BLOOD IS THICKER than water they say but that is not always the case. For those of you not familiar with this saying, it means relationships within a family are the strongest and most important ones. I have seen examples that both prove and disprove this sentiment. Currently the news in my area has been following a story about a father and son. The dad needs a kidney transplant, having suffered with kidney disease for some years. It turns out the son was a perfect match and immediately agreed to donate one of his kidneys to his dad. They both went on an exercise and diet regiment to get themselves into better shape before the surgery. While this is a positive example, I recently read an article in the newspaper about a grandson shooting his grandmother to death and making it look like a burglary. He did it so he could collect the insurance money. THERE ARE FAMILIES who are close-knit, spending most of their free time with each other. They take vacations together, go to special events, pickup groceries for each other and watch each other’s children when the need arises. I know one family where none of the siblings has a non-related friend, as far as I can tell. I am talking no school or neighborhood friends; they are only friends with each other. To me it is somewhat odd; maybe because when I would meet potential dates, one of my red flags would pop up if they never mentioned anything about their friends. If they did not say something I would work the conversation to the topic of friendship to find out if they actually had any people in their life they could call a friend. Now do not get me wrong I have nothing against siblings being best friends. There are 2 sisters I know who are inseparable; they so enjoy each other’s company and do everything together, but nothing like what was in this movie. I was surprised watching what the main character was willing to do for his sibling in this dramatic, crime thriller. CONNIE NIKAS, played by Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga franchise, Remember Me), had to stay a step ahead of his pursuers if he wanted any chance of reuniting with his mentally challenged brother. This film festival winner will finally put to rest any lingering memories of Robert playing Edward in the Twilight series. He was outstanding in this movie. Along with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road to Perdition, The Hateful Eight) as Corey Ellman, Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips, Eye in the Sky) as Dash the park security guard, newcomer Taliah Webster as Crystal and director Benny Safdie (Person to Person, Yeast) as Nick Nikas; the whole cast was excellent in this fast paced film. Robert was the main focus and the script literally put him through his paces. Some of the scenes were less plausible than others, but watching Robert’s desperation was riveting. There were at least several scenes that could have easily been plucked out of the news, but seeing them on a more personal level made them more intense in my opinion. In fact the whole feel of this picture did not come across as a Hollywood production. I have to say the story in this exciting film shines a whole different light on brotherly love. There were several scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 ½ stars
There are times where it is easier to connect with a stranger than a person you know. I witness this multiple times as an instructor or when I am out of synch with my daily routine. Ah yes the daily routine; you know, where we get set into a pattern and begin repeating it every day. If there was a contest I absolutely would be a finalist since I find comfort and calmness in keeping a routine. When I am out of my daily rituals, like on vacation, I become more available to strike up a conversation with strangers. Taking it a step further I find it easy to have a conversation with a blind date. Recently I was out with a friend and we were talking about dating. They have a 2 date limit; in other words, if they do not feel something after 2 dates they end it. They said the hardest part of the process was being honest and telling the person they are not interested. I absolutely agree because though it is hard, I feel it is harder not to say anything and leave a person in limbo hoping things just drift apart. What I find even worse is when a person stops communicating, ignoring your texts and phone calls. I wonder if the ease in talking or not talking to a stranger is because a person can be whoever they want to be, since there is no history between them. Maybe they relish the opportunity to reinvent themselves and in turn become more open or available for new experiences. This Oscar nominated, animated movie showed more feelings than many humans I have met. AUTHOR Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, Seven Years in Tibet), was traveling out of state to be the guest speaker at a convention. His life was about to change thanks to convention attendee Lisa Hesselman, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Road to Perdition). This film festival winner brilliantly used stop motion animation that brought the puppets alive. With a script that was part comedy, part drama; I became fascinated with the story, losing sense that these puppets were not real people. It was a surreal experience for me. There were several astute observations about the human condition throughout the script thanks to co-writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It did take time for me to actually get into the story; I found the beginning of the movie slow. By the way this is absolutely not a film for young people since the puppets get into adult situations. Overall I was most impressed with the technical aspects of this picture; it must have taken an incredibly long time to get the puppets to move in such a seamless way. From the script there certainly was enough situations that would lend themselves to topics of conversation afterwards. I would have liked to have heard what other people were saying about the movie, but I was on my schedule and had to leave the theater.
3 1/4 stars
There was a time where it was considered a palace. With Moorish trappings and an abundance of wrought iron railings the building stood tall over all other ones within several blocks. I was lucky enough to get inside of it, though it had lost its moniker by then. This place was a movie palace; an old fashioned theater that had one single enormous screen, covered by a set of red velvet drapes. The rows of seats were bolted to a sloping floor that looked like a swelling wave, particularly if one stood either at the front or back of them. The theater was built decades before anyone thought of putting stadium seating into an auditorium. I remember the time I visited this place and was fascinated with the fine details of the theater lobby. There were candelabras on the walls with fake candles that looked like they were dripping white wax from their amber colored, flickering lightbulbs. To the right of the candy counter was a grand staircase that swirled up to a balcony that was perched just below the mosaic tiled ceiling. Before the movie started there as a low audible rumble throughout the theater. Slowly rising up from the stage in front of those velvet drapes, was a huge pipe organ being played by a man dressed in a tuxedo; it was wild. I imagined that in its heyday when a new movie was being shown in this theater it was an event…and today’s movie could have easily been on the schedule. BOUNTY hunter John Ruth, played by Kurt Russell (Tombstone, Death Proof), and his prisoner Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist, Road to Perdition), were forced to hole up in a roadside establishment until a winter blizzard passed by. They were not the only ones who had the same idea. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2), this mystery thriller was an experience to be seen. Nearly 3 hours long, there were no movie preview trailers; the film started on time with an overture and there was a planned intermission. The crowd was handed a complimentary program; I was taken aback. The filming and soundtrack were incredible to see and hear as the story was set in Wyoming. With Samuel L. Jackson (Chi-Raq, The Avengers franchise) as Major Marquis Warren and Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Monster) as General Sandy Smithers among the cast, this film had a great script with wonderful dialog. Yes, there was what I refer to as the Tarantino blood and violence scenes but there was not as much as his previous films. The story took some time to get into because it started out slow with long drawn out shots. I felt some scenes could have been eliminated or at least shortened. As with his past films Quentin did a beautiful job of paying homage to past celebrated directors. Watching this film festival winning western was truly an experience. There were scenes with blood and violence.
3 1/4 stars