IT SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS PROUD to tell me he could eat anything; I congratulated him, telling him I had to watch what I ate. When we met in school, he told me he was diabetic. Later he told me he was surprised by my reaction when he initially told me. I said, “Oh, okay; but don’t think I am going to treat you special now.” Up until that moment most people he had told according to him started treating him differently, as if he could not make his own decisions. Please keep in mind, this happened back in time before we had the technology, we have now for tracking blood sugar levels. From that first meeting on our dorm floor, we became fast friends. We both had opted out of the meal plan offered at the school, instead fending for ourselves in the communal kitchen on our floor. Seeing what he ate on a weekly basis did make me curious how he managed to eat certain foods that I had thought would wreak havoc with his sugar levels. I remember asking him if he took the same amount of insulin each day, after seeing him inject himself in the stomach at the table before we started eating dinner one night. He said he could feel his sugar levels and adjust his insulin dosage accordingly; he would just wing the dosages each day depending on what he planned on eating. It surprised me because he would eat desserts, drink alcohol and snack between meals on an assortment of food items from natural to processed. ONE NIGHT WE WERE HANGING OUT, watching TV. After we had sat through a couple of sit-coms, the news came on. The newscaster listed the night’s news stories that were to be covered during the telecast and one of the topics was the use of service dogs for diabetics. Of course, my friend was curious about it as well as myself; so, we decided to sit through the news until the dog story was covered. I was familiar with the use of seeing eye dogs for the blind, but I could not imagine what service dogs would do for those with diabetes. Well, it turned out to be an interesting news segment. Service dogs were being trained to alert a person when their blood sugar level was out of range. Both of us could not believe what we were seeing, but it evidently was working; the dogs could smell when a person’s levels were out of whack. Though that was such a novel idea at the time, it turns out it was only the beginning to the variety of animals that would be put into use to assist people. Some would come from unexpected places, such as the one in this drama based on a true story. WHILE VACATIONING IN THAILAND A FAMILY experiences a horrific accident that would alter their lives. No one seemed to heal from the event until the children one day brought home an injured animal. With Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry, The Impossible) as Sam Bloom, newcomer Griffin Murray-Johnston as Noah Bloom, Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, The Walking Dead-TV) as Cameron Bloom, newcomer Felix Cameron as Rueben Bloom and Jacki Weaver (Poms, Silver Linings Playbook) as Jan; the story behind this movie was unbelievable and difficult to watch at times. Naomi transformed herself into her character, that easily pulled me into the story. The gorgeous scenery was a bonus as I enjoyed the director’s light touch to letting the story play out in a real way. I am sure there were extra parts that were inserted into the script to manipulate the viewer, but I felt they were not done in a heavy-handed way. And if that was not enough, watching the animal in this film was so amazing and done in such an endearing way that I was captivated. Also, stay for the credits to see actual photographs of the family this film was based on.
I DO NOT WANT TO SAY IT is funny, but it is interesting the way things get put into perspective when a person discovers they have a disease. With certainty I can tell you I would probably “space out” for a time before coming back to reality. When I had a health scare over a year ago, I remember getting the news in a phone call while I was at the movies. After hanging up and walking back into the theater, I spaced out and could not recall what I had just seen when the film finished. Later, I came out of my daze and planned a course of action. That is the thing about disease; it can motivate certain people to stop procrastinating about some things in their lives. I do not know if it was due to the movie The Bucket List, but ever since that film I now hear people talk more about their bucket lists; what they have on it and what they hope to accomplish before they die. There was a time when conversations about death and dying were not discussed; I can remember being told no one wants to talk about something so unpleasant. These days more and more individuals convey their desire to do something right away because one never knows what tomorrow will bring. IN MY WORLD I WAS FORTUNATE that diseases did not come to the forefront until I was an adult living on my own. I remember a mother dealing with a fatal disease while continuing to raise her young children. There also was a friend of the family that found out she had a debilitating disease. After going through multiple tests, she decided to pack up her house and move to a climate that would be kinder to her body. She wound up living her life as comfortably as possible. I just do not know what circumstances take place to make a person either fight back their disease or ignore it and live the rest of their life as stress free as they can. There is a gentleman I know who upon hearing his diagnosis decided he did not want to do any further testing or remedies. He felt the treatments would greatly reduce his quality of life. An acquaintance of mine is furious with her sister because the sister had health issues she ignored for almost one year. By the time she finally went to the doctor her disease had spread further than it needed to go. No one can judge another person on how they react to getting distressful news; one can only support them. See how it is done in this dramatic comedy. ALL MARTHA, PLAYED BY DIANE KEATON (The Family Stone, And So it Goes), wanted to do was live her life out peacefully when she decided to move to a retirement community. Her neighbor Sheryl, played by Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom), did not see it quite that way. With Celia Weston (Dead Man Walking, After.Life) as Vicki, Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why-TV, Paranormal Activity 4) as Chloe and Charlie Tahan (I Am Legend, Charlie St. Cloud) as Ben; this movie had a cast that deserved a better script. The message was right but the delivery of it was embarrassing. I did not see anything creative or new in the story; all the antics were predictable, and I have to say pretty lame. There were a couple of times where I even cringed due to the level of ridiculousness in the scenes. I do not know if it is funny, sad or ironic that this cast wound up in this picture. The reason I say this is because I am sure none of the actors would want this movie to be the public’s final memory of their acting career.
1 ¾ stars
I did not learn about the concept of “having a conscience” until I saw a cartoon where an angel was sitting on the left shoulder and a devil on the right one of a talking duck. The two were whispering back and forth into the duck’s ear, telling the animal what it should do. I was confused though I laughed at the imagery appearing above them anytime they spoke. After asking many questions with a multitude of examples I started to understand what it meant to have a conscience. Throughout the years I have seen more than my share of individuals who must have listened to their conscience’s negative thoughts. I know I am not alone in this regard; simply watching the newscasts, one can see people from all over the world who act out from the darkness inside of them. Now do not get me wrong, I am certainly no angel and a few of my friends can tell you about times where my dark side took over. When a driver cuts me off you better believe I may imagine I’m ramming their car with mine or they run out of gas or maybe their car’s engine dies, forcing them to use the barrier wall to stop their vehicle. However, that is as far as it goes, it is a fantasy. I may hear my dark side telling me what to do but I never act on it. And that is the difference; what makes some people act out their dark side? RYAN Reynolds (Buried, Safe House) played Jerry, an affable factory worker who found himself attracted to coworker Fiona, played by Gemma Arterton (Unfinished Song, Quantum of Solace). However, Jerry’s talking pets kept telling him to kill her. This film festival winning crime thriller was a real dark comedy. I thought Ryan was excellent in this role, playing this kind and friendly fellow who had a dark side. The cast was so much fun, which also included Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods, Cake) as Lisa and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook) as Dr. Warren. Let me add the talking pets had some wicked fun lines. The set pieces really helped this comedy with Jerry working at a bathtub factory and living above a bowling alley. There were some scenes that seemed familiar to me as if I had already seen them in other movies and at one point I was not sure if the director was purposely trying to create some campiness or it was part of the script. Either way I was surprised I enjoyed this film despite the violence and bloodshed. I think you will remain with happy thoughts after viewing this film instead of listening to your dark side.
2 2/3 stars
You can run but you cannot hide from your gene pool. I am well aware of it. Being in a family with a history of high blood pressure was one of the reasons I became a group fitness instructor. Besides the health aspects from acquired genes; there are the, shall we say, odd similarities that can be found among family members. Though my brothers and I do not look alike, we share some common patterns in our behaviors. In my extended family I can find certain similar peculiarities among siblings. For the Stoker family there was a deep darkness that ran through their gene pool. After her father died in an auto accident; the mourning India Stoker, played by Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Lawless), was surprised to find out her father had a brother. The first time she met Uncle Charlie, played by Matthew Goode (Match Point, Watchmen), was when he showed up to stay at her house after the funeral. India’s grieving mother Evelyn, played by Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy, Moulin Rouge), gladly took in Charlie, hoping to find comfort from her loss. Despite finding a strangeness to Uncle Charlie, India became intoxicated with his different ways. It was curious to India why she never knew of him and why he entered her life now. From Korean director Chan-woo Park (Thirst, Lady Vengeance), this film had a rich subtle moodiness to the scenes. I enjoyed the filming with its edge of off centeredness. The acting was wickedly wonderful; I really like Nicole taking on these different types of roles in her past few films. The reoccurring scene of India hunting with her father Richard, played by Dermot Mulroney (The Grey, About Schmidt), was a wonderful addition to the ultimate story. Even Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom) as Aunt Gwendolyn was great, though the role was minor. What held this movie back from being an even better film was the script. There were unexplained situations and a slight lack of depth to the characters. The Stoker family was aptly named; just do not go diving into their gene pool. Brief scenes with blood.
3 1/4 stars