EACH person experiences grief in their own way. There are some who put no filters on it, letting their emotions flood out in a public way. Other individuals believe they need to maintain a “stiff upper lip” so they keep their emotions in check, only allowing them out in private. During my years of teaching I have experienced several major losses that affected me deeply. None of my classes knew at the time because I chose not to express my grief. It was hard at times especially when I was teaching a class where the members were looking to me to be upbeat and motivating, but inside I was a blubbering mess. A couple of times I nearly broke down when a song came on that triggered a memory of the person that was no longer in my life. THEY say there is comfort in numbers which can be seen when friends and family come together to share in their grief. Sitting at a stoplight while a funeral procession drives by, I used to look at the passengers in each passing car. It was curious to see the different ways people were handling their journey. Some would be silently sitting, not interacting with each other; while others appeared almost jovial. I know in some cultures death is looked upon as a gain, not a loss. The deceased individual is headed to a better place. One thing I have found interesting is the older a person becomes the more receptive they are to the idea of being reincarnated; I guess it brings comfort to them, knowing they will get to come back. The one thing I think everyone agrees on is when someone young has their life finished early. ACROSS the land citizens were all sharing in their grief from losing their young president to an assassin. At a time when privacy would be expected the president’s widow had to compartmentalize her priorities to satisfy her children, the nation and the world. This dramatic biographical movie was led by the outstanding performance from Natalie Portman (Jane Got a Gun, Your Highness) as Jackie Kennedy. Whether she had the speech and mannerisms down accurately, it did not matter to me because the character on screen as far as I was concerned was Jackie. I never once thought I was watching Natalie. The other actors such as Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, Orphan) as Bobby Kennedy, Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha, Mistress America) as Nancy Tuckerman and Billy Crudup (Spotlight, Watchmen) as the journalist were all quite good and I felt all of them were authentic in their roles. The script moved back and forth in time in an easy way for the viewer to follow. I found myself reacting with sadness to several of the scenes; the way they were reenacted and played out came across in a real way for me. If the script had told this story in chronological order I do not think it would have been as powerful as the way it was done in this film. I felt I was given an inside look behind all the actions that were on display for the public. This was an eye opening experience for me and left me with a few tears of sadness.
3 ½ stars
As I made my way up the seldom used staircase to the attic I could hear the wood groaning under my feet. I rarely need to be up there where essentially it has turned into one large storage room. As I lifted the door open at the top of the stairs I began to take in air that had not moved in years. Walking through the clothes bins, one of them attracted my eye. Through its semiopaque lid I saw the outline of some animal. I opened the bin and lying on top was a sweater I used to wear years ago. It was purchased during a period of time where Nordic themed fashion was the rage. This copper colored sweater with the image of a large antlered stag across the front was something I thought was the coolest thing back then. Everyone back then was wearing sweaters with various images of animals in winter scenes splayed across their chest. If the sleeves had multicolored yarns woven partially up the sides, the sweater was extra cool. I started to remember those times where all of us appeared to have had more fun, less responsibilities and less news that horrified us like it does these days. As the sunlight falling in from the one small window at the front of the attic began to dim; I put back the sweater, found the item I was originally looking for and came downstairs. That was the last time I reveled in those type of memories of an easier carefree past until I saw this fun retro action film. AFTER surviving the crash of Air Force One in a remote area of Finland President William Alan Moore, played Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers franchise, Reasonable Doubt), had to depend on 13 year old Oskari, played by Omni Tommila (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Last Cowboy Standing), who was in the middle of a village ritual to being considered a man. Time would not be an abundant commodity for either of them. This adventure film was a hoot to watch with its throwback style and story. I enjoyed seeing Samuel toning it down to play a more submissive type of character than he normally portrays. The cast which included Ray Stevens (The Book of Eli, Divergent franchise) as Morris and Felicity Huffman (Transamerica, Desperate Housewives-TV) as the CIA director all looked like they enjoyed playing their characters. The story was somewhat predictable and cheesy; but I think that was what the writers were trying to do to create this picture that reminded me of those action movies from the 1980s and 90s. This was a fun no-frills film that favored a class of movies from a distant past. Several scenes had spoken Finnish with English subtitles.
2 1/2 stars
If you really want to learn something about the area you are in then talk to a local person. I discovered many hidden treasures this way when I traveled to new places. This is one of the reasons why I use public transportation when visiting a new city. With advice from local residents, I was able to experience the best pecan pie in Charleston, South Carolina and a wonderful BBQ meal in Dallas, Texas. In case you were wondering if I am only concerned about food when I travel, I do ask local residents about places that a guide book may not cover. One of my best trips took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota simply because of a woman who was standing next to me at a bus stop. She gave me some wonderful tidbits about local spots. When a story is being told by the person who lived through it, it allows us to relate to it on a personal level. This was a wonderful device that was used impressively in this dramatic film, inspired by a true story. Forest Whitaker (Phone Booth, Repo Men) played Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served through eight different presidents’ terms of office. The viewer was a witness to numerous historical events, told through Cecil’s eyes. Aware the script took creative license with facts; this review is based on the movie’s entertainment value. Forest was outstanding as the stoic, quiet butler who took to heart the advice given to him on his first day of employment: The White House was not a place for politics. Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, Beloved) as Cecil’s wife Gloria, showed us she can be known as an actress who has a talk show. I was impressed with David Oyelowo (The King of Scotland, Lincoln) as Cecil’s increasingly militant son, Louis. The actors used to play the various presidents came across more like a stunt to me; the only convincing one was John Cusack (Martian Child, High Fidelity) as Richard Nixon. For their brief scenes I felt Vanessa Redgrave (Howard’s End, Blow-Up) as Annabeth Westfall and Jane Fonda (Nine to Five, Coming Home) as Nancy Reagan were the only ones who stood out. I thought the story’s flow was well done, despite several scenes being too syrupy for me. Strictly speaking on the entertainment factor, this movie provided a glimpse into historical events, using both drama and humor to tell the story. And what a story it told; my interest never waned. There were a couple of scenes where blood was shown.
3 1/4 stars