IF I DO NOT KNOW AT LEAST several guests at a social function, I feel like I am walking into uncharted territory filled with landmines. It is best to keep one’s guard up when attending such affairs, I have found. The reason I feel this way did not suddenly happen after attending one party; it took my going to several parties and experiencing the full force of passive aggressive guests before I came to this conclusion. Please hear me out before you reach a conclusion. When I do not know people at a party, I tend to be more reserved. I will circulate through the guests before I find a spot that I can claim for myself. As the evening progresses I will either strike up a conversation or a guest will come up to me. During our conversation, the person I am talking to will make an offhanded comment about another guest they tell me they know, maybe about something they are wearing or their physical features. I have learned when someone is expressing a negative comment about someone who is a stranger to you, they are trying to lay some type of groundwork to win you over to their “side.” Do not ask me why this happens but some people feel the need to win over total strangers as some kind of support while they are holding a grudge or feud with the individual. Maybe it is something about “strength in numbers;” I just don’t know. IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS THESE encounters at parties are not a big deal to me because more than likely I will never see these individuals again. However, it is a whole different ballgame when situations like this take place at one’s new place of business. Yuck, it is challenging to walk into a work environment where employees have chosen sides and you are the new neutral country in the middle of their war. The more vigilant employees will use every opportunity to tear down the employee they do not like, by making little comments to you about them. I used to sit next to someone at a job where every day I would have to listen to them make a snide remark about a fellow employee’s work or hygiene or mannerisms or some other such thing; it was exhausting for me. I had no opinion one way or the other; so, my defense was to simply respond with one-word exclamations, like “oh” or “really.” My philosophy was to let their talking go in one ear and out the other; I would form my own opinions. This is something I was trying to do while listening to all the hotel guests in this dramatic, crime mystery. HIRED TO FIND OUT HOW A millionaire received a fake jewel Detective Hercule Poiret, played by Peter Ustinov (Death on the Nile, Logan’s Run), found himself on a small island where a dead body showed up. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Daphne Castle, James Mason (A Star is Born, North by Northwest) as Odell Gardener, Nicholas Clay (Excalibur, Zulu Dawn) as Patrick Redfern and Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones-TV, The Painted Veil) as Arlena Stuart Marshall; this film festival nominee’s story was based on Agatha Christie’s novel. Just knowing that will tell you what you are in store for when watching this movie. The cast was eclectic and fun to watch; I enjoyed all the characters, especially the ones of Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg. With such a large cast there were several story lines to follow, but it was easy to do so. Out of the different movies made from Agatha Christie’s novels, I found this screenplay slightly tamer with several bland scenes. The setting was great, the actors were well versed; I only wished there was more suspense and dramatic flair. Still, I enjoyed trying to figure out who committed the crime.
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN’T HURT YOU is an idiom I totally understand. Being uninformed or ignorant of something means you do not have to worry or fret about it and I am all for that! For example, if I am feeling poorly I only want to hear someone’s advice if I ask them. I do not want someone to tell me I could have this or I might be suffering with that, because my mind will latch on to their comments and I will start wondering if I am indeed suffering from that infliction. There are already so many things in the world that are scary; why would I want to purposely add something more? What makes this more relevant is what the world is experiencing currently with the COVID 19 pandemic. Listening and reading all the stories that have been coming out has been overwhelming to say the least. I cannot remember what year in school we were taught about germs, bacteria and viruses; the unseen things that could harm us. As adults we understand the risks involved when trying to live our daily lives, but what about babies and young children? I cannot imagine how hard it must be especially now for a parent to explain to their young child why they cannot go outside to the park or go get ice cream. How do you tell them they cannot see what could harm them? EVER SINCE I SAW THE NEWS FOOTAGE of the water buffalo trying to save her baby from a crocodile, it has never left my memory. A baby water buffalo was at the edge of a river, sipping a drink of water. All of a sudden a crocodile popped up from underneath and clamped its jaws around the calf’s leg. Without hesitation the mother water buffalo charged the predator repeatedly until the crocodile let go of the calf. It was incredible to watch. That instinct to protect is something I have seen across the whole animal kingdom. Most humans have the same instinct; however, I have seen incidents where the adult did not have that drive or let me say the awareness of the situation. For the ones that acted on instinct, I was amazed as I saw an adult beat off a coyote that was attacking the family pet. In fact, recently the news showed a mother clinging onto the side of her car as a man was trying to carjack it with her baby still in the back seat. There are so many things we do not see coming but our instincts take over to save our loved ones. The mother in this mystery horror thriller is a prime example. WAITING FOR HER HUSBAND TO RETURN FROM the war Grace, played by Nicole Kidman (Bombshell, The Goldfinch), needed help with the raising of her children and the upkeep of the house. The servants she hired could not understand the special rules she insisted they follow because they did not see anything unusual about the place. With Fionnula Flanagan (Four Brothers, The Guard) as Mrs. Mills, Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World, 28 Days Later) as Charles, Alakina Mann (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Fungus the Bogeyman-TV) as Anne and James Bentley (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Nero-TV movie) as Nicholas; this film festival winner was the perfect spooky story to take my mind off the scary stuff going on around me. Nicole was such a strong force throughout the story; I was quickly pulled into their plight. I thought the directing and acting was a perfect combination in creating a tense story without any hi-tech special effects, creating an old-fashioned horror film. For me, watching this movie was a needed respite from the scary stuff that is currently going on around the world.
I AM USED TO WAITING IN LINE at the drive thru lane of a restaurant; but I was not prepared to do it at a funeral home. As I arrived at the funeral home, I saw there were several cars lined up as if they were preparing for the procession to the burial ground. Pulling into the lot behind the last car an employee of the funeral home, who had been standing off to the side, walked up to me to explain how to proceed through the visitation. I was to follow in single file, as one car at a time will pull underneath the porte-cochere. The occupants can then get out of their car and walk up to the locked, double glass doors of the lobby to pay their respects to the grieving family, who will be standing behind the doors with the casket. After the respects are paid, I was to return to my car and drive out of the parking lot. The last thing the man said to me was that there was not a sign in book; instead, I could go online to the funeral home’s home page and leave a comment for the family. I thanked the gentleman, closed my car window and waited for my turn. AFTER FIVE MINUTES, I WAS ABLE TO move forward one car length ahead. Outside my driver’s side window there was now a TV monitor that was set up on a stand. There was a slide show of photos rotating that showed different time periods in the life of the deceased. From birth to their first birthday part, their school years through college and family trips; I sat and watched the photos appear and disappear, providing me with a glimmer of what their life was like. I had lost track of time, as it became my turn to pull underneath and pay my respects. Getting out of the car, I walked towards the glass doors; the only thing I saw at first through the reflective glass was the open casket. It seemed to be floating in midair. As I got closer, images of the grieving family began to appear through the reflection as if they were materializing before my eyes. Out of the family members standing, the father looked the worse. I could not tell if what I was seeing was distorted by the reflective glass; but the father looked like he was in a state of shock. The solid stone expression on his face never changed. With lifeless eyes and a neck that looked like it had been replaced by a spring, he simply kept nodding his head up and down while staring directly ahead. It looked like he was missing a part of himself; similar to the way the main character did in this mystery drama. WHEN HER DAUGHTER DID NOT COME home it was up to Debra, played by Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z, American Sniper) to be in charge of raising her grandson. She only needed someone to raise her. This film festival nominated movie also starred Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver, Elvis & Nixon) as Bridget Callahan, Kentucker Audley (Funny Bunny, The Middle Distance) as Brett Tobeck, Christina Hendricks (Good Girls-TV, The Neon Demon) as Katherine and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Terry. Set in rural Pennsylvania, this acting by Sienna and Christina was outstanding. At first, I was not sure where the story was going; but with the acting and directing I fell into the events taking place while becoming emotional attached. This was a quiet film where some of the characters needed more emotional depth. However, the performances of the actors made up for any deficiencies. This was both such a heart wrenching and triumphant story that Sienna navigated with expert skill.
3 ¼ stars
THOUGH I INITIATED THE CONVERSATION, I now was trying to gracefully remove myself from it. I had been selling raffle tickets at a charity event and was on my hour dinner break. Standing over by the buffet table that nearly stretched out the length of the ballroom, a gentleman next to me commented on one of the platters of food. We both agreed it might taste good but it looked nasty. A man behind be seconded our comments. As we made our way down the table we started up a light conversation between the three of us. It turned out the 2 men were doctors. With my background in fitness, I thought I could hold my own in the conversation. However, when they started delving into different maladies and surgeries; I not only had nothing to contribute, but I did not even want to hear what they were saying. They were talking in detail about unusual surgeries they had performed, life threatening situations where time was of the essence. The ease of their dialog, to the point of almost being bantering, surprised me while at the same time giving me the heebie-jeebies. I was hearing such details about body organs, unusual tumors, spurting blood; I quickly lost my appetite. If you didn’t know the conversation you would have thought they were talking about a sporting event; they were so nonchalant about it. I MAY HAVE FOUND THEIR CONVERSATION icky but I am sure this type of thing is commonplace for so many people. If you take the emotion out of the conversation and are conversing with a like minded individual(s), then whatever the topic is being discussed might not be startling or out of the ordinary. I guess if I was having a conversation with other yoga instructors about poses and practices, to the layman it might sound odd/bizarre to that person. When I am in such a position the thing that surprises me is the juxtaposition between the average dialog and the amazing topic. There is just something about it that can both amuse or horrify me. I am reminded of a CPR class I attended that was being led by a paramedic; his stories about his work were incredible to listen to yet he was so blasé about it. Just because this was recently in the news, I am also reminded of our past primary election where one of the candidates was a Holocaust denier. His matter of fact manner when discussing such a thing was mind blowing to me. The memory of him was in the back of my mind as I sat and watched this unbelievable, biographical drama. DURING WORLD WAR II HITLER’S TOP LIEUTENANTS convened in a remote place to discuss how to proceed on Hitler’s final solution. The meeting for all appearances looked like a lively dinner party. This film festival winning movie based on true events starred Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, My Week with Marilyn) as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci (Night Hunter, Spotlight) as Adolf Eichmann, Barnaby Kay (Red Tails, The Man Who Knew too Little) as Rudolf Lange, Peter Sullivan (The Limehouse Golem, The Bill-TV) as S.S. Col Eberhard “Karl” Schongartin and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) as Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart. Seeing such a young cast of actors was my first surprise; my second was the horror I was witnessing in their conversations. Most of the film takes place in one room, but do not think you will get claustrophobic; the acting was stellar and the script was intense. These were two things that kept me glued to the screen. At times, I felt I was attending a history lesson and at other times I felt I was a “fly on the wall” listening to such world altering conversations. This film seemed like a classic to me.
3 ½ stars
IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG, I was unaware of it as the driver of the car tried to cut me off. It was after work while I was driving home. There was a car ahead of me that was trying to make a left turn across oncoming traffic. I checked my rearview and side mirrors along with turning my head to check my car’s blind spot. With no car in sight I drove into the right lane to avoid getting stopped behind the left turning car. As I was passing the car on the left, I heard a car honking; it was a car from behind that was racing up towards me. Once I passed the turning car I drove back into the left lane; however, that was not good enough for this honking car. The driver sped up and got in front of me where he immediately slowed down to a stop. With cars on my right I was stuck behind him. Since I had no idea what was happening, I quickly looked for an out. There was a break in the oncoming traffic; so, I swerved into their lanes to get around the stopped car. He must have been shocked by my actions because he had a delay in his reflexes which was all I needed to speed away. I did see him start to follow me; so, at the earliest opportunity I swerved onto a side street and turned off my headlamps. I cut into an alley and backtracked towards my office to take a different route home. I ALREADY HAD A SUSPICIOUS NATURE and this episode accentuated it. For the next several weeks I kept an eye out for that car. Gratefully, in the middle of my panic I did look at his license plate and remembered the starting letters and numbers. As I drove home, I was constantly checking my rearview and side mirrors. The problem I was running into was the fact this driver’s car and color were popular. Every time I saw black colored car of the same model in my mirror I panicked. I did not know whether I should turn off the road immediately or quickly speed up to make sure he did not get close enough to recognize me; I was driving myself crazy. This route was the fastest one for me to get home; but if I was going to be anxious and nervous driving it every day it was not worth it. Due to this I could totally sympathize with the main character in this suspenseful, mystery horror film. AFTER LEAVING HER CONTROLLING HUSBAND AND his subsequent death by suicide Cecilia Kass, played by Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale), thought she would finally feel free of him. However, she still had this nagging feeling as if she was being watched, especially when little mishaps started taking place. With Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster, Going the Distance) as Adrian Griffin, Harriet Dyer (Down Under, Love Child-TV) as Emily Kass, Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Straight Outta Compton) as James Lanier and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time, Don’t Let Go) as Sydney Lanier; this movie was a real thrill ride. Elisabeth was outstanding in the role; the range of emotions that poured out of her was easily felt. I rarely jump in my seat from a scene in a movie; but I did while watching this picture. I thought it was ingenious to take the original story and flip it. There were a couple of scenes that were hard to believe; however, having committed myself fully to the story it did not matter much to me. I loved the buildup of suspense and again, the intense acting skills of Elisabeth which made this film a must see in my opinion. If one has any bit of a suspicious nature; this film could easily heighten it. There were a few scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 1/3 stars
I ONLY HAD TO GO THERE ONCE and vowed I would never go back. Before I share my experience, I want you to know this is just my reaction to the place; I know there will be others who think this place is a wonderful establishment and I would agree with them. It serves a purpose and obviously a need. For me, it was too weird and geared for the consumer to spend lots of money; or else, be considered less of a parent for not buying their child the things they were asking for. I had agreed to meet up with a few relatives for some shopping therapy and lunch. We wandered into this store that was filled with shoppers and their children. The store specialized in realistic toy dolls, though I do not know if the management would consider their dolls as toys. The aisles of accessories were astounding; anything you could imagine was ready for sale there, from head scarves to sunglasses to designer purses. What was more incredible to me was the in-house beauty salon and hospital for their dolls. If a child’s doll got broken, they could bring the doll into the store to get admitted into the hospital. Or, if a child wanted their doll to have a new hair style, they could make an appointment at the beauty salon to bring the doll in for a new hairdo. I checked the pricing for these things, and they were not cheap. THOUGH I DID NOT SEE IT FOR myself, I understood there was a restaurant somewhere inside the store where a child and their doll could share a meal together. Being somewhat of a cynic, I had to wonder if the doll’s meal would cost the same price as the child’s food. This was all so strange to me; to have children and their families spend such money on what essentially was a toy, baffled me. When I mentioned the in-house hospital earlier, I forgot to mention I saw a few dolls with bandages and casts on their limbs. What was going on in this place? Would the child have to buy crutches for their broken doll I wondered. The whole setup for this retail store was foreign to me. These dolls, though they were made to closely resemble actual human beings, were still a toy; a toy that could wind up discarded on a shelf after the child grew up and stopped playing with dolls. On the bright side, it was a good thing the dolls sold in this store were not like the doll in this horror, mystery thriller. AFTER A TRAUMATIC EVENT A FAMILY moves out of the city to an uninhabited country estate. They should have investigated who lived there before. With Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, Dawson’s Creek-TV) as Liza, Owain Yeoman (American Sniper, The Belko Experiment) as Sean, Christopher Convery (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Gotham-TV) as Jude, Ralph Ineson (The Witch, Harry Potter franchise) as Joseph and Anjali Jay (The Age of Adaline, Power Rangers) as Dr. Lawrence; if no one had told me this was a sequel I would have never known. I have no memory of the original movie The Boy. And let me tell you, if the original was anything like this sequel I do not know if I would have gone in to see it. The directing was plain tired, and the script was awful. With the setting and details of the story, if the writers would have used their imaginations and pushed the limits of the story, they could have gotten an exciting and scary script here. Instead, this movie was a generic attempt at being a horror thriller. Clocking in less than an hour and half, it still felt as if I had been sitting for a long time due to the boredom I was experiencing. Sadly, I would have rather been back at the retail store that sold dolls instead of sitting through this blank stare of a film.
1 ½ stars
REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy. NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie. LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.
1 ½ stars
IF THAT KID KICKED THE BACK of my seat one more time, I was going to discipline him myself. Though I was playing out in my head what I would say to him, I knew better than to yell at him. You see, I was on a recent flight where this little boy was sitting behind me. All the seats were full; so, I knew there was no chance of me moving to a different seat. We were in the first hour of our 3 ½ hour flight when the boy started to kick the back of my seat. At first, I thought it was an accident; but it turned out not to be the case. After a half a dozen times I turned back to see if the child was flying with his parents. Sure enough, there they were sitting in their seats; oblivious to the boy’s kicking while they were intently peering at their electronic devices. I thought my making eye contact with the boy would have been enough to make him stop; but it was not the case. Maybe a few minutes had gone by before the boy started up with his kicking again. I turned around again; but this time, I rose out of my seat to look more imposing or serious, I guess. In a voice I knew that would carry back a couple of rows, I told the boy his kicking of my seat was annoying and to please stop. And with a final glare at the now startled parents, I sat back down to experience a more peaceful time for the rest of the flight. A MAJORITY OF THE TIMES I do not blame the child as much as I blame their parents. That boy’s parents on the flight should have addressed their son’s kicking before I had to do it. When I see a child inappropriately acting out, more times than not, I blame the parents for allowing such behavior. Sure, there are some kids who get disciplined but choose to act out nonetheless. However, there have been so many times where I have seen parents letting their children have the run of a place, it boggles my mind. How do they not see the people around are getting upset with their children’s antics? Just last week a mother was letting her two young kids push an empty shopping cart down the aisles, knocking items off the shelves and bumping into other shoppers. If I was the store manager, I would have had them removed. I felt the same way about the children in this dramatic, horror mystery movie. MAKING A CHANGE IN HER CAREER Kate Mandell, played by Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), took a job as a governess to a brother and sister who lost their parents. Kate did not know about the previous governess who ran away. With Finn Wolfhard (It Franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Miles Fairchild, Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Monsters at Large) as Flora Fairchild, Barbara Marten (The Bill-TV, The Mill-TV) as Mrs. Grose and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Red Sparrow) as Darla Mandell; the story for this film was based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” I knew there were previous films done based on this story which only made me more confused on why a movie studio decided to do it again and only produce a half-baked production. I thought each actor made a great visible statement; but there was nothing they could pull out to act upon from the poorly done script. There were no scenes that provided any moment of being scared or concerned. I was bored throughout most of this film, though I enjoyed the visual aspects both indoors and out. Essentially, nothing was working right in this picture. If I were you, I would just read the book and stay away from this imposter.
1 ½ stars
IT STARTED, I BELIEVE, WITH HER friend not pledging money towards her charity walk. The walk was going to be 5 miles and the idea was for each participant to ask people to pledge a certain amount of money for every mile they walked. You may be familiar with this type of charity event; people would pledge anywhere from one penny to upwards of twenty+ dollars for every mile their friend or relative would walk. My friend who was participating did not say anything outright to me; however, ever since that charity event I could tell she had an attitude towards her friend. There would be subtle negative comments made about the person and my friend started spending less time with her. As months passed there were times where we would all wind up together at a party or event; there was now a layer of tension in the air. It was obvious to me my friend was holding a grudge against her friend for not contributing to her charity walk. I tried reasoning with her; suggesting the possibility her friend did not support that particular charity or simply did not have extra funds. My friend was not buying any of it; she felt because she had given her money for a charitable organization when she was asked to, her friend should have reciprocated and done the same. There was no way convincing her otherwise. MY FRIEND WAS AN EXPERT WHEN IT came to holding a grudge. I thought I was good at it, but she was my equal, if not better. When I was younger if I felt someone slighted me in any way, I would immediately have nothing to do with them. I never looked at the possibilities or reasons why that person acted in such a way; I immediately took it personally and cut myself off from them. However, I never let that stop me from not going to an event they were attending. In fact, I used to relish the chance to show the person I was angry at them, by ignoring them at the event or keeping my part of the conversation to one-word answers. Yeah, it was childish of me; I now realize it. But at the time, I was angry at them. As I am getting older the ease of holding a grudge became harder for me to do. Whether it was because it took more effort or I just started losing interest in it, I do not know for sure. All I do know regarding this horror mystery is I might hold a grudge against the movie studio for wasting my time. AFTER VISITING A HOUSE THAT WAS the scene to a gruesome murder; Detective Muldoon, played by Andrea Riseborough (Mandy, The Kindness of Strangers), started having horrific visions. With Demian Bichir (A Better Life, The Nun) as Goodman, Tara Westwood (The Big Take, Detours) as Fiona Landers, Joel Marsh Garland (The Bounty Hunter, Lady in the Water) as Detective Greco and John Cho (Searching, Star Trek franchise) as Peter Spencer; the script for this picture was dreadful. What made this viewing experience even more upsetting was the fact I appreciated the cinematography and the use of music. There was potential for this remake to deliver something fresh; but instead, there was nothing shown that would make anyone gasp or shudder. I was surprised at how bad this movie came across; there was no reaction coming from any of the viewers who were in the theater with me. The leads had the ability to provide us with decent scares, but the script never provided them with the needed ammo. Time would have been better spent if I instead rented the original Japanese version or the American remake.
1 ½ stars
I WANT TO BELIEVE CORPORATIONS ARE NOT intentionally taking advantage of me along with other consumers; but I cannot help feeling they are whenever I make a change to my account with them. For several years, I had an account with a cable company. When I called to cancel my subscription, they asked me why I was cancelling my account. After I explained my reason, they told me they needed to switch me to an account representative to complete the process; I did not think anything of it. The rep came on the line and asked me a couple of questions. After explaining myself again, the rep asked if I would keep the service if the monthly price was lower. This is where I got annoyed because it was not like they were looking at ways to lower my bill; they were simply willing to reduce the monthly charges to keep me as a customer. Hearing this made me feel like they had been gouging me the whole time. Suddenly when they feared they were losing me as a customer, they miraculously can lower the price now? Why couldn’t they start me out at the lowest price when I signed up in the first place? And the thing is, I know they are not the only company that carries out this type of practice; my friends and family members have told me similar stories about their experiences when they went to cancel their accounts. MY EXPERIENCES WITH THAT COMPANY LEFT a bad taste in my mouth. I have never felt comfortable with companies and individuals who I would classify as schemers; someone or something that makes secret plans to benefit themselves, even if it means taking advantage of or deceiving someone else. I had an acquaintance who I classified as a schemer. Whenever a group of us would get together for a meal at a restaurant, he would always order an expensive item off the menu. He knew we would split the bill, so he always came out ahead in how much he owed. Even when he was the only one who ordered an alcoholic drink, he expected the price of it would be part of the split. I do not mind when one goes out with the same group for a meal and splits the bill each time; sometimes you pay more sometimes less than the cost of what you ordered, it evens out over time. However, this person was always coming out cheaper because the rest of the group was picking up more of his tab. It came to a point where we started asking the wait staff for separate checks and suddenly, he started ordering less expensive food. I did not care to be around him anymore; I had the same feeling about the schemer in this film festival winning dramatic, crime mystery. OVEREXTENDED WITH HIS CUSTOMERS’ MONEY jeweler Howard Ratner, played by Adam Sandler (Blended, The Wedding Singer), was trying to complete a major score before the consequences would have a major affect on his business and family. With newcomer Julia Fox as Julia, Idina Menzel (Rent, Glee-TV) as Dinah, LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12) as Demany and Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio, Cadillac Records) as Arno; this film festival winning feature provided Adam with the perfect role. He was excellent as Howard. For the first part of the movie I thought the script was repetitive; it pretty much was Howard yelling and swearing at everyone. It came to a point where I got tired and bored with it. I enjoyed the 2ndhalf more because there was at least a better sense of emotional depth on display among the characters. I have to say I prefer seeing Adam in these serious roles instead of comedic ones like he has done in the past. Despite not being comfortable around schemers, I did not find the watching of this film to be an entertaining experience.
2 ½ stars