NOTHING CAUSED ME MORE FEAR IN SCHOOL than having someone shout out that I threw like a girl. To get branded with those words would mean you were going to have an especially rough semester at school. I actually was pretty good in throwing a baseball, but I wasn’t so good when it came to playing basketball. Gratefully, I just passed under the radar whenever we would play basketball in PE class. There was always someone worse than me who would suffer the humiliation of getting the moniker for throwing like a girl. And once you were deemed with that label, no matter what you did in class afterwards was never truly appreciated by the other students. I recall at one point I wondered what the girls did in their PE classes to make fun of a student who was not proficient in a particular sport. Notice, I assumed the girls could be just as mean as the boys; I don’t honestly know why that was my way of thinking. There were a few girls in the school who were bullies. Based on the things I experienced, it was natural for me to think that anyone who showed a sign of weakness or inability would be an open target for verbal abuse. For boys, the quickest cut to another boy was telling him he was a sissy or acted like a girl. TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND NOW THROWING like a girl does not have the same connotation; too bad it took such a long time to evolve. Imagine how many boys could have been spared humiliation from their fellow classmates if they understood girls could throw a ball just as well as boys. I know a father who has a daughter who went to college on a scholarship because she was a top baseball pitcher in high school. During her summer vacation, she would attend baseball camp to perfect her pitches. Her Dad would update me on the locations she and her traveling teammates visited and how well she would do in the baseball game. There were a couple of times where she pitched a no-hitter. After hearing this, I wondered how many men would hope they could pitch as well as a girl? The question I would like to know is what is happening in the classroom? Has mankind expanded its thinking to the point where a male student is told he throws like a girl and the boy says thank you? NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES BEING told she could not compete with men Michelle Payne, played by Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies), knew in her heart she could compete with any man. She just needed someone to take her seriously. This dramatic sport film based on a true story caught my attention because of the movie’s title. With Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Paddy Payne, Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Darren Weir, Brooke Satchwell (Subdivision, Wonderland-TV) as Therese Payne and Magda Szubanski (The Golden Compass, Kath & Kim-TV) as Sister Dominique; this biographical story had some David and Goliath moments. Fundamentally the story’s arc was not that unusual; what sold me were Teresa’s performance and the action scenes. What was missing for me was seeing more back-story to the Payne family. The scenes that involved the siblings seemed ripe for a further in-depth look at the family. I never really got a sense on where Michelle got her drive. Despite my concerns, knowing this film festival nominated picture was based on a true story made the viewing of it more engaging for me. Also, seeing what Michelle went through to do what she loved was inspiring to me because I appreciated the fact that there essentially should be no preference for a woman or man to try and reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
2 ¼ stars
It was a sliver of light no bigger than a pie slice, just long enough into my bedroom to see. I never had a night light as a child; probably because all the electrical outlets in the room were hidden behind furniture. Instead the bedroom door was left ajar, allowing the light outside to cast a calm glow into my room. It wasn’t like I thought there were monsters under my bed or someone could come through the window and steal me; we lived on a high third floor. I just wanted to see the silhouettes of all the things in the room with me. Darkness did not necessarily scare me, but for some unexplained reason I knew I had to be more careful. Where this thought came from I honestly do not know; what was it about darkness that made people leery? I can remember going to the city zoo and walking through their animals of the night exhibit and immediately thinking the animals were “scary.” The bats in particular I thought were evil and this was before I even knew about Dracula. Seeing them fly around their enclosure lit only by black lights, they not only were scaring me but the visitors around me. This type of fear is not exclusive to just nocturnal animals. I knew some people who did not like cats as pets because, as they would say, they slink around in the dark and you never know what they are thinking. What is it about the darkness that scares so many people? This horror film will give you the answer. MARTIN, played by Gabriel Bateman (Annabelle, Checkmate), was falling asleep in class. School officials needed to call in and talk to his family to find out why Martin was not getting enough sleep. The answer was not so simple. This picture was a surprise for me. I found the bare bones script and lack of CGI effects refreshing. The reason I say refreshing is because the movie had an old fashioned horror film vibe to it. With a simple premise and good acting from the cast which also included Maria Bello (Prisoners, A History of Violence) as Sophie and Alexander DiPersia (I am Legend, Forever) as Bret, I enjoyed the way the director built up tension throughout the scenes. Simply using darkness as a tool, the anticipation and shock value provided me with some fun “cheap thrills.” I thought Teresa was perfectly cast in the role of big protective sister to her little brother. Maybe it is just me but I liked the idea of having a strong female lead since many horror films tend to cast women as the helpless victims. There were a few scenes that showed blood but there was not the gore that sometimes comes with it. I think this film would have a wider appeal because most people can relate or understand the fear so many associate with darkness. As I said earlier this had the flavor of an old fashioned horror film; but do not take it for granted, you may think twice about turning off the lights tonight.
2 ¾ stars
I do not think the layout of a store is necessarily an engineering feat, more like a psychological one in my opinion. Think about the ease consumers have these days; no matter where one may be, they can walk into the same brand of store and immediately know which aisles they need to stop in. Sure some stores may have slight differences in decorations or signage, but I am sure there is a reason why the stores are laid out in a particular way. I assume you have heard the term “mindless eating?” It is when one is not giving any thought to what they are putting in their mouth; an example would be those huge buckets of popcorn one sits with in the movie theater. Being so engrossed into the film hopefully, one doesn’t pay attention to the amount of popcorn they have eaten. Well the same thing can be said for “mindless shopping.” The way the store gets laid out, the end of the aisles known as “end caps” has either visual significance or price leaders to entice shoppers to stop and pickup the product. Now throughout the store the owners place sale items like small oases to get the consumer to travel from one side of the building to the other. When I go to the grocery store I do not have to think about what I want; I always go with a shopping list and because I am so familiar with the layout, I can quickly make my way through without much thought. It really is a simple process that does not need much effort on my part. I can say it was the same way watching this latest Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember) movie. TRAVIS, played by Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), tried all of his pickup lines on the new neighbor Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, I am Number Four), but she was having none of it. As far as she was concerned he was a jerk. I really do not think I have to say anything else because those of you who are at all familiar with a Nicholas Sparks movie will already know the outcome. This dramatic romance followed the same formula as his previous films. In fact, I felt this one was one of the worst. The story followed the same, shall we say, outline to each of his films: the main characters either dislike each other or have issues; there is a hospital scene or tragic event, understanding parents and a tearjerker scene. Regarding this film I felt there was no chemistry between Benjamin and Teresa. The only acting worth mentioning was by Tom Wilkinson (Belle, Michael Clayton) as Shep. If you have never read or seen a Nicholas Sparks story or want a good cry then you may be interested in this movie. The rest of you would be better off skipping this film and go do some mindless shopping.
1 2/3 stars
Love is coming home where a warm hug is waiting to brush the trying day off of you. Waking up to a gentle protective breath on your neck that kept dark dreams away through the night is love. Comfort in knowing that if you make a mistake it will not diminish one’s love for you. Even the unexpected card filled with caring thoughts is a form of love. Taylor Dayne’s song “Love will Lead you Back” would be apropos to describe this romantic comedy. From the director of 50/50, Jonathan Levine created a funny horror movie that was a relative to the story of Romeo and Juliette. Nicholas Hoult was the unusual zombie named R. On a night of feasting on humans; R became enthralled with Julie, played by Teresa Palmer (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bedtime Stories), after making a meal of her boyfriend. Determined to protect her, R formed an unexpected relationship with Julie that would change the world. But R did not know Julie’s father Grigio, played by John Malkovich (Burn After Reading, Con Air), was the leader of the human zombie killers. I was totally taken by surprise with the smart and witty dialog. Nicholas and Teresa were perfectly matched, adding authenticity to their characters. Playing R’s friend M, Rob Cordday (Cedar Rapids, W.) was wonderful in his role, coming up with some great lines. My only regret was the small amount of screen time Analeigh Tipton (Damsels in Distress, The Green Hornet) had playing Julie’s friend Nora. A very entertaining film that was rated PG-13 had brief scenes of blood and gore. I was completely surprised by this fun movie. Who knew this zombie film came with a big heart.