IT IS STILL A MYSTERY, at least to me, how a person winds up with a strong sense of confidence. In fact is it even a sense? Maybe it is more of a belief; either way it is something I have struggled with for a long time. When I look back all the way to my school years, I do not recall any of my actions being motivated from a base of confidence. Now granted my brain is wired to be a defensive pessimist which I have always considered to be an asset. With this type of mindset I go into something expecting the worst; so if it fails I am not disappointed and if it comes out good then I am elated. The thing about being wired this way is it allows me to look at all the possibilities for ways things can go wrong, pushing me to go harder in finding a solution. Yet I still would like to know how it feels to do something without having to question oneself. THERE WAS A PROFESSOR who periodically would get his manuscripts published into books. He never thought about what market he was writing for or if his work would be successful; he just knew when he was done writing his final draft the piece would get sold. I was fascinated to the point of being enthralled by the confidence he exuded when it came to his writings and teaching. There never was a point where he would second guess, doubt or even think he would not be well received in his world of academia. I wondered if by hanging around him some of his confidence would rub off on me. The whole confidence thing is such a curious puzzle to me. Is it something that gets instilled in a child from their living environment? Can a person be taught to have confidence? And how much influence does the classroom experience have on a child? I wish I had answers to these questions for it would have given me more insight into the amazing confidence the main character had in this biographical, dramatic movie. DURING THE TIMES WHERE there were “White Only” water fountains NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, played by Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up, 42), was sent to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. It was a case that would take on historic significance. Based on a true event the cast also included Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, The Wedding Ringer) as Sam Friedman, Kate Hudson (Bride Wars, Deepwater Horizon) as Eleanor Strubing, Sterling K. Brown (This is Us-TV, The Suspect) as Joseph Spell and Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, The Guest) as Loren Willis. First let me say the acting in this film was incredible; Chadwick and Josh embodied their characters fully. I am so impressed with Josh’s versatility and movie choices; he commanded the screen. The script and direction worked hand in hand to create not only a monumental event, but wrap it into a court thriller. Personally I would have enjoyed if the writers put in more of Thurgood’s back story because his confidence, especially in the environment he resided in, was unbelievable. With the courtroom drama taking up most of the air, the secondary side scenes were relegated to the background in my opinion. Please excuse the pun but the movie studio did justice to this story and I only wish I could have just a tenth of the confidence Thurgood Marshall had inside of him.
3 ½ stars
Mothers always had the right answers and could do anything is what I believed. My first introduction to the possibility this was not true was the evil stepmother from the animated movie Cinderella. At the time I did not know there was a wide assortment of different types of mothers in the world. As I grew up I met mothers who always had home baked cookies and cakes in their house; I cannot lie they were my favorites. There was one mother who talked funny and slept a lot. It was not until later I learned about drunkenness. In my adult life I have heard many stories about people’s mothers, some great and others awful. One individual told me their mother used to hit them with any inanimate object within her grasp, from an ashtray to a landline phone. From the variety of tales I learned not every woman is cut out to be a mother. I know I have mentioned in the past the story about a friend who was on a jury for a case about a woman who killed her son. As you can see I have had the fortune and misfortune of learning about many different people in the mother role. But I do not want this part of the review to be a downer so let me just say mothers are special. I do not know the history of how we wound up picking one day to celebrate our mothers. One day is not enough in my opinion; I am familiar with some amazing mothers. I just wonder what type of relationship the writers and director of this movie had with their mothers. JUST in time for Mother’s Day this comedic drama had several story lines that all had to do with mothers. Starring Jennifer Aniston (We’re the Millers, Cake) as Sandy, Kate Hudson (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Something Borrowed) as Jesse, Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart-TV movie; Mirror, Mirror) as Miranda and Jason Sudeikis (Sleeping with Other People, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Bradley; each of the stories were plausible. The issue with this film is that it not only does nothing new with the idea but it used racist and prejudicial comments to tell it. I felt like this movie was just slapped together using the same formula the director Gary Marshall (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) had used before. Also, I found the humor dated so I did not find much that amused me. Now this does not mean there wasn’t anything good about this picture; there were a couple of individual stories I wished the writers would have expanded on. But since they didn’t I was bored a majority of the time. I cannot imagine anyone paying full price for this mess of a movie. It makes more sense to me to wait for cable or a DVD rental if you really want to see this picture. If this film was a present for the writers’ and director’s mothers then all I can say is therapy would have helped them deal with their issues.
1 ½ stars
The sentences that were being verbalized to us were losing some of their words on the way to me. It was as if their voice had been heard enough to transform into a blur of white noise, causing my eyelids to become heavy as they wanted to slowly come down like a drawbridge. The lecture was only halfway completed and I did not know how I would survive the rest. My head was starting to look like it was on an old weak spring as it would droop down periodically. I pretended there was something in my eyes so I could fake rubbing them, giving me a few extra seconds of shut eye. The individual leading the training seemed to know what they were talking about; however, their delivery was turning the participants into mindless drones, only coming back to life if a direct question prodded them back to the present time. I am sure many of us have experienced a similar situation during a training, lecture or workshop; the facilitator pretty much is going on automatic since they have done it for so long. And it does not matter whether it is done in person or via a webinar; they follow the same script, the same pre-planned ice breakers and the same jokes. To me the delivery is so important in making the event a success. If you cannot keep the participants engaged and interested in what is being said, then the session becomes a waste of time for a majority of the them; similar to what took place in the movie theater as we watched this musical comedy. LITTLE did rock manager Richie Lanz, played by Bill Murray (Aloha, Lost in Translation), know his trip to Afghanistan would lead him to the beautiful singing voice of Salima, played by Leem Lubany (From A to B, Omar). Unfortunately it was coming out of a female in a country that frowned on women singing. With a cast that also included Kate Hudson (Wish I was Here, Almost Famous) as Merci and Bruce Willis (Die Hard franchise, Looper) as Bombay Brian; I could only sit and wonder if they realized they were stuck in such a poor product. This movie provided nothing new or exciting for me. I still cannot get over the fact it was directed by Barry Levinson (Liberty Heights, Wag the Dog), a director I have respected for a long time. The script made no sense to me; for example, what was the point of including Bruce Willis’ character into the story? Bill Murray was utterly dreadful; he brought absolutely nothing different to his character, having done this type of role over and over previously. I was bored through the majority of this film except during a couple of songs. When the picture was over I felt as if I had been slipped a tranquilizer or what some people call a roofie.
1 1/2 stars
Desperation widens the mind’s pool of irrational thoughts. This will send waves to slip up onto logic’s shores. Boy is this true when money is needed to survive. When I was between jobs a long time ago, I was willing to do anything to earn a paycheck to pay my mounting bills. Besides my regular classes I was the go-to sub for other instructors because I had the freest time on my hands. To supplement my income I was always taking small odd jobs like proofreading or delivery service. I remember this one job where I was asked to conduct a yoga demonstration at a grand opening of a hospital’s professional building. The money was good and much needed so I agreed to the event, even though I had some reservations. When I arrived on the opening date I was led to the so-called staging area. They wanted me to stand and perform on a folding table draped in a white tablecloth. As soon as I placed my hand on the table it wobbled from side to side. In addition I was told there was going to be children coming right after their snack time. Without going into the horrific details let me just say I was standing on top of the table in tree pose with kids playing hide-and-go seek under the tablecloth. I thought the money I was earning would have to go for medical bills because I was going to be knocked off my “stage.” OVER their heads in debt with very little income at present; married couple Anna and Tom Wright, played by Kate Hudson (Bride Wars, The Reluctant Fundamentalist) and James Franco (This is the End, Spider-Man franchise), stared at the bag of money they found in their recently deceased tenant’s apartment. They did not know the money had been stolen. This crime action thriller had a good idea that was executed in a completely bad way. Along with James and Kate in the cast there was Tom Wilkinson (Belle, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as John Halden and Sam Spruell (Defiance, Snow White and the Huntsman) as Jack Witkowski; one would think there would have been a chance of seeing a decent film come out of them. Sorry, this was not the case because the script was atrocious and ridiculous. I only thought Sam’s acting and character was worth my time. Some of the scenes were so far-fetched that I had to laugh; what was everyone thinking they were trying to produce with this movie? In my opinion this was the film the movie studio should have pulled from release.
1 1/2 stars
At some point nearly everyone has to cross the intersection of uncertainty. It may happen when you are about to become a responsible adult; for others, it could be when you come upon that mental juncture between what you do in life as opposed to what you want to do. There are so many variables on when we travel up to that crossroads during our lifetime. I have heard many people complain about their job and how it does not fulfill them; it simply is a means to earning an income. However, when they reach this intersection during their life they pause a moment to question if this is all their life will ever be. I am a firm believer in doing something you love which will nourish you. A previous job is what I credit for pushing me to explore and teach yoga. Back then my days lost color, faded into a monotone of gray colors. All I did was work, eat and sleep then repeat it all over the following day. I felt I was on a one speed treadmill with no off switch. It was during that time I realized I needed physical and mental stimulation; otherwise, I felt I was going to wither off the vine of life and be discarded in time. TIME seemed to be slipping away for struggling actor Aidan Bloom, played by Zach Braff (Oz the Great and Powerful, Scrubs-TV). Finding himself at a crossroads when his father Gabe, played by Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Chicago Hope-TV), took ill and could no longer help out financially, Aidan had to take a hard look at his life and how he would provide for his family. Directed and co-written by Zach, this comedic drama had some good elements. I thought the cast all worked well together, especially Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, Bride Wars) as Aidan’s wife Sarah, Joey King (Looper, The Crazies) as his daughter Grace and Josh Gad (Jobs, The Internship) as his brother Noah. There was an understated humor through several scenes, nothing out loud or outrageous. The multitude of story lines was the issue I had with this film. They cast a wide net, allowing many viewers the opportunity to find something relatable; however, it was way too much for me and congested the underlying story. I never found a strong connection to anything in the movie; I became uninterested and left with a blah feeling towards the whole picture. With all the movies I have seen I cannot imagine I have reached a crossroads in my reviewing. Nah, I still love what I am doing; I just wish some of the people who worked on this film felt the same way.
It is one thing to have a first impression of a person; it is another to act on it. When I first meet someone and form a first impression, I consider it a photograph that I stash in an imaginary photo album. After I really get to know the person, it is fun to go back and see how close my first impression was to the real individual. I am reminded of a man who used to be in one of my yoga classes. When he first walked into class I sensed a sudden shift of energy in the room. Several participants quieted down as they warily gazed at the thick, 6+ foot tall imposing figure with shaved head and piercing dark eyes. They were reacting to his looks, assuming he was a certain type of person. In actuality he was a fun, gentle addition to the class. This movie posed a powerful question that involved impressions; it is one of the reasons I went to see it. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Shifty) played Changez, a U.S. educated, rising Wall Street star from Pakistan. During one of his business trips abroad, the World Trade Center in New York City was attacked. His return flight back home would bring him to a changed country. Riz was excellent in this role, as was Kiefer Sutherland (Phone Booth, 24-TV) playing Riz’ boss Jim Cross. I thought Liev Schreiber’s (Defiance, Repo Men) role as Bobby Lincoln was an excellent character for him. In what was a total miscast, Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, Bride Wars) was absolutely wrong for the role of Changez’ girlfriend Erica. Not only was her acting poor, I found her character’s story arc ridiculous. With the exception of her, I was able to appreciate what the director and writers were trying to do with this film based on the best selling book. What could have been a thought provoking, powerful movie instead was a film that was too long, filled with melodramatic moments and a sprinkling of intense thrilling scenes. Lesson learned: Do not always believe your first impressions from the movie trailer. Brief scenes with blood in them.
2 1/2 stars