HE WAS A MEAN, NASTY, RUDE MAN and I worked for him. Being more wide than tall, I think he compensated for it by yelling at people. The company had less than 100 employees; some of them were related to him. I was extra cautious around them, not sure if they loved or hated their relative. Working for him always meant one had to be ready for his phone call or command. He would think nothing of it to call an employee on the telephone late at night. Half the time the calls had nothing to do with work. He would want someone to go pickup something for him, like a pizza or Chinese food. An employee once told me he got woken up early in the morning by the owner, who told him to go to the airport to pick up one of his relatives who was flying in for a visit. Granted he was successful, driving expensive cars and taking lavish trips; but he yielded his wealth like a battering ram, to make people submissive to him. Refusing him meant there was a good chance you would not get a raise in your salary. I was so grateful I did not have much contact with him while I worked there. IT TURNS OUT THAT OWNER WAS one of many individuals I encountered who used their wealth as a weapon. There was the relative who consistently told friends and family what they “should” do with their lives. Since this relative felt they were successful and wealthy, they had the right to tell other people what they did wrong, both in life and career. From my dealings with people of wealth, I realized being wealthy does not necessarily mean one has brains and/or good taste. Sure, a rich person could spend a small fortune on decorating their home, but that does not mean it would be considered a beautiful and comfortable place. I had a friend who would only buy designer clothing. By that, I mean clothes where the designer’s name is prominently displayed on the clothing. They thought they looked great in outfits; but I am here to tell you, some of the stuff they wore was impractical and unattractive. The way I see it, people who showoff their wealth or yield it to get their way are ugly inside. Not that I am stereotyping here; for there are many wealthy people who do not advertise their financial status and do good things. But if you are looking for them you will not find them in this mystery horror thriller. ON HER WEDDING DAY GRACE, PLAYED by Samara Weaving (Home and Away-TV; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) was not only marrying the love of her life, she was getting his entire family. It turns out that would not be a good thing. With Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, CHIPS) as Daniel Le Domas, Mark O’Brien (Arrival, The Front Runner) as Alex Le Domas, Henry Czerny (The Other Half, Clear and Present Danger) as Tony Le Domas and Andie MacDowell (Hudson Hawk, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Becky Le Domas; this biting satire was bloody wild. And I do mean bloody. I not only thought Samara was great in this role, I thought the entire cast did a spot-on job with their characters. The script was filled with humor and horror; but written in such a smart way that it felt like I was on a carnival ride while watching this picture. Even if I did not have my history with unpleasant wealthy people, I would still appreciate the social commentary being done in the script. Despite my uncomfortableness with bloody scenes, watching this film was like finding something special on a scavenger hunt. It really stood out from the usual films in this genre. There were several scenes with blood and violence.
NO ONE IS GOING TO UTTER a negative comment, I cannot imagine, about a child’s music or dance recital. Who would sit in a school’s auditorium filled with the students’ parents and say a snide remark about a child’s playing or dancing? I have sat through recitals where I barely could recognize the song, but still congratulated the performers. It was not like I expected to hear classically trained musicians or see professional dancers; these were elementary school students. I will admit I have sat at a couple of performances where I had pity for the parents who had to listen to their child practice the same musical pieces over and over, errant notes and all. There was one year where I had to go watch a school football game. The weather was awful, cold and windy. I sat on that cold bleacher bench, bundled up in layers with a scarf nearly wrapped around my entire head; it was that cold outside. If I remember correctly despite only getting their hands on the ball once I still congratulated them on the good work they did. NOW WHEN IT COMES TO situations that do not involve children, reactions can be different. I was at a music concert where the world famous musical artist did a poor job of performing. At times she even turned her back to the audience and sang entire songs to her band, ignoring the people out in the audience who spent a good amount of money just to hear her sing. There were some people in the crowd who started booing, even yelling comments, that is how poorly she acted on stage. I vowed I would never spend a dime on her and haven’t since that concert. The way I look at it is if I am paying to see something I want to be entertained and expect the person or company to do their best to make the event a memorable one. To me this just makes good business sense. Well sadly that was not the case with this final (I hope it is the final) installment of this dramatic, romantic thriller franchise. SETTLING INTO THEIR NEW ROLES as husband and wife Anastasia and Christian, played by Dakota Johnson (How to Be Single, The Social Network) and Jamie Dornan (Marie Antoinette, The Fall-TV), soon discover not everyone is happy for them. With Eric Johnson (Legends of the Fall, Smallville-TV) as Jack Hyde, Eloise Mumford (In the Blood, So Undercover) as Kate Kavanagh and Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist, Miller’s Crossing) as Grace Grey; this movie was a waste of time and effort. There was no chemistry between Dakota and Jamie, besides the fact Jamie came across more like a robot than a human being. The script was filled with clichés and predictable scenarios that tested the intelligence of its audience. I disliked the soundtrack because the song choices were picked to inject some type of dramatic moment that the script and actors could not provide; the music was relentless. The thing that bothered me the most was the lunacy the writers put into the script. I mean seriously, why would someone with a security detail take matters into their own hands, putting their lives in jeopardy?!?! As far as I can tell except for the luxuriousness of the sets and locales, there was little effort put in to make this final installment a memorable one. Believe me when I say it was more torturous for the audience to sit and watch this film than it was for Anastasia in her dominant/submissive scenes.
A TINY POOL of liquid was growing larger in the bowl of guacamole the longer the night went on. The offer of food and drink had ended a long time ago as one host sat and watched the secondhand tick around the clock dial. The other host was keeping busy by tidying up around the room, washing glasses and plates from time to time when hopefully her absence would not be detected. After dinner and dessert the small group of people played a couple of games before settling into their spots to chill out and talk among themselves. As the evening wound down the guests started to leave until there were only 2-3 guests left. These remaining guests had a reputation for always being the last ones to leave a party. Somehow they did not or chose not to pick up the telltale signs hosts would enact to signal they were tired and wanted the party to end. MAYBE I MENTIONED this in an earlier post but all the clocks in my house show different times. How it started was when I pushed the time on my alarm clock ahead in the hope of never being late for work. From there it expanded to the rest of the clocks because I discovered many people do not pay attention to the actual time. From the parties I have thrown there were times where I was dead tired by the end of the evening. By having the clocks set ahead I could make a comment about how late the evening had gone; guests would look at the clock and be surprised by how fast time had passed by. Now before you say anything I do want to tell you that after I found my voice I no longer needed to depend on my false clock times to get late night guests out of the house; now I just tell them it is late and I am tired. It is a shame I could not have invited the homeowners in this dramatic, mystery horror film to one of my parties so they could take a lesson. WHEN THE UNEXPECTED man, played by Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, The Rock) was invited in by the homeowners, played by Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise, American Hustle) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, The Sea Inside), they had no idea how their lives would change. This film festival nominated movie written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Fountain), also starred Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Begins, Dark Shadows) as the wife to Ed Harris’ character. The first part of the story was suspenseful and I immediately enjoyed everyone’s acting. However as the script continued this film got weirder and weirder. I became irritated with all the close up shots Darren was doing of Jennifer. The thing about this movie was I appreciated what I felt was the allegories the writer was trying to show. However as the story descended into a pseudo horror film I could not wait for the picture to be over. Because of the stark shift from suspense to horror I experienced a stronger negative reaction. Despite the acting from a cast I admired, I could not find justification for the amount of time I wasted watching this movie.
1 1/2 stars
THE ABSENCE OF a single conversation can steer a relationship off course and down an embankment towards rocky terrain. When someone says “they were afraid to tell their significant other” or do not want to say anything “because they won’t understand what I am saying anyway,” I want to give them a time out. I may understand why the person does not want to confront their partner but the bottom line for me is this: if you are in a committed relationship there should be no fear for one to express their feelings and thoughts. I had a friend who was afraid to tell her husband she was feeling lonely in their relationship. Her husband would go out with his friends to drink or play sports on a consistent basis. She would be left at home. Now granted she could have easily made plans with her friends, but for her it would not have solved the fundamental issue. The issue being she wanted to spend some down time with her husband after their busy work week schedules. WHEN I WITNESS couples not sharing their feelings with each other I fear they are laying down the groundwork for a life of miscommunication; that is if they choose to remain together for that long. More times than not this not talking to each other situation usually brings in to the relationship anger and resentment. In turn a game gets set up where one person does something they know will irritate their partner; then the partner returns the favor by doing something equally as irritating back. It becomes a vicious cycle that only places more negativity on the relationship. I find it sad and if given the opportunity to express my thoughts I will share them with the couple. Something I always recommend is therapy, to get an outside person involved to mediate and help the couple learn how to communicate their feelings to each other. I can see where the idea for this comedy came from regarding the issues facing the couples in this movie. LOOKING TO PROVE her theory about marriage researcher Vivian, played by Dolly Wells (Bridget Jones franchise, 45 Years), chose what she believed to be the perfect couples to participate in her documentary. Each couple had issues, maybe more than Vivian had bargained for. Starring writer and director Lake Bell (In a Word, No Strings Attached) as Alice, Ed Helms (Love the Coopers, Vacation) as Noah, Mary Steenburgen (The Proposal, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) as Cybil, Paul Reiser (Whiplash, Mad About You-TV) as Harvey and Amber Heard (The Danish Girl, Drive angry) as Fanny; this was a well chosen ensemble for this story. As I mentioned the idea for this story was sound in my opinion; but it did not always translate to the script. Where some scenes had humor and real life situations, others fell flat and were not realistic. It was as if there was more than one story going on at times which attributed to the loss of focus. I was periodically bored and never felt like I fully knew any of the characters. In the past I have enjoyed Lake Bell’s work and performances, but for this film the directing did not help in jumping from one couple’s story to another. I am afraid for a story about communication and marriage; this movie did not do a good job in proving its point. There was a brief extra scene during the beginning credits.
1 ¾ stars
It was one of the items I inherited from a broken relationship. Totally functional, it served a purpose. The item was a kitchen garbage can; it was made of some type of silver metal and had a foot pedal that when depressed would open up the lid. I never liked the way the lid opened because instead of width wise it lifted from the length side. Being of a rectangular shape the lid would plop down with a thud when the foot pedal was released. On top of it the lid did not match up seamlessly with the rest of the garbage can. Another irritating feature may have been my fault but I blamed the can. The plastic garbage bag I would fit inside the can never remained fitted around the rim of the can; after a certain amount of garbage was placed inside, the bag would crumble to the bottom of the can. It was not like I produced so much garbage, but I felt one bag should be enough to last me one week until my neighborhood’s garbage pickup day. Unless I was having a dinner party I never had a full bag. So after years living with this slightly annoying garbage can I recently bought a new one when the old one’s foot pedal broke. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy this new can better. It is quiet where the lid slowly descends to the bordering rim that locks in the kitchen garbage bag that has not fallen once. And I love the way the lid opens width wide so I can scrape an entire dinner plate clean of its crumbs without any escaping to the kitchen floor. Who knew such a small thing could bring me such pleasure. I am sure others have had a similar experience when swapping out an old product for a new one. But when I hear about people doing it to their long term significant others, I do not have an understanding of it. MARRIED for 30 years Inge, played by Ursula Werner (Stopped on Track, Madchenabend), did not know how to tell her husband she had started an affair with another man. This romantic drama also starred Horst Rehberg (The Policeman’s Wife, Verflixtes Missgeschick!) as Werner, Horst Westphal (Du Bist Dran-TV movie, Und Das Am Heiligabend-TV movie) as Karl and Steffi Kuhnert (The White Ribbon, Stopped on Track) as Petra. I thought the acting was excellent but what really kept me involved with this story was my curiosity about the subject. Personally I have not been exposed to situations like the one in this film festival winning movie, though I have had friends who did with their parents. I would like to know about the motivation that makes a person, after so many years being together, take a drastic change. This story seemed real to me; I enjoyed the mix of subtle humor and heart tugging scenes. To me this picture felt like it was depicting real life. All I can say after watching this film is the heart is such a curious creature to me. German was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars — DVD
Slowly you remove yourself from the warmth you were lovingly lying next to, to give them a couple of extra minutes of sleep before the start of their day. You did not even think about the clothes you have at the dry cleaners because they will be hanging in your closet when you get home that night from work. When the two of you are out at a restaurant, you do not have to ask the waitstaff to remove the veggies you do not like from your salad; your significant other will take them without having to be asked. The two of you have an easy symbiotic relationship. Not that you take each other for granted, but the daily things that transpire between you two become their own type of routine. It is sad to say, but it is not until you no longer are a couple that you realize the extra wonderful things that made your relationship so special. I do not mean to paint this in a bad light; but I have found it is the small things that take place between two people that re-enforce the glue which keeps both in a relationship. It is part of the support system each one has created in unison and like anything that occurs on a constant schedule, it may appear less special and sweet as it fades into a routine. This is one of the reasons that I have always insisted on keeping up a date night so the two of us can break out of our daily routines to focus on each other. Not only do I understand but I have experienced what it feels like when that special love is no longer with you. SUCCESSFUL investment banker Davis, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Nightcrawler), only began to realize what he was missing after his wife was killed in a tragic automobile accident. This film festival winning comedic drama also included Naomi Watts (While we’re Young, The Impossible) as Karen, Chris Cooper (Adaptation, American Beauty) as Davis’ father-in-law and Judah Lewis (Point Break) as Chris. Though the acting was good I found the script to be dismal though in a way this played to Jake’s strengths. I do not even know if I would classify this movie as part comedy. There was nothing in it that I found funny. Now there were several opportunities to create impressive dramatic scenes but they tended to fall short. Also, I usually do not notice but this time I thought Jake’s shower scenes were unnecessary and wondered if they were inserted for eye candy value. The other odd thing I found was the lack of time awareness. I became aware to the fact that he wasn’t working yet these different events were taking place with him over time. For some reason this stood out for me. The idea behind this story was interesting and the script had some valid points; however, I did not connect to this film, nor did I miss it after it was over.
1 ¾ stars
There they sit across from you, eating the dinner you both prepared. When there is any conversation it is kept to trivial, light things about the day. After the meal is done and the dishes have been washed and dried the two of you sit on the sofa to watch television. The side of their leg is pressed up against yours; not for any romantic reasons, just because that is where the two of you have always sat together. You can feel their physical presence but that is all; they are there but not there like a ghost of their former self. Not reacting to anything being shown on the TV nor sharing any thoughts or feelings, you feel totally alone. Any type of chitchat you start up is only met with a grunt. I believe most of us have experienced some form of pain or discomfort coming from physical cruelty. A punch or slap where the pain radiates heat prior to dispersing into a dullness is what I am referring to here. However there is another form of cruelty that I find just as painful if not more and it would be the emotional kind. The person who you have had some type of relationship with mentally checks out unexpectedly for no apparent reason. It is an awful place to be in, especially when you have given your heart to that person. In a situation like this I find silence to be the absolute worst choice; I would rather a person be honestly blunt with me instead of avoiding what needs to be said. Silence in this type of situation can be a form of purgatory in my opinion. MARRIED and set in their ways for many years Nolan and Joy Mack’s, played by Robing Williams (Old Dogs, Good Will Hunting) and Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands, 13 Going on 30), lives started to become unglued the night Nolan nearly drove over the stranger Leo, played by Roberto Aguire (Sand Sharks-TV movie). This dramatic film already came with a sense of sadness since this was Robin’s final film performance. I thought his acting was strong as he showed emotional restraint. In fact, the cast which also included Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as Winston did a wonderful job. If the script had offered more emotional depth, not only would have the actors been able to handle it; but it would have made this a much more powerful drama. As it was I found parts of the movie were lackluster, with a few scenes that did not come across as believable for me. The other issue I had with this film was the uneven pacing of the story. I felt the story with its powerful themes could have been clearly presented without slowing down the action. As I said earlier I was already feeling sad when the movie started and only became sadder as the story unfolded.
There are some friends that can always make you laugh; there are some friends that can have a serious conversation with you and there are some who always provide you with the perfect advice. Just as I believe a love relationship is unconditional, so do I feel the same way about friendships. You cannot pick and choose the parts you like about a friend and ignore the rest; true friendship only comes as a complete package in my opinion and they are as diverse as the world around us. Because this is how I treat friendships, I am always perplexed when someone offers their unsolicited opinion about someone else’s friend. Has this ever happened to you, where a friend of yours asks why you are friends with someone else? I experienced this in the past about a particular friend of mine. Here was an individual who did poorly in school; I suspect there was a learning disability. They may not have been able to carry on a conversation about world events or be able to communicate with proper English; so what, they were such a considerate, kind soul who was always willing to help out a person in need. I remember when a light fixture broke in my house and they immediately offered to fix it, knowing my limited handiness skills. Another friend of mine used to question how I could be friends with someone with such a limited vocabulary. I was offended by their questioning of such a thing, especially without even knowing the other person. How can someone comment on someone else’s relationships? See how it is done in this comedic sequel. RECENTLY married couple Ted and Tami-Lynn, voiced by Seth MacFarlane (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Family Guy-TV) and played by Jessica Barth (Get Smart, The Waterhole), have decided to have a baby. However, Ted will have to prove who or what he is before he can be a father. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, this sequel was essentially more of the same from the first film. Though Seth has a wicked sense of humor that was represented in the script by some quick funny lines, I found the story line dull. There was the same crudeness and vulgarity but this time it wasn’t as funny to me; I felt the set up for the scenes was a template that was repeated over and over as the movie progressed. A bright spot for me was Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, In Time) who played the lawyer Samantha. She did a good job with her role. I appreciated the idea behind the story but felt it was being handled with a heavy hand. If I were to consider movies as friends of mine, this would be one film I would not want to watch in a public place. Strong language throughout film.
1 3/4 stars
I cannot begin to tell you how awkward it is when I am at a wedding and some relative comes up to introduce me to someone she feels has “things in common” with me. There I am standing in my suit with what I can only imagine is the look of an animal caught in the beam of oncoming headlights. My awkwardness is not caused by the innocent individual who is waiting for me to make the first introductions; it comes from the relative who does not know that much about me to assume they know me so well. Another aspect to my uncomfortableness is the way everyone was made aware of the pending introductions except for me. It feels like I was the only one left out of an inside joke. There was a time where I felt I had to bring a friend with me to a wedding just so I could avoid going through another troublesome situation. So on one level I could understand why Montana Moore, played by Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Precious) did not want to go alone to her younger sister’s wedding. Montana’s concern was becoming the last family member who was not married. With only 30 days until her sister’s wedding; Montana and her friends Gail and Sam, played by Jill Scott (Down to Earth, Obsessed) and Adam Brody (Damsels in Distress, Jennifer’s Body) came up with a plan to find a prospective husband for her, but it would take flying 30,000 miles around the country. If this comedy’s story seems a little desperate to you, you would be correct. The slapstick jokes for the most part were easy to spot coming up and then falling flat at your feet. I found the acting was stale with several characters like Montana’s mother Catherine, played by Jennifer Lewis (Think Like a Man, Meet the Browns), nothing more than a cartoon character. Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher, Glory Road) as William Wright and Taye Diggs (Chicago, Equilibrium) as Langston were two actors who tried to rise about the looney script. Since there was nothing that stood out as being to dreadful to watch, this film would be better suited to a home rental viewing. Though I was not part of this wedding I felt a bit embarrassed for the guests.
The way the world works these days, there usually is an alternative solution that will get you the same results, albeit not legally. I may believe I have some street smarts, but I would be fooling myself if I did not think there are a lot of undocumented things happening around me. At present one of the hot political topics has to do with immigration. I had a crash course in the legalities of the issue when my niece became engaged to a wonderful man from France. Lorna, played by Arta Dobroshi (Late Bloomers, Magic Eye), worked at a cleaners, but hoped to open a snack shop one day. To get to her goal, she agreed to enter into a sham marriage arranged by local, small time mobster Fabio, played by Fabrizio Rongione (The Kid with a Bike, The Child). Besides the financial gain, Lorna would more importantly obtain Belgian citizenship. Everything was going smoothly until her husband, a junkie, asked for her help in getting clean. At the beginning of this dramatic film, I was not sure where the story was going; I felt out of synch with it. However, I soon realized that is what the directors had in mind. Lorna and her husband were not so dissimilar after all. The range of feelings they displayed felt like I was watching a tennis match; going from dominance to weakness to manipulation. This film did not take a page out of the Hollywood handbook; it was a bare bones story that fully used its actors’ abilities. A raw tense movie, this Cannes and Lumiere winning film gave a glimpse into what I am sure has been a real occurence in life. French, Albanian, Russian with English subtitles.
3 stars — DVD