DESPITE BEING TOLD NO TWO WERE alike, I wanted to see for myself. During the next snowfall, I tried to catch and see if each snowflake was truly different. My experiment was not really thought out completely; but in my defense, I was a little kid who wanted to see if the teacher was right. The snowflakes that landed on my gloved hand all looked similar to me; I just wished I had a magnifying glass to see up close the flakes. In our schoolbook, the pictures of the flakes were finely detailed and each one was unique. I remembered at the end of our lesson that day, the teacher had us take out a sheet of paper, fold it up and use a scissors to cut out different shapes along the edges. Once we were done, she told us to unfold the paper to see the snowflake we created. It was a fun trick that we enjoyed, as each of us compared our paper snowflake to the ones being held up around us. Though several flakes looked similar, none of us could find two snowflakes that looked identical; the teacher was correct. I liked the idea of each flake being different; my adult mind would say being unique. I FOUND MYSELF RELATING TO THE snowflake because I felt I was different from my classmates. Overall, most looked and dressed in typical school wear, some even shared similar likes and dislikes; but there was no mistaking I was the only one like me. I say this because I felt my differences were something that no other student in my classroom had ever displayed in the slightest way; I felt completely alone in this regard. Growing up in a time where everyone looked like they were trying to match each other, both in fashion and thought, I found myself out of synch with the majority. As I grew older that chasm between me and other students grew wider. Some classmates started to ignore me while others started acting out with hostility towards me. I did not understand; I was just being me. There was nothing different I was doing in my daily routines at school; but for some reason, several students picked on me. If I had my grown adult mind at that time, I would have realized they were acting out with their own insecurities, wanting to be part of the herd and not stand out. That was not me; I started to embrace my differences once I was old enough to understand them. The idea of people reacting and being different in this dramatic, crime action story is what attracted me to watch this film. A NEW DRUG WAS BEING PUSHED out by the drug dealers in New Orleans. Its claim was it could give you a superpower for 5 minutes; what you did with it was up to you. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Art, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, Don Jon) as Frank, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Night Comes On) as Robin, Rodrigo Santoro (The 33, Ben-Hur) as Biggie and Courtney B. Vance (Office Christmas Party, The Hunt for Red October) as Captain Craine; this science fiction film’s story had a great premise to build on. Casting Jamie, Joseph and Dominique increased the chances for this pseudo superhero movie to succeed; however, the script did not provide enough power to catapult this picture into the top tier of this type of genre. The story had a level of predictability as it incorporated several themes that have been done better before. I still enjoyed watching this movie, mainly because of the acting and comic book flavor of the scenes. There were some scenes that were too dark visually for me. I wished the writers had dug deeper into the dark side of the characters, along with expanding on the uniqueness each of us possess inside.
SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS DO NOT UNDERSTAND why I don’t hang up the phone on unsolicited sales calls. I, in turn, ask them why they must be so mean to the people who are making these calls. These people are just trying to make a living, I tell them. When I get one of these calls, I do not let the person go through their whole prepared sales pitch; I tell them thank you, but I am not interested, ending by saying, “Have a good day/night.” If the person persists, I then tell them I am out of work so cannot afford to do anything extra. This white lie always stops the person from going on with their monolog. The reason I do this is because I do not know any of these people and their stories. They may hate what they do but are doing the work for a good reason, like paying for school or medical bills. Because I know I would hate making all those calls, I feel why should I be mean to them when I can just say no thank you and good luck. It is no hard sweat off of me. Besides, I feel people make choices; they could have easily chosen an illegal activity to make money instead of a steady job. So, I commend them for what they are doing to survive in this world. I WOULD RATHER DEAL WITH THOSE sales call people than with an unhappy employee. There is nothing that annoys me more when shopping than dealing with an employee who obviously is miserable and hating their job. I walk into a big box retail store and cannot find an item. Stopping an employee by saying “excuse me” and they do not acknowledge me right away, continuing to stock a shelf or look at their electronic device, drives me crazy. Or how about walking up to the customer service counter and seeing an employee with their elbow on the counter, resting their head in their hand; doesn’t that look inviting to you? I tangled with a checker at the grocery store once who argued with me regarding an item that wasn’t ringing up for the advertised sale price. Add in that I had a coupon and they tried to tell me I could not use it and I almost went ballistic. One of my big pet peeves is employees who are not properly trained and do not know the company’s procedures. With a sour look on their face that expresses their hatred for their job, why do I need to be the recipient of their angriness? If they do not like what they are doing, then they should try finding a different job. The main character in this film festival nominated movie decided he did not want to do what he was doing anymore; if you wish, see what he did in this action, crime drama. AGREEING TO DO ONE LAST JOB for his boss; Roy, played by Ben Foster (The Messenger, Leave No Trace), was lucky he did not follow his boss’ instructions and decided to bring a gun with him anyway. With Elle Fanning (The Beguiled, Maleficent franchise) as Rocky, Jeffrey Grover (Dark Waters, Take Shelter) as Dr. Finelli, Christopher Amitrano (The Land, Sharkskin) as Jay and C.K. McFarland (Blind Fury, Beatdown) as Nancy; the story in this movie was a slow burn. Ben and Elle were excellent with their acting; I found them believable and intense in their own way. The script dragged in parts through the first half of the story. Luckily the acting and directing kept me following the characters. By the 2ndhalf of the film things seemed to go faster, especially coming up to the ending. I would have liked more back story to Ben and a little more variance in the drama level that stayed close to center a good portion of the time. Still, the performances and look of the film kept me engaged. And after watching this movie, I cannot say I had a horrible boss.
2 ½ stars
THE restaurant was full of people which kept the noise volume up at a consistent level. It was the usual sounds: clatter of dishes, scraping of silverware, conversations and low volume music. We were seated around one of the many round tables that filled up the center of the restaurant. I did not have any trouble hearing our conversations over the steady din of random sounds. It was when we were nibbling on our appetizers that a table nearby opened up and quickly after new diners were escorted to it by the hostess. There were 4 of them and they were in good spirits as they were laughing and high fiving each other on the way to their table. Once seated the group did not let up on the laughing and carrying on, calling each other either by their nicknames or something of a derogatory nature. BY the time our main courses came to the table the noise from that group of four rose and stayed above the general sound level; however, they were freely using foul language within their comments and jokes. Now I do not have a problem with such language, but I tend to be considerate of my environment. In mixed company, I am referring to adults and children; I would never use such language. My friends are used to my colorful vocabulary since those types of coarse words are adjectives to me. If I were to use such strong language at a restaurant I certainly would not say it loud enough to go beyond my table, unlike the group near me. They were throwing the F-bomb around like confetti and I could see some of the other diners were shooting them dirty looks. If anyone from that loud table noticed, they certainly did not care since they kept up the foul language and boisterous laughter. I tried to block out the noise they were creating but it did not work, just as it did not work for me in this comedy. LIFE sometimes can get in the way of maintaining friendships; it had been a long time since girlfriends Ryan Pierce, Sasha Franklin, Lisa Cooper and Dina; played by Regina Hall (Law Abiding Citizen, Think Like a Man), Queen Latifah (Chicago, Bringing Down the House), Jada Pinkett Smith (Bad Moms, Gotham-TV) and Tiffany Haddish (Keanu, The Carmichael Show-TV); hung out together. The best way to solve it would be a girls’ trip to New Orleans. These four actresses worked extremely well together to form a believable group of lifelong friends. Even during times when I thought the conversation was rapidly boxing back and forth, the actresses were skillfully able to handle it. With that being said the script was loaded with strong and sexual language; I mean loaded like top heavy to the point if one were to remove all such dialog the movie would be half as long. If one gets offended by such language then this would not be the movie to see. The script had predictability; however, compared to recent female lead comedies, this one had a few good laughs in it. Personally I do not find swearing a comedic talent; to me it is a lazy way of creating a funny situation. Plus the idea of women talking trash I feel is used to shock viewers because there was a time people were raised to believe women who spoke like that were “bad.” Based on the crowd I was sitting with, the majority of women in the theater liked this film more than I did.
2 ¼ stars
One of my mantras in life is no one has the right to tell someone how they should feel. Everyone has the right to feel the way they wish without judgment. I feel all emotions are valid; there are no good or bad ones. There was a portion of my life where this was not the case and it had to do with the emotion of sadness. There were many reasons for this but there was a time where I would never cry. Hearing taunts such as “crying is for sissies” or “you’re such a crybaby” affected me and taught me I better hide my emotions if I did not want to become a target. Seeing a baby bird fall out of its nest and die is sad to me. I have always found it curious why people would comment by telling you not to cry. At one point in time (I hope no one still believes this) it was assumed girls were more emotional, so that is why they cry. Boys were perceived to be tougher if they did not cry. Can I ask you; where did this idea come from? Why was it important that boys be tougher than girls? I could get into a lengthy debate about stereotyping but I prefer not going down that path at this time. I feel it is healthy to express one’s emotions. In fact, when I see someone laughing, crying or feeling depressed I feel a kinship with them. I felt this on such a strong level while sitting in the movie theater watching this incredible documentary. FORMER New Orleans Saints football player Steve Gleason found out he and his wife Michel were going to be parents a week after he was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s disease. He wanted his child to know what type of man was its father. Written and directed by Clay Tweel (Print the Legend, Finders Keepers), this film festival winner was extremely hard to watch; but it was so worth it. Not being a team sports fan, I have to tell you the way the director interspersed sports footage with current reality was the ideal way to blend the two aspects of Steve and I was quickly sold early into it. On one side there was the hero Steve who sparked a city into healing civic pride after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and the other side was Steve watching his body shutting down. It was such a stark contrast, but what the movie audience saw was this thoughtful, insightful, inspirational human being. As I mentioned earlier this was a tough picture to sit through; not only was I crying, there was out loud sobbing from audience members. Everyone was experiencing the same emotions at the same time. By the way sadness was only one of many emotions; I do not want to paint a picture of us sitting and crying the whole time as if we were at a funeral of a loved one. Though this film may be challenging to watch it is worth seeing, just bring a handkerchief with you.
I was saddened with the recent reported news about the father who was driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. With his young child not buckled in the back seat, the man crashed into a road barrier. He drove away not aware his child was thrown out the back window. It was not until he was pulled over by the police that he realized his toddler was missing. From this news and my recent memories recalled for a recent review about parenting, I was happy to see a movie that had a positive parental role model. Let me first tell you there was some sorrow regarding this film due to the recent death of actor Paul Walker (Fast & Furious franchise, The Lazarus Project) who stars in it. In this dramatic thriller Paul played Nolan Hayes, who became a new father when his baby was born prematurely just as Hurricane Katrina was set to hit New Orleans. As disaster took hold of the city, Paul would not leave his child alone in the hospital since she was placed in a neonatal incubator. Writer Eric Heisserer (The Thing, Final Destination 5) wrote the screenplay and made his directional debut with this film. I know there has been a variety of stories based on the tragedies caused by Hurricane Katrina, but I found this interesting story compelling due to its personal aspect. Paul was convincing in the role, having to handle most of his scenes by himself. Genesis Rodriguez (Identity Thief, Man on a Ledge) played his wife Abigail. The problem with this movie was the directing and the script. Though I liked the idea of the story, I felt it went for cheap thrills. There were scenes that were easy to predict along with some being just odd. For example, in the scenes where time was a factor, they did not always seem to be accurate in their duration. Also, I do not have medical training but one of the baby monitor’s readings did not seem right to me. Due to this I had to wonder if the movie studio rushed out the film; the thought of it makes me uncomfortable. Despite these faults, I still was interested enough to keep watching. If in fact this is the last completed movie made by Paul Walker, it was not the worst film I have seen. I just wish it would have been stronger as it did depict a positive role of a parent who would do anything for their child.
When a loved one that was part of your life is no longer there, the unconscious breath becomes a daily chore. The echo of your heartbeat has stopped reverberating in the soft walls of your mind. Each following day, the weight of your body remains rooted in your legs, forcing them to struggle whenever you are in an upright position. Your pristine eyes that were clear and bright, only record blurred moist images now. I have been there and I am sure many of you have been too. That is why I could understand the couple’s pain regarding their loss in this dramatic movie. Married couple Lois and Douglas “Doug” Riley, played by Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Frozen River) and James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly, The Sopranos-TV), were only going through the motions each and every day after the death of their daughter. The two were not really living anymore. On a business trip to New Orleans, Doug decided he was going to stay after meeting young stripper Allison alias Mallory, played by Kristen Stewart (Twilight franchise, The Runaways). By discovering what he was missing, could Doug begin to live again? Creating such broken characters and then letting James and Melissa delve into them, made for a powerful performance. I could feel how their pain was keeping them stagnant. Though I am not a fan of Kristen’s acting, I will say her style of performing lent itself to making her character believable for me. At times I had to wonder if some of the trio’s acting was being ad libbed because it came across as natural conversation. This Sundance Film Festival nominee was a surprise find for me. I did not have to understand how Doug and Lois dealt with their loss; I just wanted to be there for them. Strong language.
3 stars — DVD