IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE empty feeling inside for a person to start envying someone else’s good fortune. I have seen it happen many times where a person cannot only envy but resent another individual who appears happy and content. There is a friend of mine who has a relative that acts this way. This relative will offer backhanded compliments that others can see are fueled by jealousy and resentment. Another thing they do is try to copy whatever my friend does, either in hair style or clothing. If my friend is wearing a new outfit at a family function, the relative will seek out and buy something similar; however she take pleasure it telling everyone how much it cost. In other words she wants everyone to know her outfit is more expensive and better quality. It is such a weird game to me, like anyone would care about which one was better or more expensive. The thing I find icky is when my friend tells me this relative showed up at a family dinner with her hair styled in the same manner as my friend’s style; based on what I have heard there is no way I would say she is paying a compliment to my friend. WISHING FOR SOMETHING HAS A different feeling for me than dreaming about it. When I wish for something it usually is a tangible thing like wishing for warmer weather or a winning lottery ticket. I have spent the majority of my life dreaming about a life I hoped I could attain one day. Dreams to me seem to be more goals oriented than wishes. Maybe what I am trying to say is dreams have more of a life altering affect. There is a difference when one says they wish they had a boyfriend compared to dreaming about being with a boyfriend. I hope this is an example; there are two sisters who do not get along well with each other. One sister got married early and started a family; the other one married later in life and did not have any children. As the two sisters grew older the one without children started to resent her sister. Where the one with kids took family trips, attended a variety of school functions and was married to a man who was climbing up in position at his company; the other sister wanted the same things. She was only looking at the things she wanted but never indicated growing up that she wanted that type of life. It reminds me of that old saying about the grass being greener on the other side, which could apply to this mystery film also. ON A RECOMMENDATION ADAM, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, End of Watch), rented a movie that had in the cast an actor who looked exactly like him. Both stunned and curious Adam began to do research on the actor to see if he could meet him and see what type of life he was leading. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) the cast also included Melanie Laurent (Beginners, Now You See Me) as Mary and Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Helen. This film festival winning dramatic thriller was fueled by the wonderful performance by Jake. The story kept my interest for the most part, though it had a certain oddness to it. There were a couple of times I had to sit and wonder if I was missing something in the story because it seemed as if the script was getting more cerebral. I think watching this DVD could lead to some discussion afterward in a variety of directions. The main thing I took away from this picture was the belief Adam was a wisher.
2 ½ stars – DVD
He was born with an athletic build; early on had a gift for doing almost any type of sport. After he was enrolled into little league his contribution helped the team rise up in the rankings. When it was time to have swimming lessons he was the first one to volunteer to hold their breath under water, paying no mind to a couple of classmates who sat on the side shivering and crying. He was what you would call fearless. Then a period came where he decided to go into gymnastics and applied to the school’s team. Of course he made it and quickly became the team’s star athlete. Now running parallel to all of these achievements and activities was another road traveled by him. It was a journey filled with accidents. They were not all major type of accidents but they did cause him pain. There was the time he was playing with a cousin on the back stairs of an apartment building. A neighbor’s son who was playing nearby decided to pick up a rock and throw it at them. One cousin saw it and ducked out of the way, but the rock found its mark. The athletic cousin got hit in the forehead. Blood gushed out and he was rushed to the hospital where they patched him up; a scar remained forever on his forehead. Playing with another cousin the two were running around his house, going in and out through the glass paned screen door. For some reason during one pass through he did not see the door was closed and ran right into it, shattering the glass into pieces that shredded up part of his skin. There were other accidents involving broken limbs but he always bounced back. Relatives would just say he was accident prone. I on the other hand wondered if something else was going on with him always getting hurt. Well this mysterious thriller may have provided me with an answer. AMAZINGLY 9 year old Louis Drax, played by Aiden Longworth (Hector and the Search for Happiness, Cut Bank), was still alive after a fatal fall. The investigation included Dr. Allan Pascal, played by Jamie Dornan (Anthropoid, Fifty Shades of Grey), who was willing to believe something else was going on. This film’s cast also included Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, A Dangerous Method) as Natalie, Aaron Paul (Eye in the Sky, Exodus: Gods and Kings) as Peter and Molly Parker (The Road, The Five Senses) as Dalton. I found the story interesting at first, helped by Jamie’s and Aiden’s acting. Sadly there was nothing else special about this film. It came across in a predictable way except for maybe one or two scenes. It was almost as if the movie studio did not want to invest too much effort in creating this picture; the acting was nothing memorable, there was no intensity to the scenes and the whole package when put together left me bored. What this all comes down to is having a film about accidents being an accident itself.
1 ¾ stars
Every decision opens up a new path of travel; though it may not always be the best choice, every new road laid is fraught with actions and reactions. If you choose a sugary cereal over a low sugar one for breakfast you may experience a letdown from your “sugar high” during the morning hours. You discover while driving to work the shortcut you took delayed you further because of the freight train that stopped you at the railroad tracks you now had to cross. Each of these decisions affected you solely, or did they? What if an important phone call was missed because of your delay and the new customer calling with their large order decided not to leave a message and called your competitor, who was willing to match prices? I have said this before but every action causes a reaction; it is just that simple. The ones I have a hard time with are those that cannot be easily explained or do not come with a reason. It is like a friend of mine who was dating someone new for 4 or 5 dates, thinking everything was going well. All of sudden their date stopped communicating. No reply texts, no returned phone calls; there was no reason given for the total silence. This has happened to me and I have to tell you it can throw one for a loop depending on how much was invested into growing the relationship. I always have to wonder, when things happen between two people, if the one individual knows what kind of affect their actions cause to the other person. Even when reasons are laid out, we do not always know what reactions may take place later on. ESTHER Messner, played by Linda Emond (Julie & Julia, Stop-Loss), was so proud of her only son Marcus, played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Percy Jackson franchise). He was going on a scholarship to college to become a lawyer. Everything would go as planned as long as Marcus stayed focused and studied hard. Set in the 1950s this drama had a competent cast to handle the story based on Philip Roth’s (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) novel. With Tracy Letts (The Big Short, Homeland-TV) as Dean Caudwell, Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, A Dangerous Method) as Olivia Hutton and Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, 6 Years) as Bertram Flusser; I thought all were quite good. I only wished there were more scenes with Linda’s character as the mother. The sets and costumes were perfect for the era; this film had a distinct look to it. I especially enjoyed the acting out of Logan and Linda but I found the script becoming top heavy as the story played out. The scenes between Logan and Tracy intrigued me at first but then it felt more like a therapy session than a student and administrator. I was surprised by the turn of events in the story but I almost wished they had taken place earlier. Besides these few quibbles I enjoyed watching the actions and reactions taking place in this movie.
Whether you say a fly or speck when you say, “I wish I was a fly on the wall,” don’t you find yourself saying it more these days? Among my friends I have noticed an increase in its usage. Could it be because there are more incredulous things we see happening around us? I am sure many parents wish they could do it when their children start going out with friends and dates. The reason we wish we could be a fly on the wall is because we do not want our presence known. Now what if one could blend in with the people around them? I appreciate it when I can just be part of the crowd. In the fitness world when instructors go to other instructors’ classes they usually let them know before class. I prefer not to; I just want to be part of the class and let the instructor do their thing without focusing any energy on me. There have been times where the instructor knows I am in class and I can tell they are trying too hard to make the class perfect. They push for total class participation; they go through whatever list of helpful reminders constantly; in other words, they lose the fun factor to their class because they are focusing on doing everything properly instead of just working along with the members. Another example would be some of my friends’ relatives. My friends wish I could actually see for myself what they can only describe to me about their family members because it sounds too far-fetched to me. So you see there are occasions where it would be advantageous to blend in. CELEBRATIONS were taking place all over London due to the Allied victory in 1945. For that night Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, played by Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method, Dracula Untold) and Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Side by Side), want to go outside and be part of the festivities just like everyone else. Their night would not go as planned. This film festival winning romantic drama was lucky to have Sarah and Bel as the princesses. They added a charm and silliness to this film. I also enjoyed seeing Emily Watson (Everest, The Book Thief) and Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Importance of Being Earnest) as the Queen and King. Whether there was a kernel of truth to this story or not, I thought the idea was an excellent one. Unfortunately the script became redundant, where I felt the princesses were getting in the same predicaments but just in different locations. Also the goofiness after a while turned me off; I could not imagine some of the scenes ever happening to the sisters. However this simple story was easy to follow and it allowed me to imagine what it must have been like for the princesses to not be part of all the royal pomp and circumstance of the crown and just be regular girls for a night.
2 1/4 stars
Sometimes I wish I could have seen the earlier years of a person I have known or recently met. An individual, no matter how hard they have tried, will still act out a particular way based on past interactions from their life. I am sure all of us have had times where we silently wondered why a person was acting a certain way. It could be something as benign as not liking candles or as wicked as mercilessly teasing a cat or dog. I knew someone who rarely gave an opinion about anything. Being asked where they wanted to eat or what movie to see, they could not voice their thoughts, only say whatever or it did not matter. It wasn’t until I happened to meet their parent that I finally saw the reason why they were acting that way. The parent was overbearing and quick to belittle their child. My curiosity goes beyond people in the present; I would enjoy finding out what transpired with historical people, like Napoleon or Catherine the Great, that influenced or molded them that has not been told in our history books. Purely for entertainment value, I find taking liberties with a known character or actual person an acceptable form; look at the success of Wicked, the story about how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be. VLAD III dubbed Vlad the Impaler, played by Luke Evans (Immortals, Fast & Furious III), was an ideal candidate to use to create an action fantasy backstory. Protective of his family and subjects, not wanting to see the children of his kingdom experience what he had as a child, Vlad would have to look beyond his kingdom if he was going to repel the Sultan Mehmed, played by Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double, Need for Speed). His search would lead to a force that could even overpower him. The idea for this dramatic story was appealing to me and I found the opening scenes compelling. Joining Luke and Dominic was Charles Dance (Game of Thrones-TV, Gosford Park) as Master Vampire; all three had a strong screen presence. The special effects were not the greatest but were darkly fun to watch. With a good start it was all the more disappointing that the script got sillier and sillier as the film progressed. Seriously, I was stunned that the writers thought the idea of a blindfolded army going into battle was a good idea. Add in the trendy haircut for Dominic’s character Mehmed and this was a movie sorely lacking the guts for a great backstory. There were multiple scenes that had blood and violence.
1 3/4 stars