FOUR MONTHS AFTER MY IDENTITY HAD been stolen, I received a notice from the government that my fraud claim was confirmed, and I was not responsible for any losses. It has been a long four months with me contacting different agencies, freezing my credit report and filing a police report. It all started when I received a notice from unemployment that I had been approved to receive benefits; a debit card was enclosed that I was supposed to activate to receive funds. I knew it was a scam since I was currently employed. Due to the pandemic, I had a harder time getting things accomplished to protect myself. There were the multiple calls to the Social Security Administration, where I had to wait on hold until their phone system would tell me no agents were available and to try back later. Once I finally was able to speak to a representative, I could not get an answer to my questions, like why they are dunning me for 4 payments they claim they sent to me. I asked them where were they sending it; if it was to that debit card I did not activate, why couldn’t they just pull the funds back? Still, I could not get a clear answer and was told I should just hold on to all the paperwork that was sent to me. MY ORDEAL, THOUGH IT WAS A hassle, was manageable for me. However, I did wonder how I would have handled it if I was older. It is weird how it just happens; that sense of vulnerability that enters our consciousness as we get older. When I was younger, I gave little thought to walking in the snow and ice during winter; now, I am hyper aware of where I am stepping on an icy wet pavement. Will I become easily confused in my senior years? Will I be an easy target for scammers? These are things I think about now. They had a news report recently of a senior citizen in a nursing home who was milked out of her savings to the tune of $500,000.00. She was befriended by an employee at the nursing home who would have her sign withdrawal slips for small amounts of money from her savings account. Over time the small amounts added up and left the woman very little to live on. It was heartbreaking to see and confirmed my fears that the elderly can be such easy targets. If I get to a point where I might become easily confused, I hope I would know to find an advocate for me, someone who would watch out for my best interests. If you care to see an example of what could happen, then watch this dark comedy, crime thriller. MARLA GRAYSON, PLAYED BY ROSAMUND PIKE (A Private War, Gone Girl), had a good thing going of being a legal guardian for those who could not take care of themselves. That is until she became the guardian to someone who had a couple of secrets of her own. With Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones-TV, X-men: Days of Future Past) as Roman Lunyov, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Paradise Hills) as Fran, Dianne Wiest (Hannah and her Sisters, Darling Companion) as Jennifer Peterson and Chris Messina (Away We Go, Ruby Sparks) as Dean Ericson; this Golden Globe nominated movie had an interesting premise. I felt the writers could have gone in a variety of ways to make their point. However, the way they chose I found horrible. I thought the script was mean spirited and ignorant. The only thing that kept me watching this film was the performances by Rosamund, Peter and Dianne. They were excellent; but I do not know how they kept this picture going, because there was no moral compass in the story and there really was no character that elicited any sympathy from me. If it wasn’t for the acting, I would have given this film a lower rating of stars.
1 7/8 stars
PRIOR TO GOING TO THE FUNERAL, I always thought everyone in attendance was there to pay their respects. I must tell you, it startled me when I heard the man sitting next to me tell his companion he was glad the man was dead. You do not often hear those words coming out of someone’s mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, I tried to get a better look at this man’s face to see if I knew him. I was there because I was an employee of the company, doing customer service work for them. The man looked familiar to me, but I could not recall ever talking to him. He was telling the person next to him that the dead man was an awful human being. I wondered if anyone else around us was hearing what this man was saying about the deceased. It was such a weird juxtaposition with family members sniffling and crying near the casket and this man bad mouthing their relative. It was not easy to hear everything he was saying, but I was increasingly curious to hear why this man so disliked the dearly departed that he would actually verbalize his feelings without a filter. SINCE THAT FUNERAL, I HAVE BEEN a witness to two other funerals where some of the people in attendance had other reasons for being there. This one funeral had so many mourners coming into the funeral home, that several of them had to lean up against the walls because there were no seats left. During the eulogy, something that was said triggered a couple of mourners to stand up and shout at the grieving family members. I was frozen in my seat; it was such a surreal scene playing out in front of me. One of the deceased’s daughters stood up, turned around to face the yelling mourners, and shouted, “You will burn in hell!” I have never forgotten those words and can still picture myself sitting there when they were first uttered. Talk about drama fit for the big screen. The other funeral I attended that was outside the norm was one where family members got into a physical fight that caused them to bump into the casket. There was a huge gasp from the mourners in attendance, fearful that there was a chance the casket would fall off its pedestal. With the help of the funeral home’s employees, the fighting family members were pulled apart and taken out of the room. After having experienced these unusual funeral proceedings, I thought I had seen everything; that is until I watched this film festival winning, dark comedy. WHEN THE PATRIARCH OF THE FAMILY died, a variety of family members and friends thought the funeral service would be the perfect time to address their concerns. With Matthew Macfadyen (The Three Musketeers, Pride & Prejudice) as Daniel, Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty-TV, Upstairs Downstairs-TV) as Jane, Andy Nyman (Judy, The Commuter) as Howard, Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting franchise) as Justin and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones-TV) as Peter; this movie took some time before kicking into gear. The humor was fun and there was an abundance of jokes, but I felt the writers could have tightened up the script more. There was an overall flavor to this film that reminded me of those old British comedy films. With such a large cast, one would have thought several actors would have faded into the background; but that was not the case here. Everyone did their part to carry the story forward, with Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman as the standouts for me. All things considered, this was a fun film to watch and a better experience for me than the previous funerals I had attended.
2 ½ stars
When I tell people I have a dark side most of them do not believe me. If a friend of mine is with me I will have them confirm it. You see I believe all emotions are valid; there is not one that is good or bad. There was that time I was on vacation with a friend and 2 of their friends in New York. Our last day we checked out of our rooms and had the hotel store our luggage since we did not need to be at the airport until late in the afternoon. After visiting a couple of final tourist sites we came back to the hotel to get our luggage and head out to the airport. When I asked at the front desk who we should see to retrieve our bags, I was told that person just went to lunch and would not be back for an hour. I stared in disbelief for a moment then said we needed to make a flight. The hotel clerk looked up at me and repeated the same information. My friend’s 2 friends started to turn away but my friend told them not to move, just wait and watch. I did not yell, belittle or use curse words; however, I looked directly into the clerk’s eyes and unleashed a stream of angry comments and scenarios of what would happen if we missed our flights. Let me just tell you they felt the heat and immediately found the hotel manager who went and retrieved our luggage on their own. With anger I firmly believe one needs to express it otherwise it will fester inside. In this case I felt I was right because it made no sense that there would only be one person responsible for the storage of guests’ luggage. Being familiar with anger I was curious to find out why these birds were so angry. THOUGH they may have been outcasts Red, Chuck and Bomb; played by Jason Sudeikis (Mother’s Day, Horrible Bosses franchise), Josh Gad (Jobs, Love & Other Drugs) and Danny McBride (Up in the Air, This is the End); were the ones who wanted to know the reason why a ship full of pigs came to their island. This animated action comedy was based on the popular video game, which I have never played. I do not know if there was anything in this film besides the birds and pigs that came from the game. Though the cast was made up of good choices for the characters, it was not enough to keep me interested. This was such an odd idea to develop a story around because what I saw on the movie screen was boring. The animation was okay but I did not find anything funny, besides I thought the message of the film was not appropriate for young children. What I did find interesting was the audience. For an animated children’s film there were more adults without children than usual, though it still was a small amount; but, it was something that stuck out enough for me to realize. I cannot say I was angry for sitting through this movie; I just did not care about it. Extra scene during the ending credits.
1 3/4 stars
There is good and evil in every single person; this is what I believe. I did not come to this conclusion from some doctrine I was taught growing up; at a young age there were many people who showed me examples of both. Since that time whenever I have encountered someone acting in either a good or evil way I just have to wonder what happened in their childhood to make them act that way now. For me both qualities are a choice; however, I have to recognize outside factors. A person’s experiences during their formative years can sway them to one side or the other. I can see where someone who was constantly and severely punished for incidental things could start acting out in a violent way. And I believe there are studies showing people who abuse other people usually were abused themselves. Based on my experiences if every person who was abused in some type of way who became in turn an abuser, there would be a lot less kinder people in the world. The reason why I believe everyone has a choice is due to people I know who have had a hard life, yet remain positive and upbeat. I know someone who had years of hardships and struggles that affected their health; but no matter what they were going through, they always kept a smile on their face and I do not mean that in a phony type of way. They were genuinely happy and grateful. So you see, to me they made a choice. I feel the same about the main character in this comedy, they made a choice but was it the right one? AFTER being convicted for insider trading and doing time in prison Michelle Darnell, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Spy), thought she could pick up the pieces of her life and make it to the top of the business world again. The only thing stopping her were all the people she had stepped on as she was making her way to the top. This comedy that also included Kristen Bell (The Lifeguard, Veronica Mars-TV) as Claire and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones-TV) as Renault, was lucky to have these 3 actors. I do not think anyone would deny that Melissa has incredible comedic timing. What surprised me however was Peter Dinklage; I thought he and Melissa were a great match. Now there were a few times I laughed during this film; however, a majority of the time was wasted on similar jokes and sight gags. For the most part the story was predictable where I was wishing the writers would have cut the crudeness and been a little more creative. The trailers basically shown the cleanest and best parts to this movie. I liked Melissa in this film; I just wished the writers had made a better choice in their words for the script. There were several extra short outtake scenes through part of the credits.
1 3/4 stars
Immediately I was struck by their fearlessness. I watched while their fingers without hesitation popped and dropped over the keyboard like convulsing spider legs. Just by pressing two keys at the same time they were able to get the computer to function in a way that took me a few more keystrokes. I knew they must have started at a young age playing video games. There is a certain attitude a gamer has when they are interacting with their computer or some other kind of electronic device; they appear more adventuresome to me. Where they have no problem trying out different commands, a non-gamer may get stuck at their computer afraid the next key they press will cause their machine to explode. I understand totally because I have a love/hate relationship with computers; I expect them to know how to fix themselves without asking me if something is okay to do. It is interesting to think about the recent generations that grew up with video games; I recall an article I read that talked about the positive effect the games had on a person’s eye/hand coordination. There was this one kid in school who would spend hours in the student union playing this one arcade game. His initials for the most points earned remained on the machine the entire time I was at that school. I would be quite curious to see what he is doing now in the world. Maybe he would be doing what the gamers were called to do in this comedic action film. BACK in 1982 a time capsule with examples of mankind’s life including video games was launched into space. Discovered by an alien race, they took the games to be earth’s declaration of war on them; so they reproduced the video games to attack earth first. This science fiction film had a great idea behind it, for it would attract an older audience for nostalgic reasons and a younger crowd who would appreciate the retro vibe of these “ancient” games. Not only did this comedy fail with its attempts to entertain, it made me a bit angry because of the blatant laziness associated with the script. Adam Sandler (Blended, Grown Ups franchise) as Brenner was the exact same character he has been in his last several films. I am tired of seeing the same thing and hearing the same type of jokes over and over. Adding in Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Paul Blart franchise) as President Cooper and Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, Source Code) as Violet only increased the ridiculousness of this picture. Out of the entire script I chuckled 3 times as the expected excitement never materialized. If I would have known, my money would have been better spent at a video arcade then sit through this video void.
1 2/3 stars
The words had just passed my lips when I realized these were not the correct ones to utter at the moment. I inhaled with the same force I use with a straw in a chocolate peanut butter milkshake, but it was to no avail; the words were out in the open for everyone to hear. If only I had the opportunity to do it all over; but then again, there are so many times I wish for that chance. Almost every checkout line I choose winds up with a customer ahead of me who has some type of issue that will require a price check or swapping out a product. Recently I was running late for work. I had just missed the green light at an intersection that has an unusually long wait period between signals. It was a split second decision and I veered off into a restaurant’s parking lot to avoid the wait. As I was about to exit on the opposite side a police car was sitting there waiting for me to leave the lot. If only I could have turned time back, I would have saved myself from a moving violation ticket. I would have a better understanding of time travel if it personally affected me. In movies I get lost by the explanations or logistics of it. However, in this action adventure film I had no problem. Due to a particular event in history, both humans and mutants (individuals with special abilities) were being targeted for elimination. A plan was developed to send Logan/Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman (Prisoners, Australia), back in time in an attempt to alter the outcome of the specific incident, change the course of history and hopefully save mutants in the future. What drove this fantasy film to excellence was the well thought out script and amazing special effects. I especially liked the way humor was injected into scenes without taking away from the building tension. The other main force that made this movie special was the cast. I thought Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games franchise) as Raven/Mystique, Michael Fassbender (The Counselor, Shame) as Erik Lehnsherr and James McAvoy (Trance, The Last Station) as Charles Xavier were outstanding. One of my few and minor complaints was not seeing enough of Patrick Stewart (Safe House, Star Trek franchise) as Professor X and Ian McKellen (The Hobbit franchise, Emile) as Magneto. Though there were a couple of things where I did not understand the logic, it really did not matter; this fantasy film delivered a high dose of exciting entertainment and suspense. In fact, I would not need the ability to turn back time because I would willingly go see this movie again. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 1/2 stars