ANGER IS SOMETHING that you are told you should not get or show. As far as I can tell most people give anger a negative connotation. From years ago I can still remember people telling me either not to get angry or saying it is not nice to be angry. I vaguely remember someone telling me “instead of getting angry, get even.” Back then I did not have enough self awareness to deal with anger or express it properly. What I did learn about anger, it was a valid emotion like any of the others. I would never encourage anyone to hold in their anger because when it is held inside it can build up and come out with more force than the occasion calls for. Also bottled up anger can physically and mentally do nasty things to one’s body. IF HANDLED PROPERLY anger can be used like a high octane fuel to motivate an individual to overcome a challenge. Personally if I had not funneled my anger and put it to constructive use I believe I would have self destructed. Anger helped me lose weight and it also got me to remove toxic people from my life. Trust me it was not an easy process and I do not want to make it sound like it was no big deal; but after being picked on for such a long time, I started to redirect the self-destructive side of anger towards more positive uses. I started taking steps to build myself up, internally and externally. When I think about it I do not know if I would have returned to putting pen to paper if I did not get in touch with my deep seated anger. An interesting thing to note, in situations where I thought someone intentionally wanted to hurt me I would lash out at them. Dealing with anger allowed me to get clarity about a situation and instead of getting angry I could express how my feelings were hurt. I have to say the main character in this dramatic, film festival winning movie does an amazing job of expressing her feelings. TIRED OF BEING made fun of and living with her alcoholic mother Patricia Dombrowski aka Killa P aka Patti Cake$, played by Danielle Macdonald (The East, Every Secret Thing), wanted to get out of New Jersey. With all the feelings she had been putting down to paper, she wanted to use them and become the next rap superstar. With Bridget Everett (Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer-TV) as Barb, Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull, Analyze That) as Nana and McCaul Lombardi (American Honey, Age of the Moon) as Danny; the cast was excellent in their roles. It was especially terrific seeing Cathy in her role. The first thing I have to tell you is I am not a fan of rap music; however, the music for this film was so intoxicating I would consider buying the soundtrack. Danielle was unbelievable both with her acting and rapping. The theme to this story was a familiar one that has been done before; however, there was a pure rawness to this one. I will say there were a few scenes that came across as odd but I discovered afterwards the director had done the videos for a couple of music artists, which then explained the fantasy feel in some scenes. There were no major surprises in the script; I had a feeling on how things would play out. As you might imagine I could relate to Patricia and admired her strength.
“YOU should write a book about it,” is a comment that has been directed to me numerous times. The reason has less to do with my writing ability and more with the incredible to outrageous stories I have been involved in or told. I will avoid using pronouns to protect the individuals. There was one person I was involved with whose family history played out like an evening soap opera, television show. One family member was going to be elected to a high political position until their views deviated from the people in power. The person I knew was sent out of the country to avoid any fallout, but to also get a better education. Spending many years traveling the world instead of coming back home, they told me about some of their experiences in foreign lands that I have not even seen done in a movie. One of these stories involved a stalker and a secret intelligence agency; that is all I can say about this individual. RECENTLY I was involved with someone who had a story to tell me every time we got together. One of the stories was accompanied with photographs; however, they could only show me a select few because they were brought in to oversee a secret government operation. The first photo they showed me was of them standing in front of a posted sign out in the jungle. I immediately knew why they had to be secretive about their whereabouts. Another photo showed how they were transported to this secret location; essentially it was a cargo bay with portable toilets and folding chairs nailed to the floor. It was so not part of my little corner of the world that I did not even know how to respond to any of it. I could go on with so many other encounters I have had that I could actually fill up a whole book. However if I do that then I cannot tell you whether it was worth seeing this biographical drama about a man who was the real boxer behind the famous film character Rocky Balboa. KNOWN as the “Bleeder of Bayonne” boxer Chuck Wepner, played by Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, Ray Donovan-TV), was a hometown hero even before there was a movie called Rocky. With Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, Mad Men-TV) as Phyliss, Naomi Watts (St. Vincent, Diana) as Linda, Jim Gaffigan (17 Again, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) as John and Ron Perlman (Poker Night, Hellboy franchise) as Al Braverman; I had never heard about this boxer. Everyone in the cast did a wonderful job of acting. Liev however stood out for me because he was so good in his role, but be prepared there was a lot of blood shown. Not being a big fan of boxing, I was glad that the actual act was secondary to the story. As for the story it was engaging with surprise. The sets, costumes and dialog captured the era; it was interesting to watch the arc of Chuck’s story line. If I had to choose one particular thing that increased my interest in this film it would have to be the connection to Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky movie. I think it helped that this was included into the script because it produced deeper emotional intensity to the story. There are so many people in the world that need to have their story told; I was satisfied that this one came to the big screen.
IT always comes as a surprise to me when people make the assumption that an individual’s job is the ultimate definition of that person. Just this past week a co-worker and I were talking about a couple of restaurants we both enjoy. When I mentioned something about putting ketchup on my entrée they reacted with surprise. I asked them why they were shocked and they said they did not take me for a “ketchup guy. “ It was such an odd statement to me since I did not have a clue what constitutes being a “ketchup guy.” Here I come to find out because this employee knows I teach fitness, they assumed I kept a strict diet of eating only healthy foods. Well anyone who knows me knows all food types are open game for me on the weekends; it is only during the weekdays that I keep to a restricted diet. FROM this conversation I started to think about how I have experienced this type of thinking numerous times; not only towards me but in daily conversations I have been a part of. In a way you could say it is a form of stereotyping or typecasting. An example would be a librarian; from what I have witnessed a majority of people think of librarians as quiet, reserved individuals who keep to themselves. Or accountants, the perception people have about them is they are socially awkward and quiet. I find this simply odd; it is as if a person is not allowed to have other interests that may be opposite to the perceptions people hold about a profession. It is like me saying a truck driver cannot play the violin in a local orchestra; it makes no sense. If you care to see what I am talking about then feel free to watch this dramatic, comedic film festival winner. EVERYDAY Paterson, played by Adam Driver (Silence, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), goes to work as a bus driver then stops off to see Doc, played by Barry Shabaka (The Terminal, Miami Vice), for one drink after work before going home to his wife Laura, played by Golshifteh Farahani (Body of Lies, Exodus: Gods and Kings). The routine stays the same except when he sits down to write poetry in his notebook. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive, Broken Flowers), this movie was done in a quiet slow pace. Maybe because I saw it on a Sunday after a hectic weekend but there were times where I was bored with the story. I thought Adam was flat in his acting, though I realized that was part of his character; however, I found the action so subtle that I could not get fully drawn into this picture. My favorite characters were Laura and Marvin the dog; they seemed to have the most life and maybe that was exactly the point. I know this film has received high praise but I have to tell you from an entertainment standpoint I was not entertained. For me, this movie would have been better seen on DVD in the comfort of my own home. That way, audience members would not have had to see this group fitness/yoga instructor fighting to keep his eyes from not shutting down into a nap.
Every decision opens up a new path of travel; though it may not always be the best choice, every new road laid is fraught with actions and reactions. If you choose a sugary cereal over a low sugar one for breakfast you may experience a letdown from your “sugar high” during the morning hours. You discover while driving to work the shortcut you took delayed you further because of the freight train that stopped you at the railroad tracks you now had to cross. Each of these decisions affected you solely, or did they? What if an important phone call was missed because of your delay and the new customer calling with their large order decided not to leave a message and called your competitor, who was willing to match prices? I have said this before but every action causes a reaction; it is just that simple. The ones I have a hard time with are those that cannot be easily explained or do not come with a reason. It is like a friend of mine who was dating someone new for 4 or 5 dates, thinking everything was going well. All of sudden their date stopped communicating. No reply texts, no returned phone calls; there was no reason given for the total silence. This has happened to me and I have to tell you it can throw one for a loop depending on how much was invested into growing the relationship. I always have to wonder, when things happen between two people, if the one individual knows what kind of affect their actions cause to the other person. Even when reasons are laid out, we do not always know what reactions may take place later on. ESTHER Messner, played by Linda Emond (Julie & Julia, Stop-Loss), was so proud of her only son Marcus, played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Percy Jackson franchise). He was going on a scholarship to college to become a lawyer. Everything would go as planned as long as Marcus stayed focused and studied hard. Set in the 1950s this drama had a competent cast to handle the story based on Philip Roth’s (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) novel. With Tracy Letts (The Big Short, Homeland-TV) as Dean Caudwell, Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, A Dangerous Method) as Olivia Hutton and Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, 6 Years) as Bertram Flusser; I thought all were quite good. I only wished there were more scenes with Linda’s character as the mother. The sets and costumes were perfect for the era; this film had a distinct look to it. I especially enjoyed the acting out of Logan and Linda but I found the script becoming top heavy as the story played out. The scenes between Logan and Tracy intrigued me at first but then it felt more like a therapy session than a student and administrator. I was surprised by the turn of events in the story but I almost wished they had taken place earlier. Besides these few quibbles I enjoyed watching the actions and reactions taking place in this movie.
When your mother has three strong minded sisters, you have no choice but accept the fact that you have one mother and three motherly aunts. There was no way any of us kids could get away with something. The oldest aunt was the tallest, bearing a strong resemblance to Bea Arthur’s Maude character. She never had to raise her hand in a threatening way; she only had to change the tone of her voice. When you heard that cold, deliberate slow voice you knew to stop whatever you were doing and back away from her. The youngest aunt was an officer in the WAC’s with a vise like grip and a quick punch. Then there was the middle aunt who was the best cook and had the loudest yell. Sitting for this mother and son road trip movie was like eating chicken noodle soup without the noodles. Barbra Streisand (The Prince of Tides, Yentl) was New Jersey native Joyce Brewster. When her inventor son Andy, played by Seth Rogen (Superbad, Pineapple Express), stopped for a quick visit; she took him up on his offer to accompany him on a cross country road trip. In Barbra’s favor, it appeared the director just let her be herself. Not that I would ever imagine she would sit down to devour a 50 ounce steak, but I could see her sitting at a kitchen table kibitzing with friends. There did not seem to be much chemistry between her and Seth. I felt some scenes were flat and unrealistic; nothing made me laugh out loud, only a couple of smiles to the face. I know this was billed as a comedy, but it would have helped if there was some added drama. The long spans of jokes became tiresome to me and as I mentioned, they were not that funny. After growing up in a matriarchal family like mine, this film was just a lightweight.