They were not just a nightly dinner guest, they were more like family as we ate dinner in front of them. I remember the television being on while I would be sitting at the dining room table or sometimes directly in front of the TV with a snack tray in front of me, so I could watch the news. This is how we would learn what was taking place around the world besides in our city. Every night it was the same newscaster, who we trusted and believed, explaining events that made no sense initially, along with showing us parts of the world I knew I would never visit. Some of you may have never experienced this method of getting the news; but I have to tell you, once trust was established with our newscaster we never doubted what they had to say. Our confirmation was always the next day’s daily newspaper. Now I can still recall news stands that were set up at various locations around the city, manned by individuals who would be hawking the latest editions of the city’s daily newspapers. These people sounded like sirens stuck on repeat as they kept announcing their wares. The papers always reiterated what the newscaster said the night before. It only seems to be a recent phenomenon where newscasts have taken more of a personal agenda slant on the news. To tell you the truth even with the news no further than our fingertips these days I never know who to trust. TRUSTED newscaster Dan Rather, played by Robert Redford (A Walk in the Woods, All is Lost), and his long time producer Mary Mapes, played by Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Cinderella), felt they did a good job with their latest story airing on CBS’ 60 Minutes program. The story would not only shake the foundation of the TV network but also change the way people looked at the news. This film festival winning drama was fortunate to have Cate as part of the cast. She was by far the most engaging actor with her wonderful acting skills. This is not to say other actors such as Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point, The Day After Tomorrow) as Lt. Colonel Roger Charles and Topher Grace (Playing it Cool, Interstellar) were bad; they just did not evoke their feelings as well as Cate. I thought the script inspired by a true event focused more on the drama instead of telling a compelling story; there were scenes that needed more detail to explain the situation that was taking place at the moment. If it wasn’t for the acting on a whole, I would have found myself more disengaged than I already was during this biographical movie. By the end of the story I still had unanswered questions and that is the truth.
2 1/4 stars
You think you know someone and then all of a sudden they share something about themselves that changes your perceptions about them. Thinking an individual is a cheapskate only to find out they volunteer their time weekly at a food bank has to make one modify their feelings about that person. I remember this individual who always appeared to be fearful, never able to make a decision because they were afraid they would be making the wrong choice. Fast forward several years I come to find out this person picked up and moved to Europe for a job as a critic for a newspaper; I was absolutely stunned. Heck, I suffered weeks of anxiety just to move to a different neighborhood of the city. When the people we have to change our attitudes about are not directly connected to us, we do not suffer any ramifications. But when it is someone close, it can have a life altering effect on us. Being in a committed relationship for several years, you would think you know someone pretty well; I know I did. Imagine you find out they did something that caused a monumental shift in your relationship, like gambling away your entire savings without you ever knowing they had a gambling problem or they had been carrying on an affair with one of their coworkers, This type of news can be devastating to the point where one may never be able to recover from it. The young couple in this action comedy had a similar dilemma. Laid-back and usually stoned Mike Howell, played by Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour, The Social Network), did not understand why people were trying to kill him. His girlfriend Phoebe Larson, played by Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria, Twilight franchise), wanted to know where Mike learned how to defend himself. The concept for this movie was only good because of Jesse in the role. Being such an affable and likable guy, the idea of him being a fighter was something I would never associate with him. Along with Connie Britton (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Friday Night Lights-TV) as Victoria Laseter and Topher Grace (Interstellar, Spider-Man 3) as Adrian Yates, I thought this film was an uneven mess. There were parts that were fun and exciting but then other areas made no sense and were dull. Topher’s character was annoying to me; I could not figure out if he was supposed to be a joke or not. If it was not for Jesse I would have been totally bored by this comedy, that did not have anything especially funny in it. So it turns out I thought I was going to see an exciting comedy movie and wound up seeing neither. There were several scenes with blood and violence.
1 3/4 stars
Attending a wedding is a little like going to a dinner/theater performance. Sometimes the food can be good while the production is lukewarm; other times, it can be the exact opposite. Wedding receptions are a double edged sword for me. There have been occasions where the bride and groom made it their mission to find me the same happiness they had by seating me next to one of their single friends. Can we say awkward? Usually every wedding has one relative in attendance who feels everyone should be having as much fun as her or him. In my case it usually was a tipsy aunt who found out I could dance and wants to dance the night away with me. So you see why I accept wedding invitations with some trepidation. I had similar feelings about seeing this comedy; my expectations were low. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, Being Flynn) and Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) played former husband and wife Don and Ellie. If it was not going to be uncomfortable enough seeing each other for their adoptive son’s wedding; it was going to be a monumental task to pretend they were still married for the sake of their son’s strictly religious, biological mother. Granted the story was far-fetched, but the actors gave it a decent shot. What made it work was the chemistry between Robert, Diane and Susan Sarandon (The Company you Keep, The Client) who played the girlfriend Bebe to Robert’s character Don. It was a pleasant surprise to see Robin Williams (World’s Greatest Dad, Good Will Hunting) playing a more subdued character as Father Moinighan. There were amusing scenes as well as lame scenes throughout the movie. It may be due to my years of exposure to family (dys)functions; but as a whole, I did not mind sitting through this film. At least I did not have anyone sitting next to me or was forced to get up and dance.
2 1/4 stars