WE WERE ALWAYS HANGING OUT TOGETHER. Back in the day we were able to eat lunch together despite not having the same classes. At parties if we were not sitting close to each other, we still were always within earshot. Our humor was similar, where we laughed at the same stupid things as someone tripping or having an embarrassing moment. Speaking for myself, I was immature and did not know better. For example, both of us kept our ears close to the gossip trail that went through our school. It sounds weird saying this, but we enjoyed hearing when there was a breakup in someone’s relationship. Our thinking was if we are not dating someone then no one else should either? I am doing a little psychoanalyzing as I am writing this review. It was not as if we thrived on bad news, but we certainly liked to be aware of the social stuff taking place at the school. Even when we were dating, we still found time to hang out and do stuff. I am sure what I am describing is not that unusual from anyone else. Since our school had definite cliques, the two of us could have been considered one. AS WE GREW OLDER, THINGS STARTED to change. The things we enjoyed doing back in school were holding less interest for me. We still spent time together with the same group of friends from time to time, but I was losing interest in the gossip and silly stuff we used to do back in school. I was not alone in this regard; I was thinking more about what direction I wanted my life to go towards, both in career and living space. As other interests filtered in, we did not see as much of each other. Looking back, I wished I had the skills then to express what I was feeling, but I did not. It was apparent we were having less and less in common, and I was drifting apart. There was still an affection for my friend, plus we had known each other for a long time. And I believe that was what kept us connected; it was our history together. We had both experienced so much together growing up that the emotions of that time kept a bond between us. However, as time was moving forward and the history was fading further back, I felt myself slipping away. There was no ill will and for those times we had seen each other later, there was a familiar comfortableness; but we also are not the same as we were when we were younger. Many of us, I believe, experience this same type of thing. It is part of growing up and you can see what it is like for some in this comedy. RECONNECTING WITH AN OLD FRIEND WAS supposed to be a good time for this stay-at-home dad. He was not prepared for it to turn into a wild weekend. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Night School) as Sonny Fisher, Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Instant Family) as Huck Dembo, Regina Hall (Girls Trip; Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul) as Maya Fisher, Che Tafari (The Good Place-TV, Daredevil-TV) as Dashiell Fisher and newcomer Amentii Sledge as Ava Fisher; the story in this movie was a good idea. But I am here to tell you, what the writers did was a crime. Pretty much most of the film consisted of gags and low-level humor. There were jokes for almost every body part/action and because they were not particularly funny, became a distraction for me. Kevin’s character was no different than almost any of the other comedy roles he has done. There was nothing here that made the performance unique. I was disinterested for a majority of the time; there simply was nothing new or exciting here. What was the studio thinking when they made this picture?
1 ½ stars
THE MAP WAS DECEIVING, THAT IS all I can say. My good friend and I planned a trip to part of the country we had never seen. When we looked at the map, we decided to fly in and stay at a hotel in the city instead of finding an out of the way place closer to where we planned on exploring. Based on the map and the mileage we calculated between the 2 places, we figured we could drive back and forth each day. This way, we could check out restaurants and sights in the city while mornings and afternoons we could hike and dig into the area of the park that intrigued us the most. Everything was falling into place, and we arrived on a sunny warm day, got our rental car and made our way to the hotel. We dropped our bags into our room and got back into the car to check out the park. According to our calculations, we were approximately 90 miles away. I was driving and figured we could make it there in 1 ½-2 hours. Well, what the map did not show was the fact that the road not only wound around but was going up and down over rough terrain. There was no way I could go 60 mph; in fact, I was lucky if I could hit 35 at times, that is how convoluted the road was to drive on. ONCE WE FINALLY GOT CLOSE TO the area, we stopped in a small town to get snacks and find a restroom. Walking into a small, independent convenience shop, we bought some food. Because the drive was way too long for us, I asked the clerk if there was a motel nearby. He said anything I could find around “these parts” had already sold-out months in advance. I explained our situation on staying too far away back in the city. From our conversation he told us to stick around while he checks with a friend of his about finding a place to stay. It turned out his friend had just gotten a cancellation on a room down the road. We spoke to the friend and agreed to take the room, travel problem solved. Sure, we were paying for 2 rooms; but we came so far, there was no way we were not going to do some exploring. And exploring we did as we spent the entire day until closing, in the park. It was a dream come true as we saw things we had only seen in print or on television. Steam bursting out of the ground, standing on top of a mountain as the setting sun turned the blue skies purple; both of us felt like explorers and finding that room made it all happen. This experience is why I appreciated what the main character in this action, adventure was trying to do. HE AND HIS BROTHER HAD TALKED about it but how did this stranger Victor “Sully” Sullivan, played by Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Deepwater Horizon), know that they did. To find out Nathan, played by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Devil All the Time), would have to decide whether to trust him or not, if he wanted to make his and his brother’s dream come true. With Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory, The Skin I Live In) as Santiago Moncada, Sophia Ali (Truth or Dare, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Chloe Frazer and Tati Gabrielle (Freakish-TV, The 100-TV) as Braddock; this movie based on the video game series had its moments. Unfortunately, they were few and far between. I felt the script was a rehash of the Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and National Treasure films; except, this was not as good. Tom reminded me of a dressed down Spider-Man and Mark’s role was familiar. There were a few fight scenes that were fun to watch and the mystery element on what was essentially a treasure hunt kept my interest; but overall, this film was forgettable for the most part. If you have nothing to do or have never seen the 3 pictures I mentioned, you might get a little more out of this movie than I did. How adventuresome do you feel? There were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.
THE SILENCE WAS BROKEN BY A cough. I kept talking as I was taking the yoga class into a guided meditation. Another cough pierced the room and then another one. Though I had turned the lights off in the room, I turned towards where I had heard the coughing. There was enough moonlight shining through the windows, so I could see one of the class participant’s stomach bounce from the exertion to cough. Usually a member coughing during this portion of the class would sit up from their reclined position and get a drink of water; but this member remained on her back while coughing. I could tell the class had lost its way towards relaxation and I needed to find out what was going on with the member. As I walked over, the person lying next to her rolled closer towards the coughing person and asked what was wrong. The person replied she did not feel well and as if on cue, began making noises as if she was about to vomit. Before I could tell someone to go get help, the person who had rolled over, took their towel and placed it under the coughing person’s mouth as she rolled to her side and emitted a chocking sound. I could not see what came out of their mouth but as they sat up, I heard them say they felt better. When I said I would call for help, the helpful person said not to bother; everything should be ok now. I asked why and she said her mother ate a cheeseburger right before coming to yoga class. IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS, BUT I cannot get that memory out of my head. When the daughter told me about the cheeseburger, I wanted to ask the mother what she was thinking!?!? However, I had to maintain my composure and only say it appears that was not a good choice to make. I do my best not to dwell on the “bad” memories because honestly, there are so many “good” memories I have acquired through the years of teaching yoga. There was the elderly woman with amazing flexibility, who came up to thank me after class and tell me she was celebrating her 85thbirthday. Another good memory was the man who came to class with these negative preconceived notions of what takes place in a yoga class, only to discover he was not only far off base, but he loved it and became a regular participant. The way my brain is wired, I not only can remember what took place in class, I can tell you where the individual was standing in the room and what they were wearing. The mind is such an amazing organ. If you are interested, you can see what the mind can do in this action thriller. FOR YEARS EVAN McMAULEY, PLAYED BY Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Instant Family), thought something was wrong with him because of all the crazy thoughts he would get. That thinking started to change for him when he met someone who had their own “crazy” thoughts. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Bathurst 2020, Sophie Cookson (Kingsman franchise, Red Joan) as Nora Brightman, Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, Love and Monsters) as Treadway and Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator, They Came Together) as Artisan; this science fiction film had an interesting premise for the story line. Unfortunately, that idea never expanded out to create a worthwhile picture. The script was confusing, the acting was stiff, and the action scenes were uneven. Mark played one of his typical characters; I never felt like I connected to it. The oddest part of this movie was the evil character’s motivation. I found it made little sense which added to the lackluster performances. It also seemed as if the writers left room to create a sequel. My suggestion would be to take a pass on this movie because I do not think my memories of it will go away easily.
1 2/3 stars
I LIVE IN A CITY WHERE there has been an increase in the number of shootings. It is hard to listen to the newscasters’ reports on these incidents, especially when it involves innocent bystanders. I hope this does not come out badly; but my thinking lies more along the lines of, if it is two criminals shooting at each other, I am not as concerned as when it is with innocent people. Recently, we have had a rash of drive by shootings that involved children. Several of the altercations had children either sitting in the back seat of a car or playing on the front steps of their home. Maybe I am wrong; but when I hear the stories about a child sitting in the back of the car, I do not believe they are the intended target. A car pulls up to another vehicle and starts firing weapons all over the other, then speeds away; tells me the real target is someone related to the child a/k/a the driver. I find it horrific and sad that young life gets extinguished so easily. Whether it is revenge, or some initiation thing doesn’t matter; the point being, too many people are being killed. It is like they are collateral damage. What I find viler is if the shooters know there are children around and simply do not care. What does that say about our humanity? THE OTHER PART OF THIS DRAMA that I find disgusting, is when these shootings take place in broad daylight. I have seen the news reports where they show a house lined street or a busy intersection that was the scene of the crime. The police are canvassing the area, asking everyone if they happened to see anything regarding the killing. Every report that I unfortunately have come across states there were no witnesses. All I want to say is, “really?” It is as if there is a code of silence through the neighborhood; none of the citizens can offer up any tips or advice. I do not get it; but I can assume there has to be some type of fear that was pressed into anyone who might have witnessed something. For all I know it may be gang related or retaliation for some past transgression. If that is the case and to my earlier point; let the two find an empty spot that is void of life and they can blow each other’s brains out. I have always said children are born innocent; it is adults who teach them to hate and be prejudiced. The four brothers in this action, crime drama had a mother who taught them well. WHEN A CRIME WAS COMMITED AT the neighborhood store, four brothers decide to take matters into their own hands to solve the mystery. With Mark Wahlberg (Patriots Day, Instant Family) as Bobby Mercer, Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and Furious franchise, Black and Blue) as Angel Mercer, Andre 3000 (Semi-Pro, The Shield-TV) as Jeremiah Mercer, Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound, On the Road) as Jack Mercer and Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Empire-TV) as Lt. Green; this film festival winner was an old fashioned thriller. I enjoyed the whole cast, especially seeing younger versions of actors I have gotten to know on the big screen. The idea of the story was good; however, I felt the script could have used another rewrite. Though it had some good quips in it, the focus was in this case too narrow. There were some scenes that were steamrolled quickly to get to another scene. I also must tell you there was a lot of violence in this picture and I in no way am promoting or condoning this type of action. With that being said, I thought this film was an easy watch and distraction, filled with some excitement.
2 2/3 stars
AT WHAT TIME DO YOU BEGIN to trust someone completely? For myself I do not have a definite set time where I start trusting a person. What I will say is this: trust is something that gets earned, it is not given freely by me. One of the ways trust gets built between me and an individual is to hear and listen to a person when they speak. Because my mind accelerates during a conversation, where I start to finish the person’s sentences in my mind, I tend to interrupt people. I must keep reminding myself to slow down and let the person finish before I say something. Being aware of this makes me more attentive in seeing if the person’s words and actions match each other, which is one-way trust starts to grow for me. Another thing that helps a person gain my trust is exposing me to their circle of friends at some point. I feel one can gain insight into a person based on the company they keep. I do not know; maybe it is harder to deal with me because I do not give my trust out freely. I can easily tell you why; after giving my trust out and getting it broken a few times, I questioned my ability to vet out untrustworthy individuals. ONE PERSON WHO BROKE MY trust was a co-worker at a previous job. I thought we had a good, friendly relationship; she would even confide in me. I found out later that she resented me being promoted into a position that she was hoping to get. Of course, I did not know she wanted it; another employee told me. There had been several incidents that reflected poorly on my performance. I did not understand how these kept happening until I found out she was entering inaccurate information on purpose to make me look bad. Besides being furious at her, I was hurt. If I confronted her I would have to divulge the name of the employee who tipped me off; so, from that point on I totally ignored her. If it was a business question I would answer her; but anything else she said to me I would not give her a response. This may sound childish to you, but it worked for me. Trust me, this kind of broken trust doesn’t compare to the ones that get damaged in a love relationship; those are much harder to come back from in my opinion. But then again, I have been fortunate that my life has never been put into jeopardy due to the trust I had given someone, unlike the main characters in this action adventure film. THERE WAS LITTLE TIME FOR an elite group of CIA agents to build trust with the one person who had the key that would save thousands of people. Too many other people wanted him dead. Starring Mark Wahlberg (All the Money in the World, The Gambler) as James Silva, Lauren Cohan (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Walking Dead-TV) as Alice Kerr, Iko Uwais (The Raid franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Li Noor, John Malkovich (Bullet Head, Secretariat) as Bishop and Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3, Furious 7) as Sam Snow; this crime movie was all about intense action. Development of the characters was close to nil; the script was a mess and I especially disliked the jumping back and forth in time periods. Iko was my favorite and I have to say his fight scenes were insane. I only wished they were not so edited to the point it was hard to figure out who was fighting. There was a good deal of violence and blood, too much for my tastes. The idea behind the story was valid; I only wished they had a better script and a less heavy hand in making sure the viewers were experiencing non-stop intensity.
1 ¾ stars
WHEN IS ENOUGH, SIMPLY enough? One of my business subscriptions sends a supplemental edition focused on real estate, that I always glance through to check out the photo spreads of high end residences. I am amazed by the amount of money, I assume, that must have been spent on these places. Sure I understand it cost more to buy a place that is on the higher floors of a building or has a coastal/mountain view; but some of the upgrades I have seen border on the ridiculous in my opinion. Seriously, how important is it to have an extra long sofa covered in an elaborate, expensive fabric or bathroom fixtures that are gold plated; do they really make a difference in one’s comfort and hygiene? I find it ridiculous just because a person is wealthy; they feel they need to show off their wealth. You would not believe some of the places that are highlighted in my subscription. The fact they are even being put on display tells me something about the owners, unless they are trying to sell their property. JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS a vast amount of money does not make them smarter or more thoughtful in my opinion. I have noticed some people who are rich feel they are entitled, more important than anyone else around them. I knew this person who was quite successful; having started out in humble beginnings, they overcame the obstacles before them and amassed a sizable fortune. For all their hard work they deserved it and I had no issue with their success. However, the more money they made the more they would voice their opinions on everyone else’s daily life; whether it was personal or business problems it did not matter. They would expound on all the things they felt everyone else “should” be doing to better themselves. I do not know about you but I took offense at their behavior. Having money does not give a person a license to dictate to others about how they should be living their lives. If you want to see what I am talking about then feel free to watch the powerful performances in this biographical, crime drama. WHEN KIDNAPERS CONTACTED GAIL Harris, played by Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman, Blue Valentine), about her son; the ransom amount was way beyond her means, but not for her ex-father-in-law J. Paul Getty, played by Christopher Plummer (The Insider, The Man Who Invented Christmas). However Mr. Getty was not one to part easily with his money and Gail did not have the time to negotiate a price on her son’s life. With Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Fletcher Chase, Charlie Plummer (King Jack, Lean on Pete) as John Paul Getty III and Romain Duris (Heartbreaker, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) as Cinquanta; the acting by Michelle and Christopher was outstanding. I will say Mark was somewhat better in this role, but he still came across as the same type of character that he has done in previous movies. Set in Rome during the 1970s, this story inspired by true events kept my interest as it weaved its way through some harsh and tense moments to despair. The pursuit scenes were well done to the point where I was feeling a sense of dread waiting for the outcomes. My only issue with this film was the lack of connection between some of the characters, making some of the scenes feel disjointed. The story really was amazing and reminded me of a phrase I have used in the past when someone was being cheap: you never see an armored car following a hearse to the cemetery.
ONE IS EITHER BORN INTO the role or is trained by default to be the neutral party aka buffer zone between conflicted family members and/or friends. It takes a particular temperament to handle groups of people who have opposing opinions; a person needs to be calm, sensitive, thoughtful and most importantly strong enough to never offer an opinion. Even in the face of an evil, belligerent person; one needs to maintain a serene exterior, even if they are thinking the extreme thinking friend or family member is hateful or bigoted. If the social event is being held in a large space chances are there will be less drama and little policing of the opposing combatants. However if the meeting place (feel free to replace meeting place with the word arena) is a small space such as a restaurant booth or a person’s dining room, then things could be trickier to maintain some semblance of peace. THROUGH THE YEARS I have been exposed to various events and locations where I was able to witness the buffer zone person in action. I am actually familiar with the dynamics of an occasion where 2 people are not seeing things eye to eye. It can be quite stressful for the other people around. There was a party I attended where such a scenario took place and I agree it was a challenge trying to stay neutral with both sides while each one of them was making their case to me that they were right. The thing I find interesting is when this type of behavior plays out during a special occasion such as a holiday or birthday. Wouldn’t you think in respect to the person celebrating or the special significance to the gathering people could put their differences aside? I do not know if it is an ego thing, a stubborn thing or lack of confidence that makes a person act out in public in such a way. If you are interested there are several examples of people acting ridiculous in this comedy film. TIRED OF DIVIDING THEIR children’s time up during the holiday between each of them Dads Brad and Dusty, played by Will Ferrell (The House, The Campaign) and Mark Wahlberg (Patriots Day, The Gambler), came up with a brilliant idea; to spend the Christmas holiday together. The idea would have been perfect if not for the visit of the grandfathers. With John Lithgow (Miss Sloane, Betriz at Dinner) as Don, Linda Cardellini (Grandma’s Boy, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Sara and John Cena (Trainwreck, The Marine) as Roger; this sequel for the most part followed the same formula as the original movie. I found the script was predictable and some of the humor had a negative edge to it. If you happened to see the trailers you pretty much saw what the whole film was going to consist of: physical comedy mixed with stereotypical acting. Some of the scenes rang somewhat true to the point I could appreciate what the writers were trying to convey; but, there were times I thought the story was diving into a ridiculous slapstick form of comedy. Having seen the first movie, I did not find much being offered with this picture in the way of new, fresh ideas. Maybe those of you who are in a similar situation as the characters in this picture will enjoy this film. For me I could not be positive or even neutral in my review of this formulaic written movie.
1 ¾ stars
TENSION could be felt in the air, at least by me, as I walked into the company’s lunchroom. It was not a big room, only accommodating a few tables and chairs. Sitting down next to a couple of employees, I joined in on the conversation taking place. While we were eating and talking I did notice 2 employees whose way of conversing was stilted. They each would participate but I noticed they never made eye contact with each other, even if the topic of conversation related to one of them. The other employees around the table did not seem to notice or if they did they were not fazed by it. If you ever sat around a group of people and one person had an attitude, you would feel it. I could not understand what was going on as there was this “stale” dead air in the room when either of these 2 employees said something. SEVERAL weeks later, long after I forgot about those two peculiar employees in the lunchroom, a co-worker was talking to me and made a joke about one of those employees from that time. She could tell I did not understand the joke and asked me if I knew the story about those 2 people from the lunchroom. When I told her no she informed me the 2 used to be married to each other, making it sound like it was common knowledge. Obviously it was not that common because I had no idea they were married at one time. Replaying as much as I could remember about the conversation we had back then I could at least see where the topic could be an uncomfortable one for the divorced couple. I asked my co-worker why they were divorced; she told me about the rumors some people were saying about the former couple. From what she told me I was amazed either of them could work in the same company as their ex-spouse. It is funny having that little bit of unexpected knowledge has changed most of my interactions with either employee. I could say the same thing about what I found out in this latest installment of the sci-fi franchise. BATTLE after battle, war after war; there must be a reason why Earth will not be left alone by these Transformers. Could there be a solution to once and for all rid our world of this destruction? This action adventure starred Mark Wahlberg (Patriot’s Day, The Gambler) as Cade Yeager, Anthony Hopkins (Red Dragon, The Elephant Man) as Sir Edmund Burton and Josh Duhamel (When in Rome, Las Vegas-TV) as Colonel William Lennox. Within a short period of time I realized the script and the story to this film was utterly ridiculous. The explanations being told about why such and such was happening defied any logic. I know this is a science fiction film, but I still appreciate a good story. The script was a hodgepodge of folklore, fantasy, historical references and an assortment of other components; that I found made one big, long mess of a picture. It also did not help that the movie played for 2 hours and 29 minutes; there was no reason to have such a long film. There needed to be a tight editing job to the script. Also I wished the action scenes had been more distinguishable. With action whirling by it was hard to figure out who or what was going on. I could not wait to escape this picture. There was an extra scene early in the credits.
1 ½ stars
DURING my daily commute to work I pass 3 makeshift memorials that were set up by the side of the road. What they have in common are floral arrangements, ribbons and sadness. My guess is each person from the memorials perished from an auto accident. How tragic it must be for the family; based on past news articles, I can only imagine the circumstances of the accident. I remember one involved a boy riding his bicycle who was struck by a car that swerved out of the way of a tarp that fell off of a truck in front of them, momentarily blinding the driver. Can you imagine if this took place in front of the boy’s house and the family sees the memorial every day? I do not know how I would handle it, seeing a reminder outside my door every day, even without a memorial. RECENTLY I was driving through my old neighborhood with a friend who was curious to see my old stomping grounds. Driving through several blocks, I shared memories and tidbits while pointing out various places. As I drove by one particular building I started to tear up from the flood of awful memories associated with the place. My friend saw the change in me and asked what was going on inside of me. Taking a breath I started to tell them about some of the horrible things that were done to me when I was much younger. It felt like I was reliving them as I spoke them out loud. Though I believe each of us learns something from every experience, thinking about that time after all these years still made me feel sad and angry. I do not think I am alone in saying recalling tough, challenging events in the past is a hard thing to do; this is why it was not easy for me to watch this dramatic historical thriller. FROM an act of terror during the Boston marathon the citizens of Boston united in a powerful way. This film festival winning movie written and directed by Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor) starred Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon, Daddy’s Home) as Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders, Michelle Monaghan (Sleepless, Source Code) as Carol Saunders, John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, Love the Coopers) as Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon (Black Mass, Elephant White) as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers. I felt Peter presented a thoughtful, reflective story that did not sink into dramatic hyperbole. Because the script was sensitively written I thought the actors did fine in their roles and in regards to Mark he was in his element. Since I was quite familiar with this story, knowing people who were affected by it, I thought I would not have been as engaged in the movie. It turned out I was very much into the film as there were multiple scenes that showed the things taking place away from the public; it was fascinating to watch. I will say it was not easy to sit and watch this movie due to seeing the violence and injuries again. The images I remembered all came up as the story unfolded on the big screen. Let me just say if you have the stomach to revisit this event then it is worth watching this well done film.