FEW OF MY FRIENDS LIKED THE candy pellets that came out of the candy dispenser I carried around in my pocket. I had a couple of different kinds; one had Popeye’s head on the top and the other had the head of a dog. When you tilted the head back the mouth would open to reveal a candy pellet, for you to slide out and pop into your mouth. Whenever I went to the candy store I always picked up a couple of packs of pellets to reload my dispensers. As time went on and my tastes changed, I stopped carrying around my candy dispensers; I placed them in a desk drawer and soon forgot about them. Fast forward to years later and on one of my social media sites I have a follower who is a big fan/collector of the same kind of candy dispensers I used to have when I was younger. From seeing the things this follower has been posting, I discovered there is a world of people who enjoy these candy dispensers. And here I thought when I was younger I was the only one who liked them. I will say from the time I had them they certainly have increased the amount of different heads on them. THOUGH I KNOW NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE in my follower’s posts, I felt some kind of connection. It is the type of connection one feels when they discover someone they do not know has the same like/dislike of a particular thing. It immediately forms a connection between the 2 individuals because they have something in common that they can now use to build on a relationship. The best example I can show is my movie review site. The people who comment on my reviews were unknown to me for the most part. All of a sudden we started a dialog that was born in our mutual love of movies and in turn a comfort formed that allowed an easy sharing of each other’s life stories. Growing up, I had a variety of interests that were not shared by those around me. I can remember during the 7th or 8th grades meeting a couple of new students who had similar interests. It was not only an immediate connection, but it was the start of a deep friendship. In a way it was like finding someone who spoke the same language as you after being misunderstood by your peers for years. From the beginning of this film festival winning, dramatic thriller I found myself connected to the main characters. BEING NEW TO THE AREA DID NOT make a difference to the connection that quickly formed between Casey Caraway and her neighbor Jonas Ford, played by Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) and Josh Wiggins (Max, Walking Out). Their connection would be tested beyond anything they imagined. With Joe Cobden (Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow) as Elbert Ford, Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Wayne Caraway and Colm Feore (Chicago, The Chronicles of Riddick) as The Chief; this story drew me in due to the connection I mentioned previously. The acting came across truthfully and at times powerfully. I felt Bill’s performance was authentic and intense, especially because I was getting a physical reaction from his character. The story line had a similar flavor to past movies of the same genre; however, I was surprised with the twists in this one. The filming style added to the despair felt in the story; there was a simple and direct style that made the characters come across in a raw, sometimes desperate, way. The story may cause uneasiness with viewers in the beginning, but it would be worth staying to see what happens and you never know, there may be a connection that forms with you.
2 ½ stars — DVD
IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN A CHILD does it, it can be cute. However, when an adult does it, there is nothing cute about it. What I am referring to is “denial;” making a statement that something is not true or the refusal of something requested or desired. I still find it amusing when you are visiting with friends or family and you hear a crashing/breaking sound coming from a different room. You run in and see a vase or candy dish in pieces on the floor. The only human in the room is a small child who is standing near the pieces, not moving. When you ask them if they broke it their first response is, “No.” You question further by asking who then broke the item and they say they do not know. So yes, I know that this is lying; but I get amused by the absurdity of it, and the fact that the child chooses to say no instead of telling the truth. In this scenario this would be a good teaching opportunity for the child, to explain the ramifications revolved around telling the truth as opposed to denying responsibility for something that happened. IT IS A GOOD LESSON THAT not everyone chooses to abide by. I recall an incident in school where a student was shooting paperclips at another student. For those of you who do not know how this is done, it is done by partially unbending the paperclip and using a rubber band wrapped around two fingers to form a pseudo slingshot to launch the clip. It can be quite painful to get hit by a speeding paperclip. When the student cried out from being hit the teacher looked up to see what was going on. The student picked up the clip from the floor and showed her the cause of his outburst. She asked the class who did it but no one (did you really think someone would admit it?) responded to her. The same student hit the other student again after things settled down and the teacher was once again distracted by her work. I have encountered a variety of adults who practice some form of denial. A parent who sees their painfully thin child refusing to eat a meal for no reason or an adult who complains they never have any extra money but daily receive packages of stuff they have ordered online. I could go on with examples but will let you see another one in this dramatic, film festival winning movie. LONG TERM FRIENDS FRANKY AND BALLAS, played by Josh Wiggins (Max, Mean Dreams) and Darren Mann (Even Lambs Have Teeth, Hello Destroyer), had everything going their way in school with both being popular and members on the swim team. But on Franky’s 17th birthday something took place that would totally change their world. This coming of age story also starred Maria Bello (Max Steel, A History of Violence) as Carly Winter, Kyle MacLachlan (The House with the Clock in its Walls, Twin Peaks-TV) as Ray Winter and Taylor Hickson (Deadpool, Deadly Class-TV) as Natasha Kohl. I have seen and read numerous coming of age stories; this one followed a similar path as they but with more scenery, in the figurative sense. The acting was good overall and came across especially for the young adults as authentic. This also included several scenes inside the school; they could have easily taken place during my time in school. In fact, a part of me started to tense up when watching a few of the intense spots of the story because I felt like I was back in high school. Considering I had not seen a trailer or advertisement for this film, I was pleasantly surprised that it kept my interest. There is no denying it.
2 ½ stars
I used to think there were some dogs that were just bad, but I came to my senses. It turned out it really was the dog owners that were bad. My original train of thought was due to a loose dog in the neighborhood where I grew up, that tried biting me as I rode my bicycle down the street near its house. Luckily as I grew up there was a relative of mine that adopted a black poodle that changed my views about dogs. This poodle really showed my what it was like to have a dog be a member of the family. In my adult life I encountered many dogs that were the children of friends and family. I realized like children dogs were not born bad, they had to be trained or not be trained to act in a non-appropriate way. There was one dog in particular that touched me in a special way that cemented my feelings about dogs. This mixed breed dog was not only a loving creature, but was able to express empathy. I will never forget the time when its owner was lying on their bed crying and the dog quietly jumped up and lied down next to them, putting its front paw across their back. I was nearly speechless as I witnessed this sympathetic act. Now when I hear a story like I did last week from a member in my class about walking their dog when the neighbors 2 dogs ran out to attack her dog, I know it says more about the owner instead of their dogs. I believe this even more now that I have seen this heartwarming film. UNABLE to be handled by anyone else after his handler Kyle Wincott, played by Robbie Amell (The DUFF, The Hunters-TV movie), was killed in the line of duty; the military had only one option left to avoid putting down Max, the bomb sniffing dog. They hoped Kyle’s parents Pamela and Ray Wincott, played by Lauren Graham (Evan Almighty, Bad Santa) and Thomas Haden Church (Easy A, Sideways), would take Max in and make him part of their family. Would they and their remaining son Justin, played by relative newcomer Josh Wiggins, want to have this dog in their house, reminding them of their tragic loss? This adventure family film won me over simply by having Max star in it. I was unfamiliar with this breed of dog, thinking Max was a German Shepherd mix. The script would have been stronger if it remained on the main story instead of going off with Kyle’s buddy. Also, I was quite aware I was being manipulated but still teared up because at the end of the day there is nothing like seeing a heroic dog.
2 3/4 stars