FORTY-FOUR YEARS AGO, SOME OF you might not have been born yet; for me, I was still in school and living in the same home I had been born in. Despite my schoolwork and working part time, I still found time to get together with my friends from time to time. A few of them had already finished their schooling and were living on their own. I was comfortable still being at home because it, especially throughout my earlier years, had always been my safe haven. There was a comfort and peacefulness that was nurturing compared to the issues I had had with the bullying and abuse that took place in the schools during my younger years. However, there was a moment in time where the comfort of my home took on a sinister bent. It happened after me and a couple of friends went to see a new horror suspense film at the neighborhood movie theater. I did not know anything about it except that the lead actress was the daughter of a famous Hollywood movie star. Even to this day, I still remember we went to a Saturday matinee to see this picture. We normally would have gone out to dinner afterwards; but after this movie ended, none of us had an appetite and just wanted to go home. WHEN I GOT HOME, I WALKED over to the closet to hang-up my jacket; but this time, I hesitated at the closet door. Normally, I would just swing the door open and hang my jacket on the clothes hook that was close to the front, past the light switch. This time, I opened the door just enough to slide my hand in and turn on the light switch first before pushing the door further away. There had been a scene in the horror film that involved a closet and it had freaked me out. I knew inside it was foolish to think someone was in my closet, but I was not 100% convinced suddenly. Later in the evening I was talking to one of the friends who was at the movie earlier and they told me when they had walked over to their car in the theater’s parking lot, they first glanced through the window into the back seat to make sure no one was hiding there. Now, you might be thinking my friends and I were crazy to have been acting in such a way; but I am telling you, this picture was truly frightening. And back then I would have never guessed forty-four years later I would still be seeing another installment in what became an exceptionally long movie franchise from that first film. MAKING CHANGES TO HER LIFE AND taking care of her granddaughter, the time was right for Laurie, played by Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out, Spare Parts), to stop being afraid of the past. However, her future might not go as planned when her granddaughter becomes interested in a local boy. With Andi Matichak (Foxfire, Miles) as Allyson, Rohan Campbell (The Valley Below, The Hardy Boys-TV) as Corey, Will Patton (Sweet Thing, The Devil Below) as Frank and Jesse C. Boyd (The Walking Dead-TV, One of These Days) as Officer Mulaney; this thriller went in a different direction than the past films in this franchise. The same eerie music associated with this movie was there which brought back memories from my viewings of the past films; I always enjoy watching Jamie Lee Curtis and she did not disappoint in this sequel. However, what did disappoint me was the script. The first half of the story had interesting ideas; but were not well executed, leading me to boredom. What one expects from this movie franchise did not really take place until the last half and by that point the bloody violent scenes seemed excessive. Also, it was easy to figure out who would not last until the end of the story. Based on this sequel, I hope this will be the last movie in the film franchise. As Jamie Lee’s character was trying to do, it is time to leave the past behind.
FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS, I have been keeping track of my friends’ and family members’ experiences inside a movie theater. I wasn’t interested in hearing about the movie as much as hearing if everyone in the theater was following the safety protocols. Though I have been fully vaccinated for a few months, my comfort level was low for sitting inside a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. From the comments I received, the movie theaters were sticking to their policy of blocking out the seats around the one the patron picked. In every hallway there was a little stand set up that had sanitizing wipes for people to take to wipe down their seat. My friends also told me all the employees were masked and the water fountains were blocked off from use. Since there was no way to know who was vaccinated, I heard there was a mix of masked and unmasked people sitting in the theater. I knew I would not be comfortable going into a crowded theater; so, I ruled out Friday and Saturday as an option to go to the theater. I also knew there would be no way I could go to an opening weekend release of a film that had gotten a lot of positive buzz and/or was being labeled as a blockbuster. After accumulating this information, the past several weeks, I decided to look for a movie I could go to on a weeknight. IT TOOK ME A COUPLE OF weeks to find a film time that would fit my schedule, but it finally happened last week. The movie was playing right after work; I knew I would be able to get there in time if that theater chain was still showing 20-22 minutes of previews like they were doing pre-pandemic. I had chosen a seat on the aisle in the last row. When I purchased the ticket online, I was the only person scheduled to see the film at the time; I was feeling better about the whole movie going experience. The fact that it has been 16 months since I have been in a movie theater, I was hoping to see a recently released summer picture. However, that was not the case; I was going to see a sequel that had been out for a couple of months. Luckily, I enjoyed the first movie enormously; so, chances were good that I would enjoy the sequel. I look at sequels like baked desserts. One can make the same dish several times and either one time the item doesn’t taste as good as the others made before or something unknown happens that alters the outcome of the dessert. It is a mystery to me. Regarding this dramatic, horror science fiction sequel; it did not disappoint me in the least. FORCED FROM THEIR HOME, THE ABBOTT family discovers there are other horrors taking place in the world besides alien creatures. With Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, Into the Woods) as Evelyn Abbott, Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck, Andi Mack-TV) as Regan Abbott, Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight, In the Heart of the Sea) as Emmett, John Krasinski (The Hollars, 13 Hours) as Lee Abbott and Noah Jupe (Honey Boy, Ford v. Ferrari) as Marcus Abbott; this sequel matched the intensity of the first film. Kudos to John in his directing because I enjoyed the way the tension got built up, along with the incredible acting with extra credit for Emily and Millicent. Like the original movie, the dialog was sparse in this one; yet, I did not find myself ever getting disengaged from the story. The only difference to tell you the truth, was the fact that there was no element of surprise in the discovery of the aliens. Having said that, I feel viewers who did not see the first movie would still enjoy this one just as much as I did. For all my nervousness about going to the theater, this was the perfect picture to welcome me back to my former home away from home.
3 ½ stars
I ONLY HAD TO GO THERE ONCE and vowed I would never go back. Before I share my experience, I want you to know this is just my reaction to the place; I know there will be others who think this place is a wonderful establishment and I would agree with them. It serves a purpose and obviously a need. For me, it was too weird and geared for the consumer to spend lots of money; or else, be considered less of a parent for not buying their child the things they were asking for. I had agreed to meet up with a few relatives for some shopping therapy and lunch. We wandered into this store that was filled with shoppers and their children. The store specialized in realistic toy dolls, though I do not know if the management would consider their dolls as toys. The aisles of accessories were astounding; anything you could imagine was ready for sale there, from head scarves to sunglasses to designer purses. What was more incredible to me was the in-house beauty salon and hospital for their dolls. If a child’s doll got broken, they could bring the doll into the store to get admitted into the hospital. Or, if a child wanted their doll to have a new hair style, they could make an appointment at the beauty salon to bring the doll in for a new hairdo. I checked the pricing for these things, and they were not cheap. THOUGH I DID NOT SEE IT FOR myself, I understood there was a restaurant somewhere inside the store where a child and their doll could share a meal together. Being somewhat of a cynic, I had to wonder if the doll’s meal would cost the same price as the child’s food. This was all so strange to me; to have children and their families spend such money on what essentially was a toy, baffled me. When I mentioned the in-house hospital earlier, I forgot to mention I saw a few dolls with bandages and casts on their limbs. What was going on in this place? Would the child have to buy crutches for their broken doll I wondered. The whole setup for this retail store was foreign to me. These dolls, though they were made to closely resemble actual human beings, were still a toy; a toy that could wind up discarded on a shelf after the child grew up and stopped playing with dolls. On the bright side, it was a good thing the dolls sold in this store were not like the doll in this horror, mystery thriller. AFTER A TRAUMATIC EVENT A FAMILY moves out of the city to an uninhabited country estate. They should have investigated who lived there before. With Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, Dawson’s Creek-TV) as Liza, Owain Yeoman (American Sniper, The Belko Experiment) as Sean, Christopher Convery (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Gotham-TV) as Jude, Ralph Ineson (The Witch, Harry Potter franchise) as Joseph and Anjali Jay (The Age of Adaline, Power Rangers) as Dr. Lawrence; if no one had told me this was a sequel I would have never known. I have no memory of the original movie The Boy. And let me tell you, if the original was anything like this sequel I do not know if I would have gone in to see it. The directing was plain tired, and the script was awful. With the setting and details of the story, if the writers would have used their imaginations and pushed the limits of the story, they could have gotten an exciting and scary script here. Instead, this movie was a generic attempt at being a horror thriller. Clocking in less than an hour and half, it still felt as if I had been sitting for a long time due to the boredom I was experiencing. Sadly, I would have rather been back at the retail store that sold dolls instead of sitting through this blank stare of a film.
1 ½ stars
I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A CHANCE I would either have to ride in the ambulance with the paramedics or drive and meet them at the hospital, when I dialed 911. This was not what I expected when I drove over to check on a friend. I arrived at his house to find him acting confused and lethargic. Offering to make soup or some toast, he could not make up his mind. Instead, he told me he needed to pay some bills. I looked at him carefully, hoping to see some telltale sign to explain what was going on with him. With my imagination I was already checking off in my mind the list of possibilities that could explain my friend’s symptoms. Though I hoped things would calm down and return to some semblance of order, it was not to be the case. When he leaned into me and went limp, I had to support him as I led him down to the floor. Whatever fears I had about ambulances and hospitals was put on the side as I called for help. It seemed like only a minute before the paramedics arrived at the house. The lead man asked me what was going on with my friend; I went over the series of events that led up to me calling them for help. It was decided that my friend be taken to the hospital and that I should meet him there. AS I DROVE TO THE HOSPITAL I glanced at the time on the dashboard and realized I was already past my bedtime. There was nothing I could do about it, so I made the conscious decision not to look at the time anymore. I kept telling myself I at least had my car with me instead of having to ride in the ambulance. The idea of seeing medics working on my friend gave me the chills. I do not think anyone likes being in a hospital and I am no exception. With the germs and sicknesses, besides all the medical procedures, I strongly dislike having to be in a hospital and now I was willingly driving myself to one. All my fears had to be contained or at least not interfere with what I needed to do for my friend. My anxiety increased as I entered the emergency room. I did not have time to think about what was going on because I was led to my friend’s room, where the doctor informed me it was a good thing I called for help. It just goes to show you there are times when one must put everything aside to do the right thing. The friends in this horror film certainly understood this concept. IT HAD BEEN 27 YEARS SINCE the town of Derry experienced such an evil being. The group of old schoolfriends who encountered him back then vowed they would return to their hometown if he ever showed up again. Now that he did, they would have to overcome their fears if they were going to have any chance of succeeding in ridding the town of him. With Jessica Chastain (Dark Phoenix, Molly’s Game) as Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, The Last Station) as Bill Denbrough, Bill Hader (The To Do List, The Skeleton Twins) as Richie Tozier, Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses, Shadowhunters-TV) as Mike Hanlon and Jay Ryan (Go Girls-TV, Beauty and the Beast-TV) as Ben Hanscom; the casting for this movie could not have been better. Each adult actor was perfect as the grownup school child. Bill Hader was the big standout for me. What surprised me about this sequel was the fact it was more story driven than a series of horrific episodes. There still was blood and violence in several scenes but I thought the adult kids’ story lines were interesting. Clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, the script needed some editing because this film was too long. Granted I was engaged most of the time, but there were a few slow sections in the script that could have been deleted. My fear of sitting through a series of gory horror scenes subsided as the story unfolded on the big screen.
2 ½ stars
FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY PEANUT BUTTER and jelly sandwiches, there is an innate comfort associated with them. I am a smooth peanut butter and grape jelly type of guy, though I can mix it up with crunchy peanut butter at times. If you have a similar history to mine, then you remember a PB&J was one of the first sandwiches given to you. I remember how the peanut butter would get smoothed over the slice of bread before spreading the jelly on top, trying to get it to reach out to the four corners of the bread. For my sandwich it had to be done with white bread, nothing else. Because it was always consistent in taste and texture, I knew what to expect and that brought me comfort. Whether I had it for lunch or dinner, I would still get a feeling that everything would be okay for me. For a little kid you could not beat having that comforting feeling anytime you wanted; it would well up inside of me at my first bite. And this included keeping the crusts on the bread slices, since I had a friend who had to have the crusts cut off before eating his sandwich. A FUNNY THING ABOUT PEANUT BUTTER and jelly sandwiches; it could be years between having one and the sandwich would still pack the same emotions. I experience it every time; we’re talking a lot of years. Now I know there are some people who cannot eat the same thing two days in a row and I get it. They like thinking of something new to eat or satisfy a craving or even just want to play with ingredients in their kitchen to see what they can create. When they do stuff like that I do not believe they build a history with the food dish. Sure, they love it and it tastes good; but then they move on to something else the next time and maybe, down the road, they revisit that dish another time. That is all well and good, but I feel it is not the same thing as being able to eat something that elicits long held memories. There are no surprises involved, no figuring out things; everything falls into a familiar place. Personally, I love when that happens and maybe that is the reason why this decades long franchise continues to work; one knows what to expect when they walk into the theater to see this dramatic sports movie. IT WAS NOT ENOUGH FOR ADONIS JOHNSON, played by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Fantastic Four), to reach the pinnacle of the boxing world. When the son of the man who killed his father entered the ring, it was about revenge and protecting his father’s name. With Sylvester Stallone (Escape Plan, Get Carter) as Rocky Balboa, Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Annihilation) as Bianca, newcomer Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago and Dolph Lundgren (Universal Solider, The Punisher) as Ivan Drago; this movie did everything I expected it to do. Michael did just as good of a job here as he did in the first film. Who I thought shined even brighter was Tessa and Sylvester in their roles. It seemed as if Rocky grew into this role; I could feel the weight of his world resting on his shoulders and got a sense of his mortality. Tessa’s singing and acting were the perfect touch to the drama coming across the screen. The premise for this story was little different from the ones previously. There was a good guy and bad one, unexpected home issues and parent issues; pretty much all the same but I did not mind. This franchise still delivers a good punch (I apologize for the pun). It is like eating a PB&J; I knew what to expect and got it with little effort on my part.
3 ¼ stars
TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS, change is not always an easy thing. Change is something I prefer taking place over time—like the duration it takes for a sapling to turn into a majestic oak tree. Intellectually I know change is inevitable; but that does not mean I have to like it. For the past few years a friend and I have talked on the phone every day during my work commute. I have known her since we were in elementary school. We started talking to each other every day after she moved out of state for work. Recently she received a promotion that changed her schedule. After talking together on the phone for the past few years, she now had a daily work commitment that had to be handled at the exact time we would be on the phone. It was strange not talking to her; one of the reasons I discovered was it made my commute easier. It seemed to make the time go by faster and before you say anything, I always used a hands-free device to talk to her. I still wish we could have our daily talk, but I understand the reason why; she had bettered herself at work and that is always a good thing. PART OF FRIENDSHIP/LOVE WITH A PERSON is wishing them the best. Though things change a true friend or family member remains supportive through the process…or at least that is what they are supposed to do, according to my definition of family/friends. There is a couple of sisters I know where one of them pretends to be supportive but is incredibly passive aggressive toward her older sister. If you are not paying close attention you might miss the barbs and comments that the younger sister tosses over toward her big sister. I was a witness to it and was stunned by the way the younger sister tried to build herself up by putting her sister down. Based on the things I knew about the siblings, I could see why the younger one was acting out; she felt she was not getting enough attention. I felt this way based on the information I was privy to, besides seeing it with my own eyes. As I said before change is not always easy and because the older sister married first and had children, the younger sister was no longer getting to be the center of attention in their family. Some people just act that way; heck, it even happened in this animated adventure film. WHEN HER GAME SUDDENLY STOPPED WORKING; Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman (The Book of Henry, Battle of the Sexes), and her best friend Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly (Chicago, Kong: Skull Island), made their way to the internet to find a solution. They found more than they expected, in ways that would test their friendship. With Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses) voicing Shank, Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, Proud Mary) voicing Yesss and Jane Lynch (Julie & Julia, Glee-TV) voicing Calhoun; this comedy sequel had many fun moments in it. I thought John and Sarah did a wonderful job together as they played off each other. The visuals were great to watch as the script provided humor for both young and old. If I have a negative comment it would be about the element of wonderment; since this was a sequel it did not have that extra magic of being a fresh idea. Also, the action did not always have a smooth transition. I still had a good time watching this picture and ultimately it did present an admirable conclusion to the topics offered up in the script. I am happy for this sequel.
THERE ARE CERTAIN EVENTS IN OUR life that we can never let go of or forget. I have a relative who has never liked clowns; whether in person or on television, this relative had a strong reaction the first time she saw a clown. She and her family went one day to a local carnival that came into town, pitching their tents and rides in a nearby neighborhood. They were walking around, checking out all the rides, when a man dressed up as a clown spotted them and started to make his way towards them. Waving his hands in the air while laughing out a “helloooo”, the little girl looked at him and let out a shriek. Before her parents could pick her up and console her, she picked up a rock and threw it at the clown. The rock fell short, but it made the clown stop in his tracks as the little girl ran behind her parents. It took some time to calm their daughter down, deciding it was best to leave the carnival. I am here to tell you that little girl has never forgotten that clown and wants nothing to do with any clowns even up to this day. THAT LITTLE GIRL IS NOT THE only one who carries a fear for something from one’s childhood. One thing I am still afraid of are bats; not the baseball kind, the flying ones. When I was a little boy I was traumatized by a bat that got into our house. I still remember exactly when it happened. It was an early Saturday morning and I was the first one who had woken up. I had gone into the living room to turn on the television, so I could watch Saturday morning cartoons. As I was lying on the floor with my pillow and blanket I heard a sound above my head. It sounded like loose clapping. When I looked up I saw a large, dark thing flying around the upper window panes. I freaked out and let out a scream as I covered my head with my blanket and raced back to my bedroom. My yelling woke up the family as you can imagine. Everyone came running out to look for me. I never saw but heard it took a broom and plastic trash bag to get the bat out of the house. Another thing that has bothered me all these years are louvered closet doors; all because of this movie franchise. IT HAS BEEN 40 YEARS AND a day hasn’t gone by where Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, A Fish Called Wanda), hasn’t thought about the man who almost killed her. Her nightmare isn’t about to end just yet. This horror thriller also starred Judy Greer (27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30) as Karen, Andi Matichak (Miles, Evol) as Allyson, Haluk Bilginer (Ben-Hur, The International) as Dr. Sartain and Will Patton (The Postman, The Punisher) as Officer Hawkins. This was one of the best sequels I have seen this year. I thought the writers created a believable chapter for this film franchise. There was a mixture of nostalgia, campiness and old school thrills in the story. I feel those who at least remember parts the first movie will better enjoy this picture. There were a few brief bloody scenes, but I appreciated many of them were more suspense filled with visual clues than actual violent gore. I did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did; for me, I felt most of my emotions were tied into my memories of my life back when I saw the first film. Which probably has kept fueled my dislike of louvered closet doors all these years.
I DO NOT KNOW WHY I thought of it; but as I watched my friend typing away on his computer keyboard, it reminded me of playing with building blocks. He is a graphic artist so already I am in awe of his computer skills. Looking at the computer screen he was moving things from one side to the other, manipulating photos and graphic designs. There was something about the images moving around the screen that I found mesmerizing. I can barely copy and paste so I was impressed with his masterful computer skills. He is not the only one I admire for I know a photographer who relies on his computer to enhance and create stunning photographs. His specialty is weddings and I must tell you his work is amazing. We were at the same wedding; I was a guest and he was the photographer. We both were seeing the same things; but when he was done manipulating the photos he shot, it looked like he was at a wedding from an alternative universe. I knew the people in the photos, but the settings were different. Colors were added or removed; light sources were enhanced or subdued just enough to change the viewer’s focus, creating a whole new visual environment. WHEN IT COMES TO THE CREATIVE wonders and helpfulness computers offer, I am totally supportive of it. However, I am aware there is another side to computers and its users. Roughly once a week I get a suspicious email at the office. Some are obvious with their misspelled words, but others are more sophisticated that look authentic. Unless I know who sent the email I will not open it, forwarding it instead to the MIS department to investigate and decide if it is safe. I may think my knowledge of illicit and illegal activity on a computer is up to date, but I am sure I only know a sliver of the scams that currently take place. In fact, recently a friend of mine told me about a customer who was having an emotional relationship with someone he met online. Pictures were exchanged, and little gifts were sent to each other during their “courtship.” After several weeks the customer received an email that the woman was in a car accident and needed $2000.00 to cover medical costs. This gentleman wired her the funds (I know I cannot believe it either). A week later the woman emailed she needed $15,000 to cover legal fees in her lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. What I just told you is nothing compared to the creepy computer story that took place in this horror sequel. WHEN MATIAS, PLAYED BY COLIN WOODELL (Unsane, The Neighbor), discovers mysterious files on his new computer; he soon realizes he is one click away from a different reality. With Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Mindy Project-TV, Red Band Society-TV) as Serena, Betty Gabriel (Get Out, The Purge: Election Year) as Nari, Chelsea Alden (American Horror Story-TV, Get Spy-TV) as Kelly and Andrew Lees (The Originals-TV, Rescue Special Ops-TV) as Damon; I cannot stress how creeped out I was with the story in this film. Despite starting out slow the script eventually turned sinister and I found myself feeling uncomfortable with what I was watching on the screen. The reason being I assumed the things taking place in the movie could really happen in our daily lives. The picture itself was nothing great; I found it to be repetitive. There was suspense in some of the scenes but several of them bordered on ridiculous. The thing that kept me captured was the idea that what I was witnessing could easily happen to any of us and it scared me.
1 ¾ stars
ONE IS EITHER BORN INTO the role or is trained by default to be the neutral party aka buffer zone between conflicted family members and/or friends. It takes a particular temperament to handle groups of people who have opposing opinions; a person needs to be calm, sensitive, thoughtful and most importantly strong enough to never offer an opinion. Even in the face of an evil, belligerent person; one needs to maintain a serene exterior, even if they are thinking the extreme thinking friend or family member is hateful or bigoted. If the social event is being held in a large space chances are there will be less drama and little policing of the opposing combatants. However if the meeting place (feel free to replace meeting place with the word arena) is a small space such as a restaurant booth or a person’s dining room, then things could be trickier to maintain some semblance of peace. THROUGH THE YEARS I have been exposed to various events and locations where I was able to witness the buffer zone person in action. I am actually familiar with the dynamics of an occasion where 2 people are not seeing things eye to eye. It can be quite stressful for the other people around. There was a party I attended where such a scenario took place and I agree it was a challenge trying to stay neutral with both sides while each one of them was making their case to me that they were right. The thing I find interesting is when this type of behavior plays out during a special occasion such as a holiday or birthday. Wouldn’t you think in respect to the person celebrating or the special significance to the gathering people could put their differences aside? I do not know if it is an ego thing, a stubborn thing or lack of confidence that makes a person act out in public in such a way. If you are interested there are several examples of people acting ridiculous in this comedy film. TIRED OF DIVIDING THEIR children’s time up during the holiday between each of them Dads Brad and Dusty, played by Will Ferrell (The House, The Campaign) and Mark Wahlberg (Patriots Day, The Gambler), came up with a brilliant idea; to spend the Christmas holiday together. The idea would have been perfect if not for the visit of the grandfathers. With John Lithgow (Miss Sloane, Betriz at Dinner) as Don, Linda Cardellini (Grandma’s Boy, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Sara and John Cena (Trainwreck, The Marine) as Roger; this sequel for the most part followed the same formula as the original movie. I found the script was predictable and some of the humor had a negative edge to it. If you happened to see the trailers you pretty much saw what the whole film was going to consist of: physical comedy mixed with stereotypical acting. Some of the scenes rang somewhat true to the point I could appreciate what the writers were trying to convey; but, there were times I thought the story was diving into a ridiculous slapstick form of comedy. Having seen the first movie, I did not find much being offered with this picture in the way of new, fresh ideas. Maybe those of you who are in a similar situation as the characters in this picture will enjoy this film. For me I could not be positive or even neutral in my review of this formulaic written movie.
1 ¾ stars
THE INVITATION WAS NOT addressed to me, but I was asked to go as a guest. I took no offense since the event was something that had never been part of my usual experiences. It was an art gallery opening for an artist; I was familiar with their name but not their work. Situated down in a trendy part of the city, the gallery’s large windows were swathed in dark banners that looked like they had been splattered with blood. I was not sure what I was getting into as I looked at the people milling about the front of the gallery when we walked in. Once inside servers with skin painted in dull shades of gray were walking around with champagne glasses filled with something that looked like a thick syrupy wine. If I did not know better I would have said I walked onto the set of a vampire themed movie. I declined any offer of the drink. WALKING AROUND THE GALLERY I was exposed to pieces of art that depicted graphic violence. They were done in an abstract way but one could easily make out the human form even with the bizarre, twisted ways it was being placed. Making my way around I was able to hear a variety of comments from the guests that were meandering about as they were looking for more of that reddish liquid stuff to drink. The majority of things I heard people say were positive about the artwork. I honestly did not understand how they could look at these grotesque pieces and interpret them as these beacons of reason and positivity. There was one gentleman who literally was lecturing the small group of individuals around him, expounding on the dynamic themes this one piece presented. I actually stopped to listen to him and though I am not a judgmental person by nature, I have to tell you I thought the talkative man sounded pompous, as he went on and on about various themes one could draw from the piece. By no means do I claim to be an art expert and I know appreciating art is a subjective thing; but I did not get any of the artwork for it did not entertain or move me in a positive way. Sadly I felt the same way about this science fiction, mystery sequel. BLADE RUNNER K, played by Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad, La La Land), discovered a secret that was hatched years ago that could alter evolution. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners) this sci-fi thriller visually was impressive. The sets and costumes all conveyed a sense of defeat or maybe more to the point tiredness. Ryan with Robin Wright (Wonder Woman, House of Cards-TV) as Lieutenant Joshi, Ana de Armas (War Dogs, Hands of Stone) as Joi, Sylvia Hoeks (The Best Offer, The Storm) as Luv and Harrison Ford (42, The Age of Adeline) as Rick Deckard were all wonderful in their roles. My big issue with this film was the unnecessary length of time to tell a story from a script that was spotty in parts. I was bored through parts of the picture. There were some characters that one never got the opportunity to really understand, while others had more depth to them. It pains me to say this but I found this film to be pretentious and full of itself. Maybe with major editing there would have been more excitement for me; however, for my viewing time I sat there with a perplexed look on my face.