I wondered if things would have been different if I had redefined the term “best friend?” Having spent many years moving in and out of the dating pool, I never wondered if any of the people I dated would become my best friend. I was always confused when I heard someone say they married their “best friend” because I never considered such a thing regarding my best friends. There are a couple of individuals that I have been friends with since elementary school and though I dated one in 8th grade, now as adults we are still close but just not in that way. In fact when I think about it, I am not sure I would consider someone I am dating to be a friend. For me that category for friends and dates has different definitions. Where both involve love, compassion and humor; I do not list physical intimacy under the friend’s category. Maybe I am wrong but I consider dates to be a different type of relationship. Sure I want to be able to laugh and be vulnerable with them but in my mind they represent a being who shares heightened awarenesses with me. I have always said a love relationship is one where the two of you are walking down a winding road that goes through hills and valleys. There will be times where one will have to push or pull the other one along, but they always are shoulder to shoulder as they continue on their path without any judgements, only unconditional love and respect for each other. LAINEY, played by Alison Brie (Get Hard, The Five-Year Engagement), could not be faithful to anyone she dated. Jake, played by Jason Sudeikis (We’re the Millers, Saturday Night Live-TV), was an avid womanizer who could not make a commitment. The two, who knew each other back in college, found themselves at the same self-help group and vowed to maintain a strictly platonic relationship with each other. This could easily become a complicated situation. The script for this romantic comedy was uneven for me. Jason and Alison were the best out of the cast in my opinion; I especially liked Jason’s comedic timing along with several funny lines. Some scenes worked well but there were a couple that seemed far-fetched or simply odd for me. For example, there was a scene that involved modeling clothing to get an opinion that I had to question if that would actually have happened in real life. Some of the jokes were “cute” but there really was nothing that warranted out loud laughing. Another reason why I did not feel connected to the characters may have to due with the fact that I could not relate to either of them since cheating is not part of my makeup. I do not think this film warrants making a date for the movie theater.
As I was listening to them I wondered if they said any of this to their spouse. From my years of teaching I was not only people’s fitness/yoga instructor; I was their sounding board, their confidant. Not that I sought this position out; it just happened since part of my job includes aspects of being a customer service and member retention representative. The other thing I noticed that creates this type of environment is the comfort some people feel with talking to strangers. Not that I consider any of the members in my classes strangers; but I can see where I would be a non-judgemental sympathetic 3rd party. I remember one class where a member lingered behind as I was cleaning up the room. We had only had a couple of minutes making small talk when all of a sudden the member burst into tears, wrapping their arms around me sobbing as they told me their spouse was cheating on them. Whether it is right or wrong all employees had training instructing us that the only acceptable contact outside of hands-on instruction during class was a handshake, a fist bump, a high five, CPR or a sideways hug. Front to front hugging was not allowed in the current politically correct times. In my case I did not have time to shift my body; I stood there with my arms stretched out to the sides until the member backed away. I consoled them until they calmed down, just listening as my early college psychology courses training kicked in. This was only one example, through the years I have become a sympathetic ear that can be trusted and I believe that is what all of this comes down to, one has to have trust. STRANDED in Manhattan after her purse was stolen Brooke Dalton, played by Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League, The Raven), was leery of the stranger Nick Vaughan, played by Chris Evans (Captain America franchise, Snowpiercer), who was offering to help get her back home. This comedic drama was Chris’ first foray into directing. He did an admirable job with the material; unfortunately, the script was for the most part generic. What worked in this movie’s favor was Chris and Alice; they did their best with the characters they portrayed, showing some real chemistry between each other. It was obvious to me where the story was going to the point where it felt like the writers were going down a list of things to check off to include in each scene. I cannot say I was bored by this romantic dramedy; in fact, I sat there several times wondering what I would have done in that particular situation. Then again I believe trust is something that has to be earned, not given out freely.
Those needs, wants and expectations sure can trip you up in the middle of your relationship. A want is like a desire; such as I want a caramel apple dipped in chocolate. I do not need it but I certainly would not refuse one if it happened to cross my path. A need is defined as a condition requiring supply or relief; for example, telling a person to stop yelling at you would qualify as a need. Now about expectations, this one can really play havoc in your relationship. The dictionary defines expectation as a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen; you could even say a hope. But I have to tell you if you get into a relationship where you have silent expectations, it will knock you for a loop. I know a couple where the wife is a fast decision maker and the husband is opposite; he has to mull things over and over. Where the wife is ready to replace their refrigerator at the first sign of trouble, her husband has to wait and think it over; wondering if he could fix it or find someone who can, the cost, the time looking for a fridge if they have to and his list goes on and on. This could turn into a frustrating moment for both of them. Now I know in the scheme of things this type of disagreement is more of a trivial matter; however, there are times where two people can veer off of their shared path due to mixed expectations or needs. If you do not believe me just watch what happens in this drama. WHILE vacationing Tim and Lee, played by Jake Johnson (Let’s Be Cops, New Girl-TV) and Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister Cinderella Man), discover an old bone and gun on the property. Reacting differently to this find caused the two of them to experience a different vacation from the other during their trip away. What drew me into this story was the dialog; I found it to be honest and real. With a large cast that included Brie Larson (Short Term 12, Don Jon) as Max and Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Kingdom of Heaven) as Ben, I found every character had something to offer to the story. Now about the story, I enjoyed how it let the viewer be a witness to the different implications and events, letting us imagine the possibilities that could happen. The cast really worked well together, coming across as believable and I mean this as a compliment, typical. There were a few parts in the story where I had to question the validity of the action taking place. I was not sure if I was reacting that way because I could not relate to it, not having experienced it in my life. On the plus side I enjoyed the way this film made me think about it even after it was done.
2 2/3 stars
I believe every family has to have at least one. It is that relative who does not follow in line with the other family members. It could be an aunt, grandparent or any other older relative; but more than likely, they do not follow the typical mindset on how to interact with a child. Let me give you some examples: a grandparent who sneaks candy to you even though your parents forbid candy in the house; an uncle who does not believe he should wait for an appropriate age for you to taste the wine in his glass. Though I just gave examples involving food, this type of relative could also be the one who recognizes there is an elephant in the room, so to speak. They will talk about whatever issue is hanging over the family that the other relatives are trying to avoid or pretend does not exist. I feel I learned how to express my feelings at an early age because of all the examples I had around me. Some would say I expressed them too much without trying to be diplomatic or at least more sensitive. I should tell you I still remember the first time I heard a relative use a “bad” curse word without any apology; I was around 5 years old. From that point on I noticed his conversation always had some colorful words in it. Maybe that is why I grew up feeling curse words were just another form of an adjective. Either way, I do believe those experiences contributed to me growing comfortable to speak my mind and this is why I immediately identified with the main character in this dramatic comedy. AFRAID to ask her mother for money Sage, played by Julia Garner (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Martha Marcy May Marlene), turned to the only person she thought could help get her out of her predicament; her grandmother Elle Reid, played by Lily Tomlin (I Heart Huckabees, Nashville). Unfortunately broke at the moment, Elle would not give up on her granddaughter and find a way to help her. I recently read the character of the grandmother was written with Lily in mind which made sense because she was perfect in the role. But the cool part was how the other characters such as Marcia Gay Harden (Into the Wild, Miller’s Crossing) as Judy and Sam Elliott (I’ll See You in my Dreams, Up in the Air) as Karl were not short changed; they each got a real character to expand with their acting ability. There was some predictability to the story but I did not mind it. The acting was so strong with these honest characters that I was able to enjoy the ride the story was taking me on. There is something to be said for those relatives who “call it as they see it” and that is why I want to say, “Go Grandma.”
You know it does not always have to be an awkward situation when you meet someone you used to be married to or have dated. Of course, it depends on the circumstances that led to the separation in the first place. There have been a couple of people I dated that I would prefer not having to see or talk to, just because they lied to me and broke the trust that was established between the two of us. One of them used to live near me, so periodically I would see them walking down the street; if I was able to I used to cross the street to avoid talking to them. Then there was someone else I used to be with that would literally run away if they saw me. I used to have a hard time with that because nothing happened between us that I felt warranted such an action. I remember sitting down with them to say I did not share the same feelings as they did about our relationship. It did take a couple of years before the running stopped and actually we have remained friends now. In fact, a majority of the people I have dated have stayed on friendly terms with me. When some of my friends would question how I could still be friends with someone who broke my heart, I had to explain to them that just because the love aspect of the relationship died did not cancel out the other good qualities about the person that attracted me to them in the first place. Unless they did something hateful, I for the most part have been able to adjust my thought processes about them over time. Everyone handles this type of situation differently; just see what happens in this comedic romance. CAMBRIDGE English professor Richard Haig, played by Pierce Brosnan (Love is All You Need, The Ghost Writer), enjoyed his single life until he met American student Kate, played by Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four franchise, Valentine’s Day). What was it about Kate that made Richard want to be a better man? The cast which also included Salma Hayek (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Frida) as Olivia and Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Easy A) as Gordon was the draw for me to watch this film; they were good and tried to do the best they could with the lines that were given to them. However, it was not enough to save this movie. The script was not only blatantly predictable, it was unpolished. Scenes felt separate from each other as if they were comedy bits from a television sitcom. I think if the writers would have spent more time developing the characters, giving them more depth; the story could have been more palatable. Love certainly has a way of making us do things we never thought of doing before.
1 3/4 stars
It was not until after the movie had ended that I saw this family of four walking down the steps of the theater. The parents with their 2 children, who looked approximately six to nine years old, must have been sitting somewhere behind me. Normally I do not pay much attention to the people around me at the movies but in this case there was a reason. This happened last week when I saw that horror film about a high school’s theater department putting on a play that caused a death the last time it was played at the school. As I watched the family exiting the theater I wondered why they chose to bring their kids to this movie; were they preparing those children for the horrors of high school or did they want them to grow up and be accountants by showing them what will happen if they go into the arts. It never ceases to amaze me what people do these days. I just wanted to go up and ask the parents what they were thinking. Did they not realize their young children may by learning by example? I know when I was that age I would follow along with what people were doing; though I will say, there were times I saw someone doing something and I would do the exact opposite thing. At the time I did not realize what determined my choice on whether I copied a person’s actions or repelled from them. I believe the main character in this movie had issues and did not have the best of role models to choose from. AMY, played by Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer-TV), learned quite early that monogamy was a falacy; it was easier not to be committed to any one individual. However, not everyone thought the same way as Amy. This was my first exposure to this comedic force known as Amy Schumer. Besides starring in this comedy she was also credited for the writing of it and I have to tell you right away the language was pretty strong throughout this movie. With that being said, there were times I was laughing out loud in the theater besides tearing up a bit at other moments. Her timing was impeccable and along with fellow actors Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Aaron Conners, Colin Quinn (Grown Ups franchise, Girls-TV) as Gordon and Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive, Snowpiercer) as Dianna; they all were strong with their characters. This was by no means a perfect film; there were some scenes that felt like a mini sitcom episode and a couple of easy to figure out parts. But with its combination of shock value, humor and LeBron James; I was fully committed to this wild story.
Is it possible reality TV is killing romance? Though I have never seen any of the shows that deal with bachelors, wife swapping or housewives; I am aware of them simply when their antics make the news or at least what the major news outlets consider newsworthy. It seems to me that the formation of these relationships are portrayed to show either a financial gain or notoriety. From the little snippets I have heard about these television shows I have to wonder how love played a part in their relationships and marriages. With everyday people, I have noticed there are some who get together for many reasons that do not have anything to do with love. Some of the things I have heard were things like: He has a good credit rating, they know how to drink, she is a good cook or their family is wealthy. To me love is waking up with that person who makes your heart beat faster; who may have sour breath that instead of smelling like road kill it reminds you of the lovely dinner you two shared the night before, as your feet were intertwined under the table. Throughout history I know there were marriages arranged to combine lands or solidify power between families; it did not matter if the prospective bride and groom did not love each other. There was not the option for either one to refuse the offer. This is the very reason why I was immediately attracted to the main character in this movie. BEING the sole inheritor of her uncle’s estate Bathsheba Everdene, played by Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, Drive), attracted 3 men who could not have been more different from each other if they had tried. However Bathsheba did not need a man to complete herself. This dramatic film based on Thomas Hardy’s (Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Greenwood Tree) novel was steeped in old world sensibilities but with a fresh feel that the cast brought to the screen. I find Carey to be a classic, intelligent actress who can do almost anything and here she was perfect. Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone, The Drop) as Gabriel Oak, Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris, Kingdom of Heaven) as William Boldwood and Tom Sturridge (Pirate Radio, On the Road) as Sergeant Francis Troy were a wonderful compliment to Carey. I enjoyed the sets and outdoor scenes with there wide expanses; the whole film had a well-done masterly look that was refreshing to me. There were a few parts where I felt I was missing something as if the writers had to cut parts out to move the story along. Maybe they would have been clearer if the book had been read first. This refreshing film about love and relationships could easily be relatable with current times.
I sat in their front room staring at the VCR with its display flashing 12:00 for the time. It stayed at the same time while I waited for my friend to finish up helping his mother before we were going out to dinner. I was not surprised by the flashing number since I have seen the same thing in houses of other people from the same generation as my friend’s parent. With technology constantly changing, I sat and wondered what people from younger generations would find amusing about some of the things I do. Some of my friends cannot believe I still do not have an ATM card; I just do not care for them. They say change is good and I can see the value in that statement, but sometimes I prefer staying in a place or routine that is already established as being an easy comfort. As we all get older we experience changes not only in material things but in relationships too. I have friends who change when they are in a relationship; one makes adjustments as that common single mentality turns to a couple and single person relationship. Or when friends have kids, a change takes place; it is no longer about going to a late night movie, instead it is getting home in time to take the babysitter home. These are changes all of us face to some degree. The difference is in how one accepts the changes in their life. CORNELIA and Josh, played by Naomi Watts (Insurgent, St. Vincent) and Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum franchise, The Watch), were a 40 something couple whose friends were settled down having children. Things were not like they used to be; but upon meeting the young couple Darby and Jamie, played by Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!) and Adam Driver (What If, Inside Llewyn Davis), Cornelia and Josh felt they found what they were looking for. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (Francis Ha, Margot at the Wedding), this dramatic comedy had some smart, observant dialog. I thought the cast worked quite well together, coming across as real people. Noah had a good ear in the way he presented the differences between age groups; I could relate to some of these individuals. The first half of the film was stronger for me. As the story played out I found the last part was not as interesting to me. There were more scenes that worked than not; but the more I thought about, those scenes I cared less for were the ones that Ben’s character appeared to be in a crisis mode. This story certainly presented valid points about changes; but at the end of the film I felt like an old man in the theater.
2 3/4 stars
As far as I can tell there is no price one can put on love. It is not something to barter or negotiate; I consider it an all or nothing proposition when it involves being in a relationship. True love is unconditional, where you accept everything about your significant other. In other words one cannot go into the relationship hoping to change something about their loved one. I remember this one guy a good friend of mine was dating who would make comments anytime we would go out to dinner and order dessert. After she would order something he would look at her for a silent moment then say, “Do you really think you should get that?” I do not know how she put up with it because I found it offensive. There was another couple I knew where one of them was the major wage earner while the other had a long string of bad luck in trying to keep a job. The breadwinner was always making not so passive aggressive comments like, “I’ll have to put in more overtime for us to afford it” or “I’m not spending my money on that.” To me this was simply another form of abuse. Relationships cannot survive without communication, respect and acceptance; trust me, I am well versed in this type of situation. DIFFERENCES in religion, backgrounds and job status had little importance as Cathy Hiatt and Jamie Wellerstein, played by Anna Kendrick (The Voices, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and Jeremy Jordan (Joyful Noise, Smash-TV), fell in love. While Jamie’s dream of becoming a successful novelist started to take hold, Cathy was still trying to land that one big role that would change her life. No matter, they were in love and they were going to get married; everything would work out in the end…or would it? This film festival nominated dramedy based on the musical from Tony award winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown (Parade) was lucky having Anna and Jeremy. The two were so well suited for each other, though I will say Anna was the stronger of the two. The entire story was done in song which I did not mind; however, except for a couple of the numbers the majority of songs sounded similar to each other. Also, there was not one song I could recall once the movie was over. The hardest part of this film for me was the order of the scenes. It took me forever before I realized the scenes with Cathy were going from the present to the past while Jamie was going from the past to the present. I found this totally confusing, diminishing the enjoyment in watching this picture. I previously mentioned the importance of communication in a love relationship; it also is for telling a movie’s story.
2 1/2 stars