NONE OF US HAD ANY IDEA we were playing a board game based on a famous person. All we cared about was that mouse. We loved building elaborate traps for the mice pieces, the wilder the better. Something about the game reminded me of a toy that was always on display in the toy section of this department store I used to go to when I was small. It was 5 metal balls hanging down from a boxed frame. When you swung out one of the balls on the end and released it, it would swing down and smack into the next ball. This would cause the ball on the opposite end to swing out even though the middle balls remained still. I was so fascinated with this toy that I would get lost into it and forget to look at any of the other toys in the department. This board game had a similar effect on me; I could play and replay the game over and over, hoping to make the mouse trap more sophisticated. The game was created or influenced by a man named Rube Goldberg. He was an American engineer, inventor and cartoonist. WHAT RUBE GOLDBERG DID WAS create complicated contraptions to do simple tasks. One of his earliest ones was a machine that wipes a napkin across the mouth. With a series of pulleys, levers and switches among a variety of other items he would come up with these bizarre and crazy machines. Essentially, he was turning something easy into something complicated for our amusement. There has been a plethora of things inspired by Rube’s creations. I saw this massive art work at the contemporary art museum that was perpetually moving; watching a golf ball travel around this course, setting off a chain reaction of events that caused bells and whistles to play. It was fanciful and fun. There is something similar that was installed in one of the airplane terminals at Boston’s airport. Now do these things serve a purpose? In a practical sense no, not really; however, they provide us with entertainment. For example, it is simpler to put a kettle on the stove for a cup of tea. But how amusing would it be if you could do one simple act and watch a chain reaction of events take over to accomplish the same task? Is it silly? Yes, and it might even be a light distraction. If you want you can experience something like it by watching this action, crime drama. WITH HIS FAMILY TRAPPED ON the upper floors of a burning skyscraper U.S. veteran Will Sawyer, played by Dwayne Johnson (Rampage, Central Intelligence), would have to find a way in to save them, despite being chased by the police who think he started the fire. With Neve Campbell (Scream franchise, House of Cards-TV) as Sarah Sawyer, Pablo Schreiber (Den of Thieves, 13 Hours) as Ben, Chin Han (Ghost in the Shell, The Dark Knight) as Zhao Long Ji and Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, Shine) as Mr. Pierce; this story played out like that mouse game. Though I usually enjoy Dwayne’s roles, this one seemed repetitive to the point I felt he was being typecast. The entire script seemed as if it were put together piecemeal; while Dwayne had to jump from one challenge to another. Boredom set in for me and for the last ½ of the film I sat in my seat wishing the writers would have given Neve more things to do; she was the bright spot in this disaster film. If the writers had asked me I would have told them to have Neve and Dwayne do more things together because as a team they would be more interesting. This was light entertainment that soon flamed out for me.
Walk down my street and you cannot help but hear a dog barking or a cat meowing. Within my block there are close to a dozen cats and dogs, granted six of them live next door to me. The interesting thing about my next door neighbors is how everyone on the street knows their three cats and 3 dogs. Davidson is still a puppy, but he is a very big puppy that is over 60 pounds so far. If he is in the backyard when I pull into the garage, he settles down onto the ground like a Sphynx from ancient Egypt and waits for me to come out from the garage door. Once I call out his name he bounds up like he was in starter blocks for a race and runs to the fence between our properties. I have to give him a rub down his back as he leans into the fence. Two out of the 3 cats are always outside; they prefer eating al fresco if you know what I mean. I do not know which one but for some horrifying reason Becker or Mercury have the need to leave their leftovers right in the middle of my sidewalk, to make sure I will see what they had for dinner. It drives me crazy. When I come home late at night I not only have to watch where I am stepping; but before I open my front door, I have to look down and make sure Becker is not around because he will quickly try to run inside. I feel like the animals are part of my family since they are always hanging around my house. Everyone on the block knows them and keeps an eye out to make sure the animals do not get in trouble. WHEN the red furred dog arrived he would listen to no one in the small Australian community; but that all changed when John, played by Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, Poseidon), became a resident. This film festival winning comedic drama was based on a true story and what a story it was for me. Avoiding the cliched sentimentality associated with the usual animal driven stories, I thought the script did a great job in telling this remarkable story. With cast members Rachael Taylor (Transformers, The Darkest Hour) as Nancy, Rohan Nichol (Fool’s Gold, South Solitary) as Jocko and John Batchelor (Danny Deckchair, Sea Patrol-TV) as Peeto; I thought this eclectic mix of characters kept things exciting. One would think with the boozing and betting, hard driving guys, this would not be a family film; but it certainly was one. I had no trouble with the flashbacks in the picture; this DVD was a real treat. Afterwards I had to go out and pet my next door 4 legged buddy.
3 stars — DVD
Have you ever wondered if you were able to get one superpower what would you pick? And what would you do with it; use it to make your neighborhood a better place or do something that would bring you some type of personal gain? I was part of a conversation where we were discussing this very thing. When I was very young I wished I had the ability to fly. There was something about flying that always intrigued me. Little did I know how handy this would be in my adult life when commuting to work, especially when stuck in rush hour traffic. As I grew up the flying wish was replaced with the desire to become invisible. My reason for this had little to do with being naturally curious about things and more about protection. The idea that I could have walked through school hallways or out along the streets of the city undetected fascinated me to no end. These days the desire to be invisible has greatly diminished and I fluctuate between a couple of other superpowers. One of them was used in this unique science fiction film. ETHAN Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day) played a barkeep who secretly was a time traveling agent for an organization that tried to prevent crimes before they happened. His last assignment would be his hardest because of who he had to track down and find before a horrific event took place. This film festival winning action thriller did not have the usual trappings of a science fiction movie. The entire look of the film was so cool in a film noir type of way. I thought Sarah Snook (Jessebelle, Not Suitable for Children) was outstanding as the unmarried mother; she played a captivating character. Including Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Mr. Robertson and Christopher Kirby (Daybreakers, The Matrix franchise) as Mr. Miles, I thought all the actors worked well together. The idea of traveling back in time to prevent a crime was nothing new to me; however, the way this story unfolded was so different and absorbing to me. Maybe I am not a deep thinker regarding the figuring out of my movies; but the ending left me completely perplexed. I am sure there must be many ways to interpret this story, but I still do not have a clue on what took place. Does this bother me? Yes, I like my endings to be closer to neat and tidy. However, someone else may be able to explain it to me; I am all ears. Normally I do not go back and watch a movie over again, but I might do it for this one.