CONTROL was something that had been a part of me for so long that not being in control was becoming a distant memory. Using myself and several people I know who also prefer being in control, I believe certain events in one’s life steers them to becoming a “control freak” or as I prefer to say “control aficionado.” For some experiencing disappointment multiple times can trigger them to stop counting on others. For example at work if you have an employee on your team that isn’t working up to the level needed to succeed in a specific task you are involved in, you might decide to take on some of the co-worker’s responsibilities to finish your project to your satisfaction. Another thing I have noticed for some people is their lack of spontaneity increases their desire for control. I know I can relate to this one because my brain is wired to the logic, “for every action there is a reaction.” My days are usually planned out due to my multiple jobs and responsibilities. To do something out of the norm would throw off the rest of the day for me. NOW with everything I just said I recently discovered or better yet I should say rediscovered the feeling of not being in control. I have to tell you when I first realized I was relinquishing control it was unsettling for me. So you have a reference point, let me tell you that the level of my control used to be where I would not participate in a group decision on where to go out for dinner. If I did not like someone’s choice on where to eat I would not order any food. Reading what I just wrote doesn’t make me sound like a fun person does it? I hope I do not grow old and get a similar reputation like the main character in this dramatic comedy. SUCCESSFUL businesswoman Harriet Lauler, played by Shirley MacLaine (Bernie, Elsa & Fred), had such control over her life that she even needed to know what her obituary would say about her before she was gone. That tough task would fall onto newspaper employee Anne Sherman, played by Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!). Casting Shirley in the main role was a big asset for this story. Both her and Amanda worked well together I thought. Also starring newcomer AnnJewel Lee Dixon as Brenda and Thomas Sadoski (John Wick franchise, Wild) as Robin Sands, I did not mind the rest of the cast; however, even if they were all renowned thespians it would not have helped the contrived script. The scenes did not come across as totally believable and it was long into the movie before I even felt a connection to Shirley’s character. For the most part none of the scenes went beyond standard fare; what I mean is Shirley’s character could have been more extreme, the scenes if they were believable could have been pushed for more emotion. As a result I was left with a “blah” feeling by the end of the film. In fact my strongest feelings came from the idea that I could wind up like Harriet if I don’t start giving up some control in my life.
1 3/4 stars
In my world the most powerful two words to use at the beginning of a sentence are, “I love…” Now I love chocolate chip cookies but that is not what I am referring to here. For a human being to feel and express their love for another human is one of the grand prizes for living; at least that is what I think. There is a poem that has the line, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and I have to agree with it. Some folk may disagree with me, questioning how someone can miss something if they have never experienced it. If I understand, it would be similar to saying how does someone miss or know if they like a sweet tasting food item if they have never tasted one before. Okay, that makes sense to me. However, one of the many advantages to being in love is having the comfort that one’s tightrope walk through life now has a safety net below to catch them if they should fall. There are people who fall in love and remain together until death. When one dies the other chooses to remain single for the remainder of their life; on the other hand, some individuals may have the opportunity to fall in love again. I admire the people in both scenarios. If someone later in life is fortunate to find love all I can say is more power to them. To me it is like walking through a forest and coming upon a large mighty oak tree. It may not have the flexibility of a young sapling but it has a wide reach to protect you along with deep roots that have been filled with knowledge and nourishment throughout the years. RECENT widower Fred Barcroft, played by Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, Beginners) was pushed into a new home by his daughter Lydia, played by Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing, The Mist). Neighbor Elsa Hayes, played by Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Bernie), was quite curious with the quiet gentleman who moved next door to her. This film festival winning movie’s saving grace was Shirley and Christopher. They tried their best, having a few touching moments I might add, to keep the story alive in this comedic romance. There were a couple of parts I enjoyed; however, the story was such a disappointment. It was filled with sappy, predictable, poorly written dialog; this picture could have been so much better. I did appreciate however the idea of folks, who were getting up in years, still making discoveries in their life. Isn’t it amazing what love can do to people?
Daydreams are like the morning dew on budding ambitions. For inside those daydreams is the pollen of ideas. Many of us have daydreamed at one time or another; I am a firm believer in them. Daydreams provide me a safe haven to let my mind wander untethered from my required responsibilities. Sitting in a waiting room while my car is being serviced provides me time to take a mental vacation to a warm exotic place as the drifting snow outside the dealership fades away from my vision. After I lost my weight many years ago I used to daydream of being a dancer, specifically a go-go dancer. It was not because I was looking for adulation. After being uncomfortable in my body for so long, I wanted to see how it would feel to let go in a very vulnerable way and not give any thought to how I looked to other people. This dream stayed with me for some time but I never had the courage to follow through with it. However, that daydream played a factor in my pursuit of becoming an aerobic instructor. Finding myself in a physical activity where I was not being teased or judged gave me more confidence than I had ever experienced before. Someone else who had a fondness for daydreaming was Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, The Watch). To disappear from his uneventful life, Walter would escape into his daydreams of adventure and heroics. When his job position was threatened with elimination, Walter had to take off on a real adventure he never imagined in the hope of saving his job. Based on James Thurber’s short story of the same name, this adventure dramedy was not a remake of the Danny Kaye film. Directed by Ben, I enjoyed the flow of the story. There were several scenes that were visually stunning. I have to say those same scenes were the most engaging. If there was not some adventure taking place on screen I then found the story becoming weak, lacking any energy. The parts where Ben and Kristen Wiig (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Bridesmaids), who played fellow employee Cheryl Melhoff, were together I found almost boring. It was funny because I wished the short scenes that had Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment, Terms of Endearment) as Walter’s mother Edna, would have been longer. This award winning movie was a good effort but the people involved in making it would have done better if they had dreamt bigger.
2 1/4 stars