FROM MY SEAT, I COULD SEE the setting sun poking through a bank of clouds with long tentacles of deep orange, rays of light. The ocean was quietly whispering its waves gently onto the white sand beach. I felt relaxed as a salt infused warm breeze brushed past me. All this beauty around me suddenly dissolved, replaced with rows of wooden folding chairs, when the person next to me accidently elbowed me. I was sitting in the middle of a bookstore, listening to an author talk about his latest book. He was describing the place he secluded himself to, so he could concentrate on his writing. Because he was so descriptive about the area, I felt as if I had been transported from the bookstore to his beach. The people seated around me had been replaced with palm trees and scattered rocks. That is the beauty of a great storyteller; their words can take the reader/listener/viewer on a fantastical trip to any place in the entire universe. I may have no experience or reference point to a place or event; but through the writer’s words, I can experience and understand it as if I had been a part of it. It is a gift I feel because not everyone can tell a good story. THERE WAS THIS PERSON WHO I DREADED being around whenever they started to tell a story. I know this is going to sound rude, but it was tortuous to sit there and listen to them as they would constantly stop to correct some non-essential detail to the story they were trying to tell. Seriously, who cares if a person is 41 or 42, or if someone drives a blue or black car; I would be cringing in my seat, refraining myself from editing them so they could get to the end of their story. This person ruined every joke they tried to tell. Either they would leave out something or add so much frivolous details that by the time they got to the punchline, the listener had lost all interest. There have been times where I felt like I was being held a prisoner due to this person’s poor storytelling ability. I feel the same way about movie scripts. A good script writer can convey the essence, the feelings in a story, allowing the viewer to experience it even if it is something they have never encountered. Some of you may remember the convention that took place in Chicago in the 1960s; if you do or do not, it will not make a difference when you watch this historical, dramatic thriller. A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS ARRIVED IN CHICAGO to protest the Vietnam War; several of them would find themselves on centerstage in a trial like no other. With Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts franchise, The Danish Girl) as Tom Hayden, Alex Sharp (The Hustle, The Sunlit Night) as Rennie Davis, Sacha Baron Cohen (The Brothers Grimsby, Les Misérables) as Abbie Hoffman, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, The Judge) as Jerry Rubin and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Robot & Frank) as Judge Julius Hoffman; this film festival winner written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV) immediately grabbed my attention and never let go. The writing was sharp, witty, enlightening; in other words, outstanding. I felt each actor was talking from their heart and mind; they transformed into their characters. Sacha and Frank Langella were brilliant in their roles. I knew about the event that took place in Chicago but did not really understand what was going on with it. Whether scenes in this film were true or not made no difference to me because I wasn’t looking for historical accuracy; I was looking to be entertained and with this movie I received it 100%.
AS I WAS DRIVING HOME RECENTLY, I came up to a busy intersection. On three of the four corners there was a group of protesters; each one was protesting a different cause. One group was formed into a circular group that wedged itself by the corner of the curb, while another group lined itself along the curb of both intersecting streets. Each had signs they were holding and if they were shouting anything I did not hear, because I had the radio playing loud in the car. One group had children in it who were standing still as best they could while holding up their signs. What struck me was the fact that the children looked way too young to understand what was written on their signs. This reminded me of an encounter I had with a group of protesters. I was participating in a peaceful march and this group of protesters were shouting obscenities at us. The things they were saying were vile and hateful. The fact they were there just to protest essentially our existence was bad enough; but that they included their children in it was horrifying to me. Here were small kids holding up signs that had evil verbiage that they probably did not even understand. I found it shameful and sad. These people were teaching those children how to hate someone is what it boiled down to in my opinion. I AM NOT THE TYPE TO QUESTION a person’s right to protest; however, I have a hard time when a protester doesn’t understand or care why they are protesting. There was a student who sat next to me in class who always participated in any protests that were being held on campus. Once I asked him about a protest that was going to take place and he could not explain the reasons behind the protest. I started to think he just wanted to get out of class by attending any protest that took place at the school. The only protest I participated in at school was when the school tried to ban the showing of a controversial film on campus. It was peaceful and orderly as we lined up in front of the dean’s offices. From that protest a compromise was agreed upon for the movie to be shown at an offsite location right next to the campus. I know in the scheme of things this one event was not a political or life altering experience and that is okay. The example is still valid; if you do not like the way something is being handled, get out there and make a change. Just see what the group of high school students tried to do in this dramatic movie based on a true story. TIRED OF THE RESTRICTIONS PLACED ON the bathrooms and not being treated equally, a group of students decide to stage a protest. With Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids franchise, Sleep Away) as Paula Crisostomo, Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, American Hustle) as Sal Castro, Yancey Arias (Live Free or Die Hard, Bosch-TV) as Panfilo Crisostomo, Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) as Francis Crisostomo and Efren Ramirez (The Pool Boys, Crank: High Voltage) as Bobby Verdugo; this film festival winner told a story I had never heard before. Based in East Los Angeles during 1968, I thought the directing was excellent in the way it laid out the story to the viewer. There was not a time I was not interested in what I was seeing. The script was adequate, though I felt it was a bit overdramatic at times. As some of you may know, I always enjoy when there are clips shown of the actual people the actors portrayed and this film did not disappoint me. For such a powerful message/event, I have to say I cannot get over I had never heard about this event before and I wonder why.
2 ¾ stars
EACH OF US I BELIEVE CARRIES a daily pill box container inside of us. I can see each of those little squares holding a small aspect of our personality, those things that make us, us. Not in a split personality way, but I feel we all have different personas we need to wear depending on the situation. I know when I teach my class I am a different person than when I am a credit manager at work. In fact, there have been many people in my classes who are stunned when they hear I am a credit manager. It is funny because several of them said the same thing, that I seem too nice to be in that position. Think about it; when you accompany your significant other to one of their work functions, don’t you act a certain way? I am willing to bet most of you who do, are conscious of what you say and how you act in front of your loved one’s fellow employees and superiors. It always stuns me when an employee’s partner winds up stinking drunk and makes a scene in front of everyone. NOW THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO act the same no matter what environment they occupy; damn anyone who doesn’t like the way they act. I used to be one of those people; I would say I was an extreme version of who I am now. There is this game where players must guess which answer you would choose for each scenario that gets presented to you. I had to stop playing because everyone knew exactly how I would react in each situation. I firmly believe everyone needs to be true to themselves. Where I used to make sure people knew I did not like them; now I can be civil and lessen my exposure to them if I can. I will not kid you, it takes some finesse. There just are some individuals who are not nice; feel free to put in any other adjective, since I erased them during my editing of this review. I am no longer an “in your face” type of person; however, if need be I have that aspect tucked inside of me. And that is what I meant about we have a pill box container inside of each of us. To show you an example, there is an incredible one inside of this film festival winning, crime drama. AS THE SOLE WITNESS TO A SHOOTING Starr, played by Amanda Stenberg (The Darkest Minds, The Hunger Games), knew if she revealed herself people’s perceptions of her would forever change. She did not know if she was that strong to do such a thing. Also starring Regina Hall (Girls Trip, Scary Movie franchise) as Lisa Carter, Russell Hornsby (Fences, After the Sunset) as Maverick “Mac” Carter, Anthony Mackie (Captain America franchise, The Hurt Locker) as King and Issa Rae (A Bitter Lime, Insecure-TV) as April Ofrah; this movie took me away to another place. The story, which was completely current and important, blossomed with the well written script and amazing acting skills of the cast. Amandla would be someone to watch for because she was beautiful in her role. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the script went from a humorous spot to an intense moment, to finally end up in a thoughtful place. It felt as if the writers and director precisely dissected the story to present a complete picture to the viewer. Though the story may be something you have already seen on the news; I found this picture presented a different take on it and I am here to say my eyes were glued to the movie screen.