I DID NOT NOTICE HER WHEN I entered the classroom. My main concern was finding an empty seat. The class was mandatory; my friends teased me about the title of it, Meat and Animal Science. The instructor walked in and explained what was expected of us for the semester. After he was finished with his introduction, the teacher asked us to pair up with another student to become lab partners for the course. Since it was our first day, all the students simply asked whoever was sitting next to them. I became partnered with a farm boy, using his definition, from a little town that had only one stoplight. I thought he was joking, but it turned out he was not. The teacher waited a few moments to get the talking to die down before asking if anyone did not get a partner; one lone hand was raised in the air and it was from a female student. I looked around the room and noticed for the first time that she was the only female; it was just a curious observation on my part. The instructor assigned her to the two students sitting next to her who had teamed up, forming a trio. AS WE PROGRESSED THROUGH THE SEMESTER, there were times my partner and I were stationed near the trio during our lab time. I did not notice at first; but as the weeks passed, I noticed the female student was rarely working alongside her lab partners. My first thought was that she wanted to work alone. The reason being anytime her group had to do a presentation, the two male students would do the talking and fielding of questions. She would nod her head in agreement and would only talk if the instructor or student asked her something directly. As the weeks continued, I paid closer attention to her group, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. I began to notice she did offer suggestions and advice to her teammates; they would nod their heads and/or mumble something I could not make out. However, based on how they proceeded, I saw the female lab partner would start up her own work on the task. I could only assume her lab partners were ignoring her and doing what they felt was the right thing to do. As far as I could tell the instructor did not notice or, sadly if this was the case, did notice and did not care. I did not know how she made out in the course, but I felt sad that her lab partners treated her with a lack of respect. My feelings for the main character in this film festival winning drama were similar. ON HER QUEST TO REPORT ONLY hard news stories television news reporter Christine Chubbuck, played by Rebecca Hall (The Town, The Gift), constantly came up against roadblocks. Whether it was not being the right type of story or something else; the only thing left was for her to create the story she wanted to report on. With Michael C. Hall (Kill Your Darlings, Dexter-TV) as George, Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, The Post) as Michael, Maria Dizzia (True Story, Rachel Getting Married) as Jean and J. Smith-Cameron (Man on a Ledge, You Can Count on Me) as Peg; this biographical story was based on true events. The key in making this movie work was the cast, led by the amazing Rebecca in her role. Unfamiliar to me, it was because of the cast’s acting skills that kept me involved with the plot. It took a while for me to get a sense of what was going on; but once I did, I enjoyed watching this movie. What surprised me about this picture was the fact not only was I unaware of the story, but also that I could not recall having heard anything about Rebecca’s amazing performance.
2 ½ stars
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I am in total agreement with the man who came up with this law, Sir Isaac Newton. The way I describe it is by saying our lives are made up of pluses and minuses. Where Mr. Newton’s law is used in a physical context, mine emphasizes the cause and effect from the choices each of us make in our daily life. If one tries saving money by buying the cheapest frying pan, it may not last as long and force you to buy a replacement sooner. Driving faster than the speed limit on a highway increases the chances of you being stopped by the police, receiving a speeding ticket from them. A person who breaks into a house with the intentions of robbing it may startle the owner who accidentally shoots them with a pistol. It is true for every action there is an equal reaction and in this excellent dramatic thriller this is what happened to homeowners Ann and Richard Dane, played by Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes, 3:10 to Yuma) and Michael C. Hall (Kill Your Darlings, Dexter-TV), when a man broke into their house. A few days later the dead robber’s father Russel, played by Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff, Mud), happened to show up in town. Richard was sure he knew exactly what Russel was looking for and would do whatever was needed to protect his family. This Sundance Film Festival nominated movie had a great film noir vibe to it. The scenes had a sparse, atmospheric quality that only heightened the tension in the story. Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard were outstanding in their roles. As for Don Johnson (Machete, Nash Bridges-TV) who played Russel’s friend Jim Bob, I thought this was one of his best roles on film in a long time. Set in Texas during the late 1980s, the sets were a perfect accompaniment to the overall process of telling a story. Now let me say a couple of things about the story. I felt I was watching one of those old time films that was free of any special effects, had a no nonsense way of conveying emotions and just let the actors take the script to create a truly believable performance. Add in some unexpected twists in the story and the movie studio had a complete exciting, tense movie thriller on their hands. There were several scenes where violence and blood were shown.
3 1/3 stars
There seems to be a strong curiosity prevalent through society regarding the early years of an individual’s life, before they became noteworthy. The person does not even have to be real; just take a look at the success of the X-Men or Star Trek prequels for example. I admit I fall into this category of people who are fascinated with the younger years of a person. This is one reason why I enjoy looking at old photographs of friends and family. For a prominent person like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein, I like to delve into that person’s childhood to see if there was some special moment that put the individual onto their life path. I do not know, but maybe my fascination has to do with examining my own life experiences to see the choices I made to get to the place I am at presently. Besides prequels, I have a fondness for movies that show a good story on the early history of famous people. With my interest in literature and poetry, this dramatic film festival nominated movie intrigued me. Based on true events the story was about the college years of some of the most renowned people of the beat generation. The time was 1944 when a murder had a connection to the poets Allen Ginsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, December Boys); Lucien Carr, played by Dane DeHaan (Lawless, Lincoln); Jack Kerouac, played by Jack Huston (Outlander, Boardwalk Empire-TV) and William Burroughs, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, The Mechanic). Having only seen a few news footages of these writers, I thought the acting from Daniel, Ben and Michael C. Hall (Gamer, Dexter-TV) as David Kammerer was especially good. The movie had a dark stylized look that gave added authenticity to the story. There were a few passages that were slow for me and a couple of times I was simply confused. What kept me interested was the fact I was familiar with these writers, having read some of their works; so, some of you may not have the same interest level as mine. I would have preferred a deeper exploration of the characters because I think it would have helped the viewers who have had little exposure to these individuals. With that being said, I was entertained during a majority of the film, but was wondering how these writers would have told the story.
2 3/4 stars