HER WALKING INTO MY CLASS LATE wasn’t what caught my eye as much as the way she walked in. She kept her head bent as she hugged the wall until she got to an open space in the back of the room. The way she was moving triggered an alarm in my brain. It is one thing for someone new to be nervous the first time they walk into the fitness room, but this person’s movements registered more than nervousness. As I led the class in a series of yoga poses, I noticed this new person was using a variety of excuses not to complete the pose. One time she had to stop and readjust her hair, another time she stopped to pull the bottom of her T-shirt down because it had hiked up a bit on one side. I filed these things in the back of my mind. For the next couple of weeks, she kept coming to class and doing the same things to prevent herself from moving fully into the yoga poses. There was a point when I was walking around the room assisting members, I stopped by her to offer advice on the pose we were working on. It was then I asked her if she was feeling more comfortable moving in a different way. Of course, she replied in the affirmative and I did not push her further on the subject. THE WEEK AFTER I SPOKE TO her, she came in with what I assumed to be was her mother. As luck or maybe it was fate would have it, after class the mother came up to ask me a question. I found out she was indeed the mother. She thanked me for the help with her question and I offered a few more words of encouragement and expressed the same to the daughter. The next few weeks there was some improvement with the girl being less distracted. However, I still was feeling something was not right based on her movements, hard time making eye contact and the lack of expression on her face. Her mother had excelled with the poses and was comfortable enough to stop and talk to me when she saw me in the building. It was at one of these meetings I gently shared my thoughts about her daughter. The way I broke the news to her was telling her about the abuse I have seen and experienced myself. From that point I mentioned that from my experiences it appears as if her daughter might be the victim of bullying. The mother thanked me and said she would find out and take care of it. As the classes continued, without another word being said, I saw a positive change in the daughter. At some point the mother, after class, told me I was correct in my observations and thanked me for pointing it out to her. She had no idea her daughter was being bullied. WHEN THEIR GRANDSON AND HIS PARENTS moved out of state suddenly without saying goodbye; Margaret and George Blackledge, played by Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun, Must Love Dogs) and Kevin Costner (The Bodyguard, Draft Day), decided they would travel out of state to find their grandson. Their journey would confirm more than they had feared. With Kayli Carter (Private Life, Bad Education) as Lorna Blackledge, Lesley Manville (Another Year, Phantom Thread) as Blanche Weboy and Jeffrey Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice-TV) as Bill Weboy; this dramatic thriller smoldered for a while before it turned into a blaze of tension and excitement. Diane, Lesley and Kevin were perfectly ripe for their roles; I was brought into their story and stayed to the very end. Kevin has the elderly, life filled cowboy role down to a 2nd skin fit. I so admired the acting in this picture and loved how the story turned down a different road than other similar stories I have seen. This was a well done, good ole fashioned picture with a story that shows you what strong emotions emerge when a family member is in trouble.
3 ½ stars
THE TWO FRIENDS WERE PLAYING a board game they had played many times before. However, this time the game would have a different outcome. Not by very much, Friend #1 had acquired more winning pieces than Friend #2. This did not imply that winning was a sure thing for Friend #1. Halfway through the duration of the game Friend #2 decided to do an unexpected move that was never done before. When Friend #1 questioned the move, Friend #2 explained the reason for his move which essentially changed the rules of the game. This made no sense to Friend #1 so he challenged the sudden change in the rules. If the two of them had a discussion beforehand and agreed to this new rule Friend #1 would not have gotten upset; but without saying a word and just deciding to make a change because he was losing, Friend #1 was upset. The two of them argued back and forth, each one feeling they were in the right. Unfortunately, they never finished the game nor did they ever play it again; both were rather stubborn. I was Friend #1. EVER SINCE THAT ARGUMENT I have always had a bad attitude towards anyone who changes the rules in the middle of something. Maybe because I am not a spontaneous person I have a hard time when plans are set and then something unexpected comes up to disrupt the plans or schedule. At least now I am much better at letting go and not letting the shift in plans upset me. The one place where I cannot do this though is at work. When payment terms have been established with a customer (I am in the credit department) and we ship out product to them; nothing riles me up more than a customer who decides to change the due date on their invoice. I take offense from this act which I know may sound looney to some of you; however, I feel business to business dealings need to follow rules to form trust between companies. When someone does not follow the rules how can a company or person interact with them? If one side abides by the rules and the other side doesn’t; who do you think will benefit from it? Sadly, the one who doesn’t I feel will come out on top more often. And if the rule follower decides to join the other side by not following the rules, the only thing it will produce is chaos. It becomes a dangerous world then and this dramatic crime thriller is proof. ONCE THE MEXICAN CARTELS STARTED to smuggle terrorists into the United States, the rules the U.S. government had been following needed to be eliminated. There was one small strike team that could thrive in such an environment. This action-packed sequel starred Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2, Only the Brave) as Matt Graver, Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, Escobar: Paradise Lost) as Alejandro, Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, 100 Things to do Before High School) as Isabel Reyes, Jeffrey Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice-TV) as Steve Forsing and Catherine Keener (Capote, Get Out) as Cynthia Foards. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat while watching this intense film. There were multiple scenes of blood and violence. The pacing of the story was consistent throughout and I especially enjoyed the acting from Benicio. Between the two films there was similarity in their look and action scenes; however one of the differences that stood out was not having a character that was a counterpoint to the others. The story needed a sympathetic person. Instead the script kept a constant sense of darkness and dread throughout the picture. In addition, the script could have used more variance with the emotional level. I know there are some rules that need to be broken and this action film broke a whole bunch of them.
THE TWO COUSINS WERE spending the afternoon together. The basement of the house was their domain. Medium dark, wood paneled walls with thick industrial carpeting on the floor would hopefully contain the noise the two boys would make; at least that is what the other relatives were hoping. One cousin turned on his music player while the other one was looking over the stack of games that had been shoved into a bookcase. Agreeing on one board game, they spread the game pieces onto the floor. After fighting over the same game piece to represent each one’s team and getting the rest of the pieces in place on the game board, the visiting cousin asked if there was anything to eat. They walked upstairs into the kitchen; one boy went to the refrigerator, the other to the pantry. Out of all the different foods in the pantry the young boy chose a loaf of white bread. THROUGHOUT THE GAME WHILE one boy had long finished his food, the other cousin continued to work on the loaf of bread. He would take a slice of bread, fold it in half and eat only the inside white bread part first; this way, he would just have the square outline left made entirely of crust to savor last. As the game continued the loaf of bread kept decreasing in length. Slice after slice would eventually disappear into his mouth with him giving little thought to it, except for the comfort he felt while eating it. By the end of the game the entire loaf was gone. The other cousin laughed when he saw the empty bread bag. He kept saying, “An entire loaf of bread, you ate an entire loaf of bread.” The other boy sheepishly asked his cousin not to tell his mother about it. The boy agreed and told his cousin they would have to hide the bag. Back into the kitchen they went to look for something to hide the bread packaging. Inside the garbage can was a greasy paper bag from a fast food restaurant; it was the perfect place to shove the bag in. Ever since that day the one cousin would always bring up that loaf of bread when the two got together; as the two aged it seemed that was going to be the only thing the other cousin would remember about him. The same could easily be said for the president and his war in this biographical drama. WITH THE NATION IN shock from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, played by Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Burn Notice-TV); Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, played by Woody Harrelson (Lost in London, War for the Planet of the Apes), found himself thrown into a divided White House. With Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, The Moment), as Lady Bird Johnson, and Michael Stahl-David (In Your Eyes, Cloverfield) as Robert F. Kennedy; this film starts with the time period just prior to the Kennedy election. Woody did his best as Lyndon to the point he overshadowed everyone else. Granted Lyndon was a colorful character but what I found missing in this story was the nitty gritty parts; everything seemed even keeled. I felt there could have been more intensity and tension because pretty much throughout the picture I was not totally convinced with the action in the scenes. The historical aspect was what attracted me and I am sure, like many other people, I only knew Lyndon as the war president. He actually did much more to be remembered by.
It is so hard to break a pattern that was learned by example from a young age. First, to even be aware of the pattern and secondly, realizing it was not working for you is such a major accomplishment in one’s life. Lucy Fowler, played by Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, Crossing Over), had come to a point in her life where the hard drinking, sleeping around, waking up early to sneak out from a stranger’s bed was no longer fulfilling a need in her. I have to say; watching Ashley in this part reminded me that with the proper direction, she can really deliver a convincing character. She was excellent in this performance. The development of her character really blossomed when she met Cal Perrell, played deftly by Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, J. Edgar, Burn Notice-TV series), a recently transplanted resident to her small southern town. The relationship between these two came across in a real way as they began a rocky courtship. I enjoyed watching this movie, feeling as though I was really seeing a glimpse of small town life. And more imporatntly, I appreciated the way the story ended; it felt more true to life for me. Those learned habits really can be tough to overcome.
2 2/3 stars — DVD