THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future. THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year. FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.
1 7/8 stars
WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, I was obsessed with pencil sharpeners. Though my obsession lasted a couple of years, I acquired a large collection of them within that time frame. I had several pencil sharpeners that were in the shape of airplanes and rocket ships; another group of them was made up of different animals. I would rotate bringing different sharpeners to school with me; as you might expect, I never had a dull pencil at my desk. There was a game I used to play with myself when sharpening a pencil. I would try to turn the pencil continuously to see if I could get one long shaving off of it. Yes, I was an intense child at times. One of my favorite pencil sharpeners was a flying saucer, the top half white and the bottom gray. The pencil hole was right in the center on the top, which allowed the pencil shavings to spin around the interior circumference of the round saucer. There was always a good chance I could get a long shaving with this pencil sharpener. At home, I would keep this sharpener in a desk drawer and whenever I needed it, I would take it out and hold it high in the air, pretending it was flying. AS I GREW UP MY OBSESSION faded away and the pencil sharpeners were relegated to an old shoebox that resided up on a shelf in a closet. Through the years, I had other things that became my new obsession. In one of my recent reviews I talked about my thing for wristwatches; so, you see I have been visited by obsessions through my whole life. Whenever I have had conversations and talked about an obsession, I always say I prefer shaking hands with the obsession instead of trying to wrestle it. The thing I am grateful for (if there is something to be grateful about) is my obsessions never involved other people. They were always things that only had an affect on me, whether it was pencil sharpeners, wristwatches or dance music CDs. I had a friend who became obsessed with someone she met online. This altered her daily life to the point it put a strain on her friendships. She would cancel dates with friends so she could drive to finally meet this individual at a central location, only to receive a last minute text that he was called into work or some other excuse like that. Yet she would do the same thing over and over to the point some of her friends refused to make plans with her. I could see their point, but I tried to stay neutral; her obsession was preventing her from coming to terms with the reality of her situation. I could say the same thing about the main character in this dramatic movie. WRITER AND CRITIC MORTON VINT, PLAYED by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The 12th Man, The Tudors-TV), wanted to know everything he could about the famous poet Jeffrey Aspern, played by Jon Kortajarena (The Cliff, A Single Man). He would even pretend to be someone else if it meant getting more information about his favorite poet. With Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet, Howards End) as Juliana Bordereau, Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Maggie) as Miss Tina and Lois Robbins (Girls Nite Out, One Life to Live-TV) as Mrs. Prest; the only reason to see this film would be to watch Vanessa and Joely working together. They were wonderful to watch as they powered their way through the weak script. I thought Jonathan’s character was not believable; he came across so odd to me that I found him uninteresting. The scenery and sets were pleasing but due to the direction and script I felt many opportunities were lost to add drama and back-story. It was sad to see Vanessa and Joely being wasted in this misfired picture. I only wished the writers would have been obsessed with telling a good story as much as Morton was obsessed with the poet Jeffrey Aspern.
1 ½ stars
THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE IT I have found is to smile, nod your head in agreement and slowly try to remove yourself from them. I cannot guarantee it will always work but it usually will lessen the conversation time and hopefully the person will get bored and move on. Now I am not passing any type of judgment on the individual; they are free to do whatever they want to themselves. I just do not have the patience to listen to someone who is drunk or stoned. What bothers me more is when I feel like I am a captive audience to their utterances. For some reason if a person, who is under the influence of something, enters a train car or bus more than likely they will make their way to me. There must be something about me that attracts such individuals; it is like those people who do not like pets and when they walk into a house that has a pet, the animal makes a beeline to them. The only thing I can do when this happens to me on public transportation is either walk to a different train car or try and move to a different seat on the bus. However, this does not always work. USUALLY AT WEDDINGS OR OTHER SUCH gatherings, I can gracefully extricate myself from the intoxicated person and disappear into the other mingling guests. But guess what happens sometimes? That person winds up sitting at my table. Ugh, it is so annoying when one is trying to enjoy their meal and you have a fellow guest acting silly or nonsensical at the table. I have only experienced this a couple of times where a drunken guest gets so smashed that they hurl whatever they have in their stomach. If it were my celebration I would order a taxi to take the individual home; because trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting at a table full of guests with food and have one person sitting there with soiled clothes, about to pass out. I know there are some people who find amusement in the antics of an inebriated or high individual. Granted some people feel their artistic talent gets accentuated with the help of drugs or alcohol; I honestly don’t know one way or the other. All I know for certain is that I felt like I was being held captive to the meanderings of the drunken and high main character in this comedy. LIVING LIFE BY HIS OWN RULES had given writer Moondog, played by Matthew McConaughey (The Dark Tower, Serenity) some notoriety in the areas he traveled. It didn’t matter if people did not understand as long as they had fun. Also starring Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Nocturnal Animals) as Minnie, Snoop Dog (Future World, Unbelievable!!!!!) as Lingerie, Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman, Baywatch) as Flicker and Stefania LaVie Owen (The Lovely Bones, Krampus) as Heather; this movie was torturous for me. Matthew as far as I could tell was doing schtick that quickly got tedious. It felt like he was just exaggerating characters he had played before. Or maybe, it was his own persona that he created that he was portraying. I felt the script had no structure that simply went from one event to another with no connections. Even now I have no idea why this movie was given approval by the studio; though, at one point I wondered if this was based on a true story and we would eventually get to a poignant spot that would make sense of the whole story. No such luck; instead I sat there bored out of my brain watching the nonsense on screen. Sitting through this movie was like being cornered by a drunken person who has no regard for my personal space.
1 ½ stars
“BECAUSE I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And immortality.” What I just wrote came from a poem by Emily Dickinson. I know of her but very little of her poetry. Like many artists Emily’s work was not fully known or appreciated until after her death. Some say she was one of the greatest American poets. One of the best pieces of advice I received was, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” In other words, focus on the things that stimulate, excite and connect with you; everything else will fall into place afterwards. I do not think artists craft their trade with the idea they will become wealthy from their works. They do it because they simply love it. Yet even with that much love there are artists who suffer with their personal demons. There was a famous pianist who could draw the emotions out of any musical piece he played. Sadly he started to believe his fingers were made of glass and became afraid they would break if he continued to play the piano. DESPITE any type of turmoil I cannot imagine what the stress level must be if one is trying to earn a living from their craft. Just from the little I do with these film reviews and my teaching fitness and yoga, if I did not have my full time job there would be no way I could survive. Presently this site generates no income and my pay for classes is at an hourly rate. When I started these two activities each fulfilled an emptiness I had inside of me. Seeing people feel good about themselves after class was a revelation for me since I spent most of my life unhappy with my physical self. Writing my reviews nourishes the creative side of my brain that had been lying dormant for many years. As I watched this biographical drama I was surprised to see Emily experienced similar issues. STARRING Cynthia Nixon (James White, Sex and the City franchise) as Emily Dickinson, Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, Zero Dark Thirty) as Vinnie Dickinson, Duncan Duff (Wild Target, Burke and Hare) as Austin Dickinson and Keith Carradine (Nashville, Our Very Own) as Edward Dickenson; this film festival winning movie follows the life and death of Emily. The excellent acting, especially from Cynthia and Jennifer, was brilliantly on display in several scenes. As I said I am not that familiar with Emily’s life, so I was fascinated with her determination and fears. It was such an interesting contrast between the beauty of her poetry and the darkness inside of her. Interestingly there were many scenes that looked dark, staying authentic with the available light source only coming from lit candles. Due to some scenes shining while others were dim, the movie had an uneven feeling to it. I felt the cause of it was from the direction; the pacing was slow in many parts. There were times I became bored because after seeing a wonderfully acted scene a dull one would take place. I think those who are familiar with Emily and her work will enjoy this film more than I did. If for nothing else this picture worked because I left wanting to read Emily’s poetry.
2 ½ stars