THE SOUNDS FROM CONVERSATIONS AROUND ME blurred into a curtain of white noise. I was not focused on any of them, only aware of the background noise they created. Instead, I was pulling travel brochures out of my knapsack, that I had picked up at the hotel before taking myself out to lunch. The restaurant was a local establishment I had read about and was curious to check out. Whenever I travel out of state, I always try to eat at least one meal at a restaurant that is not part of a national chain. When I walked into this place I could smell the smokiness of barbeque in the air. The hostess had placed me in a booth by a window; I not only had a view to their outdoor patio, but I also had a wide view of the dining area inside. There was a constant flow of activity, from patrons walking in and out to the wait staff keeping up with the flow of meals coming out of the kitchen. I liked looking at the different food dishes being ordered; it was a way for me to see what was popular on the menu. After I decided and gave my order to the waitress, I delved into my reading material. IT WAS DURING THE TAIL END of my meal when I realized that curtain of white noise had dissipated. Looking up from my brochures I noticed a good portion of the restaurant patrons were looking at the front entrance. Standing at the door was a couple with a child. It did not hit me immediately, but pretty darn close that the patrons had stopped talking to stare at this couple. There was nothing I could see that was unusual about the couple. I was hoping they were not staring for this reason, but I knew deep inside it had to be the only reason the diners would have looked up and stopped talking to each other. The couple was biracial. Their child had a mix of features from both parents; dark cocoa skin, soft tightly curled brown hair and light-colored eyes. I was stunned that a biracial couple would draw so much attention. Why would anyone care? I do not have the answer, but it was not until the couple was being led to a table that the other patrons resumed their conversations. What in the world would they have done I wonder, if the main character from this action, adventure fantasy came into the restaurant? AN ANCIENT SORCERESS KNOWN AS THE Blood Queen, played by Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil franchise), was plotting her revenge on mankind. Her plan included an unusual offer. With David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, The Green Hornet) as Hellboy, Ian McShane (Hercules, John Wick franchise) as Professor Broom, Brian Gleeson (Logan Lucky, Phantom Thread) as Merlin and Sasha Lane (American Honey, After Everything) as Alice Monaghan; this reboot was filled with blood and violence. In fact, that pretty much says it all about this picture. I found the script lifeless. What I assume was supposed to be humorous remarks bordered on vitriol. There was nothing fun or exciting in this film except Milla’s character. She was the only character that I cared about. I have never read the graphic novels but compared to the original movie, this one was a waste as far as I could tell. In all honesty, watching this film was like seeing a high school production that had not gone through its technical week. I felt different scenarios were shown but never carried all the way through to conclusion. All I can say is it was hell sitting through this film.
1 ½ stars
IT WAS THE COOLEST ROOM in the house and I am not talking about temperature. As you walked in there was a closet on your left that was long and narrow. Past that was a perfectly square room with only one window near a corner. Around the entire space were vinyl albums; most of them were lined up vertically, filling up bookshelves that were on every wall. Any flat surfaces, such as the top of a dresser or bookcase, had record albums stacked on top of them. It was like walking into a treasure trove of musical history. There were different genres of music to satisfy almost anyone; from classical to Broadway musicals, opera to blues, Top 40 to Jazz. No matter what type of mood one was in, they could always find something among the shelves of records to satisfy themselves. The other thing that stood out in this room was the record player; yes, an actual record player. It was a rectangular box covered in cream colored vinyl that stood on a short pedestal. With a clasp on top, once it was opened it would allow two speakers to swing out on hinges like a double door revealing a turntable that one would need to pull down like a Murphy bed. OUTSIDE OF THIS ROOM THERE was another place I found that had even more vinyl records. It was a small store situated between a clothing store and a barbershop, on a commercial street in a residential neighborhood. More times than not there was at least one cat lounging in the front window. Walking inside the place was like entering a concert hall; there was always music playing from a set of speakers that were hanging in opposite sides of the space. The proprietor was a balding man with a thick beard. Everyone thought he was a genius. You could recite one line of a lyric and he would know what song it was from. If you told him which artist you liked, he would ask you if you heard about another artist that was similar and then go find their album to show you. He had arranged the store with rows of bins without any breaks; so, once you entered a row you could only exit it at the ends. On the walls he had hung posters, all were of musical artists and none of them were hung straight. I had almost forgotten about this store until I saw this film festival winning, musical drama. THEIR LOVE OF MUSIC MADE a special bond between Sam Fisher, played by Kiersey Clemons (Flatliners, Dope), and her Dad Frank, played by Nick Offerman (The Founder, Parks and Recreation-TV), just as his record shop was closing and college looming for her. With Ted Danson (Made in America, Body Heat) as Dave, Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense) as Leslie and Sasha Lane (American Honey, Shotgun) as Rose; I thought this was one of Nick’s better roles. This charming story had a script that was easy with little surprise. Maybe because I admire Toni, I wished the story had incorporated more of her character. Granted she was a secondary character, but I was left feeling there was unfinished business and that is all I will say about it. Kiersey was excellent; I especially enjoyed the songs her character sang. Part of my hesitation for giving this movie a full endorsement had to do with the continuous one level of emotional depth that came across the screen. Sure, there were some touching spots in the story but overall there was not enough drama for me. If nothing else though, I certainly got a kick out of seeing Frank’s record store and listening to some decent music.
2 ½ stars
No matter how much a person thinks they are ready to move out on their own there still is an element of fear with the unknown. I knew several individuals who came from a challenging home life and when they finally decided to leave they were scared. For college age students who are fortunate to go away for school, I can say based on personal experience, it was difficult at first. College was my first time being away from home since I was never the overnight camp type of kid. My first week of college I think I had pizza and fast food meals 5 days out of 7. Food was a comfort for me back then. Doing my own laundry, making sure I got up when the alarm clock went off was solely my responsibility now. Those darn responsibilities; don’t they get in the way of living life sometimes? Having recently returned from vacation, I was talking with someone about the benefits of traveling alone. They said they could never do such a thing. I explained how freeing it was to not have to negotiate, discuss or compromise any of my decisions. The same thing applies to when I moved out on my own. Sure there was some fear in me, but it was liberating to take control of my life. Granted I wasn’t too thrilled to see the electric and gas bill in my name; but I did get a kick out of getting mail addressed to the owner, who was me. I will tell you I was not prepared for the many things like home repairs. Somehow that repairs gene was never handed down to me. I looked up at a hole in my roof caused by a raccoon and imagined filling it in with glass blocks to create a skylight. The fact that raindrops were coming down upon my head did not register this was an urgent matter I had to get fixed. Heading out on your own can be a wild ride. MEETING the traveling group of free-spirited individuals was the spark Star, played by newcomer Sasha Lane, needed to leave the life she was forced to live. This film festival winning drama had a cast that I forgot was acting; that is how authentic they appeared to me. With Shia LaBeouf (Transformers franchise, Fury) as Jake, Riley Keough (The Runaways, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Krystal and Arielle Holmes (Heaven Knows What, 2307: Winter’s Dream) as Pagan; the cast did a great job and Sasha was outstanding. I found the story interesting in the way it kept a focus on Star’s journey, seeing things thru her eyes. The issue I had with this film was its running length of 2 hours and 43 minutes. I felt this was way too long to tell the story; there were multiple scenes that in their own way duplicated earlier scenes. This picture could have used some more editing. However, the script had strength to keep me interested in this traveling group of people. Also, the soundtrack added a fun, funky element to the experience. Despite the fact that I worked going door to door selling products when I was very young, I did not have much in common with most of the characters; but I was intrigued enough to learn more about them.