WITH DIZZYINGLY SPEED, SHE SCROLLED THROUGH her photos on her phone. To me it looked like a blur; I had no idea how she would be able to spot the photo she was seeking. Her thumb looked like it was waving at me from the way she was using it to go through her photographs. I tried to keep up with her and make out the images that sped by on the screen; but, because I guess they were not my photos, I could not decipher the images that were captured for a split second on her phone’s screen. Finally, she found the photo she had been looking for and with a pinch of her fingers she made the image bigger for me. She wanted me to see the details of the object up close. I was chuckling inside, remembering the “old days” when one wanted to see something up close in a photograph, they would have to get a magnifying glass. Speaking of the “old days,” I remember when I used to go to rock concerts, I would have to buy a special high-speed film for my camera if I wanted to take photographs. Nowadays one only needs to take out their smartphone and snap a picture. And I am guessing most of you do not know there was a time when museums prohibited the taking of photographs; try enforcing that now with almost everyone walking around with a camera in their smartphone. I AM NOT DISCOURAGING THE ADVANCEMENTS in photography; but I feel something has gotten lost with the technology we use to take photographs. For me, photographs capture a moment in time; it may be of a person or a place. Going through an old box filled with photos is a way of finding connection to one’s past as they go forward in life. Seeing a relative wearing a different hat in each photo you have of them when they were young might surprise you; since, you have no memory of them even liking hats. Maybe she had designed the hats herself when she was younger; you would never have known if it was not for the photos in your possession. When I see a much younger version of myself and can immediately experience the same feelings I was dealing with in the photo; whether good or bad, I am reconnecting with my former self. That photo is proof of the history I have lived, besides being a reference point to how far I have come in life. Seeing the shiny images of deceased relatives staring out at you, is akin to feeling their support in your current endeavors. A photograph can say a lot about a person; just see what it says in this dramatic romantic film. AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH LEADS JOURNALIST MICHAEL Block, played by LaKeith Stansfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12), on a journey of self-discovery and love. With Issa Rae (Little, Insecure-TV) as Mae, Chelsea Peretti (Game Night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Sara, Chante Adams (Bad Hair, Monsters and Men) as Christina and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Good Boys) as Kyle; this film was beautifully staged. Going between two different time periods, I enjoyed the filming of each period and the connection between the two stories. Issa surprised me in this dramatic role; she had a wonderful authentic screen presence that matched LaKeith. Their chemistry felt real and believable. Though the script got heavy-handed at times with the romantic aspects and predictability; I still enjoyed watching the characters as they matured through the story. Also, it was pleasant to watch a romantic movie that felt organic in its development instead of feeling forced. I would love to see the art of printed photographs make a comeback because of this picture.
I AM NOT CLAIMING THIS IS 100% true; but if one must explain every joke to the person they are dating, I believe the relationship is not destined to last long. Humor, at least for me, is an important trait to possess. Not that I want to be with someone who likes and dislikes everything I do, but there must be some things that connect us. I used to rate food tastes as an important factor in a relationship; but because I am so picky, I have learned to adjust and be flexible about it. To give you an idea, if we were discussing a place to eat and I did not like the type of cuisine, I would refuse the restaurant outright. I soon learned that I needed to be malleable; food did not have to be so important to me. And what I discovered is I can usually find something to eat at most establishments. There still are some cuisines that I am not fond of, but I no longer put a checkmark in the “con” column when assessing a new person’s choices. Out of the variety of factors one chooses as the glue to bond with someone, food is not a deal breaker for me. FOR MY OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS, I prefer being with someone who is not just like me. I am an intense person by nature; imagine me being with someone who matches my intensity level? It would be a volatile relationship. When two people connect yet have some differences, I consider it a plus for the relationship. I always say it gives me the opportunity to see a situation through someone else’s eyes. It is a yin and yang environment for me. Whenever I am sitting in a place long enough to observe people, I look at couples. Sometimes I see two people who appear to have nothing in common. For example, one person is dressed in an expensive flashy way, while the other one looks like they got their clothing from a thrift shop. I am curious enough to sit and just watch how the couple interact with each other. Sometimes I am even sitting close enough to hear parts of their conversation, particularly if we happen to be seated next to each other at the same flight gate in the airport. From my observations and own experiences, I feel a mixture of differences and similarities creates the strongest bond between two people. If you want to see it being tested may I suggest you watch this romantic comedy. INVITED AS A GUEST TO A social function Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogan (This is the End, Neighbors franchise), got the oddest feeling he knew of all people the Secretary of State. If true, she was his very first crush. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Charlotte Field, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Unfinished Business) as Maggie Millikin, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Lance and Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as President Chambers; this film festival winning movie was the highlight for me this week in a sea of dreadful films. Seth and Charlize seemed such an unlikely pairing, but it worked to their advantage. I enjoyed watching them and laughed out loud a few times, due to the fun and topical script. Granted Seth was in his element, so there were times I felt he was reprising a past character; but my focus was steered more to Charlize. I thought she was a wonderful blend of seriousness and humor. Sure, one could say this story was similar to others but with a gender switch and that may be true. However, I found this to be a sharp and fresh take on the rom-com genre.
IT IS SO INFURIATING TO ALWAYS be asked for advice that always gets dismissed. I just need to stop giving it when I am being asked, because it drives me crazy. A friend of mine will constantly ask me what I think or would do regarding an issue she is experiencing. Since she asked I am willing to help; not that I am some kind of oracle of truth who has the best advice. However, in those circumstances where I do have knowledge about the subject I will advise her. Time after time she will pick my brain to get as much information as possible before she goes and does the exact opposite of my suggestion. This is not bragging but a majority of the time my advice has been right on target. I know she hears me but from all those times she chose not to take my suggestions she wound up either losing money, wasting time or delaying her healing process. It really is maddening to see this stuff happen to her when it could have all been avoided. If she does not believe what I am saying, then what is the point of continually asking me? THE IRONIC THING ABOUT THIS is we had a mutual friend who could never tell the truth. With anything he said the listener had to discount most of it. As an example, within a span of 3-4 months I heard him say he was a personal trainer, an accountant, a financial advisor, a banker and a chef. I know there were more but I no longer can remember, nor care about it. As I am writing this I just realized on the one hand I have a friend that doesn’t believe what I am saying and on the other there is another friend who never tells the truth. If memory serves me correctly, the friend who did not trust my advice used to accept the other friend’s stories a/k/a lies. What the heck was she thinking?!?! Truth is based on facts and reality; so, she must have been using a different reality if she was willing to believe the story telling friend. I guess this is an example of a person believing something is true, but not knowing if it indeed is true. Sadly, this is only one of many instances where I have seen someone willing to believe something without investigating the facts. I have an idea what the journalists must have been feeling in this dramatic biography based on true events. HEARING A RUMOR ABOUT THE government wanting to invade a country journalists Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, played by Woody Harrelson (Wilson, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), set out to find the facts to such a story. Every turn they made was met with disbelief. Set before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this movie also starred Rob Reiner (The Wolf of Wall Street, All in the Family-TV) as John Walcott, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, The Fugitive) as Joe Galloway and Jessica Biel (Total Recall, The Illusionist) as Lisa Mayr. I so wished I had some knowledge about this story and the journalists from Knight Ridder newspapers; the story was made to play like a political thriller. Horribly, this movie lacked everything needed to tell a good story. I cannot put my finger on it but the script was dull; there was no excitement or thrills when there should have been. The acting was okay but if you look at the film Spotlight, this movie was a light version of this type of investigative story. Such a shame and waste of resources to produce this mess of a movie. Trust me you do not want to spend money on this picture. I would rather have seen a documentary about these 2 journalists and what they accomplished.
1 ½ stars
THE GUESTS I was hosting were curious to see the city’s diverse neighborhoods. I put the afternoon aside to take them on a driving tour. After explaining how the city streets were based on a grid system, making it difficult to get lost as long as one could see a street address, we drove off to our 1st neighborhood. It so happens this was the area where I grew up. Driving around I explained the significance of several buildings, pointed out artifacts of interest and shared some of my personal history along the way. When I explained how I could walk to the main shopping district from my house without using any of the streets, they urged me to show them. I pointed out the several buildings’ gangways and alleys I traversed to make my way to the grocery store. There was no need to explain to them that this was one of my safe routes when I was a kid. AFTER SPENDING THE day showing them several neighborhoods I had some down time, letting my mind drift back to the spots that meant something to me. It is funny how as one grows older things that were important become less so. Memories that were crystal clear and vibrant now look dull as if every recall of them had buffed the layers away. There was the neighborhood’s casual restaurant where my friends and I would sit for a couple of hours to solve what we thought were such urgent matters. All of them seemed so insignificant now through aged eyes. One of the neighborhoods I drove my guests through had a two storied nightclub where I had dreams of being hired as a dancer. If I straighten up now too fast from tying my shoelaces I get lightheaded; how did time go by so fast? Having seen my old public library brought back a flood of emotions for it was one of my safe havens. It was there that I could nestle into one of the alcoves with a stack of books in front of me as cover. How I used to dream about what my life would become only to see it now from much further down the road, as I strolled along my path of scattered memories. SPENDING YEARS PARTYING with the upper echelon of society journalist Jeb Gambardella, played by Toni Servillo (The Girl by the Lake, The Consequences of Love), pretty much knew or knew about everyone. But at this stage of his life did he really want to know them? This Oscar and film festival winning drama also starred Carlo Verdone (Me, Them and Lara; Fun is Beautiful) as Romano, Sabrina Ferilli (Forever Young, 3 Women) as Ramona and Carlo Bucci Rosso (The New Monsters Today, Il Divo) as Lello Cava. Set in Italy, it was beautiful watching this movie. Not just the outdoor scenes but even the indoor ones each offered something for the viewer. As I began this DVD I did not connect immediately to the story; however, there was something about the way the film was shot that drew me in. I found it especially interesting that I perceived all the actors to be friends, which was due to how well they all blended together in the story. There was some confusion on my part whether the story was being told in chronological order or not, but it did not distract me too much. I will say I thought the film ran too long; the script could have used some editing. In a way this was an interesting study of the aging process. Italian was spoken with English subtitles.
3 stars — DVD
The older people are getting the more I have noticed they incorporate an escape plan into their world. If I do a quick count I believe a majority of the people I know have some kind of activity they can escape to, withdrawing from the realities of their day. Off the top of my head I know individuals who do scrap booking, knitting, jigsaw puzzles and reading books just to name a few. I, if you have not noticed, do movies to escape the pressures that come up in my daily life. Films offer me the fastest way to leave the present moment and be whisked into the alternative world of a movie. Even a poorly done movie that I have given a 1 1/2 star rating will partially transport me away; however, the better the film the more I will be drawn into it. If you have read my description for what merits a 4 star rating, you know the movie has to completely remove me from the theater and allow me to become part of the story; where I do not see the actors playing out their roles only the actual characters. Personally I feel everyone should have some kind of activity that allows them to disconnect from their everyday routines. I do not know about you but it seems the older I get more things become challenging for me. A simple activity like driving a car has become harder due to so many distracted drivers, besides the endless construction projects that constantly close roads and lanes. It is no wonder a person feels stuck in their life and just wants to escape to somewhere or something else. With that in mind, I was surprised to see what the main character chose to do in this comedy. JOURNALIST Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey (Sisters, Muppets Most Wanted), felt she was stuck; her life was going nowhere. That is until an opportunity came up for her to take an assignment in Afghanistan. Based on a true story this war comedy had a well rounded cast that included Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, About Time) as Tanya Vanderpoel, Martin Freeman (The Hobbit franchise, Hot Fuzz) as Iain MacKelpie and Alfred Molina (An Education, Chocolat) as Massoud Sadiq. There were parts of this film I enjoyed, but the more the story unfolded the more I lost sense of it. For some reason I started to disbelieve the scenes because they seemed so outrageous or maybe more accurately they lost the emotion of the action. I did not find much humor in this picture; it slowly became ridiculous to me. It is a shame because the idea of the real Kim Baker taking on this assignment is extraordinary; I just wished this script would have come across more real. Part of the blame would have to go to the director. I never once felt I was watching the actual characters, only seeing the actors playing them. This film did not provide me a total escape.
2 1/4 stars