FOUR MONTHS AFTER MY IDENTITY HAD been stolen, I received a notice from the government that my fraud claim was confirmed, and I was not responsible for any losses. It has been a long four months with me contacting different agencies, freezing my credit report and filing a police report. It all started when I received a notice from unemployment that I had been approved to receive benefits; a debit card was enclosed that I was supposed to activate to receive funds. I knew it was a scam since I was currently employed. Due to the pandemic, I had a harder time getting things accomplished to protect myself. There were the multiple calls to the Social Security Administration, where I had to wait on hold until their phone system would tell me no agents were available and to try back later. Once I finally was able to speak to a representative, I could not get an answer to my questions, like why they are dunning me for 4 payments they claim they sent to me. I asked them where were they sending it; if it was to that debit card I did not activate, why couldn’t they just pull the funds back? Still, I could not get a clear answer and was told I should just hold on to all the paperwork that was sent to me. MY ORDEAL, THOUGH IT WAS A hassle, was manageable for me. However, I did wonder how I would have handled it if I was older. It is weird how it just happens; that sense of vulnerability that enters our consciousness as we get older. When I was younger, I gave little thought to walking in the snow and ice during winter; now, I am hyper aware of where I am stepping on an icy wet pavement. Will I become easily confused in my senior years? Will I be an easy target for scammers? These are things I think about now. They had a news report recently of a senior citizen in a nursing home who was milked out of her savings to the tune of $500,000.00. She was befriended by an employee at the nursing home who would have her sign withdrawal slips for small amounts of money from her savings account. Over time the small amounts added up and left the woman very little to live on. It was heartbreaking to see and confirmed my fears that the elderly can be such easy targets. If I get to a point where I might become easily confused, I hope I would know to find an advocate for me, someone who would watch out for my best interests. If you care to see an example of what could happen, then watch this dark comedy, crime thriller. MARLA GRAYSON, PLAYED BY ROSAMUND PIKE (A Private War, Gone Girl), had a good thing going of being a legal guardian for those who could not take care of themselves. That is until she became the guardian to someone who had a couple of secrets of her own. With Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones-TV, X-men: Days of Future Past) as Roman Lunyov, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Paradise Hills) as Fran, Dianne Wiest (Hannah and her Sisters, Darling Companion) as Jennifer Peterson and Chris Messina (Away We Go, Ruby Sparks) as Dean Ericson; this Golden Globe nominated movie had an interesting premise. I felt the writers could have gone in a variety of ways to make their point. However, the way they chose I found horrible. I thought the script was mean spirited and ignorant. The only thing that kept me watching this film was the performances by Rosamund, Peter and Dianne. They were excellent; but I do not know how they kept this picture going, because there was no moral compass in the story and there really was no character that elicited any sympathy from me. If it wasn’t for the acting, I would have given this film a lower rating of stars.
1 7/8 stars
THE WAY MY FRIEND TOLD THE STORY, she was sitting on the sofa watching television when she suddenly heard a loud bang. She muted the TV as she tried to figure out the origin of the sound. Getting up, she walked over to her living room window and saw a couple of neighbors standing by her car. A feeling of dread settled upon her as she walked out the front door to join the small group. As she walked towards her car one of the neighbors told her not to worry; she had caught the whole thing on her phone. My friend told me one of the neighbors was outside when she heard a car driving faster than it should down their street. The car was swerving, nearly going up on the curb a couple of times. The neighbor took out her phone as she moved towards the street and started recording the speeding car in hopes of getting the license plate’s number. As the driver approached they seemed to momentarily lose control and bounced into my friend’s car. The whole thing was caught on video as the driver kept going as if sideswiping a car was a natural thing to do. My friend was stunned; not only by the accident, but by the neighbor going out into the street to capture everything on her phone. BESIDES FEELING SAD FOR MY FRIEND, I had to admire the neighbor who willing went into the street to capture the erratic driver on her phone. With the way the car was going side to side, she was lucky she did not get hurt. That instinct to run towards an incident is admirable. As a matter of fact, in my city the news recently reported on an off-duty police officer who heard gun shots and immediately ran towards them. The same can be said for firemen who race towards danger to put out a fire. I don’t know if that feeling to go towards danger is something that is taught or is instinctive. And let me make the distinction between danger from outside forces as compared to danger that a person encounters due to their passion, examples would be mountain climbing or auto racing. I always knew reporters assigned to areas of conflict would be put into dangerous positions; but I, maybe mistakenly, assumed it wasn’t their choice. My thinking on this has changed now because of this biographical war drama. Never have I encountered a person with such a large capacity for danger; it has totally changed my views on war correspondents. BECAUSE OF HER PASSION TO GIVE A voice to the voiceless, American journalist Marie Colvin, played by Rosamund Pike (Hostiles, Gone Girl), would willingly go to some of the most dangerous places in the world just to get the true story. With Jamie Dornan (Robin Hood, Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) as Paul Conroy, Tom Hollander (In the Loop, Pride & Prejudice) as Sean Ryan, Stanley Tucci (Patient Zero, Spotlight) as Tony Shaw and Faye Marsay (Pride, Darkest Hour) as Kate Richardson; this movie allowed Rosamund to give her best performance. Her acting was incredible throughout the story. As for the story I was stunned by several of the dangerous scenes that Marie placed herself in. Regarding the script, I would have appreciated it more if the writers spent extra time on Marie’s backstory. There came a point where I felt the areas of conflict were included at times for Rosamund to shine; instead of delving deeper into the things that made up Marie. Jamie, by the way, did an excellent job of acting as her photographer. When I left the theater I still did not know all the reasons why Marie did what she did, but I was totally in awe of her.
THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT get better with age and there are others that get worse. I am a big fan of leftovers because I have found some foods taste better to me the next day. This may gross some of you out but I love cold pizza on the 2nd day as much as when I originally ordered it. Not being an alcohol drinker I have heard some wines and liquors taste better the longer they sit. When it comes to shoes I definitely feel they get better with age; my feet are much happier in an old pair of sneakers than a brand new, store bought pair. Having watched people around me go through the aging process I feel I can say some of them got softer with age. What I mean is they lost some of their intensity and rigidity. Things that used to annoy them do not have the same effect as they have grown older. On the other hand there are some folk who have become less accepting or maybe I should say less open to new experiences. They want things in a particular order with no deviation, becoming more argumentative if things are not to their liking. ALONG THESE SAME LINES I have noticed that the feelings of love and hate have altered through the years. Love for all intents and purposes has stayed steady through the years. Sure there are more ways to show one’s love these days, but overall it pretty much has stayed intact in its pureness. Hate to me has become more of a hungry beast that wants to devour things whole. Years ago when two people broke off their relationship they stopped seeing each other. Yes there may have been yelling and name calling; but eventually the participants moved on with their lives. Now we have people becoming stalkers and killers when their love goes unanswered. Hatred to me has become more volatile where groups of people form over a common hate towards some other group. The things I see on the news are hard to comprehend sometimes. People being poisoned as they walk down the street, vehicles exploding in highly populated areas, beheadings being recorded; there is only so much one can see before they get depressed by it all. You would think with the way technology has helped advance society there would be a way people could learn to embrace each other’s differences instead of using them to fuel their hatred. Though the story in this dramatic, crime thriller took place in the 1970s it could easily have taken place today. LOOKING FOR A WAY TO achieve their mutual goals a group of radicals hatch a creative plan involving an airplane. To the individuals who would be affected by their plan, it meant they would have to come up with something just as creative if they wanted to save lives. Inspired by true events this film starred Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, A United Kingdom) as Brigitte Kuhlmann, Daniel Bruhl (The Zookeeper’s Wife, Rush) as Wilfried Bose, Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky, 21 Grams) as Shimon Peres and Lior Ashkenazi (Footnote, Walk on Water) as Yitzhak Rabin. The story was an intense one and for it to succeed it needed a solid script, but that did not happen. The cast was certainly capable to handle it but I found the script uneven; there were some riveting scenes but then others fell flat. I actually did not like the way the movie ended with the 2 story lines. Maybe if there was more back story to the characters I would have gotten more into this film; however, what I watched only made me sad on many levels.
1 ¾ stars
I BELIEVE IT IS SAFE to say all of us at one time or another will have to do something we do not want to do. Though I am not a fan of this word I would almost venture to say “something we hate to do.” There are some things that one does not like but has to do such as pay taxes, clean house, shovel snow and so on. My major dislike falls under home and car repairs; I am not handy and have a hard time dealing with repair people. However I know necessity overcomes distasteful, uncomfortable situations. Remembering my elementary school years, I can honestly say I always hated going to our 1st PE class after the summer break. Every year the gym teachers would use this day to weigh each student. Getting on the scale in front of the whole class was bad enough, but then to have the instructor loudly call out each weight to the student they picked to record it was humiliating. There was always snickers and giggles from several classmates when the weight was high. HATE TOOK ON A WHOLE different meaning the more I studied history. Where my dislike was more of an abstract type, like a procedure or function, the hatred I was seeing among human beings was ugly to me. To dislike or distrust someone because of their looks or differences was hard for me to comprehend. One of the things I noticed about hatred was its ability to draw in multiple individuals like a magnet, without them even questioning the validity of their new found hatred. In a warped way it evokes feelings concerning being left out if you know what I mean. It is a fear some people have where they are afraid they will be missing something or not be part of a group, which makes them act without thinking about what they are doing. I guess what I am trying to say is there are people who hate for hate’s sake. From my own experiences, I have seen two people hate each other for so long that they cannot remember why they started to hate each other in the first place; that is how blind and undiscriminating hate can be. If you are interested in seeing an example of what I am talking about then do see this film festival winning dramatic, adventure western. FORCED AGAINST HIS WILL Captain Joseph J. Blocker, played by Christian Bale (The Big Short, Out of the Furnace), was ordered to accompany and protect Chief Yellow Hawk, played by Wes Studi (Heat, The Last of the Mohicans), on his journey back to his homeland. Captain Blocker would rather have seen the chief dead. Set in the 1890s this film included actors Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, A United Kingdom) as Rosalie Quaid, Ben Foster (Hell or High Water, The Messenger)) as Sgt. Charles Wills and Scott Shepherd (Bridge of Spies, Side Effects) as Wesley Quaid. Watching this picture was akin to reading a book; it told a story from beginning to end. With incredible acting from Rosamund and Christian, these two elevated the sometimes uneven script. Beautifully filmed I found the story as relevant today as it was back then. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the script unfolded, never getting cheesy or preachy. There were times where the multiple silent scenes seemed to drag out the story longer than it needed to be; however, I felt the story carried some importance to it. In my opinion I cannot imagine someone hating this well acted, beautifully filmed picture.
FOR a brief moment that “look,” which I was familiar with, ran across the man’s face. He was standing in the checkout aisle next to mine. The only way I can describe that “look” is to say it was a cross between contempt and total disgust. Physically the eyes narrow, the muscles of the face slip down to the lower half of the head and the lips seal together in a straight line except for the hint of a curl at one end of the lips. I knew immediately why the man was making that face; it was because of the couple standing in front of me. They were an interracial couple. The look on that man’s face is the same type of look I have been given at various times. Once at the airport where I was sitting with a friend waiting to board our flight, he fell asleep and was leaning over onto my shoulder. A couple who was walking by looked down at me and made that look, uttering a sound of disgust. Another time I was doing volunteer work where we would work in pairs to canvass the neighborhood. I was paired with a woman from a different race than mine. You would not believe there were several people who answered their door, took a look at us and immediately made that face, besides only talking to me; they would ignore her more times than not. It was pathetic, appalling and many other adjectives. WHENEVER I encounter this type of prejudice, I simply want to ask the “offended” person how that person you show disgust towards affects your own life. Why should it even matter to them if the couple is of the same gender or from different races; I honestly cannot understand why anyone would make a judgment about another person based on such things. It is sad that these personal issues are even being addressed. Now that I have seen this film based on a true story, I am even more astonished at the lunacy of people’s prejudices. RUTH Williams and Seretse Khama, played by Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Pride & Prejudice) and David Oyelowo (Selma, Queen of Katwe), fell in love and eventually wanted to get married. Their marriage would have consequences for Seretse’s country of birth, where he was a prince. This film festival nominated dramatic romance was a wonderful film to watch. With Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Alistair Canning and Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise, Risen) as Rufus Lancaster, the cast was well rounded and performed beautifully. I especially enjoyed David and Rosamund in their roles. Set in London initially during the 1940s, the scenes rolled in a gentle type of way that only accentuated the well written script. I have to tell you the events that took place in this biographical story stunned me; not that there was a sudden surprise moment, but the turn of events taking place on the worldwide stage solely due to a person’s skin color just blew me away. Those of you who know me know how much I enjoy seeing photos of the actual people the actors portrayed; this movie did not disappoint me. Nothing about this film disappointed me except seeing the narrow-mindedness of some people.
3 1/3 stars
It began with a glance across the room as locked eyes pushed the other guests to the side. An easy bantering that produced chuckles and laughter that cropped up like hot, bursting popcorn soon led to a steaming up of the room. The two of you held a second conversation with your eyes; each of you feeling you found that special person who would stand shoulder to shoulder with you. Effortless and effervescent, each time the two of you were together you both shed the remaining layers of your defensive protection, revealing souls quite similar to each other. Agreeing and wanting to spend the rest of your lives together, both of you settled into joyful and playful lovingness. The first couple of years flew by as the two of you easily rode the waves of daily life, your love always ready to throw you a life preserver to keep you afloat. As the next couple of years rolled on by, a veneer of automatic expectations dulled the shine of your love. It was not an intentional action, just the strength of familiar routines dulling your heart’s love. Sadly, during these times one may not recognize what they have until it is gone. COMING home to discover his wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike (Surrogates, The Devil You Know), missing with only a piece of broken furniture left behind; Nick Dunne’s, played by Ben Affleck (Runner Runner, The Town), only thought was finding her. However, once the authorities were involved some of the evidence they turned up placed Nick in a suspicious light, no thanks to the growing media frenzy that was surrounding him. Director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) created a suspenseful thriller that was filled with intense, dramatic scenes. I especially found the camera work ideal in keeping the intensity level of this movie high. In my opinion this was Rosamund’s best role to date; she was unbelievable which says something since Ben and Neil Patrick Harris (A MIllion Ways to Die in the West, The Smurfs franchise) as Desi Collings were excellent. Since I had not read Gillian Flynn’s novel that this film was based on, I was surprised by the different changes in direction. If one read the book first, I believe the movie may have less of an impact. Having a running time of nearly 2 1/2 hours and its slow start, I felt the movie could have been cut down a bit. With that being said, I did not forget the film after I left the theater; it still gave me much to remember. There were a couple of scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 1/2 stars