I KNEW AS I WAS SWALOWING the ibuprofen that I had just taken my last ride on a roller coaster. It was a wild ride, I have to admit; there were loop and corkscrew turns, besides a death drop into a short tunnel that looked like it was too small for us to enter. The funny thing is out of the entire ride the worst part for me was the initial climb up. There is something about the roller coaster cars chugging up the incline while my back is pinned to the back of the seat that makes me uncomfortable. I think part of the reason is due to the height of the climb. At some point there is no visible structure around the cars, so it looks like we are balancing on a single set of tracks or a single track that makes me uncomfortable. I do not know if I am afraid of a strong wind pushing us over or that the passengers’ weight distribution is lopsided in one of the cars that makes it topple over, taking the rest of the cars with it. I just know I have never liked that part of the ride since I was a little kid. As we climbed out of the car, I had to hold onto the banister to steady myself as I noticed I had just gotten a headache. Also, my stomach was queasy. Hence, the drug and the realization my days of riding were over. I THOUGHT I WOULD MISS THE excitement and thrill of riding a roller coaster; but to tell you the truth, I actually do not feel any sense of loss or feelings of being left out while hanging out at the base of the attraction while my friends and family are enjoying the ride. I still marvel at the engineering technology of a roller coaster and enjoy hearing the screams from passengers who whiz by me as I am safe and comfortable on a nearby bench. I have a relative who is a senior citizen who still rides roller coasters. In fact, they have performed a couple of wedding ceremonies while on a roller coaster; it is true! They made arrangements with the park to have the entire wedding party ride the attraction. When they reached the pinnacle after the beginning climb, the park stopped the ride and my relative performed the service. Right after they pronounced them man and wife, the park started the ride back up and the wedding party completed the course. I appreciated the party’s excitement at the unusual venue; I find my thrills and excitement in different ways as well and one of them is watching a film like this action, crime drama. IN DESPARATE NEED OF MONEY, A husband turns to his adoptive brother for help. To get the funds, he would only have to be a participant in a bank robbery. With Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty, Stronger) as Danny Sharp, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Candyman, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Will Sharp, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Godzilla vs. Kong) as Cam Thompson, Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave, No Country for Old Men) as Captain Monroe and Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers, American Sniper) as FBI Agent; this film directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Transformers franchise) was small on talk and character development but big on thrills and crazy excitement. I was in the right mood to see this film because I only wanted to experience it, not think about it. The acting was terrific from the three main characters and though there was a repetitive quality to the script, the stunt driving and fights were wild. Essentially, the story was a series of intense events that followed one after another. As long as one is looking for a visceral experience, then this movie will provide the correct nutrients for excitement. And you might not have to take Ibuprofen, but I cannot guarantee one might need motion sickness medication.
WITH ALL OF THE JOBS I have had, from working in a shipping department to selling kitchen and bathroom products door to door, I have always had a sense of pride with the work I produced. Seeing results from actions I took always spurred me on to do better. Working in the credit and collections field, there has always been a tangible level of satisfaction I felt whenever I saw payments coming in from the customers I contacted. The other strong sense of pride I feel concerns the various fitness classes I have taught. Seeing a member, who has been participating in my class repeatedly, physically and mentally change before my eyes has been one of the most satisfying events in my life. I understand there is perspective and though I am not doing brain surgery or irradicating a disease, there has been many positive moments I have experienced in the world of fitness. It is funny, I had a member who went through a transformation during their time in my classes. At one point they shared part of their story with me, and I must tell you, I quickly discounted their accolades for me when they said they were an air traffic controller. Talk about having the responsibility of someone’s life in your hands, every plane they control is a major life event for them. in my opinion, it is an intense job. ANOTHER JOB THAT I CONSIDER INTENSE, is being the operator at a 911 call center. The reason I say this is because I knew someone who worked as one. The stories I would hear would easily make for a startling story line in a movie. There was the call from a crying woman who barricaded herself in a room to keep her abusive husband from beating her. Another call came in from a good Samaritan who witnessed a hit and run car accident, asking for medical help for the injured. He and I were each talking about our jobs one day and I came to find out he got little satisfaction from the work he was doing. I asked him why he felt that way because from where I stood, I thought he was close to being a land-based angel. The reason he felt that way was due to the fact he rarely ever saw the final results to the call he took. Many times, he would only have to contact the police or fire department; he never really found out what happened to the individuals he spoke with on the phone. He felt my job in fitness was more exciting. I did not see it that way; see what you think if you wish to watch this dramatic, crime thriller. REASSIGNED TO WORKING AT THE 911 call center, a police officer takes a call that would stir up such emotions that he could not let the call go. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, End of Watch) as Joe Baylor, Riley Keough (Logan Lucky, Mad Max: Fury Road) voicing Emily Lighton, Peter Sarsgaard (The Sound of Silence, Garden State) voicing Henry Fisher, Christina Vidal (See No Evil, Magic Man) as Sgt. Denise Wade and Adrian Martinez (Focus, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as Manny; the main driver of this picture was Jake’s performance. It was one of the better performances I have seen from him. The premise of the story was captivating; however, I thought the script was muddled. Some scenes did not ring true to me and I thought the flow of them was disjointed. As a result, there were times I was riveted to the action, but then suddenly a change would make me lose interest. Nonetheless, there is no denying Jake put everything he had into this film since he was in nearly every scene. For such an important line of work, I had wished this movie would have honored it in a better scripted way.
2 ½ stars
I WAS INTRODUCED TO THEM AT a restaurant, while waiting to be seated. We were meeting for dinner and a friend had invited this couple to join us. They were friendly and I immediately liked the wife’s sense of humor. It wasn’t too long before the host sat us at a table; I was sitting directly across from the couple. Over the course of the evening the wife’s husband was telling us about their plans to move out of state. He said he had to first sell a boat he had in drydock. Once he could get the boat sold, he told us he needed to buy some type of machine to print up T-shirts. I thought he might be talking about screen printing T-shirts; but why was he not saying it, I wondered. Because I am naturally curious, I asked them why they needed to move to make T-shirts and he said it would lower their expenses. From there he started telling me about the other plans he was working on. Throughout our conversation or more accurately, his talking and my listening, I could not get a read on his wife. She looked like she was listening, nodding her head at some of the things he was saying; but she did not look excited or thrilled or even happy about all the plans that were in the works for them. AFTER WE PAID THE BILL AND said our goodbyes, I asked my friend when we were alone if she was sad about her friends moving out of state. She said she was said to see the wife go but was fine with the husband leaving. I asked her why and she told me she was angry at the husband because all his plans/dreams were burning through all their money. This latest plan was taking place with the help of their 401K retirement money. She told me that is why the wife, who was her friend, was still working. It turns out the husband had all these crazy schemes cooked up to make a quick buck, but they always failed. That boat he was trying to sell was bought with the idea of him doing private boat cruises despite the fact he has never sailed in his life. She told me the boat has never been in the water. I was now getting an understanding of the wife’s actions during our dinner. Asking my friend why the wife went along with these crazy plans, she told me the husband would go and do all this stuff without asking her first. If I was in that type of situation, I would have kicked them out of the house which is why I understood what was taking place between the married couple in this film festival winning movie. AFTER BEING LAID OFF OF WORK from the golf course, the jobs available to Jerry Brinson, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Nocturnal Animals), were slim. That is until he came up with the idea of battling the encroaching forest fire. With Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Better Watch Out) as Joe Brinson, Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go) as Jeanette Brinson, Travis W. Bruyer (The Beast, Useless) as Forester and Bill Camp (Joker, 12 Years a Slave) as Warren Miller; this drama showcased a well-blended cast of actors. Ed and Carey must be seen to be believed; that is how good their acting was in this story. I thought the directing was delicate and thoughtful because everything felt intimate to me. It took a while before the script grabbed my attention; but once everything started to fall in place, I was hooked on the story. There was nothing that seemed out of place or phony. I felt I was a witness to a family’s reality instead of their dream.
IT WAS A DOG AND A FALCON that steered me towards wanting to be an animal doctor. The dog was a relative’s pet and she was the first animal adopted into my extended family. She was a sweetheart who was always happy to see me. Anytime I was visiting my relative, I would always take the dog out for walks. She had a red colored ball that she absolutely loved to fetch, that I would spend nearly all my time throwing for her. This may sound odd; but whenever I was with her, I felt at peace. Yes, I know how that must sound but I was at my calmest when I was with her. She was the origin for my love of animals. I also think the comfort I had around her made me more receptive when it came to other animals. One of my summer camp counselors was a falconer. One day he brought a falcon with him. Where some kids were hesitant and shied away from the falcon, I only wanted to get closer and pet him. When he spread his wings out to their full length, I thought for a moment I was in the wild. He looked magnificent while perched on my counselor’s arm, wings wide and head turning to look at all of us kids. THOSE TWO ANIMALS STARTED MY JOURNEY in studying to be a veterinarian. Though I did not get to the finish line, I never lost my love of animals. When I transitioned to a different major I wondered what would have happened if I had never encountered my relative’s dog or the falcon; one single event in time and a whole life can get steered down a particular path that had not been in your conscious prior. I remember a man I used to work with in a warehouse who wanted to be a fashion designer. Seeing his mother create her own outfits started him down his path. From having her teach him how to sew, to going to fashion school to getting a job at a fabric wholesaler where I met him; everyday he would come to work wearing something he had sewn himself. With row upon row filled with bolts of fabric, he felt he was working in heaven. I asked him once if there was anything else, he had wanted to be when he was growing up and he said yes. But after seeing what his mother could do with a needle and thread, he was hooked (pun intended). I admired his determination, just as I admired the determination of the main character in this biographical, dramatic family film. GROWING UP IN A COAL MINING town meant there were only 2 choices high school students had waiting for them by the time they graduated; either earn an athletic scholarship to go to college or work in the coal mines. For Homer Hickam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Donnie Darko), those choices were waiting for him until he looked up into the sky and saw something that no one had ever seen before. With Chris Cooper (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Adaptation) as John Hickam, Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Little Women) as Miss Riley, Chris Owen (The Mist, American Pie franchise) as Quentin and William Lee Scott (The Butterfly Effect, Pearl Harbor) as Roy Lee; this film festival winner based on a true story had an inspiring story that was wonderfully told through its script. Even at such an early age, Jake already was displaying his formidable acting skills. The whole cast was terrific and with the story set in the 1950s, there was an overall good homey feeling throughout this movie. Despite the predictability that was built into the story, I found this entertaining picture touching and inspirational. It also proved it only takes one event to change one’s life.
3 ½ stars
COMPARED TO MY FRIENDS, I FELT lucky I did not have to experience it until I was 12 years old. For that was the year I experienced my first funeral. It was at that point where I felt like an adult for the first time. Up until then I was living my life in a carefree way, with no responsibilities or serious life events to experience. There was attending school, piano lessons, taking family trips and playing alone or with friends; my schedule was filled with these activities. After that first funeral things started to change for me. I became aware of sicknesses and diseases that were life threatening, besides my own mortality. If I am being perfectly honest, a part of me resented having to think of these things. I was content being a kid and had no desire to deal with adult situations. Not that I was living an idyllic life as Peter Pan, but I just wanted to stay a kid. And this was despite having friends who had lost loved ones at a much earlier age than myself. It turned out there was going to be something else coming down the road towards me that would cement my status into the young adult world. A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY SIXTEENTH birthday I got my first job. Opening my 1st pay envelope and seeing a check made out to me was thrilling. In this case I was okay being treated and feeling like an adult. I had a weekly schedule that consisted of at least 2 days of work after school and a full day Saturday and/or Sunday. The schedule would fluctuate depending on which employees were available to work a shift. It seemed so adult to me. I would get a kick out of telling my friends I could not join them because I had to go to work, so I could get a paycheck. My experiences were not that unusual from most other people. All of us at some point make that change from being a kid to becoming an adult. For some, it might get triggered by a friend or family member; for others, it may take place during a trip to a foreign land or a hospital. I am not saying the transition will be easy. If you want to see for yourself, watch what happens to the main character in this science fiction, action adventure film. THE OPPORTUNITY OF A SCHOOL TRIP to Europe was perfect for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland (The Impossible, The Lost City of Z). He would finally get the chance to spend time with his classmate MJ, played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake it Up-TV), and tell her how he felt about her. However, he did not take into consideration a phone call from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Glass). This story for this movie picks up a short time after the Avengers: End Game film. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Prisoners) as Quentin Beck/Mysterio and Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, The First Purge) as Mary Parker, this picture was a good transition point for future Marvel movies. The script was light and fun, along with a good amount of humor. Tom and Zendaya were an ideal pairing and I could see them growing into these roles in upcoming installments. When I compare this film to other superhero ones, this one comes up a little short with the “wow” factor. Though I smiled, chuckled and teared up a bit; I was not totally transported into the story. The script could have used a rewrite to firm up the plot because I felt the villain and the story surrounding them needed to be more intense and scarier, for one thing. Also, the whole idea for the villain was weak compared to past Marvel stories. This still was absolute fun to watch and you want to certainly see the 2 extra scenes during and at the end of the credits. Oh, and typical to these films there was a Stan Lee sighting.
3 1/4 stars
IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE empty feeling inside for a person to start envying someone else’s good fortune. I have seen it happen many times where a person cannot only envy but resent another individual who appears happy and content. There is a friend of mine who has a relative that acts this way. This relative will offer backhanded compliments that others can see are fueled by jealousy and resentment. Another thing they do is try to copy whatever my friend does, either in hair style or clothing. If my friend is wearing a new outfit at a family function, the relative will seek out and buy something similar; however she take pleasure it telling everyone how much it cost. In other words she wants everyone to know her outfit is more expensive and better quality. It is such a weird game to me, like anyone would care about which one was better or more expensive. The thing I find icky is when my friend tells me this relative showed up at a family dinner with her hair styled in the same manner as my friend’s style; based on what I have heard there is no way I would say she is paying a compliment to my friend. WISHING FOR SOMETHING HAS A different feeling for me than dreaming about it. When I wish for something it usually is a tangible thing like wishing for warmer weather or a winning lottery ticket. I have spent the majority of my life dreaming about a life I hoped I could attain one day. Dreams to me seem to be more goals oriented than wishes. Maybe what I am trying to say is dreams have more of a life altering affect. There is a difference when one says they wish they had a boyfriend compared to dreaming about being with a boyfriend. I hope this is an example; there are two sisters who do not get along well with each other. One sister got married early and started a family; the other one married later in life and did not have any children. As the two sisters grew older the one without children started to resent her sister. Where the one with kids took family trips, attended a variety of school functions and was married to a man who was climbing up in position at his company; the other sister wanted the same things. She was only looking at the things she wanted but never indicated growing up that she wanted that type of life. It reminds me of that old saying about the grass being greener on the other side, which could apply to this mystery film also. ON A RECOMMENDATION ADAM, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, End of Watch), rented a movie that had in the cast an actor who looked exactly like him. Both stunned and curious Adam began to do research on the actor to see if he could meet him and see what type of life he was leading. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) the cast also included Melanie Laurent (Beginners, Now You See Me) as Mary and Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Helen. This film festival winning dramatic thriller was fueled by the wonderful performance by Jake. The story kept my interest for the most part, though it had a certain oddness to it. There were a couple of times I had to sit and wonder if I was missing something in the story because it seemed as if the script was getting more cerebral. I think watching this DVD could lead to some discussion afterward in a variety of directions. The main thing I took away from this picture was the belief Adam was a wisher.
2 ½ stars – DVD
THE HARDER AND LOUDER the weights are dropped on the floor, the more the weightlifter wants you to be aware of their “incredible” strength. Whether they use barbells, dumbbells or just weight plates; I find the releasing of weights in midair perplexing. It is not like they are at the Olympics and lifting massive amounts or metal. They are at a fitness center and sure it might be a large amount of weight they are lifting; but seriously, if you cannot safely bring the weights down to the floor then in my opinion it is too much weight for you. These are my own observations; please do not consider this the standard. From what I have witnessed, when a person makes a loud sound from letting go of the weight load they want attention drawn to them. I have seen them looking into the mirror to see how their muscles look after a big lift, but they also are seeing if anyone else is noticing them. THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES of strength. Some people focus only on increasing their physical strength. To me this is the easiest one because all that is required are some forms of weight bearing exercises. Doing a pushup, walk while carrying a bag of groceries, bicep curls using canned vegetables from the pantry even; all of these will help. The harder strength to me is the mental one. I find if a person cannot muster the mental strength to take on a task there is a good chance of not completing the task or total failure. Mental strength did not come easy for me. Years of believing the things I was being called detoured my personal growth. I think what helped me was my natural stubbornness. If there was something I wanted I would not give up until I was completely exhausted. Nothing overt necessarily but a slow and steady determination was how I started handling the tasks presented to me. Whether it is an item off of one’s “to do” list or preparing for major surgery, the mind needs to be nourished and focused in a positive way to make gains in one’s life. A perfect example of this can be seen in this drama inspired by true events. TRYING TO WIN OVER his on and off girlfriend Jeff Bauman, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, Southpaw), chose to wait for her at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just before the bombs went off. This biographical real life story succeeded on many levels. Topmost was the cast which also included Tatiana Maslany (Eastern Promises, Woman in Gold) as Erin Hurley, Miranda Richardson (Empire of the Sun, Churchill) as Patty Bauman and Lenny Clarke (Fever Pitch, Rescue Me-TV) as Uncle Bob. I have to tell you Jake was superhuman; that is the only thing I can say. Trying to figure out what it took to portray survivor Jeff Bauman had to be something short of a miracle; he was outstanding. The movie was hard to watch since it was reenacting the events of the 2013 bombing; there may have been actual footage used in parts. It was and continues to be an amazing story; there was never a moment where I felt the writers were trying to manipulate the viewer or fall into dramatic clichés. After sitting through this picture I have a whole new appreciation for the term, “Boston Strong.”
3 ½ stars
YEARS of reading and watching science fiction books and movies may be the reason why I believe there could be other life forms in the universe. Even if I was not a fan of the fantasy/science fiction genre, I was always open to the possibility we humans were not alone. I could never be convinced that out of the entire universe the planet Earth was the only place that could sustain life. One of the arguments I have heard is our planet is the only one that can sustain oxygen breathing beings; but I would counter that proposal by questioning the logic of oxygen being the only element that can support life. What if an alien species’ anatomy only needed carbon monoxide to exist? Unless they come to us I understand there is no way to prove this thought, since I do not know if we will ever evolve to a point where we will have the ability to deconstruct and rematerialize on another world via a transporting device or be able to travel in a spaceship at warp speed. DURING my studies in college I had a literature course that covered several genres of fiction, including science fiction. For my midterm project I used several rolls of infrared film along with close-up camera lenses to create a photo album that I claimed was proof of foreign existence. The things I photographed represented places we had read about in our required reading list. Our instructor had us put our projects on display around the lecture hall and each of us had to explain what we had done. After we each gave our talks, the students were allowed to walk around and study each item before voting on their favorite in a secret ballot. It turned out not only did I get an “A” on my midterm project but my alien photo album was voted the favorite. From some of the comments I received the majority of my classmates loved how I had shown both friendly and non-friendly aliens. Hopefully I am only right about the good aliens. WORKING in precise maneuvers six astronauts must retrieve a satellite returning from Mars that might contain proof there may be life existing on another planet. This science fiction thriller had some intense, exciting scenes right from the start. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, Prisoners) as David Johnson, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) as Rory Adams, Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin, The Wolverine) as Sho Murakami and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Miranda North; this horror film had some icky scenes that were hard to watch, involving blood and violence. I thought the sets and special effects were cool, while the actors did their job well. The idea of the story was fine; however, I felt the writers needed to take a different angle because as I sat watching this film I kept thinking about the movie Alien. I did not find much different in this movie though I did enjoy the surprise twists. What I did enjoy, maybe enjoy is not the right word, was the way the writers depicted life and that is all I can say about it. If you do not believe there may be extraterrestrial life, you may not be anxious to see this film. Based on my belief system, maybe you should see it.
2 1/3 stars
Slowly you remove yourself from the warmth you were lovingly lying next to, to give them a couple of extra minutes of sleep before the start of their day. You did not even think about the clothes you have at the dry cleaners because they will be hanging in your closet when you get home that night from work. When the two of you are out at a restaurant, you do not have to ask the waitstaff to remove the veggies you do not like from your salad; your significant other will take them without having to be asked. The two of you have an easy symbiotic relationship. Not that you take each other for granted, but the daily things that transpire between you two become their own type of routine. It is sad to say, but it is not until you no longer are a couple that you realize the extra wonderful things that made your relationship so special. I do not mean to paint this in a bad light; but I have found it is the small things that take place between two people that re-enforce the glue which keeps both in a relationship. It is part of the support system each one has created in unison and like anything that occurs on a constant schedule, it may appear less special and sweet as it fades into a routine. This is one of the reasons that I have always insisted on keeping up a date night so the two of us can break out of our daily routines to focus on each other. Not only do I understand but I have experienced what it feels like when that special love is no longer with you. SUCCESSFUL investment banker Davis, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Nightcrawler), only began to realize what he was missing after his wife was killed in a tragic automobile accident. This film festival winning comedic drama also included Naomi Watts (While we’re Young, The Impossible) as Karen, Chris Cooper (Adaptation, American Beauty) as Davis’ father-in-law and Judah Lewis (Point Break) as Chris. Though the acting was good I found the script to be dismal though in a way this played to Jake’s strengths. I do not even know if I would classify this movie as part comedy. There was nothing in it that I found funny. Now there were several opportunities to create impressive dramatic scenes but they tended to fall short. Also, I usually do not notice but this time I thought Jake’s shower scenes were unnecessary and wondered if they were inserted for eye candy value. The other odd thing I found was the lack of time awareness. I became aware to the fact that he wasn’t working yet these different events were taking place with him over time. For some reason this stood out for me. The idea behind this story was interesting and the script had some valid points; however, I did not connect to this film, nor did I miss it after it was over.
1 ¾ stars