FROM MY EXPERIENCES IN SCHOOL, BOYS were more likely to retaliate against someone who did them wrong than the girls. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “I will be waiting for you outside after school,” which meant two students would be having a fight after school hours. Sadly, that phrase was directed at me a couple of times. With different grades entering and leaving from specific doors, it was easy to figure out where a person would be leaving the school building. I remember bolting out of class when the ending bell rang and running down the hallway to a different exit door. Once outside, I immediately ran across the street and made my way between two apartment buildings; so, I could cut into the alley behind them and make my way home unseen from the streets. The rest of the school week, I kept an eye out for the student who threatened me. Other students were not as lucky as me. I remember two fights that took place in front of the school; one was fought by two boys until a schoolteacher ran over to break it up and drag them both back to the principal’s office. The other fight had 2 girls whose viciousness surprised me as they slapped, scratched, punched and kicked each other until one of them ran off after her blouse was torn open. THERE WAS ONLY TWO TIMES I can recall, where a female student plotted retribution against a fellow student. The one girl may have been short, but she was tough. She never backed down from anyone, whether it was a girl or a boy. I did not actually see the encounter but was told she cornered a female student in the girl’s bathroom and threatened her with a pocketknife. She felt the girl was flirting with her boyfriend. The other incident happened in my classroom. A female classmate wanted to get back at a boy who called her names. When the male student was not looking, she placed a pack of cigarettes next to the schoolbooks he had piled under his chair. When the teacher was walking in front of her desk, she noticed the cigarette pack on the floor under the student and sent him down to the principal’s office, despite his pleas that the cigarettes were not his. The female student remained silent, looking innocent in her seat. These were the only incidents I could remember from my days back in school. You will see they pale in comparison to what took place in this dramatic Oscar nominated crime thriller. APPEARING TO LACK MOTIVATION AND DESIRE, there was only one thing Cassandra, played by Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, The Dig), had on her mind. It was something she had been thinking about for a long time. With Bo Burnham (The Big Sick, Rough Night) as Ryan, Alison Brie (Sleeping with Other People, The Post) as Madison, Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, Like a Boss) as Susan and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Stanley; this film festival winner grabbed my attention early on because of Carey’s performance. She gave life to the character and was riveting in the process. The directing and story were both in synch to deliver a perfectly paced story that took me on a hesitant journey into Cassandra’s world. I will say I felt let down from the ending, finding it a bit too convenient. The idea behind the story was sound and relevant, especially for the times we are presently living in. After watching this movie, I have been sitting and wondering if several or so of the scenes shown in this picture have been happening for a long time or not. This film really makes one think and that is a good thing.
3 ½ stars
ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IS not every “idea thief” has malicious intentions. My first exposure to one of these thieves was at a job I had a long time ago. I was working on a project for my boss, coming up with a theme for a new line we were going to carry. It took me several weeks of work before I felt good about what I had created. One day, out of the blue, my boss emailed me a suggestion I should look at and incorporate into my work. His suggestion was something I was starting work on; I could not believe he had just come up with that idea! Well it turned out, thanks to a tipoff from a friend of mine at the company, an employee who was aware of my work went and offered to my boss the names he thought I should use in the product line. The same names I had already chosen; however, it would now look like this employee came up with these names instead of me. I was furious at this employee’s underhandedness. Looking at my options, there was no way I could go and explain the betrayal to my boss without looking petty; so, I went ahead with what I had created and made a mental note never to trust that employee again. FROM THAT EPISODE, ANYTIME I ENCOUNTERED an “identity thief” I stayed clear of them, having nothing to do with them unless it was business. It was not until I was working at a club where a new instructor came on staff and we became friends. She had a couple of body fitness classes but wanted to expand her options. After studying and getting certified as a cycle instructor, she started showing up in one of my classes. It was amusing the way she would take notes while working out with the class. Her dedication and work paid off finally when she was assigned one cycle class. I was not able to attend it to support her but a few days later a member came up to me to tell me about the class. The member told me the instructor had taught the class nearly identical to the way I taught class. She even used some of the same instructions I used when working with the members. I was shocked to hear it and decided to ask my friend about it. She told me she got so nervous she forgot the things she had planned on doing and simply repeated the steps she remembered I did. We talked further as she said she wanted to use some of my techniques because they were perfect cues; I suggested she change the verbiage, so the cues become hers instead of mine. Her goal was to teach a safe class, so there was nothing malicious about her actions; unlike one of the main characters in this comedy. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY CAME TO HAVE a well-known cosmetics mogul invest in their company; best friends and owners Mel and Mia, played by Rose Bryne (Instant Family, Insidious franchise) and Tiffany Haddish (The Kitchen, Girls Trip), could not believe their good fortune. That is, until their new partner came up with her own ideas. With Salma Hayak (Savages, The Hummingbird Project) as Claire Luna, Billy Porter (American Horror Story-TV, Pose-TV) as Barrett and Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, A Cinderella Story) as Sydney; this movie did not offer anything new or surprising. Tiffany was doing the exact same thing she does in each of her comedies; I cannot tell the difference between any of her characters. I grant you she certainly has her way in delivering lines; but when the lines are dull it becomes a chore. The script was done in such a basic, low level of comedy that I was bored through parts of the film. In fact, if you have seen the trailer you have seen this movie. Having taken common themes we have seen before, the writers did nothing new to make this a fresh take on friendship and money.
1 ½ stars
INTENTLY drawing on their construction paper the students were following the teacher’s assignment to draw a picture of their favorite animal. Each child had their own box of crayons; some had the bigger sized containers with more colors. The teacher was walking around the classroom, checking up on each student’s artwork. She would offer words of encouragement or ask a question or two about the animal. Walking up from behind she looked over the shoulder of a boy who was carefully working on something the teacher could not figure out. There was nothing on the paper that resembled an animal. The teacher asked the student what he was drawing and he gladly explained the scene he created on his paper. What he had drawn was an elaborate jungle scene, using a variety of brightly colored crayons. Off to the side barely visible were 2 eyes staring out; the boy said it was a tiger. The teacher told him that was not the assignment. TECHNICALLY the assignment was to draw your favorite animal; the student did just that, except had the animal hidden in the jungle. One could say the boy was very creative and in fact, encourage the continued use of his imagination. However the teacher did not see it that way. She liked everyone to conform to the same thing. To look at something a different way was not something the teacher was comfortable with evidently. Assignments were supposed to be followed according to what the teacher believed was the “right” way; in other words, the way she thought things were supposed to be done. Someone with imagination would not easily conform to restrictions; they would as they say, “think outside of the box.” Personally I feel it is always an advantage to have people around who see things differently than you do. This animated, adventure comedy knows what I am talking about. EVERYONE living in Textopolis has one facial feature that they hope gets picked by the phone’s user. Considered an anomaly was Gene, voiced by T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Office Christmas Party), who had more than one facial feature. With a cast that included James Corden (Into the Woods, The History Boys) as Hi-5, Anna Faris (The House Bunny, Mom-TV) as Jailbreak, Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters) as Smiler and Steven Wright (Reservoir Dogs, Son of the Mask) as Mel Meh; I thought the concept for the story was admirable regarding differences between people. From that idea to the big screen something got lost in translation because the script was bland and uninteresting. I could not get over how you make a film with colorful emojis and then do not offer them some excitement and fun. Overall there were no laughs or emotions to this picture. Not one child in the audience I was sitting with expressed any happiness towards a scene. At least the actors’ voices were fun to listen to, especially from James and Maya. Sadly out of all the emojis shown in the movie, the one that best describes my feelings about this film is “meh.” There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
1 ¾ stars
It took gaining more maturity before I stopped being judgmental about people’s hobbies or interests. When someone used to show me the items they collected, if it was not something that interested me, I would ask myself why anyone would collect such stuff. It did not matter if it was porcelain dolls, sports paraphernalia or ceramic elves; I had no understanding on what was the attraction. When I started working on my personal growth, something clicked inside of me. Who was I to judge someone on the things that brought them enjoyment? What I discovered was how much I admired the passion these people displayed when showing or talking about their interests. To be in touch with such feelings and find enjoyment in whatever it is you do, is something I consider to be a positive attribute. So when Jane Hayes, played by Keri Russell (Dark Skies, August Rush), decided to pursue her passion by spending her life savings on a trip to England, to submerge herself into the world of Jane Austen; I did not have a problem with it. Obsessed with the character of Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s book “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane wanted to find the type of love that would sweep her off of her feet. She was to find much more than that when she arrived at the Austen themed resort managed by Mrs. Wattlesbrook, played by Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers, Somewhere in Time). I found the Jane Austen angle interesting in this romantic comedy. Maybe it was because of this theme, but I would have thought the producers would have hired the best writers possible to do justice to this movie. It did not happen; the script was stale and unimaginative. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde, Epic Movie) who I have enjoyed in the past, came across like a predictable cartoon character playing Miss Elizabeth Charming. As for Keri, this was not a good performance from her; I did not feel any connection to her bland character. The only one that came across with any real emotion was J.J. Field (Centurion, Blood: The Last Vampire) as Mr. Henry Nobley. It seemed odd to do a film about a woman’s passion for such an iconic author only to create a dull movie.
1 3/4 stars