SITTING comfortably behind the steering wheel, cruising down the road, the celebrity driver was expounding on the finer things about the automobile. It almost looked like this was their main means of transportation. Now I do not care if a celebrity wants to earn income by doing a commercial; everyone deserves to make a living. Will this person persuade me to buy that type of car when I am in the market for a new vehicle? The answer is absolutely not. In fact that goes for any celebrity endorsement. Though I am a big fan of movies and such, I am well aware of the financial inequity between celebrities and let us say teachers. Not that there is anything wrong with making as much money as you can; however, I have a hard time with anyone who uses their position of wealth as a bully pulpit to tell everyone else what they should do. I have experienced this in my own circle of friends and family, where those who were financially well off starting acting like they knew everything and the rest of us were not as smart. That type of behavior is offensive to me. THE area where I can support celebrities is when they use their wealth and status to help a cause they believe in. I know about one celebrity who works with an organization to bring clean water to third world countries. I remember when parts of Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. There were celebrities down there helping and rebuilding houses; they had the means and connections to bypass the red tape to get things done. With some celebrities their support of a cause may be due to personal reasons; they could be experiencing it in their own family, for example a celebrity with an autistic child. Whether you feel the same way or not, I admire someone who overcomes challenges in their life to then become a social activist against those very same tribulations. What I saw in this film festival winning movie, which was based on a true story, both stunned and amazed me. THIRTEEN year old Waris, played by newcomer Soraya Omar-Scego, had to leave her village in Somalia. What was done to her there would have a strong impact on her life when she made it to London. Before I talk about this biographical drama I want to say I have very little knowledge about the customs that were performed in this movie. They may be based on religious beliefs or native; I do not know and I do not want to offend anyone who believes in them. Starring Liya Kebede (The Best Offer, Lord of War) as older Waris Dirie, Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go –Lucky) as Marilyn and Timothy Spall (Denial, Mr. Turner) as Terry Donaldson; the actual story had to be more powerful than what the script provided here. The back and forth between the young and older Waris dampened the intensity for me. I had a hard time watching some scenes because I could not believe what was being done. The acting was fine; I have always enjoyed Sally’s performances and Liya was perfect in this role. Honestly I still cannot get over that this custom takes place in the world. This DVD provided me with a whole new respect for those who overcome difficulties in their life and decide they want to do something about it.
2 ¾ stars — DVD
I remember a time when facts were important and meant something. In my chemistry class when we would conduct an experiment, each of the students had to create a particular reaction then have a fellow student repeat the same steps to see if they get the same results. My experiment was to create a blue clear liquid in my test tube. Mixing chemicals in a precise order and amounts when the final chemical was added the liquid in my test tube turned a beautiful Caribbean blue color. Next my lab partner had to reproduce my steps to see if he would get the same results. It turned out he did not; the liquid in his test tube turned into a cloudy, swamp brown color with a nasty odor. So to substantiate my results a 3rd student was brought in to repeat my experiment. They were successful as they created the same blue colored liquid. Pouring over our notes we discovered my lab partner mistook one measurement which completely altered the chemical reaction to create the color blue. This is how we learned about facts and fact checking. From my school years I learned studies and facts would yield accurate results. It seems as if facts do not carry the same weight of importance as they once did. This is my own opinion but I feel if facts lose their importance then conversations, accusations, claims and other such things turn into one big game of that kid’s game, “Telephone.” It is a game where one person whispers a statement into the ear of the person sitting next to them; who in turn, whispers the statement to the next and so on and so on, until the last person sitting in the circle repeats what they were told to the very first person who issued the statement. More than likely the statement was altered as it got passed from one person to the next. I learned from this dramatic film based on a true story that there were people back then who also did not believe in facts. HISTORIAN Deborah Lipstadt, played by Rachel Weisz (The Light Between Oceans, The Lobster), had to fly to London to prove in court that the Holocaust did indeed happen after she was sued for libel. In London’s judicial system the burden of proof is placed on the accused. This biographical film had outstanding acting provided not only by Rachel but also Tom Wilkinson (Snowden, Belle) as Richard Rampton, Timothy Spall (Harry Potter franchise, Enchanted) as David Irving and Andrew Scott (Spectre, Saving Private Ryan) as Anthony Julius. Based on Deborah’s book, History on Trial: My Day in Court, I found this film to be a taut courtroom drama. It was due to this cast that my interest stayed with the story because there were several scenes that lagged compared to others. I believe this was due to the script for the most part, though the directing had a hand in causing this slowness. Ultimately this did not weigh me down because I was very much into the story which interestingly one could draw parallels between it and the environment we currently live in.
Each and every person has the capabilities to display both beautiful and ugly traits that are buried inside. I believe the environment one grows up with can influence the way these traits come out. It seems to me as we age the percentages between them varies more. I find it so perplexing when the newscasts televise a segment on someone who was convicted of a crime and they make a point of reciting the perpetrator’s good qualities. For example, the individual was a good father though he was convicted of a hate crime. It is such a wide contrast to me; I have a hard time making sense of it. Some of you may remember that my family and I will not watch certain actors’ films because of certain things they believe or have done in their personal lives. The idea that these artists may be good actors on screen but nasty people in real life does not compute in my brain. Look throughout history and you can easily find historical individuals who made a significant contribution to society but they had ugliness inside of them. SUCH a character but he did extraordinary things with a paintbrush. This film festival winning biographical drama was about the life of 18th century English painter J.M.W. Turner, played by Timothy Spall (Harry Potter franchise, Ginger & Rosa). From a visual aspect this film was at times lush and bright as it was soft and dark. I really got a sense of life during that time. It was interesting to me because I have seen other movies that depicted the same time period, yet this one was more convincing. Though I did not quite understand the character he played early into the picture, Timothy’s acting on a whole slowly grew on me; he had wonderful depth. The character Hannah Danby, played beautifully by Dorothy Atkinson (All of Nothing, Topsy-Turvy) was a fascinating study. In her silence she still was a powerful force on the big screen. Written and directed by Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Secret & Lies), this historical film may not be an easy watch for many viewers. I found it very slow in parts, besides very long with a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. At times there was very little action in the scenes; however, when I thought more about it afterwards it made a bit more sense to me. I chalked it up to the time period and place, finding it more artful then entertaining. One aspect I appreciated was the fact I actually saw a few of his paintings in museums but had no knowledge of him at the time. I would be curious for those who see this film, what percentages of beautiful and ugly did you think Mr. Turner showed us?
2 3/4 stars
I do not need to know how the beautiful baked dessert placed before me was made. All that matters to me is that it tastes as good as it looks with its dark chocolate syrup dripping down the sides of the spongy chocolate chip cake. The same can be said about the art exhibit I attended, where the artist created these incredible colorful sculptures out of blown glass. It was beyond me how he could take such a delicate medium and produce these exquisite pieces that were placed among the foliage of the local conservatory. Most of the time I prefer not knowing how something was created because I feel it takes away from the visceral experience. It would be similar to having prior knowledge of all the tricks and magical sequences a haunted house amusement park attraction has before you go through it. What fun would that be? This biographical comedic drama is a good example of me not being familiar with the subject, yet I still found this movie to be a highly entertaining experience. I had no idea what was English football. As I viewed this film I wondered if this sport was what here in the United States we call soccer. Michael Sheen (MIdnight in Paris, Twilight franchise) played abrasive, arrogant coach Brian Clough. The story was about the challenges that faced him when he took over the coaching duties from his bitter rival Don Revie, played by Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine-TV), who had taken the Leeds United football team and made them one of the most successful in the league. With Tom Hooper’s (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) direction, I thought he did a fantastic job in keeping the story steady, letting the actors shine. I have been impressed with Michael Sheen’s body of work so far; this picture only continued it. Adding their specialness to the rest of the cast were Timothy Spall (Ginger & Rosa, Enchanted) as Peter Taylor and Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas, The Iron Lady) as Chairman Sam Longson. My only complaint about the film was the use of flashbacks; I had to remind myself of the time frame periodically. To tell you the truth the story was more about egos and personalities than about actual football games. For someone who had no knowledge about this sport, I still had a good time watching this DVD. An added bonus was researching the events of this film afterwards and learning more about the history of the sport. So not only was this an entertaining film, it taught me something new.
3 stars — DVD
Residing in a peaceful alcove of your mind is your first love. The memories of the favorite things you shared keep that love alive. There have been stories about people who have traveled all over the world looking for that one special person, only to have discovered it had been waiting for them all this time back home. In this romantic fantasy Adam and Eden, played by Jim Sturgess (One Day, Across the Universe) and Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia, Spider-Man franchise) were young and in love, despite living in opposite worlds of twinned planets. Years after thinking he had lost her from a fatal fall, Adam discovered Eden was still alive. Could Adam overcome the laws of physics and the laws of the land to find his love from long ago? This movie was a mind bending visual production. Two opposite worlds sharing similar space created several satisfying space shifting scenes (say that fast ten times). Adding to the drama was the use of visual cues to separate the two planets socially, politically and economically. The story was a cross of the movies Metropolis with Romeo and Juliet. To make the story work, one had to forget about science and logic; this movie was made to speak to the heart. Kirsten and Jim were only passable in their roles. Part of the reason was their acting and the other part was the poorly written script. I found it odd to have dynamic visuals but dull dialog. The character I found most interesting was corporate worker Bob Boruchowitz, played by Timothy Spall (Enchanted, Harry Potter franchise). Fans of science fiction may be disappointed with this movie; there were no futuristic devices or costumes. This was a romantic story nestled inside of a fantasy. I really wished the movie had been better; but I guess like some fantasies, they are better off left alone than becoming reality.
2 1/2 stars