NOW IT JUST AMUSES ME WHEN people have a perplexed look on their faces, after I tell them she is his ex-wife. From that one look, I have been able to ascertain which individuals maintain a negative view or outlook when it comes to divorce. The former couple and I are all good friends. We socialize together as well as celebrate holidays and birthdays. To me, it all seems perfectly fine; but then again, I have maintained friendships with many of the people I have dated. You see, I look at love as being one of the facets that contributes to a complete and solid relationship. If the love aspect has run its course and the couple decide to end their relationship, that does not necessarily mean they no longer care for one another. The individual could still be a kind-hearted, good person that one would like to continue being with for a friendship. I have friends who were originally in a romantic relationship with me; it did not work out, but we still enjoy each other’s company as friends. Granted if the relationship had negative elements such as abuse or dominance, then it is understandable why the individual or individuals would not want to interact with one another. SO, WHEN I SEE A CONFUSED or negative look on someone’s face when they hear about the “ex,” I have noticed they look at divorce as a finality to the relationship. There is a couple I know where for them, this would be absolutely true. During their marriage they grew to hate each other, and I mean hate each other. They could not be in the same room which made things hard for those of us who were still friends with both. We had to choose which one to invite to which event. I must tell you, that was such a challenge and awful to do. In the beginning each of them would try to tell their side of the story, but it always quickly dissolved into a stream of hateful statements about the other one. I was the first to tell each of them that I was there for support but would not listen to any type of “bad mouthing” about their former spouse. It was not easy to maintain, but I constantly reminded them of it. With individuals who do not react negatively to hearing or seeing an ex, my experiences show they see the person in more of a full-rounded way. I am not saying this in a judgmental way; I just find it an interesting part of human nature. That is the reason I was intrigued with the story line of this romantic comedy. A DIVORCED COUPLE HAVE TO MUSTER the strength to be together to persuade their daughter to avoid making the same mistakes they made when married. With George Clooney (The Midnight Sky, The Monuments Men) as David Cotton, Julia Roberts (Ben is Back, Mother’s Day) as Georgia Cotton, Sean Lynch (Hacksaw Ridge, Bloody Hell) as Rob, Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, We Don’t Belong Here) as Lily Cotton and Billie Lourd (Star Wars franchise, Booksmart) as Wren Butler; this film had a predictable script. I liked the idea behind the story, but for the most part the script provided a generic blueprint of how everything was going to play out. Despite this issue, it was still worth seeing because of Julia’s and George’s chemistry and acting skills. I felt like I was seeing two old friends; there was an ease and comfort about them being together in character. The comedy bits were so-so with a couple being groan worthy. But again, I continued because I just wanted to watch George and Julia. In fact, it would have been interesting if more of the film focused on their two characters. This picture will be a forgettable one, except for the acting aspect. There were several outtake scenes in the beginning of the ending credits.
2 ½ stars
THERE SHE SAT AS IF WAITING for her prime minister to enter and update her on world events. I would only see her in the communal dining area of the facility. Her hair perfectly coiffed was never out of place, though it did look like there was a thin layer of shellac coating it. Many of the residents would be dressed in a variety of clothing; it could be sleepwear or casual, one never knew what they would be wearing when they came down to the dining room. However, she was always immaculately dressed. Every blouse was tucked in, every button closed and everything always looking like it was just pressed at the cleaners. I asked one of the attendants about her, since I never saw anyone interacting with her. They told me she had been well off financially, but presently she was getting assistance from the state. I was curious why no one talked to her and was told when she became a resident of the nursing home she treated everyone as if they were her servant; except for pointing to things she wanted, she never acknowledged any of the other residents. I guess in her former life she only traveled in circles with other wealthy individuals. SOME PEOPLE FIND THEIR CLIQUE AND refuse to ever stray from it; for others, it is decided for them whether they want it or not. I never understood the power of a clique until I was in school. Each clique had a certain level of importance which brought them specific benefits. The jocks, as one clique was known by, were on the top of the food chain. Because they had the ability to bring massive glory to the school based on their team record, they pretty much had free reign across all school lines. Sure, there would be one teacher who would assert their authority over a jock; but it would rarely take hold for long. Theater students had their own language in a way. They were not afraid to show their emotions, which did not always work to their advantage. Though I wanted to be part of a group simply for survival purposes, I never quite fit into one category. It is the same in my adult life. Being part of a clique for me feels like I must stifle other aspects of my life. I dislike being typecast or pigeon-holed simply because I participate in a particular activity. Because of this I felt I understood what the two leads in this comedy were facing. WITH THEIR TIME ABOUT TO END on their high school years, best friends Amy and Molly, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, Last Man Standing-TV) and Beanie Feldstein (The Female Brain, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), realize they have one day to experience the fun side of high school life and not be the book nerds that everyone believes them to be. With Jessica Williams (Delivery Man, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) as Miss Fine, Jason Sudeikis (Colossal, We’re the Millers) as Principal Brown and Lisa Kudrow (The Opposite of Sex, Friends-TV) as Charmaine; this coming of age, friendship genre story had some fine moments. It was a story that we’ve seen before; however, I found the two female leads endearing. The humor was raunchy at times, but I still enjoyed it and the way the humor could be both verbal and/or physical. Kaitlyn and Beanie worked well together, coming across as two best high school friends. After a point I did feel as if the story was becoming monotonous; at least the soundtrack kept me entertained. With this being the director’s first time out, I appreciated the pacing and telling of the story. The only other thing I have to say is this picture did bring back memories of cliques from my school years.
2 ½ stars
Deep within the Amazon Jungle I saw a pair of dark, wide eyes peering out at me through dense, overflowing foliage. A separate time I was able to revisit Florence Italy where I had climbed up to the top of Il Duomo di Firenza, the main church of the city. Friends have told me about their ability to see the birth of a child from across the country. They have also told me some of their horror stories involving deceitful people. In the news recently I heard how retail chains were hacked and their customers’ charge card information was stolen.I did not have to listen because I already knew about it when my credit card information was stolen. Until the credit card company called me to verify a purchase that was being done in a different state from where I lived, I had no idea someone had grabbed my information. All of the things I have mentioned so far were made possible by the internet. Ah yes, the internet; where it can take you to far remote spots of the world to witness the discovery of a rare plant, while its evil side robs you of your identity while you sleep. For me, using the internet is akin to relating to someone with a split personality disorder; it can be so rewarding, yet extremely challenging. PEOPLE have to constantly adjust the way they relate to each other due to the power of the internet. Writer/director Jason Reitman (Juno, Labor Day) assembled a large cast of actors for this drama based on the novel, about the twists and turns people must navigate in their daily lives due to the accessibility of the internet. A few of the actors in this film were Adam Sandler (Blended, That’s My Boy) and Rosemarie DeWitt (The Watch, Rachel Getting Married) who played Don and Helen Truby, a married couple looking for something more than they had in their marriage. Jennifer Garner (Draft Day, Dallas Buyers Club) played overprotective mother Patricia Beltmeyer to her daughter Brandy, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now). Out of all the actors in this movie the only two that stood out for me were Kaitlyn and Ansel Elgort (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) as Tim Mooney. Their story line and acting were the most interesting to me. I found the rest of the cast somewhat dull but considering the script went nowhere it was understandable. For most of this film I sat in my seat being bored. With the absence to a beginning, a middle and defined conclusions to the different story lines I felt I was only seeing bits and pieces of people’s lives; similar to mindlessly surfing the internet for hours.
1 3/4 stars
All the details were double checked, everything was in order for your spectacular trip abroad. Part of your itinerary was having dinner at a famous restaurant; in fact, you had to rent a car to visit the eatery. When the day finally arrived, the weather did not cooperate; it was dreary and damp. The incredible views the restaurant was known for were now shrouded in a gray, misty fog. At least you had the meal to look forward to that food critics had fawned over. Long story short, the food was a disappointment. Leaving the restaurant you decided to take a walk. As you reached an intersection the sound of a small bell tinkling got your attention. A bicyclist, riding with a basket of bread loaves, passed in front of you. He parked alongside a building. The aroma coming off of the freshly baked bread made your taste buds yearn. The small golden crusted loaf you purchased weighed heavy in your hand. As you walked away you took your first bite and the thick forgiving dough filled your mouth with the most wonderful taste. At the same time you took notice of your surroundings and realized there was a gap in the sky where the low hanging sun looked like it separated a venetian blind to peer out. A single ray of sunshine lightened the street you were on. From out of the drabness wooden shutters bursted into color, the cobblestones of the street wet with condensation glistened and the hanging baskets of flowers from windowsills took a last sigh before nightfall. It lasted only a moment but you were at the right place at the right time to see it. I had the exact same feeling after seeing this superb film festival winning movie. After weeks of sitting through several mediocre movies, this film made up for all of my long hours of sitting in a movie theater seat. Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now, 21 Jump Street) and John Gallagher Jr. (Pieces of April, Jonah Hex) played foster care facility employees Grace and Mason. Their daily roller coaster ride of emotions would reveal similarities they shared with the young adults, affecting their own personal relationship. The brilliant filming of this movie made each character real with feelings. I thought the acting was amazing from everyone including Rami Malek (The Master, Larry Crowne) and Kaitlyn Dever (Bad Teacher, J. Edgar) as Nate and Jayden. I was so totally immersed into the story that I forgot the characters were actors. There were several scenes that looked like I was viewing actual news footage, that is how convincing this complete film was for me. This movie represented that perfect moment I have been waiting for all year. A couple of brief scenes showed blood.