I HAD NOT NOTICED BUT MY friend was the one who did. We had gotten together for dinner, meeting at the restaurant. After giving his name to the host, he returned, and we settled into a couple of empty chairs in the waiting area. I was not focused on the time since we were busy talking, catching up on the things we had been doing since we last had seen each other. The restaurant was popular so there were a lot of people coming and going. I do not know how long we had been waiting, but my friend motioned to a couple who had been sitting near us, that were now walking to their table. He told me they had walked in after we did. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. Maybe they had called ahead to make a reservation, I told him. He was not convinced and as we continued with our conversation, he kept looking at the different groups around us, to see who was being called by the host that walked in after he gave his name. When another couple got called my friend pointed out they also had come in after we were seated. The perplexed look on my face told my friend that I was not seeing what he saw; we were being skipped over because he was Black. WHEN HE SAID THIS TO ME, I looked around and noticed there were very few people who were not Caucasian. I normally do not focus on a person’s skin color or ethnic origins since I consider everyone human. The only differential I consider is whether a person is human or animal, nothing else. It does not matter to me if a person is rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight, short or tall; for me, it is whether a person is good or bad. So, instead of my friend going up to the host I told him I would go and see what was going on. When the host looked up as I approached him, I asked him how much longer he thought the wait would be, giving him my friend’s name. The host looked at his list and apologized for the wait and said the table was just being cleaned off now and to wait a minute. He was gone for less than a minute and asked me to follow him; I motioned to my friend to join me. Nothing the host did indicated his dislike for my friend; however, I had to wonder if there was something more here that I was not seeing. I want to believe people look beyond a person’s skin color, but I know prejudices have been part of our culture for centuries. This Oscar nominated movie will show you it from a time long gone. HOPES WERE HIGH FOR HENRY McALLAN, played by Jason Clarke (Pet Seminary, Zero Dark Thirty), when he moved his family to Mississippi. What he was not expecting was to share the land with a black family. With Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Promising Young Woman) as Laura McAllan, Mary J. Blige (Black Nativity, The Wiz Live!-TV movie) as Florence Jackson, Rob Morgan (Monsters and Men, Stranger Things-TV) as Hap Jackson and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Rondel Jackson; this film festival winning war drama had an outstanding cast of actors. I found their acting to be authentic with depth, which made the story come alive. The directing was on point to create multiple levels of intensity and drama, which captured me and drew me into the story. I have not read the book this movie is based on; but I felt the script provided me a complete, well-rounded story. This was a powerful picture that had a couple of violent scenes.
3 ½ stars
IF YOU HAVE AN INNOCENT LOOKING face chances are you will go through life with less obstacles on your path. I believe this to be true because I learned it in school. At the time I was not cognizant of such a thing, but I was a quick learner. There were certain students in school who would always get in trouble with their teachers, some rightfully so. One look at these students’ faces and you would immediately blame them for disruptive behavior in class. I on the other hand had an innocent looking face or to be more exact, could put on an innocent looking face. At the time I did not realize I had this capability. You see I could not only keep a straight face, but if needed put on a great smile accompanied by deep set dimples. There was a period of time where I was mischievous in the classroom. I would throw paper clips at students’ heads who were sitting in front of me. They would turn around to see who threw it but would not be able to tell which student did it. First, no one would say anything and second, I would look as if I was engrossed in our class assignment. Having this new-found awareness and watching the teachers taught me “looks” plays a big part in a person’s perceptions of someone. WHAT I DID NOT TELL YOU about the paperclip story has to do with the student who sat next to me. If my paperclip throwing started accusations being thrown at random classmates, the teacher would single out this student next to me. Because he had a face that spelled out trouble he was the first choice a teacher would pick to reprimand, simply based on his looks. As I said earlier I was not aware of this type of discrimination early on, but I soon realized it was taking place all around me. I even witness it today in my own fitness classes. If a person who is overweight walks into my class, some members will give them a certain look that I have learned means they think the person is lazy and out of shape. Without knowing a thing about the person, members around will make judgments and be somewhat stand-offish. It is so rude of the class participants. Pretty much anywhere I go I can find you examples of people making such rash judgments; but there is no need for me to do it, let this film festival winning comedic drama show you. WITH ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT ON his probation Collin, played by Daveed Diggs (Wonder, Black-ish-TV), wanted to make sure nothing would happen that would land him back in jail. His best friend Miles, played by relative newcomer Rafael Casal, seemed to think it was all a joke. With Janina Gavankar (White Orchid, The League-TV) as Val, Jasmine Cephas Jones (Mistress America, Titus) as Ashley and Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, Grace and Frankie-TV) as Officer Molina; the script for this movie tackled a familiar topic in a whole new way. Kudos to Daveed and Rafael for writing such a piece. I thought the acting was excellent and enjoyed how the comedy and drama easily blended together. It was important that it did that because I feel viewers would have gotten more uncomfortable with the film and stop thinking about what was taking place on screen. I did not care for the last portion of the movie and thought a particular rap scene could have had more impact without the rhyming. However, I will say I give them credit for doing something different. This film grew on me the more I thought about it. As they say never judge a book by its cover.
3 ¼ stars
HATE DOES NOT discriminate or it just has poor aim. I was standing outside with a group of people who came from diverse backgrounds. We were talking and laughing while deciding where we wanted to go eat. A vehicle driving down the street slowed as it neared us, not that any of us were paying attention to it. A beer bottle flew out the window at us before the vehicle sped away. Luckily no one got hit with glass as it shattered in front of us on the sidewalk, but a couple of people were splashed with beer. There was no reason for it; it wasn’t like we were provoking anyone. You could say it was a random act of violence but I would not believe it. I felt some of the people in our group were the target because I caught a glance of the vehicle’s bumper where there was a sticker. Maybe I was wrong for not mentioning it but I did not want anyone to feel worse or different than anyone else. THE THING THAT puzzles me about hatred is how it gets formed in a person. Having been the victim of both acts of hatred and bullying, I have tried to understand the prejudicial mind or let me say bigot. Why does the life of a complete stranger, who has had no contact with you or whose actions have no bearing on your well being, affect you in such a way to lash out at them? I have thought about this for years; in fact, I still remember a story I heard about a family friend who hated a particular minority group. The reason was because his brother was murdered by an individual of the same minority; that was it. That is one of the reasons why I say hate does not discriminate. I used to think hatred was this laser focused emotion that targeted only a single individual, but it appears to me as if that focus has widened to engulf anyone in its path or intent. And especially when the person filled with hatred is in a position of power it can become intensely lethal. This film’s story is based on true events, so you can see what I mean. THE TIMES WERE volatile as racial tensions rose in the city of Detroit during the late 1960s. From a single sound of a gun going off the guests of the hotel Algiers were subjected to a night of terror. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker), this historical crime drama starred John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Circle) as Dismukes, Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Revenant) as Krauss, Jacob Latimore (Sleight, The Maze Runner) as Fred and Algee Smith (Earth to Echo, The New Edition Story-TV) as Larry. The majority of this movie was filled with heightened tension and anxiety; I was mortified by the things I was seeing on screen thanks to Kathryn’s eye for detail and buildup. She did an incredible job as this picture felt part documentary, part reenactment. The acting from John Boyega and Will Poulter was outstanding. I swear John reminded me of a young Denzel Washington; it was amazing to see him in this role and to see the depth of his acting skills. The same has to be said for Will too. There was a bit of manipulation I felt where the violence and human ugliness were used to move the audience members. Despite feeling that way I still was affected by the story. A majority of people might feel uncomfortable sitting through this film and that would be a good thing.
3 ½ stars
Dreams are the fuel that propel us forward on our life’s journey. They instill a sense of hope that helps us traverse the choppy waters we may encounter along the way. I still can recall one of my earliest dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up: a window washer. There was something about being on the outside, way up high, that appealed to me. Good thing I did not follow through since these days I am exactly opposite, preferring to be inside and close to the ground. Even though my dreams evolved, I have always been aware how they have pushed me forward in life. The same could be said for the main character in this animated film. Garden snail Turbo, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal), dreamed he would one day race at the Indianapolis 500. No one would take his dream away from him; including his sensible brother Chet, voiced by Paul Giamatti (Win Win, The Last Station). When a freak accident gave Turbo the ability to move fast, he was not going to let anyone or anything stop him from achieving his dream. This adventure film had a diverse cast of actors to voice the many characters. For example, there was Michael Pena (End of Watch, Shooter) as Tito, Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction) as Whiplash, Bill Hader (Men in Black 3, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Guy Gagne and Snoop Dog (Old School, Bruno) as Smooth Move. Though the animation was quite good, I found the story was lacking a couple of key elements. I did not find it exciting except for the beginning and ending parts. The characters were okay but really did not leave any impression on me. It felt as if the characters were created as a way to sell toys to kids. Compared to other animated films I have recently seen, this one just left me with a blah feeling. I think only young children would enjoy this movie. It was a shame the movie studio could not dream up a better story. Stay through the first set of credits.
2 1/4 stars