IT ALL STARTED WITH SEA GLASS. Seeing children bent over picking at the ground like hungry chickens, they were searching the beach for bits of glass that had been polished for years by the ocean. I sat on a park bench above shifting my gaze from them to the calming water slipping quietly up onto the shore. As I listened to the kids periodically shouting out they found a piece of sea glass, I wondered where the glass originated. Could it have been a broken bottle, plate or piece of ceramic that was on a boat that had sunk a century ago, who knows? I wondered what the circumstances might have been; maybe the glass had traveled halfway around the world, tumbling over and over in the currents, until it landed right here up on our shore. Each and every piece of sea glass the children collected had all been part of something else from a different time. The thought fascinated me as I imagined a variety of scenarios based on a historical past. Maybe there was a bottle with a note in it that a child from a war torn country threw into the ocean, hoping someone would find it and come save them. AS I WAS THINKING OF the past I remembered my recent trip to the history museum. Seeing artifacts that were centuries old such as mummies and dinosaur bones created pictures in my mind of what life must have been like for these animals and individuals. Honestly I cannot stand camping so how could I have possibly survived back then? With that being said I do wish there was a way I could look into the past and see for example what circumstances led up to the first person who discovered fire. Another thing, I would like to know what caused someone to make a wheel; was it a boulder rolling down a hill or maybe someone tripped and began falling head over heels that made them think about the possibilities of having a round object as a tool. I could go on and on coming up with different scenarios and circumstances. Through my schooling it was always taught to us to look back on history as a guide to where we are now. Now we just enter something into an internet search engine and read about it; I prefer hearing someone’s story about a time gone past. Granted it would only go up to several decades past, but lucky for us this animated adventure comedy delved far back in time to show us what was really going on. THREATENED HAVING THEIR LAND taken over Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) agrees to a wager. The wager was based on a game that was called soccer. With Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, I Saw the Light) as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams (Mary Shelley, Game of Thrones-TV) as Goona and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Chief Bobnar; the movie studio that created this film is known for their claymation technique. I love the look of their films and the quirky humor they put into their scripts. Compared to their previous films I have to tell you this one was not one of my favorites. The story was odd with having a soccer game taking place during prehistoric times. As for the script there were some jokes and puns that were not as clever as I have seen them do in the past. Where I could not stop watching their fun previous pictures, this one bored me a little. If I think about it maybe prehistoric men and women did not have the luxury to be funny.
2 ¼ stars
SOME INDIVIDUALS WOULD FIND it frustrating; others would find it infuriating after a while. You are partaking in a serious conversation and someone makes a joke. There are times where telling a joke can be the perfect antidote to a tense conversation. In fact I am a big proponent of using humor to diffuse a situation or break the tension in a room. Dealing with tough and uncomfortable topics of conversation can quickly drain an individual; I am all for injecting a touch of humor just to give the participants a momentary breather before continuing their discussion. Pretty much any situation can benefit, at least in my opinion, from a chuckle or belly laugh depending on the circumstances of course. There was a funeral I attended where the service was filled almost to capacity with mourners. Right in the middle of the eulogy a family member made a comment that had everyone laughing, giving a needed respite from the sadness. WHERE A SIMPLE BIT of humor can do wonders in a tense situation, a constant barrage of jokes and wisecracks can have the opposite effect. If it is just you and one other person going back and forth in a deep conversation, you can address it; however, when there are more people involved it can be tricky. When an individual keeps making jokes during what is supposed to be a serious conversation; I have noticed they are uncomfortable either with the topic being discussed or making themselves vulnerable. I know an individual who has a hard time discussing their feelings. When you press them on a subject they will relent and share something personal, but they do it in a hushed voice. I honestly do not know if they feel they are saying something “wrong” or afraid they will be made fun of; they even look uncomfortable. So they prefer to keep up a constant stream of jokes in the conversation to the point they almost overshadow the intended topic of discussion. I felt I was experiencing something of a similar nature during this action, adventure fantasy. IMPRISONED ON A FOREIGN planet far from his home Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (Ghostbusters, Red Dawn), must figure out a way to return before Asgard is completely destroyed. With Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, I Saw the Light)) as Loki, Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Carol) as Hela, Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Valkyrie; you could not have asked for a better cast of actors. Who knew Cate could throw down with the best of them as she emoted wicked evilness. I wanted to see more scenes with her. Everything you expect to see in a Marvel superhero movie was here from comic book author Stan Lee’s cameo to big CGI effects to 2 extra scenes during the credits. The only issue I had with this film was the use of humor; I felt the comedy aspect overpowered everything in this story. Do not get me wrong, a good portion of the scenes were fun and humorous but there was so much I felt it took away a little of the dramatic intensity the scenes required. I am sure I am in the minority regarding this but after a while I found the humor getting tedious. Granted since this was my only complaint I still enjoyed the whole movie watching experience and I can only imagine how much fun the actors had making this picture.
SITTING in the semi-darkened theater waiting for the movie trailers to begin, I was wondering how many different film variations of King Kong I had seen. I believe I saw every one of them and I could even include the robotic one Bette Midler used in one of her concerts, where she played the Fay Wray character who was sprawled out across King Kong’s palm. Thinking about these different versions of the big ape, we really have come a long way from the 1st one to the latest one I was about to see. Of course I was basing it on the movie trailers I had recently seen. Recalling the earlier Kong versions, I can still remember how fake looking he was in the oldest movies. My guess is the writers needed to fine tune their script to keep the audience engaged with the story since an unrealistic looking gorilla would quickly become boring. SPEAKING of story lines I wondered what the writers would do to keep me interested in this umpteenth time of me watching a King Kong film. More often than not I have noticed when a movie comes out with a well known character that has played before the script is updated to reflect current times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is a bust. I can remember a group of classic horror monsters like Frankenstein and the Mummy being part of a series of movies that were based in comedy, starring comedians and comedy duos. Personally I found them ridiculous; taking such classic horror characters and placing them in a genre of films that no one would ever consider for them, diminishes their scariness in the public’s eyes. With these thoughts in mind the movie theater lights became dark and I sat back in my seat to see what Kong was up to these days. FLYING over the Pacific Ocean, bound for a newly discovered uncharted island, a group of scientists and soldiers did not know they would be disturbing the inhabitants to the point of making them angry. This action adventure fantasy succeeded because of the special effects. From all the different versions of King Kong I have seen on film, this was the best looking or should I say the most realistic version of King Kong. The fight scenes were exciting, especially the opening one. If this film had not been so technically advanced I would have been bored by the script. With Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak, I Saw the Light) as James Conrad, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Preston Packard, Brie Larson (Room, Short Term 12) as Mason Weaver and John C. Reilly (Carnage, Step Brothers) as Hank Marlow; I only found Hank’s character interesting. Samuel was doing his identical acting thing, so no surprises there. However I was surprised how stiff Tom and Brie were with their characters. This was partially due to the script that offered no insights, along with the direction that kept them one dimensional. Only John C. Reilly and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Monuments Men) as Bill Randa offered any interest among the cast. If you are into visual experiences then you would want to see this picture inside a movie theater. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
With the right side of my brain reigning over the left one I have always gravitated to creative achievements. I guess you could say I hold them at a higher status then other accomplishments one does in their life. It has always fascinated me how people express themselves in a creative way, whatever the medium or method may be. One year I bought a ticket package to a dance series, from ballet to modern. To see not only the dancers moving to the music but to watch how the choreography was created to blend with the sounds was amazing to me. Regarding the dancers, I knew what type of dedication they had to have to manage such control over their bodies. Just from what I have experienced by teaching aerobics I know I only covered a sliver of the energy that dancers produce in their craft. The same can be said for any of the artists who have their work on display somewhere. Some of the graffiti I have seen on walls has been wild; in fact, there was a town I visited where they encouraged graffiti artists to create work on the back of buildings in a block long alley. It really was an amazing spectacle. From my own experiences I know creative outlets can be the exit ramps for our emotions to come out from being buried inside of us. Whether it is doing origami or gardening to song writing or pottery making; anything that gives us a vehicle to express ourselves is a positive attribute in my opinion. WITH only a pen and a guitar country western singer Hank Williams, played by Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, Crimson Peak), was able to create songs that told real stories. I have had no exposure to Hank’s music so I was curious about this biographical drama. Another thing I wanted to see was how this British actor would handle a southern American accent in his speech and with his singing voice; I knew the film studio wanted him to sing Hank’s songs. I have to tell you he was excellent in the role along with Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Oldboy) as his wife Audrey. The strongest part to this music movie was the acting; even the supporting cast of Cherry Jones (The Village, The Perfect Storm) as Lillie Williams and Bradley Whitford (Saving Mr. Banks, The West Wing-TV) as Fred Rose was quite good. The biggest issue I had concerned the script. I felt I never understood what drove these characters. There were parts of the picture that ran slow which produced unevenness to the story telling. Actually I thought if the writers would have devoted more back story to the songs I would have enjoyed this film more; even exploring the mother/son relationship would have helped me stay more attuned to what was going on up on screen. There is no denying Hank Williams was a gifted and creative artist; I only had wished his story would have been conveyed in a more creative movie.
2 ½ stars
When one experiences a traumatic change in their life, the person should hold off on making any life altering decisions. I remember hearing this advice a long time ago and did not quite comprehend the magnitude of it. In the past when something rough happened to me I used to binge on food; I know, a classic case of stuffing one’s feelings. I have not done that in manny, many years. As I matured I started to understand the meaning of that wisdom and would force myself to have a pause in my life, to contemplate the issue and look for a solution or allow myself to go through the grieving process. There was one horrible breakup I went through where I did not leave the house for a few days, doing a marathon of movies on DVD. It actually helped me come to terms with the changes that took place. I realized I did not have control over them, learned how to acknowledge my feelings then worked at eventually letting them go. No one can tell you what to do during such times; I believe a person has to come to terms with their emotions. Though I will say I appreciated listening to the different advice my friends were offering me. Unfortunately I had a friend who was not in a space to listen to others when her long term boyfriend decided to end their relationship. She spiraled down into a deep depression. However in a matter of several weeks she all of a sudden introduced me to her new boyfriend. I thought it was rather quick and became more concerned after a couple of months later she told me she was going to marry him. I knew this was going to be trouble just as I knew there was trouble brewing in this dramatic fantasy film. AFTER the tragic loss of her father Edith Cushing, played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre), married and moved out of the country with businessman Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, Only Lovers Left Alive), to live on his estate. His mansion came with some dark secrets. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim), this horror film was utterly gorgeous with sumptuous sets and period pieced costumes. The actors including Jessica Chastain (The Martian, A Most Violent Year) as Lucille Sharpe and Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Children of Men) as Dr. Alan McMichael were all wonderful in spite of the dull story. With such elaborate sets and scenery I really had hoped the story was going to be a strong gothic suspense drama. There was very little intensity throughout the film as if everything had fallen into a middle of the road type of mentality. Not to take anything away from the actors but due to the script, I found the house to be one of the strongest characters out of the movie.
2 1/3 stars
Once two people have a shared history of intimacy together, it will always reappear when one is in the presence of the other. They may have not seen each other in a long time; but as soon as they meet, that oasis of intimate vulnerability floats up from the recesses of their minds to create terra firma. A gentle puff of breath slipping across an ear can remind one how they were being held as they dove into a luxurious sleep. The scent of their hair can bring back the vision of a wide open vista of sun stained cliffs cascading into a deep canyon as both sat close, taking in the majesty of the moment. So knowledgeable of each other’s ways, the two created a world unto themselves that is separate from the reality around then. Two individuals who had this connection in this dramatic romantic film were Eve and Adam, played by Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Adaptation) and Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, Thor franchise). Aware of Adam’s despondent reclusiveness, Eve traveled from her home in Tangier, Morocco to be with him in Detroit, MIchigan. With the world around them in decline they had their own little safe haven until Eve’s sister Ava, played by Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, The Kids are all Right), showed up at their front door. This film festival nominated movie grew on me like Spanish moss on a thick humid day. Tilda and Tom were so deliciously good together as the centuries old vampires. The whole cast was strong but I could not take my eyes off the two of them. They were able to convey a feeling, an emotion simply by the turn of the head or the gaze of their eyes. The script was smart and hip with quick spurts of fresh humor. Since some of the characters were vampires, the whole picture had a certain darkness to it; but, there was a subtle lightness that made for deep languishing scenes. I really enjoyed the way the director’s or maybe it was cinematographer’s penetrating use of light sources played with the blackness. Though this film was listed as horror, there was nothing I would consider scary in the traditional sense. If you are squeamish at the sight of blood, no matter the vessel it may be in, then yes there were scenes that had blood. However, I can only think of one scene that might be considered gory. Despite a bit of uneven pacing, by the end of the movie I felt I had visited an old couple who knew each other so well, they did not have to ask how the other one felt, they just knew. Brief scenes of blood were shown.
There is a feeling of anxious anticipation many of us experience when our budding romantic interest says they will call or see us later. The heart trips over the flow of excited joy as the mind tries to recall if there are any commitments on your mental calendar. You want to be available and you want to be ready when you see or hear from them again. But as the days pass without any sign from them, all of the excitement dives into a vat of thick, questioning self-doubt. You start picking at every detail from the previous meeting, seeking out a reason why they have not called you. It can turn into a vicious cycle that very few people are immune from. Even if your boyfriend is a super hero it can still happen; just ask Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached, Brothers), who was waiting for 2 years. In this action adventure sequel there was a reason why Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, Rush), did not come back to see Jane. He was busy trying to establish order in the nine realms. But when an ancient race of beings lead by Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Amelia), sought to convert the realms into their world; Thor had a good reason why he had not called Jane. I am being silly to match the silliness that was in this fantasy film. It was too much for me. I would have preferred a little more seriousness interjected into some of the scenes to make them more dramatic. Though the returning cast was okay for the most part, the scene stealer was Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, Midnight in Paris) as Loki. He had the strongest presence out of everyone, including Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock,The Wolfman) as Odin. What lost it for me was the jumbled story line. The jumping back and forth between dimensions, if that is even what they were, was too confusing. I felt it took some excitement away from the fight scenes. It was a shame because I really liked the great stylish look to the movie. In a way I guess I had been waiting for this sequel like it was a 2nd date. Too bad the anticipation for it was more exciting than the actual viewing. If you do watch this film, stay through both sets of credits.
2 2/3 stars
None of us need to worry, we are all safe and well protected to go to the movies, for the Avengers are here. I have to tell you, this is how you make a science fiction movie. The special effects were great but not overbearing with a strong story. And what I thought was most important, the film did not take itself too seriously. Kudos to Joss Whedon for writing a witty, fun screenplay and for his even, well paced direction. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes franchise, The Soloist), delivered such great lines in his rapid fire delivery, pay attention closely. Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Star Wars franchise, Lakeview Terrace) was part of a top secret agency who brought a group of super heroes together to save the Earth from the evil Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, Thor). For those of you not familiar with the character of Loki, I suggest you rent the movie Thor to get the history of Thor and his brother Loki. But do not worry, you would not be lost if you chose not to see it. The movie was 2 hours 22 minutes long and I did not look at my watch once–a very good sign for me. There was enough action, humor, explosions, fights and egomaniacs to fill up the IMAX screen where I saw this amazing film. If you go or should I say when you go see this movie, make sure you stay to the end of both sets of closing credits.
3 1/3 stars
Only a particular group of people, I believe, would want to see this movie. If you always base your decisions on what your heart feels, even if you sense it may not be the best choice, then you will understand this film. I am the first to admit there have been times where I let my heart sway my actions; I still am an old fashioned romantic. It was easy for me to understand the main character Hester Collyer, incredibly played by Rachel Weisz (The Lovely Bones, The Constant Gardener). Feeling her marriage was not providing her with what she needed, Hester believed she could find passion with the dashing, jet fighter pilot Freddie Page, played by Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Midnight in Paris). The emotional roller coaster ride that Hester rode through this film was perfectly conveyed by Rachel’s acting. This was one of her best performances in my opinion. The movie had a dark, heaviness to it as if each character’s burdens grew heavier over time. Also, the film had an authentic 1950’s London appearance to it. There were no big exciting moments per se, there was drama as the movie moved at a slow pace. By the end of the film I felt drained; that same type of feeling I get when I realize my heart had me invested in a poor relationship.
2 2/3 stars