Unless there is something seriously dramatic going on there is no way to know your family may be different from other families. This is one of the reasons we initially grow up believing we are just normal. However once you start experiencing the dynamics within other families it can be eye opening. I remember the first time my best friend invited me for dinner when we were in 3rd grade. Sitting there I knew something was just different about his family. His older brother sat at the dinner table with us and the parents, but he never said a word to me or his younger brother. He only would talk to the parents but just barely. To an outsider they would say that brother was just being rude, but to a young me I thought he was mean. As I grew and had more opportunities to be around other families I actually started to enjoy the experiences. I wonder if that was the start of my interest in pursuing interests in psychology. A college friend invited me to their home for the weekend where I wound up feeling like I was on one of those old family television shows from the 1950s or 60s. Every family member would get dressed up for dinner; I could not understand how the mother could cook an entire meal yet look like she was ready to go out on the town. There was another family I experienced that cursed at each other like they were just having a friendly conversation. Oh and how could I forget the family that shared a meal with me where all and I mean all the home cooked foods were barely edible to me? I do not want to sound ungrateful but nothing tasted like it was supposed to taste and some things did not look like they were cooked enough; yet all of the family members carried on about the food as if it were the best thing since sliced bread. It just goes to show there really is no such thing as a “normal” family. ONLY after his mother was admitted into the hospital did John Hollar, played by John Krasinski (Away We Go, 13 Hours), travel back home to be with his family. One tends to forget about their family when they are away from them. This film festival nominated comedic drama also starred Margo Martindale (The Hours, August: Osage County) as Sally Hollar, Sharlto Copley (Elysium, District ) as Ron Hollar and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, The Cabin in the Woods) as Don Hollar. I thought Margo and Richard were the best out of the cast. The story had fun moments in it but there really was nothing that moved me to think I was watching a good movie. Maybe because there were a variety of issues taking place I felt nothing stood out except for Margo’s character. The actors tried their best I believe and John who also directed did a decent job; but the ending left me with a blah feeling. I do not know if it is because I have seen my share of dysfunctional families that I did not think this film was any big deal.
Depending on my mood, I can usually find a movie to fulfill my needs. When I want to sit back and check out from reality, a fantasy or science fiction film is the perfect choice. To learn more about a subject, whether it is of historical or current value, I seek out a documentary. I find this to be one of the major attributes about movies; the incredible variety they offer us. There are times, however, when a film can take me by total surprise and this action filled science fiction movie was one of them. Expecting to just see a dramatic fantasy, this movie was relevant to me on a personal level. Having recently spent 2 days with a family member in a hospital emergency room and at doctor visits, I was exposed to the harsh realities of being sick. Witnessing the monumental processing and procedures placed on patients and staff, I sat and wondered how things would be if one did not have insurance or on the other hand, one had an all encompassing insurance policy. I cannot tell you the shock I had as I watched the emergency room nurses handle everything that came through their doors. My family member was fortunate to have a private space where the doctors were able to look him over; unlike the poor woman who was laid out on a gurney in the middle of the hallway. Set in the year 2154, this stunning film was about a society that was split into 2 classes. The poor and disadvantaged citizens lived on a bleak, exhausted earth while the wealthy lived on a space station called Elysium; a place that had eliminated sickness and crime. Matt Damon (Promised Land, The Adjustment Bureau) played factory worker Max. When a fatal accident left Max with only days to live; he agreed to take on a risky mission that could not only save his life, but could change the fate of the entire planet. Matt was a solid workhorse in this role, helped by the wild hardware implanted in his body. The movie’s special effects and sets were so naturally beautiful, I got lost in the realness of them. There was such detail to every shot that it made the story’s weaknesses stand out even more. I did not feel emotionally attached to any of the characters. Sadly Jodie Foster’s (Panic Room, Contact) character Delacourt Rhodes was odd to me. Why she had an accent was beyond me; I did not find her character had any depth. The strongest screen presence came from Sharlto Copley (District 9, The A-Team) as undercover agent Kruger. I could see where writer and director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) was going with this movie about the haves and have-nots; it was a valiant effort. Depending on your mood when you view this film, you will either take a trip to Elysium or sit and wish things were going better for you. A few scenes had blood in them.
2 3/4 stars