SOON AFTER WE BECAME FRIENDS IN 1stor 2ndgrade, we became best friends. I lived on the northwest corner of a square, city block and he lived on the southeast one; we would use the alley to go to each other’s house. He had an uncle who was some type of farmer; so, every summer he would always bring over a grocery bag of his uncle’s fruit to our house each weekend. We would go through the bag picking out the ripest fruit to eat right away before putting the bag in the refrigerator. All through elementary school we remained the best of friends. During that time, we were there for each other during a parent’s health scare, the surprise birth of his baby sister and the rise of bullying as we advanced in school. By the time we graduated and started high school we were sure nothing would change between us. With the school population tripling between elementary and high school, besides going from a small school to a block long building, we assumed we would still see each other through the school’s hallways. As it turned out that was not the case and as time went on, we started drifting apart. Our circle of friends was expanding and diversifying on top of it. I WENT OUT OF STATE FOR college and that was the last time I saw my friend; we lost touch with each other. Fast forward now 20 years, where I am living down in the city in my own place. There was a store in my neighborhood that I had read about in the newspaper; they carried “funky” retro stuff. I decided to check it out one Saturday and walked down to it. The newspapers were right because the store was cool looking with a variety of items from different eras. As I was gazing down into one of the glass display cases a staff worker came up to me, to see if I needed any help. When I lifted my head up to reply I was stunned. The man standing across the case from me was my best friend from elementary school. He recognized me immediately as we both started laughing. He asked what I was doing there; I asked him the same thing. It turned out he was the owner. While we were talking, I noticed something odd; he was talking with a British accent. Listening to the scope of his business dealings, he was heavily involved in the entertainment business. He went by one name, deciding his last name sounded suddenly “to ethnic.” I found all of this bizarre, to say the least. AFTER THAT STORE VISIT, WE STAYED in touch sporadically. I felt like I was talking to a different person whenever I would see him. He had turned himself into this persona with the one name to make an impression with the Hollywood people he was dealing with now. His business expanded so much he had to acquire multiple warehouses to store his burgeoning inventory. He became the “go to person” whenever Hollywood studios needed specific styled props and costumes. His lifestyle became fast paced and crazy to match the people he was now hobnobbing with, from coast to coast. I had bumped into him at a play one day and knew immediately he was high on drugs. His speech was slurred, his eyes were halfway shut, and he kept swaying from side to side. That was the last time I saw him until I read his obituary in the paper. DESPITE BEING UNINSURABLE AND BROKE LEGENDARY performer Judy Garland, played by Renee Zellweger (Chicago, My One and Only), flew to London in 1968 for several sold-out concerts. This biographical drama also starred Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Tempest) as Rosalyn Wilder, Finn Wittrock (Unbroken, American Horror Story-TV) as Mickey Deans, Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist, Hercules) as Sidney Luft and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter franchise, Quartet) as Bernard Delft. Whether the story was accurate in this film did not matter to me because ultimately it was all about Renee’s performance. Not once did I think it was Renee acting; she was utterly convincing in the role. Doing her own singing, I had to give her credit because I knew it was not going to be easy; however, she did an incredible job. Her mannerisms, her posture, her gestures; all of them were Judy. As for the story, many viewers already know it; so, let me just say, it is sad. However, don’t let that stop you from seeing this film because I believe you will be hearing Renee’s name this upcoming awards season.
REVENGE CAN BE THE perfect balm for scorned, hurt feelings. Before I grew up, give or take a decade or two, I was a master of revenge. Not having the insight to acknowledge my feelings or at least look unemotionally at the troubling event that initiated feelings of anger and hurt, I would immediately go on the attack; my goal was to inflict pain as quickly as possible on the person who “hurt” me, so they would feel as much pain as I was feeling. The beauty of revenge is that it floods the mind like a dam bursting open to wash away all of the brain’s thoughts. What replaces those thoughts is darkness and anger. It consumes the person, numbing their sadness. Plotting a way to hurt back the person who harmed you becomes a twisted pastime. Please keep in mind I am not referring to physically abusing another individual, nor am I promoting any form of physical pain on a person. My revenge experiences were more of a verbal and mind games nature. FROM FILM AND REAL life experiences I have seen a variety of ways people show their revenge. How many movies have we seen where two people in a car are fighting and one of them gets kicked out; at least I have seen this type of scene many times. There was a wedding I attended where during the reception a couple got into this huge shouting match. One of the combatants was making all of these derogatory remarks of a personal nature that made everyone around extremely uncomfortable. The two had to be escorted out of the ballroom. Another example of a person getting revenge can take place with couples in troubled love relationships. Let us say the issue is one of the partners took money out of their joint savings account to buy an extravagant item for themselves. To make up for the loss of funds the other partner may make an outrageous demand that would inflict some type of hardship on the “big spender.” I have always said if communication is not cemented into the foundation of a relationship, the life ahead will always be filled with landmines where feelings will get hurt and people may want to take revenge. The demand made in this biographical drama took everyone involved by surprise. WITH THEIR MARRIAGE IN trouble Deborah and Ron Hall, played by Renee Zellweger (My Own Love Song, My One and Only) and Greg Kinnear (Thin Ice, Flash of Genius), were at a crossroads until Deborah made an unusual demand on her husband. She not only wanted Ron to volunteer at the local food pantry, she wanted him to make friends with a violent, homeless man. Based on a true story this film also starred Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator) as Denver and Jon Voight (Woodlawn, Heat) as Earl Hall. The story was unique enough to keep me intrigued throughout the movie. I thought the cast did a good job, adding a certain chemistry of belief to the scenes. What bogged down the story however; was the heavy handedness used to force scenes to their emotional limit. The actual story was amazing, but what the writers and director did with the script was to make this syrupy, cloying emotional heaviness that did not sit well with me. I was not left with angry feelings by the end of the picture; it was more of sadness that such a good story, with a competent cast, was not treated well.
I have to be honest; I was enjoying the attention given to me. It started out with short voice messages being left on my phone. Nothing major just things like wishing me a good day or they wanted me to know they were thinking about me. From there as our relationship progressed I would be surprised from time to time with a “care” package left at my front door. It could be a box of chocolate chip cookies or an envelope filled with coupons from the Sunday newspapers. I found these left items endearing and sweet. For it being early in our relationship I was actually surprised with so much attention. To me their actions showed confidence, desire and on some level their willingness to take a risk. More of my past relationships had more tentativeness to them, where the two of us took our time to learn and reveal more about each other; so this particular relationship took me a little by surprise at first. Later on it took me by shock. You see while the two of us were becoming more intimate with each other, they were also dating someone else. It turns out they had met me a couple of weeks after this other guy they had been seeing, so decided to continue both relationships and see who would be the winner. I had no idea I was in a competition; for if I had, I would have ended it. Granted my odds were 50/50 but it would have been hard for me to let the walls protecting my heart come down in a situation like this one. I am only competitive with myself unlike the gentlemen in this romantic comedy. TURNING another year older Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man, Chicago), decided it was time to make some changes in her life. She just had not planned on making such a drastic change like the one that took place. With Patrick Dempsey (Made of Honor, Enchanted) as Jack, Colin Firth (Magic in the Moonlight, The King’s Speech) as Mark and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) as Mum; the acting was well done. If I saw the previous Bridget Jones movies I do not have a memory of them so I will judge this sequel on its own. The story was fun with a script that offered a variety of physical comedy. I will say it took some time before I started to get into this film; the beginning did not grab me right away with the slow pacing. Maybe if I was more familiar with the Bridget character I would have felt differently. However once Patrick and Colin were in the story, I enjoyed the banter and the pacing picked up. There was a sense of the writers trying hard to make this sequel funny because I was starting to feel Bridget was turning into a cartoon character with all the incidents taking place. Overall I think those viewers familiar with Bridget will enjoy this film more than those who are just being introduced to the character. Maybe I should see the 2 previous films to make a comparison.
2 ¾ stars
What is it about the western movie genre that attracts a loyal following? My maternal grandmother loved them and both my parents were big fans for years. I think it is because there is a no-nonsense purity to them. They depict a time in our history where everything seemed to have a direct cause and effect mindset. For these reasons, that is why this movie worked well on several levels. The story began straightforward enough about a town hiring law men partners Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, played by Ed Harris (The Abyss, Pollock) and Viggo Mortensen ( A History of Violence, The Road) respectively, to protect itself from the menacing rancher Randall Brage, played by Jeremy Irons (Margin Call, Georgia O’Keefe). This was Mr. Harris’ project since he was director, actor and part of the writing team. He, along with Viggo’s fine acting, really made this movie worth watching; both were outstanding in their roles. In the hands of these two actors, the script was better than I thought it would have been with different actors. The two deputies found their job becoming complicated when Allison French, played by Renee Zellweger (Miss Potter, My One and Only) arrived in town. In spite of a few slow parts, I reckon this old fashioned western is worth renting, if nothing else to see the mighty fine acting.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
There is nothing like watching a movie and it evokes a fond memory. This film did it for me; I remembered my brother gave me “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” for my birthday and how excited I was to read it. Some of you may have thought the title of this movie had to do with Harry Potter, but that would be incorrect. Miss Beatrix Potter, played by Renee Zellweger (Chicago, My One and Only) was the author of this famous children’s book and this movie was about her life. During a time when women were only considered to become wives and mothers, Beatrix was a trailblazer who freely spoke her mind. Believing in her ability to be a great author, Norman Warne played by Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners), agreed to publish her book under her inflexible conditions. As meticulous as she was in the creation of her book, so were the creators of this beautifully done movie. Lush country scenery with an aesthetically pleasing layout of each scene, I was enchanted with the telling of this charming story. The small use of animating some of Miss Potter’s illustrations was a perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of this lovely movie. Now I only wish I knew what happened to that birthday gift I got so many years ago.
3 1/4 stars — DVD