I FEEL BETTER WHEN I CAN always still see land, even if it is far in the distance. Maybe because of all the movies I have seen, from Jules Verne stories to historical events, I am anxious whenever I am on a boat or plane. Nothing that needs medication, but the idea of being on the water with no land in sight is not comforting to me. Even with my recent vacation last week, there were warning signs and fences posted along the shoreline preventing the hotel guests from swimming in the lake. You just never know what is lurking below the surface and I for one am not interested in finding out. I have only been on a cruise once and appreciated most of our travel time was done at night from port to port. It was easier for me to go to sleep and wake up in a different city without being exposed to open waters. The only thing I really had to deal with is getting used to the movement of the ship; it took me one full day to get myself steady where I was not feeling nauseous from the ship’s movements. FROM MY ONE AND ONLY cruise I saw an abundance of wildlife. Seated by a window in the dining hall I happened to see a school of whales breaking through the water’s surface. I recall thinking about Moby Dick, wondering if a whale could do damage to our vessel. My biggest fear took place up until we set sail; I was concerned we would get caught in a storm while out to sea. I have seen enough action films like The Perfect Storm and The Poseidon Adventure to know the storm always wins or if not, does severe damage. If these concerns were not enough, recently there have been several instances where passengers became ill while traveling by boat. If one has an imagination they can really scare themselves with all the possibilities of different disasters coming close to them. So, you see why I am less anxious if I can see land while out on the water? The same thing goes for being in an airplane. The few times I have flown overseas was either done at nighttime, where I could not see anything or during the day, where I purposely had an aisle seat. I do not understand how people can be so calm when they are so far away from land. The 2 travelers in this action, adventure drama is a perfect example. THEIR COMMOM LOVE OF THE water made Tami Oldham’s and Richard Sharp’s, played by Shailene Woodley (Divergent franchise, The Fault in Our Stars) and Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Journey’s End), decision easy to set sail together across the ocean. Their trip would not go as planned due to Mother Nature. Based on a true story this movie also starred Grace Palmer (Shortland Street-TV, Home and Away-TV) as Deb, Jeffrey Thomas (Slow West, The Light Between Oceans) as Peter and Elizabeth Hawthorne (30 Days of Night, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) as Christine. What made this film engaging was Shailene’s and Sam’s acting ability. They were so good together they came across like a real couple. The script jumped back and forth between two distinct time periods. At first, I found it kept my interest up; however, as time went on I felt this writing device was diminishing the emotional level of the scenes. For the circumstances taking place, I expected more details to be shown in the story. Nonetheless, the story was beyond amazing and this picture did a decent job of telling it. And as far as I am concerned if I had any interest in taking a ride on a sailboat, this movie pretty much ended it for me.
2 ¾ stars
ARSENIC was what killed the husband. It did not happen overnight; according to the news reports his wife mixed a small amount of the chemical into his food every day. In my naivety I wondered why she just did not divorce him, but a friend quickly informed me it probably involved money. Since money has never played a major factor in deciding my relationship decisions, when I have been with someone where we have shared expenses, all I can think of if the relationship sours is to get out with the least amount of drama. Most possessions are just stuff we have accumulated; how much does a person really need? Recently I met someone who was actively seeking a relationship by using a dating service. On the occupation section of the application they told me they only would list the field they work in without giving the job title. When I asked why they told me there were several potential dates that made contact even though there were no similar interests in the profiles. I listened as they explained when they listed their occupation there were more responses; but they soon discovered after a couple of meetings, the dates were interested more in salary levels then learning about their personal history. WHEN you first meet a couple that has a large age gap between them, what is the first thing you think about them? If you are like the others I have asked, your first thoughts could be leaning towards the idea of a gold-digger, a cougar or a scam artist. We had a family friend who was a widower for many years. Later in life he met a woman who was a widow. After a sweet courtship they married and settled into a calm domestic life. A few years went by before our friend died. Now there was no proof, no autopsy (at that age most doctors just say it is due to old age) and little time before his new widow moved away. It turns out our family friend was her 6th husband; all her previous ones had died a similar way. CONVINCED his guardian’s death was suspicious Philip, played by Sam Claflin (Me Before You, The Hunger Games franchise), believed his guardian’s widow Rachael Ashley, played by Rachel Weisz (Denial, The Light Between Oceans), was behind it. Based on Daphne Du Maurier’s (Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek) novel, this dramatic romantic mystery simmered and sizzled with the chemistry created between Rachel and Sam. The two of them did a wonderful job of acting that outshone the supporting cast which included Holliday Grainger (Jane Eyre, The Finest Hours) as Louis Kendall and Iain Glen (Resident Evil franchise, Game of Thrones-TV) as Nick Kendall. Visually this picture had some interesting contrasts. Interior shots had darkness to them either with atmosphere or costumes. Where outdoor scenes had a vivid or striking look to them, I particularly was fascinated with Rachel’s clothing against her white horse. On the down side the script was the weak link in this film. I felt it had too many dull parts between the good sections. This added to the slowness I felt during parts of the story. If the acting had not been so good, this film would have died a slow death.
2 ½ stars
UPBEAT and positive is how I would describe the man telling us about the changes in our office. We were being told how these moves decided by upper management would be a good thing for our company. I sat there with my fellow employees and I am sure they were thinking the same thing: who was going to get the ax. Maybe that is too harsh to say so here are some ways I have heard it expressed: laid off, let go, reassigned, reevaluated, eliminated and left behind. None of these terms warrant a happy face with optimistic comments. I used to work at one place that decided after many years to outsource their payroll functions. The staff for each manager had meetings set up to explain the changes in how we were going to be paid. You should have seen the spin job the managers tried to sell us. They talked about the convenience of looking up our paycheck online, the ability to schedule time off and the ease of changing our benefits package. I knew there had to be more to the meeting and sure enough towards the end the manager told us how salaries would be administered. EVERYONE’S salary was scaled back to a standard base amount. From that point you would go up the scale depending on a number of factors; each factor was worth a certain dollar amount. I remember sitting there and quickly figuring out the math and realized a majority of us would be taking a rather large pay cut. There stood this person in front of us stating the virtues of this new pay system, doing their best to sell it as if it was the best thing since sliced bread. With me losing over 30% of my salary I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut and not stating the facts about their so called great new system. Let us face it; there is no good way to promote bad news. WHILE Germany was dropping bombs on the city of London during the early 1940s, the defense department was working on a propaganda film in the hopes of drawing the United States into the war. All it needed was a woman’s touch. This film festival winner was part comedy, part drama and part romance. At first I felt the story was starting out slow but as things began to unfold I enjoyed how the writers were fitting together all the different pieces to create this enjoyable movie. Starring Gemma Arterton (The Voices, Gemma Bovery) as Catrin Cole, Sam Claflin (Me Before You, The Hunger Games franchise) as Tom Buckley, Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pride) as Ambrose Hilliard/Uncle Frank and Jack Huston (American Hustle, Ben-Hur) as Ellis Cole; I thought the cast worked together beautifully. Bill and Gemma were the standouts for me. The script did a great job of balancing the elements of the story. Things moved naturally between the genres of drama, comedy and romance; there was the ever present war, but it never overshadowed the other story lines. I will say I thought the ending was a bit abrupt regarding one of the characters in particular; it felt somewhat false. However, as I sat and imagined what it must have been like back then, I realized there was no choice; the British government needed to stay positive.
3 1/4 stars
A wise person holds back from taking action on their first impressions. I wish I could say I am quoting from a well known scholar, but I cannot; it is from me. Not to say I am wise because in the past all I did for the most part was react immediately upon my first impression of a person or place. I believe I have said this before but I now consider first impressions to be a photograph to be stashed in one’s pocket, to let it sit as you let time pass to see if your first impression matches the current one you have of that individual. Maybe because I believe a person’s true colors find a way to seep out of them that I hold myself back from acting, but I have been rewarded with some positive relationships that at first looked like I was dealing with a not nice person. I had a relationship with someone who at first glance appeared to be vain and conceited. This was my first impression of them from a party I had attended where they were a guest also. It was not until a couple of more encounters where I saw their true disposition and I have to tell you it surprised me. They were actually kind and good natured, that first impression I had was their default image or persona whenever they felt uncomfortable in a new environment. I guess we all have some form of defense we turn to when we are dealing with our emotions. DESPERATE to find work Lou Clark, played by Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV), was relieved when she was offered the job to be a caregiver for Will Traynor, played by Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games franchise, The Quiet Ones). Her relief turned to dread upon meeting the caustic man. Based on the bestselling novel, this film festival winner got the right chemistry when they cast Emilia and Sam for the leads. I found them believable and felt they made a solid connection together with their characters. Also starring Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, Game of Thrones-TV) and Janet McTeer (Malefiecent, Tideland) as Stephen and Camilla Traynor, the acting worked in this dramatic romance. I would be curious to hear how the book compares to this film because I found the script to be manipulative, steering the viewers to tearful checkpoints. However, what surprised me was one of the topics that came up in the story that is controversial these days. It was interesting to see where it would wind up going in the script. From the showing I attended that was close to sold-out, the responses I heard afterwards were all positive. I would agree because of the acting being so good and the intriguing idea behind the story. So what if a couple of tears welled up in my eyes; not enough to warrant wiping them away with a tissue unlike others seated around me, it did not alter my first impression of the movie. This was a love story with a twist.
2 ½ stars
It was not a requirement but we all knew non-participation would affect our grade. The professor of my college freshmen psychology class encouraged us to enroll in the volunteer program for the graduate students. I remember some of the studies I volunteered for were interesting. There was one where I was sitting in the waiting room with another volunteer. We had a brief time for introductions before we were called into a room. A lab assistant handed each of us a pen and notepad. We were instructed to sit at opposite ends of the room and write down our perceptions of the other one. Once we were done the supervisor asked us to switch our papers. The facilitator then asked the volunteer to read what I wrote about him. I kept my comments to simple generalizations like he seemed nice, had a hearty laugh. When it was my turn to read aloud I was stunned by his words. He had written things like I did not seem to be very smart, appeared to be uncoordinated. After I finished reading, the person in charge asked me to address any comments I might have directly to the volunteer. Turning to him I let loose with such a profanity filled stream of intense anger that the supervisor could not calm me down until he finally admitted this had been a set up and the other volunteer was a graduate student, who was studying subjects’ reactions. I chose to opt out of the program. The test subject in this horror film inspired by actual events did not have the same opportunity. Jared Harris (Lincoln, Natural Born Killers) played professor Joseph Coupland who was convinced he could scientifically explain the irrational occurrences happening to test subject Jane Harper, played by Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel-TV). Settled in a London estate with his team, the professor had everything documented to film by student Brian McNeil, played by Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). But even some pictures could not explain what took place. The film work with its cool retro look created an interesting setting for this story. There were parts that were extremely loud which I could not tell was set by the movie theater or the film. Since I found aspects of the story far-fetched, the scare factor was somewhat diminished for me in this film. It was a shame because I liked the idea behind the story, having a central character trying to bring rationality to irrational acts. I am afraid this movie left me unimpressed. If you want to hear something scary, remind me to tell you about the time at school when they wanted to hook me up to electrodes. There were several scenes with blood in them.
1 3/4 stars