THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD stop the color in my face from draining. I was in a state of shock. It was an hour before I was going to get off from work and the owner of the company had called me into his office. I knew him better than some of the other employees because I worked both in the retail and wholesale parts of his company, when I wasn’t in school. In fact, when he opened a 2ndstore in a large shopping mall out in the suburbs, I helped set up the shelves with stock. So, when he asked me into his office, I did not think much of it. When he closed the door behind me as I walked in, I knew something was different. As I sat across from him, he began to tell me about the inventory being off, that items were coming up missing. I thought maybe he wanted me to take a bigger part of the inventory process, but that was not the case. He asked me if I had seen anything odd going on. I told him no and that I was surprised to hear such a thing. My face had not turned white up to this point; however, when he said he wanted to talk to my parents I could feel my face changing. He said he was asking the same of the other employees who were also in high school. EMBARRASSMENT, FEAR AND ANGER WERE THE predominant feelings coursing through my body as I sat there. Despite not having any knowledge about the missing stock, I was angry that I was being considered a suspect. Logically I knew it made sense for the owner to question his employees; but I still felt like I was being accused of something I had no part in. It was an awful feeling. My mind was showing me a series of movie scenes depicting courthouses, jails, tearful testimonies; my imagination was running amok. The other thing that came to mind was the possibility I might be considered an accomplice because I was friendly with the other employees. The anger portion I was feeling was due to the idea one of my friends, who I had been working alongside with for over one year, could be a thief. It was all upsetting to me, and I did not know how my parents would take the news about them having to come in to talk to the owner. All this hassle and confusion just because I essentially was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The magnitude of my situation didn’t come close to the main character’s situation in this dramatic film based on a true story; but I understood what he had to be feeling. LIVING ON DEATH ROW, ONE DOESN’T get hopeful; even when your Harvard educated lawyer is willing to fight for your life. With Brie Larson (Captain Marvel, Short Term 12) as Eva Ansley, Michael B. Jordan (Creed franchise, Black Panther) as Bryan Stevenson, Jamie Foxx (Robin Hood, Ray) as Walter McMillian, Rafe Spall (The Big Short, The Ritual) as Tommy Chapman and Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four; O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as Ralph Myers; the story in this film festival winning movie was horrifying to me at times due to the injustice and discrimination that was taking place. The acting was strong and solid from the cast; in fact, they really carried the story along. For most of the time I took the script to be truthful; however, there were a couple of scenes, especially one close to the end, where I felt it was the writer’s option to make something up to pull in the audience deeper into the story. Besides that, I still cannot get over what Walter had to go through for all those years.
EVERYONE THOUGHT SHE WAS THE LIVING EMBODIMENT of a toy doll, perfect in every way; but, I knew better. She would always offer help to any fellow employee whether they might need it or not; she would also periodically bring in home-cooked desserts to share with anyone who came by her desk. Though I did not sit next to her, I could hear her talking to the employees who came near her desk. I do not know if I can explain it; but, she was sickly sweet with her conversations. She overused the words “honey” and “sweetie” to no end, besides appearing sympathetic to anyone who wanted to share any personal information with her. I knew better; the entire thing was an act. She was not really interested in what anyone said to her; she was fishing for information that she could use to advance herself within the company. The reason I knew this is because I had heard several conversations she had had with her boss, where she divulged other employees’ personal information in such a way that painted a better image of herself. It was nauseating for me to hear it. That sweet, friendly exterior was just a façade; she knew exactly what she was doing, and I was on to her. BEING IN AN ENVIRONMENT WITH A person like that is toxic. One can never let their guard down because they would never know how their words could be turned into a vice to squeeze them out of an opportunity in the workplace. I was pleasant to her simply because I did not want to get on her “bad side.” I had no idea what she was capable of and I did not want to prompt her to start focusing on me. Maybe I have been lucky, but I have never encountered someone like her in any of my jobs. Granted I have worked with a variety of individuals, from tattletales to “stab in the back” type people; however, there has not been anyone who can match this one employee’s output of manipulative behavior. What I find distressing about it is how it makes working at a company less enjoyable. I ask you, who wants to spend their energy every day combating such a negative force; it is such a drain on the body and mind. You can see how it is for yourself if you wish by watching this action, adventure comedy. THE MEN IN BLACK WERE SKILLED in protecting the Earth from aliens who threatened us. However, when that threat was coming from inside the organization, how could agents trust what they were seeing? Starring Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Thor franchise) as Agent H, Tessa Thompson (Creed franchise, Annihilation) as Agent M, Kumail Nanjiani (Big Sick, Silicon Valley-TV) voicing Pawny, Rebecca Ferguson (Life, Despite the Falling Snow) as Riza and Rafe Spall (The Ritual, The BFG) as Agent C; this updated version of the science fiction franchise devoted too much time on the jokes and not enough on the story. I thought Chris and Tessa were fun together; but it seemed as if I was listening to the same comedy routines over and over. There was no excitement, both visually and verbally; the entire picture seemed tired to me. As I was watching the villains I was wishing they would have broken into dance, because I recognized them from a dance-based reality television show. It would have been more fun to watch, I am sure. Another flaw was the fact I was able to figure out how the story would end, which usually is not my forte. Sadly, this was a waste of resources that tarnished the franchise.
1 2/3 stars
THE BOAT SLID DOWN THE ramp and floated into the dark tunnel. Voices were echoing off the walls but I did recognize or actually remember what was being said. When we came out of the tunnel I saw a town being pillaged as flames were licking the air from various structures and objects. A couple of the citizens were being chased around in a circle while there were men strewn on the ground in obvious states of intoxication. My memories were being rekindled; I had been to this town before, many years ago. I was prepared for the cannon going off as my boat came upon a battle scene. There were people in other boats who yelled in surprise at the bomb’s explosion. We did not stay long as our boat had us moving away from the scene. Funny after all these years I still knew the last thing I was going to see was a man sitting on top of a bridge raising a bottle up in the air to give us a cheer. DURING THE ENTIRE DAY I came across so many other incidents where I was recalling how I felt the first time when I was on the same amusement park ride years ago. There is something about going back to an amusement park after being away from it for so many years. Many of the rides I rode that day were the same ones I did before except for a little updating and tweaking by the park’s owner. I still enjoyed myself though I discovered something new on the faster rides; I was now getting dizzy and queasy from them. What was up with that? Something else I noticed; this time around I was missing the element of surprise and wonder that I had the first time I rode the rides. Not that this ruined my time; I still enjoyed myself. Also, I was able this time to skip some rides because I remembered I did not care for them when I rode them last. What sustained my interest and sense of fun was my memories and the feelings of nostalgia. As I was riding an attraction I was reminiscing about my previous time. Thinking about the shock and surprise allowed me to see the rides through gentler eyes. I was less critical about how tight fitting some of the rides were and a bit corny at times. It is fun to revisit things from one’s past; but when doing so, it helps if you keep your expectations low. The same could be applied to this action, adventure science fiction film. WHEN THE ISLAND CONTAINING the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park was being destroyed by active volcanoes, there was little time for Claire Dearing and Owen Grady, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Gold, Pete’s Dragon) and Chris Pratt (Passengers, Guardians of the Galaxy) to waste if they wanted to save the dinosaurs from extinction again. With Rafe Spall (The Big Short, Hot Fuzz) as Eli Mills, newcomer Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood and Justice Smith (Paper Towns, Every Day) as Franklin Webb; the dinosaurs were the main attraction in this picture. I did think Bryce and Chris worked together wonderfully; they certainly have chemistry. I found the special effects and the soundtrack made this picture more exciting than what the script was attempting to do. The story was a bit odd to me and the script had some holes in it. An example would be the disappearance of one of the characters and we never found out what happened. For a good popcorn movie that has some exciting action in it, this would be the film to see. If you have not seen any of the previous installments you might enjoy this more than someone who has seen the other ones.
2 1/2 star
The most casual of settings with a group of people mingling about the room. There was sporadic laughter in the air that mixed in with chattering voices spanning across the musical scales. Standing at the beverage table you made eye contact with the person next to you, who was in the middle of tasting their drink. An exchange of greetings easily flowed into talking about who you knew at the party to likes and dislikes to world topics; each subject discussed seemed to peel away layer after layer of nervousness until you felt completely at ease in your own vulnerability. You had not expected to meet someone at the party but you sensed something special was happening. Your body felt as if it had been injected with a dose of pure caffeine that was making your blood speed through your body, rushing up to your brain to form bubbles of joy. Things were moving smoothly and you were even happy to say you were single when asked if you were seeing anyone. In turn you asked them if they were dating and the most dreaded words you could have imagined plopped out of their mouth: “Yes, my boyfriend was not able to make it here tonight.” You felt your heart pop inside of your chest, eliminating the rarified blood of anticipated happiness. Of course, you avoided showing disappointment in your face and as the night progressed the 2 of you continued conversing as if nothing dramatic had happened–at least in your mind. When you were asked if you wanted to exchange contact information and hang out sometime, not only did you immediately say yes; you exclaimed you would enjoy being friends with both of them. Did you really think that was possible? THIS was a similar dilemma Wallace, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Kill Your Darlings), faced when he met Chantry, played by Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, Fracture), at a party. This award winning film worked well because of the cast. Each of the characters were interesting and the actors, including Adam Driver (Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Allan, played off of each other in a realistic way. The script for this comedic drama was essentially good; however, parts of it were predictable which slowed down the action for me. I will say I have been impressed with Daniel’s film choices, because it never crossed my mind I was watching Harry Potter in this romantic movie. Take it from someone who has been there, I was glad I was not the one having Wallace’s predicament in this cool film with the indie vibe.
2 3/4 stars