A FRIEND OF MINE CREATED AN informal group that consisted of friends and acquaintances, who wanted to help take care of our neighborhood. The only requirement to be part of the group was to have pride for the neighborhood. Since I was born and raised in it, I signed up to become a member of the group. I have to say my friend was a sensitive individual, who started the group to combat the negativity he was experiencing both in his workplace and personal surroundings. His hope was to spread a little positivity around the neighborhood through acts of kindness. The first event he scheduled was to meet at the beach, ready to clean up any litter. When I arrived, he handed me a trash bag; I already was wearing a pair of gloves, so did not need the ones he was providing. There was a total of 9 or 10 people who participated and the time my friend set for the event was two hours. We each were assigned an area of the beach and went at our own pace because some of us weren’t as young and nimble as the others. I was grateful that in my section I did not come across anything truly disgusting. Instead, most of the items I found were cigarette butts, plastic cups, empty bottles, cans and tattered sheets of paper. Why people could not take the time to walk over to the trash and recycling bins, I would never know. ONE OF THE REASONS MY FRIEND asked me to join his group was because he knew how attentive I was in recycling everything I could at home. Granted I was lucky that the town I lived in had a very active recycling program that was easy to follow. Each resident was given two large bins, one for trash and the other for recyclables. They also gave out small orange crates as backup in case our bins got full before trash day. Since I kept my bins in the garage, I made doubly sure to rinse any containers out before leaving them sitting outside for days. I did not want to attract any wildlife with food encrusted items. Besides the usual newspapers and magazines, I recycled most of my junk mail, along with any container that showed the recycling number on it. I also would recycle those plastic rings that held together a six pack of soda, but only after I cut open each ring to prevent any wildlife from getting their head stuck in one. For me, I felt I was doing my part in protecting this world just like the main characters felt in this action, adventure fantasy. DUE TO AN UNEXPECTED EVENT, ANCIENT aliens who lived among us had to come out of their peaceful lives to combat an old enemy. With Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel, Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Richard Madden (The Take, A Promise) as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie (Maleficent franchise, Those Who Wish Me Dead) as Thena, Salma Hayek (The Hummingbird Project, Like a Boss) as Ajak and Kit Harington (Pompeii, Game of Thrones-TV) as Dane Whitman; this latest release from the Marvel Universe was a big disappointment. I felt the script lacked the typical humor one expects from Marvel films. Scenes dragged for me and I did not care for the flip flopping that took place in the latter part of the movie. Surprisingly, I thought the special effects were not up to par; there seemed to be an almost cartoonish aspect to the characters, and I do not mean that in a good way. The pacing and the action scenes just seemed off to me which added to my boredom. Except for the 2 extra scenes during the ending credits, I would not have immediately thought this was a Marvel film. It felt like I had spent an eternity watching this picture by the time it was over.
SEEKING APPROVAL FROM THOSE YOU LOVE is one of the strongest motivators one has at their disposal. Feeling good about your accomplishment is fine; however, having that “seal of approval” from someone else forms a stronger bond that can last for years. I remember to this day how I felt the first time I had to construct a diorama for a school project. The assignment was to recreate a scene from a book we were reading for class. My choice was an outdoor scene of mountains surrounding a secluded lake that the characters from the book would periodically visit. I had used a combination of materials, including rolled up pieces of plastic wrap for the lake. With a large assortment of colored markers and paints. I colored the pieces of cardboard I had cut out from a packing box, creating a mountain range with snow caps. For trees I used pipe cleaners that I would twist together to form the foliage over brown and black painted toilet paper cores. As I said before, I used a variety of things for this project. Once completed I was proud of what I had done. Family members praised my work which was both wonderful and expected; but, I really was hoping my teacher would shower her praise over my creation. She was a fantastic artist which made me value her opinion more than other people; gratefully she did not disappoint me. WHY I WAS REMINDED OF THIS memory was due to this musical movie. I have seen Elton John in concert a couple of times; once during his earlier years and the other recently. From the variety of acts I have seen live in concert, Elton was not a typical rock star. Many of them played off a certain sex appeal they were portraying. Male guitarists made it look like they were making love to their guitars; female singers would move in seductive ways. Elton was different; instead of trying to use sex appeal he went the spectacle route. The more flamboyant and outrageous he was the more his fans would scream for him. This is only my opinion; but because I was dealing with a poor self-image, I assumed Elton was also. Only when I could “dress up” in my workout clothes or suit did I feel better about myself. Seeing Elton dressed up in so many costumes led me to believe he was feeling the same way. Behind the façade there was a boy who wanted to be loved; I understood. If you wish to see what was going on behind the scenes, then feel free to watch this dramatic film about a music icon. FROM AN EARLY AGE ELTON JOHN displayed a gift for playing the piano. However, he was looking for something more. With Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood) as Elton John, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden (Cinderella, The Take) as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise) as Sheila and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise) as Ivy; the cast was well chosen. Standing above all of them though was Taron; he was incredible in his role, including his own singing. The acting and story drew me into this picture. I could not believe what I was seeing behind the scenes of so many memorable moments in Elton’s career. Granted I do not know how much truth was shown in this film, but nonetheless I enjoyed watching this movie for the most part. The one thing that did not connect with me was the use of fantasy scenes. A couple would have been fine, but I felt these scenes drained the emotional impact away from the story. It was amazing to see how so many of Elton’s songs’ lyrics lent themselves to the scenes. I would have preferred spending more time in the moment instead of turning the emotion into a fantasy scene. Whether one is a fan or not; one would be hard pressed not to be impressed with what Elton has accomplished in his life.
2 ¾ stars
Do you remember the first time you heard these lyrics, “A dream is a wish your heart makes?” How about these words, “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo?” The first time I saw the animated movie “Cinderella” I was scared of the stepmother. I could not understand how a parent could treat a child that way. But the character that really caught my attention was Gus the mouse because of his size; I could relate to him. The kindness Cinderella showered on him was something I wanted. If memory serves me correctly, I believe this movie was one of the first films that showed me how kindness could beat out evilness. I have seen articles that discussed the perceptions this past fantasy picture was portraying regarding Cinderella being a victim who relied solely on her looks. My interpretation resided along the lines of good vs evil. I hated the stepmother along with her daughters and was excited when Cinderella’s fairy godmother helped her get to the prince’s ball. As I grew older I continued to hope that good would always win over evil, even when it was being sorely tested on me. DIRECTED by Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), this film festival winning live action drama adventure was gorgeous to watch. The sets and costumes were incredible. Starring Lily James (Wrath of the Titans, Downton Abbey-TV) as Cinderella, Cate Blanchett (The Monuments Men, Blue Jasmine) as the stepmother and Richard Marden (A Promise, Game of Thrones-TV) as the prince; they really embodied the essence of the characters I remembered from the animated film. It was obvious they really were striving to make a memorable movie. In fact it was reported when Lily would wear the blue ball gown she could only consume liquids, nothing solid because the outfit was so restrictive. I read Cate could not sit down in some of her outfits and had to lean up onto a slant board to rest between takes; so, I give the actresses extra points for pushing through in their roles. The beginning 20-30 minutes of the movie dragged for me and involved sadness. It has been so long since I saw the animated film that I could not remember if it had dealt with Cinderella’s loss the same way, if at all. My disappointment fell onto the script; I did not know if it was due to my expectations or my memories of previous films, but I needed more drama and passion. Though Cate was terrific, I wanted her to be more evil if that makes sense. It just seemed as if the filming and story were kept at a constant safe level. In my heart I was wishing this would have matched my feelings for the animated Disney film; I guess I can still dream.
2 3/4 stars