BLOOD IS THICKER than water they say but that is not always the case. For those of you not familiar with this saying, it means relationships within a family are the strongest and most important ones. I have seen examples that both prove and disprove this sentiment. Currently the news in my area has been following a story about a father and son. The dad needs a kidney transplant, having suffered with kidney disease for some years. It turns out the son was a perfect match and immediately agreed to donate one of his kidneys to his dad. They both went on an exercise and diet regiment to get themselves into better shape before the surgery. While this is a positive example, I recently read an article in the newspaper about a grandson shooting his grandmother to death and making it look like a burglary. He did it so he could collect the insurance money. THERE ARE FAMILIES who are close-knit, spending most of their free time with each other. They take vacations together, go to special events, pickup groceries for each other and watch each other’s children when the need arises. I know one family where none of the siblings has a non-related friend, as far as I can tell. I am talking no school or neighborhood friends; they are only friends with each other. To me it is somewhat odd; maybe because when I would meet potential dates, one of my red flags would pop up if they never mentioned anything about their friends. If they did not say something I would work the conversation to the topic of friendship to find out if they actually had any people in their life they could call a friend. Now do not get me wrong I have nothing against siblings being best friends. There are 2 sisters I know who are inseparable; they so enjoy each other’s company and do everything together, but nothing like what was in this movie. I was surprised watching what the main character was willing to do for his sibling in this dramatic, crime thriller. CONNIE NIKAS, played by Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga franchise, Remember Me), had to stay a step ahead of his pursuers if he wanted any chance of reuniting with his mentally challenged brother. This film festival winner will finally put to rest any lingering memories of Robert playing Edward in the Twilight series. He was outstanding in this movie. Along with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road to Perdition, The Hateful Eight) as Corey Ellman, Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips, Eye in the Sky) as Dash the park security guard, newcomer Taliah Webster as Crystal and director Benny Safdie (Person to Person, Yeast) as Nick Nikas; the whole cast was excellent in this fast paced film. Robert was the main focus and the script literally put him through his paces. Some of the scenes were less plausible than others, but watching Robert’s desperation was riveting. There were at least several scenes that could have easily been plucked out of the news, but seeing them on a more personal level made them more intense in my opinion. In fact the whole feel of this picture did not come across as a Hollywood production. I have to say the story in this exciting film shines a whole different light on brotherly love. There were several scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 ½ stars
PEOPLE were lined up since 4 am. The line snaked around the museum’s front lawn. Some individuals had camping gear with them, which led me to believe they had been there since the day before. Everyone in line was upbeat and excited about the new exhibit that had opened at the history museum. From ancient Egypt the advertisements for this show stated the artifacts were nothing like anything on display before; they were in pristine condition, only discovered recently from a king’s tomb. The local newspapers showed photos of the long lines which is why we decided to get to the museum so early; at least we thought it was an early time, but there were a lot of people who thought the same thing. We finally entered the exhibit at 11 am and our agonizing wait quickly faded from our minds because the artifacts were all glowing in their temperature controlled glass cases. The craftsmanship was incredible, with such fine details; you would have thought they were recent copies loaned from the souvenir shop. THOUGH that exhibit was a long time ago, I still can see many of those objects clearly in my mind. It is fascinating to me how a society from centuries ago can create such incredible objects. Some people may consider ancient civilizations primitive; but I feel one has to take into consideration what was available at the time. These days we have 3D printers making things for us, but back then what did they have, a chisel and hammer? There have been times where I noticed an underlying prejudice of a person or group solely based on their ethnicity from someone who believes they are enlightened. They do not overtly show it but you can see or hear it in the way they communicate; there is a disdain or dismissive quality to their tone. If I am not making much sense then please watch this lush film based on a true story to see what I mean. DISCOVERING what he believed to be proof of an unknown ancient society deep in the Amazon Percy Fawcett, played by Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy-TV), set out to convince the naysayers back home in England. This film festival winner also starred a nearly unrecognizable Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, The Twilight Saga franchise) as Henry Costin, Sienna Miller (Burnt, Foxcatcher) as Nina Fawcett and Tom Holland (Locke, The Impossible) as Jack Fawcett. Set in the 1920s this movie had richness similar to director Werner Herzog’s (Fitzcarraldo; Aguirre, the Wrath of God) movies. The story unfolded in a quiet deliberate pace, almost to the point of boredom early on; however, the more the actors moved deeper into the story the more interesting it became. I thought Charlie and Robert stood out in their roles. On one level I sat in my seat in a bewildered state trying to understand how Percy could undertake such a challenging task. It felt like I was being propelled back in time; the directing and cinematography lent itself to this feeling. Another aspect I admired was the sense of respect presented in the script; something that I feel is lacking in these present times. This was like watching one of those old fashioned flicks, letting the setting contribute to the narrative. Though I felt this picture could have used a touch more editing, I walked away with a new respect for the men and women who sacrificed to bring to light the accomplishments of mankind.
With their arms stretched to their maximum length, they are yelling out the names of the celebrities walking past them. Though they are not close enough to touch; just a turn of the head, a slight nod, a smile or the ultimate acknowledgement–a wave of the hand, will make the bond between them complete. However, that connection is only in the spectator’s mind. Now you would think with my love of movies i would be right in the middle of that crowd, jostling my way to the front to catch the eye of a movie star, but you would be wrong. I absolutely want to be at the event, but do not see celebrities as demigods walking the planet. They are humans with bodies that function the same and are similar to anyone else. The rise in people’s fascination with celebrity/reality stars is something I find very odd. I do not understand why anyone would care about the mundane occurrences of essentially a stranger’s life. The thing that I find the most offensive are these “stars” who feel they need to bestow upon us their advice on what or how we should live our lives. Sorry but in my book just because someone has money doesn’t give them the right to tell me what I should or should not be doing. You cannot equate wealth with intelligence. In fact, there are many celebrities or wannabes who are filled with ugliness inside. FROM all appearances Dr. Stafford and Christina Weiss, played by John Cusak (The Raven, High Fidelity) and Olivia Williams (An Education, Seventh Son), looked like a successful couple. With him being a best selling author and her managing the acting career of their son Benje, played by Evan Bird (Chained, The Killing-TV), it would be hard to imagine they had any problems. This film festival wining drama directed by David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis, A History of Violence) had an incredible cast that also included Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland) as Agatha and Julianne Moore (Still Alice, Non-Stop) playing Havana Segrand which she won at Cannes for best actress. The story showed how deep ugliness grows even in some of the most recognizable celebrities. I enjoyed the way the scenes moved from one character’s plight to another. Though the acting was wonderful there were parts of the film that did not gel for me. It almost felt as if there was not enough drive with the characters, becoming similar to caricatures. The writers seemed to have worked harder to show the ugliness in the characters than their history. I felt disconnected at times, similar to when I see celebrities in the news doing dumb things. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood in them.
2 1/2 stars
Stuff just becomes stuff after time has passed. Things that seemed important now only take up space in your home. I can still remember the 1st piece of advice I received when I was learning how to drive, “A car can always be replaced, but not a human being.” So when I look around my house I have a different perspective on what objects are important to me. If there was some kind of impending doom about to happen to my place, I would save my photo albums and postcard collection. The photographs span decades of living, starting before I was born. I took over the job of photographing everyone when I received my 1st camera when I was 13 years old. All the postcards have been mailed to me by friends and family, from places all over the world. With the photos and postcards I feel like I have a little piece of the person close to me; capturing a moment of their time that will always be a memory. I know I sound like a greeting card, but these items provide endless pleasure with their retro feeling. I never want to lose them for they are dear to me. Just as important to Eric, played by Guy Pearce (Lawless, The King’s Speech), in this crime drama was his automobile. When his car was hijacked right in front of him, Eric would have to track down the thieves through the challenges of the Australian Outback. There was no guarantee he would succeed let alone survive. With the story done by actor Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Great Gatsby), I found the camera work and music score captivating. Maybe because the landscape looked so bleak and different to me, the sense of doom seemed to be more prominent. Guy was so intense in the role that I became increasingly anxious as the story progressed. The big surprise for me was seeing Robert Pattinson (Twilight franchise, Remember Me) in a role where I totally forgot he was Edward the vampire and believed him as the injured Rey. He was as convincing as Guy was determined in getting his car back and they were excellent together. The downside of this picture was the lack of explanation in several scenes. I felt some of the drama was just being repeated but with different characters. Eric’s actions led me to assume he was a certain type of individual but it did not jive with part of the story. There is a chance some people will not like the ending to this film festival nominated movie. However, you cannot fault someone for fighting to hold on to those things that were important to them. There were several scenes with violence and blood.
2 2/3 stars
Heads will roll if you mess with Bella’s child…and they certainly did in this final chapter of the movie series. After yesterday’s review that talked about the bond between mother and child, we have here another example of a parent’s love for their offspring. In this movie there was a new and improved Bella, played by Kristen Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Runaways). With the birth of her daughter Renesmee, Bella would need to master all of her new found vampire abilities if she was going to keep her child safe. The reason being there was something special about Renesmee that threatened the Volturi and its leader Ado, played by Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris, Frost/Nixon). Since I did not read any of the Twilight books I do not know how closely this movie followed the novel. The story picked up right where the previous film ended, with Bella having turned into a vampire. I had hoped with this new Bella there would have been a better acting job from Kristen, but that was not the case. She never looked happy, with only a couple of emotional facial expressions, that honestly looked like she was a mouth breather. Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, Cosmopolis) as Edward Cullen played the role with a slightly more relaxed feel to it. As for Taylor Lautner (Abduction, Valentine’s Day), he did not bring anything new or special to his Jacob Black character. The first half of the movie was slow for me. I found it to be syrupy and melodramatic, with its heavy musical accompaniment. What I found odd was how some vampires had unique special skills. It was as if the writers forgot they were dealing with vampires and writing instead for X-Men characters. The last half of this action film had a buildup of tension that led to an epic battle, with a couple of interesting twists thrown into the mix. On a whole the writers of this movie sucked the life out of the story, giving me only an ok movie experience. I was disappointed I could not sink my teeth into something good.
2 1/3 stars