I DID NOT NOTICE HER WHEN I entered the classroom. My main concern was finding an empty seat. The class was mandatory; my friends teased me about the title of it, Meat and Animal Science. The instructor walked in and explained what was expected of us for the semester. After he was finished with his introduction, the teacher asked us to pair up with another student to become lab partners for the course. Since it was our first day, all the students simply asked whoever was sitting next to them. I became partnered with a farm boy, using his definition, from a little town that had only one stoplight. I thought he was joking, but it turned out he was not. The teacher waited a few moments to get the talking to die down before asking if anyone did not get a partner; one lone hand was raised in the air and it was from a female student. I looked around the room and noticed for the first time that she was the only female; it was just a curious observation on my part. The instructor assigned her to the two students sitting next to her who had teamed up, forming a trio. AS WE PROGRESSED THROUGH THE SEMESTER, there were times my partner and I were stationed near the trio during our lab time. I did not notice at first; but as the weeks passed, I noticed the female student was rarely working alongside her lab partners. My first thought was that she wanted to work alone. The reason being anytime her group had to do a presentation, the two male students would do the talking and fielding of questions. She would nod her head in agreement and would only talk if the instructor or student asked her something directly. As the weeks continued, I paid closer attention to her group, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. I began to notice she did offer suggestions and advice to her teammates; they would nod their heads and/or mumble something I could not make out. However, based on how they proceeded, I saw the female lab partner would start up her own work on the task. I could only assume her lab partners were ignoring her and doing what they felt was the right thing to do. As far as I could tell the instructor did not notice or, sadly if this was the case, did notice and did not care. I did not know how she made out in the course, but I felt sad that her lab partners treated her with a lack of respect. My feelings for the main character in this film festival winning drama were similar. ON HER QUEST TO REPORT ONLY hard news stories television news reporter Christine Chubbuck, played by Rebecca Hall (The Town, The Gift), constantly came up against roadblocks. Whether it was not being the right type of story or something else; the only thing left was for her to create the story she wanted to report on. With Michael C. Hall (Kill Your Darlings, Dexter-TV) as George, Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, The Post) as Michael, Maria Dizzia (True Story, Rachel Getting Married) as Jean and J. Smith-Cameron (Man on a Ledge, You Can Count on Me) as Peg; this biographical story was based on true events. The key in making this movie work was the cast, led by the amazing Rebecca in her role. Unfamiliar to me, it was because of the cast’s acting skills that kept me involved with the plot. It took a while for me to get a sense of what was going on; but once I did, I enjoyed watching this movie. What surprised me about this picture was the fact not only was I unaware of the story, but also that I could not recall having heard anything about Rebecca’s amazing performance.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS NOT THE RIDES THAT interested me at carnivals and local amusement parts; it was the games of chance. When I was younger, I would save up my allowance for these games. I was convinced I could win prizes and boy did I love looking at all the prizes. There was a game where I would have to throw rubber rings at a table full of empty bottles and try to get the ring to land on the bottle’s neck. Each toss I would see my ring bounce from one bottle to the next while I secretly wished for it to land on a bottle instead of dropping down between them. The prizes, big fluffy stuffed animals, were on a shelf that went around the top of the entire booth. There was another game that was or like a game called Skeeball, where one had to roll a ball down a lane that curved up at the end to propel the ball hopefully into one of the holes on the backboard. Each hole was labelled with a number; the higher the number the bigger the prize. With every roll of the ball I would make adjustments, hoping I would get the ball into the center hole to receive the biggest prize. OUT OF ALL THE GAMES AT A carnival, one of my favorites was the slot car racing one. It was because I had my very own race car model. There was a model store in the neighborhood where me and a cousin would race our cars on the elaborate race track that was set up in the middle of the store. Unfortunately, I could not use my race car at the carnival games (imagine that); however, it did not matter because I loved racing cars. I cannot tell you how much money I spent at those games and rarely did I ever win a race. Seeing the winner of the race receive a cool prize from off the shelf would only make me more determined to play the race again. My cousin was the same way because we felt with all of our experience there was no reason why we could not crush the competition. Thinking back on it I would hate to think how much money I spent on those games; little did I know they were designed to thwart the participant from winning. However, once I saw what I could win I did not think about how much I was spending to get that prize. The same was true for the head of the Ford Motor company in this biographical, dramatic action film. AFTER HEARING THE DISPARAGING COMMENTS THE chairman of Ferrari made about his company Henry Ford II, played by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, The Post), was determined to build a car that would beat Ferrari’s car at France’s Le Mans race. It did not matter how much it would cost him. With Matt Damon (The Martian, The Departed) as Carroll Shelby, Christian Bale (Vice, The Big Shot) as Ken Miles, Jon Bernthal (The Accountant, The Wolf of Wall Street) as Lee Iacocca and Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan, Outlander-TV) as Mollie Miles; this was an exciting film to watch. I am not fond of watching car races, but I would see this picture again. The acting was outstanding, matching the well-done script that captured the 1960s perfectly. I found the racing scenes thrilling and felt at times I was sitting in the race cars. For being such a long movie, I rarely noticed the time going by because the script and action kept me engaged with the story. Whether the story was accurate in this movie, it did not matter because I found it to be a logical progression of events and feelings. Compared to the money I used to spend at those carnival games, buying a ticket to see this film made me feel like a winner.
THEY WERE THE IDEAL DINNER guests that dined with us. Informative, knowledgeable, honest and dependable; with such admirable traits they were always welcome into our home. I learned so much from them while eating my dinner. The topics of conversation went from world news to state news to local news and once in a while a tidbit of a heartwarming story. Sure there were times we got shocked by what they told us; but we also could be joyful while listening to them. It all depended on what they were talking about since they were the ones who brought up the various topics. I admit I may not have understood everything they spoke about, but I would either ask someone in the room or after dinner I would try to look up information on the subject. There was one time they were talking about a war that had broken out in a country I had never heard of before. So after the meal ended I went over to our encyclopedias to find out more about the country and where it was located. It occurs to me you may know these dinner guests and you too might have had them over for dinner; they were Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. FROM THESE NEWS BROADCASTERS I grew up trusting the news. Looking back I realize I knew nothing or very little about their personal beliefs or thoughts; they were simply doing their job which was reporting on the news. I am well aware there are places in the world where people like them would be killed for telling certain news stories. It is funny I recall from years ago, while I was in school, sitting in on a meeting for the school’s newspaper. A couple of student reporters presented their story to the staff and teacher advisor. Their article shined an unfavorable light on the school to the point where the advisor suggested they shelf the story. The majority of the paper’s staff immediately protested the idea and a discussion ensued concerning the definition of newsworthy. The students insisted the school paper was created as a news source for the student body; it was not going to only print “cheerful” stories. As far as the staff was concerned if the news was worthy then it should be in the newspaper. Voting against the advisor’s wishes the paper went with the story and it did get a response from the student body. It started a dialog on what the school needed to do to fix a particular troublesome situation. This was my first example in the power of the printed word. WHEN A GOVERNMENT COVERUP is brought to light Kay Graham, played by Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins, The Giver), the first female publisher of a major newspaper finds herself in a test of wills between her editor, staff and the government. What took place would set a new standard in reporting the news. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies, Catch Me if You Can) this biographical drama also starred Tom Hanks (The Circle, Cast Away) as Ben Bradlee, Sarah Paulson (Carol, American Horror Story-TV) as Tony Bradlee, Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Better Call Saul) as Ben Bagdikian and Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, The Lovers) as Fritz Beebe. My only negative comment for this incredibly told story is that it started out slow for me, but only for a brief time. The acting from Meryl and Tom was superb. The script played out much like a thriller to me. And though this true story took place in the 1970s it is as current now as it was back then. I totally enjoyed the way Steven told the story with his direction, even loving the little details that went into so many of the scenes. This movie is already a film festival winner and I am sure more awards will be coming its way. What an amazing profession is news reporting; people who risk so much to tell the truth. There is nothing that came across as fake in this movie and that is the truth.
3 ½ stars
INFIDELITY is a hard topic for me to discuss with someone or watch in a TV show/movie. Regarding the dating world if the topic comes up and my date divulges their past cheating history that is a deal breaker for me. Having been cheated on more than once I not only have little understanding why someone would do it, but I also have no tolerance for it. I was friends with a couple several years ago. Having known them for a substantial amount of time they looked like they had a happy and healthy relationship. One day at the movie theater I saw the husband sitting in the bar area with another woman. Since the restrooms were at the back of the bar area I had no choice but to walk right by him to get to the bathrooms. He saw me looking at him and his face went pale. I chose not to go up to him and cause anymore embarrassment. SURE enough the very next day he called me. Listening to him trying to explain the reasons why he was at the theater with a different woman was pitiful. With every excuse all I would ask is why doesn’t he get a divorce? His answer was he still loved his wife. I could not be sympathetic to his plight because it did not make sense to me based on my values. If I love someone I am with them 100%. If there is an issue then it needs to be discussed and not ignored; it is all about communicating one’s needs and wants, besides being a good listener. Now I do get the idea of two people falling out of love or growing apart. If I were in that situation I would sit down and have a heart to heart talk to see if there was a way we could fix things. If not then I would go the divorce route and wait until we were divorced before I start relations with someone else. This is my belief that works for me; I hope I do not come across as judgmental. It is not my intentions. This is why I had a hard time trying to understand the couple in this comedic drama. MARRIED couple Michael and Mary, played by Tracy Letts (Imperium, Indignation) and Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment, The Sheltering Sky), were each having an affair. Something happened during it that produced a spark in the couple’s own relationship. With Aidan Gillen (Sing Street, Games of Thrones-TV) as Robert and Melora Walters (The Butterfly Effect, Cold Mountain) as Lucy, the acting was top notch in this movie. It was so good to see Debra back as a lead actress in a film. Sadly I had wished the script was better for her and the rest of the cast. There were some scenes that worked well; however, other times things felt forced and flat. Part of the issue I believe was with the directing. For this cast there could have been more intensity and drama, either in a comedic or serious way. I found myself being bored at times with scenes that were just blah. From the trailer this looked like the story was going to be a fun farce. And maybe that is the issue I was having besides my own issues with adultery; the story did not know whether to be a comedy or drama. I do not know if this means anything but I had no trouble finishing up this film and going right into another movie to review.
Can a child really understand the meaning of the words hate and love? The power of these 2 words is too heavy for a young mind to wrap itself around I believe. I used these words as a child, telling anyone who asked I hated peas and I loved chocolate. What I was really conveying was my preference in tastes; it had nothing to do with my emotional relationship to these food items. I did not know any better though I understood the affect it had on a person when I would tell them I loved or hated them. Before you say anything I really never told a person to their face that I hated them, though I wanted to say it to one particular babysitter who used to sit for me. Now through all the years of dating, seeing and being in relationships, besides becoming more mature; I understand all the nuances associated with love and hate. Some of the terminology I have used and heard would be things like not fond of, do not like, prefer not being around, enjoy your company, comfortable around you and so on. To me love and hate are strong words; I am careful about saying love because I do not want it to become a generic version of itself. I want love to have importance so when I tell someone I love them they know I mean it completely. As for the word hate I really do not use it much except for extreme circumstances like telling someone I would hate to have to do something like surgery or sit on a tour bus for 8 hours. So when I see other people displaying hate I have to take a step back. I find it sad that hatred these days seems to be in vogue; that it is becoming acceptable for someone to display their hatred. For this reason I found this dramatic thriller horrific. AGREEING to go undercover to infiltrate a radical white supremacy group FBI agent Nate Foster, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man, Victor Frankenstein), did not realize how much he could lose. Based on true events this story was disturbing. Maybe I am reacting on more of a personal level but the amount of hatred on display was absolutely frightening to me. What pulled me through was the strong acting from the cast which also included Toni Collette (Krampus, A Long Way Down) as Angela Zamparo, Tracy Letts (Indignation, The Big Short) as Dallas Wolf and Sam Trammell (The Fault in Our Stars, True Blood-TV) as Gerry Conway. I have to give credit to Daniel since he is so closely associated to the Harry Potter franchise, that he can transform himself into these interesting roles he has a knack in choosing for himself. Overall I thought the script was good but there were times where some of the characters came across more like a cartoon in their extremeness. I found this crime film gripping in a chilling way. Partially because of the times we presently live in, to see such hatred and know that there are people out there who act the same way was scary for me.
Every decision opens up a new path of travel; though it may not always be the best choice, every new road laid is fraught with actions and reactions. If you choose a sugary cereal over a low sugar one for breakfast you may experience a letdown from your “sugar high” during the morning hours. You discover while driving to work the shortcut you took delayed you further because of the freight train that stopped you at the railroad tracks you now had to cross. Each of these decisions affected you solely, or did they? What if an important phone call was missed because of your delay and the new customer calling with their large order decided not to leave a message and called your competitor, who was willing to match prices? I have said this before but every action causes a reaction; it is just that simple. The ones I have a hard time with are those that cannot be easily explained or do not come with a reason. It is like a friend of mine who was dating someone new for 4 or 5 dates, thinking everything was going well. All of sudden their date stopped communicating. No reply texts, no returned phone calls; there was no reason given for the total silence. This has happened to me and I have to tell you it can throw one for a loop depending on how much was invested into growing the relationship. I always have to wonder, when things happen between two people, if the one individual knows what kind of affect their actions cause to the other person. Even when reasons are laid out, we do not always know what reactions may take place later on. ESTHER Messner, played by Linda Emond (Julie & Julia, Stop-Loss), was so proud of her only son Marcus, played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Percy Jackson franchise). He was going on a scholarship to college to become a lawyer. Everything would go as planned as long as Marcus stayed focused and studied hard. Set in the 1950s this drama had a competent cast to handle the story based on Philip Roth’s (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) novel. With Tracy Letts (The Big Short, Homeland-TV) as Dean Caudwell, Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, A Dangerous Method) as Olivia Hutton and Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, 6 Years) as Bertram Flusser; I thought all were quite good. I only wished there were more scenes with Linda’s character as the mother. The sets and costumes were perfect for the era; this film had a distinct look to it. I especially enjoyed the acting out of Logan and Linda but I found the script becoming top heavy as the story played out. The scenes between Logan and Tracy intrigued me at first but then it felt more like a therapy session than a student and administrator. I was surprised by the turn of events in the story but I almost wished they had taken place earlier. Besides these few quibbles I enjoyed watching the actions and reactions taking place in this movie.
A great line a former boss of mine used to say was, “I came loaded for bear.” I know this implies a hunting reference, but that is not the intention. They would use the loaded bear line when they knew a meeting was going to be an intense verbal struggle. Aware they were going to be grilled about an issue or procedural operation; they had studied up on all their facts, ready to answer any questions that would get volleyed at them. I prefer using that perfect bear line when it comes to attending a variety of friends or family functions. If I know there is going to be a guest at a dinner party who wants to pick a fight with me, there is nothing wrong with me preparing for any possible antics on their part. There have been family dinners where I have seen sisters fight or cousins yell at each other and all I am interested in is if we are still going to have dessert. If you know you are going to be in a toxic environment there is nothing wrong with insulating yourself from it aka come loaded for bear. I believe in preparing for the worst but even I would not have been ready for the ferocious fighting done by this Oklahoma family. Based on Tracy Letts’ (Killer Joe) Pulitzer Prize winning drama, the story takes place as family members come together due to a death in the family. Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, The Iron Lady) played the widowed matriarch Violet Weston. Julia Roberts (Notting Hill, Closer) played her daughter Barbara whose husband was contemplating divorce. Those of you who have seen the play will have a different reaction than the ones who are not familiar with this story. I saw the play and enjoyed it more than this dramatic movie. Everyone in the cast was excellent with their acting. Meryl was not a surprise to me, but Julia Roberts and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek into Darkness, Atonement) shined in their roles. Tracy wrote the screenplay to this film and though there was nothing negative about it, I felt some of the energy dissipated when the focus was taken out of the house. Some viewers will become tired by all of the verbal fighting; if I remember correctly the play had more humor. Either way this multi-nominated movie is worth seeing; just come prepared for one heck of a fight.
2 3/4 stars