I WAS MEETING THEIR BEST FRIEND for the first time after hearing so much about her. They had known each other since high school and by the time they finished college, they decided to move in together. With that much history between them, I knew I was going to be judged since I was the new person entering their inner circle. For my first impressions, I found her sweet with a good sense of humor. Friends for a long time tend to have a shorthand to their conversations and these two were no exception. It was not like inside jokes; instead, I think it was the fact they had so many shared memories. As for myself, I think I gave her a good impression. We both had a love for animals; she had 2 cats, showing me several photos of them. Music was another common denominator; however, her knowledge of music trivia was off the charts. I paled in comparison. In fact, I discovered the two of them frequently went to several local food/drinking establishments to participate in their music trivia nights. The two of them evidently had a reputation in the area for being music geniuses. From our first meeting, I knew I would be seeing her quite often. It was not until we soon went out to dinner where I saw something that made me uncomfortable. WE DECIDED TO GO OUT FOR Chinese food; they wanted to take me to one of their favorite restaurants. Throughout the course of the meal, I realized she had passive aggressive tendencies. She told us a story or to be more precise, she directed her comments to her friend, about one of her cat’s health issues. The doctor had given her a couple of options for treatment; one would cost less but take more time, the other would be more money with a quicker recovery time. She expressed concerns about how her current financial situation would barely cover the cheaper treatment. With her upcoming trip, she was afraid to leave her cat if he was not fully recovered. I sat there and listened to the things she said, I did not have any solutions. However, my friend offered to lend her the money needed for the quicker treatment. It dawned on me she was being manipulative. The more I was around her, the more I saw passive aggressive ways. She could not just come out and ask for a favor; she resorted to manipulating everyone. My opinion of her dropped significantly. As time went on, I tried to enlighten my friend, but they were not quite believing me. It is frustrating to know something is true, but a person is not convinced of it. That frustration is like the one the detective was experiencing in this dramatic, crime thriller. WHAT LOOKED LIKE A STRING OF prominent killings turned out to be a set of clues to a horrific crime taking place. With Erica Wessels (Primeval, The Harvesters) as Jodie Snyman, Hlubi Mboya (Dora’s Peace, Hector and the Search for Happiness) as Ntombizonke Bapai, newcomer Leshego Molokwane as young Ntombi, Deon Lotz (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Beauty) as FJ Nolte and Mothusi Magano (Hotel Rwanda, The Lab-TV) as Captain George Mululeki; the story in this mystery was inspired by true events. The reality that such a thing still is taking place in the world, gave this movie added importance. I thought the acting was good, but the script was average. Though there were intense moments, I felt the story could have gone deeper into the characters. The jumping between time periods took away from the film’s flow; but at least they provided important, relevant information. Despite the flaws in this movie, the story was gripping enough to fully keep my attention.
2 ½ stars
EVERY TIME I WALKED INTO THEIR house; I was always hit with a mix of different smells. One time it could be cedar, vanilla and dust; well at least I thought it smelled like dust. Another time I would smell a combination of wet grass, sawdust and sandalwood. I always wanted to know where these scents were coming from, but it was impossible to narrow it down to a specific spot in their house. You see, there was so much stuff packed into their house, it was hard to decipher which one item or more were emitting the aroma. Not that their house was messy, it was not. Everything had a place; it was just their house had more places than any other house I had visited. I liked visiting this couple because there was always something new to find whenever I would be allowed to play in one of their children’s rooms, when I was a small boy. One time, when I was playing in their basement, I found a stack of old newspapers that were brittle and yellow. Looking at the dates, I realized they had been keeping these papers for over 30 years. I asked them why and they said that it was proof of the historical events that happened in our lifetime. It did not make too much sense to me, since the newspapers were disintegrating from age. AS THE COUPLE GOT OLDER, MORE types of different smells floated through the house. For some reason the inside of the house did not look as bright as it did when I was younger. Maybe the paint had dulled over the years or the lights and lamps were dimmed with age. Or maybe, the house was darker because there was more stuff in it; I really wasn’t sure. Not that it stopped me from visiting the two; I still enjoyed my visits with them. Though I have to say their cooking skills diminished greatly. Whenever we were having a meal with them, there was always some food dish that was either not cooked long enough or burnt. I remember one time there was a plate of my favorite, chocolate chip cookies. The bottoms were nearly black from overcooking and when I tried to bite into one, my teeth could barely break the cookie apart. All I could taste was the overcooked parts; they were so bitter and strong that I could not taste any chocolate. Now despite these, let us say, inconveniences; I still enjoyed spending time with them and listening to their stories. They had such interesting things to talk about and I was always a willing participant to hear what they had to say. I felt the same way about the married couple in this horror, mystery thriller. FOR THE MANY YEARS LORRAINE AND Ed Warren, played by Vera Farming (The Departed, Bates Motel-TV) and Patrick Wilson (Young Adult, The Phantom of the Opera) had experienced demonic forces, the possession of a young man would unleash a force they had never seen before. With Ruairi O’Connor (Teen Spirit, Handsome Devil) as Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland-TV, The Valley-TV) as Debbie Glatzel and John Noble (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Running Scared) as Kastner; this latest installment of the franchise started out with an interesting story line. I thought Vera and Patrick really sold this film because the script was too blurred in its message. At times I found myself being confused with what timeline I was watching, and the scary thrills were just not there for me. Then suddenly a scene would start that grabbed my attention because it was frightfully intense. If Patrick and Vera were not in this movie, it would have received a lower rating; it already had a tired feeling to it. Hopefully the next installment will go back to its roots where it made a name for itself.
OUTSIDE OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW, I was able to see buildings from four blocks away. We lived on a high third floor of an apartment building. The reason I say “high” was due to the first-floor entrance and lobby was not considered a separate floor. You would have to walk up a full flight of stairs from the lobby to reach what was considered the first floor of apartments. We were the only apartment building on our side of the block; there were however 2 others that were on the opposite side of our square city block. I had an unobstructed view, starting with a row of residential houses and their backyards. During the warmer months, I considered myself the silent guest who watched birthday parties and barbeques that took place in the neighbors’ backyards. As a little boy, I made a mental note on the different games party guests played at birthday parties. Part of the reason was me trying to figure out what were the popular games and how to play them, then figure out what were the best ways to try and win at them. During the winter months, only when the backyards were empty; I would see how far I could throw snowballs from out back porch. AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OR SO A developer bought up the row of houses from their owners and built a large four storied apartment building. I was crushed as I watched the building being built, even though I was fascinated by the workmen mixing cement and laying brick. My view was going to be obstructed by a big white rectangular building. After construction was done and landscaping put in, the apartments were quickly rented out. With rows of new windows facing our apartment, I quickly got over my sadness for my lost view. Suddenly, I had multiple people living next door to me, living their daily lives. I felt I was getting a glimpse into a person’s life when I saw one apartment dweller exercising in their living room. Another neighbor cooked volumes of food everyday for her family. I could not get over the amount of pots and pans she used in her meal preparations. Before you get to thinking that I was getting obsessed with watching my neighbors, I have to explain there was little chance to avoid them because the apartments were in clear view whenever I was sitting at the dining room table or when I was watching television. Our TV set had a bank of windows behind it; so, while watching TV, I would see movement taking place in my field of vision. Yes, it was a distraction. I am just grateful I never saw the things the main character saw in this dramatic, crime mystery. HAVING NUMBED HERSELF THE PAST SEVERAL months with pills and alcohol; the reclusive homeowner Anna Fox, played by Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy, Nocturnal Animals), saw something outside of her window that forced her to take some kind of action. With Fred Hechinger (Eighth Grade, News of the World) as Ethan Russell, Gary Oldman (Mank, Darkest Hour) as Alistar Russell, Julianne Moore (After the Wedding, Still Alice) as Jane Russell and Wyatt Russell (Overlord, 22 Jump Street) as David; this movie was a poor tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Rear Window; if indeed that is what it was trying to do. I thought the acting was admirable, but the script and direction turned this picture into a messy pile of scenes. There were times I thought the film was going to be a psychological drama, only for it to change direction and become a scary thriller. The injection of the same repetitive snowy scene over and over was a complete distraction for me. I am sure the novel this movie was based on is much better. The only thing I can say about this misfire it that I am glad I am not a neighbor of these people. There were scenes with blood and violence.
1 ¾ stars
IT HAS BEEN A LITTLE OVER one year when we first heard about this new virus spreading around the world. Everywhere I looked there was news about people getting sick and being hospitalized due to this unknown virus. Without the knowledge, all these recommendations were coming out on how to protect oneself: such as avoid touching the face, eyes, mouth, physical human contact and common surfaces. Up until this point, I was going to the movie theaters on a weekly basis. With all this information and warnings coming out, I started questioning whether it was safe to continue going to the movie theaters. Less and less people were there each week. Since it was the tail end of winter, I felt I could stay safe wearing a mask and my winter gloves. It certainly was weird to walk into a theater and see no one at the concession stands. The self-serve beverage machines all had big yellow X’s taped across them and there were no employees behind the candy counter. My ticket was on my phone; so, when I got near the ticket taker, I extended my arm out all the way to avoid getting any closer to him. Funny, he did the same thing with his barcode reader pointed towards me. I WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHEN I walked into the movie auditorium. Not sure what to expect, I picked a seat on the aisle all the way back; so, I could avoid having people walking past me. It turned out, I did not have to worry because only 2 other people showed up, taking seats at the bottom row on the opposite side of the theater. I thought about removing my mask but decided to play it safe by keeping it on. There were ceiling fans slowing turning above, but I had no idea what the air quality was like in the theater. In an odd sort of way, I enjoyed having few people sitting in the theater with me. I did not have to be annoyed with the talking, texting and milling about of people that I typically experienced in the past. For two weeks I continued my schedule of going to the theater, despite the COVID news becoming more ominous. There was talk that our governor was going to order our state to be shut down. I wondered what I would do without a first run movie to review, from the theater. The last week before the shutdown was ordered, this film came out at the theaters. I debated with myself if it was a good idea to go since the news was getting worse; I decided to take a pass on this action, science fiction mystery and stayed home. It was a good call. FINDING THEMSELVES IN A MEDICAL FACILITY, five young adults were the test subjects in a study to determine what was their special powers. The doctor running the study said it was to protect them, but something did not feel right about the place. With Maisie Williams (Then Came You, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rahne Sinclair, Anna Taylor-Joy (The Witch, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Illyana Rasputin, Charlie Heaton (Shut In, Stranger Things-TV) as Sam Guthrie, Alice Braga (Portrait of a Thief, Elysium) as Dr. Reyes and Blu Hunt (Another Life-TV, The Originals-TV) as Moonstar; this film festival nominee was the movie studio’s attempt to create an origin story about the X-Men. This movie dragged on for a good portion of the time. Though I enjoyed seeing Maisie and Anna in a different type of role, the script was poorly written. I thought the few special effects were meager. In fact, there was blandness to this picture, both visually and mentally. I am glad I did not pay to see this, and have it become the last movie I saw in a theater before our lockdown.
1 ½ stars
I LOOK AT A PARENT AND wonder sometimes, why they ever had children. From the variety of news stories I have seen, I know there is good and bad in every type of group. I am aware of mothers and fathers doing extraordinary things and downright dumb ones. Just recently there was a news report about a father carrying his 2-year-old daughter over barriers to take a selfie in an elephant enclosure. Can you believe it?!?! As you might guess, the elephant charged at them, where the father at one point dropped his child as he was trying to make his escape. I was glad to hear the man was arrested for trespassing and child endangerment. In my opinion, this would be an example of bad parenting. I am reminded of an episode that took place at a movie theater a couple of years ago. A child in the row behind me was kicking the seat in front where a theater goer was sitting a few seats down from me. The movie patron nicely asked the child a couple of times to stop kicking; the child did for several minutes before starting up again. Finally, the person turned around and firmly said to stop it or they would tell the manager. You should have seen the mother; you would have thought the movie goer said they were going to kill the child because the mother went off, yelling and calling the person names until the person got up and went to the manager. The manager told the mother and child they could change seats or leave. ENOUGH WITH THOSE EXAMPLES, I WANT to balance things out by telling you about a couple of friends who I think have amazing parenting skills. One mother picked up her family and moved out of state so her challenged child could attend a special school with a sterling reputation. With the schooling and parenting her child not only graduated high school but is attending college while working a part time job. The growth the child has shown has been remarkable. I have another friend whose child is now 12 or 13 years old. Besides being well mannered, they have such a well-rounded assortment of interests that go way beyond their years. Hearing some of the things that come out of their mouth; you would think you are talking to an adult. There is no denying that many parents sacrifice for the sake of their children. What I witnessed in this film festival winning mystery thriller was a strong example of a mother who never took “No” for an answer; it was a sight to see. WHEN HER DAUGHTER WENT MISSING MARI Gilbert, played by Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Strange but True), refused to accept what the police were telling her. In her mind it just was not right. With Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, Leave No Trace) as Sherre Gilbert, Gabriel Byrne (Louder Than Bombs, The Usual Suspects) as Richard Dormer, Lola Kirke (Gone Girl, Mistress America) as Kim and Oona Laurence (Pete’s Dragon, The Beguiled) as Sarra Gilbert; this movie inspired by true events squarely rested its success on Amy Ryan. Her performance was something to see. Despite what I felt was some choppiness between scenes, I found myself drawn into Amy’s character’s plight. The story has an ick factor and there were a couple of rough scenes to watch; however, I thought overall the directing was good and it tried to keep the story moving forward. As for the script, I appreciated the way it did not sugarcoat things; this was especially noticed during the final scenes. There was a realness that came through that did not seem manufactured. Based on this film, I can only imagine what the real details of the events must have been like. Either way, what an example of a mother fighting for their child.
2 2/3 stars
I NEVER JUDGED HER CHOICE IN men, but I was noticing she had a certain type she liked to date. Most of the men she dated were approximately 20-25 years her senior; though there were a few I met who were closer in age to her. But on the average, she preferred older guys. I did not notice at first nor did it matter to me when I did because I felt age was just a number, it had nothing to do with how a person feels or acts. If my friend was happy and being treated with respect, I was always thrilled for her. When I started noticing her dates were older, I started to pay more attention. I knew her Father had died at a young age, when she was around 8 or 9 years old. Maybe she was looking for a father figure, I wondered. The few times when we double dated, it seemed as if she was content in letting her date take care of everything. What I mean by that is she always deferred to him when an opinion was needed or when the conversation dealt with goals/dreams. The ones I knew she had were now replaced with the ones that her date had expressed. This is when I realized she was looking for a father figure. Again, if that is the relationship that worked for the two of them then I was fine with it. It would make sense that no one would want to live with an empty feeling. NO MATTER WHAT AGE, IT STILL is hard to lose a loved one. Imagine how many of us wish we could have had an extra day or hour to say the things we never got to say. I had a relative who used to fight and argue with her husband constantly. I used to wonder why they remained married to each other. When he died, she carried so much guilt around that she could no longer function. She would tell people she never got to say “goodbye” or “I love you” because they were arguing all the time. I felt sad for her; here the two of them spent their time fighting over things that they never got the opportunity to express the things they had inside of each other. I could see how it was eating her up; she so wanted to talk to her husband and finally say those things she never said when he was alive. If only there was a way we could communicate like, the son did in this film festival winning mystery, crime drama. THE TRAGIC LOSS OF HIS FATHER stayed with John Sullivan, played by Jim Caviezel (Escape Plan, The Thin Red Line), to the point he thought he could still hear his Dad talking. With Dennis Quaid (In Good Company, Far From Heaven) as Frank Sullivan, Shawn Doyle (Don’t Say a Word, Whiteout) as Jack Shepard, Elizabeth Mitchell (Running Scared, Lost-TV) as Julia Sullivan and Andre Braugher (The Mist, City of Angels) as Satch DeLeon; this film is best watched not questioning the fantasy aspect of the story. If that can be done, then I believe the movie would be easier to watch. I enjoyed the multiple story lines and thought Dennis and Jim did an excellent job in conveying their characters. There were a few disturbing scenes showing the aftermath of violence; but gratefully the cameras did not dwell long recording them. There was a bit of jumping back and forth in time; however, it was easy to follow and not distracting to me. As I said before, one needs not to think too much about what is taking place in the story; instead, just sit back and enjoy the way the stories come together.
AS I STOOD WAITING FOR THE elevator a woman walked into the apartment building lobby, took one look at me and said I looked creepy. I said, “Excuse me?” She said the mask I was wearing made me look creepy; she did not like it at all. Her response surprised me because throughout the day I was getting favorable comments on my mask. Even at the stores I had been in, there were several shoppers who stopped me to say they thought my face mask was hysterical. I agreed with them. The mask was new, and it had the lower half of a movie character’s face on it; so, when I was wearing it, it looked like it was a continuation of my face without the goatee. The mouth was open slightly to show a couple of crooked teeth. I didn’t think many people would recognize the actor’s face from the classic movie he starred in, but I did not care; I just wanted to have fun with the mask. I told the woman, who was not wearing a mask, I was surprised by her response because I had been getting compliments on the mask all day. She said she was a psychotherapist and that some of her patients looked just like my mask. I wondered what her patients would think of her description for them. WHEN THE ELEVATOR ARRIVED, I REFUSED to ride with her because she wasn’t wearing a mask. She told me it was not mandatory to wear a mask in the building. I told her I knew that but felt it was important to wear a mask to protect my health as well as any person around me. She wanted to start an argument I thought because she asked me to show her proof. I explained to her I was not a doctor or scientist; but if there was any way I could help to stop the spread of this virus that has killed so many people, I was willing to wear a mask to see if it indeed makes a difference. I couldn’t resist one last comment just before the elevator doors closed; I asked her what the other residents of the building thought of her resistance to wear a mask around them. With her gone, I started thinking about future generations and what they will say about the way we handled the pandemic. Also, what about the amount of people who have died; I wondered how their loss would alter the path to our future. Would future scientists try to do what those in this science fiction thriller tried to do? WITH THE HOPE OF BEING GRANTED parole Cole, played by Bruce Willis (Motherless Brooklyn, Die Hard franchise) agreed to be sent back in time, to find out how a man-made virus spread and wiped out most of Earth’s population. With Madeleine Stowe (The Last of the Mohicans, Short Cuts) as Kathryn Railly, Brad Pitt (The Big Short, Ad Astra) as Jeffrey Goines, Jon Seda (Bullet to the Head, Chicago P.D.-TV) as Jose and Joey Perillo (Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate) as Detective Franki; this film festival winner was a kaleidoscope of visual creativity. Almost every scene had something to attract the eye to while the actors cut through the story. There were times where I lost touch with the story and I believe it was because there were multiple story lines. I think the whole film was purposefully done in an over the top type of way; but if there had been a narrower focus on the main story, I feel this picture would have had more of a trippy intensity. Nonetheless, it was a wild ride of entertainment filled with mystery, thrills and drama; all from the safety of my living room.
BEING THE FATHER OF THE BABY was the only thing I knew about him, besides living with the baby’s mother. I knew nothing else like his job, his age or where he came from. I had seen photos of the baby and she was adorable, always with a great big smile on her face; who she looked like I could not say. There was going to be a large social event where we were both going to attend. The baby’s mother was excited to introduce the baby’s daddy to me, talking about him more than usual up until the time of the party. I got the sense she was proud of him and wanted to show him off to me; I was cool with it. When it was time to attend the party, I decided to wear my suit since the event was being held at a hotel’s ballroom. It was easy to get to the place and I was able to find parking in front, which I preferred instead of going into the parking garage. When I entered the ballroom, I was met with the sounds of a DJ spinning his music from atop a stage set up behind a huge dance floor. I made my way through groups of people until I found a familiar face. It was someone I had known for many years. We made some small talk, commenting on the decorations that were placed about the room. IT WAS JUST BEFORE THE WAITSTAFF came out with dinner’s first course, when I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder. I turned around to see the baby’s mother and I assumed father standing side by side behind me. I said hello to her and commented on how tall she appeared. She chuckled and had to show me the high heeled shoes she was wearing. I laughed then directed my attention to the man standing next to her who had been quiet this whole time. Extending my hand, I introduced myself. He took a hold of my hand and gave it a vigorous shake. The three of us fell into easy bantering, though I noticed the baby’s daddy was focusing all his attention towards me. At some point he insisted he buy me a drink at one of the bars that was set up in the ballroom. My gut was telling me to be cautious; I could not explain why I was starting to feel this way, but there was something about him that put me on edge. I knew the baby’s mother would ask me what I thought of him, but I decided that when the time came, I would try to focus on positive statements. However, time would show me that my gut feeling was right. I have been learning to pay attention to my gut feeling, which I believe one of the main characters in this action mystery was doing as well. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT RACHEL, PLAYED by Diane Kruger (In the Fade, Unknown), that made Mossad agent Thomas, played by Martin Freeman (The Hobbitt franchise, Black Panther), believe she would be the right fit for what the agency needed. But when Rachel delves deeper into her assignment, Martin begins to wonder if he had made the right choice. With Cas Anvar (Room, The Expanse-TV) as Farhad, Rotem Keinan (A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Exchange) as Daniel and Lana Ettinger (Live and Become, The Road to Where) as Operative #2; this drama started with a slow pace before the action was introduced. I thought the story was interesting, especially basing it in Tehran. The issue I had though was with the script; there was very little variance in the level of drama and excitement. I found this film turned into a generic, mediocre production. Diane really did a good job of acting as did Martin; but the rest of the cast was not memorable. When the beginning started out slow, I should have listened to my gut; but since there was nothing else to watch at the time, I took a chance. Several scenes with German, Persian, Hebrew, French and Kurdish spoken with English subtitles.
1 ¾ stars
IT SOUNDED LIKE A FUN TIME, so me and a group of friends decided to sign up for it. A charity was holding an event at a large amusement park that was about an hour’s drive away. They had rented out the park for the evening and planned on having games, music, dancing and entertainment besides the rides. I figured it would be less of a hassle to get around the park than on an average weekend day with the big crowds. Also, because they would be serving alcohol in the park, no one under 18 would be allowed. My friends and I were excited about the prospects of having an easier time riding the big attraction rides multiple times. Usually because the lines were so long for the well-known rides, one might be able to go on it only once due to time constraints. I for one do not like waiting in line for over an hour just to ride an attraction for less than one minute. My only concern was the weather; I was hoping there would be no chance of rain, causing the park to shut down some of their rides. Each of us were getting excited as the date got closer. ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT, with a clear blue sky drifting towards twilight, we piled into one car and headed out on the road towards the amusement park. I was the driver for the evening since I did not care for alcohol. While we were making our way there, we decided to come up with a game plan on how to get as many of the “big” rides in while still taking part in the charity’s planned activities. A quick survey showed most of us were excited to tackle the park’s top roller coasters first. I had heard the newest roller coaster was the ultimate thrill ride because it not only spun and swerved around the track, it also plummeted down to an underground tunnel. Some of my friends were planning on doing that ride more than once; while I figured I would go find a less stressful ride, one that didn’t have spinning as a main component. The fastest spinning I can tolerate is the speed of a merry-go-round. Our excitement increased by the time I pulled the car into the parking lot. With tickets in hand, we headed inside the park to carry out our strategy. As we got to the first roller coaster, I was the first one to notice it was not running. Maybe it was broken? We moved onto our 2ndchoice and discovered the same thing; it too was not running. Paying attention now, as we were walking around, we saw many of the “big” rides were shut down. All the excitement we had built up melted into disappointment. I experienced a similar reaction while watching this mystery thriller. DURING A TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM A GROUP of random strangers took refuge in a motel. They thought they would be safe for the night until one of the guests was found dead. With John Cusack (Cell, Grosse Pointe Blank) as Ed, Ray Liotta (Something Wild, Shades of Blue-TV) as Rhodes, Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards, Griffin & Phoenix) as Paris, John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Pardon) as Larry and Alfred Molina (Saint Judy, Frida) as Dr. Malick; this film festival winner was a good old fashioned thriller in the same vein as an Agatha Christie story. I thought the cast did a decent job with their acting, despite the disconnected script. Not that I did not enjoy watching this movie, I did; but I felt let down as the script started winding down to its conclusion. I thought the filming and sets added an extra level of anxiety and dread to the written words. During the picture, I found myself getting into the story with its plot twists and suspense. If only that level experienced in the beginning had lasted all the way to the end.
2 ¾ stars