THE PROFESSOR WROTE A NOTE NEXT to the grade on my term paper. She wrote, “I had no idea you were paying attention in this classroom. Please come see me after class.” I was both amused and hesitant because I wondered what she wanted to talk about. When class was over, I hung around until the other students had left then went up to the professor. Any concerns I had were alleviated by her chuckling. Since I received an “A” on my paper, she told me she was pleasantly surprised but wanted to know why I never participated in any of the class discussions. I told her talking made me nervous, that I was better at communicating my thoughts through the written word. She accepted what I said but encouraged me to participate with the other students because she liked the way I looked at problems, based on what I had written in my term paper. I made her laugh when I told her that my mind takes its time to process information before I can talk about it. Pushing my luck, I said some people talk without thinking and it is a distraction for me. “Aren’t there times where you just sit there and wonder where the student got their thoughts on a subject,” I asked her. All she offered was some students were more excitable which led them to speak out first before thinking everything through; I agreed with her and that was the extent of our conversation. ONE OF THE THINGS I LEARNED from that professor was how the order of words one puts to paper can alter perceptions. Along with that there was the aspect of style; the way the person puts their voice down into their written words. I saw firsthand how easily style is conveyed through written words. A student who sat next to me received back his term paper and it had gotten a grade of “F.” I did not want to appear nosy so I tried to read the professors comments out of the corner of my eye. The professor wrote “not your writing” next to the grade and below that she had highlighted parts of paragraphs with side comments I could not make out. The student must have seen me trying to read the comments because he acknowledged me and said he had misunderstood the instructions; he had copied passages from a book into his term paper. Now he did not tell me; but I assumed he copied the passages word for word, which I had to say was not the best decision. Not that I am an expert, but from the things I heard him read in class, I knew anything he found in a book was not the same as him telling a story. He loved to draw out a point with the use of humor or shock; most textbooks I had read didn’t often have those two elements in its writing. In my opinion he would have been better to employ the use of a term paper writer; I saw their advertisements in the school paper. They would not write the paper; they simply directed the student towards writing a better paper. It is not so dissimilar to what took place in this biographical comedic drama. DESPITE A BROKEN LEG THERE WAS only a short amount of time to write the screenplay for Hollywood’s latest wondered. What wasn’t helping Herman Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, The Courier), was his love of alcohol. With Amanda Seyfried (The Last Word, Mean Girls) as Marion Davies, Lily Collins (Tolkien, Mirror Mirror) as Rita Alexander, Tom Pelphrey (Hostage, Iron Fist-TV) as Joe Mankiewicz and Arliss Howard (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Full Metal Jacket) as Louis B. Mayer; this film festival winner had the extra burden of viewers’ anticipation due to the subject matter of Orson Welles and his movie. Visually I thought this film was gorgeous, both in look and style. Ultimately, the big seller in this picture was Gary Oldman’s performance. Whether the script was close to the true events, I do not know; however, I enjoyed the behind the scene aspect, nonetheless. However, as the story was playing out, I was getting less engaged with it. It seemed as if there were pieces of this film that blended well, but then others came across disjointed. There is no doubt in my mind that the whole process of creating what some say is the best movie of all time had to be an amazing experience; I only wished this movie had gotten the same amount of attention.
2 ¾ stars
AS THE TWO OF US WERE WALKING through the forest we came upon a group of trees. They appeared to be dancing a can-can with their wide trunks hovering above their long-exposed roots. The way the trees’ leaves flickered from the wind made me think they could be feathers attached to wide-brimmed cloth hats. I let the image stay with me as we continued on the trail, towards the sound of water gurgling ahead of us. The ground was firm at our feet, barely allowing the tread of our shoes to remain behind. I was not sure if we would be returning on the same path. It was mid-morning and the vibrant sun had a difficult time piercing through all the foliage around us, as if trying to seek us out. At one point there were slender rays of sunlight crisscrossing around us; all I could think of was one of those magician boxes where the assistant was placed inside before the magician thrusted glimmering swords through it. Up ahead there was an opening where the trees had parted, allowing more light to filter down into an area. We made our way to it and upon arriving discovered a squirming brook. With flat rocks barely breaking the surface of the water, the brook looked like an albino snake in movement. All these things went unnoticed by my companion. EACH OF US HAS THE ABILITY TO see things in our own unique way. Where I can look across a canyon and see the outline of an ancient castle, the person next to me may look and see a single flower jutting out from a crack in the granite wall. Because of this variance, I am always curious to hear what other people think about places that I have visited. So much can be learned by seeing things through another person’s eyes, I believe. For me, this ability is essential for building solid relationships. When two people are in a relationship it is important to understand how your significant other will respond in situations. I was in a relationship where we had conflict between us because I would react to a situation opposite of them, then not understand why they were not being more supportive. After a year we parted ways because neither of us knew at the time how to look at something from a different perspective. I can now say that relationship had a profound affect on me, allowing me to experience healthier relationships. Speaking of profound experiences, this was my first contact with the author of The Hobbit and I had no idea the world around him had such a major effect on him creating the fantasy world in his books. ORPHANED AND POOR LEFT JOHN RONALD Reuel Tolkien, played by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road) with nothing of tangible worth except for his words. His words would travel around the world one day. This biographical drama also starred Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) as Edith Bratt, Colm Meaney (Alan Partridge, Layer Cake) as Father Francis, Craig Roberts (Just Jim, Submarine) as Private Sam Hodges and Laura Donnelly (Right Hand Drive, Outlander-TV) as Mabel Tolkien. Having no knowledge of J.R.R Tolkien’s personal life, I was stunned watching this beautifully filmed war drama. The story covered three distinct time periods. If broken apart, each segment was compelling; however, in visual form I was distracted with the jumping back and forth in time. I never felt a deep connection to the characters. With such monumental events taking place in the author’s young life, I wanted to know more about Tolkien. Now I am embarrassed to say this, but I have not read The Hobbit; however, after seeing this film and learning a little about his history I want to read the book.
2 ½ stars
MY enjoyment in learning something about a celebrity’s life predominantly comes from only one source. Actually hearing about an individual’s personal experience or shall we say exposure to a celebrity piques my interest. Sure there maybe something reported in the news or entertainment shows; however, I never pay attention to the gossip magazines. Let me show you what I mean without sharing the celebrity’s name just so I do not get sued or something. THERE is a friend of mine who was an extra on a popular television show. He had direct contact with one actor in a scene that had a few extra tapings with different camera angles, over a couple of days. It took place mid morning and my friend told me the actor smelled of alcohol each day before they even started to film. In fact, when my friend was pouring fake drinks for the scene, this actor insisted his drink has real liquor. Now gaining this little insight doesn’t change my opinion of the person unless he does something stupid, like driving, while under the influence. However, if I discover a celebrity is prejudiced against any type of minority I discard them totally. Some of you may already know there are a couple of actors whose films never get reviewed by me because I will not support them in any way, especially by giving them money to see their pictures. Putting that aside, one other thing I get a kick out of are the movies that have for at least part of their story a portrayal of an actual famous person. The fun factor in this comedic drama for me was seeing the “life” of Howard Hughes. RECENTLY transplanted to Hollywood, California Marla Mabrey and Frank Forbes, played by Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Mirror Mirror) and Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Beautiful Creatures), wound up working for the same employer; the famous Howard Hughes, played by Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde, Dick Tracy). Working for the billionaire meant they would have to follow certain rules. This film festival winning romance written and directed by Warren had a great cast of actors such as Matthew Broderick (Glory, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Levar Mathis and Candice Bergen (Miss Congeniality, Murphy Brown-TV) as Nadine Henly. I thought the sets and costumes were accurate and visually pleasing. As for the story there were parts of it that captured the essence of those madcap comedy films from the 1940s; however, there were times where the script got bogged down. It felt like there was so much going on that the viewer was only getting the highlights of the characters’ lives. I found the story line involving Howard to be more entertaining; in turn, a stronger presence on screen in my opinion. Maybe because of my interest in real life individuals I was more interested in Warren’s scenes, though I thought he did a good job of acting. Just now it occurred to me that Warren’s kinetic performance partially mirrored the pacing at times during this film. Overall I enjoyed watching this movie, wondering if any of the scenes involving Howard Hughes were based on any real life events besides the obvious ones shown.
2 ½ stars
All of us I am sure have encountered people who turned out to be someone totally different than who they claimed to be. It goes without saying that type of revelation has broken many hearts. I find these types of individuals to be learning lessons for us, no matter how painful it may have been to learn the lesson. But have you ever considered that these people may only be one definition of beings that affect our daily lives? Think about it; what if two elevators open up for you at the same time and in a split second you switch and take the one on the left instead of the right side. As you rise up to your designated floor; unbeknownst to you, the other elevator became stuck between floors, trapping its passengers for a couple of hours. How about that split decision you made to wait an extra 30 minutes for a ride home instead of walking through an unfamiliar area only to discover later a crime had been committed along the route you would have taken. These things could be attributed to our intuition, internal voices or maybe from some being watching over us. I believe anything is possible and that concept is what attracted me to this action, fantasy film. Lily Collins (The Blind Side; Mirror, Mirror) played Clary Fray, who lived with her artist mother Jocelyn, played by Lena Headey (Dredd, Game of Thrones-TV). When Clary began to doodle the same odd symbol over and over, it set into motion a discovery that was kept hidden by her parents, finally explaining the strange things she had been seeing. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (August Rush, Match Point) as Valentine, was the best character out of the cast for me. Lily was ok for the most part but I did not understand why she had to wear the outfit she was wearing through most of the movie. Based on the acclaimed book series by Cassandra Clare, I can appreciate the task of staying true to the story. I felt so many characters and things were being crammed into this adventure film that I never got a sense for any of them. It became a series of altercations that were nothing special. Jamie Campbell Bower (Twilight franchise, Winter in Wartime) as Jace did not have the physical presence to be a lead character as far as I was concerned. I liked the concept of the story but there was no life to this movie. If the people responsible for creating this film were basing their decisions on their inner voices, they were listening to the wrong ones.
1 3/4 stars
What do you think the Grimm brothers would have thought about this movie version’s twist on their original story? My guess would be none too happy about it; for I am afraid this mirror needed some polishing if it wanted to reflect a happy audience. Please do not get me wrong, there was nothing horrible about the movie; it just came across disjointed for me. On the plus side it was colorful, had a couple of good special effects in it and had kid friendly humor. The queen was played by Julia Roberts (Closer, Erin Brockovich) and it seemed she was having fun with the role. Some of her lines had a sickly sweet, sarcastic coating that played off well against the rest of the cast. Where I had an issue was the Snow White character, played by Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Abduction). I did not feel she had any chemistry with the other actors, especially with what should have been the most important one, Prince Albert played by Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar). The story line of this movie was a combination of parts from various fairy tales. When Snow White’s father the King mysteriously disappeared from the kingdom, her stepmother the evil Queen took over the throne. Letting her true colors come out, she started to treat Snow White like a pseudo Cinderella. As you can see, I found the story odd. But in the scheme of things, this movie was harmless and acceptable for a family outing. Instead of casting a charming spell on you, this film will only cast a forgetting spell.