THE DINING ROOM TABLE was all set for the arrival of the dinner guests. Covering the table was a handmade table cloth from a relative now deceased. Each place setting had a plate, bowl, glass and silverware; all were recently purchased. In the middle of the table was a candelabra that was handed down through at least a couple of generations in the family. Made of silver the candlestick holder was tarnished; in fact, no matter how much work was put in to polish it the silver never regained its former luster. There were arms that came out from the center fluted column; each arm had a holder at the end that looked like an upside down, silver foiled candy piece. Also on the table was a salad bowl that looked like a white, plastic helmet. This too came from a deceased relative. The host remembered when he was a small child, seeing the plastic bowl out for big family dinners. There was one more thing on the dining room table that had memories attached to it, a small ornamental metal cup that was only used on religious holidays. At least that was what the host was told when the cup was handed down. WHEN I AM A guest in someone’s house, I find myself looking around the room for, what I call artifacts. You know things that look old or maybe I should say look like they have a story. Whether it is framed pictures, ceramic statues or pretty much any object in the place; I always want to hear what the story is behind the thing. You see I feel the people in our lives, both alive and deceased, help mold us into what each of us will become. Plus I enjoy having in my possession items that were handed down from generation to generation. In the previous paragraph imagine how many people would be sitting around the dining room table who had come into contact with the candelabra, salad bowl or metal cup; the connections between everyone would be tremendous. And for that reason this is why I was fascinated with the story in this film festival winning dramatic mystery. THOUGH BORN DECADES APART young Rose and Ben, played by newcomer Millicent Simmonds and Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon, This is Where I Leave You), each wished to find where they belonged. Their journey would lead them to unexpected connections. Based on the book I was fascinated with the story and the dual story lines in this movie. The two young actors in the cast were joined by Julianne Moore (Suburbicon, Maggie’s Plan) as Lillian Mayhew, Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) as Elaine and Tom Noonan (Heat, Last Action Hero) as Walter. Visually I felt more interested in Rose’s story, but that probably was due to the decade in which it took place. With an easy soundtrack and interesting scenes I felt engaged with the story. However I thought the directing could have been smoother and the characters could have been given more depth to them. It took me a while to warm up to each character because at first they came across in a monotone way, sort of one dimensional. As the picture progressed and I got more invested into the characters, I felt less slowness which had almost bordered on boredom. There was a payoff for me by the conclusion of the story. When the movie ended I felt as if I had made a connection to several scenes that linger to this day like a family memory.
2 ¾ stars
There are times where it is easier to connect with a stranger than a person you know. I witness this multiple times as an instructor or when I am out of synch with my daily routine. Ah yes the daily routine; you know, where we get set into a pattern and begin repeating it every day. If there was a contest I absolutely would be a finalist since I find comfort and calmness in keeping a routine. When I am out of my daily rituals, like on vacation, I become more available to strike up a conversation with strangers. Taking it a step further I find it easy to have a conversation with a blind date. Recently I was out with a friend and we were talking about dating. They have a 2 date limit; in other words, if they do not feel something after 2 dates they end it. They said the hardest part of the process was being honest and telling the person they are not interested. I absolutely agree because though it is hard, I feel it is harder not to say anything and leave a person in limbo hoping things just drift apart. What I find even worse is when a person stops communicating, ignoring your texts and phone calls. I wonder if the ease in talking or not talking to a stranger is because a person can be whoever they want to be, since there is no history between them. Maybe they relish the opportunity to reinvent themselves and in turn become more open or available for new experiences. This Oscar nominated, animated movie showed more feelings than many humans I have met. AUTHOR Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, Seven Years in Tibet), was traveling out of state to be the guest speaker at a convention. His life was about to change thanks to convention attendee Lisa Hesselman, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Road to Perdition). This film festival winner brilliantly used stop motion animation that brought the puppets alive. With a script that was part comedy, part drama; I became fascinated with the story, losing sense that these puppets were not real people. It was a surreal experience for me. There were several astute observations about the human condition throughout the script thanks to co-writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It did take time for me to actually get into the story; I found the beginning of the movie slow. By the way this is absolutely not a film for young people since the puppets get into adult situations. Overall I was most impressed with the technical aspects of this picture; it must have taken an incredibly long time to get the puppets to move in such a seamless way. From the script there certainly was enough situations that would lend themselves to topics of conversation afterwards. I would have liked to have heard what other people were saying about the movie, but I was on my schedule and had to leave the theater.
3 1/4 stars