THINGS STARTED CHANGING AROUND THE 4th and 5th grades. Prior to those times the girls and boys usually played together during recess and after school. I remember when we all came back to school after having the summer off, to start the 4th grade. Something was different I soon noticed. Where we used to do things as a group, there now were smaller groups that had broken off. The girls were not as interested in some of the activities they used to participate in with the boys. They also seemed smarter to me because they usually were the ones to get the highest scores on our tests. I can still picture this one boy during our study time who instead was fiddling with the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of him. She was annoyed and asked the teacher to make him stop. During this time, I found myself in a dilemma. With the girls forming different interests and moving into smaller groups from the boys, I had to split my time between the two. I would hang out with the boys for a while, until they started getting too aggressive in their games or sports; then, I would move over to my friends in the girls’ clique. It became a challenging time for me. DURING MY SCHOOL YEARS I HAD A few real close friends. As we grew up we still maintained a closeness even when we started branching out into different interests. I was spending more time with one friend whose interests closely matched up to mine. Through several years we were there to support each other during the rough patches. I wound up going out of state for college and it was during these years things started to change for me. We stayed in close touch but where we used to get the same reaction to a situation, now there was a difference. It was not until I returned home where I came upon a reason for what I felt was a disconnect. The reactions they were displaying were identical to the way they reacted when we were in elementary school and high school. They were complaining about the same things that took place years ago. I tried explaining if the same reactions were producing the same unsatisfactory results, then maybe it was time to change the reactions. I could see by their expression this fell on deaf ears. Sadly, it was the fork in our road where we grew in different directions. I was reminded of this while watching the two childhood friends in this romantic comedy. IT HAD BEEN YEARS SINCE CHILDHOOD friends Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, played by Ali Wong (The Hero, American Housewife-TV) and Randall Park (Aquaman, Ant-Man and the Wasp), had seen each other. Could looking at the past bring them forward into the present? With James Saito (Pearl Harbor, While We’re Young) as Harry, Michelle Buteau (Isn’t it Romantic, Sell By) as Veronica and Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, 47 Ronin) as Keanu Reeves; this rom-com was an easy watch. The script offered a mixture of family dynamics/traditions with modern thoughts and current topics. I did not experience any laugh out moments; for me, the story simply kept me engaged as the characters went through their paces. However, I did find myself getting amused by several of Marcus’ lines. The connection between him and Sasha came across as real thanks to the acting from Ali and Randall. Also, there was nothing in the movie that surprised me per se, except that I found Keanu’s performance wild. It was just pleasant to sit back and let the story play out in this picture. I would not consider this picture memorable; however, I appreciated the fact it got me thinking about some of my childhood friends.
2 ½ stars
THOUGH I HAVE EXPERIENCED THE FEELING, I have questioned my friends when they have experienced the same type of feeling. First, let me describe the feeling because you may have felt it yourself. It starts with a tingling sensation as if you were standing close to an electrical device, close to static electricity. The feeling sends a jolt to your heart; not like a shock paddle from an AED defibrillator, more like a squeeze to accelerate the heartbeat. A mixture of joy and excitement usually follows immediately. If that was not enough to send you into a euphoric state, your now heightened sense of sight and sound feed your heart with rich nourishment. I have felt this way when I have met someone for the first time and we immediately connect. The feeling I just described would be the most intense when meeting someone with the intentions of dating them. In a business setting I may be comfortable around someone, but it is not like my heart would get stirred up. I used to love going on first or blind dates because they were the ideal setting to experience that magical feeling. Once situated and comfortable with the feeling, I enjoyed the way the two of us would banter back and forth, barely pausing for a breath sometimes. THE REASON I WOULD QUERY FRIENDSi s to find out what triggers these feelings in us. Did it ignite from what they saw, heard or smelled; or was it the content of the conversation. Because I am more of a cerebral type of person, my catalyst was the content of our conversation. What the person was saying was my focus. For some friends it was the visuals; the way the person looked or walked. I would tease them by asking them how they would feel if the person cut or dyed their hair, if they were taller or shorter; something to see if it would trip them up. This may sound untrue to some of you, but I knew a person who only wanted to date blonde people. I would ask them what they would do if the person decided to dye their blonde hair a different color and they had to think whether it would be a deal breaker or not. There was someone else who only dated within their race and I would push back, asking what they would do if their phone conversations were positive before meeting them; would they stop from dating them? I have heard such a variety of ways people experience first attractions that I was not surprised initially by what I saw in this dramatic romance. FIRST, HE SAW HER THEN HE saved her; Daniel Bae, played by Charles Melton (Riverdale-TV, American Horror Story-TV), was already hooked. He just had to convince her now to feel the same way. With Yara Shahidi (Salt, Alex Cross) as Natasha Kingsley, Keong Sim (The Last Airbender, Olympus Has Fallen) as Dae Hyun Bae, Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Savages, The Taking of Pellham 123) as Samuel Kingsley and Jake Choi (Front Cover, Wolves) as Charlie Bae; this story started out sweet enough. The main leads worked well together, and I was curious to see where the story would go. However, as the movie progressed I felt the writers were not being realistic; there were scenes that were far-fetched to me. Then there were other places in the story that were predictable. It was as if the writers were using a blueprint from some similar, previous movie. By the time we got to the end of the film I had lost my interest in the two main individuals. It was obvious Daniel was experiencing that feeling I described above; I only wished I could have had experienced the same thing for this picture.
I AM NOT CLAIMING THIS IS 100% true; but if one must explain every joke to the person they are dating, I believe the relationship is not destined to last long. Humor, at least for me, is an important trait to possess. Not that I want to be with someone who likes and dislikes everything I do, but there must be some things that connect us. I used to rate food tastes as an important factor in a relationship; but because I am so picky, I have learned to adjust and be flexible about it. To give you an idea, if we were discussing a place to eat and I did not like the type of cuisine, I would refuse the restaurant outright. I soon learned that I needed to be malleable; food did not have to be so important to me. And what I discovered is I can usually find something to eat at most establishments. There still are some cuisines that I am not fond of, but I no longer put a checkmark in the “con” column when assessing a new person’s choices. Out of the variety of factors one chooses as the glue to bond with someone, food is not a deal breaker for me. FOR MY OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS, I prefer being with someone who is not just like me. I am an intense person by nature; imagine me being with someone who matches my intensity level? It would be a volatile relationship. When two people connect yet have some differences, I consider it a plus for the relationship. I always say it gives me the opportunity to see a situation through someone else’s eyes. It is a yin and yang environment for me. Whenever I am sitting in a place long enough to observe people, I look at couples. Sometimes I see two people who appear to have nothing in common. For example, one person is dressed in an expensive flashy way, while the other one looks like they got their clothing from a thrift shop. I am curious enough to sit and just watch how the couple interact with each other. Sometimes I am even sitting close enough to hear parts of their conversation, particularly if we happen to be seated next to each other at the same flight gate in the airport. From my observations and own experiences, I feel a mixture of differences and similarities creates the strongest bond between two people. If you want to see it being tested may I suggest you watch this romantic comedy. INVITED AS A GUEST TO A social function Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogan (This is the End, Neighbors franchise), got the oddest feeling he knew of all people the Secretary of State. If true, she was his very first crush. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Charlotte Field, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Unfinished Business) as Maggie Millikin, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Lance and Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as President Chambers; this film festival winning movie was the highlight for me this week in a sea of dreadful films. Seth and Charlize seemed such an unlikely pairing, but it worked to their advantage. I enjoyed watching them and laughed out loud a few times, due to the fun and topical script. Granted Seth was in his element, so there were times I felt he was reprising a past character; but my focus was steered more to Charlize. I thought she was a wonderful blend of seriousness and humor. Sure, one could say this story was similar to others but with a gender switch and that may be true. However, I found this to be a sharp and fresh take on the rom-com genre.
IT SIMPLY TAKES ONE EVENT, OCCURRENCE, meeting or altercation to change a person’s life. I fortunately and unfortunately had a profusion of them. Having seen the aftermath of a boy’s torture and killing of a cat steered me down a path to save and protect the animal population. Seeing a fellow student hoisted up to a locker room window, to be flung out, made me avoid the locker room the rest of the school year. After a couple of kids made fun of my religious beliefs, I avoided any talk about religion with anyone for years. Being on the receiving end of physical abuse made me untrusting and avoid any physical contact with another human being. I could go on, but I think you get the point; the things that happen to us when we are kids can have a lasting effect on what we become. Sadly, for some of these individuals they wind up living their entire life without realizing they have not reached their full potential; that there is more to their life besides fear, sadness and anger. For others, that single event led them on a road of exploration to discover their full capabilities. Can one consider all these scenarios a game of chance? I USED TO WONDER HOW DIFFERENT my life would have turned out if I knew then what I knew now. If I had been an active participant in my PE classes I might have been on one of the school’s sports teams. If I had not been sideswiped by the abuse, maybe I would have let my guard down a bit upon meeting new people and be open to new experiences. One never knows and cannot spend most of their time wondering about “if”. That word “if” can be truly debilitating to a person. “If I had only done…”, “If I went…”, “If I had taken…”; any of these types of musings will drive you crazy. Trust me, I know of what I speak. The most valuable thing I learned is not to sit and dwell on all the “ifs” in your life. I am a firm believer there are no accidents; there is a reason for everything. It is this belief that has allowed me to stop dwelling on the past and realize everything that happened to me led to who I am presently. Once I came to this realization I experienced a sense of freedom that allowed me to finally live my life. After all I have said you still wish you could go back and repeat your life, then you need to first take a look at this comedic fantasy. THERE WAS A REASON COMPANY OWNER Jordan Sanders, played by Regina Hall (Girls Trip, The Best Man Holiday), never let her guard down nor cared about her employees’ feelings. She was about to find out why. This romantic film also starred Issa Rae (The Hate U Give, A Bitter Lime) as April Williams, Marsai Martin (Blackish-TV, Goldie and Bear-TV) as little Jordan Sanders, Justin Hartley (This is Us-TV, A Bad Moms Christmas) as Mr. Marshall and Tone Bell (Dog Days, Whitney-TV) as Preston. The cast was well chosen for this story and did an admirable job of acting. There were a few humorous scenes and some funny lines; however, I did not get heavily involved in the story. The reason being this story had been done before and done a whole lot better. I found the script uneven as it jumped around from one emotional level to another, without any connections. It was a disservice to the actors where I did not see any chemistry being developed. I appreciated what the writers were trying to say, but something must have happened that made them veer off course.
THE DISCUSSION CENTERED AROUND THE TOPIC OF age; at what age does a person become lax about a personal regimen in their life? I was wondering if there was ever going to be a time where I would loosen up my dieting restrictions. Presently I stay to a strict diet Monday through Friday then free myself up for the weekends. Will I keep doing this eating pattern in my 80s or 90s? One of the participants in this discussion was talking about an elderly man with heart issues. This man was on a low or no fat diet due to their cholesterol levels. It had been a long time since he had a scoop of ice cream and he really had a taste for some. So, here was the dilemma: say no to the 88-year-old man or let him have a small scoop. I ask you, what would you do? I would let the man have the ice cream, with an understanding that this could not become a regular dessert. I imagine there would be some individuals who would not allow the option of ice cream; however, I feel at that age if the person wants to “live” a little then let them. What should a person do, deny that individual a bit of pleasure in their old age? NOW, MOST PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THINGS are “bad” for them. The question is, what level of toleration does a person choose to handle. I know several people who get headaches from drinking wine. Each of them loves wine but they must monitor themselves on its usage. I also know a few people who are lactose intolerant. One person uses one of those supplements where they take it before eating, so they can enjoy their food without suffering from the milk products in it. I was on vacation recently, staying at a resort that had an incredible swimming pool. Because of my hyper sensitivity to cold, I have not gone swimming in years. There was something so inviting about this swimming pool that I wanted to try and get into it. It took 20 minutes to submerge myself as I had to deal with my body reacting to the coolness of the water. To the average swimmer I am sure the water was warm; but for me, I felt like I was swimming in northern Canada on a cold autumn day. I was glad I did it because it felt good to swim around; but truthfully, I knew it would be a long time before I went back into a pool. Like I said, we each have to make a choice just like the young adults in this romantic drama. STELLA’S, PLAYED BY HALEY LU RICHARDSON (Split, The Edge of Seventeen), routines and rules were put to the test when a new boy arrived on her floor of the hospital. Usually a rule can be broken at times; but in Stella’s case, a broken rule could kill her. With Cole Sprouse (Big Daddy, Riverdale-TV) as Will, Moises Arias (Ender’s Game, The Kings of Summer) as Poe, Kimberly Hebert Gregory (Red Hook Summer, Vice Principals-TV) as Nurse Barb and Parminder Nagra (Bend it Like Beckman, ER-TV) as Dr. Noor Hamid; this movie’s story has been done before. The acting by Haley Lu and Cole was admirable, but the script was stocked with so many clichés that the characters suffered under them. I particularly felt the character of Poe was an old stereotype and totally predictable. For most of the time I was disinterested in what was happening on the screen; I felt as if the writers were being manipulative and predictable. There was an interesting premise to this story; it was just a shame the writers did not take a risk in doing something that was not the norm.
IT WASN’T UNTIL ONE OF MY first paying jobs where I finally felt I had a sense of hope. Up to then I was sure I was being judged more on my looks. At this job an older employee befriended me, helping me get accustomed to the work environment. One day towards the end of the work day he came over to my work area to fill out his paperwork. I have no idea how the subject came up but at some point, he was telling me the differences between two female employees, who I happened to be friends with each one. I thought maybe he was fishing for information, but I had nothing to offer him. He explained to me why he would not date one of the two women. I still had no idea why he was telling me this; but the thing that intrigued me was the fact he was talking about the female that many of the male employees felt was the more attractive one. This employee came to work everyday with her makeup just right and her hair always styled as if she was prepped for a photo shoot. She was skinny and wore what appeared to be very expensive clothing. This guy’s comments were so counter to anything I had heard before; by the way, most of the other male employees made sexist and rude remarks about this “prettier” employee. THE OTHER FEMALE EMPLOYEE WAS THE opposite. I would refer to her as being low maintenance. Her clothing was more comfortable looking than fashionable. She usually wore her hair in a ponytail and rarely wore makeup. You may be wondering what I found so fascinating about that male employee’s comments about not being interested in dating a woman like the other female employee. What surprised me was him saying he would prefer being with someone like the non-makeup employee because she was funny and witty, had a hearty laugh and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I wasn’t sure how to process some of his comments; however, the fact he was not focusing on superficial things is what gave me hope in the dating world. Not looking like any of the men in advertisements, besides not being athletic; that someone would be more interested in a person’s qualities was something I had not seen among my peers. Most people I have listened to tend to comment about a person’s looks before they will mention anything with more substance. The main character in this comedic fantasy would certainly understand me. WAKING UP FROM A HEAD INJURY cynical Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise), found herself in a hellish position; she was in the middle of what appeared to be a romantic comedy. None of it was part of her real life. With Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games franchise, Love and Honor) as Blake, Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect franchise, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) as Josh, Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake) as Isabella and Betty Gilpin (True Story, Glow-TV) as Whitney; this romantic comedy started with a solid idea for a story. The cast was fun to watch, especially Rebel flourishing in her element. There was nothing that warranted out loud laughing, but there were scenes that made me chuckle. This is a fantasy so one needs to let go with part of their reality to get something out of this picture. The message was right on and I enjoyed the satirical touches that were sprinkled into the script. Could this have been a better written film and allow Rebel to do more? Sure, but for a light stroll through an alternative reality, this movie was okay. Notice nothing was mentioned about the looks of this film.
2 ¼ stars
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ITEMS I have sealed in plastic bags, hoping they may become valuable someday. Neither of them was expensive; I think the most I spent was $6.00. One thing is a set of unusual stamps and the other is a coffee mug shaped like a character from a popular television show. When I bought them years ago I thought immediately they would attract attention; but honestly, I have no idea if they will ever be worth something. You see I do not have that gift for finding a treasure at a thrift store or auction. There is a television show devoted to people bringing in their old possessions, to see if they have something worth a lot of money. I am not that type of individual; most of the things in my house have more sentimental value than monetary. There are some people who have a knack for spotting a bargain; I think I fall more into this category. Part of the reason for this is because I have a knack for finding and using coupons to apply to the item. However, put me in an antique or thrift shop and all I see is used stuff. Sure, I may find something I want; but, it is based on an emotional level not a practical one. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO is skilled when it comes to finding things of value. The things he has shown me have totally amazed me. When I look at, for example, a silver serving piece such as a large fork, I see a metal item that is fancy looking. The individual I mentioned can dig through an entire crate of metal serving pieces and pull out the only one of value. I am not kidding you; he even showed me the item. It was a large metal fork with an ornately carved handle and three tines which were wide at the bottom then narrowed down to fine points. He paid less than $5.00 for the fork. When he got home he looked up and discovered this was a special fork from a particular manufacturer. Double checking online he learned the fork was selling for approximately $120.00. Maybe the dollar amount isn’t a big deal to you, but you must admit the percentage between the price difference is huge. He did the same thing with an oil painting where he paid $11.00 and found out it was worth over $500.00. Another person gifted like him was the doctor in this science fiction, action adventure. FINDING A PORTION OF A DISCARDED OLD cyborg was a stroke of luck for Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, Big Eyes). There was more than luck involved when he brought her to life. This romantic thriller also starred Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner franchise, CHIPS) as Alita, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog) as Chiren, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) as Vector and Ed Skrein (Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Zapan. Visually, this film was a feast of technical marvels. The fight scenes were intense with great special effects. The acting was also well done, even when the actors were transformed by CGI effects. Where I had high hopes for this picture based on the trailer, the script let me down. I found having a female hero led to a more sensitive story line; but the script was predictable, and the dialog was hokey at times. This picture was based on a graphic novel series that was unfamiliar to me; so, for those who know it or are into this type of genre, they might enjoy this movie more than me. It was obvious the producers are hoping for a sequel based on the ending scenes. I would be interested in seeing it but only if they get a better script.
2 ½ stars
WHEN I WAS A MUCH YOUNGER BOY I thought there were many differences between men and women. Maybe it was the times, the environment or the teachings; but outside the physical characteristics both sexes were treated differently. I never understood why the color blue was designated as a masculine color and pink a feminine one. I was taught to open doors for women and to give up my seat on the bus or train for a woman who is standing. Rarely do I see either of these things being done these days. If a female drops something it was ok to pick it up for her; however, if a male dropped something it was okay to ignore it. To pick something up for another male was akin to telling them they were weak and puny. Seriously, this is what I was led to believe. And of course, there is that thing about showing emotions, especially sadness and tears. Heaven forbid you are watching a sad movie in your film class and tear up; your classmates will pounce on you for being a weak sissy. These are only a couple of the things that I encountered in my youth; I am glad I grew up. HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I see today: both women and men saying ignorant things, both sexes displaying prejudices, men and women competing on the same team and both capable of being poor drivers. In other words, in my small world I see very little difference between men and women. As such, I treat them the same. If either sex drops something I will pick it up for them. In my fitness classes I do not even see males and females; I see people working hard and doing their best. With the participants in my classes ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old, I see the younger generations have a different mindset about the opposite sex than the older members. It is encouraging to me because I believe everyone should be on equal footing and treated equally. In the locker room the only negative remarks I have heard about the opposite sex have come from older men. In my opinion there is a lack of respect on their part, based on their comments. I do not think they have a clue that their attitude is part of the problem. For all I know they may not even know what a woman needs and who knows, maybe the same thing goes on in the women’s locker room and they don’t know what men need. This was not the case for the woman in this dramatic, romantic fantasy. NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE WORKED Ali Davis, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, No Good Deed), never felt like she was being treated fairly at her job. Could it be because she was the only female sports agent? This remake of the male version also starred Josh Brener (The Internship, The Belko Experiment) as Brandon Wallace, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) as Will, Max Greenfield (The Big Short, About Alex) as Kevin Myrtle and Brian Bosworth (The Longest Yard, Three Kings) as Nick Ivers. I do not know when this movie was completed but a part of me had to wonder while watching it if it was purposely written to appeal to our current events between the sexes. I felt the script had holes in it causing me to be bored. If it was not for Taraji’s valiant effort to get as much as possible out of the script, I would have been even more bored. Gratefully her acting kept this picture alive, along with the few scenes that I found humorous. I do not know how much you will gain from watching this film; I think you would learn more from one of my classes.
EVERY TIME I SAW THEM I would always wonder why they wanted to be with each other. From what I saw, they were not nice to each other. Actually, I think it had more to do about respect; they did not have respect for each other. Whenever we were together in a social setting, they would inevitably get into an argument with each other. And they were nasty about it. It is one thing to argue in a rational and respectful way over an issue; but, they would call each other names and do something that is one of my pet peeves: bringing up something from the past that was never discussed at that time. You may have encountered this yourself when somebody would say, “Remember when you did such and such,” and you have no idea what they are talking about because they never brought it to your attention back then. I cannot tell you how much this annoys me. If I do something that unintentionally offends, upsets or bothers someone; I want them to tell me right then and let us talk about it. To bring it up months later, where I get blindsided, is something I find to be manipulative. IT IS POSSIBLE THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS love each other; they just don’t like each other. Or, another possibility is they are both co-dependent with one another. I was in a relationship with someone who was manipulative and passive aggressive; two traits that are not fun to deal with, I am here to tell you. Until you catch on to them, you might find yourself doing things you normally would not have considered prior to them. Gratefully, I eventually caught on and ended the relationship; it simply was not a healthy union. However, I have seen other people in similar situations who remain in non-healthy relationships. I am not one to judge, but I do wonder what pleasure they get from their partner that keeps them locked in such a union. There was a couple I knew years ago who on the surface were toxic. They would yell, argue and manipulate each other on a constant basis; however, there were times where they were affectionate with each other. It was so weird to me. How could you have this explosive battle with someone and in the next minute be flirtatious and cutesy? I still remember hearing one of them threaten that they were going to leave the marriage all the time. Maybe this is one of the downsides to love; it can cause havoc in one’s life. It certainly influenced the couple in this dramatic, musical romance. THERE WAS SUCH A STRONG PASSIONATE connection between Zulu and Wiktor, played by Joanna Kulig (The Innocents, The Crime-TV) and Tomasz Kot (Gods, Bikini Blue) and that was exactly the problem with their relationship. This film festival winning, and Oscar nominated movie from Poland was beautifully filmed. Shot in black and white, I felt doing it this way was more effective in presenting a precise no-frills story. Even the script did not have any excessive dialog, which ultimately kept the story going forward. Taking place during the 1950s in communist Poland, the settings and costumes were perfect for the settings. With Borys Szyc (The Mole, Symmetry) as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza (Ida, These Daughters of Mine) as Irena and Cedric Kahn (Up for Love, Miss and the Doctor) as Michel; I felt everyone was connected to the story, putting on a wonderful show of acting. Now there were times where I felt the story dragged; particularly when the scene presented a similar situation I felt I had seen previously. However, it was not enough to make me feel like I was having a love/hate relationship with this film. Polish and French were spoken with English subtitles.
ONE CAN NOT HELP BUT FEEL special as they walk into the building. The heavy glass doors with the gold trim are the first clue that one is about to enter a place that cannot be considered ordinary. The vestibule has a sturdy tiled floor; the low ceiling is held up by walls covered in deeply colored damask fabric. The material is framed in portions with an intricately carved plaster, painted in gold to match the trim of the doors. Entering the main lobby is not so dissimilar from walking into a grand hall of a European palace. Marble floors replacing the tile in front, there are huge crystal chandeliers that are longer in height than width. They look like oblong, translucent candy wrapped with intricately patterned, colored wrappers with the ends twisted shut. There are matching grand staircases both front and back with red velvet covered steps and oversized, limestone balustrades. One can only imagine they are used by royalty. Spaced equally between the two staircases are doors that all lead into an amphitheater. Undulating rows of seats perched on a sloping floor descend to a stage where a red colored curtain blocks everyone from seeing anything behind it. Only when the lights dim does the curtain rise to reveal the actors who were waiting behind it. THERE IS A FEELING OF INCLUSION when one goes to see live theater. You could be sitting in the middle of a packed auditorium of strangers but feel as if the actors are bringing you into their story. I am a huge fan of seeing staged shows; there is something about seeing actors in the flesh compared to the big screen. Actors on stage have no chance for a retake; whatever happens they must be prepared to “go on with the show.” Seeing their emotions on display adds authenticity to the performance that I find connects me in a different way from actors in movies. Neither one is better than the other; it is simply a different form of communication. As you know I can get lost into a movie where I feel I am part of the movie; this is part of what I need to give a film a 4-star rating. At a play or musical the actors have more time to form relationships that carry them through the entire production. It connects them on a deeper level than acting in movies where they can do take after take of one scene. When I saw today’s film I felt I was at the theater watching a live performance. WITH A BABY ON THE WAY Tish Rivers’, (played by relative newcomer KiKi Layne), joy was short-lived when the baby’s father Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt, played by Stephan James (Race, Across the Line), was arrested for a crime he did not do. This Golden Globe and film festival winning romantic, crime drama also starred Regina King (Ray, Enemy of the State) as Sharon Rivers, Colman Domingo (Selma, Lincoln) as Joseph Rivers and Michael Beach (Aquaman, Soul Food) as Frank Hunt. Based on James Baldwin’s novel, this film slowly unfolded to reveal a real-life portrayal of two families in Harlem. The acting was outstanding from every actor; I especially enjoyed the chemistry that KiKi and Stephan poured into their roles for each other. With a beautiful soundtrack and thoughtful cinematography, this was another achievement for writer and director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, Medicine for Melancholy). Scenes seemed to be grouped into a series of acts, where I felt I was watching entire and complete feelings between the characters. I honestly believed everything I was seeing was totally real. There is nothing more I need to say, except this picture was a perfect conduit between film and theater.