ONE THING I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND puzzling is the wide range of guiltiness that resides in each human. I am talking from one extreme to the other; where one person shows no guilt for doing something that is morally wrong, to someone else who feels guilty over something that has nothing to do with them. There was a period, earlier in the year, where it seemed as if every time I watched the news a domestic crime took place. A father and son were arguing and the father stabbed his son with a knife, two cousins were at a family dinner where they got into a fight and one of the cousins shot the other, and a son killed and chopped up his mother because she would not give him money for cigarettes; these were some of incidents the news was reporting. In all cases I could not see the slightest inclination of a sense of guilt from any of the perpetrators. I was dumbfounded; where in the world did these individuals think their behavior was acceptable? When I see or read about such things, it makes me wonder if the ability to feel guilt is a learned thing or part of a human’s genetic makeup; I find it baffling. TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY THE differences, I now will question someone when they apologize for something where they had no part in the cause and reaction. A friend of mine was always saying he was sorry whenever I was talking about something that happened to me. We could be walking side by side and I suddenly dropped something I was carrying in my hands. He would apologize to me. I asked him why he was saying he was sorry; did he slap the item out of my hands? Each time he apologized for something unrelated to himself, I would question him on it. It took some time before he broke the habit and as a result, I found out why he was doing it. He told me when he was younger, he felt there was nothing he could do that would win his father’s approval; it caused him to constantly feel bad about himself. We talked about this for some time as I tried to help him see the goodness inside of himself. Unless he did something that caused a person distress, he had nothing to feel sorry or guilty about. I explained it was one thing to feel empathy for a person, it was another to say you are sorry. If you are curious about the levels of guilt then you might be interested in watching this film festival winning, dramatic crime movie. EARNING A LIVING WAS GETTING HARDER for Wilfred James, played by Thomas Jane (The Thin Red Line, The Mist). There was a way he could solve his problems; however, his wife was standing in the way. With Molly Parker (The Wicker Man, Deadwood-TV) as Arlette James, Dylan Schmid (Horns, Once Upon a Time-TV) as Henry James, Kaitlyn Bernard (The Professor, The Healer) as Shannon Cotterie and Neal McDonough (Timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Harlan Cotterie; this horror film based on a Stephen King story provided a steady pace of gloom and doom. I thought Thomas did an excellent job of acting as his story unfolded. There was more suspense than horror in my opinion, though there were a couple of icky scenes. What I enjoyed about this picture was the avoidance of the usual scare tactics; the script and direction really focused on the main character’s decline. Also, the sets and location shots helped in creating a sense of isolation for the viewer. Guilt is certainly something that can have an affect on the human mind and body; this movie proves it.
2 ¼ stars
I HAVE BEEN RACKING my brain out trying to figure out how I feel connected to this film. With the past year accomplishing something in the box office rankings that had not been done for 59 years (the top 3 grossing movies in 2017 were headed by females), I was looking forward to this female lead story. Now if you think about it, what does this statistic say about a society that divides acting between men and women? You know I treat the Oscar telecast as a high holiday, but I have been curious about this division. What would happen if they only had one category for best acting in a lead role? I do not see where acting skills should be judged by the person’s gender. If one is a great actor then they are and it has nothing to do with whether they are a woman or a man. Yet I understand from the dawn of time men and women have been separated and treated differently. And I have to tell you I find it amusing when one sex ventures into what is perceived as the other sex’s domain, such as car racing, knitting or hockey. ANOTHER ASPECT THAT NEEDS to be addressed in this conversation about the division between women and men is the personal perceptions people place on others. Maybe this happens less so now but I can remember hearing parents telling their child not to act a certain way. I am not referring to misbehavior, but to things that are steeped in so called gender characteristics. Examples like “don’t be such a sissy,” “act like a lady” and “you cry like a girl” come to mind. Who decided that certain traits were to be exclusive to one gender is what I would like to know. When it comes to my music I am attracted to big vocals, most of the time female voices. Not because they are women but because that combination of range and power mixed in the right combination is pleasing to my ears. With acting I simply want a dynamic performance that helps sweep me away into the film’s story. From the lead actress’ recent work I expected a strong character to shine in this action thriller. AFTER COMPLETING HER ASSIGNMENT by killing her target Mary, played by Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, Person of Interest-TV), discovered something in the man’s apartment that would change her life. With Billy Brown (Star Trek, Race to Witch Mountain) as Tom, Danny Glover (The Color Purple, 2012) as Benny, Jahi Di’Allo Winston (The Upside, Feed the Beast-TV) as Danny and Neal McDonough (Timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Walter; the idea for this story seemed interesting to me. Sadly this movie was put together in all the wrong ways, so my interest level dropped significantly close to the start. I thought the script was generic, put together like a child’s puzzle. There really was nothing new about it; in fact, I think there was a movie similar to this one years ago. For this picture the only thing that held my interest was the soundtrack. I mean how can you not like Tina Turner singing Proud Mary? The action was dull, the acting was plain, the script was tired and there was nothing new in it to illicit an emotional response from the viewer. All I want to say is this; with this female lead picture, I hope it is not an indication of what is in store for female actresses in this year’s crop of films.
1 ½ stars
Right in the middle of a conversation the two were having, a little head popped up behind the shoulder of one of them. With big eyes staring out from the cherubic baby’s blank face, the conversation was placed on hold. One or both of them will more than likely do one of the following things: talk in a high voice, cross their eyes, wave their hand or make some type of funny face. Any one of those acts were performed with the hope of getting a smile or laugh out of the baby. I see this happening all the time; sitting in a restaurant booth and a baby or young child in the next booth turns around and stares at you. Make a silly face and the child usually gurgles with laughter or reacts with a wide open mouthed grin on their face. Being silly can be a therapeutic experience. Haven’t we all at one time or another acted silly? I tend to act or say something silly to break the ice when I find myself in a room filled with strangers. However, there is a big risk involved if one chooses this method; if no one laughs then you look like a fool. Another time where I will use silliness or humor as an option is when I find myself in a heavy emotional situation; it is like my default button, but in this case it may be genetic since I am not the only one who does this within my family. My philosophy is I would rather laugh than cry if I am given a choice. Laughter just makes things easier in my opinion. Silliness was served in this security guard sequel. Taking a break from his duties as a mall cop Paul Blart, played by Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Hitch), and his daughter Maya, played by Raini Rodriguez (Girl in Progress, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), traveled to Las Vegas for a well deserved vacation. Though Paul was away from his security job, his security instincts were telling him something wrong was going on in the hotel. This action comedy sequel was one long series of silly gags that did not initiate one laugh out of me. Kevin was milking every line throughout this movie. With other cast members like Neal McDonough (Flags of our Fathers, Star Trek: First Contact) as Vincent and Daniella Alonso (The Collector, The Hills Have Eyes II) as Divina, there was not much in the script that allowed the cast to make something out of their characters. I was bored through most of this film. Everyone has their own idea of what is silly; if you found the trailer funny than you might like this picture. For me the trailer showed me everything I needed to know.
1 1/3 stars