LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT CLASS could have been a valuable asset if I had enrolled. Maybe your school environment was different; but the perception at my school about members of the debate team were mostly on the negative side. Being on a sports team was more prestigious and let us face it, there never was a pep rally held for a debate team; at least I have never seen one. I imagine if I had paid more attention to the skills needed to have a debate instead of the participants I would have been a better communicator. Looking at the disagreements I have had with individuals over the years, I can see why many of my disagreements turned into arguments. Not that I associate an argument with being a negative experience, but I could have avoided sinking into a name calling match with people. It was not until later in life that I learned how to have a disagreement/argument/debate. Having spent so much energy on making statements that started with the word “You,” I was finally taught to start my thoughts with the word “I.” It truly makes a world of difference when you go from saying, “You did this or that,” to “ I feel that option would be harmful because…”; do you see the difference? DURING THE POLITICALLY DIVIDED TIMES WE live in now; I believe every politician, employee, student and resident would benefit by taking a class in the art of debating. It seems to me as if name calling and belittling are becoming the new standard for making a point. I have mentioned before how I do not allow the subject of politics and religion to be discussed in my classes. These are two topics that I have seen become volatile when discussed. One of the reasons I see politics and religion being hot button topics is because most people let their ego do the talking. There seems to be such a need for every person to be right that they are not listening to anyone else’s point of view. I ask you, what is so terrible about admitting you are wrong? Isn’t part of living being able to learn something new? I know a few couples where one person is conservative and the other is liberal. They have had their share of heated discussions. Each though can maintain respect for their significant other while discussing opposite views; unlike the family in this dark satirical, comedic drama. THANKSGIVING WAS NOT ONLY A TIME to spend with family, but it was the deadline for signing a controversial oath issued by the government. With family members on opposite sides of the issue, was there any chance they would be able to make it through to dessert? This movie starred Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad, The Mindy Project-TV) as Chris, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew) as Kai, Billy Magnussen (The Big Short, Into the Woods) as Mason, John Cho (Searching, Star Trek franchise) as Peter and Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty, Southland Tales) as Eleanor. Written and directed by Ike, I thought the idea for the story was relevant and would easily provide enough fodder for the script. My biggest surprise was seeing Tiffany do a different variation of her usual movie roles; it was not a strictly outrageous comedic character for a change. Unfortunately, I thought the execution of the story was inadequate to the point where I was tired of listening to all the yelling and name calling. I give Ike props for undertaking such heavy demands; but I wished there would have been more levels to the story, instead of essentially what came across as 2 extreme point of views. All I have to say about this film is a course in the art of debating would have been beneficial for this family.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN my life I was more upset by what I saw in the theater than on the movie screen. The viewers who look or text on their phones while the film is playing upset me, but I simply find them rude; except for that one viewer who when asked to stop talking on her phone yelled back that she had to take the call. The people who have no consideration for those sitting around them are ignorant in my opinion. I just want to ask them to look around and notice they are not sitting at home in their living room; there are people sitting by them who paid to WATCH a movie. What I am talking about is a different kind of upset that has deeper implications. I do not want to offend anyone by what I am going to tell you; these are just my feelings I am putting down on paper, about what took place while I was waiting to watch this movie. Ironically, I was dreading seeing this latest installment because I knew there was going to be brutal violence and blood shown in multiple scenes. Instead I was appalled by several people who came in to see this movie. GETTING TO MY SEAT A FEW minutes before the lights dimmed, I took a brief scan of the other people sitting in the movie theater. I was curious to see who wanted to see this picture; I was only there to review it. A few rows down and off to my right I noticed a man and woman sitting 2 seats apart from each other. It took me a moment for it to register but I suddenly realized there were 2 kids sitting between them. I was stunned; parents actually came with their children to see this R rated movie? What was wrong with them, I thought to myself. There was no way the parents did not know what this movie was about and what would be shown in it. Before the shock could subside in me, coming into the theater was another family with what appeared to be a 4 or 5-year-old child. Has the world suddenly gone mad? I was shocked; did the parents want to desensitize their kids to blood and violence or expose them to different ways one can kill another human? I am sorry but I found it disgusting and wondered what DCFS would have to say about it. To me this was worse than anything I was going to see in this action, horror film. WITH THE RISE OF A THiRD political party into power, its platform included a new social experiment they believed would curtail crime. At least that is what they planned for it to show. With relative newcomer Y’Lan Noel as Dmitri, Lex Scott Davis (Superfly, Training Day-TV) as Nya, Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, Love is Strange) as Dr. Updale, Mugga (Precious, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Dolores and Joivan Wade (The Weekend, Doctor Who-TV) as Isaiah; this installment’s trailers showed what the viewer was going to get. What surprised me about the story was the message it conveyed; it mirrored the current times we presently live in. This aspect of the story was the highlight for me. Everything else about this picture was just more of the same; nothing different or new which I hope doesn’t mean I have become jaded to this franchise. I felt there was nothing scary in the predictable script except for the aspect of the story I mentioned earlier. For whatever reason, I will tell you I found it sad that Oscar winner Marisa agreed to take this role. Maybe it was my experience in the theater but it was more upsetting to see children being brought to this violent film than anything done in the movie itself.
1 ¾ stars
THE TWO COUSINS WERE spending the afternoon together. The basement of the house was their domain. Medium dark, wood paneled walls with thick industrial carpeting on the floor would hopefully contain the noise the two boys would make; at least that is what the other relatives were hoping. One cousin turned on his music player while the other one was looking over the stack of games that had been shoved into a bookcase. Agreeing on one board game, they spread the game pieces onto the floor. After fighting over the same game piece to represent each one’s team and getting the rest of the pieces in place on the game board, the visiting cousin asked if there was anything to eat. They walked upstairs into the kitchen; one boy went to the refrigerator, the other to the pantry. Out of all the different foods in the pantry the young boy chose a loaf of white bread. THROUGHOUT THE GAME WHILE one boy had long finished his food, the other cousin continued to work on the loaf of bread. He would take a slice of bread, fold it in half and eat only the inside white bread part first; this way, he would just have the square outline left made entirely of crust to savor last. As the game continued the loaf of bread kept decreasing in length. Slice after slice would eventually disappear into his mouth with him giving little thought to it, except for the comfort he felt while eating it. By the end of the game the entire loaf was gone. The other cousin laughed when he saw the empty bread bag. He kept saying, “An entire loaf of bread, you ate an entire loaf of bread.” The other boy sheepishly asked his cousin not to tell his mother about it. The boy agreed and told his cousin they would have to hide the bag. Back into the kitchen they went to look for something to hide the bread packaging. Inside the garbage can was a greasy paper bag from a fast food restaurant; it was the perfect place to shove the bag in. Ever since that day the one cousin would always bring up that loaf of bread when the two got together; as the two aged it seemed that was going to be the only thing the other cousin would remember about him. The same could easily be said for the president and his war in this biographical drama. WITH THE NATION IN shock from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, played by Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Burn Notice-TV); Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, played by Woody Harrelson (Lost in London, War for the Planet of the Apes), found himself thrown into a divided White House. With Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, The Moment), as Lady Bird Johnson, and Michael Stahl-David (In Your Eyes, Cloverfield) as Robert F. Kennedy; this film starts with the time period just prior to the Kennedy election. Woody did his best as Lyndon to the point he overshadowed everyone else. Granted Lyndon was a colorful character but what I found missing in this story was the nitty gritty parts; everything seemed even keeled. I felt there could have been more intensity and tension because pretty much throughout the picture I was not totally convinced with the action in the scenes. The historical aspect was what attracted me and I am sure, like many other people, I only knew Lyndon as the war president. He actually did much more to be remembered by.
I do not know what you would call it exactly, but there is a certain freedom in being able to say anything I want when reviewing a movie. All I am doing is expressing my opinions and feelings, the same as any other reviewer. No matter what I write, I know there will be no retaliation from the movie studio. It would never occur to me that someone associated with a movie that I rated would go after me or a member of my family. I am fortunate to live in a country that gives its people the right to speak their mind. I have to tell you though, after seeing this film I am not that sure anymore. It was one thing to be familiar with the story when it actually was in the news; but it was another to watch the story unfold on film. In the capable hands of director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), this political thriller was frightening to me. Using each of their books as a basis; Doug created a taut suspenseful film about CIA operative Valerie Plame, played by Naomi Watts (The Impossible, J. Edgar) and her American diplomat husband Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn (Gangster Squad, Milk). After Joe wrote a disparaging article, critical of the current political administration, government officials decided to expose Valerie’s cover. Naomi and Sean were so good in their roles and in their relationship to each other; I felt they were channeling the real individuals. By showing the couple’s home life with their children, it only added more intensity to the horror of their situation. After watching this movie I was left thinking about what life would be like if no one was allowed to speak their mind. We would be left with what George Orwell told us about, a world ruled by Big Brother.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
The amount of money spent on marketing political candidates these days is obscene to me. There are countries that do not come close to having such amounts in their treasury. It seems to me that the only people who can run for office are wealthy individuals. This concerns me because in my experience some wealthy people have a hard time relating to the average person. For example, the man who bought Princess Diana’s dress that she wore when she was dancing at the White House with John Travolta. At a winning bid of $360,000.00, a gentleman bought it to surprise and cheer up his wife. How many of us can do such a thing? Where I find this excessive, I have the same feeling about the money needed to fund a campaign. It seems the issues are not enough to determine whether a person will vote for a candidate; it also depends on who does a better job of marketing the politician. One of the reasons I grew to enjoy this historical drama was seeing what a grassroots advertising campaign can accomplish. Nominated for best foreign language film with the Academy Awards, this film took place in Chile, 1988. Military dictator Augusta Pinochet had been in power for fifteen years and needed to show the world that his government was legitimate. A referendum was scheduled, but would anybody opposing Pinochet survive the election? Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education, Y Tu Mama Tamben) played young advertising executive Rene Saavedra, who had the task of creating a campaign that would not get censored. He created the “No” campaign. Starring Alfredo Castro (It was the Son, Tony Manero) as Lucho Guzman and Antonia Zegers (Post Mortem, The Life of Fish) as Veronica Carvajal; the story used humor, actual footage and a faux 1980’s style of filming to draw the viewer into a fascinating time in Chile’s history. I had a hard time getting into the story at first; it felt slow to me. Once the campaign started to come together I was enthralled with the genius of it. With excellent acting, the movie became inspirational for me. The question was could creativity, strong beliefs and dedication triumph over money. Spanish with English subtitles.
Here was a movie that did not let anyone or anything get by unscathed. American culture, ethnic and religious groups were among a plethora of other groups that got skewered in this latest creation of Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Hugo). Playing dictator Haffaz Aladeen of the oil rich African country Wadiya, his character was infused with stereotypical traits that have been portrayed in the news and other films. This comedy was stocked with politically incorrect, crude and offensive jokes. I felt guilty when I would laugh at some of them, though not all funny bits worked well. The thin plot had Aladeen coming to New York to speak before the United Nations. My guess on why the story was choppy would be the rewrites needed to stay relevant with actual world events. Parts of the story felt odd to me; for example, the relationship that took place between Sacha’s character and Anna Faris’ (Lost in Translation, The House Bunny) character Zoey. Realistically, the main purpose of the movie was to make the viewer laugh, which it was certainly doing with the audience around me. Just know going in that you will be bombarded nonstop with any and everything imaginable to try and make the scenes funny.