HE WAS AN UNASSUMING GENTLEMAN. Usually dressed in dress slacks, open collared cotton shirt and gym shoes; he usually went unnoticed by the customers. To them they assumed he was someone’s dad or grandfather who was spending the day at the office. Little did they know he owned the whole company and that is why I admired him. There are some people who wear their job/career while others do the work. I know someone who owns a hair salon; they must always have their hair done just right, besides keeping up with a youthful appearance. In other words, plastic surgery is one of their options. I may not agree surgery is necessary but I understand where they are coming from. As far as they are concerned they are the face of their salon. Years ago, I worked for the owner of a company who thought he had to have the best of everything to show how successful his company was doing. I was not buying his logic; he was pompous and greedy. He had a new expensive car every year, ate at the finest restaurants in the city and had his shirts all custom made. As far as I could tell none of it represented his wholesale company. MY EXPERIENCES HAVE SHOWN OWNERS who are not focused on appearances tend to be the hardest working people at the company. They are driven and want their company along with all its employees to be successful. The individuals who put themselves first before their company do not have the passion and more importantly the compassion needed to succeed. I get a kick out of meeting a person who looks nothing like I imagine that person would look like in a job position. There was a woman I was introduced to who was the person who calculated the fuel quantity for passenger jets. She had to decide how much fuel each jet needed based on distances, taking into consideration weather conditions. As she was telling me this I was surprised simply because it entailed such calculations and her persona was one of a free spirited, feet not on the ground individual. To me I could have seen her being an artist or potter, not essentially a mathematician. I was basing this just on her actions around me, by the way. There was a game I used to play years ago at restaurants and such, where we would make up stories about the people we would see; you know, like guessing their job or hobbies. If one of those strangers was Ruth Bader Ginsburg; taken out of context, I would never have guessed she was a supreme court justice let alone a lawyer. THIS FILM FESTIVAL WINNING DOCUMENTARY directed by Julie Cohen (American Veteran, The Sturgeon Queens) and Betsy West (Constantine’s Sword, The Lavender Scare) was a joy to watch. I am not talking from a political standpoint, but simply because I learned things I did not know that were historic. The things Ruth did as a lawyer were extraordinary. I honestly feel every woman at least needs to be aware of Ruth’s accomplishments. As a fitness instructor I was so impressed with her workout regime; we are talking about a woman in her 80s who is doing yoga planks and lifting weights. I am aware this film is somewhat like a love letter to Ruth, but putting that aside, I found the different stories interesting. For being such a soft spoken, diminutive individual; she certainly has an inner strength and strong belief system that people ½ her age have not reached. There are more things I could say about the various scenes in this movie, but I would rather you experience the surprise I did learning about such a vibrant human being.
3 ½ stars
It can be such a dilemma; the choice is whether to be supportive or honest. Now I grant you these two options can be compatible; but I have found myself in situations where I had to stop and think before I reacted to the circumstances present. So here is the question I have for you; how do you tell someone you care about that their dream will never happen? For what I hope is obvious reasons I have changed a few things here; let us say you have a close friend who wants to be a chef. They enjoy having dinner parties so they can try out new dishes on their friends. The food is fine but nothing you would pay for at a restaurant. Politeness dictates you tell your friend the food tastes good. Should you mention you would not necessarily pay for it but for homemade it was okay? Remember this friend’s dream is to be a chef either at an established venue or opening up their own place. Personally it is a tough call for me and I am the blunt one in my circle of friends. I would never quash a person’s dream; dreams are what make human beings grow and learn. On the other hand watching your friend spend money and time on something that probably will not yield them the desired results would be sad. Do you see my predicament? A similar situation was taking place in this biographical comedic drama. NEW YORK heiress Florence Foster Jenkins, played by Meryl Streep (Ricki and the Flash, Hope Springs), dreamed of becoming an opera singer. She had the means, the desire and the drive to fulfill this dream. The question was did she have the talent? Based on a true story this film’s cast formed a wonderful bond that came across the big screen. With Hugh Grant (About a Boy, Did You Hear About the Morgans?) as St. Clair Bayfield, Simon Helberg (Van Wilder: Party Liaison, The Big Bang Theory-TV) as Cosme McMoon and Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules, A One-Way Trip to Antibes) as Kathleen; the actors did their best with what was given to them. The story was better than the script. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on; but the script produced what I thought was a light version to what the story could have been. The acting was very good but I found the characters somewhat bland, though Simon’s character was curious. Without giving a spoiler alert let me just say I read somewhere that it was Meryl’s idea to not let the actors and extras hear her in some scenes until the first take. I have to say it worked because I thought the scenes looked authentic. So you see there were positives to this film; I just felt it lagged emotionally, not making a true connection with the viewer. Maybe there were people behind this project who dreamed of bringing this true story to the big screen. Who am I to tell them they should not have done it this way? Instead let me say my fascination with this story lingered on after the movie was over. The bottom line is everyone has the right to dream.
2 2/3 stars
Look at the thousands of objects around us that sprung out of someone’s imaginative dream. I have been accused of being a big dreamer, except my dreams do not always have a basis in reality. Like that time I walked up into my attic and discovered a raccoon had eaten a large hole through the roof of my house. I stood staring at it and began imagining I could put glass blocks in the hole to create a skylight. Or a spiral staircase that would lead to a roof top deck. My daydreaming prevented me from seeing the raindrops that started to come through the opening. In this movie Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald aka Fitzcarraldo, played by Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu the Vampyre, The Little Drummer Girl), had a big dream. He wanted to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon jungle. To do that, he had to amass a fortune and move a river boat over a small mountain. Fitzcarraldo was a bigger than life character, with an oversized determination. To start making his dream a reality; his girlfriend Molly, played by Claudia Cardinale (8 1/2, The Leopard), provided the funds to move Fitzcarraldo’s vision towards the real world. Besides the strange story, the other reason I wanted to see this movie was to see the great work of famed director Werner Herzog (Into the Abyss, Rescue Dawn), who was also the writer. His directing was fascinating to watch, from the over the top performance by Klaus Kinski to the way the scenes were set up and filmed; I found the movie captivating. The pacing was drawn out which at first bothered me; but as the story moved into the jungle, I found it brought an extra heaviness to the monumental tasks that laid before the crew and ship. If for nothing else, I appreciated the message that one should never give up on their dreams. For Fitzcarraldo, he wanted to bring Caruso to the jungle; for me, I wanted to have a skylight. German and Spanish with English subtitles.
3 stars — DVD