FOR BEING SUCH A SMALL WORD “loss” packs a massive amount of emotion inside of itself. Some time ago, I lost a pair of sunglasses and was both sad and annoyed from it. I also have lost a loved one and was so upset I did not leave the house for several days; the loss felt like I had a massive boulder perched on my back that was trying to keep me pinned to the ground. When I was heavily dieting and lost several pounds, I was beyond elated and felt like I was floating on air. This is why I say “loss” has such a wide amount of emotions attached to it. I also know every single person reacts differently when they experience loss. I knew a woman who lost their husband to a disease and I swear, you would never know she was a grieving widow. She acted the same as she did when he was alive, cheery and upbeat. I did notice however she always kept herself busy. Either meeting relatives and friends for lunch or going shopping or working on puzzles at home, she never allowed herself time to relax because she was afraid her mind would dwell on her significant loss. There is no right or wrong way to handle the sense of loss; everyone is different. ONE OF MY EARLIEST ENCOUNTERS WITH loss was when I lost my first wristwatch. I received it as a birthday gift when I was in elementary school. It had a superhero on the face of it and the plastic band looked like metal; I thought it was the coolest thing. After spending a day with friends, coming home for dinner, I realized it was no longer on my wrist. I wanted to go out at night and retrace my steps with the hope of finding it. My parents would not let me; so, in the morning I tried finding it to no avail. At the time it was one of the most traumatic things that happened to me. It was many years later when I experienced one of the heaviest losses of my life. It was one of the hardest times of my life; one moment I was with the love of my life and the next minute they were gone. It was awful; hard to comprehend and process to the point where I felt like I was not functioning anymore in the real world. Friends and family tried to help but I was not at a place where I could accept their kindness. It was that time of my life where I fully understood how loss can deplete a person of all their dreams and hopes. Because of it, I became better equipped to be empathetic towards others who suffered a loss. I wish I could have helped the couple in this comedic drama. SUFFERING WITH GRIEF A MARRIED COUPLE take different paths on how to deal with it. One of them wants to kill a bird. With Melissa McCarthy (Thunder Force, The Kitchen) as Lilly Maynard, Chris O’Dowd (Molly’s Game, The Program) as Jack Maynard, Kevin Kline (Ricki and the Flash, No Strings Attached) as Dr. Larry Fine, Timothy Olyphant (Snowden, A Perfect Getaway) as Travis Delp and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Wonder) as Ben; this film was carried by Melissa, Chris and Kevin for the most part. Besides having incredible comedic timing, Melissa has the ability to be convincing when she is in a serious role. The script was poorly done in my opinion because the characters did not feel like they were fully developed, along with several scenes feeling forced to try and tug at our heartstrings. Nonetheless, I was engaged throughout the story; even when it would drag at times. Due to the acting, after I was done watching I did not feel like I lost time that I would never be able to get back.
2 ¼ stars
FRIENDSHIPS FORM ON THE COMMONALITIES SHARED between two people. I also feel included in the formation is the admiration one has for an attribute they see in the other person; an attribute that the person realizes they themselves lack. One of my oldest friends, who I met in elementary school, had a peaceful and soothing way of talking that attracted me immediately. I felt I was opposite because I tended to take things to the max, always quick to respond with full force whether the situation warranted it or not. There was another friendship that formed around the same time and it was their easy-going ways that intrigued me. Where I had to sit and ponder things, they were quick to respond with a “yes” or “sure” or “okay” to pretty much any request. That was so foreign that their behavior fascinated me and from there we became lifelong friends. So, you see this is why I think it not only takes things in common that connects two people, but the differences between them. I know a couple who on the surface look like they have nothing in common, they appear to be so opposite in their ways. Yet, if you spend quality time with them you would see how each one admires the differences because it allows the to see things through the other person’s eyes. LIFE AT TIMES WILL CREATE THESE long periods of separation between friends. There was not any type of rift or disagreement that caused it, it simply happened based on changing responsibilities and priorities. I have a friend who lives out of state; our contact is infrequent, where months could go by before we communicate with one another. Yet, when we finally get to talk to each other, there seems to be no break in our connection. We can pick up right where we left off from the previous time. Sure, some of our beliefs have evolved into different paths but at the core we remain close to each other. The key to maintaining a friendship like this or any friendship for that matter is to avoid making any judgements. I used to have a friend who constantly judged me and was always telling me what I “should” do. The final nail that split us apart was when I introduced them to the person I was dating and within 5 minutes they were treating my date rudely. I decided right then and there we had too many differences and not enough commonality to keep our friendship going. If you want to see the evolution of a friendship, you can see it play out in this action, adventure comedy. A CLASS REUNION WAS THE IMPETUS that pushed Lydia Berman, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Kitchen, Can You Ever Forgive Me?), to reach out to a childhood friend she had not been in contact with for many years. After so many years being apart, Lydia was not sure what she would say to her friend. With Octavia Spencer (The Witches, Ma) as Emily Stanton, Jason Bateman (Bad Words, Game Night) as The Crab, Bobby Cannavale (The Irishman, Blue Jasmine) as The King and Melissa Leo (Burn Country, Prisoners) as Allie; this film festival nominee had a major flaw, Melissa’s husband as the writer and director. The script was beyond predictable and filled with lazy jokes and poor dialog. It really was annoying to have two gifted actors, Melissa and Octavia, try and squeeze out sense to the poorly done script. Melissa McCarthy in my opinion has one of the best comedic timing abilities I have seen in an actor. Pairing her with Octavia was a great idea because they appear to be so different; I thought for sure the comedy would be flowing though this story with the two of them. Sadly, there was so little taking place in this movie, both excitement and comedy, that I was not engaged with it.
1 ½ stars
NOT TO BE MORBID; BUT IF I should suddenly die, I want someone to be able to step in for me and know exactly what needs to be done. I have this mindset at work and have shared my thoughts with my co-workers. To the employees in my department, I have told them if I should get hit by a bus and don’t make it, they will have no problem taking over the things I handle. As far as I am concerned this is just common sense. It does not make sense to me to keep things hidden from co-workers or loved ones, as a matter of fact. I worked at a company where a long-term employee died, and no one knew how to do this person’s job. He was a supervisor/buyer who had established vendor contacts; however, none of their names were written down anywhere. He just knew their names and how to reach them, without ever looking them up. Well, after he was gone his co-workers had no idea which vendor to call for which product nor what discounts were available for each of them. The company went through a rough patch with its customers because there were times it did not have the right product in stock, or they were completely out of something for a customer. I thought if I ever get into a managerial position, I would never want something like this to happen with me. SADLY, THE BUSINESS WORLD IS NOT the only place where I have seen such a predicament take place. I cannot tell you how many couples I know where one handles all the money matters and the other has no idea or interest in it. Personally, I could never be in such a situation not knowing what bills come in and what needs to be paid. This one couple I know both work; one handles all the bills and the other has their paycheck deposited directly into their mutual checking account. After the billpayer determines how much is needed to pay the weekly bills, they give their spouse the remaining cash not used back from their deposited check. I don’t know about you; but I could not handle such an arrangement and it has nothing to do with trust. With a career in credit, I have always been particular about my bills being paid on time. I would need to know how much money was available and how it was being distributed. It would be scary for me to wake up one day and have everything suddenly fall into my lap without me having any prior knowledge of it; just like what happened to the women in this action, crime drama. WITH THEIR HUSBANDS HAVING BEEN CONVICTED and sent to jail, the gangsters’ wives were left trying to figure out how to pay the household bills. They would have to work together and come up with some type of plan to bring in money; though, it would not be easy considering their husbands’ line of work. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) as Ruby O’Carroll, Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Claire Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Unbroken) as Gabriel O’Malley and Bill Camp (Midnight Special, 12 Years a Slave) as Alfonso Coretti; each actor could have made this a worthwhile film. Unfortunately, the script and direction were off target here. There was no character development; which in turn, made the lack of acting stand out even more. I only connected to Elizabeth Moss’s acting skills; Melissa and Tiffany paled in comparison. Part of the blame must fall on the directions they were getting; it appeared as if they were going thru the motions without the emotions. Of course, not having any history attached to each of their characters did not help the situation. In turn, I did not believe what was taking place in several scenes. In a way it looked like the writers did not know what the director wanted and visa versa. Better communication between them, I’m thinking, would have turned this film into a powerful statement on female empowerment.
1 ¾ stars
THE DAY OF THE OSCARS TELECAST is supposed to be a day with no stress, conflicts or upsetting news. It is a day of comfort, excitement, being with friends and family or not; a time to sit back and reflect on the past year’s movies. So, when I woke up to an alert on my phone that read “due to inclement weather…” I could rebook my flight home for a different time at no charge my stress level became elevated. Due to scheduling I already was cutting the times close to get home and settled before the awards show. Now with wintery weather, I could get caught in “flight delayed” hell. I did not want to rebook my flight; so, I decided to take my chances with getting on that 1st flight out of town. Even if it meant I had to get up awfully early with only enough time to shove all my clothes tightly into my suitcase, I would get home in time to see the show. Gratefully, the Hollywood powers that be and the alignment of the celebrities’ stars took pity on me and let my flight take off on time to get back home. WALKING INTO MY HOUSE 10 MINUTES before the awards show started was not planned. I had to leave my suitcase and bags in the hallway, race into the kitchen to only eat whatever I could grab right out of the refrigerator (like a bear scavenging thru an empty house) and sit down in front of the television to see the momentous occasion of the show going without a host. And you know what? I did not miss having a host at all. The hosting job, in my opinion, can only be handled by a certain type of individual. They would need to be quick thinking, funny and be able to have a strong command of the audience. I can only bring a few to mind who could fit that bill. Starting out the show with Queen and Adam Lambert performing was a smart move by the academy. After their missteps of having and not having a most popular film category to moving some awards to commercial time, they needed an attention-grabbing start to the show and they got that with Queen. Following it up with Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler coming out for the first presenter spot was a brilliant move. The academy needed to warm up the audience and get them into the mood and these 3 women knew exactly what it took to make that happen. I felt the rest of the presenters were all safe choices with only a couple of surprises, Melissa McCarthy dressed up in costume and Barbra Streisand. It was great to see Julia Roberts; however, based on her reaction it looked like they sprung the news on her to end the show. It appeared and felt awkward. Instead, they should have had a “surprise guest” come out and say goodbye. BASED ON MY PREVIOUS POST THAT listed my choices, I was overall okay with the chosen winners. A couple of surprises based on the audience’s reaction, but for the nominations that were given, the academy got most of the choices right. Now for what I felt was the highlight of the show and that was the performance from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. If ever you wanted to see a master class of acting, then this was the couple to see. Going from nominated actors in the audience to walking up on stage and immediately into “character” for their performance of the song, “Shallow,” was an amazing feat. I understand Bradley was extremely nervous to sing on stage, but I could not see it. They were perfection in their singing and chemistry; nothing more need be said about it. The last thing I wish to mention was the shorter duration of the telecast. It was enough time and I appreciated it immensely. So, with that being said I want to thank all of you for another good year of movie watching and reviews. May your journeys take you to uncharted territories of wonder, surprise, thrills and love as we look for those films that can take us away from our reality and place us into the middle of the movie’s story. Thank you for following and sharing your comments with me; it is deeply appreciated.
THE BRIGHT RED BIRD LOOKED like a cross between an ostrich and a flamingo. Long legs and neck connected to this round belly. The bird’s beak was bright yellow and on top of its head there was a tuft of elongated feathers that veered off in different directions. I still can remember how my friend would walk his bird around the room in this sort of hop along, bobbing type of gait. He had gotten the bird as a gift, though if he named the bird I have no recollection of it. The bird was a 16-18” tall puppet. My friend would hold these two wooden sticks that were nailed together into a plus sign, with string attached to each end. The strings were then each affixed to a different part of the bird’s body. Though the beak did not open, the bird’s eyes were not stationary; they had eyelids that would blink depending on the movement of the bird’s head. It was quite a comical sight for us. I had a few stuffed animals when I was younger that I would imitate the animal’s voice; but I would have to hold the animal to make it move. Here there was a stuffed animal that looked like it was moving on its own; it provided hours of fun. PRIOR TO MY FRIEND’S BIRD PUPPET, the only type of puppets I had personal knowledge of were the hand puppets we used to make in school. I am sure many of you did the same thing; where you take a lunch bag, turn it upside down and draw a face on it. Where the first fold of the bag is at the bottom, you would draw the mouth. Some of the girls in class would draw hair and ribbons on their bag; if an evil face was going to be placed on the bag it was usually drawn by a boy. We would stick a hand inside the bag to make the mouth talk by opening and closing our fingers into a fist. I remember one class assignment where we had to create a scenic backdrop on the inside of a box, after removing one side of the box. The teacher set up a table for us to place our boxes; there was a curtain stretched in front of it where we could hide behind to raise our paper bag puppet up and put on a show. I happened to remember this while watching this comedic, action crime film because I would have rather watched our kids’ shows than what I saw on display up on the movie screen. A SERIES OF PUPPET MURDERS WAS plaguing Los Angeles. Two former detectives who had parted ways had to come together to help solve the crimes. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, The Heat) as Detective Connie Edwards, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Love & Mercy) as Jenny, Maya Rudolph (Away We Go, Inherent Vice) as Bubbles, Leslie David Baker (Wish I Was Here, The Office-TV) as Lt. Banning and Joel McHale (Deliver Us from Evil, The Informant!) as Agent Campbell; the one actor that stood out for me was Maya. Melissa, who I previously have said has incredible comedic timing, played the same type of character she has played before. The script was generic and only produced one laugh out of me. Maybe the writers thought having R rated puppets was enough of a laugh; for me, I found it quickly became a bore because every move was so predictable. As a side note, if Jim Henson was alive today I wonder how he would have felt about his son directing this picture? More fun could be gotten out of a paper bag puppet than being stuck watching this “bad” movie. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits and this IS NOT A FILM FOR CHILDREN.
1 ½ stars
IT SOUNDED LIKE A GOOD IDEA at the time. They remembered as little kids skitching in the snow. For those of you unfamiliar with the term it means: holding on to the back of a moving vehicle while riding a bicycle, skates or skateboard. However, they used to just use their shoes or boots when there was snow on the ground. As children they would hide between parked cars and wait for a bus, truck or car to drive by them. Just as the vehicle was about to pass they would run out and try to grab the back bumper without being seen by the driver. It felt like they were waterskiing except they were riding the icy surface of the street. Buses were the best to catch because you would know they would be coming to a stop as soon as they got to the next bus stop; cars and trucks were trickier because you either had to wait until the vehicle came to a red light or was shortly coming to a parking space. The only other option was to let go in mid ride and hope you would not slide into anything hard. REMEMBERING THE FUN THEY HAD in doing this, they decided to give it a try. Waiting between parked cars just like they used to do before, crouched down with one person as the lookout, a bus turned the corner and was coming down the street. As it passed they ran out as best as they could with the slippery conditions and grabbed a hold of the bumper. Off they went hanging on the back of the bus. It brought back such good memories as their feet skimmed over the snow with the wind hitting them in the face. The buildings were passing by rapidly; they figured they must be traveling close to the speed limit. The next bus stop should be coming up soon they thought. Suddenly someone’s foot sunk into a pothole, throwing them off balance. She toppled over into the friend standing next to her and the two lost their grip on the bumper. They fell to the ground tumbling over each other. Luckily there was no one driving near them as they finally crashed into a parked car. Their clothes were dirty and wet, getting rip and torn in the process. Maybe skitching was a silly idea to have done in the first place. It was just as silly as some of the things I saw in this comedy. AFTER HER HUSBAND DECIDED TO leave her Deanna, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Boss, St. Vincent), decided to go back to college to finish her degree. It was the same college her daughter was attending; what could go wrong? With Gillian Jacobs (The Box, Community-TV) as Helen, Debby Ryan (Rip Tide, Jessie-TV) as Jennifer, Maya Rudolph (Away We Go, Sisters) as Christine and Julie Bowen (Joe Somebody, Modern Family-TV) as Marcie; I thought the idea for the story was admirable. There is no denying Melissa is one of the top comedic actresses with her timing and physicality; I did laugh at a few scenes. My issue with this movie was the script; it was getting sillier and sillier. I felt the writers were focusing most on making the audience laugh instead of keeping the story real, to go beyond the gags. With the pairing of Melissa and Maya, I felt there could have been more ground to cover in many scenes. Now I am not saying watching this movie would be a waste of your time. For some lighthearted, silly fare where you do not have to think much; this film may or may not bring back memories of your years in school.
The street festival provided an opportunity to relive the memories of the old neighborhood of my youth. Walking the residential streets was a revelation for the homes were now freshly painted in colorful hues. Old porches and stairs that previously yawned in tiredness looked confidently strong now; I doubt they would utter a peep. The biggest surprise was the amount of foliage everywhere. As a kid I remember flowers were something one would find mostly in a backyard, not many households had them in front. Bushes covered the bottoms of houses; some planted to form a straight hedge across, others looking like tossed green gumdrops. Now as I traveled down several streets, flowers and ornamental trees were blooming everywhere. The trees that remained from my childhood had expanded and grown as if someone had pumped them up with air to look like inflated balloons at a Thanksgiving parade. When I finally reached the heart of the business area there were a few stores I remembered though they were dressed up with new signs and banners. The grocery store was replaced by one of those dollar stores and the local drugstore was now a currency exchange. Sitting in the same place was the diner I used to go to at least once a week. I had to go in and though no one looked familiar to me, the furniture had not changed. I ordered my usual and watched the cook make it as I sat on one of the dark red stools at the counter. The food came in those same plastic baskets freshly lined with wax paper. I was excited as I took my first bite, taking in the earthy aroma wafting off the pile of fries. Sadly my memories tasted better than the actual meal. The same thing could be said about this version of a comedy classic. STRANGE occurrences started popping up around New York City but only two people understood what they could be. Scientist friends Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, played by Kristen Wiig (The Martian, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Melissa McCarthy (The Boss, Spy) were convinced there was finally proof to substantiate their research. After all the talk of this science fiction fantasy reboot having a female cast it all came down to the script for me. Kristen, Melissa and Leslie Jones (Trainwreck, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Patty Tolan were subdued compared to Kate McKinnon (Life Partners, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Jillian Holtzmann; she was terrific which is saying a lot since the story was bland. I did not have any laugh out loud moments and felt the story needed some caffeine. The villain of the story was so dull with a tired story line that I sat in my seat and wondered what the writers were thinking. Even the special effects were nothing special; after all these years since the original film, you would think the movie studio would want to dazzle the viewers with special effects. Overall this movie was not the worst; it just did not taste as good as the original I remembered. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
There is good and evil in every single person; this is what I believe. I did not come to this conclusion from some doctrine I was taught growing up; at a young age there were many people who showed me examples of both. Since that time whenever I have encountered someone acting in either a good or evil way I just have to wonder what happened in their childhood to make them act that way now. For me both qualities are a choice; however, I have to recognize outside factors. A person’s experiences during their formative years can sway them to one side or the other. I can see where someone who was constantly and severely punished for incidental things could start acting out in a violent way. And I believe there are studies showing people who abuse other people usually were abused themselves. Based on my experiences if every person who was abused in some type of way who became in turn an abuser, there would be a lot less kinder people in the world. The reason why I believe everyone has a choice is due to people I know who have had a hard life, yet remain positive and upbeat. I know someone who had years of hardships and struggles that affected their health; but no matter what they were going through, they always kept a smile on their face and I do not mean that in a phony type of way. They were genuinely happy and grateful. So you see, to me they made a choice. I feel the same about the main character in this comedy, they made a choice but was it the right one? AFTER being convicted for insider trading and doing time in prison Michelle Darnell, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Spy), thought she could pick up the pieces of her life and make it to the top of the business world again. The only thing stopping her were all the people she had stepped on as she was making her way to the top. This comedy that also included Kristen Bell (The Lifeguard, Veronica Mars-TV) as Claire and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones-TV) as Renault, was lucky to have these 3 actors. I do not think anyone would deny that Melissa has incredible comedic timing. What surprised me however was Peter Dinklage; I thought he and Melissa were a great match. Now there were a few times I laughed during this film; however, a majority of the time was wasted on similar jokes and sight gags. For the most part the story was predictable where I was wishing the writers would have cut the crudeness and been a little more creative. The trailers basically shown the cleanest and best parts to this movie. I liked Melissa in this film; I just wished the writers had made a better choice in their words for the script. There were several extra short outtake scenes through part of the credits.
1 3/4 stars
It sometimes starts with a kind word or gesture that plants a seed inside of you. This seed only needs your hopes and desires for it to flourish into a full emotional relationship that is only in your mind. You take their considerate manners as a sign that there could be something forming between the two of you. Some of the things they say can be taken two ways; you always assume the more romantic version. I have had my share of these types of situations; where you are trying to get a read on the other person, trying to figure out if what you are feeling is just as real for them. Maybe it is the fear of rejection that makes us go slow, where we drop subtle hints to see if they take the bait, so to speak. I recently had a conversation with a friend about this very thing. They asked me why I thought this particular person I was attracted to was not interested in me. I explained how I suggested getting together with them on Memorial Day but they already had previous plans. If they were interested, I explained to my friend, they would have made an alternative suggestion to me by now. So for the moment I sit in my fantasy world just like the character Susan in this movie. RUNNING the logistics for her partner Bradley Fine, played by Jude Law (Black Sea, Anna Karenina); CIA analyst Susan Cooper, played by Melissa McCarthy (St. Vincent, The Heat), would do anything for him because she felt they made the perfect team. It was a team Susan wanted to see expand outside of the office. When the CIA’s field agents’ identities were compromised, Susan agreed to leave her office and go undercover to save the mission. The first thing I want to say is I have not been a fan of Melissa’s recent films except St. Vincent. The reason for this is because I found the stories were set up to get laughs by humiliating a large person; if the character was thin there would have been no laughs and I find this offensive. So now that I have said my piece, this was Melissa’s best role to date. Her comedic timing was perfection and I so appreciated the writer giving this character room for Melissa to go with it. The whole cast, including Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Adult Beginners) as Rayna Boyanov and Jason Statham (Furious Seven, The Transporter franchise), were outstanding in this action comedy spoof of past spy films. I laughed out loud more than once, admiring writer and director Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids, The Heat) wonderful broad strokes for the fun action scenes. This crime picture was the real thing and I loved it. There was strong language used and there was a brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 1/4 stars