THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls. THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy. ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.
AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED the best way to learn about someone is to talk to her or him face to face. Words are important, but seeing a person’s eyes and hearing the inflection in their voice are just as valuable. Before dating incorporated online activity, one had the choice to call the person on the telephone or arrange to meet somewhere. Don’t laugh but earlier times involved writing a letter. I enjoyed talking on the phone to someone I was interested in initially, because I felt it allowed both people to feel more comfortable. There wasn’t the added pressure of deciding what to wear or making sure the breath was good or the hair was not sticking out or checking to make sure there was no food stuck between any teeth; for some people these were important details. In my younger days when I went out on a date it usually involved sharing a meal to start off the conversation. Restaurants provided extra subject matter to a conversation, especially if the conversation had lulls in it. On a first date I tried to avoid doing an activity with a set time like a movie or concert. The reason being it did not provide a space to continue any type of meaningful conversation, not to say there always needed to be; but to sit in a dark theater for a couple of hours with someone I barely knew seemed weird to me. HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THOSE in the dating world now. And I cannot even imagine how dating will look once states begin to open up. Let me start prior to the pandemic; there are more options now for those who want to meet someone than when I was starting out in the dating world. With online dating services and apps a person can see whom they would like to meet. I remember talking with a friend about an online dating service and telling him a good bio is the catalyst to get someone to click on your profile. Some people prefer using the apps where they simply swipe to the left of right to show interest in another person. The thing I wonder about is what is going to happen now once the stay at home orders are lifted; how will an individual be able to meet someone? Looking at the children of my peers, I cannot imagine what a person would have to go through to date someone. Would the two individuals have to take their temperatures or answer a series of questions? It is going to be a whole different world and that is why I enjoyed watching this film festival winner’s take on the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac. KNOWN FOR WRITING GRADE A SCHOOL PAPERS for a fee, high school football player Paul Musky, played by Daniel Diemer (Family Pictures-TV Movie, Sacred Lies-TV), was willing to pay anything to have fellow student Ellie Chu, played by Leah Lewis (Station 19-TV, Nancy Drew-TV), write a love letter to a girl he was interested in. Writing about love was not Ellie’s forte. With Collin Chou (The Matrix franchise, The Forbidden Kingdom) as Edwin Chu, Alexis Lemire (The Art of Murder-TV Movie, Truth or Dare-TV Movie) as Aster Flores and Wolfgang Novogratz (Assassination Nation, Sierra Burgess is a Loser) as Trig Carson; this romantic comedy spun a fresh take on the old story. I though the cast was excellent, especially Leah and Daniel. Despite having a few misfires in several scenes, there was a certain charm and sweetness to this picture. Also, I enjoyed the humor that was infused into the story. This film can stand proudly in the way it delivered a solid movie watching experience and who knows, someone may learn the importance of the written word.
EACH OF US HAS EMOTIONAL NEEDS such as love, growth and significance. If one begins to feel empty, there is usually a negative feeling ready to fill the void. During those times where I was feeling alone, as if I was the only one of my kind, I filled my emptiness with food. Coming into the house with grocery bags filled with some of my favorite foods would provide me with a short-lived euphoria of comfort. At one point I was eating frozen pizza 2 to 3 times a day; that is how intense I was reacting to the emptiness. My attempts at love kept failing because of my lack of love for myself. It took a lot of hard work and discipline to recognize what I was doing with food and deciding to make some changes. All considering, based on what I have seen regarding what people use to fill a void, I am grateful I only used food to fill the emptiness inside of me. During my period of change it always fascinated or maybe I should say troubled me that this void inside constantly needed to be filled. When I experimented with things I thought might fill it, I never found myself reaching a level of comfort. I certainly got an understanding of what it meant to be “comfortable in one’s own skin.” WHILE I WAS ON MY JOURNEY of self-discovery, a friend of mine was being forced into one. She had been married for 20-25 years when I first met her. She had a great sense of humor and a personality to match. Yet, there was something I saw in her eyes that troubled me. It was a look that was familiar to me. During the life of our friendship I watched as her personality, humor and self-worth faded away. She would never talk about it; but I could see when she said anything about her husband, the life in her would die down like a campfire at the end of an evening. It was painful to see the life being sucked out of her and no matter what I said to her, nothing worked. It was not until a couple of years later when the door opened a crack and she revealed the pain she was in from her loveless marriage. Her outlet was to delve into the world of crafts. It was shocking to know the pain she was going through was producing some incredible pieces of art. Using arts and craft as a springboard, she found her way back to herself and became strong enough to leave her husband. It turned out her husband was abusive to her. Not feeling loved by him opened a gateway where her self-worth spilled out. Gratefully she filled her void in a healthy way, unlike the main character in this film festival winning, romantic drama. STUCK IN A LOVELESS MARRIAGE KATHERINE, played by Florence Pugh (Little Women, Fighting with my Family), realized what she was missing when she felt an attraction to a hired hand. That discovery started Katherine on a path of filling the void inside of her with darkness. With Cosmo Jones (Hunter Killer, The Marker) as Sebastian, Paul Hilton (Doctor Faustus, Eternal Beauty) as Alexander, Naomi Ackie (The Corrupted, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as Anna and Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Boris; this film grabbed my interest from the beginning. The reason for it was Florence Pugh. She was such a presence in the story; I could not stop watching her in the role. Set in rural England during the 19th century, the story started out slow and deliberate. The scenes appeared authentic and only added to the shifting moods that took place through the script. I will say at times the script drifted off track, but for me this was not a glaring issue because of Florence’s acting. With the present situation regarding the ability to see films, this one filled a void in me for well-done movies.
3 ¼ stars
THE WHOLE MISUNDERSTANDING COULD HAVE BEEN avoided if I had only known he was in a foul mood. Such a simple thing to do and it would have made a world of difference. I had texted my friend to see if he was free to talk. Getting an affirmative response, I called him with the intention of catching up since it had been some time since we last communicated. The conversation started out in the usual way with each of us updating the other on our family members. Having known each other for years, our extended families have trickled down to be part of our conversations with some familiarity. At some point I commented on something he said but did not get a response. I thought maybe he did not hear me. When there was a break, I repeated myself. There was dead silence for a few seconds before he made a comment that had an edge to it. You might know what I mean; where the comment could be taken two different ways based on the tone of the speaker’s voice. It took me by surprise and I did not know how to reply. Deciding to push past it and not assume the comment was negative, I continued on with the conversation. IT WAS NOT TOO MUCH LONGER before I felt he was hitting me with another comment that could be taken two ways. This time I called him on it, asking what he meant by saying what he said. He replied with “What do you mean?” which is a pet peeve of mine. He had heard what I said, so why answer with a question? I went ahead and explained to him what I heard and why I responded the way I did. He then took my words and turned them back at me with what I heard to be a condescending tone. One thing led to another until we wound up being irritated with each other. We quickly ended the call; I was left feeling ticked off and confused. I tried wrapping my brain around what had happened but could not find a solution. My feelings were hurt. It was not until later that night where he called back to explain what was going on with him. It turned out he was in a bad mood because of something that had nothing to do with me. His negativity spread into our conversation, where he misinterpreted things I had said to him. We hashed it out so we could clear the air between us. The bottom line was realizing the need to express one’s feelings in order to become a better communicator. This was a conversation the main couple needed to have in this romantic, war drama. TRAVELING TO HAMBURG FROM ENGLAND TO JOIN her husband Rachel Morgan, played by Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) was surprised to see the amount of devastation the war had done. It was even more shocking to discover she would be sharing a home with its German owner. With Jason Clarke (Pet Sematary, Everest) as Lewis Morgan, Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, The Kill Team) as Stephen Lubert, Flora Thiemann (Nelly’s Adventure, Sputnik) as Freda Lubert and Kate Phillips (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Susan; this period piece had a strong cast that worked well together. I thought the filming added drama to the story which turned out necessary due to the cliché filled, predictable script. Despite Keira’s ability to command an audience, the script did not allow for the addition of depth to the characters. I would have also appreciated if the writers included more history into the events that affected the characters placing them on their current paths. With this film based on the same titled book, I have to believe the novel offered a better story than the one in this post World War II setting.
1 ¾ stars
WE WERE SITTING AND ENJOYING OUR menu choices that we carried out from a local restaurant. At some point the conversation turned to traveling and we started asking each other what places we have gone to in the states. I think I was the most interested in the answers because I was the only one at the table who had been to all 50 states. Listening to the places people were mentioning brought back my memories of those times when I was there. I remembered one city where I got there the day they opened a new people mover to connect their airport to the downtown area. As I was sitting in one of the train cars, I noticed an elderly couple staring at the automatic doors. From the conversations I had with them during the ride, it turned out they had never seen automatic doors before. I know, hard to believe right? They lived in a tiny town out in the country. I will always have this memory as part of my memories of the city. Now some of the stories being told around the table dealt with areas in a state that I did not have time to visit. Many of my state visits dealt with flying into a city and exploring it and its surrounding area; usually there was not time for me to explore further out unless the destination was a national park or something else significant. MORE THAN SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE EVENING, someone would mention staying at a local area of an out of state city where I also had stayed during my trip. When this would come up we then would compare our notes on our time there. I found it curious when someone, who stayed in the same area as me, saw nothing of what I had seen. Though they could recall the street where their hotel was located, they had no idea what I was talking about as I mentioned the different tourist and local attractions/places I went to see when I was there. I would mention a famous museum, garden or mansion and they would shrug and tell me they had no clue such and such was there. I do not mean this to sound judgmental or condescending; I was simply perplexed by the things they chose to experience. Going out of state and visiting the same places one has back home has never been my thing. For example, going to a national pizza chain or clothing store or breakfast restaurant are places I do not care to visit when I am out of state. I know some people find comfort by choosing places that are familiar but then I would ask why spend the money to experience them out of state. Also, I am guessing some people may not even know there are other choices; like the main character in this film festival winning movie. KIDNAPPED AT GUNPOINT, THE DAUGHTER OF A wealthy businessman discovers a completely different world than the one she grew up in. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a scary or beautiful world. This romantic crime drama starred Alia Bhatt (Gully Boy, Dear Zindagi) as Veera Tripathi, Randeep Hooda (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Beeba Boys) as Mahabir Bhati, Durgesh Kumar (Dhadak, Paharganj) as Aadoo, newcomer Pradeep Nagar as Tonk and Saharsh Kumar Shukla (Ugly, Raees) as Goru; I initially thought this was going to be a standard Bollywood picture. Surprisingly, the script started out that way but eventually took a different trajectory. There were times the story wavered and turned to typical relief tricks; but I liked the ride this film provided me. I thought the acting was decent and I enjoyed the variety of outdoor shots the story provided. To call this movie a coming of age story would not necessarily convey its true story, I believe; it is more of a coming into awareness story. Hindi was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars
I WISH I COULD REMEMBER HOW OLD I was when I was able to stay home alone without a babysitter. The funny thing is, I absolutely remember the day when it happened. It was a clear but windy Saturday night. My food treats for the evening were a freshly popped bowl of popcorn, a box of chocolate chip cookies and a cup of chocolate pudding that was covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. I was so excited to have the run of the house all to myself. No fighting over who would get to watch their TV show on the large television in the living room and no waiting to use the bathroom; I was all set for the evening. The first television show I planned on watching was a comedy. All settled on the couch with my bowl of popcorn and a bolster to recline on, I began watching my TV show. It was only 10 or 15 minutes into the program when I heard a sound coming from the back door. I was afraid to walk into the kitchen to see what it was; so, instead I creeped along the living room wall until I was able to sneak a peak out the window that was closest to the back porch. I did not see anyone there; but I was scared enough to run into the kitchen and wedge one of the kitchen chairs under the doorknob of the back door. I also took out a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and kept it by my side the rest of the night. THOUGH THAT WAS MY INITIAL INTRODUCTION into becoming a responsible “older” boy, I began to relish my new status within the family. There was a sense of freedom, if you will. I do not mean to infer I was a prisoner or something like that; it was having the option of choice that gave me this feeling of freedom. A small child is told what to do or not do. For example, I remember when I was not allowed to touch the knifes that everyone else was using at the dining room table; my food was cut up for me because I was too young to do if for myself. At some point as I got older, I was able to use a knife to cut my own food. Stuff like this may sound trivial but being able to take actions and make decisions for oneself is a powerful force. This is something I do not take lightly because I know there are places in the world where people do not have the ability to make their own choices. Imagine what life would be like for you if you did not have the freedom of choice. If you wish to see examples, this exquisite, dramatic film festival winner will show you. AFTER HER SISTER’S DEATH HELOISE’s, PLAYED BY Adele Haenel (The Unknown Girl, Love at First Fight), mother pulled her out of the convent to take her sister’s place hopefully in an arranged marriage. With Noemie Merlant (Paper Flags, Heaven Will Wait) as Marianne, Luana Bajrami (School’s Out, Happy Birthday) as Sophie, Valeria Golind (Hot Shots franchise, Escape From L.A.) as La Comtesse and Armande Boulanger (Conviction, Silence du leopard) as L’eleve atelier; this romantic movie was filmed in such a beautiful way that I felt I had been transported back to the 18thcentury on the Island of Brittany. The acting was mesmerizing as Noemie and Adele used their acting skills to tell the story. I especially enjoyed the way the script slowly heated up, giving enough time for each scene to fully set in. The dialog was spoken in French and Italian with English subtitles; I had no difficulty following the story while reading the subtitles. This was a fascinating movie watching experience that depicted a time when women particularly had less freedom to choose. At least, I hope they had less back then, than they do now.
3 ½ stars
WITH DIZZYINGLY SPEED, SHE SCROLLED THROUGH her photos on her phone. To me it looked like a blur; I had no idea how she would be able to spot the photo she was seeking. Her thumb looked like it was waving at me from the way she was using it to go through her photographs. I tried to keep up with her and make out the images that sped by on the screen; but, because I guess they were not my photos, I could not decipher the images that were captured for a split second on her phone’s screen. Finally, she found the photo she had been looking for and with a pinch of her fingers she made the image bigger for me. She wanted me to see the details of the object up close. I was chuckling inside, remembering the “old days” when one wanted to see something up close in a photograph, they would have to get a magnifying glass. Speaking of the “old days,” I remember when I used to go to rock concerts, I would have to buy a special high-speed film for my camera if I wanted to take photographs. Nowadays one only needs to take out their smartphone and snap a picture. And I am guessing most of you do not know there was a time when museums prohibited the taking of photographs; try enforcing that now with almost everyone walking around with a camera in their smartphone. I AM NOT DISCOURAGING THE ADVANCEMENTS in photography; but I feel something has gotten lost with the technology we use to take photographs. For me, photographs capture a moment in time; it may be of a person or a place. Going through an old box filled with photos is a way of finding connection to one’s past as they go forward in life. Seeing a relative wearing a different hat in each photo you have of them when they were young might surprise you; since, you have no memory of them even liking hats. Maybe she had designed the hats herself when she was younger; you would never have known if it was not for the photos in your possession. When I see a much younger version of myself and can immediately experience the same feelings I was dealing with in the photo; whether good or bad, I am reconnecting with my former self. That photo is proof of the history I have lived, besides being a reference point to how far I have come in life. Seeing the shiny images of deceased relatives staring out at you, is akin to feeling their support in your current endeavors. A photograph can say a lot about a person; just see what it says in this dramatic romantic film. AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH LEADS JOURNALIST MICHAEL Block, played by LaKeith Stansfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12), on a journey of self-discovery and love. With Issa Rae (Little, Insecure-TV) as Mae, Chelsea Peretti (Game Night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Sara, Chante Adams (Bad Hair, Monsters and Men) as Christina and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Good Boys) as Kyle; this film was beautifully staged. Going between two different time periods, I enjoyed the filming of each period and the connection between the two stories. Issa surprised me in this dramatic role; she had a wonderful authentic screen presence that matched LaKeith. Their chemistry felt real and believable. Though the script got heavy-handed at times with the romantic aspects and predictability; I still enjoyed watching the characters as they matured through the story. Also, it was pleasant to watch a romantic movie that felt organic in its development instead of feeling forced. I would love to see the art of printed photographs make a comeback because of this picture.
THE FIRST TIME I ENCOUNTERED SOMEONE affected by a divorce was a boy in 5th grade. He and his mother had recently moved to the neighborhood after her divorce. If someone had asked me if I noticed anything different because this boy’s parents were divorced, I would have said not one thing. His mother worked which was no different than many of the other mothers who had a job outside the home. I do not recall any time when this classmate could not attend a school function or activity due to a missing parent or affordability; he was like any other student. It was not until 7th grade before there was another student who had parents that were divorced. Now during this time there were kids in school who had one out of both parents who had to be away from home for extended periods of time, either for work or the military. There would be times when the parent remaining at home would get help from a family member or neighbor; but it was not like that would make any kind of difference. The only time where it would ever make a difference, if you even want to call it that, was when there was a gender specific event like a father/daughter dance or a field trip where parents were needed to chaperone. So, an uncle or older cousin would fill in for the dance and some relative would handle being a chaperone; it was easily workable. HAVING HAD SUCH EXPERIENCES WHILE GROWING UP, made the realization there was another option couples employed when they no longer wanted to be together much more difficult for me to rationalize. In fact, even today when I hear someone say they are staying together for the kids’ sake, I have to cringe. In my experiences I have not once seen where that option does anyone any good. I knew a family where the parents were doing this and all it accomplished was their kids having to go into therapy to deal with the craziness, they wound up experiencing, during what was a toxic environment. One parent started using the kids to deliver messages to their spouse; besides, trying to sway the kids’ opinion about the other parent into negative thoughts. It was sad to see the manipulation that was taking place in that household. Even worse was when I heard through a second party that one parent told one of their children, they were the cause for the breakdown in their marriage. To me that was criminal to say to a child. Because of my experiences; I intently watched this comedic, dramatic romance to see what was happening with the couple’s marriage. MARRIAGE REQUIRES AN ABILITY IN BEING able to give and take; it appeared Charlie and Nicole, played by Adam Driver (Star Wars franchise, The Dead Don’t Die) and Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit, Lost in Translation), thought they were good at it. With Laura Dern (Certain Women, J.T. Leroy) as Nora Fanshaw, Alan Alda (Bridge of Spies, The Four Seasons) as Bert Spitz and Julie Hagerty (A Master Builder, Airplane franchise) as Sandra; this film festival winner’s cast was brilliant. I enjoyed each actor and the words they spoke. The story may appear to have a theme that is common to many other films; however, this script came across fresh and new to me. Adam and Scarlett were so good that I thought their characters were actual, real people. The dialog was authentic which only added to the realness of the characters. If I have any criticism, I think some viewers might find the beginning of the story sedated. Like a marriage, it can take a little work to get into it; but once you are, it can turn into a valuable lesson.
3 ½ stars
FROM THE VARIOUS JOBS I HAVE DONE, I have learned a couple of “truths” about people. The first one is: If an individual does not have passion about what they are doing, then they will never get far in life. The second one: If a person does not have even the smallest of a stubborn streak or maybe I should call it a sense of commitment, they could easily be swayed down a different life path. I have worked with several individuals who were schooled in what became their profession. For example, taking accounting classes towards being an accountant or studying art and interior design to be a decorator/designer. There was one accountant I knew who had the title but was not detail-oriented; I thought it was important to be particular and exact when working with numbers. This individual did not have passion for the work he was doing. Because he did not care, he would make mistakes from time to time. There was a meeting called to go over a group of accounts, I recall; where he came in late despite the fact, he was supposed to be the one who was going to update all the participants at this meeting. He was finally let go (new terminology for getting fired). A WOMAN I USED TO WORK WITH had an inspirational story. She was a single mother with 2 small children. During her entire upbringing she always had an attraction to helping people. At a young age she would tell everyone, when they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she wanted to be a nurse. She told me there were some individuals who complimented her on her response by encouraging her to pursue her dreams; however, relatives and close friends of the family told her it was not a realistic goal because her parents did not have the means to put her through college. They would encourage her to finish high school then immediately get a job to do her part in supporting the family. She heeded their advice by getting a job, where I met her; however, she took night classes at the local college. Though it took her more than 4 years to get enough classes to graduate, she did and was able to enroll into nursing school. If I remember correctly, it took her something like 10 years to reach her goal; but when she did, she was so excited and thrilled to finally do what she always wanted to do. Her strength was an inspiration; it was like the strength of one of the main characters in this dramatic romance. WHILE THEIR FATHER WAS AWAY AT WAR, four sisters and their mother found ways to pursue their passions while maintaining the household. Their dreams may not have been the same, but their passion was similar in strength. With Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Brooklyn) as Jo March, Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, The Circle) as Meg March, Florence Pugh (Fighting with my Family, Midsommar) as Amy March, Laura Dern (Cold Pursuit, Marriage Story) as Marmee March and Timothee Chalamet (Lady Bird, Beautiful Boy) as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence; this fresh version of the classic story was powered by the acting skills of the cast. The actors playing the sisters were outstanding together, playing as one cohesive unit. I did have trouble with the jumping back and forth in time periods to the point it was a distraction for me in the beginning. However, after some time everything fell into place and I enjoyed watching the story. I thought the directing and writing were wonderful as the scenes came across in a thoughtful, beautiful way upon the screen. This was a surprise for me because I came in feeling like I was going to see the same thing I have seen in other versions of the story. I could not have been more wrong as the writer/director Greta Gerwig (Mistress America, Lady Bird) showed me what can happen when one has passion towards a project; in this case, the classic story of Little Women.
3 ½ stars
ALL I KNEW ABOUT HIM WAS he had not been feeling well for some time. He was more of an acquaintance to me than a friend; however, we had friends in common. I had seen him enough times to form an impression about him; he was a jokester/comedian type of guy. It appeared to me he enjoyed shocking people by making shocking comments and telling outrageous stories about himself. Whenever we were at a gathering together, I always knew exactly where he was located by the amount of laughter I would hear. Up until hearing about him not feeling well, he worked on being the center of attention at every party. I, nor anyone else I knew, never heard what news he received about his health; but I had to assume it was not good news because of the change in his behavior. From being a talker and comedian, he shied away from the limelight suddenly. When I would see him at a party, he was nothing like he used to be. Instead of telling jokes and stories, he could be found sitting somewhere having a quiet conversation with one or two people. The other thing I noticed was the way he started taking things to the extreme. In other words, if he had the opportunity to drink, he would drink to excess. If drugs were available, he would be the one who did not care how much of it he ingested. I HAVE KNOWN SEVERAL PEOPLE WHO upon receiving bad news about their health acted in a similar way; but I also have seen others who acted in an opposite way. There was a woman I knew who did nothing different than what she did before hearing about her illness. She went on with her life as if the information was non-essential as commenting on the weather. I have wondered at times what would I do if I suddenly received bad news about my health. A couple of years ago when I contracted E Coli, the doctors were doing tests and zeroing on an internal organ that had a suspicious look to it on X-ray. I remember telling everyone in my inner circle the news along with explicit instructions never to ask me about it. When I got updated, I would notify them; but up until that point I did not want to discuss or think about it. Gratefully, everything worked out fine; but I must tell you, there was one point where I thought I was going to give up and not care about anything. Something like what happened to the main character in this romantic, dramatic comedy. NO MATTER WHAT SHE DID IT seemed as if every decision went wrong for Kate, played by Emilia Clarke (Me Before You, Game of Thrones-TV). She did not care because she really should not have been alive. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor) as Tom, Emma Thompson (Late Night, Saving Mr. Banks) as Petra, Boris Isakovic (White White World, Absolute Hundred) as Ivan and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Crazy Rich Asians) as Santa; the cast helped elevate the formulaic story. I thought Emilia did a wonderful job because I did not see her once as her character from Game of Thrones. Also, I felt she and Henry worked well together. If you have seen an ad for this movie you probably are aware the soundtrack is filled with George Michael songs. Some of them worked in the story, but others felt out of place for me. The story, for the most part, was predictable; but I did not mind. This was an easy film to watch and whether the execution of it was a bit stale, it still was touching and enjoyable.
2 ½ stars