WAY BEFORE THE MATRIX MOVIES were released people were already feeling more like a machine than human. I believe this is true; just look around and you will see individuals who are stuck in a rut that causes them to lose their zest for life. There are times I feel overwhelmed when I find myself in this cyclical pattern of sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work; sleep, eat and work. Life becomes a repetitious pattern of events over and over to the point where one day is no different from the next. What helps me get through these periods of time is an active mind. Keep in mind my daydreaming was used as a defense to get through the dark periods of my earlier life; so now, when I feel myself getting into a rut I fire up the creative furnace of my brain and enter a fantasy land of hopes and dreams. I am aware this method may not be suitable for someone else; in that case, they would need to find a way to bring joy back into their life. Only existing day by day, I feel is not enough to experience life and I will add, living. THERE WAS A MAN I KNEW who would change jobs every time he felt he was getting into a rut. At first, I thought he was just being aggressive in trying to advance himself up the career ladder; but after a couple of different positions, I realized they were more of a lateral move instead of advancement. Within five years he had already changed companies 4 times. Each time he started a new job he was excited and gung ho about it; then as time passed on, you could see the life being drained out of him. Looking back at it I now wonder if he was experiencing some form of depression. It would be understandable if a person felt trapped or stuck in a place. Then that is the time therapy should come into play, instead of running away from the issue like this guy seemed to be doing by changing jobs multiple times. Taking in consideration the stress of changing jobs, I can only wonder if this also played a factor in his decision-making process. Let us face it; for some people it is easier to avoid such feelings and just change the environment instead. But there are some positions that one does not get a choice; they must deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Look what was going on in this film festival nominated comedic drama. WITH EACH CHILD AND BABY demanding all her attention Marlo, played by Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious, Atomic Blonde), had nothing left in her to deal with anything else. It came to the point her husband Craig, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love), suggested they get a nanny; not just a regular nanny, but a night one. What was a night nanny? Written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) this film also starred Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049) as Tully and Ron Livingston (The Conjuring, Adaptation) as Drew. This movie was all about Charlize’s character and she did not disappoint, even gaining 50 pounds for the role. I enjoyed the story and most of the script because it came across as believable. There were no apologies about anything nor the painting of a happy picture when there really was nothing to be happy about; this was I believe a true portrayal of what motherhood entails for some women. Having sat through a rut of uninteresting movies this picture was a needed respite.
We would try to sit together at staff meetings. Our humor was similar though mine had more of a sarcastic edge. If possible we would stop for a bite to eat after the meeting. There was an easiness to our friendship; I not only enjoyed being around them, but they had the same qualities I looked for in a loving relationship. It would take nothing for my mind to venture into a fantasy of us being together as a couple. They showed such supportive, caring, nurturing qualities; I could see us living together, me in charge of the laundry, they responsible for washing the dishes that served the meals we made together. It would be such a perfect life except for one thing–they were already in a relationship. Now I know there are people who do not let that one little fact stop them; I am not one of those people. In fact, I have been the one that was replaced by a newer version in the relationship. Not that I want you to get out the violins and play me a pity song, but I have been replaced more than once. As a result, by default, I feel I am somewhat of an expert and that is why I thought the characters in this dramatic comedy were authentic. Kate and Luke, played by Olivia Wilde (In Time, The Change-Up) and Jake Johnson (21 Jump Street, New Girl-TV), worked together at a city brewery. They always had fun when they were together; whether it was eating or going out for drinks, they looked like a happy couple. There was only one issue; Luke was already in a relationship with Jill, played by Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect) and Kate was dating Chris, played by Ron Livingston (The Conjuring, The Cooler). With easy access to beer, one had to wonder how long they could keep walking that fine line between friendship and romance. Writer and director Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets, LOL) used the cameras and script to create an easy natural flow to the characters, allowing them to speak in a more natural way. I thought this helped with the excellent chemistry that was evident between the actors. The humor was light and amusing as opposed to laugh out loud guffaws. I felt the movie could have used some dramatic highs and lows, breaking up the low key monotony I was experiencing. Except for one intense scene, there was not much of a deep emotional connection for me to the characters. The ending left me somewhat cold; I wanted something more or better yet, more conclusive. However if I was a drinking man, I could easily see me sitting with these characters and having a good time.
2 2/3 stars
The random clicking sound became deliberate, attracting my attention. It sounded as if it was near the kitchen door. My hand slowly slid around the dining room wall, looking for the light switch before I would enter the kitchen. As the fluorescent fixture soaked the room in white light, I intently stared at the back door. The transom window was closed and what light spilled onto the back porch did not reveal anything lurking outside. A sigh of relief passed through my dry lips just as the floor behind me groaned under a sudden added weight. I spun around to a vacant room, shaken up by the noticeable sounds. Walking over to the television, I turned the sound up louder and waited for the return of my parents. You see, it was the first time I was left home alone without a babysitter. It was surprising how my imagination took those familiar sounds from my home and turned them into something sinister and threatening. That feeling of oncoming dread slithered its way throughout this thrilling film. After Carolyn and Roger Perron, played by Lili Taylor (The Haunting, High Fidelity) and Ron Livingston (The Cooler, Drinking Buddies), moved into their new home with their 5 children, unexplained incidents began to occur. When they seemed to turn aggressive, paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, played by Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Source Code) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Watchmen), were asked to find an explanation for these hostile events. Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) did a beautiful job of crafting an old-fashioned horror movie. The acting was formidable, especially from Vera and LIli. I was swept into the story partially because it did not use blood and gore to scare the audience; it made the viewers use their imaginations. For me, the middle of the movie played stronger compared to the beginning and end. This was a good old-time, scary film that will have you gripping your arm rests. A couple of brief scenes had blood in them.
The true story of Richard Pimentel; a Vietnam vet who returned to the states severely hearing-impaired. Played accurately by Ron Livingston (Office Space, Adaptation), we watch as Richard struggles not only with his disability, but with the way people perceive him. Channeling his anger, he sets out on a path to alter those perceptions and champion the rights of anyone with a disability. Little did I know when I got this DVD that I was going to watch the history of the American with Disabilities Act. This was such a powerful movie for me, that taught without being stale, along with some humorous moments. The performance of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) as Pimentel’s friend, Art Honeyman, a man with cerebral palsy, was outstanding. I feel everyone should see this movie, to see what type of obstacles people with disabilities have and how Richard Pimentel’s passion, to make a change, has affected us all.
3 1/4 stars — DVD