THE ABUNDANCE OF LIGHTBULBS CREATED A continuous glow of light around the carnival. The Ferris wheel was the only attraction that almost reached the edge of darkness waiting above the glow. I could see the Ferris wheel was stopped and there was a man screaming he wanted to get out from the upper most car. He had broken through the car’s safely bar somehow and was hanging off the side, with one arm stretched out towards the closest metal beam. Barely visible to me were two small girls who were trying to pull the man back into the car. I had to close the book right at this point because the phone rang; however, the scary image of the man dangling out of the Ferris wheel car kept floating in my head. And that is the beauty of reading a book. Most of you know me as a person who watches multiple movies every week, but may not know I can escape into a book’s story the same way as when I am watching a film. The difference for me is when I am watching a good movie; I am falling into the visuals that are being presented to me. When reading a book, I am creating the scene based on the writer’s words; I am using my imagination to see what the author is describing to me. Both mediums are equally as powerful to me. THE EXPERIENCE OF WATCHING A FILM (prior to our current stay at home orders) is more of a physical experience for me. Keeping in mind I do not watch movies on my phone, tablet or computer; I either have to go to the movie theater or to my living room television if I want to see a film. When I travel, the options are similar with going to a theater or using the hotel’s cable options. With a book, the story’s characters almost always can surround me anywhere in the world; all I need to do is carry the book or tablet with me. I could be riding a bus, eating at a restaurant, waiting at the airport gate for my flight or (please excuse me) sitting in the bathroom; the possibilities are endless. It is such a wonderful feeling to disappear from my surroundings, by using my imagination as I read the author’s words, to recreate their vision all in my mind. Some of you may already know when a movie is based on a book; I prefer to see the film first before reading the book. One of the reasons is because I have all the characters’ voices in my head already when I open the book. In regards to today’s review, I have the book this film was based on sitting up on a shelf waiting for me. FOR YEARS BOOKBINDER MO, PLAYED BY Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy franchise), has been searching for a particular book. If he could just read its story he was certain he could find his wife. This film festival winning movie also starred Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Long Shot) as Capricorn, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Elinor, Paul Bettany (Avengers franchise, Journey’s End) as Dustfinger and Eliza Bennett (Nanny McPhee, From Time to Time) as Meggie. This family, adventure fantasy movie had all the right elements to be a fun old-fashioned thriller. Over the top characters, magical characters, big sets, everything was here except for the wandering script. The pacing was uneven as some scenes were great to watch while others were listless. I was disappointed overall with this picture; however, I was okay watching the film all the way through due to the heart and imagination at the base of the plot. Though this viewing did not pan out the way I would have liked, I am certainly looking forward to taking the book this film was based on off of my shelf to read.
2 stars — DVD
IT WAS AT LEAST FOR 8 weeks I kept hearing about this recipe I was told I had to use for an upcoming dinner party. This all started in a conversation I was having with a friend. I mentioned I was having a couple of people over for dinner and she told me I needed to try a recipe she had made many times. All I told her was I would let her know once I figured out the details for the dinner. By the time I got home later that day she had already emailed me the recipe, repeating all the compliments she had told me she had gotten from making this chicken dish. I printed out the recipe and placed it with the other ones I was considering. Would you believe the next day I received a follow up email from her, asking what I thought about her recipe? I could only imagine what she felt when I replied I hadn’t looked it over yet; it was weeks away still before I had to make a decision on what I wanted to serve. You would have thought that would have been enough for her to let go of this for a while, but it did not. UP UNTIL THE DAY I NAILED down the things I wanted to make for the dinner party, I kept hearing about all the wonderful compliments my friend had gotten on this easy dish. When I finally looked over the list of ingredients, I had to admit the chicken dish sounded good. How could it be bad with items like honey and barbeque sauce in the recipe? When I told my friend, I was going to make her dish, you should have heard the glee in her voice; you would have thought I had just signed a multi-million deal with her. It was pretty funny. From all the things she had said and my own expectations, the day of the dinner party I was excited to cook and serve her chicken dish. As she stated it was not hard to make and the assortment of spices mixed together formed a wonderful aroma throughout the house. As the guests began to arrive they too noticed the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. When we were all seated and everyone was served I tasted the chicken dish. I was disappointed with it. There was something about the texture that was unappealing to me, as if all the ingredients did not thoroughly combine. My disappointment in this dish was similar to my disappointment in this action, adventure fantasy story. DELVING INTO THE CRIMINAL WORLD IS where a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Rules Don’t Apply), discovered his true talents, besides making new friends. This offshoot adventure story to the Star Wars franchise also starred Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Beckett, Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV) as Qi’ra and Donald Glover (The Martian, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Lando Cairissian. Everything was in place here to create a thrilling, exciting story. However, none of it reached the epic proportions it needed to carry off this story. There was little chemistry between Alden and Emilia, which I believe failed due to Alden. Because most people are familiar with the older Han, one needed to have an actor who could display the emerging traits Harrison Ford brought into the character. Also with bringing in Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, In the Heart of the Sea) after dismissing the first director, I felt he was not the best choice to give this movie the spunk it needed to engage all viewers. Yes, I am a big fan of Star Wars; but I thought this picture was a misfire. My memories of the previous films allowed me to enjoy this movie; but I just did not go wild over it.
2 ¾ stars
Sadly I have seen a person go into shock due to an automobile accident. It looked as if they had been powered by batteries that were quickly losing power as their physical movements were grinding to a halt. There was a numbness that came over them as they became unaware of their surroundings. Gratefully the shock I am referring to today is the kind where you cannot believe what your eyes have just seen. I was rummaging through my memory, looking for a time where I had that reaction of disbelief and what came to mind was the first time I visited Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the shows I saw there was a pseudo circus type of troupe but without the animals. I sat there in disbelief as I watched these human beings performing non-human things; it was a night filled with fanciful magic that continues to stay with me to this day. Since I started posting my movie reviews I cannot recall having such a reaction of shock like I had to this film. I think the best way I could describe it would be to say I was dumbfounded and had a difficult time processing what I was witnessing on the big screen before me. JOHNNY Depp (The Long Ranger, Transcendence) played well known art dealer Mortdecai. When a famous painting was stolen, Mortdecai was brought in by England’s secret service to assist them in retrieving the artwork before it fell into the hands of a hostile group. There was something special about this painting. I literally sat in astonishment as I watched this action comedy. This movie was so bad and I do not mean that in a good way. Someone needs to tell Johnny it is enough already; this is not acting anymore. He just talks with an accent and mimics to the camera; it is utterly tiresome. I would love to know what Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man franchise, Running with Scissors) as Johanna, Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, The Impossible) as Martland and Paul Bettany (Legion, A Beautiful Mind) as Jock were thinking by agreeing to be in this movie. The story, the script and the acting were all awful. I think I am still shellshocked because I can barely type out my thoughts on this review. It seemed as if the producers were trying to create a mashup of Austin Powers and Inspector Jacques Clouseau, with the hope of creating a new franchise. I hope it does not happen because this movie was like an unfinished painting that did not dry and all the colors ran together to form brown. As a side note, the 8 pm Saturday night showing of this film, in an approximately 300 seat theater, had 22 people in attendance, including me.
1 1/3 stars
I would not say it is an irrational fear; it is more of a mistrust I have of computers. Sure when they do what they are supposed to do they can be wonderful; but, when they do not function properly, they can be a nightmare. I do not understand how a computer can follow the same procedure ever day then all of a sudden one day it cannot perform it. This drives me crazy. I used to work at a company where the corporate offices did very little of their daily requirements on a computer. The owner never wanted to see the departments’ routines come to a standstill due to a power outage or computer virus. I could understand the reasoning behind such actions because I have worked at companies where their entire operations were done by computers. It made things easier in some ways but when the computers would go down, the entire company would come to a complete stop. Do not get me wrong, computers certainly have enhanced our lives; but at what cost? This dramatic mystery movie delved into the possibilities of what the computer could do to elevate the life of mankind. Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger, The Tourist) played Will Caster, one of the most respected researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. With his wife Evelyn and fellow researcher Max Waters, played by Rebecca Hall (Closed Circuit, The Prestige) and Paul Bettany (Margin Call, Inkheart), working alongside him; Will was working to create a machine that would have self-awareness. There would be no limits to the advancements that would benefit mankind…or would there be? This science fiction movie had a sharp, cool look to it. I liked the premiss of the story and felt it was relevant since we now have operating systems that verbally communicate with us. The cast which also included Morgan Freeman (Last Vegas, Million Dollar Baby) as Joseph Tagger and Kate Mara (Transsiberian, The Open Road) as Bree were solid but the script did not allow them to excel at their craft. Johnny Depp was actually the weak one out of the group. There were some parts, like Bree’s scenes with members of her gang, that did not make much sense due to the lack of back story. I thought the director’s pacing in this film was quite poor; I sat through passages where I was just bored. One could say this film created by humans was ironic since it had the emotions of a computer.
1 3/4 stars