EVERYONE MOURNS A LOSS IN THEIR own way, is something I learned after I became an adult. I was twelve years old when I experienced for the first time the loss of a person. When I heard the news about their death, I went over to the piano and started playing songs I thought the deceased person would like, while tears streamed down my face. It is a part of life, but the older I got the more exposed I became to experiencing the sense of loss; the loss of a loved one, a pet, a love relationship. Seeing other people’s reactions to a breakup or death, made me realize how personal these situations were for the individuals. I could not take their pain away; however, I could offer comfort in anyway that they saw fit. I just could not tell the mourning person how to feel, because I strongly believe no human has the right to tell another how to feel. There was a funeral I attended where the son was telling his mother how she should feel over the death of her brother. I was within earshot and was taken aback by the son’s “counseling.” It quickly became apparent to me the son strongly disliked his mother’s brother, his uncle. And the fact he was talking out loud like that in front of the mourners was appalling. Granted, I was not privy to the son’s relationship with the uncle; but if it was in such a poor state, the son could have chosen to not attend in my opinion. I HOPE WHAT I AM ABOUT to say is not controversial; but from my experiences, I do not know if I would try to dissuade an individual from wanting to join their deceased person. Just last week, I was told a lovely story about a daughter who had lost their mother. The daughter told me her parents were married when they were both nineteen years old. Except for a hospital stay, they had been together every day of their lives. They loved each other deeply and loved being together. She told me when her father died ten months ago, her mother lost interest in living essentially. She was heartbroken to the point where she lost interest in many things. Having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she talked about her hopes for joining her deceased husband. As the holiday’s were looming at the end of the year, she stopped eating and drinking. The daughter knew she was hardly eating but did not know the extent. After the start of winter, the mother caught a virus and quickly died. Though the daughter was sad, she found comfort believing her mother was finally back with her father. Love is a powerful force and one can see it in this comedic drama. WITHOUT THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE by his side Otto Anderson, played by Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan), became a grumpy old man, who wanted everyone to follow the rules. When a new family moved across the street from him, Otto’s world would be tested in more than one way. With relative newcomer Mack Bayda as Malcolm, Cameron Britton (Stitchers-TV, The Umbrella Academy-TV) as Jimmy, Mariana Trevino (Overboard, Perfect Strangers) as Marisol and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Tommy; it was intriguing to see Tom play a curmudgeon. I thought the story was well executed and told. There was a level of predictability which, in my case, may have been due to the fact I saw the original movie this film was based on. Regardless, there were both fun and sad moments in this picture helped by the wonderful pairing of actors. The character Marisol was terrific and a perfect counterpoint to Tom’s character. This was an enjoyable film that had heartwarming elements in it.
NOT KNOWING WHERE SHE LIVED ONLY added more fear about what she could do to us. My friends and I were afraid of her to the point if we saw her walking on the sidewalk towards us, we would cross the street to the other side to avoid making eye contact with her. She would be spotted around the neighborhood, always pulling a shopping cart behind her that usually had a bag or two in it. I never saw her around my elementary school, but I would see her sometimes walking down my street which always scared me. If I was alone, I would run back inside our home; if a couple of friends were with me, we would hide and watch as she made her way down the street. Her gray hair was usually piled high on top of her head, always covered with some type of hat. Even with keeping my distance away from her, I could see that her eyeballs looked too big for their sockets; they always looked like they were about to fall out, which only added an extra level of creepiness to her. There were a few large moles on her face and neck that were dark, giving the appearance of attached leeches that were sucking the blood out of her skin. Another distinctive feature was her short, bowed legs. She looked like she could easily roll off her legs. THE FIRST TIME I SAW HER, I did not immediately think she was a terror. To a very young me, she looked quite different from other women, but I did not have any opinion about her. It was the older kids of the neighborhood who told me and my friends to stay away from her because she was a mean witch. Being as young as we were, we believed them and started to follow their lead. I remember one winter when I was walking home from school, I saw a couple of older boys hiding behind a parked car. The woman was walking across the street from them and as she passed them the boys stood up, threw snowballs at her then ran down the alley away from her. I did not know what to do; however, I was grateful that I was ahead of her; so, she knew the snowballs did not come from me. Based on what I was told, I was afraid she might kidnap and torture me. The entire time I lived in the neighborhood, every kid knew about her. It was not until my high school reunion where I found out she was a friend’s grandmother. How in the world did such a story about her come to fruition? I had to wonder if it got started the same way as the story did in this horror thriller. THOUGH A POOR AREA OF CHICAGO was recently gentrified, there still was lingering a story about a horrific event and what was created from it. No one in the neighborhood was safe. With Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Matrix Resurrections, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Anthony McCoy, Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk, Dear White People) as Brianna Cartwright, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Kid Who Would be King, Misfits-TV) as Troy Cartwright, Colman Domingo (Selma, Lincoln) as William Burke and Kyle Kaminsky (DriverX) as Grady Greenburg; this sequel presented a fresh, new approach to the franchise. I thought the filming and the style of the film was a great contrast to the story line. Due to the years that have passed, I did not have a good memory of the original film; so, I am not sure if I missed any inside story/event in this movie. There were several scenes of blood, but they were brief and not in too much detail, which I appreciated. I enjoyed the suspense aspect with its steady buildup. Based on the things I saw in this film; I much prefer sticking to my old neighborhood than a re-gentrified one, like the one depicted in this picture.
THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls. THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy. ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.