THERE WAS A NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT a celebrity so grieve stricken about the loss of her beloved dog, that she had the dog cloned. The puppy looked exactly like a younger version of her deceased pet. It appeared the celebrity had her pet cloned just prior to the dog’s death. From the experiences I have been a part of with pet owners, all of them did not immediately find a replacement for their furry companion; they allowed themselves to grieve and get settled into new daily routines first. I understand the love we have for our pets and we hate to see them go, but it is part of the life cycle. Besides the aching pain that is felt, I have had a tough time with the inevitable change of routines. Coming home expecting a happy greeting gets replaced with still silence. For some their daily walks were their only exercise or time for reflective thought. Just recently I was talking with a friend about the difference about two kinds of death. The one where the person/animal suddenly dies is harder on the remaining loved ones in my opinion. When the person/animal has spent an extended amount of time suffering before they finally succumb; then it is easier on the ones left behind because there is the element of relief that they are no longer in pain. WHO KNOWS BUT MAYBE THERE WILL come a time where anyone can clone their loved ones. Maybe the clones will be identical and start off right where the originals ended, but I have misgivings about it. For right now I have a fear that people’s loss of pain will drive medical companies to hurry something to market without knowing 100% that all will be fine. I get this image in my head of those gremlins from the movie that change into hideous, crazy things if they are fed water or given food past midnight. Can you imagine scientists cloning new life that will morph into creatures that cause death and destruction? I know love is a powerful force and the loss of love can be utterly debilitating for us; but that is the price one pays to be vulnerable and accept love into their life. Maybe because of all the movies I have seen or my vivid imagination, but right now there is something about cloning that frightens me. Long term we do not have enough information on what could happen. Due to my feelings I was hesitant to watch this mystery, crime film. WHEN A DEADLY ACCIDENT ROBBED HIM of the most important thing in his life scientist Will Foster, played by Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Matrix franchise), willingly risked everything to gain back what he loved the most. The only issue was no one could know about it. With Thomas Middleditch (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Kings of Summer) as Ed, John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster) as Jones, Alice Eve (Before We Go, She’s Out of my League) as Mona and Emily Alyn Lind (J. Edgar, Revenge-TV) as Sophie; this science fiction movie was startling in how it was poorly done. I mean bottom of the food chain nonsense. First, the acting was appalling; Keanu was wooden or better yet, lifeless. The script offered nothing new or exciting for me; pretty much everything taking place seemed to be a given. I will say, I was surprised by one twist in the story; but by that time, I did not care what was going on because I wanted the picture to end so I could go home. For me, this entire movie could be used as an example of what could go wrong by cloning a story that was done before.
1 1/4 stars
FOR MANY OF US OUR FIRST FRIEND was an inanimate object. It may have resided in our crib or was hanging down from the ceiling above us when we slept. Once we became mobile the object came with us. This first friend could have been a variety of things such as a stuffed animal or a doll. My first friend was a stuffed chimpanzee. I took him everywhere, including a spot on my bed to sleep with me. A relative of mine had a stuffed bunny rabbit that had the softest fur. It is funny, but I can still remember someone holding my chimpanzee and manipulating the limbs as if the monkey was gesturing while the person disguised their voice, making me believe my stuffed animal was talking to me. As Sparky the monkey and myself grew in age, we both began to share the same likes and dislikes. We both loved bananas but did not like oranges. If there was music playing in the house I would lift Sparky up onto a table and help him dance to the rhythm. Sometimes he was clumsy and knock over a glass or bottle, spilling the contents out onto the table. Sparky rarely got into trouble; if memory serves me correctly we may have had only a couple of time-outs during our friendship. THESE FIRST FRIENDS PLAY A VITAL ROLE in a child’s development. A child nurtures their imagination as they create adventures with their best friend. I still get a kick out of hearing little children talk to their toys and act based on what was said between them. Whatever object gets designated as a child’s friend does not matter; they still form a bond that opens a safe world for the two of them to explore. There was a couple I knew who used this bond as a teaching tool to show their child how to share things. I found their method ingenious because; though I never said anything, I thought their daughter was a bit selfish, based on how I observed her playing with other children. I am sure many of us have encountered a child that did not want anyone touching their toys; imagine the lessons that can be taught using the child’s best friend. Having a best friend makes a world of difference as we grow up and grow old. Take a moment to think back and remember what you had as your best friend when you were a child. You might have had a version of the main character from this action, adventure film. FEELING SAD AND ALONE AFTER HER father’s death Charlie, played by Hailee Seinfeld (The Keeping Room, Pitch Perfect franchise), found comfort in tinkering with cars just like her dad. She would get more than comfort from an old beaten-up yellow car she spotted in a junkyard. This science fiction movie also starred Jorge Lendeborg Jr (Spider-Man: Homecoming; Love, Simon) as Memo, John Cena (Blockers, The Wall) as Agent Burns, John Ortiz (The Drop, Silver Linings Playbook) as Dr. Powell and Jason Drucker (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Every Witch Way-TV) as Otis. Whether you call this picture an origin story or prequel it doesn’t matter because out of the Transformers movies this was one of the best. The writers gave life to the Bumblebee character while the special effects department gave him his humanity. I know, this may sound profound, but it really is not; this was a well-done script that focused more on the story than the action. And when there was action, at least I was able to see who was battling during the fight scenes. The glue that brought all of this together was Hailee; she did a beautiful job in bringing out the emotional aspects to the story. It was well worth seeing this on the big screen and if by chance you decide to go you might become friends with Bumblebee. If so, then lucky you because trust me you could have done a lot worse at the movie theater.
3 ¼ stars
IF YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD THE younger me that I would grow up and become a fitness instructor, I would have laughed in your face. I was far from being an athlete, let alone a physically active student. Reading, studying, watching TV/movies and eating were my dominant activities. Sure, I hung out with my friends all the time, but it wasn’t to toss or kick a ball. Pizza played an important part in my life back then. So, imagine the surprise some childhood friends and students had when we met at our recent class reunion. Hearing that I teach fitness not only shocked them but made a few laugh out loud, since they knew I had flunked PE twice. And I should mention back then I was much heavier. When I look at the course of my life I can pinpoint the exact moment when my mind opened up to physical fitness; it was a friend of mine who asked to join her at an aerobics class in the city. The class never felt like I was working out. Instead, it felt like I was dancing to the music being played. It was from that moment in time I shifted and became enthusiastic over fitness. THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE I HAVE encountered who stunned me when they mentioned what type of work they did for a living. At an art fair I met an artist who spent 20 years of her life being a corporate lawyer. She described the grueling hours she put in and the non-stop traveling she had to endure. After all those years she came to the realization that she was not happy with her job; so, she started pursuing something she had always loved doing, painting. After a time, she took a chance and entered an art show, where she wound up getting a first-place ribbon. From there she went full force by quitting her job and devoting all her time to painting. The story was inspirational to me. I find it fascinating how people wind up in their occupations. From that school reunion I mentioned earlier I discovered one student is a PhD, doing medical research on diseases; another person is a theater reviewer overseas. You certainly cannot judge an individual based on their occupation and vice versa, you can’t judge a person’s job based on their physical appearance. This holds true for the main character in this dramatic, action thriller. AFTER HER HUSBAND AND DAUGHTER WERE gunned down Riley North, played by Jennifer Garner (Miracles from Heaven; Love, Simon), wanted justice. Unfortunately, the justice system would not serve her well. With John Gallagher Jr (10 Cloverfield Lane, Short Term 12) as Detective Stan Carmichael, John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster) as Detective Moises Beltran, Juan Pablo (The 33, Shot Caller) as Diego and Annie Ilonzeh (He’s Just Not That into You, Person of Interest-TV) as FBI agent Lisa Inman; Jennifer appeared to be going back to her roots from her television show. I was looking forward to seeing her in this character, but I was surprised by the blood and violence; it was somewhat graphic. Though the fight scenes were okay, the script was weak. Just the idea of this one character taking on a large crime organization was a far stretch. Maybe if the writers had cut back some of the violence and devoted more time to building up her character I might have bought more into the story. But as it stands, this revenge film was not special; there was nothing shown that I had not seen before. I do not know but maybe the writers’ former classmates are wondering how these students became writers.
1 ¾ stars
There is no age limit when it comes to making a good impression on a date. How many of us have done things out of our comfort zone, with the intent to show our willingness and flexibility in being an accommodating person? I remember going on a date where I agreed to a night of country two stepping. Borrowing a cowboy hat from a friend, I spent the night never showing my misery with my awkward dance steps. By the end of the evening I was hoping for a 2nd date, so we could go to a dance club and I prove I at least had rhythm. These are the things that one does to cast a positive light on themselves and in this dramatic movie we see a beautiful example of someone trying his best to make a good impression. This film adaptation of the stage play was the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, A Late Quartet). Reprising his role as limousine driver Jack, Philip was comfortable with his role. After being fixed up on a blind date by his friends Lucy and Clyde, played by Daphne Robin-Vega (Life on the Ledge, Flawless) and John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster), Jack decided he would learn how to swim and cook. He wanted to make a good impression on Connie, played by Amy Ryan (Win Win, Gone Baby Gone). The only problem in his plan was getting advice from his friends who were having martial issues. Though the pacing seemed slow at times, I was impressed with Philip’s directing. The scenes where his character was visualizing himself swimming and cooking had a delicate sweetness. I could see this movie as a play, feeling it was an easy transition to film since it was more actor driven than action. The things one does for romance; Jack got an “A” for effort and Philip made a good impression on me with his capable directing of this good film.
2 3/4 stars — DVD