IT IS A RITE OF PASSAGE FOR MANY, whether they want to go or not. One goes because it is their son or daughter, niece or nephew, cousin or a friend’s child; there is no getting around it. I do not want to make this sound torturous even though there have been times where it has been painful. The school recital or production is hard to refuse when you are connected to someone who is a participant. It is one of those things you do to support the child; one is not going to see or hear a top notch performance necessarily. I have sat through band recitals where if the program did not list the names of the songs I would have had no idea what the kids were playing. It is just the way the dice fall I guess because I was at a high school talent show that had some wonderful performances. Let me admit however the toughest times for me are when the school is putting on a musical production. I sit in those uncomfortable assembly hall seats at the school, watching the miscues and the forgotten lines, waiting for the one line my relative gets to say in the 2nd half of the play. It is a challenge for me. WATCHING STUDENTS PUT ON A play that I have seen before is harder for me to watch than when they do something I have never seen before. Not knowing what to expect makes the evening at the school performance easier because I am curious about the story. For the productions I have seen more than likely I have seen a professional theater production straight from Broadway. Now granted I will still enjoy the music, even if the school orchestra is not as polished as hired musicians; but that only goes so far before I get antsy in my seat. Not that I would ever make a negative comment to family or friends about the school performance. This is why I refer to it as a rite of passage; it is just one of those things you do because it is polite, supportive and the right thing to do. And it is important to be there for the child to commend and praise them. Regarding everything I just said please disregard it when it comes to the retelling of the biblical story in this action drama. HAVING BEEN TOLD HIS WHOLE life that he was a savior for the Hebrews; Samson, played by Taylor James (Christmas Eve, Justice League), did not want any part of it. All he was interested in was to antagonize the Philistines and be with women. This movie’s cast had Jackson Rathbone (Twilight franchise, The Last Airbender) as Rallah, Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom) as King Balek, Caitlin Leahy (Queen of the South-TV, Black-ish-TV) as Delilah and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher) as Manoah. Being familiar with the story of Samson and Delilah I have to tell you I was not looking forward to this film. I am aware of this movie studio and they did exactly what I expected them to do. They put no thought into the script, the production values or the cast. This picture was so poorly done that I would have preferred sitting through an elementary school production of the story. The acting was atrocious; granted the script was part of the cause. I sat in my seat and as I watched these actors I had to wonder if each one of them was carrying a heavy debt load, causing them to accept their role in this poorly made production. All I can say is I would rather have watched a friend’s daughter cry on stage during their ballet recital than sit through this picture.
1 ½ stars
How enriched does one’s life become when they are the recipient of an act of kindness. Through the centuries there have been extraordinary people who have given more to others than themselves. Present day there are moments where a kind gesture can change the entire day if not just our mood. I have one individual who remains vivid in my memory as an incredibly kind person; it was a former teacher of mine. After going through a long span of difficult times in school, I was desperate to find someone to talk to about a small group of predatory students. This particular teacher was the most approachable out of my instructors. I still remember the look on her face when I finally overcame my embarrassment and told her what was happening to me. She became a mixture of mortified anger and immediately took me to one of the vice principals of the school. Once there she took over and explained my situation, demanding action against the students. I was terrified that all of this would come back to bite me, that the students would seek vengeance. When the vice principal questioned me further, I had to express my concerns. They both assured me there would be no retaliation from the group of students; I was not convinced. The next school day did indeed turn out to be a better day. The teacher made sure she was outside of the classroom before and after class every day to watch me as I walked down the hallway. To me, her act of kindness was saintly. THROUGH her life Mother Teresa, played by Juliet Stevenson (Bend it Like Beckham, Mona Lisa Smile), kept correspondence with her spiritual advisor Celeste van Exem, played by Max von Sydow (Robin Hood, Shutter Island). Her letters were the basis for this film festival winning drama. There is no denying Mother Teresa was a very special human being; there have been many stories and reports about her life which included winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. Not as familiar with her early years, I was interested with the beginning of this film. The script went back and forth between Celeste and Benjamin Praagh, played by Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Reverend), discussing Mother Teresa in the past tense to actually seeing scenes of her life in chronological order. Unfortunately the script did a big disservice; it was void of emotion and details. I never got a sense of Mother Teresa’s motivation or even her thoughts; this was a poorly written story. The picture was for the most part bland; nothing stood out whether it was the acting (which in some scenes was almost comical) or the directing. It played more like a mediocre television movie. Actually, what the studio created here is one of those painted felt pictures of a religious figure that you would see being sold on the side of the road. Mother Teresa deserved so much more than this picture.
1 2/3 stars
Pretty Boy was our family’s female parakeet. Do not ask about her name. She was the dog we could not have in our 3rd floor apartment. For me she was not just a parakeet, she was a hawk. Except when Pretty Boy was asleep for the night, her cage door was always open. When one of my brothers or I entered the room she would fly to our shoulder to greet us. I would tell her to attack any one of my friends who happened to be over and she would take off and circle them before coming back to my outstretched arm. And get this: when my family would be gathered around the television for the Academy Awards show, she would fly down onto the floor and sit with me. Since her I have always had an interest in flying, so this fantasy film would certainly be something I would watch. For a fantasy there were few magical things; the movie essentially was a love story. Rutger Hauer (Sin City, Blade Runner) was Captain Ethenne Navarre who joined up with young thief Phillipe Gaston, played by Matthew Broderick (Glory, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), for help in sneaking up and surprising the corrupt bishop. For you see the bishop, played by John Wood (Chocolat, Sabrina), had cast a spell on Captain Navarre and his love Isabeau d’Anjou, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (People Like Us, Stardust). At nightfall the Captain would turn into a wolf and at daybreak Isabeau would turn into a hawk. Directed by Richard Donner (Superman franchise, Radio Flyer), this sweet movie harkened back to a time where the story drove the movie instead of special effects. There were well staged fight scenes and it was fun watching a young Matthew Broderick. I especially enjoyed the performance of Leo McKern (A Man for All Season, Rumpole of the Bailey-TV) as Father Imperiust the Monk. This fanciful movie did not reach my highest rating, but I still took pleasure in the way I floated along with the story.
2 3/4 stars — DVD