I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO experience a different religious service from mine, during one of the holidays. Entering into the cavernous building, I was immediately taken by the decorations that were hanging down every column and window. Golden gauze like fabric was gently swaying on the currents of air from the open windows. There was an elderly gentleman standing in the aisle that led to the seats. He was passing out ribbons that were attached to the top of wooden sticks, sort of like mini flags. Each of us were handed one; I asked my companion what we were supposed to do with these ribbons. They were to be used during certain passages of the service, where we are to wave them in the air. Okay that was different for me. But then there was another person standing behind the elderly man and she was handing out yellowish colored foam sticks, for lack of a better word; I swear they looked like large french fries! Each one was embossed with the word “HALLELUJAH.” Looking at my friend he was as perplexed as me. After everyone was seated a religious leader came out to explain what to do with the 2 items we were given. No disrespect but it felt like I was attending a sporting event; would we be doing the “wave” next? THE SERVICE BEGAN AFTER THE organ player, who was perched up in the balcony, finished their song. What struck me rather quickly was the amount of songs being performed throughout the service. I could not remember ever hearing so much music at any religious service I attended previously. Being a people watcher I periodically scanned the people around me. Some of them were really into the music, waving their ribbons back and forth in the air; others were jabbing their foam sticks up and down in the air. If everyone had been sitting in bleachers you would have thought they were at a football game; it was surreal for me. At one point in the service the leader walked out into the crowd dribbling a basketball; I knew it, this was a game! No seriously he gave a speech about inclusion, touching on some of the hot topics currently in the news. I have to tell you it felt genuine to me; this individual was asking us to look at something in a different light. Though this was not the religion I was raised with I learned something new. I can say the same for this historical drama. EACH TIME BEING FEARFUL FOR HIS life Luke, played by Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Frequency), persisted in visiting imprisoned apostle Paul, played by James Faulkner (Atomic Blonde, Game of Thrones-TV). Luke wanted to keep a journal of everything Paul was telling him. Set in Rome during the reign of Nero this film also starred Olivier Martinez (The Physician, Unfaithful) as Mauritius, Joanne Whalley (Willow, The Man Who Knew too Little) as Priscilla and John Lynch (The Secret Garden, Black Death) as Aquila. The first thing I appreciated about this movie was the script was written to tell a story. I do not know how much of it was true but I found it interesting since I have a general curiosity about different religions. However the script did not go far enough; it caused the actors to pale in their roles. I simply found them to be dull and wooden with their acting. Gratefully there was no heavy handed preaching to the viewers, but I would have preferred seeing more story and especially more historical background to the story.
WHEN IS ENOUGH, SIMPLY enough? One of my business subscriptions sends a supplemental edition focused on real estate, that I always glance through to check out the photo spreads of high end residences. I am amazed by the amount of money, I assume, that must have been spent on these places. Sure I understand it cost more to buy a place that is on the higher floors of a building or has a coastal/mountain view; but some of the upgrades I have seen border on the ridiculous in my opinion. Seriously, how important is it to have an extra long sofa covered in an elaborate, expensive fabric or bathroom fixtures that are gold plated; do they really make a difference in one’s comfort and hygiene? I find it ridiculous just because a person is wealthy; they feel they need to show off their wealth. You would not believe some of the places that are highlighted in my subscription. The fact they are even being put on display tells me something about the owners, unless they are trying to sell their property. JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS a vast amount of money does not make them smarter or more thoughtful in my opinion. I have noticed some people who are rich feel they are entitled, more important than anyone else around them. I knew this person who was quite successful; having started out in humble beginnings, they overcame the obstacles before them and amassed a sizable fortune. For all their hard work they deserved it and I had no issue with their success. However, the more money they made the more they would voice their opinions on everyone else’s daily life; whether it was personal or business problems it did not matter. They would expound on all the things they felt everyone else “should” be doing to better themselves. I do not know about you but I took offense at their behavior. Having money does not give a person a license to dictate to others about how they should be living their lives. If you want to see what I am talking about then feel free to watch the powerful performances in this biographical, crime drama. WHEN KIDNAPERS CONTACTED GAIL Harris, played by Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman, Blue Valentine), about her son; the ransom amount was way beyond her means, but not for her ex-father-in-law J. Paul Getty, played by Christopher Plummer (The Insider, The Man Who Invented Christmas). However Mr. Getty was not one to part easily with his money and Gail did not have the time to negotiate a price on her son’s life. With Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Fletcher Chase, Charlie Plummer (King Jack, Lean on Pete) as John Paul Getty III and Romain Duris (Heartbreaker, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) as Cinquanta; the acting by Michelle and Christopher was outstanding. I will say Mark was somewhat better in this role, but he still came across as the same type of character that he has done in previous movies. Set in Rome during the 1970s, this story inspired by true events kept my interest as it weaved its way through some harsh and tense moments to despair. The pursuit scenes were well done to the point where I was feeling a sense of dread waiting for the outcomes. My only issue with this film was the lack of connection between some of the characters, making some of the scenes feel disjointed. The story really was amazing and reminded me of a phrase I have used in the past when someone was being cheap: you never see an armored car following a hearse to the cemetery.
FINALLY the day arrived where she no longer would need to get up early for work. She had worked in the education field all her life, in various positions from teacher to vice principal. After her discussions with her accountant she decided it was okay to retire and devote the rest of her years to herself. Some of the things she wanted to do was travel and take up painting; she had dreamed of these two things for a long time. The first few days of the school week felt odd to her. She felt something was wrong since she was home, sitting in her recliner, instead of being with her class. The feeling soon receded as she started getting into the joys of retired life. Her finances had been set up to live a good life, not a lavish one, where she could enjoy a couple of treats once in a while. However, there was no way for her to have known at the next condominium board meeting the officers agreed to charge the owners a special assessment to replace all the windows, balconies and repair the swimming pool. The cost to each owner would be close to the mid five figure range; this would drastically alter her retirement plans to the point she would need to go back to work to pay for the assessment. She became resentful and angry about it. FALLING into a state of anger or resentment has always been easy for me. Recently I had to get a new hot water heater and furnace because the old ones broke down and could not be repaired. It all came so sudden for me when it was discovered my house was filling up with carbon monoxide. When all was said and done I realized I should be grateful that I was not killed by the gas; however, I immediately became angry and resentful. The reason for feeling this way was because of the impact this purchase would have on my finances. The funds set aside to pay off my house earlier would have to be transferred to pay off the heating equipment. On an intellectual level I knew this was silly, equipment breaks down; it is not a purposeful act. That did not stop me but at least I did not get extreme about it like the retired hit man in this crime thriller. SETTLING into retirement John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin, The Matrix franchise), received a visitor at his home who needed a job done. Refusing to help the gentleman would have consequences. This action sequel took the feel of the first film and amped up the intensity and action. With Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt, Loose Cannons) as Santino D’Antonio and Common (Selma, Just Wright) as Cassian, the fight scenes were unbelievable and bloody violent. They were well choreographed and looked real. An example was the way John Wick constantly had to reload his weapon. Keanu wore his role perfectly, basic dialog with a touch of sarcasm. In fact the whole script had a no nonsense approach with slight humorous moments. Essentially this film festival nominee was a revenge story; it did not pretend to be anything else. I would like to refer to this as an “escape” film to just sit back and enjoy, but I am afraid John Wick would still find me.
3 ¼ stars
The words spoken came from the 1600’s, but the story was timeless. For Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, The Reader) not only did he portray Caius Martius Coriolanus in this dramatic film; he was also the director. For a first effort Ralph did a beautiful job directing; having a good eye for lining up each scene for maximum visual effect and pacing. Set in modern Rome, Coriolanus was a war hero who protected the city from the forces led by Tullus Aufidus, played by Gerald Butler (P.S. I Love You, The Bounty Hunter). With battle scars from the bloody fighting, the world of politics became Coriolanus’ next battleground. There was enough backstabbing, forged alliances and manipulation that one could easily make comparisons to present governmental systems. As the political tide turned against Coriolanus, he joined forces with his archenemy to overthrow the country. Vanessa Redgrave (Anonymous, Atonement) who played Coriolanus’ mother Volumnia was outstanding as the matriarch of the family. I had a hard time listening to Shakespeare’s words being spoken in a modern setting. My brother found it easier to turn the subtitles on the DVD. There were bloody violent scenes in this dynamic version of a classic story.
3 stars — DVD