IT WAS THE 2ND WEEK OF high school when I first heard the guitar music filtering into the hallway. I was a freshman and still getting the lay of the land in the large school building, compared to my small elementary school. Making a mental note of my surroundings, I promised myself I would find where the music was coming from. The following week during my study period, I asked for a hall pass and made my way through the school hallways listening for the music. It was faint and unrecognizable, lingering just enough in the air like morning mist to lead me towards it. I soon found myself in an unfamiliar part of the school, in front of a slightly ajar door without a room number. As I slowly pushed the door open the guitar playing stopped. I froze for a moment but decided I could not run away now. Stepping into the room I saw a blonde-haired guy sitting on a desk with one leg crossed over the other and a guitar resting in his lap. He was the first to speak by saying hello to me. I said hi back and told him I had heard the music playing and wanted to find out where it was coming from. He asked if I played an instrument and I told him yes, the piano. From there we started talking all things music, from classical to pop music. HE WAS A SENIOR WHICH TOOK me by surprise because I had heard seniors would not be caught dead talking to lowly freshmen. Music was our connection and I found myself hanging out with him playing music every week, since they did not take attendance in study hall. Having a senior as a friend was fortuitous because it gave me inside access on how to maneuver through the school year. He gave me a rundown of which teachers were cool, what foods to avoid in the lunchroom, what bathrooms were safe to use, among a variety of other tips and warnings. I did not have to go through a typical trial and error period of discovery that was filled with risk, especially for freshman. Little did I know how valuable his info would be for me. My years in high school were traumatic, filled with bullying and abuse; I could only imagine how worse it would have been if I did not know what I already knew due to him. Though we only had one year together in school before he went out of state for college; for all intents and purposes he was a mentor to me, just like the main character in this dramatic crime film. HAVING LOST ALL HIS MONEY, NOT able to even buy a meal John, played by John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie, The Sisters Brothers), was leery of the stranger who suddenly appeared and offered to buy him a cup of coffee. No one does something for free without wanting something; what did this finely dressed man want with John? With Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights, The Last Word) as Sydney, Gwyneth Paltrow (The Avengers franchise, Thanks for Sharing) as Clementine, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, The Hateful Eight) as Jimmy and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Hunger Games franchise, The Master) as a young craps player; this film festival winner was filled with a tour de force of acting. The cast was outstanding as they slowly made their way through the script. Seeped in mystery and emotions, I enjoyed the unintentional retro vibe coming off this over 20-year-old film. Due to the authenticity of the dialog, I stayed engaged with the story; a story that seemed familiar to me from other gambling films, yet still had some surprise to it. I can see where young writers would use this film as a teaching tool on how to write real characters.
3 ¼ stars
WHO WILL REMEMBER THE MEMORIES WHEN the keepers of the memories are gone? I think about this from time to time. At a recent get together I started thinking about it again as the people in attendance were going over old, family photographs. There were several photos of people whose identities were unknown to the people at the party. These strangers, one had to assume, were related somehow to the family; but there was no one left from the previous generation who could help identify these strangers. I sat and wondered how many generations would have to pass before all the people in the photographs turned into unknown beings. As the gathering continued, I recalled from when I was little a neighbor who had lost many relatives due to war. She was a survivor herself. In fact, the first time I ever saw a tattoo was the one on her arm. It was a series of numbers and I remember asking her what the numbers meant. Looking back, she explained as best she could without frightening me how she was given the tattoo when she was in a concentration camp. Being so young I had not reached an age where I could comprehend the words, she was telling me; yet, though she is long gone I have not forgotten what she had said to me. NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE I wished I was privy to a person’s memories, especially when they have a historic factor. I knew several Viet Nam veterans, but that is all I knew about them. They never talked about their time away, what they did or what they saw; it was a subject one realized quickly they never wanted to talk about to anyone. I remember a friend’s family where one of the siblings was a soldier in Viet Nam. The family’s mailbox became their only connection to their son and brother. I was over at their house when a letter had arrived from overseas. The family huddled close together as a parent carefully opened the envelope and took out the onion skin piece of paper. Seeing the joy in their faces is something I have never forgotten. Being curious all these years, I had the privilege of talking to a Viet Nam veteran recently and asked him if the norm was not to talk about one’s experiences during the war. He explained the possible reasons for someone not wanting to talk about it, then generously shared his story. I carry his memory with me as I do now of the heroic act that took place in this dramatic, war film. THOUGH WILLIAM PITSENBARGER, PLAYED BY JEREMY Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man), had the opportunity to save himself from the heat of a battle, he chose to remain behind and help save his fellow soldiers. Those who were saved wanted to make sure William was never forgotten. This film’s story was inspired by true events and I must tell you I was surprised with some of the things I saw in this picture. With Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Jackie Brown) as Takoda, Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise; I, Tonya) as Scott Huffman, Diane Ladd (Joy, Chinatown) as Alice Pitsenberger and Christopher Plummer (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Knives Out) as Frank Pitsenberger; I thought the cast was excellent. Seeing the older actors display their gift of acting made the characters come alive for me. I found the story unbelievable to the point it started playing out like a mystery. The issue I had, however, was with the directing and the script. Instead of coming across like one continuous emotional journey, the scenes felt like snippets of events which damaged the build up of emotional depth. I would start to connect to a character but then the scene would jump and sever that feeling. The story I felt was important enough that it needed more time to blend scenes together and tighten up the script. Essentially, this film lacked drama for me. Now maybe those who have gone through the war will have a different feeling, which I would certainly understand. Still, I am glad this story came to light and now I know and remember it.
2 ½ stars
COMPARED TO MY FRIENDS, I FELT lucky I did not have to experience it until I was 12 years old. For that was the year I experienced my first funeral. It was at that point where I felt like an adult for the first time. Up until then I was living my life in a carefree way, with no responsibilities or serious life events to experience. There was attending school, piano lessons, taking family trips and playing alone or with friends; my schedule was filled with these activities. After that first funeral things started to change for me. I became aware of sicknesses and diseases that were life threatening, besides my own mortality. If I am being perfectly honest, a part of me resented having to think of these things. I was content being a kid and had no desire to deal with adult situations. Not that I was living an idyllic life as Peter Pan, but I just wanted to stay a kid. And this was despite having friends who had lost loved ones at a much earlier age than myself. It turned out there was going to be something else coming down the road towards me that would cement my status into the young adult world. A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY SIXTEENTH birthday I got my first job. Opening my 1st pay envelope and seeing a check made out to me was thrilling. In this case I was okay being treated and feeling like an adult. I had a weekly schedule that consisted of at least 2 days of work after school and a full day Saturday and/or Sunday. The schedule would fluctuate depending on which employees were available to work a shift. It seemed so adult to me. I would get a kick out of telling my friends I could not join them because I had to go to work, so I could get a paycheck. My experiences were not that unusual from most other people. All of us at some point make that change from being a kid to becoming an adult. For some, it might get triggered by a friend or family member; for others, it may take place during a trip to a foreign land or a hospital. I am not saying the transition will be easy. If you want to see for yourself, watch what happens to the main character in this science fiction, action adventure film. THE OPPORTUNITY OF A SCHOOL TRIP to Europe was perfect for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland (The Impossible, The Lost City of Z). He would finally get the chance to spend time with his classmate MJ, played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake it Up-TV), and tell her how he felt about her. However, he did not take into consideration a phone call from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Glass). This story for this movie picks up a short time after the Avengers: End Game film. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Prisoners) as Quentin Beck/Mysterio and Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, The First Purge) as Mary Parker, this picture was a good transition point for future Marvel movies. The script was light and fun, along with a good amount of humor. Tom and Zendaya were an ideal pairing and I could see them growing into these roles in upcoming installments. When I compare this film to other superhero ones, this one comes up a little short with the “wow” factor. Though I smiled, chuckled and teared up a bit; I was not totally transported into the story. The script could have used a rewrite to firm up the plot because I felt the villain and the story surrounding them needed to be more intense and scarier, for one thing. Also, the whole idea for the villain was weak compared to past Marvel stories. This still was absolute fun to watch and you want to certainly see the 2 extra scenes during and at the end of the credits. Oh, and typical to these films there was a Stan Lee sighting.
3 1/4 stars
HE WAS A MAN WHO NEVER heard the word “No,” during his professional role. I witnessed it for myself. During the summer I had a job at a company that was family owned. The man who hired me was the son of the owner, a man who had died several years prior. This company was the only job the son had done; he started helping out there during his elementary school years. I did not have much interaction with him, even though he was always around. However, I did see how the employees acted around him; some of them were even relatives of his. What became apparent to me was everyone’s reluctance to tell the son something negative or not aligned to his own way of thinking. Even if the person knew it was not in the company’s best interests, they would still not disagree with the son. For full disclosure, I will say the son was not the nicest man to work for; so, maybe some employees did not care about the company or its owner. I could only assume they did not need the job as much as I did. Again, I was only working there during the summer months before school started up again. THAT EXPERIENCE TURNED OUT TO BE quite helpful in my job searches. After I got out of college I applied at a local company that made handbags. During the interview process I discovered the company was being run by a child of the owner. I cannot remember if it was a son, daughter or grandchild. When I found this out it made sense to me because there was an extremely expensive car in the parking lot with vanity plates. I knew right at that moment that the car was owned by the owner’s child. Putting two and two together, I declined the offer they made me; I did not want to get involved with a company that had such a chain of command hierarchy. It was a good thing because a couple of years later I discovered the company had to file for bankruptcy. I never found out the details of it, but I was convinced part of the reason was having the son run the business. Now, I do not want to slight all family owned companies; I know of several that have remained successful from generation to generation. But, I will say if children of the owner are not raised in a reality-based environment, where they must work to get ahead and deal with being told “no,” then I feel the company will never succeed. See how this plays out in this crime action, comedy movie. THOUGH HIS FATHER HAD NO INVOLVEMENT with his upbringing JJ, played by Jessie T. Usher (Almost Christmas, Independence Day: Resurgence), decided to seek out his Dad for help in the mysterious death of a close friend. It would bring a whole new meaning to the saying, “Blood is thicker than water.” With Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers franchise, Snakes on a Plane) as John Shaft, Richard Roundtree (What Men Want, Brick) as John Shaft Sr., Regina Hall (Girls Trip, The Hate U Give) as Maya Babanikos and Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton; Love, Simon) as Sasha Arias; this film could have been both fun and exciting. Instead it was vulgar and unnecessary. If the writers wanted to move the original story forward, they could have done it without the profanity laced dialog and unimaginative scenarios. Everything was obvious and easy to figure out; I quickly got tired while watching this stale story. I left the movie theater with only one wish: that none of the characters in the story ever procreate.
1 ½ stars
WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A quick and smooth trip to the movie theater, turned into a mini-obstacle course of delays for me. After checking for seat availability online, I discovered I needed to change my evening plans and go to an earlier time to see this superhero film. Racing out of work I drove to the first stoplight on my route where I saw a sea of cars across the intersection, all with their brake lights glowing steadily stretching down for almost two blocks. I could see in the distance the faint flashing of railroad crossing lights; so, I knew the gates had to be down for a freight train. My decision had to be quick; either wait in line and hope for the best or quickly come up with a different route to the theater before the stoplight changed. Just as I was about to switch on my turn signal I saw the faint glow of headlights coming towards me in the opposite lanes of traffic; the train must have passed, and the crossing gates were up. I decided to take my chances by getting in line with the rest of the cars and hope everyone would drive the speed limit…and get out of my way. THE PUBLISHED TIME FOR THE MOVIE had passed, but I knew the theater showed a lot of film trailers. I had gotten stuck behind a driver who was trying to turn left without their turn signal on. My anxiousness was bubbling up to the point I was about to get out of my car to stop traffic. I did not, but instead finally found enough space between passing cars for me to drive around the car in front of me. Once I made it to the theater I took the first parking space I could find and ran to the box office. There was only one couple in front of me when I walked into the lobby to purchase my ticket. This couple was peering at the computer screen in front of them deciding where to sit for the same movie I was going to see. If you have never picked seats for a movie when buying your tickets, it is not rocket science. Unless you are on a 1st date, it should be an easy process. These two people were having a discussion on which would be the best seats to watch the movie. I made my presence known by clearing my throat which stimulated the couple to choose seats. If there had not been 28 minutes of previews for this film I would have missed the beginning of the movie; one cannot afford to miss it. TROUBLED BY FLASHES OF HERSELF IN unfamiliar places from a different world, it was those images in Vers’, played by Brie Larson (Room, Free Fire), mind that were the links for her to finally understanding herself. With Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn (Robin Hood, Darkest Hour) as Keller, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Yon-Rogg and Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, Fast Girls) as Maria Rambeau; this science fiction superhero film is the first time a female is playing the lead character. I am not familiar with the Captain Marvel comic books, but I felt the script was geared towards our present time with women empowerment. Brie was a great choice for the role; however, I felt that same script restricted her character. My favorite part of the movie was when Brie’s character was on Earth. With a great soundtrack, good humor and phenomenal CGI work on Samuel; these things made up for the scenes in outer space. Those scenes looked too much like a cartoon and did not have the dazzling display of CGI work I have seen in other outer space, action adventure pictures. With the multiple story lines, the scenes seemed to quickly jump across the screen at times. I felt with a little editing and polishing up of the script I would have been taken back to the Marvel universe I have enjoyed in the past. This was a good start for this origin story, just not great. I did not have to rush like a maniac to get to this showing. From the standard extra two scenes during the middle and end of the credits I technically had all the way until the opening date of the 2nd part of the Avengers film to see this movie.
THE SUN HAD NOT RISEN YET as I headed out onto the barren streets of the town. Leaving so early, the stillness around me had not been disturbed by any residents. I headed north towards the volcano, though I was not able to see it through the darkness. The road up, I was told, would be challenging due to its narrowness and thick underbrush. My rental car had relatively new tires since the mileage on the odometer was low; I figured the tread was sufficient enough to handle the twisting road. It would have been nice to be able to see the landscape around me, but I was only privy to what my car’s headlamps showed me. From what I could tell there were tall trees lining the roads at times, only being interrupted intermittently by mounds of earth that honestly looked like excrement. I had no idea if this was a natural or man-made phenomenon. Everything I heard about this volcano had to do with being on top; I did not find many references made regarding the trip to it. So far, the ride was uneventful; little did I know that would change soon. AS I CONTINUED ON MY WAY, I started to leave the town behind me. The spaces between buildings got further apart as nature was taking back her land. I did not know what to expect but there was no signage as I came up to the base of the volcano. I continued on my way as the road started to take me on a convoluted path made up of twists and sharp turns. Due to the slower pace I had to drive, I was concerned I would not make it to the top before sunrise. This was the whole point of my early car trip, to see the sun rise and watch what its rays of light would reveal inside the dormant volcano. As I ventured up I periodically glanced up at the sky to see if there was any trace of sunlight seeping into the darkness; gratefully the sky did not turn while I was on my journey. I finally reached my destination, parked and waited for the big unveiling. The first ray of light appeared then slowly began to spread out into the blackness; I had been looking forward to this for a long time. One thing I did not expect was a bank of rainclouds that were ready to pounce once the sun’s rays revealed them. The clouds rolled over everything around me, blocking me of the chance to see inside the volcano. After all the planning I put into this trip, I would not get the satisfaction of seeing it to its intended conclusion. I had the same feeling sitting through the last installment of this dramatic, science fiction trilogy. SUPER STRENGTH NEEDS TO BE MET by super strength, something a superhero could do. However, there are no such things as superheroes as far as we know, right? This mystery movie starred James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, Victor Frankenstein) as Barry and others, Bruce Willis (Death Wish, Looper) as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Avengers franchise) as Elijah Price, Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave, Ocean’s Eight) as Dr. Ellie Staple and Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River, Animal Kingdom-TV) as Joseph Dunn. Based on seeing James reprise his role as the Beast, I had positive hopes this film would be good. There were aspects I enjoyed; they revolved around the story between James, Bruce and Elijah. Sarah’s story line started out odd to me and by the ending I found the entire timeline for her ridiculous. I did not like the ending and thought the writing of the script lacked originality. If it was not for the four main actors mentioned before I would have lost interest in this picture early on. It would not have taken a superhero effort to produce a fitting conclusion to this trilogy instead of the silliness that took over it.
MY SUPERPOWER IS THE ABILITY TO withstand high temperatures. While most people are wilting under an oppressive heat index, I am casually making my way around them without a drop of sweat. I feel everyone has a superpower; they may not necessarily know it though. Also, some may have a power that benefits no one and may even be a detriment to the planet. There was a guy I knew who always lied; in other words, he never told the truth. His tales were quite believable unless you had a history with him and even then, one could never keep up with his lies. This was his superpower. On the other hand, I know a woman who is an advocate for animals. Her whole life she has been involved with rescuing dogs. She is like a dog whisperer the way she connects with them. Every day she makes these dogs their meals; we are not talking about kibble out of a bag. She is mixing organic ingredients with vitamin supplements for each meal. I saw her make the morning meal once and I swear she looked like a pharmacist, the way she measured out powders and liquids to the protein source. Rescuing dogs was her superpower. IF YOU LOOK AT FAMOUS individuals, both alive and deceased, you will be able to figure out each one’s superpower. The obvious ones would be those people who are in the sports world; you know, like runners and figure skaters. Outside of sports it may not always be easy to decipher a person’s superpower. Without naming names, since I do not want to incur any type of lawsuits, there is someone who is the best when it comes to self-promoting. Another person is a great inventor, someone else is gifted in creating chaos and another has an amazing mind for business; therefore, I say everyone has a superpower. The ones who impress me the most are the people who do not let their superpower define them. They can blend in with society, going undetected for the gifts they can offer people. Maybe you have seen some individuals who have made a positive impact with their generosity, both material and financial. I think it is great they are motivated to do the things they do; however, have you ever noticed some are in every photo op? The thing is, being out in front of the cameras can be both a good and a bad thing; a lesson the family in this animated action, adventure film knew so well. LOOKING TO PAINT A POSITIVE image it was decided that Helen Parr/Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunt (The Big Sick, Won’t Back Down), would be the face of the Incredibles. This meant Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, voiced by Craig T. Nelson (Book Club, The Family Stone), would be the one to stay home and take care of the kids. With Sarah Vowell (A.C.O.D., Six Degrees-TV) voicing Violet Parr, relative newcomer Huck Milner voicing Dashiell Parr/Dash and Samuel L. Jackson (Big Game, Kong: Skull Island) voicing Lucius Best/Frozone; I thought the adult cast members were all ideal actors for their characters. It has been such a long time since the first Incredibles movie came out that I have only a vague memory of it; however, it was not a problem for following this wonderful film. I enjoyed the mix of retro and futuristic vibes in the story. The fact we saw these superheroes as an average family made the story extra fun for me. It was the juxtaposition of daily life concerns with crime fighting feats that did it for me. The pacing was on point and I thought the humor was fitting for both children and adults. It took a long time to get this family back on the screen; I hope it doesn’t take over another decade to see them again.
3 ½ stars
WE HAD BEEN friends for several years. Through that time we had gotten closer, each of us did not use a filter when talking about personal stuff. Our friendship was evolving, though it took a big adjustment when she started dating someone who quickly became her main focus. I was not the only one who noticed the shift; our mutual group of friends noticed her dating relationship was turning serious. As with any relationship time spent with friends took place with less frequency; it was understandable as we all knew time was needed to lay the groundwork to establish a strong bond between the couple. After a few years our friend became engaged and the two of them began laying out plans to begin their life together as a married couple. AFTER THEY WERE married they planted roots in a suburb not too far away from all of us; however, spending time together with them took place less and less often. As the years progressed I started to lose contact with a few of the friends since I moved to a different location. However I was still privy to news through the “grapevine.” I do not remember exactly how it came down, but at some point I heard derogatory remarks were made about me by this married friend. My feelings were hurt and I became angry to the point where I did not what to have any interaction with this couple. Now in hindsight I did not know if they actually meant what was told to me or if they really even said such a thing. Because I was angry I did not care; as far as I was concerned I did not want to have any part of them. This was the way I handled things in the past when I got angry. Long story short, this couple opened up a store that a couple of my friends told me was doing a thriving business. I did not care since I planned never to step foot into their place. After seeing this action comedy I did wonder if I made the right decision. AS A TOP bodyguard Michael Bryce, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Woman in Gold), had to deal with all kinds of clients. Having fallen on hard times he never imagined he would have to protect the man who tried to kill him. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Kong: Skull Island) as Darius Kincaid, Gary Oldman (The Space Between Us, The Dark Knight franchise) as Vladislav Dukhovich, Elodie Yung (Gods of Egypt, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Amelia Roussel and Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner, Some Kind of Beautiful) as Sonia Kincaid; the story for this film was decent enough and the cast did a good job of handling the script. Ryan’s character was a light version of his Deadpool one in my opinion. As for Samuel L. Jackson this was one of his typical performances; however, for this character it worked. The highlight for me was Salma Hayek, she was the surprise with what the writers had given her to say. Truthfully there really was nothing special about this picture; there were many scenes with blood and violence. The story was not unique and for the most part it was predictable. At one point I felt like I was just watching a string of nonsensical scenes. I wondered at the end of the movie if I had made the right decision to use my free movie pass for this film. There was one outtake scene in the middle of the credits.
SITTING in the semi-darkened theater waiting for the movie trailers to begin, I was wondering how many different film variations of King Kong I had seen. I believe I saw every one of them and I could even include the robotic one Bette Midler used in one of her concerts, where she played the Fay Wray character who was sprawled out across King Kong’s palm. Thinking about these different versions of the big ape, we really have come a long way from the 1st one to the latest one I was about to see. Of course I was basing it on the movie trailers I had recently seen. Recalling the earlier Kong versions, I can still remember how fake looking he was in the oldest movies. My guess is the writers needed to fine tune their script to keep the audience engaged with the story since an unrealistic looking gorilla would quickly become boring. SPEAKING of story lines I wondered what the writers would do to keep me interested in this umpteenth time of me watching a King Kong film. More often than not I have noticed when a movie comes out with a well known character that has played before the script is updated to reflect current times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is a bust. I can remember a group of classic horror monsters like Frankenstein and the Mummy being part of a series of movies that were based in comedy, starring comedians and comedy duos. Personally I found them ridiculous; taking such classic horror characters and placing them in a genre of films that no one would ever consider for them, diminishes their scariness in the public’s eyes. With these thoughts in mind the movie theater lights became dark and I sat back in my seat to see what Kong was up to these days. FLYING over the Pacific Ocean, bound for a newly discovered uncharted island, a group of scientists and soldiers did not know they would be disturbing the inhabitants to the point of making them angry. This action adventure fantasy succeeded because of the special effects. From all the different versions of King Kong I have seen on film, this was the best looking or should I say the most realistic version of King Kong. The fight scenes were exciting, especially the opening one. If this film had not been so technically advanced I would have been bored by the script. With Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, I Saw the Light) as James Conrad, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Preston Packard, Brie Larson (Room, Short Term 12) as Mason Weaver and John C. Reilly (Carnage, Step Brothers) as Hank Marlow; I only found Hank’s character interesting. Samuel was doing his identical acting thing, so no surprises there. However I was surprised how stiff Tom and Brie were with their characters. This was partially due to the script that offered no insights, along with the direction that kept them one dimensional. Only John C. Reilly and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Monuments Men) as Bill Randa offered any interest among the cast. If you are into visual experiences then you would want to see this picture inside a movie theater. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
RARELY did I ever pass by the gleaming glass ball, filled with chewy delights. Since I always made sure I had change in my pocket before I would go, it was a given I would stop in front of the gumball machine. There were six colors used for the gumballs: blue, red, yellow, green, orange and purple. Here is the thing though; out of the colors I only wanted a red or blue colored gumball. Since I could not choose which gumball would get deposited into the metal cup hanging below the metal slide that came out of the machine’s lower jaw, I would keep depositing coins into the machine until I got one of the 2 colors. Sometimes I would have depleted all the coins in my pocket and still not get the “right” gumball. In my young mind I assumed each colored gumball tasted different based on its color. I had no desire for the green or yellow ones and the others just did not appeal to me. It wasn’t until a friend of mine bought me a gumball because I had no change and told me to at least try the purple colored one that came out of the machine. It was then that I discovered all the gumballs tasted the same; I was making a judgment solely on the outside color. GRATEFULLY a lesson like that was a good start in becoming aware that there is more behind the surface of people and things. An example I have used before is, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Recently a friend was telling me about the injustice taking place in their department. They were in the middle of hiring new people and one of the employees on the hiring committee mentioned they should hire a particular person because of the candidate’s skin color. I immediately assumed everyone on the committee would be shocked like I was by such an offensive statement. Instead imagine how stunned I was when my friend told me that was not the case; only a couple of the people on the committee offered a disparaging look in response to the ridiculous statement, nothing was said by anyone. This reminded me that just because I may not see discrimination does not mean it does not happen. I think that is why this Oscar nominated documentary is an important film. BASED on an unfinished manuscript by author James Baldwin (Where the Heart Is), the words in this movie are just as current now as when they were first spoken. Directed by Raoul Peck (Sometimes in April, Lumumba), this film festival winning movie was narrated by Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, The Legend of Tarzan). I enjoyed the way the director pieced together archival clips of James speaking and debating at different venues. His manuscript was going to be a narrative piece about the assassinations of his three friends Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers; though the piece was written years ago the discussions in this movie were just as relevant today. A well done film like this one is worth a look and would be a good reminder that society still has a long way to go to with focusing on the things that lie below the surfaces of people.
3 1/3 stars