THERE IS NOTHING LIKE EATING A wonderful meal and having leftovers from it. I am one of those people who loves to eat cold leftovers. Not every dish from a meal, but usually the main and side dishes I eat cold. Oh, and there is of course my favorite: cold pizza. Whether from a restaurant or homemade, having pizza right out of the refrigerator is my version of a delicacy. In the realm of home cooking I know there are times where one has a little bit left over from the food preparation. If it is some form of a soup or stew base, the cook can freeze it for later use. If it is a batter (remember I am all about desserts) there are multiple ways of using the small amount left in fun, new ways. One of my favorite memories of baking when I was a kid was watching the leftover dough get rolled out onto a floured surface then cut into 4-inch strips. The strips would get sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before they were rolled into crescent shapes and baked. They looked like fingers sometimes, but they were oh so tasty. NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE HAVING leftovers is not a good thing. This has happened to me where I bought an item that had to be assembled and I wound up having extra remaining pieces. There was nothing in the instructions about there being extra items; but of course, in my brain I wondered if the item would break right away. It would be like taking apart let us say a car engine and when you put it back together you had a couple of extra pieces. This would happen to a friend of mine who was into rebuilding engines. He did not seem to think it was a problem, but I was always nervous riding in any of his cars. Another example would be home remodeling where you figured out the amount of tile you needed for a floor or wall project and wound up with extra boxes that were non-returnable. I assumed that is what happened when I moved into my place; there was a stack of bricks left in the basement. Since I could not just throw them out in the garbage for pickup, I left the pile there for a few years until a friend of mine was able to dispose of them for me. So, you see there are some leftovers that can produce good feelings while others are just an annoyance. This horror, mystery thriller would fall into the latter category. WORKING AT THE HOSPITAL MORGUE MEGAN REED, played by Shay Mitchell (Mother’s Day, Pretty Little Liars-TV), felt she had seen everything since she had been a police officer. But when the door to the cold chamber drawer kept opening, Megan was about to see things she could not imagine. With Grey Damon (Oldboy, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) as Andrew Kurtz, relative newcomer Kirby Johnson as Hannah Grace, Nick Thune (Venom, Knocked Up) as Randy and Stana Katic (Castle-TV, The Spirit) as Lisa Roberts; the story to this film felt like parts left over from other stories that were pieced together. There was nothing new here that I have not seen before in some form. The script was lifeless, filled with clichés. Usually with films of this genre, I would hear audience members utter something at a scary scene; there was dead silence throughout the theater, which was telling. I was not familiar with any of the actors; but if I were them, I would omit listing this film from their resumes. Simply put I could not wait for this movie to be over. The only frightening thing to me was the film studio that gave the okay to make this picture.
1 ½ stars
IT WAS GOING TO BE A NIGHT AT the theater, to see a stage version of a classic musical movie. I remembered parts of the film and its iconic soundtrack. Back when the movie was made the studio used actors who were already considered legendary figures. The musical I was going to see now got its start on Broadway; I was seeing a version of it at a popular, regional theater. One big difference between the two productions I already knew and that was the regional theater staged their shows in the round, where the stage was in the middle of the theater and the audience sat all around it. This was not going to be a problem since I had been to this theater several times and all their shows were staged with the audience in mind, making sure the cast had plenty of opportunities to face each side of the audience. Sitting in my seat with the lights dimmed, the orchestra began to play. I listened to the familiar music, recalling the scene where the music was used in the movie. From there the musicians began to play something that was unfamiliar to me; I had no recollection of it. Little did I know there was more to come. MAYBE PART OF THE BLAME FALLS ON me for having high expectations. You see, I expected this production to have the same high caliber of singing and dancing as the movie. The male lead’s singing voice was not able to bring the same joyful power as the actor from the film. This one particular song from the movie that still gets airplay today was not given its fair amount of stage time; the cast only sang one refrain from it. I could not believe it. After looking forward to seeing this movie come to life, so to speak; I was let down by what I was watching on stage. This production was nothing like the movie. I do not know how you feel about it, but I do not like when things are loosely created out of established stories. If they would have given this stage show a different title then I would not have had the same reaction, except for the male lead’s singing. Call it whatever you want but do not sell it as a similar production based on the classic story. It is not always a good idea to introduce some random idea that has no place to reside in a story just to freshen it up. This action adventure picture is proof of it. RETURNING FROM THE WAR FRONT ROBIN of Loxley, played by Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Legend), came back to a home in ruins and a girlfriend who no longer was there. Adding in the poverty he was seeing all around him, there was only one thing Robin could do; he would have to go undercover. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Little John, Ben Mendelssohn (Animal Kingdom, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sheriff of Nottingham, Eve Hewson (Enough Said, Bridge of Spies) as Marian and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Private War) as Will Scarlet; this thriller was silly, both in the script and visually. I dislike when writers introduce things into the story that were never part of the time period. An example here would be a version of a Gatling gun for arrows; how in the world did the writers come up with this for Robin Hood? I guess they were too busy creating elaborate fight scenes. The miscasting of Taron and Eve was evident since there was no chemistry between the two. Dressed in odd clothing and ridiculous special effects this film succeeded in one thing: it robbed me of my available time.
1 2/3 stars
FROM THE CLASSES I ATTENDED AND the personal stories that were shared with me, I would have thought after all this time I would have a better understanding about the parent/child relationship. Even to this day I still can be surprised by the things I see and hear regarding children and their parents. There is a mother I know who was told by her daughter that the only way she could see her grandchildren would be if she goes into therapy. That is all I know but I can assume something intense happened between the daughter and her mother. There is a father I know who has many prejudices; essentially, he doesn’t like anyone. His daughter is the complete opposite, gratefully. It has come to the point where the daughter tries to avoid social functions with her Dad because she knows he will be offending someone before the evening is over. This is the thing that fascinates me; where the daughter turns out to be a complete opposite to her father, there are other children who turn into their parent(s). How does that happen? I know a man who has the same prejudices as his deceased father; it makes me wonder what type of environment the boy was raised in. As I have said before, no one is born being a racist, sexist or prejudiced; it is something that gets taught. NOW WHEN IT COMES TO BULLYING and abuse, studies have shown a majority of those who act these out were themselves victims to it. I believe it because I have seen it happen. There was a kid in my neighborhood who was a bully; he took pleasure in tormenting other kids. It turns out his dad picked on him, hitting or slapping him besides calling him names. Of course, it doesn’t excuse the son’s behavior and I am guessing the father was abused or bullied when he was a kid. When I was in college one of my classes spent time looking at ways to stop this vicious cycle of abusers creating more abusers. Think about it; parents are supposed to be the protectors of their children. It seems to me when something is off, the home environment becomes a breeding ground for the unhealthy behavior to flourish and be handed down generation to generation. I find it awful and sad. There was a time in school where I felt every human being needed to go into therapy; to help them understand themselves and become of sound mind and body. This certainly would apply to the sisters in this dramatic, crime thriller. HAVING A REPUTATION FOR BEING A BRILLIANT computer hacker; how then was Lisbeth Salander, played by Claire Foy (First Man, Unsane), set up so easily? It would have to be from someone she knew. With Beau Gadsdon (The Crown-TV, Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story) as young Lisbeth, Sverrir Gudnason (A Serious Game, Borg vs McEnroe) as Mikael Blomkvist, Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Selma) as Ed Needham and Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049, The Best Offer) as Camilla Salander; this movie was mostly all about the action. I thought Claire did a fine job in the role, but it did not stretch her due to the weak script. By the end of the story I found the script to be silly and a letdown. There were a few exciting scenes; but I found most of the acting one dimensional, without much focus to it. While watching some scenes I thought it was odd that Lisbeth could be easily followed considering she was such a computer “genius.” If the producers plan to churn out this level of work, then we need an intervention to make them stop.
1 ¾ stars
MOST EVERYTHING SHE WAS SAYING I understood, but I did not have her gift for figuring out how to alter the taste of home cooked food. Our conversation started when I mentioned I tried a new recipe. The food I made was too spicy for me; my mouth was tingling with heat from each bite I took. She asked me why I did not add this certain ingredient to dull the heat. I explained I had never heard about it, that I just followed the recipe which was new to me. From there we got into a conversation about the different things one can do to make your food taste sweeter or saltier, spicy or plain and so on. After she mentioned her different examples for change, I asked her if she follows the recipe when she is making the food. She told me she glances at the recipe but changes the measurements and items. And that was the major difference between us; there is no way I can cook like her. I must follow the recipe exactly; I cannot cook by putting a little touch of this or a small bit of that into the food preparation. Still somewhat new to this whole cooking thing, there is no way I can experiment and hope the meal will be good. THE SAME THING GOES FOR RESTAURANT food. Unless there is something seriously wrong with the food I ordered, I will not return it. Granted I am always making changes to most things I order from a menu due to personal tastes or allergies; so, when my order is brought to the table, I expect it to be to my liking. Other people may do things differently. I have one friend who always returns their order; it is either not hot enough or according to them it has no taste. There is another friend who rarely returns their meal. She keeps a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. If she doesn’t care too much for the way her food tastes she will take out her hot sauce and shake some of it on top of her meal. No matter what the item is she will add her hot sauce. To me, just because you like the taste of heat doesn’t make the meal better; if anything, I would say it makes it tolerable. Some of the things she has ordered I would not touch with a 10-foot pole, but she doesn’t care. As long as she experiences that burning sensation in her mouth, she will eat anything. I would have to say the same about today’s action thriller. If you just want to see action and don’t care about the script, then this would be your movie. HIS FIRST COMISSION AS A SUBMARINE commander and Captain Joe Glass, played by Gerald Butler (Den of Thieves, Gods of Egypt), found himself in the middle of an international crisis that was about to go nuclear. With Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, The Space Between Us) as Charles Donnegan, Common (The Hate U Give, Suicide Squad) as John Fisk and Carter MacIntyre (Drop Dead Diva-TV, Benched-TV mini-series) as XO Brian Edwards; this movie was made for someone who just wants to feel thrills without concerns about the script or acting. I found the story silly as it seemed farfetched while jumping from U.S. Navy Seals scenes to submarine scenes to Russian ones. The script was a catch all for the films previously made from this type of genre; the thread that kept it together was the thrills for me. I enjoyed sitting in my seat and not thinking about what I was watching on the screen. Oh no, maybe I am turning into my friend who can tolerate mediocre food by splashing some hot sauce on top of it or in my case a smattering of thrills.
THERE ARE CERTAIN EVENTS IN OUR life that we can never let go of or forget. I have a relative who has never liked clowns; whether in person or on television, this relative had a strong reaction the first time she saw a clown. She and her family went one day to a local carnival that came into town, pitching their tents and rides in a nearby neighborhood. They were walking around, checking out all the rides, when a man dressed up as a clown spotted them and started to make his way towards them. Waving his hands in the air while laughing out a “helloooo”, the little girl looked at him and let out a shriek. Before her parents could pick her up and console her, she picked up a rock and threw it at the clown. The rock fell short, but it made the clown stop in his tracks as the little girl ran behind her parents. It took some time to calm their daughter down, deciding it was best to leave the carnival. I am here to tell you that little girl has never forgotten that clown and wants nothing to do with any clowns even up to this day. THAT LITTLE GIRL IS NOT THE only one who carries a fear for something from one’s childhood. One thing I am still afraid of are bats; not the baseball kind, the flying ones. When I was a little boy I was traumatized by a bat that got into our house. I still remember exactly when it happened. It was an early Saturday morning and I was the first one who had woken up. I had gone into the living room to turn on the television, so I could watch Saturday morning cartoons. As I was lying on the floor with my pillow and blanket I heard a sound above my head. It sounded like loose clapping. When I looked up I saw a large, dark thing flying around the upper window panes. I freaked out and let out a scream as I covered my head with my blanket and raced back to my bedroom. My yelling woke up the family as you can imagine. Everyone came running out to look for me. I never saw but heard it took a broom and plastic trash bag to get the bat out of the house. Another thing that has bothered me all these years are louvered closet doors; all because of this movie franchise. IT HAS BEEN 40 YEARS AND a day hasn’t gone by where Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, A Fish Called Wanda), hasn’t thought about the man who almost killed her. Her nightmare isn’t about to end just yet. This horror thriller also starred Judy Greer (27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30) as Karen, Andi Matichak (Miles, Evol) as Allyson, Haluk Bilginer (Ben-Hur, The International) as Dr. Sartain and Will Patton (The Postman, The Punisher) as Officer Hawkins. This was one of the best sequels I have seen this year. I thought the writers created a believable chapter for this film franchise. There was a mixture of nostalgia, campiness and old school thrills in the story. I feel those who at least remember parts the first movie will better enjoy this picture. There were a few brief bloody scenes, but I appreciated many of them were more suspense filled with visual clues than actual violent gore. I did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did; for me, I felt most of my emotions were tied into my memories of my life back when I saw the first film. Which probably has kept fueled my dislike of louvered closet doors all these years.
IS THERE ANYONE WHO DOES NOT wonder where those stains and marks come from in a hotel room? I for one cannot ignore them when I see them. This is why I am never 100% comfortable when I am staying at a hotel. On a trip to the southwest I stayed at a hotel that was one of the tallest buildings in the city. When I walked into my room everything looked fine. Just like most hotels I have stayed in; this one had a bed, 2 nightstands, an armoire, a desk, an easy chair and a floor lamp. When I walked into the bathroom I was immediately horrified because there appeared to be a blood-stained streak on the shower curtain. My mind was flooded with scenarios that could have caused blood to get splattered in the bathroom. I was not going to attempt to clean it, nor could I simply ignore it. If that was not enough, I decided to relieve my bladder before going downstairs to request a room change. When I went to flush the toilet, the water gurgled inside the bowl but never flushed down; it looked as if the water was simmering close to a boil. I wasn’t about to wonder what was causing the toilet not to flush. The room and in turn the hotel creeped me out. ON ANOTHER TRIP I BOOKED A ROOM in this huge, old majestic hotel. I do not remember the year the building was constructed, but it was originally built as an apartment building. With terra cotta appointments on the façade and a lobby that looked like it came out of 1920’s detective story, I thought the hotel was cool looking. The elevators with jet black doors and silver trim creaked as they traveled up the floors, slightly unsteady like an elderly patient. When I walked into the room I was met by a wall that had worn-out flocked wallpaper. As soon as one entered the room they had to make an immediate right turn to go into the living space. It appeared the original apartments must have been carved up to form the hotel rooms; the room had odd shaped corners and the bathroom door nearly grazed the toilet bowl when it was being closed. There was something about the hotel that made me think about the original residences who must have resided here earlier. During my stay little things happened such as the lightbulb burning out and the water faucet groaning whenever it was turned on. I stayed there despite the odd sounds and my concerns for my safety and hygiene. But I will tell you this; I would rather stay in either of the hotels I mentioned than the one in this mystery thriller. A GROUP OF STRANGERS CHECKED INTO the El Royale but not all of them would check out. This dramatic crime film starred Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Father Daniel Flynn, Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Mr. Selfridge-TV) as Darlene Sweet, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Emily Summerspring, Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, Million Dollar Arm) as Laramie Seymour Sullivan and Chris Hemsworth (Thor franchise, 12 Strong) as Billy Lee. I enjoyed the cast and the diversity of the characters they portrayed. This picture had a great look to it with a smoldering script, which allowed every actor a chance in the spotlight. I also liked the way the pieces of the story fit together; however halfway through I started to get bored. It seemed as if scenes were written with less detail and emotion. Sometimes it appeared shocking twists were put in for the sake of shocking the viewer. For me this was not as much of a thriller as a slow burn and I had no desire to book a room at this hotel.
2 ¼ stars
IF YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD THE younger me that I would grow up and become a fitness instructor, I would have laughed in your face. I was far from being an athlete, let alone a physically active student. Reading, studying, watching TV/movies and eating were my dominant activities. Sure, I hung out with my friends all the time, but it wasn’t to toss or kick a ball. Pizza played an important part in my life back then. So, imagine the surprise some childhood friends and students had when we met at our recent class reunion. Hearing that I teach fitness not only shocked them but made a few laugh out loud, since they knew I had flunked PE twice. And I should mention back then I was much heavier. When I look at the course of my life I can pinpoint the exact moment when my mind opened up to physical fitness; it was a friend of mine who asked to join her at an aerobics class in the city. The class never felt like I was working out. Instead, it felt like I was dancing to the music being played. It was from that moment in time I shifted and became enthusiastic over fitness. THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE I HAVE encountered who stunned me when they mentioned what type of work they did for a living. At an art fair I met an artist who spent 20 years of her life being a corporate lawyer. She described the grueling hours she put in and the non-stop traveling she had to endure. After all those years she came to the realization that she was not happy with her job; so, she started pursuing something she had always loved doing, painting. After a time, she took a chance and entered an art show, where she wound up getting a first-place ribbon. From there she went full force by quitting her job and devoting all her time to painting. The story was inspirational to me. I find it fascinating how people wind up in their occupations. From that school reunion I mentioned earlier I discovered one student is a PhD, doing medical research on diseases; another person is a theater reviewer overseas. You certainly cannot judge an individual based on their occupation and vice versa, you can’t judge a person’s job based on their physical appearance. This holds true for the main character in this dramatic, action thriller. AFTER HER HUSBAND AND DAUGHTER WERE gunned down Riley North, played by Jennifer Garner (Miracles from Heaven; Love, Simon), wanted justice. Unfortunately, the justice system would not serve her well. With John Gallagher Jr (10 Cloverfield Lane, Short Term 12) as Detective Stan Carmichael, John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster) as Detective Moises Beltran, Juan Pablo (The 33, Shot Caller) as Diego and Annie Ilonzeh (He’s Just Not That into You, Person of Interest-TV) as FBI agent Lisa Inman; Jennifer appeared to be going back to her roots from her television show. I was looking forward to seeing her in this character, but I was surprised by the blood and violence; it was somewhat graphic. Though the fight scenes were okay, the script was weak. Just the idea of this one character taking on a large crime organization was a far stretch. Maybe if the writers had cut back some of the violence and devoted more time to building up her character I might have bought more into the story. But as it stands, this revenge film was not special; there was nothing shown that I had not seen before. I do not know but maybe the writers’ former classmates are wondering how these students became writers.
1 ¾ stars
THERE ARE SOME SITUATIONS AND PLACES that cause us to be fearful or simply creep us out. I get uncomfortable when, sitting in a movie theater with only a handful of patrons, someone enters and sits directly behind me. Most of the seats are empty, yet they choose the seat right in back of me; my mind immediately flashes images of what they could do to me. Have a wire loop to choke me; cut my throat with a knife; you get the picture. Yes, I see a lot of movies; I get these types of visuals immediately. It isn’t pretty. I feel the same way when I am on public transportation and the person sits close to me, though there are vacant seats all over the bus or train car. Oh, I almost forgot; standing in line and you can feel the person’s breath on your neck because they are standing in your personal space. On the other hand, there are people who do not like clowns; everyone has their own personal list of things that scare or make them feel uncomfortable. MY FEARS AND THINGS I FIND creepy predominately come from people; however, there are many individuals who get scared by places. I had no idea my garage was a scary place for example. For me, a garage is just a place to park my car; I do not devote a bit of time in the maintenance of it. Yet a friend of mine, I recently discovered, does not like walking into my garage because there are visible cobwebs in it. Nothing that one would accidently walk into, but they can be seen on the windows and rafters. Honestly, I never gave them a second thought, but my friend took one look at the cobwebs and decided to wait in the alley until I could pull my car out. I never knew I had a fear of this but on a trip I took a few years ago, I started getting scared driving on a deserted remote road. I wondered what would happen if the car broke down because there was no sign of life anywhere. Stranded with no cellular service, no gas station, no road lights, all by myself; I ask you, how would you feel in such a situation? You must admit it certainly looks like the start to a horror movie. I had the same feeling and thoughts as I started to watch this mystery, horror thriller. WHEN A NUN WAS FOUND DEAD hanging from a window of her monastery, the Vatican dispatched Father Burke, played by Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), who had some experiences in such types of situations. With Taissa Farmiga (The Bling Ring, American Horror Story-TV) as Sister Irene, Jonas Bloquet (3 Days to Kill, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) as Frenchie, Bonnie Aarons (The Princess Diaries franchise, The Fighter) as The Nun and Ingrid Bisu (The Zero Theorem, Outbound) as Sister Oana; this movie had all the earmarks of being a real scary story. The set pieces, the music, being part of The Conjuring franchise; everything was in place, including the excellent acting from Taissa, for me to get into this picture. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. There were a few scenes with potential, but the writers never took it any further out of being a predictable setup. There was nothing real “jump in your seat” worthy; though there were a few creepy scenarios. By the end of the film I was left with a “meh” feeling. I must tell you, in my opinion I feel as if the whole Conjuring story line has reached the end of the line. It was a well-done horror movie in the beginning, but now with this installment there doesn’t seem to be anything creepy left to tell us.
1 ¾ stars
WHILE LOOKING AT OLD PHOTOGRAPHS I could not stop asking myself what was I thinking to wear such a thing. I understand part of the fashion industry’s mission is to constantly update clothing trends, so consumers will buy clothes for every season of every year. If all we wore was a pair of blue jeans and a plain cotton shirt, the clothing manufacturers would not last long. As far as I am concerned there is no reason to ever wear pleated pants; this is just my opinion. The clothing choices I saw in my old photos could be classified more as a fad. I do not mean to disrespect any culture or group of people, but there really was no reason I needed to wear puka shells/beads around my neck. There was a time where wearing puka beads was considered cool; I have no idea why but as I saw other people wearing them, I decided I needed them. Another fad I went through was Nehru and surfer shirts. I cannot remember when these items were a fad but all of us wore them. In fact, it was extra cool to wear a Nehru collared shirt with puka beads around the neck. Please do not judge me but at one point I even made my own puka bead necklaces. IN WRITING THIS REVIEW TODAY I looked up other fads from the past and came up with a variety of items. There was the Slap Bracelet, Garbage Pail Kids, Push Pops and Jelly shoes. Most fads, such as the ones listed, were innocuous; they are what I consider a singular fad because you do not need anyone to participate along with you. However, there are some fads that have a darker side. What may start out as a fad could turn into a cult. I have to wonder if the flash mob videos that were posted online was the spark that lead individuals to start posting more and more daring or unusual events. Do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It was a novel idea created for a good cause; but, do you think it could be the first step in people trying more difficult and dangerous challenges to gain notoriety? The subject of today’s film started as a fad that I saw in the news led two Wisconsin 12-year old girls to lure their friend into the woods to stab her multiple times, just to impress this fictional character who stars in this horror, mystery film. WHILE A GROUP OF FRIENDS START to check out the internet stories about the Slender Man, one of them goes missing. Starring Joey King (White House Down, The Conjuring) as Wren, Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair-TV, Bunheads-TV) as Hallie, Jaz Sinclair (Paper Towns, When the Bough Breaks) as Chloe, Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic, Oculus) as Katie and newcomer Alex Fitzalan as Tom; I cannot think of one positive thing to say about this incredibly, poorly thought out movie. The acting was basic; add in the dull script and it was close to painful to sit and watch this mess. I thought the special effects were a total joke. Taking a telephoto camera lens and moving it quickly back and forth from near to far did not produce anything close to scariness for the scene; if anything, it simply made me dizzy. I was not familiar with the Slender Man; but if one should be fearful of him, this picture did not place him in the proper light. There was nothing scary or suspenseful in the story. If this character of the Slender Man was supposed to be sinister, then the writers completely missed the point. My deepest wish is for this fad to go away; I never want to see a sequel or hear about him again.
1 ½ stars