IT SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS PROUD to tell me he could eat anything; I congratulated him, telling him I had to watch what I ate. When we met in school, he told me he was diabetic. Later he told me he was surprised by my reaction when he initially told me. I said, “Oh, okay; but don’t think I am going to treat you special now.” Up until that moment most people he had told according to him started treating him differently, as if he could not make his own decisions. Please keep in mind, this happened back in time before we had the technology, we have now for tracking blood sugar levels. From that first meeting on our dorm floor, we became fast friends. We both had opted out of the meal plan offered at the school, instead fending for ourselves in the communal kitchen on our floor. Seeing what he ate on a weekly basis did make me curious how he managed to eat certain foods that I had thought would wreak havoc with his sugar levels. I remember asking him if he took the same amount of insulin each day, after seeing him inject himself in the stomach at the table before we started eating dinner one night. He said he could feel his sugar levels and adjust his insulin dosage accordingly; he would just wing the dosages each day depending on what he planned on eating. It surprised me because he would eat desserts, drink alcohol and snack between meals on an assortment of food items from natural to processed. ONE NIGHT WE WERE HANGING OUT, watching TV. After we had sat through a couple of sit-coms, the news came on. The newscaster listed the night’s news stories that were to be covered during the telecast and one of the topics was the use of service dogs for diabetics. Of course, my friend was curious about it as well as myself; so, we decided to sit through the news until the dog story was covered. I was familiar with the use of seeing eye dogs for the blind, but I could not imagine what service dogs would do for those with diabetes. Well, it turned out to be an interesting news segment. Service dogs were being trained to alert a person when their blood sugar level was out of range. Both of us could not believe what we were seeing, but it evidently was working; the dogs could smell when a person’s levels were out of whack. Though that was such a novel idea at the time, it turns out it was only the beginning to the variety of animals that would be put into use to assist people. Some would come from unexpected places, such as the one in this drama based on a true story. WHILE VACATIONING IN THAILAND A FAMILY experiences a horrific accident that would alter their lives. No one seemed to heal from the event until the children one day brought home an injured animal. With Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry, The Impossible) as Sam Bloom, newcomer Griffin Murray-Johnston as Noah Bloom, Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, The Walking Dead-TV) as Cameron Bloom, newcomer Felix Cameron as Rueben Bloom and Jacki Weaver (Poms, Silver Linings Playbook) as Jan; the story behind this movie was unbelievable and difficult to watch at times. Naomi transformed herself into her character, that easily pulled me into the story. The gorgeous scenery was a bonus as I enjoyed the director’s light touch to letting the story play out in a real way. I am sure there were extra parts that were inserted into the script to manipulate the viewer, but I felt they were not done in a heavy-handed way. And if that was not enough, watching the animal in this film was so amazing and done in such an endearing way that I was captivated. Also, stay for the credits to see actual photographs of the family this film was based on.
Pushing the human body towards its ultimate limit is a marvel to witness. Whether it is a performer from Cirque du Soleil, an athlete competing at the Olympic Games or a senior citizen; I admire a person’s dedication in asking their body for more. Watching a gymnast or a ballet dancer, the control they have over their body amazes me. When I think how each muscle has to fire up in unison, withstand an opposing force and contain the applying pressure; it truly is mind blowing. This is one reason why I can sit down and watch a martial arts movie; there is a certain physical art created by the fighting scenes. In this film, the story was predictable but I did not care. I do not recall ever seeing the martial art of Muay Thai; so, this movie surprised me. The story was about a bad man who dealt in stolen Buddhas. When the head of a village’s Buddha was stolen; the village leader sent Ting, played by Tony Jaa (The Protector, The Bodyguard), to Bangkok to retrieve it. The straight forward story was really only a map to go from one fight scene to the next. First I have to say I got a kick out of the retro look used for the fight scenes. I am sure it was unintentional since this movie was made in 2003. No wires or CGI effects; Tony Jaa was unbelievable with his flexibility, his power and his tumbling ability. I felt I was watching a little bit of Jet Li mixed in with Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal. In addition, showing some of the same martial art moves from different camera angles was a great idea. I chose to watch this DVD in English so I did not have to miss the action by reading the subtitles. The only problem was listening to the ridiculous dialog with the exaggerated inflections. I considered turning the sound off at one point. Compared to some of the current martial arts films, where the fights are meticulous to the point of being sanitized; this gritty, raw throwback was fun to watch. You have to admire the power a body can generate. Several scenes with blood in it. Thai with English subtitles.
2 1/2 stars — DVD
There are some things a border cannot contain. One item I can think of is ice cream. I mean really, who doesn’t like ice cream? Another item would be gym shoes. As for movies, I would like to believe they go beyond all borders and are a common denominator between cultures. The only reason I hesitate is my questioning if humor can easily transfer between different cultures. When I heard this movie was playing nearby, I decided to see for myself if the accolades I had heard were true. This Chinese comedy was the most successful film for 2012 in China. I was curious to see what Chinese audiences found funny. Keep in mind this film opened here without any advance marketing or reviews. As I walked into the movie theater and rounded the corner to find a seat, I was immediately struck by the absence of any patrons. It felt odd at first, but after 20 minutes I raised the armrests so I could stretch out across the seats. The story was about two business executives who were in a race to beat the other for control of a new additive called “Supergas” that would revolutionize the world. Starring Xu Zheng (Meet the In-Laws, Lost on Journey) and Huang Bo (Crazy Dinner Party, Design of Death) as businessmen Xu Lang and Gao Bo, their competition would take them to Thailand where Xu Lang was forced to ally with pancake maker Wang Bao, played by newcomer Wang Baoqiang. There were a few challenges in viewing this movie. The subtitles went by too quickly for me; I felt like I was in my own race to finish reading to the end of the sentences. I found the acting silly with its highly exaggerated expressions and movements. The scenes were made of slapstick childish humor. I just did not find anything new or funny with this film. I guess there are just some things that are better off not leaving home. Mandarin and Thai language with English subtitles.
1 2/3 stars