FOR MANY YEARS, THE ONLY OPTION I thought I had when I felt someone had done me wrong, was to retaliate. There was no other thought in my mind on how I could react to the occurrence. I can remember back in elementary school when a classmate called me a nasty name, referring to my size and instead of saying something back, I stood there silently. It was because I was already trying to figure out how I could hurt him. Once I decided what I was going to do, I sat back and waited several weeks because I did not want the classmate to make any connection between calling me a name and something bad befalling him right after. So, I went about my business each school day, while discreetly staying out of his way as I plotted my revenge. Once I formulated my plan and felt confident, I could pull it off, I waited for our next recess time to spring my plan into action. As the class lined up to follow the teacher out of the room, I lingered in the back of the room. With the students focused on getting outside to the playground, I purposely walked by that kid’s desk. Quickly lifting the desk top I found his pencil sharpener and took it. As far as I could tell no one saw me take it. I kept it in my coat pocket all day until I got home, where I took out the hammer from our toolbox and smashed the pencil sharpener in our backyard. INTO MY EARLY YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT, I still had that same mindset of essentially an “eye for an eye.” I worked with a woman who falsely accused me of something that I had never done. The reason she did it was to get the job I was working to get. I remember how furious I was when I found out she was “bad mouthing” me. For the next eighteen months I not only gave her the silent treatment, but I also did a variety of things to annoy her. Periodically, I would bring in food treats like ice cream bars, candy or bagels. Instead of putting them in the lunchroom, I would go around to each employee in the department and offer it to them except for this one backstabbing individual. She pretended it did not bother her; however, as the weeks and months went by, other employees who I was friends with would tell me how irritated this employee was at not being offered any food. I relished in the news and kept it up until she finally apologized me. I accepted it but I never let my guard down around her. Because of my past intensity to seek out revenge, I was able to understand the main character’s motivation in this dramatic western. HEARING THE MAN HE HAD BEEN hunting down all these years was getting out of jail, there was only one thing on Nat Love’s, played by Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick, Lovecraft Country-TV), mind; he wanted to hunt him down and kill him. With Zazie Beetz (Joker, Deadpool 2) as Mary Fields, RJ Cyler (Power Rangers, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) as Jim Beckworth, Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk, Our Family Wedding) as Trudy Smith and Idris Elba (The Suicide Squad, Concrete Cowboy) as Rufus Buck; the wonderful cast was a joy to watch as they committed to their characters that were based on true individuals. The script was a little too long and at times I felt the writers and director were paying tribute to Quentin Tarantino; but once things clicked in, I was thoroughly entertained. I will say I do not like modern language being injected into a period piece, but there was not much of it. I also enjoyed the way the story took a turn. Imagining the amount of energy Nat had to keep up to fulfill his quest, I am so glad I discovered other options to my reactions to a person I perceived had done me wrong. There were scenes of blood and violence.
IT WAS NOT UNTIL I CAUGHT his sideways glance back at us that I realized we needed to stop talking separately. I understood because I had been in his position myself and knew what it felt like. Early on, I did not realize when two people are together in a relationship, they learn to talk to each other in a certain shorthanded type of way, that only they understand. They also can get a sense through their partner’s body language; people refer to this as non-verbal visual cues. I remember walking with their new significant other as mine was walking behind to catch up with their old flame. To me it sounded like they were conversing with sentence fragments; little snippets of phrases and idioms that made little sense to me. They would laugh at what I heard to be random bits; but to hear them, one would think they were a couple of comedians sharing their comedy routines with each other. I cannot say I was feeling hurt per se, however, I did feel as if I was being left out from being part of their clique. As I said, the first time this happened to me I was uncomfortable. But as I gained experience being in that role and with maturity, I stopped feeling threatened and instead, learned to respect it for what it was: 2 exes’ catching up in the way only they knew how to communicate with each other. WHETHER IT IS TWO OR A DOZEN people who have spent a significant time together, it is understandable they form a special bond between themselves. The bond becomes so strong that a long expanse of time filled with absence barely shaves off a layer from the top surface of the connection. I remember going back to an elementary school class reunion and despite having had no contact with many of my classmates for decades, all of us immediately fell into that comfortable spot of familiarity and belonging. It was as if I had just been with them a short time ago as my memories burst into my awareness like a school of swimming dolphin coming up for air at the same time; I would see someone new walk into the room and I immediately recognized them and recalled the interactions we had together when we were back in such and such grade. Any of the petty issues that any of us were carrying about a bad experience shared got washed away from the excitement of being back together as one cohesive body of students who survived the formative years of elementary school. That special bond between people was something that resonated with me when I watched the group of friends in this dramatic war adventure film. RETURNING TO VIET NAM AFTER MANY YEARS, four military Vets were determined to complete their mission to retrieve their buddy’s remains and a stack of gold that was left behind. The bonds between them would serve them well as they went back into the jungle. With Delroy Lindo (Malcom X, Get Shorty) as Paul, Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick, Captive State) as David, Clarke Peters (John Wick, Marley & Me) as Otis, Norm Lewis (Winter’s Tale, Sex and the City 2) as Eddie and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Cedar Rapids, BlackKklansman) as Melvin; the story in this movie was loaded up with several topical themes. The acting was excellent to the point I believed the 4 Viet Nam vet characters really fought together in the war. Granted I have no personal experience about being in the military during the Viet Nam war, but I found the script authentic enough for it to be believable. There were times where I felt some preaching was taking place, but it did not distract me enough to care about it. There were several scenes with blood and violence. One other positive thing about watching this movie was it reminded me how good pictures can provide viewers with things to think about afterwards.
3 ½ stars
MY FIRST WARNING WAS WHEN HE did not ask me how I was doing. I have noticed over time when I engage with a person and they do not ask any questions back, they pretty much are only interested in talking about themselves. In this case we were sitting next to each other at a lecture. We had seen each other in other classes and workshops, acknowledging each other with a nod of the head or a “hello.” Before the lecture had started I asked how his experiences were so far at the convention. He started talking about the classes he had taken, making a point to tell me what he would have done differently if he was leading it. I was just trying to make small talk and was not looking for a detailed description of his classes. As I listened to him it soon became apparent that everything he was saying was negative; he kept telling me he would have done a better job as the instructor or lecturer. Not once did he ever ask me about my time at the convention. I could not wait for our lecture to start because he talked non-stop; but even when the class started, he made a point to interject his take on what the lecturer was discussing with us. I felt like I was being held captive. THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN BEING stuck with someone who is sucking the air out of the room. Whether it is a business or personal function, I cannot tell you how excruciating it can be to be the sole audience member to a person’s soliloquy of their life and experiences. There was a salesman who used to always come around and all the employees would scatter whenever they saw him drive up. Whoever he made eye contact with would then be forced to listen to all his family stories, mentioning relatives as if the stuck employee knew who he was talking about. What made matters worse was the slow way he would draw out his stories, pausing at points just to see the reaction from his audience. I used to tell him I had a meeting scheduled or I was needed on a conference call, just to get away from him. And like I said earlier, he would never ask how you were doing; because it was all about him. The reason I am talking about this is due to today’s science fiction thriller. I felt like I was being forced to sit and listen to everything going on whether it made or not any sense. DESPITE BEING UNDER ALIEN RULE FOR some years, there still was a resistance to the occupation of Earth. One of the problems was the humans who were doing the extraterrestrials’ bidding. With John Goodman (Atomic Blonde, 10 Cloverfield Lane) as William Mulligan, Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Gabriel Drummond, Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick, Hostiles) as Rafe Drummond, Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring franchise) as Jane Doe and Kevin Dunn (Warrior, Veep-TV) as Commissioner Eugene Igoe; this was a dark film that had bold ideas. Filmed in Chicago, the story started out intriguing. There was little information given for the backstory. I sat through most of this movie feeling perplexed and bored, besides wondering why the more seasoned actors agreed to take on such a dismal production. The CGI was nothing special which made the clunky script all the more drab. I did not find anything exciting despite the twists which I assumed were supposed to be thought provoking. If I was the type who ate in the theater I would have gone and gotten some popcorn or candy. Unless you want to be held captive yourself, I suggest you save your money on this one by avoiding it.
1 ½ stars