THE QUESTIONING DIED DOWN AFTER A short time. It was a good thing since it was starting to annoy me. I had a friend who on the surface was a complete opposite of me; several of my friends would keep asking me why I was friends with him. I realized he came across as gruff to some people, with an air of indifference. Between the two of us we were different politically and religiously. We were complete opposites when it came to exercise and healthy food choices. Where I tried to exercise 5-6 days a week, he never did any physical activity where he would have to exert himself. In fact, the last time he actually exercised was back when he was a student in high school, where it was a mandatory requirement. I could see why my friends would think the two of us had nothing in common; however, they never took the time to really get to know him like I had done. Now granted, I did not push for all of us to get together and hang out. I do not know if you do this with your friends; but I tend to get together with my friends either on a one to one basis or in small groups. When there is a large group, I feel I do not get to catch up completely with friends’ lives. Also, the larger a group the more chances there will be personality conflicts. THOUGH IT APPEARED THERE WAS NOTHING in common between this friend and me; we got along great. There was a deep, sweet kindness inside of him that many people never got to see because they could not get past his abrupt manners. That was one of the things I liked about him; he would tell it like it is without soft-pedaling any of it. We would have these lengthy, philosophical conversations about a variety of topics that were stimulating to me. We did not always agree on things; but the key was both of us respected the other’s opinions. Neither him nor I had to accept each others’ opinions, but we both had respect for them. Not that I want to paint this perfect picture of two friends totally in synch, because there were times we got on each other’s nerves. The key to a successful friendship, at least according to me, is to be respectful, loyal and unconditional. One cannot pick out the pieces we like in a friend and discard the rest; they must accept their friend unconditionally and simple love them. If you care to see how this works, then feel free to watch this film festival nominated, comedic drama. WITH ONE NEIGHBOR LIVING ABOVE THE other, both men fell into a friendship that had its routines. That is until one of the neighbors was given hard medical news about his health. With Mark Duplass (Creep, The One I Love) as Michael, Ray Romano (The Big Sick, The Irishman) as Andy, Christine Woods (Stray, Adult Interference) as Doctor Hagen, Jen Sung (The Happytime Murders, Battle of the Damned) as Master Liu and Sierra Fisk (Piranha 3DD, The Concessionaires Must Die!) as Olive; this movie had a slow start. Not that this was entirely a bad thing because the acting between Mark and Ray was so solid, I was able to connect to the two neighbors during this slow part. The last half of the film made up for the beginning part. I felt the story and the script was done in a real and believable way that made the scenes convincing to me. The humor was gentle, never looking to create belly laughs for the viewer. In a way, I found the ending treated the subject matter in an authentic way that was touching and loving. And that was the beauty in watching this picture; one did not need to have experienced such a scenario to be moved by it.
MY DECIDING TIME USUALLY TOOK PLACE by the third date, but there never was nor would I have ever professed my love for them by that time. Even if the three dates had been the best time of my life, I would never be at a point where I would say such a thing to someone I had only recently met. So, you can imagine my surprise when my friend told me the guy, she had met, expressed his love for her by their 3rddate. Before I uttered my shock, I did ask her how she felt when he said that to her; just in case she did not find it odd like I did. Gratefully she thought it was weird and it made her uncomfortable. I told her to end things immediately; I had seen enough movies and news stories to know things could easily spiral into dangerous territory. When I expressed my concerns, she agreed and said she was not going to talk or go out with him anymore. If he should call, she would tell him she does not feel their relationship can go any further. I told her to be prepared to block him on her phone and social media platforms, because you just never know how these things will go. THE CLOSEST I EVER GOT TO feeling uncomfortable in a new dating situation was when, after 2 dates, the person asked me how our relationship would work. When I looked at them with a confused expression and asked to explain what they meant, they wanted to know where we would have “quality” time within my work schedule, because they were already feeling like I did not have a lot of time to spend with them. I know, this was after having only 2 dates; can you believe it?!?! Right then and there I told them I did not see us having any quality time together, with a wish of good luck in their search for someone who would be a better fit. Compared to some of the horror stories I have heard, I know I was lucky that this example was one of my weirdest experiences. A friend of mine met someone online and fell into an emotional relationship with them for several months without ever meeting each other in person. I do not remember the details because it was such a foreign concept to me; however, I do recall how my friend found out the individual was married with children. I am sure most of us have or know someone who has experienced this same scenario; however, the one in this horror thriller was new to me. THE OFFER OF $1000.00 FOR ONE day’s work was to good to pass up for Aaron, played by Patrick Brice (Leave Me Like You Found Me, The Overnight), who could really use the money. All he needed to do was follow the subject and film them, no matter what they were doing. This film festival winner also starred Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister, The One I Love) as Josef. Mark shared the writing credits with Patrick who also was the director of this suspenseful movie. What I liked about this story was the way the suspense got built up. It felt to me like pieces of the story were being put together in a puzzle. The two actors were so natural in their roles that at times, I wondered if they were adlibbing their dialog. As for the script itself, I found it somewhat predictable or maybe it would be better if I say, it made the characters do some stupid things at times, that I found hard to believe. I did catch my breath however at the twists in the story. This was a simple barebones production that provided a decent punch for the viewer. It also was not an endorsement for answering any ads.
2 ½ stars
WAY BEFORE THE MATRIX MOVIES were released people were already feeling more like a machine than human. I believe this is true; just look around and you will see individuals who are stuck in a rut that causes them to lose their zest for life. There are times I feel overwhelmed when I find myself in this cyclical pattern of sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work. Life becomes a repetitious pattern of events over and over to the point where one day is no different from the next. What helps me get through these periods of time is an active mind. Keep in mind my daydreaming was used as a defense to get through the dark periods of my earlier life; so now, when I feel myself getting into a rut I fire up the creative furnace of my brain and enter a fantasy land of hopes and dreams. I am aware this method may not be suitable for someone else; in that case, they would need to find a way to bring joy back into their life. Only existing day by day, I feel is not enough to experience life and I will add, living. THERE WAS A MAN I KNEW who would change jobs every time he felt he was getting into a rut. At first, I thought he was just being aggressive in trying to advance himself up the career ladder; but after a couple of different positions, I realized they were more of a lateral move instead of advancement. Within five years he had already changed companies 4 times. Each time he started a new job he was excited and gung ho about it; then as time passed on, you could see the life being drained out of him. Looking back at it I now wonder if he was experiencing some form of depression. It would be understandable if a person felt trapped or stuck in a place. Then that is the time therapy should come into play, instead of running away from the issue like this guy seemed to be doing by changing jobs multiple times. Taking in consideration the stress of changing jobs, I can only wonder if this also played a factor in his decision-making process. Let us face it; for some people it is easier to avoid such feelings and just change the environment instead. But there are some positions that one does not get a choice; they must deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Look what was going on in this film festival nominated comedic drama. WITH EACH CHILD AND BABY demanding all her attention Marlo, played by Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Atomic Blonde), had nothing left in her to deal with anything else. It came to the point her husband Craig, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love), suggested they get a nanny; not just a regular nanny, but a night one. What was a night nanny? Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) this film also starred Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049) as Tully and Ron Livingston (The Conjuring, Adaptation) as Drew. This movie was all about Charlize’s character and she did not disappoint, even gaining 50 pounds for the role. I enjoyed the story and most of the script because it came across as believable. There were no apologies about anything nor the painting of a happy picture when there really was nothing to be happy about; this was I believe a true portrayal of what motherhood entails for some women. Having sat through a rut of uninteresting movies this picture was a needed respite.
I have found a majority of noises eventually turn into white noise, background sounds as the mind tunes them out. One sound that never stops being heard is the sound of a loving heart. Hearing it brings such a comfort like a warm, cozy, fuzzy blanket on a crisp winter day. To be in a loving relationship is a major accomplishment in one’s life as far as I am concerned. Finding that one special person who accepts all of you, is supportive and kind, who helps you fill out your dreams and provides nourishment that keeps you glowing is a remarkable achievement. As the two of you grow old together the relationship continues to evolve, taking in account any new dreams or hopes; the underlying strength of your bond will always be there to support whoever trips while walking the path of your lives. All of this is wonderful but I have seen how devastating it becomes when death takes one of the two. I knew someone who could not accept the death of their loved one, going to their grave every single day, seven days a week. She stopped living as she surrounded herself with the memories death left behind. One of the hardest parts I have found is altering the daily routines the two of you had shared. STRUCK with immense grief seeing Zoe, played by Olivia Wilde (In Time, Rush), lying on the floor dead from a horrible accident; Frank, played by Mark Duplass (The One I Love, Safety Not Guaranteed), would not let her go. He was willing to take a chance on using her for his scientific experiment that had not been tested yet on humans. Not knowing what would happen, all Frank wanted was to bring back Zoe. The concept for this story was not new; there have been various movies that dealt with bringing someone back from the dead. I thought it would be interesting to use love for the main character’s motivation. The cast worked well together which also included Evan Peters (American Horror Story-TV, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Clay and Sarah Bolger (In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles) as Eva. Unfortunately the only horror about this film was sitting and watching it. I was completely bored due to the poorly written script, the lack of anything original and the utter absence of suspense. For being classified as a thriller and horror movie, neither took place. The ending was written in such a way that there could be a sequel which would be a very scary thing. I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this picture and finding something they could relate to, let alone being entertained. The heart of this film needs a “do not resuscitate” order placed on it. There were scenes that had blood in them.
1 1/2 stars
Starve the fighting and feed the relating when it comes to being in a relationship. I am never too old to learn from my past experiences and if there is one thing I have learned, it is never go to sleep angry. Communication is vital if a relationship is to survive in my opinion. I have seen couples where they think they are in love; but when they verbalize what they love about their significant other, I cannot relate to it because they are not attributes I look for in another person. There was one couple that loved the type of presents they would get from each other. Every gift was bought from high-end stores and they were primarily jewelry and electronic items. There was another couple that was very much into their appearance; I am talking the every hair in place, no room for wrinkle type of looks. I could only imagine what would happened to them as they aged. For me kindness and support are needed for a healthy relationship. I have always said relationships take work, but after seeing this original comedic drama I feel I need to rephrase it by saying it takes work until it becomes part of you. COMMUNICATION was sorely lacking as the marriage of Ethan and Sophie, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister) and Elizabeth Moss (Get Him to the Greek, Mad Men-TV), was falling apart. Hoping to salvage their relationship the couple agreed to their therapist’s, played by Ted Danson (Big Miracle, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation-TV), suggestion by going on a retreat to see if they could rekindle the love they once had for each other. At the beautiful secluded cottage recommended by their therapist, Ethan and Sophie would discover much more than what they had lost. Watching this film festival winning movie was like inhaling the first breath of fresh air after being deeply submerged in a pool of water. The story was original, curious and thought provoking. I honestly can say I am not sure I understood what I was watching but I did not care because the whole idea behind the story was fascinating to me. Mark and Elizabeth did an excellent job playing the troubled couple; I found them believable and enjoyed the subtle differences that were required of them. The script was smart and mature; presenting a realistic view of two adults struggling to find what was missing in their relationship. Without any fanfare or advertising as far as I could tell, this indie like film came out of nowhere to shine in a week that had been filled with some dreary movies.
What would you do if you could travel back in time? Would you change anything from your past? I think I would have altered my eating habits at an earlier age. Or at least buy some Apple stock when it was only $10.00 a share. The question of time travel was quickly addressed in this charming, funny movie. At a local magazine’s staff meeting, one of the writers read a classified ad that was seeking an individual to be a companion in time traveling. Curious to find the writer of the ad, three staff members were sent out on an assignment to get to the bottom of this mysterious story. In a brilliant deadpan performance, Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Damsels in Distress) played Darius, the reporter who was to make 1st contact with the author of the classified ad, aka the time traveler. A total surprise for me was seeing Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister, Hannah Takes the Stairs) as the secretive Kenneth, inventor of the time machine. The reason for my surprise was seeing Mark again after just reviewing his other new picture this week, My Sister’s Sister. I have never seen the same actor debut in two movies that came out on the same day. As in my previous review of his other movie, Mark was just as excellent in this role. There was more to this engaging movie than just the possibility of time traveling. The interesting characters were also dealing with loss, longing, hope and the challenges associated with taking a leap of faith.
How many incidents can trace their root cause to the consumption of alcohol? I may not be an expert on the subject, but I certainly have had my share of over served people around me–I was always the designated driver. In this wonderful film Jack, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Humpday), was still struggling with the death of his brother. Iris, played by Emily Blunt (The Five Year Engagement, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) was not only the brother’s girlfriend but also Jack’s best friend. She offered him the use of her family’s remote getaway home, hoping it would help Jack come to terms with his loss. Upon his arrival, he discovered Iris’ sister Hannah, played by Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married, How I Got Lost), was staying at the home, having just gotten out of a 7 year relationship. With both people suffering; it did not take long for the two to sleep together after a night of drinking. What followed was a story filled with raw emotions, humor, incredible performances and convincing characters. Some of you already know how much I enjoy Emily Blunt and you will understand why after she showed up to surprise Jack. This film had no special effects, no hidden twists, just a realistic story about flawed individuals who were honest enough to recognize their flaws and simply work through them.
3 1/3 stars