DESPITE BEING ROCK HARD AND OVER done, I pretended the chocolate chip cookies were delicious. They are my favorite type of cookie and my relative knew it; so, how could I say the cookies she baked did not taste good? I had known for some time she was not a very good cook or baker and I was not alone in that sentiment. In the grand scheme of things, her poor cooking skills were no big deal to me because I knew she meant well. While growing up those words “meant well” were said often enough that I always associated them with her. She was such a kind and warm individual; when she asked you, “How are you?” she meant it because she really wanted to hear what you had to say. And it was funny to me how she did not make eye contact after she asked that question; instead, she would cock her slightly to the side and gaze down towards the floor. It looked like she was thinking deeply about every word you were saying. One of the things I remember about her was how quiet she was when she moved about. There were times people would become startled by her appearance next to them because they had not heard her walk up. ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND amusing about her was her demeanor. Most people never took the time to talk to her except for surface type conversations. I am not sure if most of you will understand this analogy, but on the outside, she closely resembled the character Aunt Clara from the old television show, Bewitched. Like the character, she came across as this bumbling confused individual, who had a slightly off perception of things compared to the people in her life. However, if one spent a little more time with her, they would discover she was intelligent and highly knowledgeable about many things. For example, what I took to be small, decorative ceramic pieces in her china cabinet turned out to be steeped in history. She spent the time to explain each piece, when she saw me standing in front of the cabinet’s glass doors. I found out some of the pieces were more than 100 years old which explained why she never allowed me to play with them. Those little pieces, by the way, were only one of many items she had in her home. Sometimes one would have to clear off a space to be able to sit down; but again, it did not bother anyone because everyone knew she always meant well. I have similar feelings about this biographical adventure drama; everyone meant well in bringing this story to the big screen. DESPERATE TO FIND FUNDS TO SATISFY the bank loan on his orphanage, the owner enters some of his kids into a fishing contest who had never fished before. One caught fish could change the lives of everyone. With Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Journey, The Intruder) as Wade, Jimmy Gonzales (Happy Death Day franchise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Omar, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Tombstone, Nashville-TV) as Tricia Bisbee, Fernanda Urrejola (Imprisoned, Narcos: Mexico-TV) as Becca and Raymond Cruz (Training Day, Clear and Present Danger) as Hector; this movie based on a true story was simply a feel good movie. As I said earlier, I believe everyone associated with this film meant well. The script was predictable and there were almost no levels of depth to any of the characters. Also, there was a bit of manipulation to tug at the heartstrings of viewers. In spite of these negatives, I enjoyed watching this film. The scenery was pretty; there was nothing offensive or assaulting to the senses within the framework of this picture. I felt everyone tried their best; but It just did not make it over the finish line and yet I am glad I saw this movie.
2 ½ stars
IF THAT KID KICKED THE BACK of my seat one more time, I was going to discipline him myself. Though I was playing out in my head what I would say to him, I knew better than to yell at him. You see, I was on a recent flight where this little boy was sitting behind me. All the seats were full; so, I knew there was no chance of me moving to a different seat. We were in the first hour of our 3 ½ hour flight when the boy started to kick the back of my seat. At first, I thought it was an accident; but it turned out not to be the case. After a half a dozen times I turned back to see if the child was flying with his parents. Sure enough, there they were sitting in their seats; oblivious to the boy’s kicking while they were intently peering at their electronic devices. I thought my making eye contact with the boy would have been enough to make him stop; but it was not the case. Maybe a few minutes had gone by before the boy started up with his kicking again. I turned around again; but this time, I rose out of my seat to look more imposing or serious, I guess. In a voice I knew that would carry back a couple of rows, I told the boy his kicking of my seat was annoying and to please stop. And with a final glare at the now startled parents, I sat back down to experience a more peaceful time for the rest of the flight. A MAJORITY OF THE TIMES I do not blame the child as much as I blame their parents. That boy’s parents on the flight should have addressed their son’s kicking before I had to do it. When I see a child inappropriately acting out, more times than not, I blame the parents for allowing such behavior. Sure, there are some kids who get disciplined but choose to act out nonetheless. However, there have been so many times where I have seen parents letting their children have the run of a place, it boggles my mind. How do they not see the people around are getting upset with their children’s antics? Just last week a mother was letting her two young kids push an empty shopping cart down the aisles, knocking items off the shelves and bumping into other shoppers. If I was the store manager, I would have had them removed. I felt the same way about the children in this dramatic, horror mystery movie. MAKING A CHANGE IN HER CAREER Kate Mandell, played by Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), took a job as a governess to a brother and sister who lost their parents. Kate did not know about the previous governess who ran away. With Finn Wolfhard (It Franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Miles Fairchild, Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Monsters at Large) as Flora Fairchild, Barbara Marten (The Bill-TV, The Mill-TV) as Mrs. Grose and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Red Sparrow) as Darla Mandell; the story for this film was based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” I knew there were previous films done based on this story which only made me more confused on why a movie studio decided to do it again and only produce a half-baked production. I thought each actor made a great visible statement; but there was nothing they could pull out to act upon from the poorly done script. There were no scenes that provided any moment of being scared or concerned. I was bored throughout most of this film, though I enjoyed the visual aspects both indoors and out. Essentially, nothing was working right in this picture. If I were you, I would just read the book and stay away from this imposter.
1 ½ stars
IT LOOKED LIKE it was not being affected by gravity when I first saw it. Walking into the small building one would not even expect to see such a feat of masterly craftsmanship. Off to the side of a larger sized room, rising up from the floor, was a spiral staircase. It was like none I had ever seen before because there was no center pole for the stairs to connect to on their way up. The design of it reminded me of one of those spiral DNA or some such diagrams in a science book. I could not imagine this spiral staircase could withstand the weight of an average person, it looked too delicate. Curious to learn how this beautiful staircase wound up in this place, I pulled out one of the information booklets I took at the front door. After the building was almost completed, the builders realized there was no room for a traditional staircase. After spending days fretting over their dilemma, a stranger appeared at the building site and offered to solve their problem. THERE WAS MORE to this documented story; the history about this building and its spiral staircase was a captivating read for me. I am always interested in learning about the history to a place I am visiting or a person I am meeting. It is said there is much to learn from looking back at history and I agree with that statement. A perfect example would be the time I was listening to a friend sound off on their poor record on dating. Listening to their reasons why a relationship never went beyond a certain time frame, I noticed a pattern forming with each person they talked about. After listening to them go on about their different romances, I shared my observations about the common connections I saw between each individual. After explaining my feelings on what I heard about each relationship we had a deep discussion about the pattern my friend was following unconsciously. If I had not heard the history of those past relationships we may not have found a way to avoid the same dating results. So you see paying attention to history can be an enlightening experience as you will see in this horror thriller. LUCKY FOR THE orphans Esther and Samuel Mullins, played by Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, What Lies Beneath) and Anthony LaPaglia (Empire Records, The Client), decided to open their house up to board the young girls when their orphanage closed. Little did the girls know they were not the only boarders. This latest installment to the The Conjuring franchise starred Stephanie Sigman (Pioneer, Spectre) as Sister Charlotte, Tabitha Bateman (The 5th Wave, The Hive) as Janice and Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us from Evil, Ouija: Origin of Evil) as Linda. The idea to this story was well thought out as the movie set the right tone from the start. Though there were a couple of scenes with blood, this mystery film relied more on atmosphere and mood instead of violence which I appreciated. There were some tense scenes; however, I felt the movie never went far enough. Maybe because the first movie in this series had the intensity and thrills in the right mix, this one was somewhat of a letdown. What kept my interest was the history about the doll that has been featured in each film. If you enjoyed the previous pictures then this one will provide you the insight you have been looking for. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 1/2 stars
One of the hardest things to see is a pet or child suffering the consequences of an adult’s actions. Seeing those pitiful eyes looking out at you in pain is just brutal. More so when they cannot communicate their hurt. There was a recent trial taking place here where a man was accused of dropping puppies off a highway overpass. If the fall did not kill them a speeding car or truck would have done it. What type of person would think of such a thing? This is an example of why I believe some people have only pure evil inside of themselves. When it comes to some of the caretakers of children, they too have that same type of evil. There was a story in the newspaper about a boyfriend who poured scalding water on his girlfriend’s 2 year old son for crying; can you believe it? The two adults in the situations I just described knew what they were doing and deserve to get the harshest of terms. But you know there are other adults who do not realize what ramifications their actions can cause innocent people. The individual who wants to kill themselves by driving into oncoming traffic; why harm anyone else when one wants to die? Or what about the innocent children who suffer the effects of armed conflicts between adults? Whether they become orphans or physically disabled due to guns or bombs, these children did not ask nor deserve this type of outcome due to the adults’ actions. It takes a special person to jump in and try to help in these types of situations. BASED on a true story this film festival winning movie was about Christina Noble, played by Deirdre O’Kane (Intermission, Boy Eats Girl), a poor Irish girl who had to fight for everything just to survive. Her battles were just the training she needed for what lied ahead for her and the orphaned children of Viet Nam during the late 1980s. This biographical drama’s strength was not only having Deirdre star but also Sarah Greene (The Guard, Love & Savagery) who played the younger Christina. The story lines were captivating for both characters. I think they would have been even more powerful if the director had done a better job; for the direction dragged the story down. Scenes that were tough to watch due to the circumstances taking place in them felt slightly disconnected to the scenes around it. However, the story truly was amazing to watch because Christina was such a strong character. I know there had to be more to this story than what was depicted in this film and to tell you the truth, I would not have minded if they had to make the movie longer to tell the story. For being such an amazing woman, Christina deserved to get more exposure.
If you really want to engage the viewer into your story, have a child or a pet as a main focus. The pure innocence of a child, who comes into the world with a clean slate until the adult world shades it, is an ideal candidate to make an adult care about the action in a movie. A pet filled with that unconditional love that pours out of their big brown eyes is enough to make the viewer shudder if there is any chance of danger in store for the loving animal. A horror movie needs to have a subject the viewer will care about; otherwise, they will not care if the character meets an early demise. The next element to have in the film is a love story or at least a potential love connection between characters. Simply put most people can relate to having their heart broken. The viewer will rally around the grieving, surviving character and follow them all the way to the end of the story. So if a movie studio wants to have a successful horror movie, they need one of these items in their story. WITH World War II raging and London being subjected to German bombing runs, children in the city were suddenly finding themselves orphans. To protect them from further harm Jean Hogg and Eve Parkins, played by Helen McCrory (Harry Potter franchise, Hugo) and Phoebe Fox (One Day, Switch-TV), took a group out into the country to an abandoned estate, hopefully to be away from the horrors of the war. However, their presence in the mansion would stir up an old terror. This dramatic sequel’s story took place 40 years after the story in the first film. It had a couple of the elements I listed earlier, children and a love interest. I thought this would be a horror movie that could scare me. It had a love interest in the character of Harry Burnstow, played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, the Railway Man) and it had children in peril; what could be easier to grab the audience’s attention? Well, I am here to tell you this horror thriller was neither. The beginning of the movie started out good but quickly became a dull, bland imitation of a horror film. I thought the sets and staging were done well, but there was never a sense of horrible dread or something deeply sinister. Besides being predictable this picture left me with a blah feeling, where I felt I had just wasted my time. I do not think anyone could accuse me of being a callous jerk, but I did not care about the kids or the potential for someone to suffer a broken heart in this dud.
1 2/3 stars