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.
IT IS BEST TO TREAD carefully when you have interactions with a person who has a blurred line between their personal and business life. I am not saying such an individual is a “bad” person; but I have found they tend to react and think differently in social settings and relationships. There are some people whose job becomes their life; the role they play at work continues after hours. At a party I attended there was an individual who was employed in a managerial position. This person was used to having the final say; in other words, they always got their way. If you tried to have a discussion with them they pretended to listen to you, nodding their head up and down at certain points while you talked, but they would quickly make up their mind before you even finished stating your point. Granted this was only one example but I have been a witness to many other similar situations and yet I do not think all managers act this way. It is a particular behavior that I have noticed more than once. DO YOU THINK IT IS safe to say a person who is a control freak or hungry for power would easily change by deferring to another individual? I do not see it happening or at least not easily. Even in a love relationship relinquishing control takes a lot of effort for some people. I admit I am a person who likes to be in control; if for no other reason I have no one to blame for anything that may go wrong. I kid my friends that I wish everyone would follow my rules because it would make life so much easier to navigate. Realistically I know this cannot happen; however, I have been around some individuals who almost desperately try to exert their will on other people. It makes for an uncomfortable situation. These individuals I have noticed tend to compartmentalize all aspects of their daily life, more so at their place of employment. This only feeds into their control issues. And if you want to see an example of this, feel free to view this action crime drama. ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL group of bank robbers has set their sights on something bigger. Their actions are really getting to Officer Nick Flanagan, played by Gerard Butler (Geostorm, Olympus Has Fallen franchise) and his special unit within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. With Jordan Bridges (Mona Lisa Smile, Frequency) as “Lobbin Bob” Golightly, Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Merrimen, Evan Jones (The Book of Eli, 8 Mile) as Bosco and O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Donnie; this movie had some intense moments throughout the story. The director kept the script going with a decent amount of tension throughout. Gerard was good with his character though it did appear to be similar to some of his other roles. I was trying to figure out why I enjoyed this film more than I expected since the story appeared to be your typical bank heist, good guys vs. bad guys type of story and what dawned on me was the audacity of the crimes. With the steady tension and intense characters this picture kept my interest, though the 2 hour and 20 minute running time was not necessary. There will be a chance some viewers will have a problem with the story’s ending. In a test for control I would lose to either group in this movie.
2 ½ stars
A switch gets turned on and the lights go on. A simple procedure that requires little movement and truthfully not much thought. The only time I think about it is when a lightbulb burns out. This action of little effort disguises the massive coordination needed to get the power to my home, through the house to the lamp. Fortunately I live in a place that has been reliable for the most part, except for when we have had violent storms. Every month I send a payment to the energy company for the use of their electricity, but I do not have much awareness on where or how the company acquires their energy for sale. I imagine the amount of people involved is staggering; whether it involves coal miners, nuclear technicians or service personnel who maintain solar panels and windmills, the mechanics of it all have to be precise and efficient. As I said, luckily for the most part things work smoothly here for me. Can you imagine if things did not? The chaos that would ensue would be monumental, effecting thousands or millions of people. Presently a city in Michigan is going through a crisis regarding their water system. For the little I know about it, the situation was caused by various agencies within Michigan; it was not like some outside force attacked their water supply. In other words it could have been prevented if everyone had worked together. Now when a breakdown occurs due to outside elements, things can go haywire. ARMED citizens in Benghazi Libya overpower a compound where the U.S. Ambassador has chosen to reside. Thirty miles away a small band of CIA contractors are witnessing the evolving destruction. Based on a true story this action thriller directed by Michael Bay (Transformers franchise, Armageddon) had intense, bloody fight scenes throughout the story. With John Krasinski (Leatherheads, The Office-TV) as Jack Silva, James Badge Dale (World War Z, Shame) as Tyrone “Rone” Woods and Pablo Schreiber (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Manchurian Candidate) as Kris “Tonto” Paronto as part of the cast; I was stunned by this film. Remove all the politics that have formed around this story; it truly was astounding to witness the amount of craziness that was billowing all around the characters. Let me see if I can explain the feeling. I went through drivers education class to get my license. Going through all the simulations and supervised driving lessons in the school’s parking lot did not prepare me to that adrenaline rush the first time my car slid across ice covering a busy intersection. The same can be said here; no one was prepared for the escalation of violence. Too bad the script was filled with cliches and simplistic dialog; how many times does one need to hear someone being called “brother?” The action was typical for Michael, fast action mixed with slow motion movements. Not to take anything away from these heroic people but their story needed a better script.
2 1/3 stars