THE CANDLE WAS BURNING BRIGHTLY WHEN I went to sleep, and it was still burning when I got up in the morning. I did not know at first the significance of this candle that looked like it was formed inside a drinking glass. All I knew was that it would appear only a handful of times throughout the year. The wax in the glass was always white and by the time the flame extinguished itself, the rim of the glass would have a ring of black stuff around it. Though I never saw it, I believe the used candle was disposed of because I never saw them in the house the rest of the year, in a cupboard or pantry. I never touched the candle for it usually was placed on a counter or sometimes right on top of the stove between the 2 sets of burners. Only when I got older did I find out those candles were lit once a year for a deceased relative as a remembrance. It was a custom/ritual that was handed down from generation to generation; I never found out how long exactly it had been taking place in the family. It also was not the only custom/ritual, I discovered, that had been performed in our home. AS MY CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AND family expanded, I learned there were many families that had their own customs/rituals. I remember attending a wedding where it was custom for the groom to ride in on a white horse, decorated in colorful yarns and jewels. Another custom involved the wedding party; the groomsmen would have to lift a groomsman from the other family. It was fascinating to see young and old men trying to lift each other; usually in a bearhug, but sometimes over the shoulder or in outstretched arms as if they were newlyweds about to walk over the threshold of their new home. Through the years, I have known several individuals who would give up a certain type of food for a short time. I enjoy learning about other people’s customs because I feel it gives me an opportunity to not only get a glimpse of their history but also their heritage. Besides customs/rituals based on religious beliefs, I have known a variety of people who have a custom or tradition that is unique to their family. Though I am not adventuresome when it comes to trying different foods, I enjoy learning about the types of food a family eats that are directly related to the region of the world their family came from. Learning about the customs/rituals and region of the main character was one of the charms that motivated me to watch this film festival winner. TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES FOR a medical opinion meant Scotsman Rory MacNeil, played by Brian Cox (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, X2: X-Men United), would see the life his estranged son Ian, played by JJ Field (Third Star, Captain America: The First Avenger), was living in San Francisco. Rory already had an opinion formed before he even arrived. With Thora Birch (Hocus Pocus, Patriot Games) as Emily, Rosanna Arquette (The Whole Nine Yards, Desperately Seeking Susan) as Claudia and Treat Williams (The Hideout, Deep Rising) as Frank Barron; this drama went beyond its script thanks to Brian’s performance. I found myself becoming involved with Brian’s character due to the acting skills of Brian. If not for that, this film would not have kept my interest throughout because the script was predictable. Gratefully it had at least a deeper level of emotion to it. Because I am a fan of traveling and seeing other places, I especially enjoyed the outdoor scenes. If this had been currently playing in the theaters, I don’t think I would have liked it as much as I did in the comfort of my own home. And, I felt as if I was on a private tour with this Scottish man Rory.
2 ¾ stars
A GOOD PORTION OF US WERE LED to believe that the ultimate goal in life was retirement. Put in your time at work and get to the finish line was all that mattered. For those who were fortunate to retire early, others would look at them as demigods; they found the secret formula that would let them enjoy life while they were still “young.” I had no such examples while growing up. The people I knew continued working well beyond their retirement age. When I started this movie review site, a friend asked if I would continue writing reviews into my retirement years. I imagined I would have the luxury of going to the movies during the early weekdays, freeing up my weekends that are presently being used for viewing multiple films. I do not see retirement as just sitting around the house with nothing to do. A friend of mine has determined retirement age is not an ending, but a beginning to the next chapter. It is a period of time where one can do something they are passionate about, where they want to explore it further now that they have the time to do so. THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO DO not want to wait until retirement to do something they love. There was a member in one of my classes who was a CFO of a large corporation. She was proud of her work career, but as time went on she started feeling unsatisfied with the job. There was a period where she did not attend class, after being a regular for a few years. Then one day she showed up unexpectedly. After class she came up to talk to me. I said it was good to see her and hoped everything was okay. She informed me she had retired from her job and was taking classes to become a math teacher. It was something she had always wanted to do and decided the time was right to step back from the corporate world, so she could become a teacher. I was taken by surprise at first, since I knew how much she loved being a CFO. Seeing how driven she was in our aerobics class, I had no doubt she would succeed; she had the knowledge and passion. I feel these two attributes are needed if one wants to accomplish a dream. The main character in this dramatic comedy had these 2 things and will show you what can be done with them. WORKING AT A LARGE RETAIL STORE was not what Maya, played by Jennifer Lopez (The Boy Next Door, Shades of Blue-TV), wanted to do the rest of her life. All she needed was a break to show what she could do for the advertising and marketing corporations on Madison Avenue. That break would come in the form of her resume. With Vanessa Hudgens (Dog Days, Beastly) as Zoe, Leah Remini (The Clapper, The King of Queens-TV) as Joan, Treat Williams (The Congressman, What Happens in Vegas) as Anderson Clarke and Milo Ventimiglia (Killing Season, This is Us-TV) as Trey; this movie could have been better. Jennifer has a screen presence that grabs your attention, but with the underdeveloped script she was left hanging. There was nothing special in the script that allowed the story to rise above generic. The writers had a touch of romance, comedy, drama and fun scattered throughout the story; yet, never went deeper with them. At one point I wondered if the focus was to show off Jennifer with her fashion choices, office and home furnishings in her new apartment. Maybe if the film studio had some of the drive and determination I have seen in Jennifer’s career, then they would have produced a more entertaining picture.