IT WAS OUR PASSION FOR WORKING out that sparked our friendship. Meeting at the house of mutual friends, I knew immediately he was into fitness. My first clue was the food he had on his plate. From all the choices available at the buffet table, he chose the items with the least amount of carbs. Also, he was wearing a light colored T-shirt that was stretched to the max across his chiseled torso and bulging biceps. It was over at the table set up as the bar, where I made a comment about his plate of food. He, in turn, asked where was my plate. When I explained I stop eating 5 hours before going to sleep, I could tell my comment piqued his interest. From there we got into a discussion about health and exercise, sharing our journey into fitness. I shared stories about witnessing the effects brought on by family members’ poor health and how I started questioning the things I was doing that might trigger into action those same poor genes I shared with them from the family gene pool. It turned out we had a similar history that motivated us to take better care of ourselves. Before the evening was over, we both had a good sense of each other and agreed to hang out at some point. FROM THAT RANDOM MEETING AT THAT party, we wound up becoming pretty good workout buddies. When time permitted we would meet at the health club and become each other’s coach and spotter. It must have been 6 or 8 months later when he got the news that would change his life forever. On a routine doctor visit it was discovered he had a serious disease. Because he was so fit, he did not notice the early symptoms. From that point on things changed, as you would expect. He still met me at the gym but not as often; not because he did not want to, but because he was busy getting his house ready to sell. Upon getting the news, he decided he did not want to live and die in a cold climate. Instead, he planned on moving to a warmer city on the west coast. He still kept close to his workout routine but the times did not mesh with my availability. By the time we were in the middle of the autumn season, he had sold most of his furnishings, grew a beard and bought a house. Though he hadn’t finalized the sale of his current house, he wanted to get out and start enjoying the days he had remaining in a warm climate. I was impressed with his matter of fact actions in completely uprooting himself to seek out comfort for his remaining days. I don’t know if I would have the same courage as him or the main character in this dark comedic drama. UPON RECEIVING DIRE NEWS ABOUT HIS HEALTH Richard, played by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Black Mass) changed the way he was teaching his classes and also the people around him. With Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister, Rachel Getting Married) as Veronica, Odessa Young (Assassination Nation, The Daughter) as Olivia, Danny Huston (The Aviator, The Constant Gardener) as Peter and Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Dirty Grandpa) as Claire; this film festival nominee had a decent cast of actors. Johnny was ok but he did not provide me with something new that I had not seen before. The script had an occasional glimmer of hope, but I felt it lacked in developing the characters. There were several chances for this story to well up into an emotional peak but I felt the writers wanted to play it safe. So instead what was left for the viewer was a repeat of actions and emotions; as if, the writers wanted to not only numb the main character but the audience as well.
Those needs, wants and expectations sure can trip you up in the middle of your relationship. A want is like a desire; such as I want a caramel apple dipped in chocolate. I do not need it but I certainly would not refuse one if it happened to cross my path. A need is defined as a condition requiring supply or relief; for example, telling a person to stop yelling at you would qualify as a need. Now about expectations, this one can really play havoc in your relationship. The dictionary defines expectation as a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen; you could even say a hope. But I have to tell you if you get into a relationship where you have silent expectations, it will knock you for a loop. I know a couple where the wife is a fast decision maker and the husband is opposite; he has to mull things over and over. Where the wife is ready to replace their refrigerator at the first sign of trouble, her husband has to wait and think it over; wondering if he could fix it or find someone who can, the cost, the time looking for a fridge if they have to and his list goes on and on. This could turn into a frustrating moment for both of them. Now I know in the scheme of things this type of disagreement is more of a trivial matter; however, there are times where two people can veer off of their shared path due to mixed expectations or needs. If you do not believe me just watch what happens in this drama. WHILE vacationing Tim and Lee, played by Jake Johnson (Let’s Be Cops, New Girl-TV) and Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister Cinderella Man), discover an old bone and gun on the property. Reacting differently to this find caused the two of them to experience a different vacation from the other during their trip away. What drew me into this story was the dialog; I found it to be honest and real. With a large cast that included Brie Larson (Short Term 12, Don Jon) as Max and Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Kingdom of Heaven) as Ben, I found every character had something to offer to the story. Now about the story, I enjoyed how it let the viewer be a witness to the different implications and events, letting us imagine the possibilities that could happen. The cast really worked well together, coming across as believable and I mean this as a compliment, typical. There were a few parts in the story where I had to question the validity of the action taking place. I was not sure if I was reacting that way because I could not relate to it, not having experienced it in my life. On the plus side I enjoyed the way this film made me think about it even after it was done.
2 2/3 stars
The day before I went to see this movie, I was at a dinner party where I heard an incredible story. A friend, who lives in the house she grew up in, said her house has ghosts. The people around her did not know how to react to such a statement, so the majority of them replied by saying, “Really” with a question mark at the end. With her sister confirming there were ghosts, she told us about the wristwatch she lost 4 months ago. She had placed it on her dresser before she went to take a shower. When she returned, the watch was gone. She looked all around the dresser, even in the drawers, as she retraced her steps positive she had left the watch on the dresser. A week went by and still no watch so she went out and bought a new one. None of us knew how to respond; so we simply nodded our heads, letting her continue with her story. Months passed as she went about her business, opening and closing the drawers of her dresser on a daily basis. One day as she was getting ready to go out with her boyfriend, she opened one of the dresser’s drawers and sitting in the bottom of it was her original watch. That in itself would have been freaky enough but along with the watch was an old folded up piece of paper. When she unfolded the paper she saw it was a shopping list that her deceased sister had written years ago because the first item listed was cigarettes. Everyone listening to her story was speechless. FORCED to downsize their expenses Eric and Amy Bowen, played by Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back, Moon) and Rosemarie DeWitt (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Watch), took a deal on a smaller house. The real estate agent failed to mention the house was built on top of an old cemetery. This remake of the 1982 horror thriller was odd to me. The writers kept some of the original ideas in tact, but other iconic parts were discarded. Unfortunately they were not replaced with something that was more intense or memorable. The cast was okay even if I thought Sam was an odd choice. I admire his work, but having him in this film gave it a slightly comic bent. Another example was the character Carrigan Burke, played by Jared Harris (Lincoln, Natural Born Killers). He too was okay but his character did not have the impact like the original character he replaced. Now there were some scenes where I enjoyed the special effects; but here again, they just did not have the same level of intensity. So if you have not seen the original movie you may be okay with this modern version. I would have rather attended another dinner party with shared paranormal stories.
1 3/4 stars
Though pretty much everyone wants to be told the truth, not everyone wants to hear it. When asking someone what they think of your new item of clothing, who really wants to hear that it looks ugly or unflattering on you? I realize there may be times where it would serve no useful purpose to tell someone the truth, such as an elderly parent who is in the throws of dementia that one of their children had died. Similarly, a young child at the center of their parents’ bitter divorce does not need to hear all the sordid details about their mother or father, I would think. My friends tell me I am brutally honest to a fault. I am aware what I say can initially seem hurtful; but I expect the same honesty in return. I cannot tell you how many dates I have had where I asked if they would like to get together again and was told yes. For me it is more hurtful when they never return my follow up calls; I would rather be told right at the start that they are not interested. What is the big deal to say no thank you? I would not take it personally since they do not even know me; however, I realize there are some who feel uncomfortable expressing their true feelings. TRUTH did not come about easily in this dramatic crime film based on a true story. Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Hurt Locker) played investigative news reporter Gary Webb, who stumbled onto a story that would affect the standing of the United States Government on a global scale. I vaguely remember parts of this story since there was another noteworthy event taking place around the same time as this one which involved drugs for guns. Along with Jeremy the entire cast which included Rosemarie DeWitt (Men, Women & Children, The Watch) as Gary’s wife Sue, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Die Hard franchise) as Anna Simons and Oliver Platt (Love & Other Drugs, 2012) as Jerry Ceppos, were all outstanding in their roles. The tightly woven scenes produced a continuous flow of suspense that kept me riveted in my seat. I especially enjoyed the insertion of actual film clips into the scenes as the director kept up a steady pace with the filming. There were only a couple of parts that felt slow to me; however, I understood the reasoning since the story was biographical. In fact, it added an extra level of poignancy to this powerful film and that is the truth.
3 1/3 stars
Deep within the Amazon Jungle I saw a pair of dark, wide eyes peering out at me through dense, overflowing foliage. A separate time I was able to revisit Florence Italy where I had climbed up to the top of Il Duomo di Firenza, the main church of the city. Friends have told me about their ability to see the birth of a child from across the country. They have also told me some of their horror stories involving deceitful people. In the news recently I heard how retail chains were hacked and their customers’ charge card information was stolen.I did not have to listen because I already knew about it when my credit card information was stolen. Until the credit card company called me to verify a purchase that was being done in a different state from where I lived, I had no idea someone had grabbed my information. All of the things I have mentioned so far were made possible by the internet. Ah yes, the internet; where it can take you to far remote spots of the world to witness the discovery of a rare plant, while its evil side robs you of your identity while you sleep. For me, using the internet is akin to relating to someone with a split personality disorder; it can be so rewarding, yet extremely challenging. PEOPLE have to constantly adjust the way they relate to each other due to the power of the internet. Writer/director Jason Reitman (Juno, Labor Day) assembled a large cast of actors for this drama based on the novel, about the twists and turns people must navigate in their daily lives due to the accessibility of the internet. A few of the actors in this film were Adam Sandler (Blended, That’s My Boy) and Rosemarie DeWitt (The Watch, Rachel Getting Married) who played Don and Helen Truby, a married couple looking for something more than they had in their marriage. Jennifer Garner (Draft Day, Dallas Buyers Club) played overprotective mother Patricia Beltmeyer to her daughter Brandy, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now). Out of all the actors in this movie the only two that stood out for me were Kaitlyn and Ansel Elgort (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) as Tim Mooney. Their story line and acting were the most interesting to me. I found the rest of the cast somewhat dull but considering the script went nowhere it was understandable. For most of this film I sat in my seat being bored. With the absence to a beginning, a middle and defined conclusions to the different story lines I felt I was only seeing bits and pieces of people’s lives; similar to mindlessly surfing the internet for hours.
1 3/4 stars
I resent it when I am treated like a number or statistic by a large corporation. What happened where the corporate world felt it was not important to offer a personal touch when dealing with customers? At least that has been my experience. This point was driven home by the bank that had my mortgage. When I decided to refinance with them, I never imagined I would spend the following 6 months in corporate hell. From denying my application due to a mistake they made, to giving me three different dollar amounts I would need at closing; the only way I could get someone to listen to me was to show up at one of the bank’s branches and let my dark side out, making a scene. This is not my usual modus operandi but I felt no respect from them. The premise for this movie was set up in a somewhat similar way: large energy company pitted against a small town. Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo, The Adjustment Bureau) played Steve Butler, the company’s representative whose job was to buy up the drilling rights from the town’s homeowners. Joining him was his partner Sue Thomason, played beautifully by Frances McDormand (Almost Famous, Moonrise Kingdom). What the energy company expected to be an easy job was met with resistance from science teacher Frank Yates, played by Hal Holbrook (Lincoln, Into the Wild) and environmentalist Dustin Noble, played by John Krasinski (It’s Complicated, Big Miracle). With Matt and John having written the screenplay, I was hoping for a deeper developed story that provided more insight to both sides. Instead this movie was only a generic version of the proverbial David and Goliath story. The character of Alice, played by Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married, Your Sister’s Sister), rang false to me and changed the dynamics of the story, leading it to a poor ending. This film could have been better if they went with an edgier story; which would have made for a serious, dramatic movie.
2 1/3 stars
How many incidents can trace their root cause to the consumption of alcohol? I may not be an expert on the subject, but I certainly have had my share of over served people around me–I was always the designated driver. In this wonderful film Jack, played by Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Humpday), was still struggling with the death of his brother. Iris, played by Emily Blunt (The Five Year Engagement, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) was not only the brother’s girlfriend but also Jack’s best friend. She offered him the use of her family’s remote getaway home, hoping it would help Jack come to terms with his loss. Upon his arrival, he discovered Iris’ sister Hannah, played by Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married, How I Got Lost), was staying at the home, having just gotten out of a 7 year relationship. With both people suffering; it did not take long for the two to sleep together after a night of drinking. What followed was a story filled with raw emotions, humor, incredible performances and convincing characters. Some of you already know how much I enjoy Emily Blunt and you will understand why after she showed up to surprise Jack. This film had no special effects, no hidden twists, just a realistic story about flawed individuals who were honest enough to recognize their flaws and simply work through them.
3 1/3 stars