesmerizing in his performance; one could feel his emotions and plight. With Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Bonnie and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn) as Silver; I thought the cast did a wonderful job in bringing this story to life. The minimalist script created a slow and steady unfolding story; it felt like I was watching a novel come to life. I am a sucker for a movie with an animal in it; despite that, this was a worthy piece of work with believable characters who showed a true slice of life. Be prepared to experience your emotions as you watch Charley’s and Pete’s journey.
3 ½ stars