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
FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me. HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee. WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.
2 ½ stars
I DID NOT HAVE AN OPINION one way or the other about the groom; I just thought it was not a good idea for him to marry my friend. He seemed to be nice as far as I could tell in literally the three minutes we spoke before the wedding ceremony. My friend had been in a four-year relationship that ended with a lot of heartbreak and sadness. She was just getting her life back in order when she met this man and the next thing I heard was they were planning on getting married. As far as I knew they had only known each other for a few months before deciding to get married; I do not know which one pushed the idea first. My reason for feeling this wedding would be a bad idea was based on my observations that my friend did not complete the grieving process from her last relationship. It seemed as if this man was being used as a distraction to coverup the sadness and pain. I know everyone falls in love at a different pace and maybe I am just being a pessimist; but the whole proposal and wedding thing came up suddenly without anyone being clued into it. I had to wonder if the groom had any knowledge about my friend’s recent breakup. It would be sad if they were marrying for the wrong reasons. THEIR WEDDING WOULD NOT BE THE first one that was based on questionable motivations that I would attend. I knew a man who had served in the military. When he returned home there was something different about him. With him being older and the two of us not having much contact, it was hard for me to pinpoint what had changed in him; I only knew he was not the same. After some time being at home, he started dating a woman. He took his time before introducing her around; but once he did, several of us questioned the relationship. It appeared as if she was making all the decisions in their relationship. He went along with everything she said. It was as if he no longer had an opinion about anything, letting her decide the where, when, what and how to every situation. Now if he was like that prior to their meeting, I would not question it; however, it was such a stark contrast to what I knew about him that I felt something was not “right.” I continued to feel that way even when she announced they were getting married. Maybe it would work out for them; if love is present one never knows what could happen. Just see for yourself in this dramatic romantic comedy. WITH THE PROSPECT OF BEING DEPORTED looming over her head, the only thing that popped into Margaret Tate’s, played by Sandra Bullock (The Heat, Ocean’s Eight) mind was to find someone she could marry. It did not matter what they had to say about it. With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Safe House) as Andrew Paxton, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Powder) as Grace Paxton, Craig T. Nelson (The Family Stone, Book Club) as Joe Paxton and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show-TV, Golden Girls-TV) as Grandma Annie; this film festival winner survived its generic script because of the cast. The chemistry between Sandra and Ryan was not only believable, but it came with extra doses of snarkiness and pinpoint comedic timing. Add in Betty White and that was all that was necessary for me to stay interested in this film. There were a couple of times where I chuckled, and I did enjoy the outdoor scenery. Too bad the script was predictable because with this cast the writers could have included a few twists and turns to give the story a new flavor. Despite these shortcomings, it was fun to sit through and watch this movie.
2 ½ stars
THE NARRATOR WAS STATING IT IN such a matter of fact way, yet I was highly amused. I was watching a TV special about the royals and would you believe the hard-boiled egg for a royal’s breakfast comes with its shell cracked and opened. I know, such an innocuous function that the royal cannot do themselves. There were other functions shown during the special that surprised me, but this one was the silliest in my opinion. I am all for the pomp and circumstance that comes with royalty, no matter what royal ruler. Seeing the different customs and procedures have always been something that I have been curious about, which explains why I like to read about history. Not to be too graphic here, but there was a time when a person on the royal staff had the job to clean the bottom of the royal after they had defecated. Honestly, I don’t think there could be enough money for me to take such a position. Some positions make better sense to me, like a food taster or the transporter of the royal jewels. I understand how a royal or a country’s leader gets treated with reverence; however, I cannot fathom how the general population finds amazement with their leaders’ or royals’ everyday ordinary functions. It is as if once they achieve a high position their country people turn them into a deity. HERE IN MY OWN COUNTRY, I am constantly amazed when people focus on the president’s activities. Some time ago I remember when the news stations reported on the president stopping at a fast food restaurant to eat a burger, making sure to tell us that the president paid for it himself. Ok, so can someone tell me why this is so newsworthy? Throughout the different administrations we have elected, we have seen our leaders playing golf, fishing, playing basketball and even bowling; there were none of them that I would classify as a gifted athlete. And that is okay, whether they excel in sports or not doesn’t take away from their ability to govern; at least I hope so. Personally, I want the best person for the job. I do not care what they do in their downtime as long as it doesn’t become too much of a distraction for the job at hand. Seeing a world leader breaking down in tears tells me they are still human. If they choose to break out in song, I assume they enjoy music. As far as I am concerned every world leader has the same type of internal organs and bodily functions as every other person on the planet. Because of my feelings, I became totally enchanted with this comedic romantic drama. ANDREW SHEPHERD, PLAYED BY MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Ant-Man franchise, Traffic), was a widower who was raising his young daughter. He also was the President of the United States. Being seen alone with a woman would immediately have people talking about and possibly using it for their own personal advantage. With Annette Bening (The Kids are all Right, American Beauty) as Sydney Ellen Wade, Martin Sheen (The Departed, The Way) as A.J. MacInerney, Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future franchise, The Frighteners) as Lewis Rothschild and Anna Deavere Smith (The Kingdom, Rachel Getting Married) as Robin McCall; this Academy Award nominee and film festival winner was charming and fun, in an old-school way. I thought the cast was excellent and loved the play between Michael and Annette, with the aid of the smart script. The other thing I liked about this movie was the political undertone. Considering when this film was made, it felt like a prelude for the things that we are experiencing now. The writers and director pulled this off in a wonderful way that was both entertaining and enjoyable. I wonder, with the recent political climate we have gone thru, how this story would have played in real time.
I WAS TAKEN ABACK BY HER harsh response to my comment. She said I was a horrible human being for saying such a thing. My only response was telling her time would change her mind. We were talking about an elderly relative who had to be moved into a nursing home; she was delving into Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. Part of our conversation had to do with the nursing home and some of its residents. There was always a medicinal, almost sour, odor that filled the hallways of the home. In the main dining room during a meal, there would be a mix of people eating together. For example, there was a woman who always came dressed up for dinner. Due to a stroke, she was not able to communicate verbally; she was only able to say one word which she repeated over and over. It appeared to me that she was not cognizant of her lack of verbal skills based on how often she would get angry at the residents sitting next to her, for not understanding what she was saying. There were several times where staff members had to remove her from the dining room because she was getting physically abusive. Another individual in the dining room was a man who had to be wheeled in then hand fed by an employee. As far as I could tell there was no reactions of any kind coming from this person; it seemed to me there was little brain function. THE REASON WHY I MENTIONED A couple of the nursing home residents was my hope you would not judge me harshly when I tell you what I said to my relative that got her so angry. We were talking about the nursing home and my relative mentioned that this one was one of the better facilities she had visited before moving our relative into it. When I heard this, I told her that our relative would be better off dead then living out her life with no memories in such a place. At this point our relative did not know the people visiting her, had to wear an adult sized diaper and could not communicate. You should have seen my relative’s reaction when I made this comment; you would have thought I said I was going to break into the nursing home and suffocate our relative with a pillow. As word spread, other relatives had a similar reaction to me; but I did not retract my statement. I stuck to my belief as our relative’s well-being slowly descended into non-existence. Seeing what the main character was going through in this biographical romantic drama, reminded me how tough it is to stick to one’s beliefs when one is in the minority. TENDING TO HIS FARM AND FAMILY was all Franz Jagmrstatter, played by August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds, Love in Thoughts), was interested in doing. His fellow townspeople did not think the same way as he did when troops began to arrive in town. With Valerie Pachner (The Ground Beneath my Feet, Bad Luck) as Fani Jagerstatter, Maria Simon (Portrait of a Married Couple, Good Bye Lenin!), as Resie Schwaninger, Karin Neuhauser (In the Fade, Emma’s Bliss) as Rosalia Jagerstatter and Tobias Moretti (The German Lesson, Brothers of the Wind) as Fr. Furthauer; this film written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World) lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes. This was way too long to sit and watch this picture, despite the beautiful and lush scenes. I have experienced the same feelings seeing Terrence’s other movies; they go on and on with random scenes of water, sky, space as a way to move the audience. The fact is I was interested in the story, enjoyed the outdoor scenes and appreciated the acting; but when things get stretched out, I lose interest in the point the writer/director was trying to make. Those who enjoy Terrence’s work will enjoy this film and if I am in the minority so be it; I needed the film to end much earlier than it did.
2 ½ stars
ANGER THAT WAS WHITE HOT CAME bursting out of my mouth. I had no filter set up to try and temper the words that were meant to strike hard and fast. The reservoir of anger stored in me was being tapped to intensify my reaction to the news that my trust had been broken. When I heard what they did, a wall of numbness briefly tried to take up residence around me; but that break in trust after our years together destroyed the numbness, which allowed my anger to come out with no restrictions. I could tell my words were striking with accuracy because the responses I was hearing from my statements were feeble and their posture was in the process of hunkering down. To give you an idea of how much force my anger had, imagine walking on a city street lined with commercial buildings on a frigid wintery day. As you turn the corner of the block, you get hit with such a force of icy wind that it makes you lose your footing on the snow-covered sidewalk; that is how strong my anger was coming out. I thought the two of us had a committed relationship; but evidently, I was wrong. There was nothing to stop me until I completely unleashed all the anger I had inside of me. IT WAS SEVERAL HOURS LATER, AS I replayed all the events of the day, before I admitted I had said some hurtful and hateful things to them. I do not know about you; but when I am in the heat of anger, all my senses are focused on unleashing everything stored inside of me. I have very little awareness of sounds around me. All I feel is heat rising off my skin and my radar for sensing any presence around me goes offline. In my head, my words sounded evil to the point I started to cringe when I envisioned how they were reacting to my statements. It is such a primal reaction, this anger inside of me, that I tap into to enhance the energy inside of me to keep up with the intensity. When I finished taking inventory of all the things that I had said to them, I did not know if and how to either rectify or explain it. There was still the breaking of trust and the feelings of hurt and betrayal I was experiencing; I could not come up with a plan that would achieve positive results like the main character was hoping for in this romantic comedy. AFTER SENDING OUT A HATEFUL PACKAGE TO his girlfriend who he thought was cheating on him, the regret he was experiencing forced Wyatt Trips, played by Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Role Models), to find a way he could intercept the package before it reached its destination. He would have to outsmart the delivery driver somehow. With Christine Taylor (The Craft, The Wedding Singer) as Kimberly Jasney, Reese Witherspoon (Home Again, Water for Elephants) as Ivy Miller, Sarah Silverman (Battle of the Sexes, The Book of Henry) as Turran and Richard Cody (Ivory Tower, Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire) as Raditch; this film was lucky to have Paul and Reese as main characters. Their acting skills helped the weak script limp along to its predictable conclusion. With such a competent cast, this movie would have been better if the writers had played to the actor’s strengths, besides providing scenes that would have surprised the viewer. Instead, there were many scenes that were easy to figure out before their conclusion. The only thing I can say about this picture is it probably will not produce a strong reaction, either way, for the person who is willing to watch it all the way to the end.
1 ¾ stars
ALL I NEED IS A GOOD pair of walking shoes, a map, a water bottle and I am ready to explore new territory. During my quest to see all 50 states, my usual routine was to fly into a city then either rent a car or take public transportation to my hotel. After checking in I would then set off on my journey to cover as much ground as humanly possible. I preferred walking, so my list of sightseeing destinations was grouped by foot, bus, train, cab or car. One city I visited, on my first day there I wound up walking eight miles in total, going from one place to another. It turned out to be one of my favorite cities to visit because so many things I wanted to see were accessible by foot. When I take trips like this, I spend little time on meals; usually I will pick up something on the run or stop at a fast food chain for a quick bite. My mission has always been to fill in as much things to do as possible. To some this may sound too frenetic and unrelaxing; however, I found it utterly peaceful. To be silent, standing in front of something that I had never seen before brought me a sense of blissful accomplishment. WHEN MY TRIPS HAVE TAKEN me to places of natural beauty, I find myself pretending I am the first person to encounter such a sight. There was a park I visited where I felt I was on an alien planet. The landscape was filled with shades of red and beige, pockmarked and smoothed from the wind, and there were places that had ancient symbols and script etched into its stone face. I imagined what it must have been like for the first explorer to encounter such a breathtaking sight. What did they do when they first saw it; did they try to climb or go around it? What did they think when they came upon rough water rapids blocking their path? These are things I think about on what I call my “fact finding” trips. Granted I have the luxury of knowing if I get hungry or need to use a bathroom, I can find one easily. And, if I should by chance get lost or injured, I have a phone with me (as long as I can get service) to call for help. I know me well enough to realize there is no way I could have been an authentic explorer or even a party to the group of men who ventured north in this action, western romance film. SEEING AN OPPORTUNITY TO STRIKE it rich all cowboy Jeff Webster, played by Jimmy Stewart (Vertigo, The Philadelphia Story), had to do was get a herd of cattle from Wyoming to Alaska during the Alaskan gold rush. With Ruth Roman (Strangers on a Train, Beyond the Forest) as Ronda Castle, Corrine Calvet (What Price Glory, Flight to Tangier) as Renee Vallon, Walter Brennan (The Westerner, The Real McCoys-TV) as Ben Tatum and John McIntire (Psycho, Turner & Hooch) as Gannon; this cinematic spectacle was a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience. The drama in this movie was accentuated with the over the top musical score; yet, I found it only added more charm to this blast from the past, so to speak. I do not know how to describe it, but the acting had a different style to it compared to our current actors. Not that this was a negative, it just was apparent to me. The story essentially was a good vs evil playbook and the actors were well suited to the task of bringing the script to life. Also, though there were some backdrops that did not look real; I still enjoyed seeing the outdoor scenes and imagining what it must have been like for people back in the late 1800s who ventured up to Alaska. A breathtaking place by the way.
IF I LISTENED ANYMORE TO THE WEATHER reports I knew I would break down and not venture outside. I tried blocking out the rattling noises coming from the windows being bombarded by the wind. Though it was the afternoon the sky was as dark as the last breath of twilight. Despite the darkness I was able to make out the shape of the tree in my backyard leaning far to the side with its branches jostling like men in a rugby scrummage. Part of my brain was telling me to stay home, but the other part was saying I had to go and see this film that was only playing at one theater in a distant suburb. On a good day it would normally take me 45-50 minutes to get there; I could only imagine how long it would take in the wild rainstorm raging outside. For the next several minutes I had an internal battle of wits with myself. I asked myself how important was it to go see a movie on a day like this; was it worth possibly getting in an accident and getting injured? The movie was one of those independents that only come to the art house theaters; the fact it was playing in a place I could get to was a little miracle in itself. After arguing with myself my irrational side beat out my rational one. SITTING IN MY CAR WATCHING THE garage door open, a scene right out of a movie was being revealed to me. Garbage bins were scattered across the alley, with some having their contents pulled out to scatter across people’s backyards. As soon as I left the safe confines of the garage, I had to turn my windshield wipers on high because the rain was coming down so hard. I had no trouble pulling into the street, but within the first several blocks I had to dodge around fallen tree branches. Rainwater was pooling at the street curbs because the sewers could not handle the amount of water rushing down the streets. If there was any comfort to be had, I found it by seeing there were other cars out on the road; I was not the only crazy person to venture outside. My progress was slow, but I was keeping steady until I came upon a viaduct stretching over the street. I needed to drive underneath it; however, the road was flooded. Making a U-turn, I had to find a different route. Luckily, I did nearly a mile away. Despite the change, I made it to the theater before showtime; but, questioned if this was the best decision I could have made under the circumstances. The main characters in this dramatic, mystery romance found themselves having to make tough decisions as well. HAVING WORKED FOR MONTHS ON A NEW office tower without getting paid, a group of workers make the decision to seek out a better opportunity. The decisions they make will have a lasting effect. With newcomer Mame Bineta Sane as Ada, newcomer Amadou Mbow as Issa, newcomer Traore as Souleiman, newcomer Nicole Sougou as Dior and newcomer Aminata Kane as Fanta; this film festival winner had an interesting and mystical plot that was set in a suburb of Dakar in Senegal. For a cast with no acting experience, they did a believable job with their characters. There were some slow passages throughout the film, where some seemed a bit unnecessary to me. The script intrigued me as it touched upon multiple facets of life experiences. There also was an element of fantasy that threw me for a loop at first, but I soon found myself being drawn further into the characters’ plight. Because of this mix of reality and fantasy, along with the beautiful filming, I found this to be an alluring viewing experience. French, Wolof, Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.
BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SUCH A long time, guests became familiar with the picture frame that I had turned around on my sofa table. The photo in the frame was too painful for me to see after our breakup; it showed a happy couple and it happened to be one of the few photographs where I thought I looked good. We had been a couple for several years before our relationship disintegrated in a horrible fashion. Many of my friends and family asked me why I still kept the framed photo on the table, but I was not able to provide them with a sensible answer; I could not get rid of it, but I did not want to look at it either. The funny thing is no one ever asked me about the painting I had hanging on the wall that was just as painful for me to see. The reason being this painting was bought as a prelude to the two of us moving in together. We both fell in love with the artwork and we decided we wanted it to be the first thing we would buy together for our “home.” I could not part with the painting, despite the pain, because what was depicted in the art piece was a vivid memory I had from my childhood. Luckily or gratefully, I had the painting hanging in a room that I did not go into often. As months passed the shock in seeing the painting became less and less difficult to see. THE PHOTOGRAPH AND PAINTING WERE not the only items that remained from a past relationship. My house has a variety of things that came out of the love I had for someone. There was the small, stuffed animal I was given with the memo that it would watch over to keep me safe. I recently found a plaque that was done in needlepoint that I had stuffed in a drawer. When I saw it, I immediately was able to remember the place, the occasion and the meal (yes, the food) we ate when I was given the plaque. Ever since I can remember, I always had or designated something that represented everything I experienced with a significant other. It could be a song, something bought, or something made, and I would deem it the repository for all the memories that were created during the time the two of us were together. Imagine my surprise when I watched this romantic comedy and discovered I am not the only one. DESPITE BEING BLINDSIDED FROM BEING DUMPED by her boyfriend Lucy, played by Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Bad Education), could not get rid of the little mementos she acquired during their time together. The problem was she was running out of room, both physically and emotionally. With Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers, Stranger Things-TV) as Nick, Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Blindspotting) as Max Vora, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Good Boys) as Amanda and Phillipa Soo (Here and Now, Hamilton) as Nadine; the thing that sets this movie apart from others in the genre was the cast and written dialog. Geraldine and Dacre stood out for me; her because of her delivery of lines and him because of his screen presence. The two of them did a wonderful job of acting that felt real to me. The story followed a generic line but there were a couple of times where I was surprised by a twist thrown into the plot. Overall, this was an easy and amusing film to see at the theater. Though if I would have known, I would have come with a variety of items to donate to the gallery or better yet, offered to open a satellite location.
2 ½ stars
WHEN THE MIND DESPERATELY WANTS TO do something, it does its best to avoid listening to the body. Images of the task at hand briefly pop up in the brain like bubbles, keeping you distracted from reality. I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself in this situation. Through the past years I have taught a fitness or yoga class, knowing in the back of my mind I might not be able to finish all the way through it. There was the time I was inflicted with a rotator cuff impingement, which in plain language is a pain in my shoulder. I knew there were several yoga poses in class that I would not be able to handle without causing more pain to myself. The only way I was able to get through the class was to do a quick demo of the completed pose and when I had the class join in, I did a modified version that took pressure off my shoulder. To the class, I explained what I was doing, but framed it as an option for those who might be feeling pressure/discomfort in their shoulders. No one had to know I was partially incapacitated, which I know is silly; however, I have it in my brain that I need to always appear 100% healthy to the members in my class. I have this fear that a member might assume any infliction I might have was due to exercising, causing them to stop. I know, it is ridiculous on my part to think of such a thing. ONE OF THE HARDEST CLASSES I HAD to teach was my first cycle class after suffering a bout of E coli. My doctor had recommended I take more time off from work and teaching to recover, but my mind was telling me I needed to get back to work and teaching. The members in my cycle class knew I had been hospitalized; there was no way to pretend I was perfectly fine. Getting onto the cycle bike took more effort than I had ever needed. My thoughts of “will I be able to get through class” were clashing with my brain telling me I had to teach. The music started and off I went into the warm-up phase of our ride. I got through it okay but when I told the class to pick up speed and come off their saddles, I immediately could tell I was going to be out of breath in no time. With sweat building up and my breathing becoming labored, I had to dial down the tension on the bike’s flywheel. Almost every challenge the class and I went through on our ride; I had to modify or simply sit down and take a breather. It was the hardest class I ever taught; but the members were so supportive and appreciative, I felt good for the first time since contracting the E coli. Because of what I had gone through, I understood why the main character in this dramatic sports romance kept going. HAVING PUSHED HIMSELF TO THE LIMITS to get to the level of competition he needed to be at, there was no way a pain in his body was going to stop Tyler, played by Kevin Harrison Jr. (It Comes at Night, Monsters and Men), from playing the sport he loved. He also did not want to disappoint his father. With Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Ben is Back) as Luke, Taylor Russell (Escape Room, Lost in Space-TV) as Emily, Sterling K. Brown (The Predator, Black Panther) as Ronald and Alexa Demie (Mid90s, Brigsby Bear) as Alexis; this film festival winner provided an absorbing viewing experience for me. I thought the acting was excellent from the whole cast because with a story we have seen before, they took the words in the script and turned them into something new and fresh. Also, the directing and filming made a difference for me in this movie. There was such authentic meaning ringing out in all the scenes, that I found myself experiencing some of the emotions that were taking place with the characters. This was a moving and emotional experience about family, pain, honesty, grief and forgiveness.
3 ½ stars