I MAY NOT REMEMBER A PERSON’S name, but I am good with remembering faces; yet, I had a hard time recognizing this man who was talking to me in the music store. He called out my name as he walked up to me. I am not attaching any judgment here, simply describing what I saw coming down the aisle. This man had, if I understand the phrase correctly, long dishwater blonde hair that looked oily. It cascaded in waves down the sides of his head. Perched halfway down his nose was a pair of wire rimmed glasses that had lenses that looked smudged and dirty to me. He was wearing an oversized, beige canvas jacket that had frayed edges and a couple of discolored spots on it. The jeans he was wearing were extremely faded and were so worn at the knees that you could see the white threading crisscrossing in the fabric. His shoes were so dirty it looked to me as if he had been trudging through a long road of mud. As I watched his face get nearer to me, I tried placing where I had seen it before. There was something familiar about it; I had a feeling that I must have known him from a long time ago. WE WERE FACE TO FACE WHEN he asked me how I was doing. I said fine but he must have seen the bewildered look on my face because he told me his name. As soon as I heard it, memories of him flooded into my mind. I did know him because we went to school together. So, you will better understand, let me tell you about him. He wasn’t a jock, did not play sports, but he was always trim. His hair back then was a lighter shade of blonde and was thick and cut short. I don’t remember him ever wearing glasses back then; maybe he only used them when he was studying at home. Many of the students in his class considered him a Brainiac; though, he never flaunted his high intelligence, at least he did not around me. A lot of us thought he would become a scientist or philosopher. I remember him always having a paperback book in his hand. So, you can sort of get the idea how shocked I was to see such a different version of him. As we were conversing, I kept wondering what had happened to him that caused such a drastic change in appearance and mannerisms. I think I found the answer while watching this Academy Awards and film festival winner. WITH HIS NEW GOVERNMENT POSITION ROBERT Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra, Ant-Man franchise), did not realize the impact his new mission would have on his family. With Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, 21 Grams) as Javier Rodriguez, Don Cheadle (The Guard, Traitor) as Montel Gordon, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Mask of Zorro franchise) as Helena Ayala and Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop, Crossing Jordan-TV) as Eduardo Ruiz; this dramatic crime thriller took me a short time to separate and connect all the characters among its three story lines. The large cast was full of top notch acting that ran the gambit of emotions. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Magic Mike), I felt he did a masterful job of keeping the stories moving forward and blending in easily with each other. There were several intense scenes with blood, yet I did not find the violence was in excess. Once I found the rhythm of this picture, I was totally in and lost the concept of time; things kept happening and changing without me losing track once. I especially enjoyed the way the subject was broken down so each story line could focus on a particular aspect of it. Watching this film, I could not help wondering if my assumptions about my old classmate were closer to truth than I first thought.
3 ½ stars
THE FIRST THING THAT CAME TO mind when I saw him at a party, was remembering how greedy he was when he was a little kid. Now before you say a lot of small children did greedy things, let me tell you what I thought about this one. When I was small there was not one candy dish, I passed up without taking a piece or two of candy. This kid was different. He would take a piece of candy; but when no one was looking, he would go back and load up his pockets with several pieces. Have I convinced you about him yet? I remember there was a dinner and we were all sitting around the dining room table. There was one roll left in a basket on the table; an adult was reaching for the basket when this greedy kid quickly made a grab for the bread. It did not matter that he had not finished the roll on his plate; he had to make sure he could get another one. He got scolded for being so rude, but he did not care because when he grabbed the roll, he made sure to take a bite out of it before putting it down on his plate, next to his other half eaten roll. I am telling you; he was not a nice little boy. NOW YEARS LATER HERE I WAS having a meal with him being present. We were all eating at a restaurant and it was determined that we would be splitting the bill. It was easier to divide it by the amount of people instead of breaking down what each person ordered. As the waitress took our orders, I noticed pretty much everyone was ordering similar things. When it came time for him to tell the waitress what he wanted, he ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. I was still looking at the menu at the time, so I saw the price. He also ordered an alcoholic drink. Because people were talking no one noticed or if they did, it probably did not register with them that he was ordering an expensive dish. Part of me wanted to say something, but I decided to keep my mouth shut. And if I needed any more proof to validate my belief about him, when the breadbasket on the table had only one item left in it, he grabbed the last piece despite not finishing the bread he still had on his dinner plate. Some people, like him, are born greedy; others learn it. Feel free to see what you think about the main characters in this dramatic, crime thriller. WHEN THREE MEN DISCOVERED A CRASHED plane in the woods, they found two things inside: a dead pilot and millions in cash. Each of them had an idea on what to do next. With Bill Paxton (Twister, Apollo 13) as Hank, Bridget Fonda (Single White Female, Lake Placid) as Sarah, Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa franchise, The Man Who Wasn’t There) as Jacob, Brent Briscoe (The Green Mile, Sling Blade) as Lou and Chelcie Ross (Basic Instinct, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Carl; this film festival winning, Oscar nominated movie was a solid production. It was refreshing to watch a character driven story that was well acted and direct. I found myself getting hooked into the plot early and enjoyed all the twists and turns along the way. The cast truly looked connected and in rhythm with each other as their emotions went on full display. Being an “older” film, I enjoyed seeing the sets and outdoor scenes that depicted a different period of time. Lastly, it always amazes me what greed can do to a person and because of that, I was especially curious watching how it would play a part in this thought-provoking drama.
3 ¼ stars
IT SOUNDED LIKE A FUN TIME, so me and a group of friends decided to sign up for it. A charity was holding an event at a large amusement park that was about an hour’s drive away. They had rented out the park for the evening and planned on having games, music, dancing and entertainment besides the rides. I figured it would be less of a hassle to get around the park than on an average weekend day with the big crowds. Also, because they would be serving alcohol in the park, no one under 18 would be allowed. My friends and I were excited about the prospects of having an easier time riding the big attraction rides multiple times. Usually because the lines were so long for the well-known rides, one might be able to go on it only once due to time constraints. I for one do not like waiting in line for over an hour just to ride an attraction for less than one minute. My only concern was the weather; I was hoping there would be no chance of rain, causing the park to shut down some of their rides. Each of us were getting excited as the date got closer. ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT, with a clear blue sky drifting towards twilight, we piled into one car and headed out on the road towards the amusement park. I was the driver for the evening since I did not care for alcohol. While we were making our way there, we decided to come up with a game plan on how to get as many of the “big” rides in while still taking part in the charity’s planned activities. A quick survey showed most of us were excited to tackle the park’s top roller coasters first. I had heard the newest roller coaster was the ultimate thrill ride because it not only spun and swerved around the track, it also plummeted down to an underground tunnel. Some of my friends were planning on doing that ride more than once; while I figured I would go find a less stressful ride, one that didn’t have spinning as a main component. The fastest spinning I can tolerate is the speed of a merry-go-round. Our excitement increased by the time I pulled the car into the parking lot. With tickets in hand, we headed inside the park to carry out our strategy. As we got to the first roller coaster, I was the first one to notice it was not running. Maybe it was broken? We moved onto our 2ndchoice and discovered the same thing; it too was not running. Paying attention now, as we were walking around, we saw many of the “big” rides were shut down. All the excitement we had built up melted into disappointment. I experienced a similar reaction while watching this mystery thriller. DURING A TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM A GROUP of random strangers took refuge in a motel. They thought they would be safe for the night until one of the guests was found dead. With John Cusack (Cell, Grosse Pointe Blank) as Ed, Ray Liotta (Something Wild, Shades of Blue-TV) as Rhodes, Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards, Griffin & Phoenix) as Paris, John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Pardon) as Larry and Alfred Molina (Saint Judy, Frida) as Dr. Malick; this film festival winner was a good old fashioned thriller in the same vein as an Agatha Christie story. I thought the cast did a decent job with their acting, despite the disconnected script. Not that I did not enjoy watching this movie, I did; but I felt let down as the script started winding down to its conclusion. I thought the filming and sets added an extra level of anxiety and dread to the written words. During the picture, I found myself getting into the story with its plot twists and suspense. If only that level experienced in the beginning had lasted all the way to the end.
2 ¾ stars
WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN FOR a flashlight; it was dumb of me not to think of one. I was visiting a friend out of state, who thought it would be a cool idea to climb a mountain. It was nothing like the Rockies, but it was high enough. We were able to drive up part of it, park, then follow on foot a trail to get to higher ground. Up until that point everything was going fine. The vegetation was thick all around us which made our surroundings cooler in temperature and darker. I was okay since the day had been hot and sunny. Because we were making our way in subdued light, we kept assuming it was still bright outside, and this was our first mistake. As we were ducking under branches and constantly checking the ground for solid footing, we did not realize our ascent was going slower than anticipated. Neither of us thought about the challenges we would face by trying to crawl down in the darkness of night. I THINK IT WAS ME WHO was getting cold first and hungry. We had reached a substantial height where we could see the city glowing in the distance. All we had with us was water; I had wished I had brought a piece of fruit or a granola bar. We decided to turn back by retracing our steps to get back to a trail and then to our car. It did not take long for me to realize we were in trouble. It was nighttime and neither of us could see the ground clearly enough. There were multiple times where one of us thought we had solid footing but then the ground/rock gave away and we would stumble or fall. I fell and scraped the palms of my hands. With no sense of direction, only knowing we had to go down, we were lost. The area was not known for wildlife; however, that did not stop my brain from imagining a multitude of scary creature encounters. The longer we remained stuck on the mountain, the more we were freaking out. After multiple tries and retreats, we finally found a trail. By the time we returned to the car, we had logged nearly 10 hours in total crawling on the mountain. Ever since then, I have always felt an uneasiness whenever I find myself in a remote area. Whether it is in rugged terrain or wide-open spaces, my imagination kicks into high gear on what things could happen to me. This will explain my anxiousness as I watched this dramatic, crime thriller. WITH YOUNG WOMEN GOING MISSING in an area of Alaska, the only lead Jack Holcombe, played by Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off), had was a junkie named Cindy Paulson, played by Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Dog Days) and she did not want to be involved with any part of his investigation. With John Cusack (High Fidelity, Love & Mercy) as Robert Hansen, Dean Norris (Total Recall, The Book of Henry) as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven and Gia Mantegna (The Prince, Criminal Minds-TV) as Debbie Peters; this film festival nominee’s story was based on actual events. For that reason, I found this movie creepier than usual. The main leads were quite convincing in the story; in fact, I was impressed with Vanessa’s work in particular. The filming of this picture made the feelings of isolation and despair more prominent throughout the scenes. It almost felt like it was hanging in the air. The story basically was a good guy vs bad guy set-up; I only wished the writers had delved deeper into the characters. It would have made for a more intense viewing, in my opinion. I was already uneasy about remote areas and this movie has now solidified my feelings about them.
2 ¼ stars
WHITE HOT, BLINDING HATRED WAS something I rarely encountered for most of my life. The occurrence that comes to mind, where I came face to face with hatred, was when I was on vacation. Several years ago, I had traveled out of state and was exploring the main downtown area of a capital city, when I came upon a peaceful demonstration or rally. I was trying to stay on the sidewalk but there were too many people standing around, so I stepped into the street. As I made my way through, I came upon a grassy area nestled between two buildings. There was orange colored netting, the kind you would see at construction sites, strung across the front length. Behind it was a group of individuals that were holding up signs that they bobbed up and down, while they were pointing and shouting at the demonstrators walking by. I realized they would take me for a demonstrator because I was walking in the street. Normally I would not give it a second thought; however, when I started reading what their signs were saying, I contemplated moving to the other side of the street. Their signs were filled with vile rhetoric, along with some attempted colorful artwork. Someone nearby must have said something to them because suddenly, they started yelling and swearing at the crowd that was around me. The intensity of their yelling and screaming was rapid, to the point I had to go off course and find a side street to bypass the turmoil. THE HATRED ON DISPLAY AND the horrible things that group was saying has stayed with me for all these years. On that trip I did watch the news to see if I could get an understanding of the issues involving the demonstrators and protesters. I could not understand how someone could get so angry, to the point of screaming out things like wishing a person dead or burning in hell. If the demonstrators were marching to change a perception, a law, or to gain recognition; I wanted to know how that would affect the yelling protesters. Based on the things I heard, I had a feeling the protesters would not accept whatever was taking place. I have gotten angry from time to time; but I cannot see myself ever going to such an extreme level to act upon it in such a way. Yet, I am seeing more extreme displays of hatred the past few years than ever before. Allowing hate to grow and fester will make a person act out in such an extreme way that could be harmful; see for yourself in this dramatic, mystery thriller. BECAUSE OF HIS FORGETFULNESS ZEV Guttman, played by Christopher Plummer (The Last Station, All the Money in the World), had a list of instructions to follow once he escaped from the nursing home. Would he understand what he was supposed to do once he reached his destination? With Kim Roberts (I’m Not There, Rookie Blue-TV) as Paula, Amanda Smith (The Cradle, Hellmington) as Cele, Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Crimes and Misdemeanors) as Max Rosenbaum and Henry Czerny (Ready or Not, Clear and Present Danger) as Charles Guttman; this film festival winner avoided mediocrity due to Christopher’s performance. With such a high level of acting skill, the others in the cast did not stand out as much. I thought the story was intriguing and felt the script provided tense and dramatic moments; however, I would have appreciated the characters being provided with more depth. There were a couple of manipulative and slow scenes, I felt; however, the continual suspense buildup kept my interest up. As I stated earlier, Christopher made this a better film and I was curious to see how hatred could motivate a person to act out in such a way.
TELLING STRANGERS TO TRY HARDER WAS not something that came easy to me, at first. My biggest fear was someone becoming ill or injured in my fitness classes. Honestly, I had simple goals when I started out teaching at health clubs and fitness centers; I wanted people to be safe, have fun and feel good about themselves. If they lost weight or inches or gained muscle mass, I considered it “icing on the cake” so to speak. The goals I set out were easy to achieve despite the wide diversity of people who came to my classes. There were some members who considered class their social hour, where they preferred to catch up with their friends and neighbors. I had members who were so serious about working out they made it known they did not want any distractions from anyone, including me. I remember trying to find a tactful way to encourage some members from using perfume and cologne as part of their workout attire because other members were gagging over the smell of it combined with sweat. No matter who walked into the class, all I wanted was for them to try their best and from my experiences I knew barking orders was not the way I wanted to conduct my classes. WHAT WAS ONE OF MY BIGGEST assets when motivating class participants was my humor; I truly believe this. When I would get the class in position to tackle a challenging movement, I would change my voice to make comments as if I were someone who disliked working out. Along with humor, I would always show a variety of options members could do to achieve the same results. In a yoga class I had a member who could not do a plank pose. I had her start the pose with both of her knees on the mat, explaining she would still gain the benefit of the pose without the struggle. As the weeks passed, I encouraged her to try the same pose with only one knee on the mat. The look on her face when she did it was priceless. Over the course of several months she went from doing the pose on both knees to achieving the traditional pose with only her forearms and toes on the mat. No matter what fitness level a member was at, I tried to get each member to push themselves to go an extra 10 seconds or do the movement two more times; it is all about providing a space where everyone feels safe, accepted and part of a group/team. Under these circumstances, I can push myself to take on harder tasks; however, from watching this dramatic action thriller, I do not know how the men were motivated to do what they had to do. IN 1969 VIET NAM US FORCES WERE ordered to capture a hill from enemy forces. The hill was called Hamburger Hill which the servicemen knew was not meant to be a good name. With Anthony Barrile (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning; Kiss Me, Guido) as Pvt. Vincent “Alphabet” Languilli, Michael Boatman (The Peacemaker, The Good Wife-TV) as Pvt. Ray Motown, Don Cheadle (The Guard, Traitor) as Pvt. Johnny Washburn, Dylan McDermott (Survivor, Reign Over Me) as Sgt. Adam Frantz and Courtney B. Vance (Ben is Back, Dangerous Minds) as Spc. Abraham “Doc” Johnson; this story that was based on true events was intense, with graphic scenes. As far as war films go, I found this one to be close to authentic. It was hard for me to imagine that type of action taking place; however, what I was watching made sense. The acting from the cast was good but this film was all about the action, despite some of it looking a bit dated. Based on the script, I cannot believe how much the men had to endure. Even after the film was over, I still had a hard time imagining what the motivation was that pushed these men on.
HE WAS THE LAST DOCTOR I knew who made house calls and he decided to retire from practice. You could tell there was something different about him as soon as you walked into his waiting room. Where every office waiting room (at least where I have been) had that standard office type furniture and generic posters or health notices hanging on the walls, his waiting area had a variety of wooden chairs that recalled different eras from the past. Hanging on the walls were woodworkers’ tools, crocheted art pieces and photographs of landscapes and waterfalls. One of the things I admired about him was his ability to talk to his patients in simple words to explain difficult issues. I cannot confirm all the reasons he decided to retire; but I had heard he was dissatisfied with the way insurance companies were treating the patients. The story I had heard was about a patient who had a test done that showed elevated figures. The doctor wanted to proceed with another preventative test for confirmation; but the insurance denied the procedure, saying they could only pay for it if the patient had already been diagnosed with having the disease the test was to confirm. This made no sense to me; why would the insurance company deny paying the claim that might provide an opportunity to start preventative treatment on the patient before they got to the point of getting the full-blown disease? THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME I heard about a situation in the medical field that did not make sense to me. I knew a woman who received mixed results on her mammogram. Her doctor wanted to do a procedure that could eliminate the problem and save the breast. When the insurance company was contacted for approval, they denied the procedure. I had heard it was due to the expense; the insurance company suggested the doctor proceed with a full removal of the breast because it would be cheaper in the long run. I cannot begin to tell you how outraged I felt with this information, if it was indeed true. I do not wish to badmouth insurance companies in this review; I am simply retelling the stories that were expressed to me. When I go to the doctor, before they do any type of procedure, I ask them if my insurance plan will cover it. I started doing this after I had been to the skin doctor several years ago and a procedure was done where my insurance would not cover it; the charges had to be fully paid by me. Gratefully I had put money aside and was able to cover the bill in one payment. After seeing this film festival winner, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in the family’s predicament. WHEN TOLD THE COST OF A MEDICAL procedure, a father must find a way to pay for it if he wants to keep a family member alive. With Denzel Washington (The Equalizer franchise, Fences) as John Quincy Archibald, Kimberly Elise (For Colored Girls, Death Wish) as Denise Archibald, Daniel E. Smith (The Bold and The Beautiful-TV, NCIS-TV) as Michael “Mike” Archibald, James Woods (Straw Dogs, White House Down) as Dr. Raymond Turner and Robert Duvall (The Judge, Wild Horses) as Lt. Frank Grimes; this dramatic crime thriller was full of fine acting performances. The script unfortunately was manipulative and obvious; it did not have the creativity to elevate this story to a higher level of freshness and drama. If it was not for the acting skills of the main characters, I might have gotten bored halfway through the movie. The topic is certainly a hot button issue and I feel many individuals could relate to it on some level. This is probably why I remained interested in finding out what was going to happen to the family members in this picture.
2 ½ stars
THE COWBOY BOOTS WERE WHAT TIPPED me off that something was not right. We had broken up several months prior after dating a little over 1 year. Having had no contact between us since the break-up, you can imagine my surprise when I saw them wearing cowboy boots when we bumped into each other at a nightclub. I was alone, waiting to meet friends; but they were with someone who was wearing a cowboy hat. This is why I assumed they were a couple, with their cowboy boots and hat. It was so strange because in the entire time we were together they never expressed or commented favorably on anything country western; whether it was a song, clothing or travel places. If I had to place a label on them, I would say their style was more of a preppy type look. What happened in the past few months that made them change looks, I wondered? It also did not escape me that they were wearing a turquoise jeweled bracelet. Since our breakup did not include any anger or animosity, I went up and said hello to them. We exchanged opening pleasantries and my assumption was confirmed when they introduced me to their cowboy hatted date. Because of my curiosity I commented on the cowboy boots which started a conversation that was surreal to me as they expressed their fondness for all thing’s country western. Who was this person impersonating my former partner? LATER THAT EVENING I LEFT THE nightclub still perplexed by my earlier conversation with my former, who by the way left as soon as I walked away from them. The only thing I could come up with to explain this transformation into country western tastes was due to their new dating situation. Since the new partner was into this genre, my former took it on as their own so they would have something else in common with each other. Whether they liked country western I honestly do not know; to me, I felt they were putting on an act because it was so out of character. Do I consider this type of behavior unusual? Not really, I have seen multiple incidents where one half of a relationship starts to take on the other’s likes and dislikes. I knew a distant relative who was never a prejudiced person; but after they were married, they started becoming prejudiced towards the same things as their spouse. I simply did not get it. It comes across as phony to me and it makes me uncomfortable. This is how I was feeling as I watched what was taking place in this dramatic, mystery thriller. ACCEPTING AN INVITATION TO A DINNER PARTY from his ex-wife had its challenges; however, when arriving at his former home Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green (Upgrade, Spider-Man: Homecoming) found the house was not the only thing that went through a change. With Tammy Blanchard (Into the Woods, The Good Shepherd) as Eden, Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere, In the Morning) as Kira, Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adaline, Game of Thrones-TV) as David and John Carroll Lynch (The Founder, The Architect) as Pruitt; this film festival winner slowly burned its way through the suspenseful scenes. I found the creepiness factor building up while enjoying the cast’s acting out their characters. There were a few places where the story slowed down for me, but I felt the filming of the story kept me interested in finding out what was going on. Because I found the ending portion to be such a stark difference to the rest of the story’s vibe, I was put out a bit; however, the low budget, no frills production still intrigued me. After watching this movie all I can say is, I am grateful my former significant other only became interested in everything country western.
2 ½ stars
MY DECIDING TIME USUALLY TOOK PLACE by the third date, but there never was nor would I have ever professed my love for them by that time. Even if the three dates had been the best time of my life, I would never be at a point where I would say such a thing to someone I had only recently met. So, you can imagine my surprise when my friend told me the guy, she had met, expressed his love for her by their 3rddate. Before I uttered my shock, I did ask her how she felt when he said that to her; just in case she did not find it odd like I did. Gratefully she thought it was weird and it made her uncomfortable. I told her to end things immediately; I had seen enough movies and news stories to know things could easily spiral into dangerous territory. When I expressed my concerns, she agreed and said she was not going to talk or go out with him anymore. If he should call, she would tell him she does not feel their relationship can go any further. I told her to be prepared to block him on her phone and social media platforms, because you just never know how these things will go. THE CLOSEST I EVER GOT TO feeling uncomfortable in a new dating situation was when, after 2 dates, the person asked me how our relationship would work. When I looked at them with a confused expression and asked to explain what they meant, they wanted to know where we would have “quality” time within my work schedule, because they were already feeling like I did not have a lot of time to spend with them. I know, this was after having only 2 dates; can you believe it?!?! Right then and there I told them I did not see us having any quality time together, with a wish of good luck in their search for someone who would be a better fit. Compared to some of the horror stories I have heard, I know I was lucky that this example was one of my weirdest experiences. A friend of mine met someone online and fell into an emotional relationship with them for several months without ever meeting each other in person. I do not remember the details because it was such a foreign concept to me; however, I do recall how my friend found out the individual was married with children. I am sure most of us have or know someone who has experienced this same scenario; however, the one in this horror thriller was new to me. THE OFFER OF $1000.00 FOR ONE day’s work was to good to pass up for Aaron, played by Patrick Brice (Leave Me Like You Found Me, The Overnight), who could really use the money. All he needed to do was follow the subject and film them, no matter what they were doing. This film festival winner also starred Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister, The One I Love) as Josef. Mark shared the writing credits with Patrick who also was the director of this suspenseful movie. What I liked about this story was the way the suspense got built up. It felt to me like pieces of the story were being put together in a puzzle. The two actors were so natural in their roles that at times, I wondered if they were adlibbing their dialog. As for the script itself, I found it somewhat predictable or maybe it would be better if I say, it made the characters do some stupid things at times, that I found hard to believe. I did catch my breath however at the twists in the story. This was a simple barebones production that provided a decent punch for the viewer. It also was not an endorsement for answering any ads.
2 ½ stars