EVERYTHING THAT ONE IS BORN WITH works together to achieve a harmonious state throughout the body. This is part of my belief system, that we can achieve this harmonious state when we are in balance. I know when I am stressed I usually can figure out what is causing it. With the schedule I keep there are multiple opportunities for me to get stressed out. I find myself thinking about what I need to do instead of being present in the moment. When I am in this state of mind I am much more forgetful, which in turn causes me further stress. It feels like I am jogging in one of those hamster wheels that goes around and round without going anywhere; there is no down time for me. To get back in balance I would need to stop overbooking myself and take some “me” time. The body and mind are so connected; when one is lacking something the other tries to compensate. Well known examples of this would be Ludwig van Beethoven and Helen Keller. Though he lost his hearing his mind filled in the tones he was putting together for his musical pieces. Helen was blind and deaf but her mind and sense of touch for signing were extraordinary. RECENTLY I WAS OBSERVING A martial arts class. One of the participants had underdeveloped arms; they were small for their body size and looked as if they stopped growing at the elbows. I watched this member as the class was put through a variety of exercises. It was incredible to see how the lack of arm strength was made up by the amazing leg strength they incorporated into their one on one exercises. I know it is a cliché to say “when there is a will there is a way;” but in the case of this student, their mind and body found a way for them to be an active participant in the class. I am in awe when a person is denied one sense or body part and another one fills in the gap. People who are blind tend to have exceptional hearing capabilities. Or those confined to wheelchairs usually have powerful upper body strength. In the case of the main character in this biographical dramatic comedy, I started out not being sympathetic towards him; however, as the story unfolded I found myself going with him on his journey of discovery. A NIGHT OF PARTYING AND DRINKING led to a horrific accident that would change the life of John Callahan, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, You Were Never Really Here), in unimaginable ways. Based on a true story this movie also starred Jonah Hill (War Dogs, True Story) as Donnie, Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Annu, Jack Black (The D Train, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Dexter and newcomer Tony Greenhand as Tim. The fact that I went from being an unsympathetic viewer to admiring Joaquin’s character tells you how impressed I was with his acting skills. He has an eclectic body of work already and each character he does always leaves me amazed at his acting abilities. The rest of the actors were not slouches by any means; they were wonderful. I felt the director handled not only them gracefully but did a beautiful job with the script. Nothing came across as preachy or inspirational; the director took what was a tragic event and found a way to mine the humor and sadness in equal portions. As for the story, the theme may have a familiar feeling to the viewer; however, the execution of it makes it worthwhile to watch. If for nothing else this story will show you not to give up hope because when you lose one thing, something else will take its place.
THE ghost from the love of her life remained close to her even after she found herself alone. They had been together for some years so the ghost was familiar with many of the things she enjoyed doing when she was part of a couple. She would hear a particular song and feel a tug at her heart as her feet prepared to move into step to the music; it was their song they danced to when they first expressed their love for each other. The times when she drove by the lake she could look out and almost see the two of them frolicking between the waves. No matter where or when she would experience these random moments, where she sensed there was something around her, it would alert at least one if not more of her senses. An aroma, a sound, a particular look to something and she would feel her heart sigh, experiencing a brief feeling as if she was not alone. WHEN it comes to whether I believe in ghosts or not I do not have an opinion one way or the other. Let me say I believe anything is possible just because there have been things I experienced that cannot be explained. Maybe there are invisible souls connected to us in some way; how would we really know? I will say love can affect us in such a strong way that sometimes the connection never gets broken. To this day there are a few songs I hear that immediately send me back to a time where I was sharing life with another. As time goes on I do not believe we really forget someone; I feel we just create different routines that do not always take us to the same places we used to share with them. Not to say everyone does this; there are some people who prefer staying in the same spot so they do not have to move on. EVEN in death C, played by Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea, Out of the Furnace), found himself in the same home he shared with M, played by Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The difference was she could not see him. Written and directed by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), this dramatic romantic fantasy offered a deep message. I appreciated how the script tackled the topics of love, loss, legacy and connection; however, I thought the presentation of it was a slow process. One would expect the acting to be good coming from Casey and Rooney and for the most part it was, though over half the movie Casey was covered in a white sheet. For me the pacing was tedious and it was apparent I was not the only one who felt this way. During a scene where Rooney was eating an entire pie, an audience member yelled out, “It is enough already,” when the camera remained on Rooney the whole time; it really was getting painful to watch I have to say. And this is the issue I had with this picture; there were several times where I wanted to flip a switch to make the film go faster. From the trailers I was intrigued by this story and wanted the movie to be a good viewing experience. The story made me think but its execution was not entertaining for me and that is how I base my ratings.
I have seen examples that both agree and disagree with the proverb, “blood is thicker than water.” Using the common definition that family relationships are more important than other types of relationships, I know a family with adult children who focus solely on each other; they hardly have any social activities that involve friendships. Everything they do they do together whether it is going to the health club, the movies, shopping or even carpooling; they only carpool with each other siblings’ children. It is obvious to me that friendships/relationships with people outside of their family are not important to them. AS another example, I know a couple who each came from a dysfunctional family. For them their friends became their family, becoming careful with the time they spent with any of their blood family members. I see them as 2 individuals who became family to each other, creating a safe and protected environment. Where their focus has been on each other, I have seen couples where one person still has as their main priority a family member such as a mother or brother, instead of their partner. I have always been fascinated with the dynamics between family members by blood or love. Two brothers who look nothing alike, who people think are so different from each other, still have a bond that allows them to communicate without talking out loud. Or how about twins who live far away from each other yet when one feels sick the other can sense it; can anyone explain this phenomenon? I recall an article in the newspaper about an elderly gentleman who traveled overseas for vacation. While leisurely strolling through a town he stopped at a café to order a drink and rest. He happened to be facing the doorway while seated and when a customer walked in a few minutes later, the man was stunned; the customer who walked in looked identical to himself. It turned out they were twins separated at birth. Each one expressed the sense of unexplained loss they had been carrying all these years. There is such a strong bond that remains with some family members. SEPARATED from his brother 5 year old Saroo, played by newcomer Sunny Pawar, traveled further than the boundaries of India; he wound up in Australia when husband and wife John and Sue Brierley, played by David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Van Helsing) and Nicole Kidman (Secret in their Eyes, Paddington) adopted the young boy. As he grew up he began to understand certain feelings he had inside. This film festival winning movie based on a true story was a wonderful picture watching experience. Along with Dev Patel (The Last Airbender, Slumdog Millionaire) as Saroo Brierley and Rooney Mara (Carol, Side Effects) as Lucy; the acting in this picture was outstanding. This was Dev’s best performance in my opinion. The story was simply incredible and more amazing because it really happened. I found the 1st half of the film with the young Saroo, beautifully acted by Sunny, more intense due to the young child’s plight; the direction of the scenes kept me totally engrossed in the events. Because of that intensity the 2nd half of the movie felt a bit less so, but it still came across with subtle power. This could easily be an Oscar contender that showed the type of bonds we form for a family.
3 ½ stars
Seasoned eyes pause during their trek, scanning the room as they catch a reflection of themselves in someone else’s eyes. The stillness seems to have gone on for a long time, but no one around would have noticed anything different. The two sets of eyes unlock to continue on their way, knowing they will come back to this new laid trail to tread softly upon it once again. When they do this time a shadow of a smile escapes like a gentle sigh as the tiniest of lines appear at the corners of those eyes. The lines are proof that the eyes are settling in for a longer duration. Now here is where the sets of eyes may differ for each set is projecting a series of random images that have played before. A walk down by the lake, sitting at an outdoor cafe on a warm day, helping to take off a thick winter coat; the difference is the added appearance of the new person you have noticed across the room. They are pictures of a possible future that must return to the reality of the mind’s photo album. Some people are quite skilled at all of this because there is a strong sense of self. What happens though when that strong sense is missing? It has been called flirting, prowling, hunting and teasing; some individuals are blatant about it while others are more subdued. When the intentions come from a place of respect and affection any name would do. If the opportunity appears to experience a true and deep love, who would not want to embrace it? STORE clerk Theresa Belivet, played by Rooney Mara (Pan, Side Effects); found she suddenly felt different when she saw customer Carol Aird, played by Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Cinderella). It was not just the hat Carol was wearing. Directed by Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Velvet Goldmine), this film festival winner was an exquisite visual period piece from the 1950s set in New York City. With Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story-TV, 12 Years a Slave) as Abby Gerhard and Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, Zero Dark Thirty) as Harge Aird; the acting was perfect for the story, in an intimate and refined way. I thought Rooney’s acting was one of her best performances. The costumes and sets were created with the utmost style for the era; I liked the look of them. I understood for the era there had to be a certain shall we say subtleness to the script; however, I felt it diminished my overall enjoyment in viewing this dramatic romance. In turn, the pacing tended to run slow for me. There were passages where the emotional level stayed consistent far too long; it needed more dramatic variance in my opinion. Watching this film was like getting a beautifully wrapped present that contained a sweater for you but just not in the right size.
When I see the way a person acts, I sometimes wish I could have seen what happened to them that made them that way. There is that saying that has to do with not knowing a person’s situation until you have walked in their shoes or something similar. Seeing a stranger sitting alone in front of an apartment building on the front stoop, carrying on a conservation with an imaginary friend, I tend to be curious on what happened to them. I remember this classmate in college who wrote stories for our fiction class that were filled with violent images, yet on the outside he was as mild and quiet as a cotton ball. What took place in his life that filled him with such violence? For some people I know it can be a chemical imbalance, for others it could be outside influences that caused them to be that way. Of course one could look at the positive side of these outside influences. Think about the child who follows their parent into the medical field because their mother or dad was a doctor and he or she discover a cure for a disease; this would be a wonderful thing. Another example would be those movies and books that I thoroughly enjoyed, where I wanted to know about the early life of a character to see how it molded them into the person I had just read about or seen. Where I had no idea I wanted to know how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be, I enjoyed discovering her story when it came out. The same could be said about Peter Pan, where I never gave him any thought before. I see there was a reason for that after seeing this adventure fantasy. Orphaned at a young age Peter, played by relative newcomer Levi Miller, could not understand how boys were being taken from the orphanage; but his mother still had not shown up yet to take him away. This prequel to the Peter Pan story had Hugh Jackman (Chappie, Prisoners) as Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken, On the Road) as Hook and Rooney Mara (Side Effect, The Social Network) as Tiger Lily. Visually there were several creative and fun scenes in this film. The story was easy to follow as it tried to put down the foundation to the Peter Pan story known by most of us. However the script was awful, to the point the actors came off stunted and emotionless. With odd musical choices I found this picture was dull and unexciting except for Levi; he was the one bright spot throughout the story. After the movie was done I realized I did not really want to know how Peter became the flying Peter. I was satisfied with my memories just as they were of the sweet and magical character known as Peter Pan.
1 3/4 stars
This past summer I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug due to an injury I had on an amusement park roller coaster. That turned out to be my last roller coaster ride. The drug wreaked havoc with my digestive system to the point I never finished the prescription. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Just as I tell my fitness classes, when it comes to our bodies, I believe in the use it or lose it philosophy. I see the body as a medicine cabinet stored with antidotes to a a variety of ailments. When I sense something is different, such as a stuffy nose or scratchy throat; I begin a battle plan of tried natural remedies to combat the invading bugs. I prefer taking the least amount of drugs as possible; but that is just me. After seeing this movie, you better believe I will stay with my methods. In this psychological thriller Emily Taylor, played by Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network), was prescribed a new antidepressant with side effects that drastically altered her life and the lives of the people around her. Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street) was Emily’s supportive husband Martin Taylor. Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes franchise, Cold Mountain) played Dr. Jonathan Banks, whose methods came into question for prescribing the antidepressant. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, Broken City) was Emily’s former doctor, Victoria Siebert. It has been reported that director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Traffic) has said this would be his last movie to direct. Based on this film, it would be a shame if audiences were to be deprived of his keen sense of pacing and layering of a story. This movie had a few twists along the way that swelled into a a dramatic turn of events. I thought the cast did an excellent job, especially Rooney and Jude. If anything, I wished Soderbergh had pushed even more intensity out of his actors. This film may not be the ultimate pinnacle of Steven’s career; but he certainly can leave with his head held high for this spiraling mystery of a thriller. Brief scene with blood.
3 1/4 stars