AS SOON AS I HEARD HER use that word in her statement, I knew she was repeating what someone else had already told her. There was no way she knew the meaning of that word, I was positive, having never used it before and pronouncing it incorrectly. Who told her that statement did not have all their facts straight; so, when she repeated it at the restaurant table, I felt if she had any knowledge on the subject it was minuscule. It actually confirmed my suspicions about her desire to get educated on the events the group was discussing at our meetings. Since I had met her husband, I had a feeling she was getting her news filtered through his lens; whatever he thought about on a subject, she digested it word for word then regurgitated it to whoever was listening. I had to wonder if she had been doing this her whole life; because believe me, she is not the first person I met who operates in this fashion. I know several individuals who never seek out the details to an occurrence or event. There was this one person I knew a long time ago who repeated whatever his parents would say, even with the same inflection. If I asked him to explain further, he rarely could do it. TO SAY IT IS A PET PEEVE would be to harsh to say; maybe it would be better for me to say it is creepy. Whenever I encounter someone who clearly does not know what they are saying, I find it weird, sad, creepy, or a variety of other adjectives. I hope this does not come across as judgmental; I simply do not understand why someone would use someone else’s words without giving that person credit for it. It is like when I see parents dressing up their children in clothing that is identical to their own. For me, it seems as if the parents are denying their child’s uniqueness and individuality. And that is what triggers the creep factor in me, a person having their identity/individuality squashed or tempered. I still remember a classmate who had a mother that tried her hardest to mold her child into an image of herself; it was more than creepy. She wanted her child to follow in her footsteps career wise and in accomplishments. It was difficult for me to be around the mother. Of course, we try to teach our children to be productive and successful; but when a parent so dominates their child’s life’s course, I am never comfortable seeing it or being a part of it. This is why I was experiencing a creep factor while watching this film festival winner. THEIR LIFE TOGETHER WAS BEAUTIFUL AND colorful up until her mother was arrested and charged with murder. Suddenly Astrid, played by Alison Lohman (Big Fish, Drag Me to Hell), found herself in a series of foster homes. Having to grow up without her mother would be a challenge…or would it? With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, People Like Us) as Ingrid Magnussen, Renee Zellweger (Judy, Here and Now) as Claire Richards, Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, ER-TV) as Mark Richards and Robin Wright (Wonder Woman, State of Play) as Starr; this drama had a wonderful cast of actors. Michelle and Alison were believable and strong in their roles. I was curious about the story, enjoying many of the scenes; however, the script had too many predictable moments. Watching Alison’s character grow in the film was a thing of beauty. There were times I felt I was watching a cat and mouse scenario which added to my enjoyment in watching this movie. I stayed engaged throughout the picture and due to the actors, I think I enjoyed this movie more than I had expected. At least that is my opinion of it.
2 ½ stars
SHE WAS PROUD OF HER GRANDCHILDREN; I heard her talk about them enough times to know. They were respectful and polite which made me like them right from the start. According to their grandmother, the boy was a star player on his school’s football team and his sister was the school’s photographer. When I met and spoke with the 2 siblings, I learned the grandmother’s description of their school activities was exaggerated a bit. The girl enjoyed photography and had submitted one of her photos to the school’s newspaper; it was one of several to be chosen to accompany an article about the plant life around the school building. The boy was on the football team as the grandmother had mentioned; however, he was one of the 2nd string players on the team. Most of his time was spent sitting on the bench. So, the grandmother expanded the truth, I get it. She was not the first grandmother I met who used hyperboles when it came to her grandchildren. It did appear to me; however, she spoke a lot about these kids. It is one thing to mention one’s children or grandchildren if it comes up in a conversation; but, without solicitation or prodding one talks excessively about them then I start to wonder what could be fueling it. YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON, but then something happens that forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought regarding this individual. This is what happened to me and explained why the grandmother talked a lot about her 2 grandchildren. Her and I were part of a small group of people who had met for lunch one day. During the meal many topics were discussed. However, it was during the subject of racial tensions when the grandmother said something that led me to believe the reason behind her excessive talking about her grandchildren. She had said a derogatory remark about another race. I was shocked because up until that time I never considered her to be a prejudicial person. As I sat there processing this new information the conversation drifted off to something else. No one questioned her about her comment, but I had to because what she said did not make any sense to me. I asked her how she could make a derogatory remark about a person’s skin color when her grandchildren had the same color of skin. She said it was not the same. Her grandchildren were born from a mixed-race couple; evidently, she was not comfortable about it which explained the constant talk about her grandkids. All of this because someone looks different? She has something in common with one of the characters in this adventure fantasy. AGREEING TO MARRY PRINCE PHILIP, PLAYED BY Harry Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Darkest Minds), would be the easiest part compared to having each of their families sitting down together for a dinner. Aurora, played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8), would have to convince her Godmother Maleficent (Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), to meet the humans she so distrusted, for good reason. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, What Lies Beneath) as Queen Ingrith and Sam Riley (On the Road, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Diaval; this family film was beyond colorful. The opening scenes may take one’s breath away because they were so filled with colors and creativity. Along with my amazement of the visual aspects to this picture, I thought the cast was wonderful. Angelina, Michelle and Elle were so good together that I could see them doing another film together. My only complaint had to do with the story and script; it was uneven and convoluted at times, besides sharing similarities to another story made famous as a Broadway musical. Despite this, I found the movie entertaining. It had great special effects, was visually stunning and had a killer performance by Angelina, Michelle and Elle.
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
I hope I never see a family member’s name in the news because of a crime they committed. There have been so many stories I have heard about other families’ problems that I have been grateful no one I know has made the news among my relatives. One of the craziest stories involved a member in one of my aerobic classes many years ago. This member with a quick wit always stood in the front row. With an excellent ear for rhythm he did every move perfectly. Since I always faced my classes it was easy for me to see how the female members were checking him out. Just before the holiday season he disappeared for a few weeks; members were coming up to me and asking if I knew what happened to him. All of us soon got our answer in the city’s newspapers: He was arrested and charged for the murder of his roommate. She was found stabbed in the trunk of her car that was left abandoned at the airport’s parking garage. Though this was a horrific story it reaffirmed my belief in never judging a book by its cover. This action comedy movie’s story was about Giovanni Manzoni, played by Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, The Big Wedding) and his family who had to be sent into the witness protection program when he turned in evidence on his Mafia associates. Given the new identity of Fred Blake, Giovanni was sent with his wife Maggie and their two children Belle and Warren; played by Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows, Stardust), Dianna Agron (I Am Number Four, Glee-TV) and John D’Leo (The Wrestler, Wanderlust), to a small town in France. Under the watchful eye of special agent Robert Stansfield, played by Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln, Hope Springs); the family was instructed to blend in. However, it would not be an easy task for the Brooklyn mobster and his family to let go of their old habits. Sadly the witness protection program could not hide what was supposed to be the humorous elements I saw coming from a mile away. The acting from Robert and Michelle was not good; they simply reprised one of their old movie characters. Tommy Lee was underwhelming but it was due to the script; it was fractured into distinct segments that never came together to make a seamless story. This film tried to convince me it was an original crime caper comedy but I was not buying it. A couple of brief scenes had blood.
1 3/4 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
The time really has come for those two boys to stop playing with the make-up and just put it away. I am referring to Johnny and Timmy. Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, Alice in Wonderland) was Barnabas Collins, but he could have easily been one of his other characters from his past movies. Tim Burton, the director, made some poor choices when he directed this confused film. It flipped back and forth between being a comedy and a thriller, resulting in a lackluster update of the old television series. Angelique Bouchard, played by Eva Green (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale), placed a curse on Barnabas, turning him into a vampire; then had him buried alive for all eternity. When he unexpectedly was dug up 200 years later, he was determined to revive the family business with the present matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, Hairspray). I found the humor feeble with only a few funny parts–you may already have seen them in the trailer. Having Johnny’s character taking a stream of vomit in the face was not funny to me. As for Michelle, I thought she should have been used more, giving some heft to her weak character. My disappointment appeared to match the majority of baby boomers seated throughout the theater. As we were leaving our seats, I heard very few comments; only the disappointed sighs of people remembering how much they had enjoyed the TV show.
1 3/4 stars