IT WAS NOT UNTIL WAY INTO my adult life before I ever heard the phrase, “Be in the moment.” And when I finally heard it, I was not sure what it meant. Be in the moment, be where? The reason I did not understand it was because I am not only an ultra-planner, but I am not spontaneous in anything I do. I am one of those individuals who can go from one activity/event to another and another throughout the day. In other words, I can go grocery shopping in the morning after breakfast then go work out at the health club, then meet someone for lunch, then go shopping for several items, get home in time to change clothes then meet up with friends for dinner and maybe a movie or pre-COVID a play. There was and still is little down time in my life. To give you an idea how I am now trying to slow down a bit, I now force myself to take small bites of food to slow myself from just inhaling an entire plate of stuff before the people around me have been able to eat at least half their meal. It has only been the past several years where I made a conscious effort to slow things down to actually taste the food I am eating or take the time to really see what I am doing. BY SLOWING THINGS DOWN AND TAKING my time, I discovered there are some perfect moments that take place in a day. Watching a bee going from one flower to another, seeing a group of dogs playing in a dog park, sitting in a comfy easy chair reading a pleasurable book; whatever perfect means for each of us, there is a certain satisfaction experiencing perfect moments in life. I recently threw a surprise birthday party and made sure I would “be in the moment.” Seeing the expression of stunned surprise on the guest of honor’s face and feeling in the room the common energy of love and affection from the guests was intoxicating. I can honestly say it was a perfect moment among many that day. The only thing that would have made that party any better would be if it could be repeated. Imagine if we had the ability to relive the day. One could experience all the positivity the day offered, or they could make some changes that would make the day become a perfect one. It is an interesting concept that you can see being played out in this romantic comedy romance. WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT, NO matter what Mark, played by Kyle Allan (All My Life, The Path-TV), may be doing, he gets to relive the day over again. Not much changes for him until a mysterious girl appears one day. With Kathryn Newton (Freaky, Ben is Back) as Margaret, Jermaine Harris (Ballers-TV) as Henry, Anna Mikami (Vox Lux, Birds of Prey) as Phoebe and Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade, False Positive) as Daniel; this movie was sweet and charming. The chemistry between Kathryn and Kyle was touching and real. The story has that Groundhog Day movie vibe; however, I found the humor here to more on a gentle level that had a better fit into the story line. The script offered an extra element of compassion that I found heartwarming; it also surprised me a bit. This was a pleasant viewing experience that made me think more about slowing down to experience fully what I am doing. I found the message refreshing and reaffirming, be in the moment.
THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN the feelings of annoyance and hatred. I cannot say it is a rock-solid line in my world. My grocery store stopped carrying my brand of bagged spinach, so they could sell their in-house store brand. I was annoyed but bought their bag anyway. Honestly, I cannot tell the difference except their brand has more loose stems in the bag than my brand. Well now for the past 3 weeks, I open the bag and find partially decomposed pieces. I double checked but knew the bag’s expiration date had not passed. The first time this happened, I was annoyed. The same the 2nd time it happened. But now, I hate their bagged spinach and plan on going to a different grocery store just to get bagged spinach that doesn’t look like slime after you open the bag for the first time. Currently, I am getting annoyed with this store’s fresh broccoli. I do not know what is happening but the last couple of times I have brought it home and washed it, within a couple of days the florets turn dark and mushy. I have been buying broccoli for years and have never had an issue up until now. If this keeps up, I will stop buying the store’s broccoli as well. I am telling you, if they keep annoying me with food that quickly goes bad, I may decide the heck with them and buy all my groceries from a different store. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO JUDGE something or someone and decide they do not like it. I am guilty of this when it especially comes to food. If it doesn’t look good to me, I will not eat it. I am a texture eater; if a food dish looks like it is gelatinous, I cannot stomach even looking at it. Have you ever had food in a sauce that you saved for the next day and the sauce turned into something like an aspic? It has happened to me with some Asian dishes. It is more than an annoyance for me when I open the storage container and see pieces of food suspended in a murky jelly like substance. Do I actually hate it? I know I hate when it happens but maybe I can say I do not like the look of it, though my feelings are close to hating the stuff. Hate is a word I try not to randomly throw around on what essentially are innocuous things. I do not hate public transportation, but I hate running for a bus or train that pulls away as I am getting up to it. For the first time this year, I experienced the strongest feelings that bordered on hatred for a movie. A COMEDIAN’S AND OPERA SINGER’S RELATIONSHIP is all being viewed in the public’s eye. As the two get more serious, so does the pressure. With Adam Driver (Marriage Story, The Report) as Henry McHenry, Marion Cotilard (Angel Face, The Immigrant) as Ann Defrasnoux, Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins, Old School) as The Accompanist, relative newcomer Devyn McDowell as Annette in prison and Natalia Lafourcade (Amar no es querer, El cielo en tu mirada) as Special Guest/The Police; this dramatic musical romance tested my limits on keeping me engaged. Visually I did not mind the scenes; however, I thought almost every musical number was awful. Listening to Adam sing through the film was rough. Maybe there is some secret symbolism in the story; but with my focus being on the entertainment factor, I thought the script was a poor piece of a story that has been told time and time again. The irony here is I liked the acting; but there was nothing in this picture that I found enjoyable. To me, it was pretentious as it attempted to be “artsy.” And at 2 hours and 21 minutes, it was a long and painful waste of time.
1 ½ stars
I MISS DIALING A PHONE NUMBER and speaking to an actual person. The amount of time it takes these days to get a hold of someone seems as if it is getting longer and longer. Going through the different prompts feels like I am being tested to see how long it will take before my patience wears out. Not that I am totally old-fashioned; but I get frustrated when I must contact companies and offices for something, I think will have an easy answer then jump through automated verbal hoops. On the other hand, it is a breeze to check on my bank balance with the bank’s automated system without having to speak to a bank employee. I have similar feelings about the self-service checkout lanes at the grocery store. If I do not have coupons, I will use the self-service lanes. However, if I am using a coupon then I use the regular checkout lanes. The reason being at the self-service I have to wait for an employee to come over and approve my coupons then override the computer screen to allow me to scan the coupons. By the time I get through this process my ice cream usually has softened. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW who are emotionally locked to their past, when it comes to their love relationships. I had a friend who was living with the love of their life for several years, before their love took ill and died. My friend never got over it, mourning them for years. After what seemed a long, long time they agreed to go on a blind date; however, it went no further after the initial meeting. There were several dates to follow with various suitable individuals; but like that first blind date, all of them went no further than the one and only date. My friend kept saying none of the people they were meeting could compare to their deceased partner. I tried offering that it probably was difficult to make a comparison from only having one date. My musings fell on deaf ears. They preferred to live in the past and I say that because after a time I would have thought my friend would have started to dispose of their love’s clothes and personal items. They did no such thing; instead, they left everything the way it was when they were alive. A hairbrush remained in the medicine cabinet; their toothbrush stayed in the toothbrush holder. I felt sad for them, similar to how I felt initially about the private investigator in this romantic mystery. WHEN HE FIRST MET HER WHEN she walked into his place, private investigator Nick Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman (Bad Education, The Front Runner), had no idea that finding her lost keys would lead him to a crime. With Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep, The Kid Who Would Be King) as Mae, Thandiwe Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, Vanishing on 7thStreet) as Emily “Watts” Sanders, Cliff Curtis (Risen, The Dark Horse) as Cyrus Boothe and Marina de Tavira (Roma, Secondary Effects) as Tamara Sylvan; this futuristic film noir production was enticing to watch. I thought the sets stood out as well as the outside Miami area. The first half of the story drew me in as the mystery was building. The pacing fit the story as the actors, who were stiff with their acting, tried to bring their characters to life. Sadly, the script did not help them. Unfortunately, the last half of the story got bogged down with twists and turns, past and present; to the point I lost interest. It bothered me because I enjoyed the visuals and the mystery portion of this picture. The other thing that absolutely annoyed me had to do with seeing a person’s memories that were being shown from an outside perspective. I can look back at a memory but if it is being pulled from my mind to relive, how could there be a different perspective that I did not see back then? This was not the way I remembered the past.
1 3/4 stars
AFTER MUCH SEARCHING I FINALLY FOUND what I was looking for at an incredible deal. I had been checking different web sites for these “high-tech” socks I was told would help with my physical activities. After some time, I was thrilled not only to find them and like the color choices, but they were priced way below any other sites that offered versions of these types of socks. I could not believe how lucky I was to get them for such a cheap price. Because I was so stoked by my good fortune, I purchased multiple items so I could get an extra discount that was being offered. The package arrived and I was thrilled on how they looked with their bold colors. After taking them out of their packaging, I tried a pair on. It was a challenge getting them on my feet which I thought was weird but attributed it to their high-tech qualities. The socks were snug on my legs which I just took for granted. My legs felt okay after working out with them; the first week I tried 3 different pairs. After their first time in the wash, I noticed one pair had a snagged thread as if it got caught on something. I did not pay it too much mind; however, after a couple more times in the washing machine the loose thread unraveled into a hole—that matched a hole that had formed in another pair of socks. My deal it turned out was too good to be true. I SHOULD HAVE GONE WITH MY first reaction when I saw the price of the socks; but the idea of getting something for less money overrode my senses. How many times have we heard “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not?” And just recently, I said that to a friend who was sending $300.00 to someone he met online. I know what you are thinking and yep, you are correct; how could he send money to someone he just met online, who lives in a different country. I could not believe my ears when I heard what he did; I had considered him an intelligent human being, but this was not proof of it. Now get this, he tells me that he is considering buying an airline ticket for them to come visit him here in the states. I was dumbfounded as my mouth went before my filter kicked in and I told him he was an idiot, followed with the saying about “If it sounds too good…” The main character in this romantic comedy had more sense than this friend. YEARS OF PUTTING HER CAREER FIRST, a chance meeting makes a stand-up comedienne wonder if the man she met was too good to be true. With Iliza Shlesinger (Pieces of a Woman, Instant Family) as Andrea, Margaret Cho (Friendsgiving, Drop Dead Diva-TV) as Margot, Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as Dennis, Rebecca Rittenhouse (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Red Band Society-TV) as Serrena and Mav Viola (normal, Beautiful Mess-TV) as Grace; this film worked to a degree due to Iliza’s performance. I found her to be a natural in the role and enjoyed the segments where she was doing her stand-up. Despite the vein of craziness that turned into an unrealistic scenario, this movie was an easy viewing experience. I liked the idea for the story; however, I do not think it did much with the script that was written for it. It needed more depth infused into the characters. Also, the last portion of the movie took a downward spiral that I felt was an easy out and written to get some cheap laughs. Though there was nothing horrible about this picture; I feel the trailer for it may fall into the category of too good to be true.
THE MEMORY IS JUST AS VIVID now as when it was created decades ago. An amusement park that was in the heart of the city. I was there with a large group of relatives. Everyone was in line to go on a water ride; where a long boat would take you through a tunnel, where at the end there was something like a big freight elevator, that lifted the boat several stories high to the top of a water slide. I was not even in school yet; but I remember I was afraid to get into the boat. At some point a relative lifted me up and placed me in a seat on the edge side of the boat; I cried because I was afraid, I thought I was going to tip the boat over. The boat rocked from side to side which only made me more terrified. By the time we got to the freight elevator contraption, I was nearly uncontrollable. There was a loud clicking sound being made while the boat was rising in the air. Through the metal bars of the scaffolding, I could see the park guests walking around, looking like worker ants to me. When the boat reached the top, it paused. The only sound was of me wailing. Slowly the front of the boat started to tip down and before I realized what was taking place, the boat rushed down the water slide, where it made a huge splash hitting the water. My cries immediately turned to gleeful laughter; I absolutely loved it and wanted to ride the boat again. THE MEMORY OF THAT INITIAL RIDE has stayed with me all these years. I was with family, we spent the whole day at the park, I had an ice cream that had a hard chocolate coating on the outside; it was a beautiful and fun filled day. Imagine if one day I no longer could recall this memory? Would it be floating somewhere in my brain where it would randomly flash itself one day into my consciousness for a moment? I think about this from time to time and have been for many years. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I always want to document with a photograph a noteworthy activity I am participating in so that I will never forget it. When I was little, I thought our brains could only hold a finite amount of memories. I wanted to somehow purge myself of the sad ones. After many years and seeing those I know deal with forgetfulness, I am even more determined to continue to create new, happy memories. I have seen what happens when the brain becomes engulfed with the diseases of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In seeing this romantic drama, I only have admiration for what the main couple had to deal with in their lives. AFTER RECEIVING A TROUBLING DIAGNOSIS, A long term couple embark on a road trip to visit those from their past. With Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) as Sam, Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, Spotlight) as Tusker, Pippa Haywood (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Scott & Bailey-TV) as Lilly, newcomer Nina Marlin and Ian Drysdale (Tulip Fever, Genius) as Paul, this film festival winner won me over with the acting skills of Colin and Stanley. They were able to take a script filled with simple, daily life occurrences and create a quiet powerful piece. The story was touching and for those viewers who know individuals suffering from memory loss, this picture will affect you deeper; though, those unaware will still feel the emotion rising off the script. If it was not for the powerful acting, several scenes in this movie would have gone slowly. Gratefully, I appreciated all the work the actors and crew put into this beautiful film. I believe I will remember this movie for a long time.
SHE AND I HAD AN ESTABLISHED friendship prior to when she started dating this guy. They seemed compatible to me because I never saw or heard about any drama between them. We would hang out together with a group of friends and he had little trouble fitting in. By the time we were getting ready for college, I was going out of state while she and her boyfriend were going to the same school. During my time away, we still stayed in touch. I heard about the different places they went on the weekends, both of their course loads; in other words, I was getting all the latest information about everyone from her. By the time we were finishing up our undergrad studies, she told me she and her boyfriend were going to get married; it was going to be a small ceremony for their families. I was happy for her. She told me she was going to get a job after college to support the 2 of them while he continued with his studies in law. I was surprised to hear this because I knew she had been planning to continue for a master’s degree. When I asked her about it, she said she was fine postponing her career path until her fiancé got established as a lawyer, then she would return to school. WELL, IT TOOK A LITTLE LONGER than planned for her husband to graduate with a law degree and pass the bar exam. She never complained about the delay in their timetable. However, she did confine in me that they struggle with living off only one salary. She rarely had time to get together with our mutual friends because she was always tired. The day finally came where he did pass the bar exam and would be able to practice law. He landed a position in a prestigious firm and found himself putting in long hours. She was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, where she would be able to return to school to pursue her career aspirations. Sadly, after one year of practicing law her husband filed for divorce. She was devastated, especially after everything she sacrificed to allow him to pursue his career. I felt horrible for her and did what I could to help lift her spirits. Weirdly this scenario had crossed my mind because I had seen similar results from other couples, when one of the two achieves a higher level of success. Either one starts to mingle with a different crowd or feels they have risen to a higher socioeconomic status and their partner feels they don’t fit it. The whole thing doesn’t make much sense to me if indeed the couple are truly in love with each other. This is the question I had as I watched the couple in this film festival nominated romance. RETURNING FROM THE PREMIERE OF HIS first movie, a director and his girlfriend find themselves in two totally different places that would test the bonds of their love for each other. Written and directed by Sam Levinson (Another Happy Day, Euphoria-TV), this dramatic movie starred John David Washington (Tenet, BlacKkKlansman) as Malcolm and Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man franchise) as Marie. The filming of this picture was beautifully done in a black and white palette. I thought the acting was strong and intense by the two actors, where one could feel the chemistry between them. My issue however was with the script. Due to the multiple scenes filled with arguments, watching this film was tedious at times. Granted the two actors were excellent, but I can only listen to so much heated discussion before I want to tune out. In a way, this story seemed as if it could easily transfer to live theater. By the end of this film, I had mixed emotions. I felt I had seen a glimpse of what could go on in the film world, besides many other similar worlds, when success becomes part of a couple’s equation.
2 ½ stars
THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something that I thought I would only have experienced by watching it in a movie. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be told I have to remain indoors and only go out for needed, essential items. I know it has been a challenging time for so many people. Within the past several weeks, I read about a celebrity that filed for divorce, stating the pandemic was a partial cause to the failure in their marriage. It seemed being together 24/7 had a negative effect on their relationship. Now, I believe all love relationships need a component of space in them; but I must wonder if something was going on in this celebrity’s marriage before the country went into lockdown. The reason I question this is because I know a couple who were not getting along before the pandemic and when they both had to stay at home their negativity towards each other only grew more. You would think a life or death environment, which is what I consider we have had to live through the past year, would have put things into perspective for this couple and made them make a decision on how they wanted to live their lives for the future. THOUGH I AM NOT CONFIDENT THAT couple will stay together, I have seen firsthand how being with someone you care about 24/7 adds a deeper depth to the feelings one has for the other. Seeing the person, you think you know so well, working from home suddenly can be a revelation. Listening to the way they manage a meeting or bring resolution to a conflict can be eye opening. You may already know they are compassionate and kind, but to see the way they incorporate that into their workaday world is enlightening. There really is a difference to leading a social event compared to orchestrating a business meeting. What I have noticed now, since some companies are allowing their employees to return to the office, is those couples who have been together around the clock are feeling a sense of loss now that their loved one is not with them in their workday. I can see the advantage of having your loved one with you in your office setting because they immediately can be your trusted advisor or sounding board to bounce off ideas and feelings. It is a wonderful opportunity since we are in such strange times; it is like we are living in an alternative world and we are just trying to make the best of it. The couple in this comedic, crime romance is an example of how two people are dealing with the past year. FORCED TO STAY TOGETHER DURING THE pandemic, a couple’s true feelings for each other comes out in unexpected ways that drives them to the breaking point. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Paxton, Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters, Ocean’s Eight) as Linda, Dule Hill (The West Wing-TV, Psych-TV) as David, Jazmyn Simon (Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Ballers-TV) as Maria and Frances Ruffelle (Secrets & Lies, The Road to Ithaca) as Neighbour; the movie started out as a theater piece for me. I could see where the two actors would have been just as powerful on the stage as on the screen. I liked the idea of the story being about a couple during lockdown; however, there was another story within the script that was misplaced in my opinion. The 2 separate storylines were odd together. The first half of the film was tedious for me with the comments and fights; the last half was out of left field and ridiculous. I felt the writers were just piecing together snippets to form the script as if they did not know how to make an ending for the first storyline, so they just switched gears in the middle of the picture. It was already hard dealing with the restrictive social aspect of my life; watching this movie did not make me feel any better.
1 7/8 stars
I KNEW HER WHEN SHE HAD dreams of being an artist. She delved into the art world with inks, paper, feathers and stamps; eager to create a line of cards filled with characters and creatures she would copyright one day. I was the recipient for several of her cards; they usually had to be delivered with 2 stamps on the envelopes. If someone were to ask me what her style of art was like, I think I would have a hard time explaining it. There were some figures that had a Victorian flair to them, but then there were others that were almost animal like. I do not mean this in a disrespectful way but for my tastes, I would say her cards were frilly. The addition of buttons or crystals or fringe for me, gave it a frilly look. I will say she was passionate about her craft, going to various workshops and conventions to practice and hone her skills. Besides getting texts with photos of her latest works, we would talk on the phone and she would tell me about her latest creations. She even looked the part, if there is such a type. With hair dyed in various vibrant colors based on the season, she wore funky jewelry; some even made by her. In other words, one could consider her a walking billboard for her products. WHEN SHE INTRODUCED ME TO THE man she was going to marry, it never occurred to me that she would alter her game plan for her art. However, after they were married for a few months I noticed the texts became fewer and farther between, the phone calls were not as consistent as they once were; I was not hearing about her latest creations. When we talked, she still would mention something about a new stamp she bought or some fun card stock; however, I now would infrequently hear about the finished product made from these items. It was not like her husband discouraged her; it was her choice as far as I could tell. I did not hear anything negative about his feelings towards her creative side. It just seemed as if her passion for art was transferred to her passion for her new husband. It had been a long time since she had been married. And that was okay with me if that is how she truly felt; I only wanted her to be happy. I had known other people who got into a relationship and the things they were passionate about had to be curtailed because their spouse was not supportive or did not understand the importance it played in the person’s life. Having a dream and making it a reality are two different things; see how it works in this film festival nominated movie. SYLVIA PARKER, PLAYED BY TESSA THOMPSON (Creed franchise, Men in Black: International), was obsessed with television. Her dream was to become a TV producer. While helping at her father’s record store, Sylvia met someone who also had a dream. With Nnamdi Asomugha (Crown Heights, When the Streetlights Go On-TV) as Halloway, Eva Longoria (Dog Days, Overboard) as Carmen, Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation, The Upside) as Mona and Jemima Kirke (The Little Hours, Ava’s Possessions) as The Countess; this drama was as smooth as fine satin. Set during the 1950s in Harlem, I thought the sets and costumes were spot on and I thoroughly enjoyed the musical score. Tessa and Nnamdi had a palatable chemistry that grew along with the story. The script had a game plan like other romantic films I have seen before; though, I thought the ending lost a bit of steam here. I mean this as a compliment; this was a good old-fashioned romantic drama with a good douse of jazz music thrown in.
THEY APPEARED TO BE SUCH A HAPPY family, then why did a dozen roses arrive at the office from a different man, I wondered. After they were delivered, I brought them to her desk. The card was poking out to the side and that is where I saw the signature. It was not her husband’s name. She was thrilled with the roses; it was obvious since she sniffed each individual rose. I walked back to my desk, processing this odd turn of events. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I could hear her bragging about her boyfriend being so sweet. Her boyfriend!??! She was married with 2 kids, yet she is going around telling everyone about her boyfriend; this made no sense to me. One of her co-workers must have asked her about the boyfriend because I heard her say she and him have been together for almost two years. The part I found most disturbing was the fact her daughters knew about it. The girls were only 14 and 8 years old. The fact she confides in her daughters about her affair sends an awful message to them, in my opinion. I can only imagine what this woman says about her husband when her children ask about their father under these circumstances. THIS DECEPTIVE OR MAYBE NOT SO deceptive plan is something I do not understand at all. You could say I have a negative opinion about it. If I was no longer in love with the person I was with, I would end the relationship before starting a new one. I could not stay with someone while cheating on them behind their back. There was a man I used to work with who would make his employees lie to his wife about his whereabouts because he was meeting up with random women during the workday. I was fortunate I was never in a position to have to lie for him because I do not know if I could have done it. Just get a divorce and leave the relationship with some dignity. Now I do understand some people associate divorce with failure, but I do not agree with that thinking. I knew a couple who stayed together because they were afraid what their neighbors and friends would say about them. This concept about appearances is so warped; why should someone worry what someone else thinks about them when it comes to relationships. Sure, I can see talking to a close family member or best friend about a personal issue; but to worry about what a neighbor or acquaintance thinks makes no sense to me. Knowing my thoughts about affairs, you will understand my uncomfortableness with how certain things were handled in this Academy Award nominated romantic drama. A SUBURBAN TOWN IN MASSACHUSETTS LOOKS like the ideal place to live until you see some of the cracks in its foundation. With Kate Winslet (The Mountain Between Us, Revolutionary Road) as Sarah Pierce, Jennifer Connelly (House of Sand and Fog, Only the Brave) as Kathy Adamson, Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera, The Conjuring franchise) as Brad Adamson, Jackie Earle Haley (Shutter Island, The Birth of a Nation) as Ronnie J. McGorvey and Noah Emmerich (The Truman Show, Blood Ties) as Larry Hedges; this film festival winner was an intense, well-done film. The acting was so good to begin with that the script and direction only served to elevate it to a higher level. There were several emotionally powerful scenes that took my breath away, thanks to the way the writers carefully peeled back its layers without inserting any judgements or manipulative techniques. Putting my personal ethics aside, I felt this was a well-crafted story that the actors convincingly conveyed to the viewers.
3 ½ stars