ONCE YOU GET SHOVED DOWN INTO that dark place it is hard to convey any of your feelings to anyone. I not only have seen this but I have experienced it. There was a boy in my class that was naturally quiet. I could count on one hand the amount of times I heard him speak in class. Honestly, I cannot say whether he was a good or poor student; he did not stand out which in itself was okay. The first time I had an inkling something was not right was in the locker room. He was in the same row as me, so I was a witness to what had happened to him. While changing out of his gym clothes, two students came up from behind and shoved him into his locker (he was slight of build) and slammed the door shut. As the two students guffawed at their antics a student a few lockers over told the two to knock it off and to go back to their lockers. The student walked over to let the boy out of his locker. Tentatively stepping out, he thanked the fellow student and continued dressing. I kept glancing over to see if he was okay but his expression never changed; it was sort of like a blank stare while he kept looking into his locker as if he had lost something in it. I DREADED THE TIMES WHEN THAT student was not in class because I was the next likely one to be targeted by those bullies. It is a horrible thing to say, I know; but the two of us were on the bottom end of the pecking order that made up our boys’ gym class. It was as if each of us on the low end had this mentality of “every man for himself.” No one amongst us would ever bring it up in conversation and speaking for myself, I never talked about it to anyone. Even with my friends who were in the same class, I would not bring it up. I cannot tell you why that was the case; I only know there was a sense of shame and embarrassment attached to the abuse and bullying each of us had to endure. When I hear in the news about a student committing suicide, I have to say I can understand the reasons why when the act is a result of bullying/abuse. At that age I feel students do not have all the skill sets to cope with such an act of violence so they retreat into themselves. An example of this can be seen in this dramatic, film festival winner. ONE-YEAR MELINDA SARDINE PLAYED BY Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper, Charlie’s Angels), had lots of friends and was doing well in school; the next year, no one is talking to her and her grades are failing. How did one year make such a difference? With Elizabeth Perkins (Must Love Dogs, This is Us-TV) as Joyce Sordino, Allison Siko (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV, CryBaby Lane-TV movie) as Heather, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Mr. Neck and Steve Zahn (War for the Planet of the Apes, Rescue Dawn) as Mr. Freeman; watching this movie was an eye opening experience. Seeing a young Kristen Stewart, I can now appreciate what directors see in her. For such a young performer with sparse dialog, she easily was able to express her emotions and feelings. Despite the script being predictable, my attention to the story did not waiver. Maybe because I could identify with some of the scenes, I found myself feeling closer to Melinda’s story; and speaking of the story, it was an important one that needed to be told. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits that was as equally important.
SOME OF THE BEST CONVERSATIONS held are the ones between a pet and its owner. I am here to tell you there are a whole bunch of humans who could learn a lesson on communication, if they would watch and listen to owners talking to their pets. First off you would be hard pressed to find someone more compassionate and attentive than a dog or cat. I love both but I must say dogs have more facial expressions and possibly more empathy. Several years ago this happened but it is just as vivid in my mind now as it was when I saw it originally taking place. A friend of mine was going through a crisis; crying while curled up on their sofa. Into the room came their dog who took one look at its owner, came up to the edge of the sofa and jumped up onto a small open space by my friend’s feet. The dog walked behind my friend and plopped itself down between my friend and the back of the sofa, while putting a paw up on his shoulder. I was speechless as I saw the dog placing his head down on my friend’s back and its leg stretched out as far as possible into a hug. SO YOU CANNOT TELL ME OUR pets do not understand our feelings. Simply look into your pet’s eyes and you will find pure love and affection. It is an unconditional love that makes your pet greet you when you get home; even if you were gone for 2 minutes, to them it seems like it was hours. Maybe you have had conversations where you are sharing your feelings with your friend and everything you say elicits a response from them, telling you they experienced the same thing. They may feel they are being compassionate but that does not always produce such results. I know someone who no matter what you say to them they always respond with a story that is worse than the one you told them. It is like they are in competition with you to see who has the most serious ailment or hardship. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and that is where pets make the perfect attentive listeners. They never judge us; all they want to do is love us. Though I have been focusing on dogs and cats, this film festival winning drama will show you another pet that helps someone through a crisis. WITH HIS LIFE IN TURMOIL CHARLEY, played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, King Jack), finds comfort working at the rundown stables of owner Del, played by Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman). It is here he finds a true friend. Not since the movie My Friend Flicka have I seen such a beautiful connection being made between a boy and a horse. Charlie was nearly mesmerizing in his performance; one could feel his emotions and plight. With Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Bonnie and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn) as Silver; I thought the cast did a wonderful job in bringing this story to life. The minimalist script created a slow and steady unfolding story; it felt like I was watching a novel come to life. I am a sucker for a movie with an animal in it; despite that, this was a worthy piece of work with believable characters who showed a true slice of life. Be prepared to experience your emotions as you watch Charley’s and Pete’s journey.
3 ½ stars
THERE were days where it felt he had a target painted on his back. What he originally thought were random acts of violence, where he happened to be the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, he began to realize he was the main focus of the perpetrators’ aggression. Unfortunately bystanders around him would also fall victim to the violent acts. Being unexpectedly pushed from behind would cause him to fall into anyone standing in front of him, resulting in the chance they could topple and injure themselves. A liquid filled container thrown at him would also have an impact on anyone around him. He could never understand the hatred towards him. It was not like he started a fight or something; he pretty much fell into the average category, avoiding any type of conflicts or confrontations. His attitude was “live and let live” when it came to the behavior of others; however, there were days where it was a challenge to maintain that attitude. SEVERAL weeks of constant attacks pushed me to a place I had never been before. With my friends being affected from the fallout and me becoming consumed with a deep set hatred towards my aggressors, I lashed out at one of them when he was alone. It was the only time I instigated a fight. What worked in my favor was the fact no one would ever imagine me picking a fight. Adding in the element of surprise, I was set to let all of my anger out onto this one individual while I kept telling myself not to get hit in the face and start crying. My hope was if I could show this one person that I could fight back that he and the rest of his kind would stop picking on me. A similar train of thought was considered in this 3rd installment of the rebooted action adventure franchise. WHEN his enclave came under attack Caesar’s, played by Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Prestige), hopes of peaceful co-existence seemed an impossible reality. He would be forced to confront the ugliness of man head on. Compared to the two previous films I found this science fiction story incorporated elements of American slavery and the Bible; especially in regards to Moses and the 10 commandments, at least the movie version. With Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Now You See Me franchise) as the Colonel, Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club, A Perfect Getaway) as Bad Ape, Karin Konoval (The Movie Out Here, 2012) as Maurice and Amiah Miller (Lights Out, How We Live-TV movie) as Nova; I realized some people might not appreciate the acting skills of some of the actors who were CGI enhanced; but I have to tell you, I thought Andy and Karin were amazing in their roles. Andy, besides all of the physical acting, was still able to convey emotions with depth to his character. I will be curious to see if he gets any recognition for the amount of work he put into this dramatic picture. The special effects were well done, never over the top and appearing quite real. What really tied all of the good pieces together in this movie was the script; I felt it was well thought out, going beyond the typical sci-fi story. It had heart which quickly grabbed me into the story. As I continued to think about this film afterwards I can see where it could start a discussion about a variety of topics including our current times.
3 ½ stars
When I see advertisements announcing performance dates for any celebrity in their twilight years, my first thought has always been, “Do they really need the money?” I am not a fan who wants to see former headliners trying to maintain their youth as they perform in small clubs, attempting to recapture the good old times. Why don’t they instead do charity work, I have wondered. In this dramatic comedy, a law school dropout found himself becoming the assistant to an illusionist, when he answered an ad in the classifieds. John Malkovich (Con Air, Dangerous Liaisons) played Buck Howard, a long time performer who was trying to stage a comeback. I have had the good fortune to see John perform live on stage, years before he went on to the big screen. Back then I knew he was going to be an intense actor. He could easily switch from a raving, menacing lunatic character to a sweet, kind gentle man, in a heartbeat. As Buck Howard, John did an excellent job going from the pleasant showman to revealing the turmoil behind the facade. Colin Hanks (Looper, Orange County) was just ok for me in his role as assistant Troy Gable. However, I did enjoy the couple of scenes he had with his real life father Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, The Green Mile), who also played his father in the movie. It was a nice surprise to see Emily Blunt (Looper, The Young Victoria) in the film, playing Valerie Brennan. However, I felt the direction her character took rang false. The actors who had cameo roles were fun. To tell you the truth, after seeing the scenes where Buck was performing in front of his audience, it occurred to me that I have been judgmental. Who am I to say who should perform or not; it does not really matter. If fans want to relive a fond memory they have of their idols and the celebrities are willing to keep the dream alive, then go for it. After I was done watching this DVD I wanted to search the web for The Amazing Kreskin.
2 1/2 stars — DVD