THE HEAVINESS OF SADNESS AND GRIEF affects each of us differently. Not only am I good example of this, but I have encountered many others whose experiences went from one extreme to the other and everything in between. At an early stage of my life, I used to deal with my emotions by stuffing them inside and in turn, stuffing my mouth with food. The more upset I was the more I would consume from the pantry, refrigerator, ice cream truck, candy store and any other source that would satisfy my tastes and make me feel good. It took a long time, but I eventually learned how to better deal with the pain of grief and sadness. During my dating years, I wound up doing a heavy year long stint of volunteering after a heart wrenching breakup. A friend of mine, upon getting dumped by a boyfriend, would go through her photos and either scratch out her ex-boyfriend with a black marker or delete him completely. I have other friends who withdraw when they experience something traumatic. They prefer being by themselves, immersed in all their sadness until they get to a point where they begin to start rebuilding themselves back into the living world. I depended on this method for a long time. It was nothing for me to stay home and watch a dozen movies over a weekend, while dealing with my pain. ONE OF THE MORE CONSTRUCTIVE REACTIONS I had due to grief was going to school to be a psychiatrist. Due to what I had suffered in my earlier years, I wanted to be in a position where I could help others who had suffered at the hands of a bully. The first couple of years of college were intense for me as I navigated the amount of course work with the amount of emotional baggage I had brought to school. Having lived through the experience, I felt I would have an advantage in assisting my future patients who had similar trauma to mine. As it turned out, I discovered I had few filters to keep me from becoming fully involved with a person who was dealing with familiar grief. Instead of helping them to discover the means to heal themselves, I found myself wanting to tell them what to do. I knew this would not be a solid fit for me; if someone was doing something that I thought was not a good move, I could see myself bluntly telling them to “knock it off” or saying something like “that makes no sense.” Looking back, I know I made the right decision and am now better equipped to handle grief or sadness. As for the main character in this action crime drama, see what he is doing to alleviate his grief. A SERIES OF GRUESOME MURDERS OF Gotham’s political figures, forces Batman, played by Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse), into a cat and mouse game that could lead him to startling revelations. With Zoe Kravitz (Kimi, Rough Night) as Selina Kyle, Jeffrey Wright (The French Dispatch, Shaft) as Lt. James Gordon, Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oz and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Love & Mercy) as The Riddler; this film was totally dark in every aspect of the word. It is a grittier and more menacing Gotham than the versions from the past. When I left the movie theater, I felt unsatisfied; however, as I have been thinking more about this film, I have softened in my position a bit. For me, Zoe and Colin where the standout actors. Zoe can be spun off into her own movies in my opinion. Robert, for the way his character was written, was a good choice; but I did not connect to his Batman until closer to the end. And speaking of the end, this picture was way too long at 2 hours and 56 minutes. Some scenes were engaging for me, others dragged. Overall, I get the idea what the director and writers were trying to do. I only wish I did not have to sit so long in the dark and dourness of both the visuals and script.
2 ¾ stars
I HAD NO OPINION ONE WAY or the other about the movie coming to campus until the university decided it could not be shown. All I knew about the film was that it had received a lot of notoriety due to the plot and one of the main actors and that it was coming to our campus to raise funds for some cause. Once word got out about the university’s actions, I became curious about the picture and wanted to go see it. I just did not want to get involved with the politics behind the student organization’s reasons for choosing this particular movie, nor the university’s reasons to ban it; I simply wanted to see what all the hoopla was about concerning this film. The week the university came out against the movie, students started to protest around the campus. They demonstrated in front of the Dean’s residence, holding up signs as they walked back and forth in front. At one of the college buildings, a group of students held a sit-in. Having never been involved in the middle of a protest, I found the experience not only curious, but a fascinating study in camaraderie. With my background, camaraderie appeared to be based more on like kind physically instead of being based on a common idea. Here in college, the protesters were an array of humanity coming together for a single purpose. The outcome from the demonstrations and protests was the university allowed the film to be shown at a satellite, off campus venue; both sides were happy with the results and I got to see the movie. I KNOW I AM STATING THE OBVIOUS, but protests have taken on a wider array of actions since my college days. The news recently showed a man riding a horse down a city expressway to bring attention to a cause. I live near a city that experienced violent protesters who came out after a judge’s rule in a famous court case. A friend of mine has had to work at home because the office building where they work was damaged during the protests. A 70 year old retail shop that I used to frequent often was shown on the news, where its front windows were smashed and had over half of their inventory stolen; it was so sad to see as the owner said he may not be able to recover from the damages and close the business. I firmly believe everyone has the right to protest; but to the point where violence and damage occurs, I cannot condone such actions. There is something to be said for the “power in numbers” that to me makes a protest successful. I saw it when I was in college and now, I have seen its strength in this historical film festival winner. SUCH A SIMPLE ACT THAT WAS defiant became the catalyst to a peaceful movement during the 1950s in Mobile, Alabama. With Jeffrey Wright (The Goldfinch, Only Lovers Left Alive) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Ralph, CCH Pounder (Home Again, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV) as Jo Ann Robinson, Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Coretta Scott King and Iris Little Thomas (Above the Rim, Malcolm X) as Rosa Parks; this drama captured me because of the way it dug into the background of the after events that surrounded Rosa’s refusal to give up her bus seat. The cast was excellent and worked well together in my opinion. As I was watching this film, I was struck by the role money played into the events; previously, I did not recall that aspect of the event playing as important of a role as it did in this picture. It made for a riveting watch at times. Not only did this movie teach history, it also provided a blueprint for creating a peaceful protest.
GRATEFULLY THE TYPE OF SHOCK I have experienced is the surprise kind. There are different kinds of shock: anaphylactic, cardiogenic and hypovolemic to name a few. Trust me I am not that smart; I had to look up and confirm the definition to each of these types. There is also neurogenic shock that comes from a severe emotional disturbance. This would be the one that comes closest to what I have experienced, though nothing as close to feeling something so severe. I experience shock when something unexpected happens to me. Now you might be thinking unless I stay locked in a room, there is no way I am not going to encounter something unexpected during my daily life; and you would be right. I am tightly wired into having structure in my life. Spontaneity is a foreign concept that unsettles me; but having a set routine has a calming effect on me. RECENTLY, I WAS REMINDED OF HOW my brain shuts down when I become shocked. I had pulled a suit out of the closet to try on, making sure it still fit for an upcoming wedding I would be attending. The jacket was fine; but when I tried on the slacks, there was a good two-inch gap at the waistline that prevented me from zipping up the pants. Since weight has always been an issue in my life, my brain went into shock because my slacks no longer fit. I could not believe I had put on that much weight! If I could have stayed in reality, I would have recognized the pants had pleats, which I never wear and the jacket was double breasted, though I knew I had a single-breasted suit. Because my mind was blown, I could not think rationally. It was like my mind got blasted into space and I had to wait for it to parachute down before I could start thinking clearly. It took me a couple of minutes, after I had previewed several scenarios in my mind such as having to go and buy a new suit or put myself on a crash diet, before I noticed the clues that were right in front of my face. The pleated slacks, the double-breasted suit; I was trying on the wrong suit. This is how I handle shock; others handle it a different way, which you can see in this dramatic movie based on the best-selling, Pulitzer winning novel. SURVIVING A BOMB BLAST CAUSED YOUNG Theo, played by Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon, This is Where I Leave You), to act irrationally. His mother would not have approved, but she was killed in the explosion. With Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, The Fault in Our Stars) as Adult Theo, Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, The Upside) as Mrs. Barbour, Jeffrey Wright (Broken Flowers, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) as Hobie and Luke Wilson (The Family Stone, Middle Men) as Larry; the cast was the strongest part of this film. Their acting skills were on full display and I appreciated it because the story was too long here. I thought the script was broken by the jumping back and forth in time, the multiple story lines and the lack of wonder. It was easy for me to figure out what was going to happen to most of the characters, which some of you know is not something I usually can do. The script was congested; I thought the writers were trying to cram so much into it that nothing really stood out in the scenes as being powerful. It really was a shock for me to see such competent actors doing their best to bring this picture alive, yet I never felt like I connected to this picture.
1 ¾ stars
I always assumed as we got older we would have fewer things to frighten us. It seems that is not the case, we just trade them in for other ones. These days I hear individuals say they are afraid of growing old or scared to drive at night. I can relate to the growing old one; I still have so many things I want to do that I may not be able to do as well when I get older. Is it proper to say an older person’s fears are more rational than a child’s? I do not think so because I believe a child just has less exposure to the ways of the world compared to a seasoned adult. Recently I was using public transportation and saw a mother trying to get their little boy into the train car from the station. He was crying and screaming it turned out because he was afraid of the sliding doors that opened by themselves. I could understand it if the child had never seen this before; he may have been scared the doors would close on him. I can remember the first time I encountered an escalator; it looked like a scaly snake slithering uphill. My fear was compounded by the warnings about sleeves getting stuck in the rolling arm rails and shoelaces in the moving steps. After seeing other people walking onto the escalator first and with a little coaxing, I finally stepped on one of the moving platforms and rode up to the top. Of course, once I was done I had to go back and do it again because it was so much fun. Fear has a way of holding us back from discovering something new. CIRCUMSTANCES would force young Arlo, voiced by Raymond Ochoa (A Christmas Carol, Pair of Knights-TV), to conquer his fears; they had to if he ever wanted to see his family again. This animated adventure had an interesting idea for a story; what if dinosaurs never became extinct? The writers could have taken this in so many ways, but ultimately I feel it became a secondary theme to them. Instead this story, geared towards children, was pretty much standard fare. It did not offer any surprises for me. However, visually this picture was one of the most beautiful and realistic looking CGI created films I have ever seen. I kept catching myself focusing on the landscapes, trying to figure out if they were actually real. Since I have seen enough of these types of films, this one was strictly straightforward minus the humor. In fact, I was sure one scene showed the main characters eating something that produced hallucinations; I wondered how parents would explain this to their children. For a Pixar studio movie this one was lacking for me. Hopefully this was an anomaly so I won’t become afraid of seeing any of their future films.
2 3/4 stars
Greed is that insidious demon that once fed will forever more be hungry. Through the years it seems as if there has been an increase in the amount of corruption and greed in the world. Living in a state that has had an over abundance of corrupt politicians, I find it absolutely despicable that the men and women who have been elected into public office have so little regard for the people who elected them. I guess having the adulation and support from the masses is not enough to support their egos. In this crime thriller corruption became a deadly business. Private investigator Billy Taggart, played by Mark Wahlberg (Ted, The Fighter) was hired by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, played by Russell Crowe (Les Miserables, Robin Hood), to follow his wife Cathleen, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (No Reservations, Entrapment). But when Billy discovered he was set up for a more diabolical reason, he would need his years of police training to seek out revenge. The idea behind this story was solid enough to have built an exciting, tense drama. Unfortunately the writer and director were ill equipped to make this happen. The acting was dull; Mark Wahlberg was beyond generic, having acted the same way 100 times before. There were fringe characters that popped in and out as the story tumbled into a mess. The only character I found interesting was Police Commissioner Carl Fairbanks, who was played by the underrated but always excellent actor Jeffrey Wright (Source Code, Quantum of Solace). I kept looking at my watch throughout this film; never a good sign. The only pleasure I received was from the quick ending, even with its cheesiness. I am afraid the real crime being done here was me buying a ticket to see this poorly done movie.
1 2/3 stars