I DID NOT CONSIDER IT ARGUING but my teacher did not feel the same way. The assignment given to us was to create illustrations for a book we were putting together. Each student was handed a page with the outline of a scene printed on it. Our job was to color in the figures and landscapes. Once done the teacher was going to put the drawn pages in the appropriate places between the pages we had written for the story we created. I took my drawing assignments seriously though I did not consider myself a good “artist.” My page had both people and objects in it, so I was diligently working on it with my crayons. I went over the outlines with crayons that I thought would look good on the drawing. For a couple of the figures I gave them a shadow, pretending the scene was of a sunny day. There were times I went outside the lines to add a jacket or hat. When the teacher walked by she stopped at my desk and asked what I was doing. I explained my picture to her, but she kept telling me that was not the assignment she gave us. I disagreed and tried explaining to her what I was creating; however, she was not interested in my explanation. She took my sheet away and replaced it with another one, telling me to follow her instructions. I thought I was doing that. MY IMAGINATION IS STILL AS STRONG now as it was back then. I do not think that teacher was trying to stifle my imagination; she just wanted the drawings done a certain way. At the time though, I felt bad that I had to redo my picture without any of the extra things I was incorporating into it. To me, the picture as it was presented was boring and needed something extra to make it stand out in the reader’s mind. When I think of the students I used to play and eat with, I realize now each of them also had a strong imagination. We would get together after a snow storm and create all these different things with just snow. In someone’s backyard we would make things like tunnels, trenches, guards, hills and ramps; all to be incorporated into whatever scenario we were creating in our minds. I always had an easier time connecting with someone who had an active imagination; for it was that imagination, that would carry us to fanciful places where we would plant the seeds of our dreams. It is exactly what the young girl in this animated adventure comedy was doing. WHILE WALKING IN THE WOODS JUNE, voiced by newcomer Brianna Denski, discovered an old, discarded roller coaster car. When she stepped into the car, it jogged a memory of a place she imagined as a little girl. With Jennifer Garner (Peppermint, Draft Day) voicing the Mom, Ken Judson Campbell (Groundhog Day, Home Alone) voicing Boomer, Mila Kunis (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bad Moms franchise) voicing Greta and Kenan Thompson (Snakes on a Plane, Saturday Night Live-TV) voicing Gus; this story started out beautifully. The animation was wonderful, and the idea of the story was sweet and charming. Once the story moved to a different time and location everything fell apart for me. I thought the script was dark and disconnected. The idea of the evil protagonists was awful. Some children may react negatively to these characters. Afterwards I discovered why there was no directing credits listed for this movie and it explains why I felt the story was clunky. The idea for the story resonated with me, but there was little imagination used to make this picture stand out for me.
1 ¾ 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
Pretty Boy was our family’s female parakeet. Do not ask about her name. She was the dog we could not have in our 3rd floor apartment. For me she was not just a parakeet, she was a hawk. Except when Pretty Boy was asleep for the night, her cage door was always open. When one of my brothers or I entered the room she would fly to our shoulder to greet us. I would tell her to attack any one of my friends who happened to be over and she would take off and circle them before coming back to my outstretched arm. And get this: when my family would be gathered around the television for the Academy Awards show, she would fly down onto the floor and sit with me. Since her I have always had an interest in flying, so this fantasy film would certainly be something I would watch. For a fantasy there were few magical things; the movie essentially was a love story. Rutger Hauer (Sin City, Blade Runner) was Captain Ethenne Navarre who joined up with young thief Phillipe Gaston, played by Matthew Broderick (Glory, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), for help in sneaking up and surprising the corrupt bishop. For you see the bishop, played by John Wood (Chocolat, Sabrina), had cast a spell on Captain Navarre and his love Isabeau d’Anjou, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (People Like Us, Stardust). At nightfall the Captain would turn into a wolf and at daybreak Isabeau would turn into a hawk. Directed by Richard Donner (Superman franchise, Radio Flyer), this sweet movie harkened back to a time where the story drove the movie instead of special effects. There were well staged fight scenes and it was fun watching a young Matthew Broderick. I especially enjoyed the performance of Leo McKern (A Man for All Season, Rumpole of the Bailey-TV) as Father Imperiust the Monk. This fanciful movie did not reach my highest rating, but I still took pleasure in the way I floated along with the story.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
If I had the opportunity to go back and do high school again I definitely would not do it. Once was enough for me. With the things that happened to me in high school, some of the scenes in this movie gave me anxiety. But that is my stuff; the majority of you may not experience a similar reaction. Not familiar with the previous movie or television show this film was based on, I will review this prequel as a stand alone. Middle aged ex-con Jerri Blank, played by Amy Sedaris (Jennifer’s Body, Elf), returned home to discover her mother had died, her father was remarried and presently was in a stress induced coma. On the suggestion of her dad’s doctor, Jerri decided to return to high school, hoping to make her father proud; in turn, wakening him from his coma. However, Jerri soon discovered high school would be as tough as her time in prison. The first thing that grabbed my attention with this movie was the incredible cast. Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report-TV, Company) was excellent playing closeted science teacher Chuck Norlet. High school grief counselor Peggy Callas was played by Sarah Jessica Parker (The Family Stone, Hocus Pocus). In addition, there was Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, Moneyballl), Allison Janney (Juno, The Help) and Matthew Broderick (Glory, The Producers) as part of the cast. These were not lightweights by any means. The majority of humor in this comedy was made up of politically incorrect references. When there was physical comedy some of it would work, but others fell flat. I found the silliness waned within a short time; getting more groans than chuckles out of me. If you are looking to revisit your high school years, you would be better served to transfer out of this movie’s district.
1 3/4 stars — DVD