I KNEW THEY WERE EXPECTING THEIR baby soon but did not know exactly when. As far as I heard the pregnancy had been going relatively smoothly, just the typical things like swollen ankles and nausea were being experienced. When word finally came that the baby was born, everyone was happy to get the news. Along with the baby’s name, we were told about the baby’s length, weight and their full head of hair. However, along with this news there was a request to hold off calling the family because the baby had some complications that needed to be addressed. As you can imagine, everyone wanted to know what was going on but refrained from asking, respecting the new parents’ wishes. For the next couple of weeks, all of us would ask each other if there was any news about the baby. If one person found out something, the news quickly spread amongst us. I was told the baby was still in the hospital and had gone through a couple of procedures. Upon getting such news my instinct was to reach out to the parents, but they early on reinforced their desire not to be contacted due to their hectic schedule for taking care of the baby’s needs, besides being present for their other child. AS THE WEEKS PASSED BY WITH little news, everyone’s attention began to wane ever so slightly. Without getting any updates, it felt as if there was this big hole that was slowly getting filled back up with daily living; that is for everyone except the new parents. At some point word came out the baby was being released from the hospital and would be coming home. We were excited by the news but there was an ominous message included with it; the parents requested if everyone would not ask them how the baby was doing. The only thing they shared was that the baby had been born with a genetic defect and would not grow up in a normal way. This was hard to hear; all of us were feeling helpless. We wanted to do something, even if we could send disposable diapers or formula, anything to try and help. Without any direction we were at a loss and could only keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. I could not imagine how the parents were handling the situation without some kind of outlet to vent, talk, scream, whatever needed to be done to try and find some balance in their life. I felt the same way about the married couple in this comedic, drama adventure. THEIR SON’S OBSESSION WITH MONGOLIA AND belief that he was a goat herder was causing a rift in the family structure. One parent appreciated the vivid imagination, while the other was afraid their son would be ostracized in school. With Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) as Alise, Marton Csokas (The Equalizer, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Connor, Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as Wes, Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi, The Million Dollar Arm) as Ismail and Virginia Madsen (Dune, Sideways) as Victoria; this movie survived on the strength of its cast. The acting was excellent, once again I am so impressed with Jacob’s abilities. He just doesn’t take on a character, he becomes them. My issue with this film was the script. I felt the story was uneven due to the swings between the dramatic and comedic scenes. It felt as if the core of the story was getting shortchanged in its development. Also, there were a couple of scenes that seemed farfetched to me. If I did not enjoy watching the cast as much as I did, I am not sure I would have finished watching this picture. On the other hand, being a strong proponent of communicating, I appreciated what the story did to advocate it.
2 ½ stars
THE SCHOOL I ATTENDED COVERED ALL the grades from kindergarten to eighth. Despite all classes being in the same building, there was a definite division between grades. I started in kindergarten and remained a student at the school until I graduated from eighth grade. The school building never went through any type of remodeling while I was a student, except for the playground. This will be hard to believe; but when I started at the school, the playground was divided into 2 spaces, side by side. One space was smooth, looking like a paved road; the other consisted of gravel. The younger grades were assigned the smooth surfaced playground, while the older students had to take the graveled playground. During my sixth year, when I would have to switch to the gravel side, the school removed the gravel and paved the ground. Though both spaces looked the same the younger kids knew not to go over to the newly paved space; it was still meant for older students. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but what this school policy did was to teach the younger kids that there was a reward waiting for them when they got older. IT WOULD START IN FIFTH GRADE, students trying to befriend older ones. Those who already had an older sibling in a higher grade had an easier time fitting into the older crowds. I had a neighbor who was a couple of grades ahead of me. Anytime I caught a glimpse of him on the newer playground space I would try to come up with an excuse to go talk to him. Looking back at it now, it seems silly; all of us wanted to be treated like we were older, more adult-like students who did not want to be referred to as kids anymore. Girls would consider it a major achievement if they could call a student from a higher grade their boyfriend. It was almost like an obsession; for every grade one advanced, their previous grade was added to the disdain they had for anyone younger. And if anyone had a friendship with a younger student, it was kept a secret. I firmly believe all of this was the catalyst in the formation of cliques. At my school, there was no greater moniker to have than being labelled the “cool” kid. Cool would encompass a variety of traits; but it did not matter, if other students considered one cool then life at school would be good for them. An example of this can be found in this adventure comedy. BEING INVITED TO A PARTY WAS the first step in attaining cool status for Max, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and his two friends. However, if they did not want to embarrass themselves, they would need to take a crash course on what cool kids do at a party. With Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Teachers-TV) as Lucas, Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Thor, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party) as Hannah and Midori Francis (Ocean’s Eight, Younger-TV) as Lily; this film had a lot of profanity being spoken in it. At first because it was being said by elementary school kids, it was funny; however, as the story progressed it lost its shock value and seemed to be the only comedy focal point in several scenes. The three boys were excellent together and did provide a few laugh out moments in the story. I appreciated the way the writers tackled the topics of first love and evolving friendships; they were written with authenticity. For the most part I was entertained by this movie; however, I did wonder if kids today have more pressure placed on them to fit in and be considered cool.
2 ½ stars
IT MAKES ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE WHEN I am talking with someone that has a history of, let me say, not being nice to people. The problem is I never personally experienced it myself, only been told about it. I dislike having to be on my guard when talking to a person; conversation for me should be an easy back and forth of thoughts, emotions and ideas. Back in school it was easy to figure out who was nice. I remember there was a fistfight that took place in the schoolyard and this one boy stepped out from an entire circle of students to break the fight up. Throughout the ensuing years he displayed many acts of kindness and compassion. Interestingly, he had a good friend who you would have assumed was also a kind person; that was not the case though. He pretended to be nice, but he actually was a sneaky kid who could quickly turn mean. I once saw him push a student down by punching them in the back. Imagine how I must have felt when we were paired up for a science project; I was careful around him as I did my best to avoid any type of conflict. RECENTLY I WAS A GUEST AT A social function and was reminded of that lab partner I had for the science project. I had heard about this individual before I was to meet them. Let me just say the stories I heard did not paint a favorable light around this individual; however, I was keeping an open mind until I could meet them. So, the opportunity came up where we were going to meet and just as it was explained to me this person was gracious and sweet at first. From the stories I had heard this person was not yet acting out any of them. Here is the interesting thing; as the evening went on this individual made a couple of comments to someone else that I found to be passive aggressive. The example I will use is this particular comment, where this person complimented another person’s dress. They said the dress was pretty but wanted to know if that was the only color offered. When they were told there were other colors this person said, “I bet a different color dress would look good on you.” I thought the comment was rude and from that point on I was cautious around this individual. The reason I mention this incident is because I wound up feeling the same as I watched this science fiction, action film. BY ACCIDENT A SMALL BOY WAS RESPONSIBLE for alien beings to come to earth. The aliens were interested in one thing. This horror adventure starred Boyd Holbrook (Logan, Run All Night) as Quinn McKenna, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, 12 Strong) as Nebraska Williams, Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as Rory McKenna, Oliva Munn (Office Christmas Party, Ride Along 2) as Casey Bracket and Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Traeger. As I sat watching this movie it started out with a bang of excitement. From there it veered off by bringing in humor, along with social issues. I thought Jacob and Olivia were the best out of the cast. In fact, there was one scene with Jacob where I laughed out loud; but that was the issue with this film. The mix of different story lines in the script made it confusing, to the point I became bored. And sadly, the writers were blatant in letting the audience know there will be a sequel. If there is and it has the same type of script I suggest you take a pass on this franchise. It is becoming a silly mess.
OVER THE YEARS THE derogatory words/terms I have heard directed towards me and to people around me has grown. The majority of them was from years ago before people became politically correct; so please excuse me for I do not mean to offend anyone and I will refrain from the more offensive words. I am aware some people grew up never hearing any of these words around them. Also, I know some people’s lists are longer than others. Keep in mind space is limited here so here is just a fraction of the words I heard uttered, yelled, hissed, spoken, threatened, teased, whispered and said around me: freak, fat, rabbit face, spas, turd, hippo, 4 eyes, sissy, booger nose, slob, toad, fag, slime, acid breath, pubic head, elephant man, bird brain, troll, gargantuan, gargoyle, gimp, whore, tubby, butt face; I think you get the point and I did not even use the slanderous ones that have to do with race, ethnicity or religion. REMEMBERING THE PEOPLE WHO uttered these words and hearing what is being said these days across all social media, news reports and random conversations; I find it all sad and horrific. I have to wonder if the adults who carry a prejudice have always had it. Was the prejudice handed down from their parents or some relative; did something happen to them physically that turned them against a particular minority? This is what I am most curious about; where did this hatred towards differences come from? Even if you think “hatred” is too strong of a word then use “dislike” instead. I do not understand why people look at differences as if they are wrong. As a young child I can see where one might be shy or fearful upon seeing something different about someone. I can still remember a conversation I had with a new boy on the block whose family came from a foreign country. The way it was explained to me was saying that family was born in a different part of the world where everyone there was born with certain physical features needed for that area. I may not have understood all of it at the time, but whatever fears I had were alleviated quickly. When I was watching this film festival winning drama I was reminded how tough life can be if you are perceived as different. AFTER BEING HOME SCHOOLED for several years Auggie, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, The Book of Henry), was going to attend his first school. His mother Isabel, played by Julia Roberts (Mother’s Day, Eat Pray Love), thought the time was right; she just hoped the kids would be nice to her son who preferred to wear an astronaut’s helmet. Based on the bestselling book the cast also included Owen Wilson (No Escape, Are You Here) as Nate, Izabela Vidovic (Homefront, The Fosters-TV) as Via and Noah Jupe (Suburbicon, The Night Manager-TV) as Jack Will. The actors did a beautiful job with the well written script. I felt the scenes were authentic and the characters were believable. For the few films I have seen Jacob in I have to say he will have a long career; he really is something special to watch on screen. As for the story it could easily have turned into a syrupy heartstring pull, but I think the director did his best to stay close to the border of it. Despite the chances one will tear up during this film, I feel the story is important enough for every child and adult to see.
3 ½ stars
UNLESS a person is a witness to or told about an abusive act, it is not always easy to know if someone has been victimized. There may be some physical signs such as bruises or cuts, but one cannot rely on them being visible. The emotional aspect resides in the deep, murky waters of the mind; where it is harder for someone to find, even for the victim sometimes. There was a boy who every day after school would stop to buy the largest size serving of ice cream from the ice cream man, who drove his blue and white truck around the neighborhood after school hours. By the time the boy walked home he had finished his ice cream, even if he got a brain freeze from eating it too fast. Once in the house this latchkey kid would eat whatever bread was in the kitchen, at times he would eat the entire loaf. If he was queried on what happened to the bread his standard answer was to say he was hungry. He knew eating this much food before dinner was not normal but it did not matter; it made him feel good which may have been the only time that day where he felt that way. There were visual and emotional cues about his behavior but he was tightlipped, afraid to tell anyone what was being done to him at school. THERE are some people who do their best to help a victim of abuse. They really have good intentions; however, the abuser always has a backup plan or you might say an escape plan. Incorporating a variety of factors they find a way to continue their abusive ways. I remember with a school teacher’s assistance I was ushered into the vice principal’s office. The teacher explained what was happening and to my horror the vice principal requested my attackers be pulled out of class and sent down to him immediately. As each attacker was escorted into the office I prayed I could disappear into my chair. After the vice principal screamed and threatened each of them with expulsion, the group of boys left me alone for exactly 2 weeks. I wonder how they would have felt if they were part of this movie’s story? NOT only did Henry Carpenter, played by Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special, St. Vincent), run the family finances and watch out for his little brother Peter and mother Susan, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Before I Walk) and Naomi Watts (While We’re Young, 3 Generations); he also was aware something was not right with his classmate who lived next door. He was sure her stepfather Glenn, played by Dean Norris (Little Miss Sunshine, Total Recall), had something to do with it. This dramatic thriller scored points with me due to the acting. Jaeden and Jacob matched each other’s talents, forming what looked like true brothers. Naomi was also excellent in her role. I was totally aware the script was illogical in places along with having a few patchy spots. It was obvious to me the writer were aiming for the heartstring’s of the movie audience; with that being said, I still found the story interesting enough to keep me engaged with it in its entirety. Additionally I am taking into consideration my sensitivity to the subject; even putting that aside I still found this film a worthwhile watch.
2 ¾ stars
There is this saying that tells you if you get stuck with lemons then make lemonade. Sadly my lemonade tends to taste like apple cider vinegar, not all the time but enough where I tend to expect it. In my circle of friends we tend to say, “They were born with a lucky horseshoe up their rear end,” to describe someone who is charmed. I have one friend who on the average wins a prize 75% of the time for all the sweepstakes and raffles they have entered, it is uncanny. On the other hand I know I am more likely making a cash donation to the organization. For example there was one time I went to teach a yoga class and when I walked into the club, the front desk told me all classes were cancelled due to a power outage. I did wonder why no one bothered to call me to let me know; but there was no reason to point it out to my fellow employees. So I decided to use the restroom before making the trip back home. It could not have been more than a minute or two, but by the time I came back to the front lobby I was informed the tornado siren had gone off and no one was allowed to leave the building. We were all stuck in the building’s windowless hallway for 20-25 minutes. Gratefully it turned out to be a false alarm but there was no lemonade to be made that night by me. But do you know what, all of that along with any other similar situation I may have had did not matter after I saw what was taking place in this extraordinary drama. FIVE year old Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay (Before I Wake, My Mother’s Future Husband-TV movie), was loved and nurtured by his Ma, played by Brie Larson (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now). In their tiny space that Ma named Room, Jack had no idea there was a whole world outside of the windowless shed they were locked in all these years. Less than halfway through this film I already knew what rating this movie deserved and I meant deserved. Part thriller, part suspense, part horror, part intense drama; this was a movie watching experience that took me away. Brie and Jacob were so unbelievably real that I could not stop tearing up through sections of this picture. Even the supporting cast actors like Joan Allen (Death Race, The Contender) as Nancy and William H. Macy (The Sessions, Pleasantville) as Robert were important players in the story. Based on the bestselling book, I have nothing negative to say about this amazing film. The directing did such a beautiful job of taking the viewers through this hilly, rough terrain of a script. The bottom line about this movie is this: it will be a major Oscar contender. I hope everyone gets to see this film.