I HAVE BEEN TOLD I HAVE a suspicious nature and to tell you the truth, I do not totally disagree with it. When I meet someone for the first time, I am polite and cordial as we exchange questions and comments; however, there is a part of me that is assessing the person, both in what they say and their mannerisms. I remember a company I worked for where on my first day, this employee came up and introduced himself to me. He asked me some benign questions at first, but then there seemed to be a couple of questions thrown in that were a little more personal. I answered them despite being wary of his purpose for such questions. As the weeks went by, we wound up having a decent work relationship. However, I still had my radar out trying to figure him out. I was always careful to maintain a professional attitude while settling into my place within the company. It was not too long before I started seeing some of this employee’s actions in an unfavorable light. He would leave early some days, others come in late; it seemed as if he was creating his own schedule. There were even some days where he just did not show up. For the fact he was in upper management, I did not question his actions; I just was getting a bad feeling about his motives. As it turned out, he was transitioning to a competitor and taking trade secrets with him. I was right to keep my distance because those employees who were closer to him had to be interviewed by upper management which led to this employee being terminated. MY RADAR HAS SERVED ME WELL in life. A friend of mine was dating a man I did not trust. There was something about him that set off my radar. Maybe it was the way he bragged about his personal possessions or his inflated ego; I just knew something was off about him. All of us would get together for dinner or a movie and each time around him my guard was up. Because I had such a close relationship with my friend, I shared my concerns with her; not in a confrontational way but expressing how I felt around him. She appreciated it but I do not know if it made a difference in how she felt about this guy. As it turned out several months later, he asked to borrow some money from her. Once she was satisfied with the answers she got to her questions, she lent him the funds. I was surprised but could not say anything, nor did I have to because she never heard from him again. There are some people you get a vibe from that you cannot trust them. This is how I felt about the main character in this action horror movie. AFTER EXPERIMENTING ON HIMSELF with a new treatment for his disease, a biochemist develops a side effect that could be lethal, but to who? With Jared Leto (House of Gucci, Suicide Squad) as Dr. Michael Morbius, Matt Smith (Last Night in Soho, The Forgiven) as Milo, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Martine Bancroft, Jared Harris (Poltergeist, The Crown-TV) as Dr. Emil Nicholas and Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious franchise, Black and Blue) as Agent Simon Stroud; this adventure movie was a confusing mess to me. I could not tell if the character Morbius was a good or bad character, which led me to a level of boredom. The special effects were poorly done, and the fight scenes were hyper fast with intermittent slow-motion movement, in other words not appealing or exciting. Any attempts at humor fell flat in the poorly constructed script. Throughout the picture, I never made a connection to any of the characters. Maybe it was due to the acting which was only adequate; but I was bored through most of the film. Sadly, the movie studio must be hoping for a sequel because there were 2 extra scenes during the credits.
1 ½ stars
MY FRIEND WAS SO EXCITED TO show me her new designer purse. It was a good thing she told me ahead of time because when I saw it, I thought it looked like a premium gift one would have received for opening a new bank account. The purse looked ugly to me, with the designer’s initials being repeated row after row all around the bag. But then again, I was never fond of having “name/designer brands” or logos on clothing. When I was a little kid, I had a couple of pullover shirts that had a little crocodile patch attached to them. I never liked crocodiles, so I could not understand why I had to wear a shirt with one on it. All I said to my friend was how happy I was for her to get something she had been wanting for a long time. Little did I know I would see the same design on so many purses women were carrying all around the city. It was not too long before other designers were putting their initials on their clothing items. I thought for sure the people who could not afford these designer brands would be judged by their “ordinary” purses. To me, it looked like a caste system was being formed based on the brand of purse or clothing one was wearing. MAYBE IT WAS A REACTION TO that idea, that drove me to look for fitness wear that was not simply an advertisement for the manufacturer. I started buying novelty T-shirts that were funny or quirky. Gaining the opportunity to be able to travel, I started buying a T-shirt and hat from every state I visited. Soon two dozen shirts and hats blossomed into 50, then 100; until I wound up with over 300 T-shirts, none advertising a logo or brand name. Sure, I was stuck with workout shoes that had the company’s logo on them, but I always looked first for a nondescript article. I continued to keep my principles even after the imitation/fake items doused the consumer. My lesson in fake items took place at a flea market, where a booth was selling what I thought were expensive watches. It turned out the items piled on the table were fake but looked so close to the originals that I do not think many people would know the difference. However, underneath the tables unbeknownst to me were watches that were made at the same factories as the name brand ones. They were tweaked a bit in cost cutting moves but essentially, they were coming from the same watch company but for more than ½ the price. I thought it was crazy but then I watched this Oscar nominated film. FROM A SIMPLE LIFE PATRIZIA REGGIANI, PLAYED by Lady Gaga (A Star is Born, Sin City: A Dame to Kill), had no idea who she was looking at when she saw the awkward man behind the bar. If she knew who she was looking at, she certainly did not know what went with the man’s name. With Adam Driver (The Last Dual, Marriage Story) as Maurizio Gucci, Al Pacino (The Irishman, Dick Tracy) as Aldo Gucci, Jeremy Irons (Margin Call, Assassin’s Creed) as Rodolfo Gucci and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Requiem for a Dream) as Paolo Gucci; what saved this movie inspired by a true story was Lady Gaga. She was totally committed to the character to the point I forgot it was her. Because of her performance, Adam Driver was pushed into the background; granted the fact he could not hold onto an Italian accent did not help his cause. As for Jared, I had not idea it was him until I saw the ending credits. The script and direction were weak in my opinion. It was nearly halfway before things started to gel better together and the story finally kept my interest. The story was unbelievable if any of it was true in this picture. And looking up a photo afterwards of Patrizia Reggiani, the producers did perfect casting with choosing Lady Gaga.
2 ½ stars
FOR A LONG TIME, I ATTRIBUTED my ability for seeing little details to Sherlock Holmes and the Hardy Boys. Having read the books and seen the movies that they were in, I began to pride myself with the way I observed people and places. A friend and I used to pretend we were detectives who had to follow individuals in the neighborhood, who we suspected of being criminals. I remember following a woman with a shopping cart into the grocery store, who I believed to be a foreign spy; she was shopping for essentials for herself and her co-conspirators back at their hideout. As she was walking up and down the aisles, I kept track of what she was putting into her shopping cart. I waited until she was paying for her groceries at the checkout line before I left and joined my partner across the street. We waited until she came out then followed her back to her hideout. While we were tagging behind her, I updated my friend on the items she had purchased at the store. I pointed out the reason for all the canned goods was because they were planning to be here for an extended time to work on a huge operation that would cause considerable damage to our city. We decided we had better keep her under surveillance for the near future. AFTER I HAD GROWN OUT OF my detective phase, I stopped focusing on getting every detail of a situation. It faded into the background, or at least I thought it did. Never giving it any thought, I seemed to have the ability to retain full images of things I observed. It wasn’t something that made me think I was doing anything different from anyone else. It wasn’t until a friend asked me one day how I could remember what everyone wore at a party that took place a couple of months ago. We were talking about a mutual friend and I asked him if he remembered they had attended a social function we were at. When my friend could not recall their presence, I told him what the person was wearing and where they were seated. I thought everyone could recall such things, but my friend told me it was not true. A short time later, I discovered not everyone has the ability to see the finer details when they are looking at something. Some individuals take in the “big picture” while others laser focus on certain elements; I have seen it time and again. Whether a person can train themselves in acquiring the skill, I do not know; but I know having that ability was an asset for the main character in this dramatic crime thriller. DRAWN INTO AN UNSOLVED MURDER CASE, Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon, played by Denzel Washington (The Equalizer franchise, The Book of Eli), began to experience déjà vu. Will his past interfere with the present? With Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Papillon) as Jim Baxter, Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club) as Albert Sparma, Chris Bauer (A Dog’s Way Home, True Blood-TV) as Detective Sal Rizoli and Michael Hyatt (Nightcrawler, Like Crazy) as Flo Dunigan; this Golden Globe nominee had all the fixings of a good old detective story. With its cast, I was expecting some top notch acting and was rewarded by Jared’s and Rami’s performances. As for Denzel, I was sadly disappointed with his acting; it felt like he was on automatic, doing a repeat of former characters from his past movies. Putting the acting aside, the script had the glimmer of hope in the beginning but then spiraled down to a massive failure. There were a couple of parts that made no sense whatsoever. This poorly thought out script and story turned this movie into a mediocre addition to the murder mystery genre. If only everyone involved with the production of this film had Denzel’s character’s ability to pay attention to the fine details, it then might have been a worthwhile viewing.
1 7/8 stars
Maybe if it was the only thing I had known I would feel different about it. But I have compared items and know the difference. I do not want to come off as being a snob; I have actually matched up name brand products to their generic versions and there are times where the two are not the same. For example I have bought both a name brand and generic version of raisins. Taste wise there was not much difference; however, there was with the size of the generic one. They were smaller and not as plump. Normally this would be no big deal but they don’t look as good when used for baking. Another example is yogurt; now here there was a major contrast. The generic brand I tried never got smooth after stirring it; soft clumps of congealed yogurt remained in the container, yuck. Now there are items that I think are the same whether they are a store’s brand or name brand. I know that many times the same manufacturer is making both kinds. When I look at the nutritional label for both brands of vitamins they are identical; as far as I can tell the only difference is the price. The same results apply to spices; I cannot tell the difference from the ones I have compared. You may be sitting there and wondering why I am talking about this topic for today’s movie review. I was thinking about it right after this film was done playing. You see I was questioning myself to see if I would have the same initial feeling about this film if I had never seen the superhero movies from that other studio that produces them. Read ahead if you wish to see my answer. AMANDA Waller, played by Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt), was the tough boss of a top secret government program. She had to be because her program involved the worst of the worst imprisoned super villains. This action adventure movie was a massive introduction to the characters from the DC comic world. Starring Will Smith (Concussion, Men in Black franchise) as Deadshot, Margot Robbie (The Legend of Tarzan, The Wolf of Wall Street) as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Mr. Nobody) as the Joker; the 1st half of the film was devoted to us meeting these characters. There were several others but I prefer not wasting space on listing them. The breakout star to this picture was Margot Robbie; as far as I was concerned she had the best lines and the most interesting character. I knew about Jared Leto’s acting style of remaining in character even when he is not being filmed, but the poorly written script turned his performance into a mediocre blandness. This film would satisfy the tween segment with all the fights and destruction. As for creating an entertaining movie experience this movie lacked in key areas like humor, character development and visual effects. The story never felt cohesive to me, which could be attributed to poor editing and directing. I am sad to say compared to other superhero movies this one was a generic one. An extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
1 3/4 stars
The bigger the organization the harder it is to correct any issues, I have found. Unbeknownst to me for several years, I was paying property taxes on real estate that was not mine. The county had “S” for south instead of “N” for north in my home address. With that one change of a letter, I was paying tax for some apartment building on the opposite side of the city. To rectify the situation; it took a Herculean effort with constant diligence on my part to have the county correct my address and send me a refund. The county’s computer system was not compatible with the state treasurer’s computer programs; the property tax department did not accept anything via email or fax, which meant I had to print out form after form that had to be stuffed in envelopes and mailed. Honest to heavens, you would have thought I was living 30-40 years ago by the unyielding ancient methods still being used by these government agencies. Imagine how things used to be and you will appreciate even more, the story in this dramatic movie based on true events. Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, Mud) soared to a new level of acting excellence as he portrayed the prejudiced Texan electrician and rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof. It was in the early 1980’s when an electrical accident sent Ron to the hospital. When tests showed he was HIV+, Ron could not believe the results or the doctors’ predictions that he had approximately 30 days to live. Men like him were not supposed to get the disease. With the only promising drug in clinical trials, Ron would have to wheel and deal his way around the FDA if he was going to survive beyond a month. Putting the obvious weight losses aside for Matthew and Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream, Mr. Nobody) as Rayon, their acting was truly unbelievable. There was such depth, conviction and rawness to it; they certainly will be in the forefront during the film awards season. They pretty much carried the weight of the entire movie. As far as I was concerned the rest of the cast, like Jennifer Garner (The Invention of Lying, Daredevil) as Dr. Eve Saks, were secondary. Considering the time this story took place; the writers produced a masterful script about an unforgettable human being, who was portrayed in such an amazing way.
3 1/2 stars